Psyched for Romance

Sports Romance & Romantic Suspense With a Psychological Twist

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Summer Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Summer Giveaway Hop, hosted by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer blog and BookHounds blog. The giveaway runs August 1st - 7th, and the winner will be announced August 8th.

I'm excited to give away a signed print copy of Summer Lovin' Anthology: Summer Breeze, which includes my short story "Swim Recruit" along with six other wonderful stories by Omnific Publishing authors. See my review of Summer Breeze here.

What's even better is that the winner will support the breast cancer research organization Save the Ta-Tas. I will purchase the anthology for $14.99 for the winner and all proceeds go to Save the Ta-Tas.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Review: Summer Breeze Anthology

Are you an author or reader who questions the usefulness of short stories?

"If you can write a novel, why stop at a short story?"

I used to be one of those kinds of people, friends. In fact, I like to write LONG novels. Then Omnific Publishing decided to compile two short story anthologies this summer, with all proceeds benefiting the breast cancer research organization Save the Ta-tas. My mother is a breast cancer survivor so naturally I was sold on the idea from the get-go.

Deciding to use the opportunity to stretch my writing muscles, I wrote my first Young Adult story from a first person point of view, and had so much fun. A short story forces the writer to be concise in her plotting and characterization, attempting to grab the reader quickly. Now I'm a true believer in short stories!

Another benefit of shorts is the opportunity to sample writing from a variety of authors, and that was my favorite part of reading Summer Lovin' Anthology: Summer Breeze. It was my first exposure to Hannah Downing and Sarah Glover, and I'll definitely be back for more.

Here's my 5 star review from Goodreads:

This anthology of short stories benefits the breast cancer research organization Save the Ta-tas. Its sister anthology, Heat Wave, cranks up the steam, but these short stories are more like a warm ocean breeze.

The first story is The Summer Prince by Carol Oates. Her lyrical writing sets the scene of the Beltaine celebration in a small Irish town years ago. Niamh is a 15 year-old sneaking around a party meant only for those 16 and older. A handsome stranger, a friend's unexpected cruelty, and the folklore of the Fae evoke a mysterious and satisfying YA romance in this story.

How lucky I felt when I realized Susan Kaye Quinn's short story Full Speed Ahead follows the wonderful characters from her novel Life, Liberty, and Pursuit. I loved her sweet YA romance novel and was happy to learn more about secondary characters Clayton and Teague. Clayton's in the Navy, and boy do I love a man in uniform.

"I let him kiss me, because in his summer dress whites--all crisply pressed twill, gold metal buttons, and hat in hand--he just about knocked me out with the handsome". Oo la la!

The ending of Susan's story was surprising and wonderful.

Next is Hannah Downing's The Second Sunrise. The story starts in Cabo where Hayley is vacationing with her brother and his friends. One of those friends, Chris, meets up with Hayley for a beach rendezvous, delivering a scorching kiss as the sun rises. Unfortunately, after that one kiss the sun quickly sets on their romance, and Hayley has no idea why. Three years later they're back in Cabo. Will Chris finally get his head out of his butt? ;-) This story took me back to my college spring break days with all the partying and fond insults characterizing a tight-knit group of friends.

The next story is Sway by Nicki Elson. I loved Nicki's novel Three Daves and she shows off her versatility in this anthology with a different and unique romance between an elderly woman (Rose) in a nursing home and a mysterious man who croons outside her window. Rose's meddling older sisters are hilarious, but I most enjoyed the identity of the secret singer. Fantastical and funny!

Killian McRae's Interpersonal Communication is a fantastic story featuring a divorcee named Katie who starts working for a hottie professor. The emergence of a secret admirer for Katie had me intrigued. I loved the text messages between her and "ShyGuy66" including Katie's revelation that her nickname in school was the horrific "Inflate-a-Katie". She texts: "My people are of the north and they like cheese". Ha ha! Killian has such a keen sense of humor and I flew threw this playful story about a woman finding her voice.

I think Omnific Publishing might have saved the best for last with Sarah Glover's Whatever it Takes. I've never read Sarah's writing before but I can't wait to get my hands on her upcoming novel. In this story a young widow named Jen is headed to an island off Maine with her neighbor/friend Graham. Awaiting her there is the dashing famous writer Adrian Bonair. Jen's friends have set her up with the pompous writer (he reminded me a little of Professor Emerson from Gabriel's Inferno with about one-tenth of Gabriel's charm). Adrian is clearly not right for Jen, whereas Graham seems like the perfect match. Will Jen end up with snooty writer-boy? Or will she realize Graham's the one for her? Stay tuned.

Also included is my story Swim Recruit. I won't attempt to review it, but will give you the synopsis:

Not long after Abby Donahue’s family falls apart, she escapes on an airplane to Chicago for a recruiting trip. A talented high-school swimmer, Abby hopes to score both a college scholarship and some distance from her parents' recent divorce. But is this university for her?

Her first encounter with freshman swimmer Reese McGowan makes her nervous. He’s a tall backstroker with a mess of blond hair, glittering aquamarine eyes, and a suspension from the team for badmouthing the school to another recruit. As Abby unravels the mystery underlying Reese’s disdain, she begins to unlock her own hidden emotions about her father. Together Abby and Reese battle bullies on the team and inner demons, learning that flipper feet and fighting for family can actually be a good thing.

Summer Breeze is a really great variety of stories for a good cause. I definitely encourage you to check them out!

I also wanted to share this link sent to me by Donna about Ten Unrealistic but Common Romance Novel Storylines. Find it HERE.

It's time for Meet an Author Monday Bloghop, hosted by Lisa Sanchez. Authors, please join the hop! Readers, please check out author blogs on the hop.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Beach or Mountain?

Happy Monday. It's my last day of a short vacation to Park City, Utah with my sisters and their families. Yesterday we hiked up one mountain in the ski resort, encountering exquisite blue skies, colorful wildflowers, and sore calf muscles!

 My sisters and I. Which one is the marathon runner? (hint: not me, on the right) ;-)

The hike inspired some thought about my favorite places to visit and favorite settings for novels. While the mountains are strong and majestic, I have to say I'm a beach girl. There's something so spiritual for me about the vast expanse of sea, rolling in with a never-ending rush of waves. For romance novels, the beach just seems right.

That's one reason I adored the cover art for the Summer Breeze short story anthology designed by Stephanie Swartz (see cover on the right). What a loving scene on the beach! I guess the only drawback would be getting sand in your nether regions during an intimate scene, but otherwise the beach is perfect for me.

Of the stories I've read so far, Hannah Downing capitalized beautifully on the beach setting for her Young Adult romance. I'm the genius who set my story in the dead of winter (duh!) but I look forward to reading Summer Breeze and Heat Wave to check out all the sizzling summer stories, whatever their setting, to help Save the Ta-Tas.

What do you prefer: Beach or Mountain?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Author Sylvain Reynard: Review and Interview

And the winner of the Skyrockets in Flight Blog Hop is . . .

Darlene from Darlene's Book Nook!

An ebook of With Good Behavior or Bad Behavior is coming your way, Darlene. Thank you to all the entrants. If you didn't win, hop on over to Lisa Sanchez's blog where there's a giveaway of The Conduct Series happening until the end of July.

Now on to my featured guest today, author Sylvain Reynard! I LOVED his debut novel Gabriel's Inferno. Here's my review:

Beautifully Written and Executed

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. The themes of this story – redemption and healing via the grace of love – are quite important to me, and Gabriel and Julia demonstrate these themes gradually and powerfully. Both romantic leads grow stronger and softer throughout the story, with Julia leading the way. As the bonds of their relationship strengthen, so too do their internal structures, undergirding their love for each other and themselves.

Julia is a graduate student at the University of Toronto, working on her master’s degree. When the snarky narrator points out how graduate school is its own feudal class system, I had to laugh – so true. As a master’s student, Julia is the serf, and her sweet doctoral student friend Paul is only one small step up the power ladder. As the professor, Gabriel is the master, lording over all with disdain.

Gabriel is so freaking snooty. I loved when he insists on being called “Professor” instead of “Doctor”, since lowly podiatrists are called “Doctor”. I wonder how he’d feel about lowly psychologists going by “Doctor”, ha ha. It’s amazing how his snobby personality is actually charming, as seen through Julia’s eyes, just like Gabriel adores Julia’s shyness and delicateness. Mr. Reynard really nails how love makes us see the beauty in each other.

My favorite part of the novel is the early interaction between Julia and Gabriel, a true battle between good and evil, culminating in a verbal classroom duel that is magnificent. I can totally picture that classroom scene in a movie.

These are two deeply troubled individuals. As Gabriel tells her, “We both have scars, Julianne. Mine just aren’t on the skin.” (p. 414). (I beg to differ, Gabriel – look at your chest.) Both will try their best to heal those scars, however. Nowhere is Gabriel’s transformation more evident than the change in how he views Julia’s sexuality. At first he mocks her virginity, and his scathing words are so visceral that I also wanted to hide in shame. Toward the end of the novel Gabriel tells her:

“Someone as giving and as passionate as you could never be terrible at anything sexual. You just need someone who will make you feel safe enough to express yourself. Then the tiger will emerge . . I’ve seen your passion. I’ve felt it. And it’s breathtaking. You are breathtaking.” (p.403)

Gabriel tries to break free of his bitter outer shell to communicate the true reverence he feels for Julia:

“Of course I want you. Look at you! You’re beautiful and warm and intelligent. You’re forgiving and gentle. You might not realize this, but you bring out those qualities in me. You make me want to be gentle and kind.” (p.403)

It’s Julia’s forgiveness and clever suggestion for atonement that help Gabriel the most. She tells him:

“But think about the gift you gave Tom – his only daughter. Turn our debt into penance. You are not a devil, you’re an angel. My angel.” (p. 432).

Truly lovely. The novel ends a bit abruptly so I was excited to hear Mr. Reynard is writing the sequel as we speak. I’d like to hurry him along but excellent writing like this can’t be rushed. Bellissima!

Time for an interview of Mr. Reynard!

Jennifer Lane (JL): Welcome to the blog, Sylvain. I loved the tortured hero in Gabriel's Inferno. What inspired you to write that character? How much of your own personality and experiences did you infuse into Gabriel?

Sylvain Reynard (SR): Hello Miss Jennifer. Allow me to begin by thanking you for inviting me to visit your blog today. I'm delighted to be with you and your readers.

Thank you for your kind words about Professor Emerson. "Gabriel's Inferno" is a work of fiction, but some of the events (and more than a few sins) are based in reality. 

Quite a bit of me ended up in Gabriel, I'll confess, especially the old-fashioned way of speaking and relating to others.  I think that he is what I could have been like were it not for the grace and forgiveness I've received in my own life. In that sense, he is as much a cautionary doppelgaenger as he is a fictional character.

JL: How do you like to write? (Favorite writing spot...Preferred ambience...Plotter or pantser?)

SR:  I like to plot everything out before I begin writing.  I have a leather chair of which I am extremely fond and I tend to favour writing in that space when I'm not at my desk. I tend to spend a lot of time thinking about the characters and their reactions before I write a scene, even to the point of visually laying out the action.

JL: You appear to have some graduate school experience yourself, judging by your spot-on descriptions of academic hierarchy and snootiness. What is your academic background?

SR:  I was a student many years ago when the distinction between professor and student was entrenched and formal. I was on the receiving end of the snootiness more than once, although many of my instructors and fellow students were kind.  I poke (gentle) fun at the academic caste system because (especially to non-students) the hierarchy can be ridiculous.  (Parenthetically, it should be noted that in my view there is no excuse for bad manners, not even one's academic pedigree.)

JL: I've been to Toronto a few times for psychology conferences, and stayed at the UT dorms once as a poor grad student (I could identify with Julia's hovel.) Please tell us more about Toronto as the setting for your story.

SR:  The University of Toronto is, perhaps, the best known and largest Canadian university.  It's located downtown and the boundary between the city and the university is almost non-existent. People from all walks of life cut through campus daily.  There are many high end restaurants, condos and shops just steps from the university buildings.It's common for both faculty and students to live within walking distance of campus. Most of the drama in "Gabriel's Inferno" that is set in Toronto takes place within five city blocks.

JL: *eagerly bounces up and down* How's the sequel to Gabriel's Inferno coming along?

SR: Thanks for asking. The sequel is in progress, and I was able to put a little bit of what's forthcoming as a kind of epilogue in "Gabriel's Inferno." (You can read it at the very end of the book)  I don't have a release date for the sequel yet but I'm eager for the book to be available soon.

Let me end by thanking you once again, Miss Jennifer, for reading my story and also for inviting me to speak to you. And I'd like to thank your readers, too, for allowing me this opportunity.

Time for the Meet an Author Monday Blog Hop, hosted by Lisa Sanchez. Check out her blog for instructions.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

ANOTHER Giveaway!!!

Omnific Publishing and I are in the giving mood these days. Before I announce the winner of the "Skyrockets in Flight" giveaway tomorrow, I'm also starting another giveaway of The Conduct Series on a guest post at fellow Omnific author Lisa Sanchez's blog for the Sizzling Summer Author Extravaganza.

Please visit Lisa's BLOG to enter to win an ebook of With Good Behavior or Bad Behavior, and to read an excerpt from The Conduct Series #3, On Best Behavior.

Also, check back tomorrow when I host Sylvain Reynard, popular author of the smoldering Gabriel's Inferno!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Summer Lovin' Anthology Giveaway

The lovey Jen LR from the At Random blog hosted me for a guest post about the Summer Lovin' short story anthologies, benefiting the breast cancer organization Save the Ta-tas. What's even better is that Jen LR is giving away two copies of the anthologies! Thanks for supporting Omnific Publishing and breast cancer research, Jen. Please visit Jen and Jen HERE!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Skyrockets in Flight, Blog Hop Delight

Boom, Boom, Boom . . . Happy July 4th!

To celebrate America's Independence I'm joining the Skyrockets in Flight Blog Hop. An ebook from "The Conduct Series" is up for grabs: your choice of With Good Behavior (Goodreads finalist for Romance Novel of the Year) or Bad Behavior.

I'm also celebrating the release of my first short story Swim Recruit in the Omnific Publishing Anthology Summer Breeze. Read the romance . . . Save the Ta-ta's! Each anthology purchased will benefit the breast cancer research organization Save the Ta-Ta's. Read a blurb of my Young Adult story HERE and check out Summer Breeze and Summer Heat anthologies HERE.

Want to read an excerpt of Swim Recruit? This is the beginning of the story.

With only one hour until my flight, I was itching to get moving. But my mother’s hand remained latched onto my elbow. I glanced down at her restraining grip with scorn.
“Call me when you get there?” Her brown eyes were pleading.
I nodded, feeling my exasperation building.
“And don’t let them body scan you when you go through security. I don’t like all that radiation.”
“I don’t think I have a choice,” I said.
“Opt out,” she ordered. “Do a pat-down.”
Getting groped by a TSA agent would be the most action I’d seen in my seventeen years on this earth. At least I’d have that. “Okay.”
“And, Abby, don’t get mugged.”
Getting mugged would definitely mean some action. “Aw,” I whined. “I wanted to get mugged this trip. Please?”
Her eyes narrowed. “Cute. Are you sure you don’t want me to come with you?”
I wriggled free from her grip. “Parents don’t come on recruiting trips, Mom. That’d be weird.”
“This is your first solo flight—to a strange city too.”
“Chicago’s not strange. After all, Dad—” I stopped midstream, choking on my next words. Once my heartbeat slowed again I muttered, “Anyway, I’ll be fine.”
Mom gave me a sympathetic look. “Yes, your father grew up in Chicago. Why don’t you call him? I’m sure he’d love to join you up there, show you around—”
My icy glare cut her short.
“Honey, you can’t ignore him the rest of your life.”
“How do you do that?” I hollered, feeling my cheeks flush as nearby passengers glanced over.
“How do I do what?”
I lowered my voice, hearing it quiver. “How do you just forgive him?”
She gave me one of her sad smiles—the ones that made me want to scoop her in a hug and tell her it’d be okay, no matter how much she was annoying me with her clinginess. The ones that made me want to gouge out my dad’s eyeballs with a spoon.
“We were married twenty-three years, Abby. Your father may not love me anymore, but I still love him.”
I eyed her suspiciously, wondering what had brought on her Zen acceptance of their divorce. Apparently the sessions with her therapist were working. Then I saw her eyes mist over, and I was back to thinking therapy was a scam.
A tear escaped and slid down her cheek. Looking away, I blinked a few times, pressing my lips together.
I felt my mom’s warm hand cradle my face, drawing my eyes back to hers. Knowing I couldn’t handle an emotional scene in the middle of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, even if it was somewhat deserted on an early Saturday morning, I leaned in for a quick hug. “I’ll be fine, Mom. I’ll call when I get there, ’kay?”
She nodded, squeezing me tight, then stepping back, resigned. Her eyes shone and she forced a smile. “Have a great time.”
My throat constricted and all I could manage was a quick nod. Slinging my backpack over my shoulder, I grabbed the handle of my small roller bag and made my way to the line for security. When I snuck a glance back at Mom she waved, this time giving me a genuine smile.
“Go get ’em, Abby!”
Feeling bolstered, I turned back to the line and dug out my driver’s license.

My first college swimming recruiting trip—a chance to leave Cincinnati and all of my family problems behind. I couldn’t wait.

I hope you enjoy all 13 stories in the two anthologies!

GIVEAWAY CLOSED. Please don't fill out this form--Blogger's not letting me remove it right now.


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