Reviews

#AugustReviews: Love Me by Kathy-Jo Reinhart And #Giveaway

For #AugustReviews, I’m reviewing Love Me by Kathy-Jo Reinhart, a love story about Marcus and Taryn. You can read the full review on my self-hosted page and there’s also a giveaway for an ebook copy of Love Me or a book of your choice up to $3.99

This is my first of Kathy-Jo’s books, and I have to be honest, but it took some time warming up to it, only because I couldn’t understand whose romance I was supposed to be rooting for. The description already tells us what happens so it’s not a huge spoiler but it left me conflicted. Was I supposed to be rooting for Marcus and Taryn or Marcus and Lexi? It’s not the author’s fault because I was probably expecting the same formula for most romances – boy meets girl, they have some issues and conflicts, boy loses girl, and then they get together again and live happily ever after. Only this time, there’s no getting back together or living happily ever after, because… well, what can I say? Cancer sucks.

via Book Review: Love Me by Kathy-Jo Reinhart #Giveaway – Liz Durano

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A Writer Musing · Writers · Writing

The Problem With Happily Ever After In Romance Fiction | Ravishly

“In the U.S., as far as regular readers of novels which are marketed as ‘romance novels’ are concerned, the definition of ‘a romance novel’ does include a happy ending,” Dr. Laura Vivanco, an independent scholar of popular romance fiction, told me. That seems confirmed by readers themselves; when All About Romance asked readers if a Happily Ever After (HEA) ending was required in a romance novel, almost everyone who offered an opinion agreed with author Deborah Simmons, when she said, ‘To me, a happy ending is part of the appeal of romance.’

….But even though happy endings are de rigeur in romance novels now, it does seem like, at least historically, romance hasn’t always had to end with such cheer. Some of the most famous romance stories, like Romeo and Juliet, are tragedies. Novels like Villette and Gone With the Wind end, at best, ambiguously—and GWTW is not infrequently listed as one of the all-time great romance novels by lovers of the genre.

In A Natural History of the Romance Novel, scholar Pamela Regis suggests that romance readers confusedly rewrite the ending of GWTW so that Scarlett actually ends up with Rhett—Regis feels that it is included as a romance novel by mistake. But that seems like it gives romance readers too little credit. Maybe, after all, readers see GWTW as a romance not because they’ve misread it, but because they think romance novels are broad enough to include unhappy or ambivalent endings, at least on occasion. As award-winning novelist Pamela Rosenthal told me, “I find it difficult to imagine a romance without a happy ending, but I suppose that if a story took place in the spring of life, and even if the end were in some way sacrificial, and the hero or heroine were ready to find love and have a life, it could be a romance.”

Contemporary romance novels do sometimes hedge on the happy endings as well—or at least, they complicate what a happy ending means. Cecilia Grant’s A Gentlemen Undone ends with the hero and heroine getting together . . . but they’re ostracized by his family (which is a painful, not good, thing), and end up living in very modest circumstances. Jennifer Crusie’s Bet Me has one main couple and two minor couples—and one of the minor heroines ends up with no permanent sweetie. She’s not unhappy, but still, cheerful singleness is not what you usually think of when you think “happily ever after.” And then, of course, there are the unintentional unhappy endings. E.L. James can tell me until her restraints wear through that Christian and Ana are happy together, but come on. They’re both loathsome, vacuous, selfish people, and they’re going to make each other miserable.

….Those who don’t regularly read romance novels may think that all that’s required to make something a ‘romance’ is a love story, so they might as well include love stories with unhappy endings as well as romantic fiction which includes a love story but doesn’t give it such a prominent place in the narrative,” Laura Vivanco told me. That’s interesting in part because, according to television critic Jason Mittell, genres are culturally defined not just by experts or fans, but by non-experts and passersby. A genre isn’t a hard-and-fast rule; it’s a general description based on how people (including experts and non-experts alike) use the term. So, while some people might say that only those things shelved under romance are romance novels, others might see a literary fiction novel like Atonement as one too, because it is about love even if that love ends in made-me-cry-repeatedly heartbreak. Happy endings are important, but not necessarily essential; love is the thing.

Again, many readers of romance novels don’t see things that way. But for me, I guess I prefer to leave the door open for unhappy endings in my romance novels for some of the same reasons I like and admire and respond to the happily ever after when it comes. The thing I love about romance novels is the way they insist that love and happiness are important and real and true. You can show that insistence by defiantly giving your audience the happy ending. But you can also do it by acknowledging that some stories don’t end that way, while still honoring the impulse to believe that they should.

via The Problem With Happily Ever After In Romance Fiction | Ravishly

Research:  Because I am wondering how to end my current WIP.

Happy ending or no happy ending?

 

Featured Author · Writers

Featured Author: Beth Carpenter

There’s Something About Cowboys…

by Beth Carpenter

Cover - Detour on Route 66Not long ago, I happened to see a gray-haired cowboy crossing a parking lot, hand-in-hand with his sweetheart, and I smiled. There’s something in the leathery face of an old cowboy that hints of open spaces and galloping horses and a generous heart. Something solid and trustworthy, and yet romantic.

I think that’s why Ben Mayfield was so much fun to write. At first glance, Ben is none of those things. He’s a wildcatter from Dallas who spent his life working hard and living high. Along the way, he managed to acquire a boatload of money, three adorable granddaughters, and – count ‘em – six ex-wives. But underneath it all, he’s still the same cowboy who grew up on a ranch, part of a close-knit family, and a part of him longs for the kind of relationship his parents had.

And that’s where Marsha comes in. After a long and happy marriage, she and her husband had big plans after retirement to explore the country. But he died. And now she’s trying to figure out how to rebuild around that gaping hole in the center of her life. When a charming cowboy invites her along on his Route 66 road trip, she takes the plunge.

Detour on Route 66 (available free as an e-book) chronicles their meeting and Recalculating Route picks up on their journey together. Although road tripping is a theme in the book, the main setting of the story is Marsha’s hometown of Sedona, Arizona. Sedona is a special place, with amazing rock formations formed by erosion from weather, wind, and water.

As you may have gathered, Ben and Marsha are a tad older than your typical romance heroes. Like the rock formations in Sedona, their beauty comes from years of life eroding away the surface and shaping them into the people they are today. I’m a firm believer that people of all ages deserve love, and there’s no expiration date on romance.

Here’s an excerpt from about halfway through the story. It takes place on the anniversary of Marsha’s husband’s death. Eric always gave her yellow flowers, even secretly planted a huge swath of daffodil bulbs to surprise her the year before he died.

EXCERPT

Lindy met Marsha at the door, as excited as if she had been gone for months. Marsha gave her a chance to go out, and then she settled on the couch, Lindy lying at her feet. Marsha leaned forward to pick up the silver frame holding their wedding photo.

Eric managed to look outrageously handsome even in the silly white rented tuxedo she had chosen. What was she thinking? She smiled broadly in the picture, her poufy veil framing her hair, arranged in shiny wings on either side of her forehead. They looked much too young to be making solemn promises. They had kept their vows, though, their devotion growing throughout their marriage. Good times and bad, they had stayed together and loved one another.

“Hello, my love.” She reached to touch his face in the picture. “We had a good time, didn’t we? We promised ourselves to one another until death do us part.” She sighed. “And even then, I didn’t want to let go. But Eric, I think it’s time.”  She reached for a tissue from the coffee table and dabbed her eyes. “I love him, Eric. Not the same as I love you, but a different love, just as special. I wish you could meet him. You’d like each other. I can picture the two of you, sitting under the trees in the back yard with a beer in your hand, swapping stories.”

She laughed. “Ben would love your story about Nicky Flynn, trying to get out of a spelling test by putting an Alka Selzer in his mouth to convince the teacher he was having a seizure. I remember you had to send him out of your office to wait because you could hardly keep from laughing out loud when you tried to discipline him. I’ll try to tell Ben that story, but you tell it better.”

She traced the curving lines in the picture frame. “I’ll always love you, Eric.”

Her face began to grow hot. She sighed, set down the picture, and walked out on the back porch to let the breeze soothe the heat from her skin as the hot flash continued. Lindy followed her out. The climbing rose Eric had planted grew lushly over the trellis at the western edge of the porch, blocking the sun while letting the breeze through, making the porch a shady oasis. Every year, just before Mother’s Day, it covered itself with clusters of apricot buds that opened into extravagant sprays of pale golden roses.

She noticed something yellow on the trellis, and frowned. Once, spider mites had almost decimated the rose, leaving the leaves pale and spotted, but Eric had managed to save it. She went closer to examine the problem.

A single yellow rose blossomed bravely. It shouldn’t have been there, not in September. This rose always bloomed in May, and only in May. Yet there it was: a yellow flower. Each tissue-thin petal was a work of art, deep yellow at the base, shading to a paler tint and almost white along the curving tip, the innermost petals hugging the shaggy stamens at the center of the blossom.

She bent to inhale the lemony-sweet fragrance of this miracle, her hot flash forgotten. A single tear fell onto the leaves of the rose, but this time it was a tear of gratitude, that she should experience so much love in a lifetime.

About Beth Carpenter

When Beth Carpenter was a little girl, she read everything she could get her hands on and entertained herself on the school bus by making up stories in her head. Not a lot has changed.

She’s still consuming books like M&Ms, and spends her days creating happily-ever- afters for her imaginary friends.

Website | Twitter | Amazon Author Page | Goodreads

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Cover - Detour on Route 66Detour on Route 66

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Cover - Recalculating Route

Recalculating Route

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via Featured Author: Beth Carpenter | Guest Post and Giveaway – Liz Madrid

Books

“Each and every word of this story is beautifully written” – InkdIn

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“Loving Ashe is a really heartfelt story that will leave you reeling and wanting for more. The way that Liz describes her characters and brings them to life is amazing to witness. Each and every word of this story is beautifully written.

The characters are real, deep and flawed. People make mistakes. They lie and they manipulate. But, what matters in the end is that they try to redeem themselves and that they love.”

Rating – 4.5/5

Source: Loving Ashe, Liz Madrid – Book Review | InkdIn

While in the midst for edits for Loving Riley, I woke up to this wonderful review linked from my Twitter and just had to share it with my 5 amazing followers.  Click on the link to read her whole review and while you’re there, do  check out her other reviews and other book and writing-related posts.

You can purchase Loving Ashe from Amazon here.

 

Books · Writers · Writing

How To Support Your Favorite Author

Fellow author Kristen Lamb just wrote a blog post about the ugly truth behind publishing and how to help authors.  And while most of the post has to do with the behind the scenes of publishing, I found her words about how readers can help authors quite informative and said in a way that I couldn’t word any better.

If you love our books, your promotion means a thousand times more than any ad I could pay for. Ads and marketing don’t sell books. Never did and never will. Only thing that sells books is word of mouth.

Beloved reader? You would be shocked how much regular people will pay attention to you. That review is worth your weight in gold to me for a number of reasons. Humans don’t like being first. So unless a couple of you are brave and review? My book can sit with NO reviews and it is then unlikely to sell.

Think about a shelf with ONE item. It freaks us out. There is only ONE. Is it poison? O_o

Secondly, when you review us, Amazon favors our books in the algorithms meaning more people SEE our book. More people SEE it, odds are I will sell more copies. In the on-line world YOU have the power to get US that awesome front of the store book placement. The more reviews the better the algorithm. Better algorithm, more views. More views, more sales, more sales—>we make a best-seller LIST!

You can also use your social media because it means more than ours.

Tweet a picture of our book. Put it on Facebook. People in your network ARE noticing. Peer review and approval is paramount in the digital age. And don’t support your favorite author on Goodreads as a first choice (AMAZON reviews are better). The only people hanging out on Goodreads for the most part are other writers and book trolls.

Support us on your regular Facebook page or Instagram or Twitter. Because when you post a great new book you LOVED your regular friends see that. When they get stranded in an Urgent Care or an airport? What will they remember? THAT BOOK. They won’t be on Goodreads. Trust me.

Via Kristen Lamb, The Ugly Truth of Publishing and How Best to Support Authors

So if you’ve ever wondered how you can help an author in addition to buying their books, it’s as simple as writing a review and spreading the word.

Photo is from DebbieOhi.com

 

Books

How to Write: A Year in Advice from Karl Ove Knausgaard, Angela Flournoy, T.C. Boyle, and More – The Atlantic

“When it’s done right, fiction provides the authority to speak about deep things; at the same time, it provides a shield, a mask. The mask lets you say things, talk about things, that you couldn’t ordinarily talk about.” – Lorin Stein

“At a certain point, you have to be kind to yourself as a writer and trust your own motives. You have to have confidence that you’re coming from the right place. You have to allow yourself to let loose, pursue a good story, and create people who feel real. Not good, not bad, certainly not perfect—just real.” – Angela Flournoy

“I think the best endings bring you back in, rather than close things off with absolute finality. I’m not saying they necessarily have to be ambiguous, but we don’t always need to know what happens when everyone wakes up tomorrow morning … When I start a story, I don’t know what the ending will be in advance. I very much believe in working organically—that is, I don’t know what the story will be or what’s going to happen.

This is the beauty of the art of fiction, as opposed to laying out an essay or writing a thriller. You remain open to the possibilities throughout the entire story. When they’re lucky, the artist finds one line, one moment that brings it all together. It’s hard to say how certain stories just punch us in the heart and the brain at the same time at the end. I suppose that’s what we’re all looking for.” – T.C. Boyle

Just a few quotes that I love in this article.  Click on the link below to read the full article – it’s just freakin’ amazing and a fitting guide for my 2016 year of writing.

Source: How to Write: A Year in Advice from Karl Ove Knausgaard, Angela Flournoy, T.C. Boyle, and More – The Atlantic

Quotes · Writing

“…no story is ever done.” – John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck, ca. 1966. Photograph by Yoichi Okamoto
John Steinbeck, ca. 1966. Photograph by Yoichi Okamoto

A man who writes a story is forced to put into it the best of his knowledge and the best of his feeling. The discipline of the written word punishes both stupidity and dishonesty. A writer lives in awe of words for they can be cruel or kind, and they can change their meanings right in front of you. They pick up flavors and odors like butter in a refrigerator. Of course, there are dishonest writers who go on for a little while, but not for long—not for long.

A writer out of loneliness is trying to communicate like a distant star sending signals. He isn’t telling or teaching or ordering. Rather he seeks to establish a relationship of meaning, of feeling, of observing. We are lonesome animals. We spend all life trying to be less lonesome.

One of our ancient methods is to tell a story begging the listener to say—and to feel—

“Yes, that’s the way it is, or at least that’s the way I feel it. You’re not as alone as you thought.”

Of course a writer rearranges life, shortens time intervals, sharpens events, and devises beginnings, middles and ends. We do have curtains—in a day, morning, noon and night, in a man, birth, growth and death. These are curtain rise and curtain fall, but the story goes on and nothing finishes.

To finish is sadness to a writer—a little death. He puts the last word down and it is done. But it isn’t really done. The story goes on and leaves the writer behind, for no story is ever done.

Source: Paris Review – The Art of Fiction No. 45 (Continued), John Steinbeck