Wednesday, October 16, 2019

The Wedding Favor Has a Release Date #Bookworm #MustRead #Preorder #RomanceReaders

Hello guys. I thought you, my wonderful fans, would like to know that The Wedding Favor has a release date. You can finally get to know Max and Erin better on November 18th, 2019. Both the ebook and paperback are available for pre-order now. 

Don't forget to pre-order from Amazon.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

THE WEDDING FAVOR Has a Cover! #CoverReveal #RomanticComedy #Weddings #WeddingRomance #Bestman #Romance

The Wedding Favor has a cover! I'm very excited to share the cover for my new romantic comedy, published by The Wild Rose Press. I haven't been given a release date yet, but, I have to tell you, I can't wait! 

When unlucky-in-love Erin Hart’s workaholic boss asks her to attend a family wedding as his fake girlfriend, hiding her secret crush becomes an impossible task. 

You're probably wondering why I have a picture of a Yorkshire Terrie fronting the blog post when I'm introducing you to my new book cover. Meet my Yorkie. Her name is Autumn Buttercup and she's 11 months old. 

So what does this have to do with my cover? 

Good question. 

The answer is that the heroineErin Hartfrom The Wedding Favor and I have something in commonwe both love Yorkies. Erin's Yorkie is a teacup Yorkshire Terrier named Buttercup. I was thrilled when I saw that The Wild Rose Press cover artist assigned to create my cover had managed to get the Yorkie on the cover ~melt~.

Isn't the cover cute? I must say, I do love it. 

A wedding favor for her secret crush…

When unlucky-in-love personal assistant Erin Hart enters her boss’s New York office to resign her job, she doesn’t expect to exit as his fake-girlfriend for an upcoming family wedding. How is she going to keep her crush a secret when she has to share a room… and a bed… with Max for one sizzling weekend in the UK?

Workaholic CEO Max Ferrell understands women only too well: they either want his body or his money. But fiery, sexy Erin is different and recruiting her to help curtail his over-zealous, matchmaking sisters is proving that it’s far more fun to play while you work. Especially when his prim and proper PA helps him to set the sheets ablaze. But falling for her was not in the plan and if he's not careful, the next wedding might be his own.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Carb Sensitivity, Sugar Intolerance & The #Keto Solution #Health #HealthyEating #LCHF #LowCarb #CleanEating #SugarFree

Earlier this year, I took a long hard look at my health and realised I had to get serious. After all, I'm long past the age of youth when my body forgave my bad eating habits. One of the things I came to discover, was my intolerance to sugar. Yes, we all know sugar is bad for our bodies and our brain but, yet, we remain snared by the sugary hooks of temptation. 

I've mentioned before that I'm a huge fan of water-only fasting and I try to look after my body as best as I can, but still, I had a very unhealthy relationship with sugar. I was hooked! Just couldn't break that addiction, no matter how hard I tried. So, I got seriousmainly because I don't like anything controlling meand decided to cut out sugar. I'd love to say that was the end of the matterno more sugar. Sadly, that wasn't the result. I did well for a couple of weeks, then one of the kids had a birthday and the sugar addiction gripped me again. After I recovered from the sugar coma, I realised I needed a better strategy than simply giving up sweet treats and chocolate. While I'd avoided sugar, I was still eating high carb foods, which was doing me no favours since I'm also carb sensitive.  

So, I decided to try the Ketogenic diet again. The last time I was on keto, I didn't count my macros or added salt, or really took it seriously. As a result, I started to have heart palpitations every day. Then the leg cramps set in and I ditched the diet faster than you can say caramel cheesecake. Had I done keto properly, none of this would have happened. Live and learn, right? Anyway, fast forward to the present. I'm back on Ketoproperlyand I feel amazing for it. All of my joint aches and muscle pains are gone. The brain fog is lifting. The irritability is gone and I no longer need a baby nap in the afternoon. Now, if I have a sugar craving, I find that 50-100g of berries with a couple of tbsp of double cream is the perfect treat for me. I don't believe I'd ever really kick the sugar habit. I imagine this is what it must be like to be a recovering addict. You have to take each day at a time and make wise decisions as you go.

Not everyone is sensitive or intolerant to sugar and carbs but if you are, you'll know by monitoring your body’s reaction before and after you consume sugar. Do you love sugar so much that you eat sugar-laden foods even when you’re not hungry? This was one of my signs. The other was chronic fatigue. I didn't have the energynor the motivationto do anything. 

Other Signs and Symptoms of Carb & Sugar Sensitivity

Unstable blood sugar
Voracious craving for sweet treats and refined carbohydrates
Mood disturbances/Mood swings
Stomach Bloating
Irritable Bowel
Joint and muscle pain
Skin break-outs
Brittle nails
Unhealthy hair and hair loss
Lethargy and fatigue
Poor memory/Brain fog
Severe PMS symptoms in women
Struggle with weight 
Tired, tetchy and sleepy (or what I call the afternoon sleepy-weepies).

I'm not saying Keto solves all problems for everyone, but, for me, it certainly has. I'm now full of energy, I can eat tons of fatdid I mention how much I LOVE fat??and I can sit in front of my laptop and be productive. The fact that I haven't put out a book in a couple of years has something to do with my chronic lethargy as well as the fact that I've been focusing on targeting Harlequin. I live in perpetual anticipation of the day I get The Call, but I digress. 

I've found that doing Keto correctly has been my life-saver. If like me, you suffer from sugar and carbohydrate intolerance, perhaps you might like to look into the Ketogenic diet. It's brilliant! AND a super-fast way to drop unwanted, stored fat!! I've found the Diet Doctor site amazing for information. You might like to check them out.  

And if you're not sold on Keto and you're looking for a way to crush the sugar demons, I invite you to check out one of my booksyou might enjoy my Pleasure Flights series. 

Did you know you get the same high from reading a good book as you would from eating sugary treats? The bonus is you get all the pleasure without the unwanted calories! Who wouldn't want that, right?

Here is a taster of Book #1 in the Pleasure Flights series.

ADAM: Her Deal Maker

Making a sexy deal with the deal-maker 

Flying sightseers over California is part of helicopter pilot Lacey Sanders' job. The other part is denying her attraction for hot-bod fellow pilot Adam Swank. A painful experience has taught Lacey never to date her co-workers. So regardless of how sizzling the sparks are, she will never go there again. But when they team up to close a business deal, Lacey can no longer resist Adam’s steamy kisses or sensuous lovemaking under stars on the beach of a private island.

Adam The Deal-Maker has the gift of persuasion. Except when it comes to Lacey. For five years they’ve been dancing around a fiery attraction. Now he has her right where he wants her—in his arms—but can he persuade thrill seeking Lacey to accept his deal and take a chance on an office romance?

ADAM: Her Deal Maker
Pleasure Flights series #1
Copyright © Monique DeVere 2017
Crystal Swan Publications
All Rights Reserved

Snagged around the waist, Lacey found herself swept off her feet. "Adam, put me down!” 

His free hand closed on the doorknob to the stationery cupboard next to them. “We need to talk,” he repeated. A second later he had them shut inside the dimly lit cupboard, her back pressed to his chest, his arm branding her, his body heat reminding her of how hot his naked skin had been against hers. Her stomach fluttered with a warmth that meandered through the rest of her. 

“We have nothing to talk about.” She squirmed and pushed at his arm around her waist, no match for his easy strength. 

“Keep doing that, and we’re going to have an embarrassing problem, Lacey.” His voice dropped to the same seductive husk he’d used that night in Washington. “You must know when you wriggle your butt against my groin like that, it’s going to react.” 

She stilled, frozen in midair as a sudden blast of desire slammed her. She drew in a sharp breath, angry with herself for responding to his words, his touch. 

He put her down, dipped his head so his lips brushed her ear, sending a delicious buzz through her. 

“We do need to talk.” He let his hand slide across her abdomen, making her muscles quiver as he released her“And I’m done pussyfooting around the issue.” 

“What issue?” The confined space felt too closed-in, too intimate. Too much like the perfect place for lovers to grab a stolen moment.

“You and I.” His fresh, spicy clean scent distracted her as it always did.

She put a step between them, scraped back the lock of her hair that had come loose, her breathing ragged with temper and—she hated to admit—excitement. “There is no you and I—me—I.” He made her so mad she forgot her grammar. 

“All I’m asking for is thirty seconds to say I’m sorry.”

“For what?” Was he really attempting to apologize for the way he’d treated her? 

“For what happened in D.C.”

Or was he simply poking at her wound? “I already know that. You made it clear, so no need to press the point home.”

Adam heaved a frustrated breath, rubbed the back of his neck. “I’m saying sorry for the way I reacted after we made love.”

“Will you keep your voice down?” Her whisper came out a little harsher than she intended. “I’m not anxious to broadcast that stupid mistake to everyone in this place.”

In the gloom, she sensed more than saw him tense, as though she’d landed a direct blow and she experienced a moment of remorse. 

“Why does everything with you have to be so difficult, Lacey? Why can’t we just get along?”

And wasn’t that just the question she’d been asking herself for months? “Maybe we should stay out of each other’s way.”

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Emotional Stakes How Do You Raise Them? #WriteTip #Writing #Romance #EmotionalStakes

Emotional Stakes

Pull up a chair, everyone! It's been ages since I did a "Pull Up a Chair With Mon" post. I thought it might be fun to grab a few of my author friends and chat about emotional stakes in a way that would allow newbie writers to grasp the concept. I remember as a newbie writer--many many years ago!--thinking that story stakes and emotional stakes were the same thing. It was a long time before I discovered they were not. So, for any newbie writers seeking to understand stakes, I'm going to explain. Since I write romance, I'll be focusing on stakes in romance novels.

What are Stakes

Stakes create tension and give the reader an emotional interest in the outcome of your characters’ journey. If you want your reader to be invested in your story--even keep her on the edge of her seat turning pages long into the night--you must raise the emotional stakes. The big question must always be "what's at stake?" As I've mentioned, there are two types of stakes in the romance novel. Story stakes and emotional stakes. 

Story Stakes 

Are external conflicts/obstacles. Everything to do with the plot. It's the risks our characters take in their quest to achieve the external goal. You can up the story stakes by looking at what the character stands to lose or gain with relation to the external goal, then make the worse happen. 

Emotional Stakes

Emotional stakes come from the protagonists’ internal conflict. You raise the stakes by putting your character through emotional conflict. Give them a choice that places them between a rock and a hard place. Look to the character's fear for ideas on ramping up the emotional conflict. What is at stake for the character proves the lie they believe is true. For example, if your heroine's fear is love leads to abandonment, and her lie/limiting belief is that pregnancy always ends in being alone, put her in that position so her fear proves the lie. Of course, the truth will set her free. But first, we just need to torture her emotions a little. 

Remember that the lie/limiting belief produces the internal conflict and the fear produces the stakes. For instance, using the fear and lie example above, and knowing the emotional stakes comes from the fear, we can raise the emotional stakes by creating situations where the heroine causes problems for herself by maybe being too clingy, suspicious, untrusting. Maybe she checks the hero's phone messages or checks up on him, or any of the zillion crazy things someone who is afraid of being abandoned would do. For sure, she would hold on too tightly to the people she loves, which could make them feel smothered and, ultimately, bring about the one thing your heroine fears--abandonment. And worse of all, abandonment whilst pregnant! Give the hero emotional fears of his own that will collide with the heroine's fears. You can picture what an emotional mess these two characters will get themselves into. Of course, your hero doesn't knowingly abandon the pregnant heroine, but her fear caused the Black Moment where she loses everything. The emotional wound leads to the Black Moment but the fear causes it. So make sure the emotional wound is good and deep.

Stakes are the emotional conflicts in your story. They're what keeps your reader turning pages. In order to properly raise the emotional stakes in your novel, you need to first create well-developed characters. 

In the interest of clarity, let me briefly touch on this. The way I develop my main characters is fairly simple. I make sure both my hero and heroine have a name, an identity, a flaw, motto, lie/limiting belief, symptoms of the lie, emotional wound, emotional fear, want, need/truth, long and short-term ext GMC, and story question. Once we know these things, it's easy to raise the stakes.

How I Raise Emotional Stakes

Every author is different in how s/he crafts a story. The way I raise the emotional stakes in my stories is by making a list of questions based on the hero and heroine's emotional fears, flaws, lie, want, and wounds. These are predominately questions I think the reader will be asking as she reads the story. Then I intentionally create scenes that pose these questions in the reader's mind. I answer each question while posing another, making sure to keep it on an emotional level. This way, the reader will keep reading because she has to find out the answer to the last question I crafted. 

That's the way I create the roller coaster read. Let's hear from a few of my author friends to see how they do it.

Diana Rubinoauthor of BOOTLEG BROADWAY
At the height of Prohibition, gifted musician/composer Billy McGlory gets into one mess after another--and shocks us all at the end. 

"I make sure each choice/dilemma has more dire consequences than the one before, and involves the fate of at least one other major character."

Maureen Bonatch: author of NOT A CHANCE
Hope just wants to be normal—too bad that will never happen.

"Most of the characters in my stories have strong family connections. I often raise the emotional stakes by making my character face conflicting expectations from their family, love interest, and themselves. Often this can lead to emotional growth while making those difficult decisions and trying to be true to themselves."

Kathy L Wheeler: author of MAIL ORDER BRIDE: THE COUNTERFEIT (book 1)
Amelia’s saloon madam mother has decided it’s time to bring her daughter into the family business—imagine her surprise, and relief, when she is mistaken for Will’s mail ordered bride.

"According to Donald Maas, go deep, deeper, and one more deep. The second and third deeps are where you are getting to the heart of the matter. For example, if you have a heroine who is angry. Why is she angry? Because anger hides other “deeper” feelings. What feelings? Pain, hurt, desire even. The answer to the why depends on the situation of the character’s situation."

Pamela S. Thibodeaux: author of LOVE IN SEASON

Any time is the right time for love. In this collection, Pamela S Thibodeaux brings together 8 romantic stories that revolve around the 4 seasons as well as 4 holidays that focus on love and relationships. *Contains two brand new, never before published stories!

"There’s a saying most every author knows. 'No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.' 

This goes for laughter, terror, passion.

Raising the emotional stakes for your readers means you, as an author, must go a level deeper. It’s not enough to tell or even to some degree, show, your characters' emotions. You’ve got to get inside their heads and hearts and feel their feelings. Then transfer that to the page in a way that will make your reader sit on the edge of their seat in suspense or swoon with longing. Think deep POV.

Everyone feels the same basic emotions. Asking your characters the following questions can help you connect with them and your readers on that same deep level. 

Why does he/she feel that way?
What has happened to make them react the way they do?
When did this happen?
Who was involved?

More questions are: 
How do you want to feel, act, respond?
What would it take for you to evolve so that you can respond as you desire instead of with the same knee-jerk reactions?

Most of us don’t want to ask our characters these questions because, on some level, what he or she is going through we’ve either experienced or are afraid to experience. Many of us don’t want to feel our own emotions much less have some made up human being ripping us apart with theirs.

Alas, to grip your reader by the heart and not let go, we must look a level deeper, feel a level deeper. Even if it means facing our own fears and perhaps overcoming our own shortcomings."

Linda Carroll-Bradd: author of DULCINA (book 5 in The Widows of Wildcat Ridge series)
Will bringing an old friend to town provide the help Dulcina needs or a new kind of trouble?

"I often give the characters a previous history. Maybe one had a crush on the other when they were both youth but never acted on it. Or the pair courted (I write mostly historical stories) and planned a future then the relationship abruptly ended (lots of reasons here--parental disapproval, one family’s financial circumstances changes, war, relocation, death in family). When they meet again years later, they have to overcome whatever the past problem was plus whatever’s happening in the present. But they also have the fond memories of the times they spent together."

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Even Romance Heroes Can Be Gaslit! #Amwriting #WIP #Romance #Gaslighting

One of the stories I'm currently working on has a subplot about gaslighting. This is a subject I've been interested in for a long time. It fascinates me that one person can mess with someone else's head so much that they end up thinking they're nuts. 

Hold up... I'm assuming everyone who reads this knows what gaslighting is--and you know what is said about people who assume! So, in the interest of not making a donkey of you or me, let me explain. Gaslighting is a form of psychological or emotional manipulation. In more extreme cases it would fall into the category of psychological or emotional abuse intended to convince the victim that they're going crazy. 

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and they flat-out deny that what you heard them say is what they said? Have they made you so frustrated that you throw your hands up and say: "you're driving me crazy?" If so, then you've experienced the sort of strategy gaslighters use. 

It wasn't until many years after the fact that I realised, as a young teen, I'd been a victim of gaslighting. The perpetrators weren't my mum, dad, sisters or brothers, but they were people who I--and my parents--trusted. I'd say something relatively intelligent, then at a later date the conversation would come up again and I'd say something along the lines of: "I said...". And one of the people would say: "you didn't say that! I did!" Other instances went something like this:  "that wasn't your idea, it was mine". Or "I made this cake. You made that one." Of course, this person claimed the cake I made as theirs because it came out better. 

Or this person/people would say something, then deny they said it and proceed to tell me I was making things up. Another would ensure everyone thought I was a little unhinged and would tell my parents not to listen to me (when I tried to alert my parents to what was going on) because I was a liar. I knew the things that happened to me during that time was emotional abuse, but it was only years later that I realised it had been gaslighting. More than once I was convinced I was crazy. So much so that I attempted the unthinkable... I have my little sister to thank for me being here today. But that isn't what we're talking about. I simply wanted to touch on how serious gaslighting can be. 

Some people are very adept at messing with another person's head. The brother of my hero in my current WIP is very subtle in his gaslighting abilities. My hero doesn't even know that his brother is gaslighting him until the end of the book. Romance heroes are supposed to be alpha male and utterly capable, but what happens when the hero is riddled with guilt because of something he did years ago that caused his brother's bride to leave him at the altar? I think it would be easy for an alpha hero to overlook the subtleties of gaslighting when he's consumed with a mountain of guilt. And this is what happens to my hero. I'm enjoying writing this story and hope it wouldn't be too long before I'll be able to share exciting news about this book.

Have you ever been gaslit? Know someone who has? I'd like to hear about your experience.