Monday, 16 October 2017

6 Essential Elements Your Romance Novel Needs

What's your favourite romance novel? Now think of your favourite scene from that novel. Is it the ending when, despite the obstacles, both leads get their happily ever after? Or is it the first kiss...or the first fight?


Regardless, there are more players on stage and circumstances that helped create the tension/opportunity/obstacle that led to your favourite scene.

Here are a few handy tips for making sure your own romance story has the right support system for those unforgettable scenes!
  

Six Essential Elements Your Romance Novel Needs


1. The Rival

There needs to be a rival for the protagonist’s romantic intentions, but this doesn't necessarily mean a love triangle. This could be someone who takes time away from the romantic interest as well.

In my contemporary romance, The Right Fit, Antony is desperate to reconnect with Maxine, but his brother Marc is a controller and feels it's his responsibility to shape Antony into a successful pro-hockey player, regardless of what Antony truly desires.

2. Helpers vs Harmers


As you can guess, helpers are characters who assist in enabling the relationship grow while harmers are motivated to keep the couple apart. It should be noted that a helper can sometimes unwittingly become a harmer. It's common in romantic comedies to have a character who is truly invested in the couple's happiness, but ends up becoming bad luck by always doing or saying the wrong thing at the worst time, thereby taking the role of harmer.

In my novel, Maxine has enthusiastic support from her younger sister. However, in the end it's her own self doubt that is the most destructive harmer to her relationship with Antony.

3. External Need


This mechanism acts as a motivation that brings the two characters together.

As an example, Antony is certain his new found luck on the ice is entirely due to his one night with Maxine. Desperate to stay in the professional hockey league to pay his brother's medical bills and support them both, Antony pursues Maxine at all costs, including keeping his true identity a secret. As a result Maxine is overwhelmed by his attention and begins to believe she can love again after having her heart broken by her ex-fiancé.





4. Secrets


One or both leads are keeping something from the other. The motivation for not telling the truth must be greater than the risk to the relationship.

In The Right Fit, Antony is not only keeping his true identity a secret, but also the fact that he considers Maxine his good luck charm and is using her to keep his hockey career on course. Meanwhile, Maxine considers Antony a rebound, as a way of getting her confidence back and helping her forget about her ex.

However, it's important to acknowledge that characters often lie to themselves to justify their actions/decisions.


5. Rituals


These are the cute little idiosyncrasies a couple naturally develops with each other, those shared intimacies that only they know about.

It's most effective to use when the couple is apart and something triggers the memory for one of the leads. This can motivate a change of heart at the realization that they truly need that person in their life. *cue the rush to the airport to stop their true love from leaving forever*

As a result of mistaken identity, Maxine assumes Antony's name is Ace. This leads to a nickname which creates a moment like the one described above as the name 'Ace' pops up when Maxine least expects it.   
Maxine rolled her eyes and instead told her to pick out a nail color for them both. It was a bright ruby shade and when Maxine looked at the name on the bottom of the bottle, her heart filled and then slowly deflatedAce of Hearts.


6. Moral Weight

In essence, the moral weight is how the lovers changed for the better over the course of the novel. It's always satisfying for the reader if the ending scene is a mirror opposite to the beginning where their flaws were highlighted.

At the beginning of The Right Fit, Maxine was still trying to find a way back into her ex-fiancé's arms convinced he was the only man she could have a life with. And Antony was carrying a secret guilt fueled by the belief he didn't deserve to be loved. By the end of the story, Maxine realizes she's beautiful and desirable enough for any man and Antony's past sins didn't preclude him from happiness.





Thanks for reading. I hope you found this useful! Happy writing! Please enjoy the book trailer for THE RIGHT FIT.









Tuesday, 26 September 2017

My Latest Publishing Venture

I'm a big supporter of sharing my work online. As some of you know, I almost gave up on writing and then I discovered Wattpad...you can read about that here.

Now, seven published novels later, I'm excited to be partaking in Swoon Reads!

What is Swoon Reads you ask?

It's pretty cool, actually. Like Wattpad, stories are posted on their site for free. Then readers can comment and vote, letting the Swoon Reads Staff know which books are resonating with the reading community, thereby helping them find their next author! But don't take my word for it, here's their twitter bio.

We publish the latest and greatest in YA fiction with the help of readers and writers like you, because we believe that great books are better shared. 

Yes, books really are better shared! My mantra.

I've submitted my latest manuscript, NEVER ONCE to Swoon Reads, hoping it finds a loyal following to enchant and charm the pants off.



Hmm...sorry? What's my book about? Oh, right.

*clears throat* It's a gender swapped retelling of Cinderella with a sci-fi twist.

*cues epic romantic soundtrack with an underlying impish beat in the strings section*


As heir to an impoverished planet, eighteen-year-old Princess Tianna is forced to select a husband from an array of interplanetary suitors to ensure a viable future for her people. But instead of choosing a wedding gown, she steals a spaceship determined to flee the arranged marriage.

Tired of being treated like a slave at his stepfather’s android repair shop, Sinter trades in his safety goggles for a tailored suit and executes a daring escape, only to end up stowing away in Princess Tianna's ship by mistake. 

Sparks fly as the two opposites battle wits, but they soon realize their schemes of escape come at a dangerous price when they inadvertently uncover a plot to overthrow the monarchy. As they work together to expose the mysterious rebel leader, Tianna and Sinter are surprised to find they share an unexplainable bond and soon their attraction is too great to resist.

Racked with guilt, Sinter decides to reveal his true identity on the night of the ball, but testing Tianna’s affections will cause a deadly chain of events to unfold because the rebels are plotting an assassination and the hired killer is the very last person he suspects.

WHEE!!! How can you resist?

Guess what, you don't have to! Head over to Swoon Reads at this link right HERE and you can start reading Never Once speedy quick.

Psst...don't forget to rate the story and comment.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Top 6 Reasons Why Real Teens Could Never Solve A Mystery

No offense to the queen herself, Nancy Drew...


OR these guys...




Disclaimer: I'm basing this opinion from observing my own teens and their friends. Don't get me wrong, these are lovely thoughtful kids...most of the time. And I truly believe they will contribute to society...at some point.

BUT! As I write the fourth book in the Nefertari Hughes series, I realize a lot of the skills Terry has to use in order to put clues together and solve the mystery are totally lacking in most the kids I know.

So plant your tongue firmly in your cheek and enjoy the top 6 reasons why real teens could never solve a mystery.

1.  They'll never be able to break into a safe to read a crucial document because they can't even figure out a combination lock when they have the actual combination. Seriously, the first day of junior high is basically everyone trying to open their locker.

2. Taking pictures of the suspect doing something suspicious is impossible for today's teens because no one knows how to work the camera unless it's used to take a selfie.

3. They would never be able to impersonate someone on the phone in order to trick the suspect into confessing incriminating information because they don't have telephone skills such as dialing and knowing how to ask for someone.

4. They don't have the stamina for a foot race to catch the suspect because they're so used to being chauffeured to all their activities. Plus, someone always needs to stop into Starbucks.

5. Confronting the suspect is out of the question. That would mean talking with someone face to face and reading their body language which would require listening and paying attention.

6. Unless it's on Google maps, no one is going to be able to find the hidden treasure.

BONUS! If they find a clue written in cursive—nope, just forget it.

I hope you enjoyed this. Any other suggestions?




Friday, 8 September 2017

Review: A Beautiful Poison by Lydia Kang

A Beautiful Poison
by Lydia Kang


Blurb:

Just beyond the Gilded Age, in the mist-covered streets of New York, the deadly Spanish influenza ripples through the city. But with so many victims in her close circle, young socialite Allene questions if the flu is really to blame. All appear to have been poisoned—and every death was accompanied by a mysterious note.

Desperate for answers and dreading her own engagement to a wealthy gentleman, Allene returns to her passion for scientific discovery and recruits her long-lost friends, Jasper and Birdie, for help. The investigation brings her closer to Jasper, an apprentice medical examiner at Bellevue Hospital who still holds her heart, and offers the delicate Birdie a last-ditch chance to find a safe haven before her fragile health fails.

As more of their friends and family die, alliances shift, lives become entangled, and the three begin to suspect everyone—even each other. As they race to find the culprit, Allene, Birdie, and Jasper must once again trust each other, before one of them becomes the next victim



My review! 5 Stars

With pre-prohibition New York as a backdrop, this murder mystery is layered with luscious settings and unsavoury characters who are perfectly flawed and despairingly human in their sense of want and rationalisation.

Between history and chemistry lessons, Kang effortlessly weaves a story of betrayal and guilt through the varied points of view of the three main characters. Part Sherlock, part Agatha Christie, and part tragic romance, A Beautiful Poison hits all the right notes, leaving the reader satisfied, but with a melancholy weight that accompanies the sorrowful calamity at the end.

From the crystal chandeliers of Upper Manhattan to the crowded and pungent tenements in Brooklyn, Ms. Kang's mystery feeds off the desperation of its characters, pulling the reader in further until you have no choice but to gasp at the final reveal.

An excellent read for those who enjoy a richly imagined world with textured writing and characters who slip under your skin like a tiny splinter—whether you like it or not.


Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Review: The Visitors by Catherine Burns



THE VISITORS
by Catherine Burns

Can you escape the darkness within?




Marion Zetland lives with her domineering older brother, John in a decaying Georgian townhouse on the edge of a northern seaside resort. A timid spinster in her fifties who still sleeps with teddy bears, Marion does her best to shut out the shocking secret that John keeps in the cellar.

Until, suddenly, John has a heart attack and Marion is forced to go down to the cellar herself and face the gruesome truth that her brother has kept hidden.

As questions are asked and secrets unravel, maybe John isn't the only one with a dark side
.



My Review! 5 Stars


They could be anyone’s neighbors…

Although a middle aged spinster living with her domineering older brother in their parents crumbling manor, Marion Zetland sees the world through the eyes of her much younger self. Content to sleep in the attic on a bed covered in dusty teddys she calls her only friends, she ignores the echoes of screams from the basement, justifying every action and choice with her unique sense of reasoning and personal pity. And it’s soon apparent that in Marion’s world, she’s not the only one with a warped sense of right and wrong.
In Catherine Burns’ debut, the reader is treated to a slow burning psychological thriller that moves seamlessly between the subtly creepy present and the tragic flashbacks that border on skin crawling tragedy. The reader will judge for themselves if Marion is a victim or not, however one thing is certain, THE VISITORS will linger in the shadows and under the bed long after the last page is turned.
Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for giving me an advanced, complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.  



Sunday, 25 June 2017

An Easy Way To Find The Premise of Your Story

The premise of your story is the back bone of the novel and helps keep you focused while writing. It's also helpful when you have an idea and want to flesh it out.

Plus, it gives you a quick answer to that dreaded question;

"So what's your book about?"


But before you write a knock out premise, you need to identify the major story elements, which are:
  • Character
  • Situation
  • Objective
  • Opponent
  • Disaster

1. Character: pretty straight forward here, it's your protagonist.

2. Situation: This includes setting and external forces, ie: what kind of life does your MC have? Do they live in a futuristic version of New York or a stately English manor in the late 1800's.

3. Objective: What does your MC want?

4. Opponent: CONFLICT! What is preventing your MC from getting what they want.

5. Disaster: Identify the worst thing that can happen to your characters. It can't be rosy on the road to their goal. There should be something hanging over their heads as they navigate their way through the story.

Now that we're all on the same page, let's CREATE THAT PREMISE!

Basically, you're going to bind all those elements together in one sentence, and that my friends, is the premise of your story.

This is very handy for when people ask you what your story is about, you'll have a quick answer that makes you sound like bourbon and evening jackets.

As an example I'm going to use an idea that's been kicking around in my head for a new YA mystery. Let's start with the 5 major elements.

Character: Drusilla Timmons, 19, fake medium
Objective: restore reputation and get rich
Situation: England mid 1800s
Opponent: Murderer
Disaster: ghosts 

Now, let's put it together using this formula:

Situation > Character > Goal > Opponent > Disaster

When her fake séance is raided, con-artist Drusilla Timmons loses credibility and desperately accepts the task of helping a handsome widower find his bride's murderer, but when she visits the reclusive manor the wife's ghost is suddenly real and the bloody finger is pointing at the husband.

Or you can frame it as a question:


In a reclusive English manor, fake medium Drusilla Timmons needs to pull off the séance of her career to help bring a killer to light, but when the ghosts are suddenly real can Drusilla keep her wits and solve the mystery before she becomes the next victim?

I hope this helps! Have fun writing your premise!




Thursday, 15 June 2017

3 Traits Your Villain and Hero Should Share






A great way to show this in your story is to showcase the following elements that both your hero and villain should share.

1. Personality

We all have unique personalities. Some days we're awesome and some days we're quick to temper and kind of miserable.

When writing your villain, you're actually using the personality of the hero, but spotlighting all less desirable traits, thereby showing what your hero could become if he makes the wrong choices and vice versa.  


In the Harry Potter series, Malfoy is basically the snobbish rich kid, but deep down he's insecure and wishes to be the best wizard. He tries to accomplish this by cheating and buying his way through school, but Harry has to rely on skill and hard work.

2. Values

Heroes and villains can have the same value systems, in fact stories are richer for it as opposed to having a soulless bad guy. The reader will have a greater connection with the villain if his motives feel rational. When both the villain and the hero fight for what they believe in the drama is two fold.



Consider, Anne of Green Gables, Anne perceives Gilbert her main competition in the classroom, however even though they both work hard for their grades, Gilbert takes a more cheeky approach to Anne's more serious attitude. This results in making her infuriated, creating perfect drama in their shared scenes.

3. Goals

This is probably the most dramatic trait you can create between your protagonist and antagonist. A shared goal is what creates conflict and provides a reason why these two characters keep crossing paths.



In the comedy, Pitch Perfect, our heroine's choir is up against two other groups (one cheating and the other is unworthy) for the illustrious grand prize.

Why is this important?

Because the easiest way to get to know your characters is to find out what they want and why. In order to create worthy opponents start making a list of the things they have in common. You'll discover this provides a framework for adding depth to your characters and the plot.


Who are some of your favourite hero and villain pairings?



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