Aug 5, 2017

The Three Stories of the Romance Genre by Patty Blount

This month I’ve invited Patty Blount here after reading an insightful post on the Published Author Network of RWA. Not only is this great advice for anyone writing romance, and it also touches on a personal peeve of mine: the 30 year out of date term “bodice ripper”. 

Writing romance is among the most challenging genres because you're actually writing THREE stories His and Hers (or His and His, Hers and Hers, depending on your sub-genre).

Two main characters. Two trajectories and two distinct story arcs. 
The third story is their ROMANCE itself. 

It really fries my tomatoes when industry critics dismiss romance as bodice-rippers and lady porn and so on because that fact is often missed. Every romance novel has THREE stories that don't just intersect...they become enmeshed, melded, just as relationships do.

We start off with one character immersed in his world, his problems, his wounds. Then, we cut to the other character and get the same experience.

What makes romance so unique and so powerful, in my opinion, is how we authors craft these two people so that the story isn't simply "Person Meets Love Interest."

It's Person Struggling Through Life
Meets Another Person Struggling Through Life
and Learns How To Love This Person Despite/Because of Those Struggles
So That Their Ending Feels Like a Beginning 

That's the Third story... the love that develops between these two characters has to be real and be forever and that kind of love becomes its own story.  That's not just good writing, it's magic.
Patty Blount is the author of contemporary “Internet Issues” novels for teens including the 2015 Firecracker Award winning SOME BOYS, which is also a Bookseller’s Best and RITA awards finalist! A new novel, THE WAY IT HURTS, drops on August 1, 2017.   

Music is Elijah’s life. His band plays loud and hard, and he’ll do anything to get them a big break. He needs that success to help take care of his sister, who has special needs. So he’d rather be practicing when his friends drag him to a musical in the next town…until the lead starts to sing.

Kristen dreams of a career on stage like her grandmother’s. She knows she needs an edge to get into a competitive theater program — and being the star in her high school musical isn’t going to cut it. The applause and the attention only encourage her to work harder.

Elijah can’t take his eyes off of Kristen. He captures her in costume and posts the image and a provocative comment online. It goes viral, casting them both in a new spotlight as the online backlash spins out of control. And the consequences are bigger than they could ever have imagined when the threats don’t stay online…they follow them into real life.

Jul 15, 2017

Jennifer Skully on Office Romance

Thanks so much to Ava Bradley for having me on the blog. I adore her books and have loved every one.

I’ve written over 50 books, and by far the majority of them are office romances. My latest series writing as Jennifer Skully is called After Office Hours. And as Jasmine Haynes, I write the West Coast series, which is my erotic version of what can happen in the office! Office Romance seems pretty self-explanatory to me. Wikipedia defines it as when two people who work for the same organization develop a mutual attraction. But for books, I’d add in there that it can be two people who work for different organizations. And it can be any type of organization: a manufacturing company, an investment firm, a law office, even politics. Anywhere you’ve got an office, you’ve got the potential for office romance.

There are lots of popular tropes in office romance. Office romance with the boss. Secret office romance. Or two people competing for the same job. Or working on the same project. The list of situations is endless. If you’ve ever worked in an office, you know exactly what I mean.

So what makes Office Romance popular? First of all, I believe it’s because so many of us work in an office. It’s a place we all know. And we’ve all heard the gossip about so-and-so sneaking off with so-and-so. Technically we’re not supposed to finding romance at the office, so a lot of times these relationships start out being secretive. There’s just something so sexy about that, isn’t there? Of course, there’s also something extremely sexy about dating the boss. Because that’s really a big no-no. But looking at the highest rated Office Romances on Goodreads, many of them are “dating the boss” romances. And most of these romances are also about people in a position of power. Power is sexy. Power makes for lots of conflict.

I started writing Office Romance because that’s where I worked. And they do say write what you know. It was a background I was familiar with, I could make it seem real to people. I was an accountant before I was a writer, so most of my characters are CFOs or controllers or even CEOs. I generally like to write about executives. I create a company, people it with my executive team, and set them up with very unlikely love interests. Yes, I love the boss and employee trope, because that’s the most taboo in the office. But I like pairing off my executives, too. Or maybe it’s an affair with a client or a customer.

I hope you’ll check out my take on the office romance. The latest book in the After Office Hours series, Pretty in Pink Slip, Book 3, is out July 14.

Anything can happen After Office Hours…

She's a single mother. He's a brilliant CEO. And she's got something he wants. Badly.

Ivy Elliot dreams of being a stay-at-home mom, but in a career-oriented world, she's reluctant to admit it. Besides, she's a single mother and quitting work to homeschool her daughter just isn't an option. Asking for a raise, however, is an alternative. But when she works up the nerve, disaster strikes. Instead of a raise, Ivy gets the dreaded pink slip.

But Ivy is also handed the key to making her dream come true. If she sues the company for the terrible names her boss Rhonda called her when she asked for a raise... she might very well get millions.

Brett Baker has worked his whole life to be able to take a company of his own into the Fortune 500, and he's sitting on the cusp of his dream. Until Ivy could potentially ruin all his plans by suing the company for discrimination and harassment. He's got to use every weapon in his arsenal to make sure she doesn't do that.

Even if it means falling in love with her.

She gave her heart and soul to the wrong man once. Can she ever trust enough to give it all again?


NY Times and USA Today Bestselling author Jasmine Haynes loves giving readers sexy, classy stories about real issues like growing older, facing divorce, starting over. Her books have passion, heart, humor, and happy endings, even if they aren't always traditional. She also writes gritty, paranormal mysteries in the Max Starr series. As Jennifer Skully, she writes laugh-out-loud romantic comedies laced with a heavy dose of mystery. Look for Jennifer’s new series written with Bella Andre, starting with Breathless in Love, The Maverick Billionaires Book 1. Having penned stories since the moment she learned to write, Jasmine now lives in the Redwoods of Northern California with her husband and their adorable nuisance of a cat who totally runs the household. Join her newsletter for updates on contests, new releases, and freebies by going to


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Jul 14, 2017

Tiny House Living: Southern Charm

One of my goals for retirement living is having substantial property. The size of property is more important to me than square footage. This house has everything I think is important in small space living; a real staircase, a spacious bathroom with indoor plumbing, and a full-sized kitchen. It even has a washer and dryer!

Reclaimed wood for the ceiling beams and floors. Shaker-style cabinets in a dark stain and a sleek vent hood round out the kitchen 

I love the high ceilings and huge windows, letting in lots of natural light at all times of the day. I even love the way this house is decorated, it's so bright and airy it has a feel-good vibe.

The builder claims eight people can be accommodated within this 396-square-foot house, (it has a bedroom for two, loft for two, a fold out couch for two, and bunk beds) but I think this is a tight space more appropriate for two. I believe I could be quite comfortable here!

Jul 3, 2017

Michele Drier on Stepping Into a New Genre

When an author is in the groove of writing stories in a certain way, and in certain genres, it’s easier to follow the plotting and character pattern.

Cozies? The protagonist is a quirky person, usually a woman, who makes a living at some interesting, safe career, usually has a pet and a circle of friends and figures out the murderer before any of the cops can.

Police procedural? The protagonist works in law enforcement. He or she is usually the odd person out, a rebel who bucks the system, doesn’t always follow procedures, gets called on the carpet by the plodding supervisors, and figures out the murderer before any of the other cops can.

A PI? The investigator may have had some law enforcement background but works outside the normal channels. He or she takes on a case when the cops can’t or won’t work on it and figures out the murderer when the cops have given up.

What happens, though, when an author wants to break out and tackle another genre? This road map for storytelling isn’t the smooth freeway she’s used to, it’s an unknown, winding road with detours, rivers to cross, rickety bridges. And it may not have a flashing “The End” sign.

I write in two genres. Traditional mysteries where the protagonist is a newspaper editor and she and her cops’ reporter dig deeper into the “why” of local murders. The local police (or sheriff) arrest the right bad guy, but the protagonist is interested in what motivated him to murder.

I also write paranormal romance, a series called The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, about a 500-year-old group of Hungarian vampires who’ve cornered the market on international celebrity gossip and are now among the world’s richest. What happens when two 21st century SoCal women get involved with the sexy family leaders?

For a few years now, I’ve had a different story in my head. What if someone invented a memory chip that changed personalities and memories? How would you cope if suddenly your behavior changed? I wrestled with a way, a genre, that I could use to tell this story and ended up with a psychological thriller, a story where the reader knows the violence from the first chapter—but the protagonists stumble into this violence when they look for ways to help their failing memories.

One of the keys to a thriller is knowing from the beginning who or what is causing the tension and violence and this was different for me. My normal books are a search for motive and sometimes I can get to the penultimate chapter before I know who did it, so for Ashes of Memories I had to figure out how to keep the knowledge secreted away from the protagonists.

Writing this took many more months than the others. I usually write two or three books a year. Ashes of Memories took almost a year. Creating the tension and violence when I knew the cause, but the characters didn’t was kind of like yelling “Don’t go into the basement” in a teen babysitter horror flick.

I’m pleased with the result though, as were my beta readers and fans. The book is getting five star reviews on Amazon.

For this summer, I’m going back to my sexy friends, the Kandesky vampires. I’ve started book ten (don’t have a title yet) but it feels like coming home. And next year? There’s a quirky character who’s been clamoring to get out of my head for a while now. A cozy series beckons.

Michele Drier was born in Santa Cruz and is a fifth generation Californian. She’s lived and worked all over the state, calling both Southern and Northern California home.  During her career in journalism—as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers—she won awards for producing investigative series.
Her Amy Hobbes Newspaper Mysteries are Edited for Death, (called “Riveting and much recommended” by the Midwest Book Review), Labeled for Death and Delta  for Death.
Her paranormal romance series, SNAP: The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, has received “must read” reviews from the Paranormal Romance Guild and was the best paranormal vampire series of 2014. The series is SNAP: The World Unfolds, SNAP: New Talent, Plague: A Love Story, Danube: A Tale of Murder , SNAP: Love for Blood, SNAP: Happily Ever After?, SNAP: White Nights,  SNAP: All That Jazz, SNAP: I, Vampire .
Visit her webpage, facebook page, or her Amazon author page,

Getting what you wish for can bring unintended circumstances. Jennifer in New York and Matt in San Francisco worry that they're losing their memories. Jennifer from an earlier trauma and Matt while watching his father succumb to Alzheimer's. After finding a new medical technology designed to help people with cognitive disorders, they independently track down a grey-market supply, but when they meet they find unknown terrors.

Ashes of Memories is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble