Saturday, September 30, 2017

A Year in the Company of Freaks + Giveaway

~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~

Synopsis: It's 1972 and a seismic clash-of-cultures is rattling northern California. In the redneck town of Trinity Springs, rumors of hippies migrating up from San Francisco have residents bracing for an invasion. When Italian-American hometown boy and Berkeley graduate Sid Jackson is busted for growing pot on his deceased parents' farm, locals suspect the assault has begun. Will a crazy deferral program devised by the sheriff keep Sid out of prison? Or will a house full of eccentric strangers, a passionate love interest, and demons from his past be his undoing?

A "disarmingly appealing" tale of discrimination, transformation and restoration, Freaks is bursting with intrigue, drama, comic relief and romance. Reviewers agree this five-star, coming-of-age classic "very much reflects the attitude and mood of the times."

Praise for A Year in the Company of Freaks:

“This coming of age story will draw the reader right in. Teresa Neumann demonstrates how much she values relationships in her writing … a precious skill. I held my breath all the way through to the final few pages. Five stars!” — The San Francisco Book Review

“As it relates to the complicated clash of culture and counterculture, Freaks acts as an authentic, strongly Seventies book. Northern California works as a strong presence in the novel that is vivid and omnipresent, but never overwhelming. Sure to intrigue and entertain, Freaks will have its digs in you before you realize how involved you’ve become.” — The Manhattan Book Review

To read more reviews, please visit Teresa Neumann's page in iRead Book Tours.

One (or more) Sentence Summary: I am a hippie want-a-be and was so excited to read A Year in the Company of Freaks.  I was't really sure what to expect, but knew I would really enjoy the time period.  I so enjoyed it!  A Year in the Company of Freaks is a great story with great characters.  

We learn about each person through out the year that they live together.  The evolve and become so supportive of each other.  They all have different back grounds and things they are running from and need to heal.  Their lives intertwine with the police chief and his wife, which help round out the story.  

Great time period, wonderful characters, fantastic story!

Would I Read Other Books by the Author:  I would enjoy reading other books by Teresa Neumann.

TAuthor of highly-acclaimed "A Year in the Company of Freaks," Teresa was raised in a large Midwest family and now lives in Oregon. She is also the author of "Bianca's Vineyard," and its sequel, "Domenico's Table." Both books are based on the true stories of her husband's Italian family in Tuscany. In addition to enjoying family, writing, reading, meeting her readers, wine tasting, traveling, and all things Italian, Teresa loves playing the fiddle with other musicians.

Connect with the Author:  Website ~  Facebook ~  Twitter

Ends Oct 7


Friday, September 29, 2017

The Royal Wedding - A MUST read!

~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~

Synopsis (from Amazon): Don't miss the irresistibly funny conclusion of The Crown Jewels Romantic Comedy Duo for fans of both Bridget Jones and The Princess Diaries…

When most girls get engaged, at most they face a disapproving mother-in-law, but in Tessa Sharpe’s case, it’s a disapproving nation. No one in the tiny kingdom of Avonia wants the former anti-royal blogger to wed Prince Arthur. The anti-royals haven’t forgiven her for abandoning ship and swimming over to the Prince’s yacht, and the royal watchers won’t ever forget all the horrible things she wrote about their beloved Royal Family.

Up against all odds, Tessa has only six months to prove herself worthy of the title of Princess. Her nasty father-in-law is going to throw every obstacle in her way, including the beautiful, poised, and highly accomplished Lady Doctor Brooke Beddingfield. But Tessa is determined to make this work and keep her fledgling career as a reporter intact.

Will Tessa manage to fight her way down the aisle and find her Prince Charming waiting? Or will one of them succumb to mounting pressure and run the other way before they can say I do?

Get your copy today and be part of the feel-good fairy tale!

One (or more) Sentence Summary: Loved, Loved, Loved it!  This is book 2 in the Crown Jewel Series.  I loved it as much as I the first one.  The same characters in The Royal Treatment are in The Royal Wedding.  It is a laugh out loud your stomach will ache funny romance novel.  The Crown Jewel series is one of my favorite reads this year.  Super fast read that leavings you wanting  book 3!  Extremely funny, amazing cast of characters, great setting and a fantastic storyline.  I said it before, and will say it again, MJ reminds of Sophia Kinsella, Meg Cabot, Janet Evanovich and Helen Fielding all in one.

Would I Read Other Books by the Author: Oh yes.  When is the third book in the series coming out?  Here is my review on The Royal Treatment (book 1).

Melanie Summers currently resides in Edmonton, Canada, with her husband, three young children, and their goofy dog. When she's not writing romance novels, she loves reading (obviously), snuggling up on the couch with her family for movie night (which would not be complete without lots of popcorn and milkshakes), and long walks in the woods near her house. Melanie also spends a lot more time thinking about doing yoga than actually doing yoga, which is why most of her photos are taken ‘from above’. She also loves shutting down restaurants with her girlfriends. Well, not literally shutting them down, like calling the health inspector or something. More like just staying until they turn the lights off. Melanie is a member of the Romance Writers of America, as well as the International Women's Writing Guild. Melanie would love to hear from you! She does her best to respond to all inquiries and emails personally. If you would like her to attend a book club meeting via Skype please contact her to book a date. Contact her at or visit

Melanie - please, please being writing book 3.  It is a must have for all of us that LOVE the Crown Jewel series (The Royal Treatment and The Royal Wedding).


Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Royal Treatment (A MUST read book)

~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~

Synopsis (from Amazon): Ultra-private, ridiculously handsome Crown Prince Arthur has always gotten by on his charm. But that won’t be enough now that the Royal Family is about to be ousted from power once and for all. When Prince Arthur has to rely on the one woman in the kingdom who hates him most, he must learn that earning the love of a nation means first risking his heart.

Twenty-eight-year-old Tessa Sharpe, a.k.a. The Royal Watchdog, hates everything about Prince Arthur. As far as she’s concerned, he’s an arrogant, lazy leech on the kingdom of Avonia. When he shocks the nation by giving her the keys to the castle, Tessa has no choice but to accept and move in for two months. It’s lust at first sight, but there’s no way she can give in to her feelings—not if she wants to have a career or a shred of pride left when her time at the palace ends…

Can two natural enemies find their forever in each other’s arms, or will they ruin each other to save themselves?

One (or more) Sentence Summary: If I had a 10 star, I would give it to The Royal Treatment.  I absolutely, without a doubt loved this book.  The Royal Treatment had me in stitches.  I haven't laughed so much while reading a book in a long time (thank you M.J.).  I would say, The Royal Treatment is a Prince Mia (Meg Cabot, Princess Diary Series) for adults.  There is also a mix of Bridget Jones (Helen Fielding), Becky Bloomwood (Sophia Kinsella) and Stephanie Plum (Janet Evanovich) in the main character, Tessa.  

I really don't want to give away anything here and I can't emphasize enough that this is a MUST read book.  It has been my number one read this year.  Tessa is down on her luck and trying to make ends meets after being fired.  She starts a blog that is geared towards eliminating the Royal families power.  She also has a blog that reviews different products that never seem to go just right. She is clumsy, adorable, smart, witty and finds herself in unusual situations.

Prince Arthur, all I can say is....sigh. Or maybe I should say....yummy!

*SPECIAL WARNING: As per legal counsel, Melanie Summers will not be responsible for others assuming you’ve gone crazy and/or accidents or injuries caused by laughing fits while reading The Royal Treatment. For your own safety: Do not read this book while driving, cooking, walking on slippery surfaces and/or crossing busy roads. Thank you.*

Would I Read Other Books by the Author: I can NOT wait for book 2 (The Royal Wedding out September 7th)  in this series.  PLEASE M.J. remember me when it becomes available.  I will drop everything else just to read book 2!

What Others Are Saying:  

Shockingly Funny!
~ Kim – Effing book club ~

A laugh-out-loud, unputdownable book... (it) left me feeling like I’d just watched a great chick flick with a happily ever after. Loved it!! 
~ Carissa James, Reviewer ~

A gorgeously funny, romantic and seductive modern fairytale…
I have never laughed out loud so much in my life...incredibly funny, witty, romantic, swoony. It quite simply is unforgettable and impossible to leave behind. It just keeps replaying itself over and over again in my mind and making me lust for it— and more.”
~ MammieBabbie Book Club ~

Impossible to put down. This book will forever reside in my ‘read over and over again’ list! YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK!”
~ Marie LaFrance, Author ~

MJ Summers currently resides in Edmonton, Canada, with her husband, three young children, and their goofy dog. When she's not writing romance novels, she loves reading (obviously), snuggling up on the couch with her family for movie night (which would not be complete without lots of popcorn and milkshakes), and long walks in the woods near her house. MJ also spends a lot more time thinking about doing yoga than actually doing yoga, which is why most of her photos are taken ‘from above’. She also loves shutting down restaurants with her girlfriends. Well, not literally shutting them down, like calling the health inspector or something. More like just staying until they turn the lights off. MJ is a member of the Romance Writers of America, as well as the International Women's Writing Guild. MJ would love to hear from you! She does her best to respond to all inquiries and emails personally. 

*PLEASE NOTE: The Crown Jewels Series is not a typical MJ Summers book. It’s a light romantic comedy, very heavy on the laughs with a low steam level (but lots of delicious sexual tension and some swearing).*

If you would like her to attend a book club meeting via Skype please contact her to book a date. Website: 

Facebook   Twitter   Google+   Goodreads  


The Buffer Zone Diet

~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~

Synopsis (from Amazon): WHAT'S YOUR LIFE WORTH? 

When you're drowning, the last thing you do before you go unconscious is take a breath. The carbon dioxide rises so much in your blood it overpowers the last few molecules of oxygen in your body. You reach your breaking point, then you inhale. I inhaled food my whole life and I reached my breaking point in my battle with weight loss.

Right at the moment I was ready to give up, I had some last thoughts:

What if there were things I believed that weren't true? What if calories in and calories out had exceptions? What if we don't all metabolize food the same? Why can't we successfully lose weight and keep it off? I had to find out - my life depended on it. In my quest to break my weight loss code, the Buffer Zone is the space where I found my truth. 

The Buffer Zone diet is the answer to all of these questions and more. In this book you will learn:

  • The Top Ten lies we've been told about our diet
  • Tips for distinguishing between emotional hunger and physical hunger
  • How to create nutrient-dense meals to keep physical hunger at bay
  • Science between weight loss and weight gain 
  • Five distinct blueprints for designing the new and healthiest you 
  • Strategies for breaking through weight loss plateaus 
  • The Four Laws of Weight Management 
  • And most importantly, the formula that regulates weight for the human body!
No matter where you are in your weight-loss journey or quest for a healthy lifestyle The Buffer Zone Diet is a must-read to help you get started on a path to success!

One (or more) Sentence Summary: Do you struggle with your weight? I sure do.  I often need to read books like The Buffer Zone Diet to get my head back in the game. The end of March, I gave up McDonald's Coke (the absolute best Coke in the world), which I HAD to have daily.  Cold turkey gave it up because I got mad at my doctor, who told me I had to do something NOW (thanks doc)!  I have lost 20 pounds.  However, I haven't lost anything this past month.  Buffer Zone I come.

I was pulled in by the first chapter and the ten lies.  I am not sure I agree that they are all lies, but that is okay.  As I continued to read the book, it helped me layout some "rules" to follow.  As the book indicated, most people get more than enough protein, I realized I am not getting nearly enough protein.  I have a list of foods that will help me up my game in that category.  

The other thing I really need to do (and I knew/know it) is exercise.  I liked the different options in the book and allows me to tailor my weeks to ensure I get my daily dose of exercise. I am hoping this will help me past my plateau.  

I find the slow steady weight loss makes me feel better, have more energy and want to continue to eat healthy instead of sucking down my McDonald's Coke.  Don't get me wrong, there are stressful days that I would love to drive thru and pick one up, but I have to keep in mind that is emotional hunger not real hunger.  This is also discussed in the book.

Fred Cuellar has distinguished himself in various fields. He is one of the world’s top diamond experts, a three-time Guinness Book record holder in jewelry design, a consultant to investment and financial firms, and a best-selling author. His clients include the Dallas Cowboys, the Denver Broncos, the Detroit Redwings, plus celebrities associated with Lionsgate and the Rubik’s Brand. His personal commitment to making a difference in people’s lives has taken him on a journey into the world of obesity, and his discoveries not only saved his life but can save yours.  


The Book of Awesome Women

~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~

Synopsis (from Amazon): Super women ─ who are some of the most awesome women in history?

Sheroes: Women hold up half the sky and, most days, do even more of the heavy lifting including childbearing and child-rearing. All after a long day at the office. Women have always been strong, true heroes ─ sheroes, oftentimes unacknowledged. As we shake off the last traces of a major patriarchal hangover, women are coming into their own. In the 21st Century, all women can fully embrace their fiery fempower and celebrate their no-holds-barred individuality. It is time to acknowledge the successful women of the world.

Super women as female role models: From the foremothers who blazed trails and broke barriers, to today's women warriors from sports, science, cyberspace, city hall, the lecture hall, and the silver screen, The Book of Awesome Women paints 200 portraits of powerful and inspiring role models for women and girls poised to become super women of the future.

Successful women: Some of the super women you will meet in The Book of Awesome Women:

  • Dian Fossey
  • Martina Navratilova
  • Sojourner Truth
  • Indira Ghandi 
  • Aretha Franklin
  • Margaret Mead
  • Coretta Scott King
  • Georgia O'Keeffe
  • Jackie Joyner-Kersee
  • Joan Baez
  • Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Coco Chanel
  • Anita Hill
  • Nobel Peace Prize winner, Wangari Maathai
  • and many more

    Now is the time to acknowledge the greatness of women!

One (or more) Sentence Summary: I love books that promote awesomeness.  Add to that, women who have done amazingly awesome things in the past and you have a winner.  The Book of Awesome Women is something should be celebrated and shared with others (especially your kids, grandchildren, nieces and nephews).  I was recently going through a what I will call a personal struggle; however, after reading The Book of Awesome Women, I realized my struggle was not real and I needed to move on.  Thanks Awesome Women!

This week bought a bracelet for an amazing friend with "She needed a hero, so she became one," etched on it.  I have wrapped it up with a copy of The Book of Awesome Women.  An awesome gift for an awesome women.  I can't wait to give it to her next week.  

Becca Anderson is a writer, gardener and teacher living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Originally from Ohio, Becca s background in sustainability and landscaping inspired her to become a part of the seed-saving and seed-sharing community with chapters across the US and Canada. Becca Anderson credits her first grade teacher as a great inspiration and runs several popular classes and workshops including How to Put Your Passion on Paper. Anderson and is currently at work on a book about the healing power of gardening.


Friday, August 4, 2017

Doll House

~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~

Synopsis (from Amazon): When she arrives at the famed Barbizon Hotel in 1952, secretarial school enrollment in hand, Darby McLaughlin is everything her modeling agency hall mates aren't: plain, self-conscious, homesick, and utterly convinced she doesn't belong - a notion the models do nothing to disabuse. Yet when Darby befriends Esme, a Barbizon maid, she's introduced to an entirely new side of New York City: seedy downtown jazz clubs where the music is as addictive as the heroin that's used there, the startling sounds of bebop, and even the possibility of romance. 

Over half a century later, the Barbizon's gone condo, and most of its long-ago guests are forgotten. But rumors of Darby's involvement in a deadly skirmish with a hotel maid back in 1952 haunt the halls of the building as surely as the melancholy music that floats from the elderly woman's rent-controlled apartment. It's a combination too intoxicating for journalist Rose Lewin, Darby's upstairs neighbor, to resist - not to mention the perfect distraction from her own imploding personal life. Yet as Rose's obsession deepens, the ethics of her investigation become increasingly murky, and neither woman will remain unchanged when the shocking truth is finally revealed.

One (or more) Sentence Summary: I really enjoyed the story and the setting in the 50's. I was not expecting the relationship between Darby and Esme. I liked the current day part of the book where Rose is investigating Darby's story.  Past meets the presents creates a great story.

Would I Read Other Books by the Author:  I would really like to read The Address.

Fiona Davis was born in Canada and raised in New Jersey, Utah, and Texas. She began her career in New York City as an actress, where she worked on Broadway, off-Broadway, and in regional theater. After ten years, she changed careers, working as an editor and writer specializing in health, fitness, nutrition, dance, and theater.

She's a graduate of the College of William & Mary and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and is based in New York City. She loves nothing more than hitting farmers' markets on weekends in search of the perfect tomato and traveling to foreign cities steeped in history, like London and Cartagena. The Dollhouseis her first novel.


Thursday, July 20, 2017


~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~

Synopsis: The time was 1968. The place was Montgomery, Alabama. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Sen. Bobby Kennedy had been assassinated. War was raging in Vietnam. And war was raging on the playground of the all-white Wyatt Elementary School. 
Schoolyard bullies teased sixth grader Lisa Parker because of the way her nose looked. Lisa would often develop a stomachache and check out of school to escape the bullies. Until sixth grade teacher Miss Annie Loomis came to Wyatt. Miss Loomis just happened to be the first African American at Wyatt, and Lisa loved her English class. Now, when the bullies teased Lisa, she would stay in school so that she could be in Miss Loomis’ class. Yet something terrible happened that would change Lisa and Miss Loomis forever.  
Racism reared its ugly head at Wyatt, and now Lisa was not the only victim of the bullies’ teasing. Would Miss Loomis endure the bullies’ racist taunts?

Interview With The Author: 
1.     Colorblind is based off your sixth grade experience when your school became integrated. How much of this novel depicts your actual experience? 
This novel depicts half of my actual experience and half of fictionalization for dramatic effect.  For example, there was an actual spelling bee at my school, but Miss Loomis’ reaction thereto was exaggerated for dramatic effect.

2.     You were inspired by Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. How did this novel influence your writing?  
This novel inspired me to write about racism from the point of view of a Caucasian Southern girl.

3.     How much research, if any, did you dedicate to the novel?
I researched the dates of Dr. King and Sen. Kennedy’s assassinations as well as the date of the Apollo moon launch.

4.     How would you describe the characters Ms. Loomis and Lisa Parker apart from their physical appearances? 
Miss Loomis and Lisa Parker were both scared individuals who were bullied by two boys at school.  Lisa was also browbeat by her mother while Miss Loomis was browbeat by Rev. Reed.  Both characters had yet to realize their inner strengths.  Lisa would grow to recognize her inner strength while Miss Loomis would fall prey to the bullying and quit teaching at Lisa’s school.

5.     What role do you think skin color and birth defects play in society today? 
Skin color and birth defects both define our individuality and discriminate based upon these genetic differences.  Are they as relevant as they were back in 1968?  Yes.  Unfortunately, people still discriminate against others based upon skin color and birth defects.  I prefer the phrase “physically challenged” to that of “birth defects.”  The latter phrase implies that the person is somehow less than a complete human being. 

6.     How did you develop the characterization for the bullies? 
I used the physical descriptions of my actual schoolyard bullies for the two bullies in Colorblind.

7.     How did you develop the resolution for the novel? 
I took what actually happened after my spelling bee—my African American teacher quit teaching school—and changed it by having her teach HeadStart children to demonstrate her resilience in the face of discrimination.  Yet her resilience is short-lived because she dies at the end of the book, an aspect of the book which I fictionalized for dramatic effect.

8.     What was the most rewarding moment you experienced in writing Colorblind
My most rewarding moment was re-living my bicycle ride with my brother to Katie’s candy store—this happy event actually happened many times during my childhood.

9.     What was the biggest challenge you faced writing Colorblind
My biggest challenge was being a Caucasian Southern woman writing about an African American Southern woman.  I developed a “second skin” which enabled me to write as Miss Loomis, Lisa’s African American sixth grade teacher.

10.   What do you hope readers will gain from Colorblind
I hope that my readers will gain insight into the evils of discrimination based upon skin color or physical challenge.  I hope my readers will also realize that discrimination is an ongoing problem which requires vigilance not only in 1968 but also today.

11.  What did you gain from writing Colorblind
I gained cathartic healing from writing Colorblind as I relived my childhood bullying.

12.  Do you have anything else in the works? 
Yes, I am writing a nonfiction book on a code which permeates the writings of James Joyce.

Leah Harper Bowron is a lawyer and James Joyce scholar from Birmingham, Alabama. Her article “Coming of Age in Alabama: Ex parte Devine Abolishes the Tender Years Presumption” was published in the Alabama Law Review. She recently lectured on Joyce’s novel Ulysses at the University of London and the Universite de Reims. She lives in Texas and has a daughter named Sarah and a cat named Jamie.

Facebook: Leah Harper Bowron


Sunday, July 16, 2017

Searching For Irene

~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~

Synopsis: What happened to Irene?

When Anna Coughlin, a modern 1920’s woman, travels to the secluded hills of Virginia to work for wealthy Lawrence Richardson, she discovers that the previous secretary, Irene, mysteriously disappeared a few weeks before.  Upon arriving at the castle-like mansion to begin working, Anna finds that Lawrence’s handsome, but antagonistic son, Tyler, wants nothing more than to have her gone. And he isn’t the only one—

After Anna sets out to find the truth behind Irene’s disappearance, a series of frightening incidents ensnare her in a maze of intrigue. Anna is helped—and often hindered—by the temperamental Tyler Richardson, who—despite her best intentions—begins to steal her heart.

But even as Anna begins to uncover dark secrets in a troubled household, she must continue to hide a significant one of her own. When her life is threatened, Anna is left to wonder if she’ll be able to unravel the mystery before she disappears as mysteriously as the unfortunate Irene—

Excerpt; Searching for Irene

The tallest parts of the mansion—fanciful turrets and a circular tower—were visible only in glimpses Anna caught between lofty oaks and towering pines as her cab wound through the knolls and hills of eastern Virginia.

When the cab turned up the long driveway lined with dogwood trees in full bloom, Anna Coughlin reached for her handbag, gripping it with a tension that had knotted her muscles ever since getting on the train.
The vast estate stood on a hilltop, like a castle—and she craned her neck to better view the starkly impressive gray-stone mansion of Ashton Hall—where she hoped to be hired. With its arched, leaded windows and slate roof with numerous chimneys, the house rivaled pictures she’d seen of castles in Europe.
Instructing the driver to wait, she climbed out, patted her hat in case it was askew, then smoothed her gray suit with gloved hands in hopes of presenting a professional appearance. Anna had no confidence she was clever enough or bold enough to pull this off, but she had to try.
Her eye was drawn by a tall man—more than six feet—who came from the side of the house. Since the man was striding toward her so purposefully, Anna stopped and waited. As he drew near, Anna noted his deep-set eyes were as black as his hair. His skin was tanned, his thin, long-fingered hands brown and strong.
“Miss Coughlin?” He stretched out a hand and shook hers, but there was no warmth for her in his eyes. “I’m Tyler Richardson. Unfortunately, your services are not needed after all.” A touch of arrogance marked his manner, as though he was long accustomed to command those around him.
“Your father called only last week to have someone come out,” Anna blurted in dismay. “May I ask what caused him to change his mind?”
A fleeting glimpse of discomfiture crossed Mr. Richardson’s face. “I wasn’t consulted about his hiring another secretary to replace the one who left so suddenly. My father isn’t in good health, and the last thing we need is someone coming in and upsetting him by making a muddle of things.”
His words kindled a fire that glinted in Anna’s eyes. How dare he make such an assumption? It was difficult to hang on to her temper, but there was too much at stake to let his boorishness sidetrack her. “Since I’m here, I’m sure you won’t mind if I keep my appointment. After all, your father is the one who requested my services. I’m sure he’s expecting me.”

Her words hit home.It took a few bitter seconds, but he finally acquiesced. “Come in, then,” he muttered ungraciously before leading the way up the steps and opening the door.

Following his rigid back down the narrow hall, Anna’s brows furrowed as doubts crept in. How wise had she been to come to this remote place? Especially when the previous secretary had disappeared so mysteriously? Even her employer thought it odd that no one in this mansion seemed to know where Irene had gone or where she was now. It was as if Irene had vanished into thin air.

Blurb for; For Sale by Owner  (Published Oct. 2016)
For Sale by Owner;  Stressed by a difficult year, McKenzie Forsberg quits her high-powered job to move back to her hometown. Desperate and determined to rebuild her life, Kenzie seeks to buy the home she grew up in. The only problem is that a handsome widower, Jared Rawlins, also wants the house. As a battle of wits ensue, sparks of attraction grow into something more. Then, Kenzie makes a stunning discovery about her past that changes everything. Will the power of love be enough to allow Jared and Kenzie to find their happily ever after?

If you are like me, and would love to write a book, here are some tips from Marlene!

Five Practical Tips for the Beginning Fiction Writer
by Marlene Bateman, Author of; Searching for Irene

1.    Great Characters Will Make Your Novel
Character, not action, pulls readers into your story. If you can’t create characters that are vivid in the reader’s imagination, you can’t create a great novel. Characters are to a novelist what lumber is to a carpenter. However, fictional characters are not the same as flesh and blood human beings. Readers want to read about the exceptional, not the mundane. Readers demand characters be more handsome, ugly, ruthless, noble, vengeful, or forgiving than real people.  There are three dimensions to every character.

1.     Physiological. This refers to height, weight, age, sex, face, health, etc. Choose physical traits that will affect the way readers view a character. 
2.     Sociological. Sociological refers to the character’s social class, what kind of neighborhood he grew up in, his politics, religion, the discipline he received. Human character is forged by the sociological climate in which an individual is raised.
3.     Psychological.  You must understand the dynamics of the character’s physiological development because that produces the conflicts and generates the narrative tension that your novel must have if it is to succeed.

2.     There Must Be Conflict
William Knott said, “The most elaborate plot in the world is useless without the tension and excitement that conflict imports to it.” There must be conflict between characters and this means insistence versus resistance. In One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, the main character, McMurphy, wants to liberate the ward. Big Nurse does not, and does her best to maintain the status quo. That is conflict.

To strengthen conflict, you must equalize the forces of opposition. No one would pay to see Muhammad Ali fight a crippled midget.  There can be no contest, no struggle, no story without evenly matched contestants. Good opposition requires that the antagonist counter each of the protagonist’s attempts to solve the problems with as much force and cunning as the protagonist exhibits.

Inner conflicts not only make characters more interesting, but truly memorable. When a reader feels empathy with a character, it is because the character is in the throes of intense inner conflict. If a character has no inner conflict, the reader will only feel pity, not empathy. Inner conflict confirms that the characters are involved, that something is at risk for them.

3.     Great Dialogue.
Great dialogue expresses the will of the character indirectly. Characters who use indirect dialogue come across as more unique and interesting. Avoid direct dialogue, which expresses exactly what is on the character’s mind with no attempt by the character to demur, use subterfuge, lie, be witty, etc. Don’t answer questions directly.

Take time to brainstorm to try to come up with a line that is more clever and colorful. Most dialogue must be worked through to make it fresher, indirect, and witty. Check every line of dialogue. Is it in conflict? Does it further the characterizations?  When looking over your dialogue, ask yourself:
1.     Does it provide conflict?
2.     Is it trite?
3.     Can it be said better indirectly?
4.     Is the line as clever and colorful as it can be?

4.    Satisfy Your Reader with a Great Ending
The point of a novel is the climax-resolution. To have a vibrant, gripping novel, the characters must change as a result of conflict. No matter how well told a novel, it is nothing without a good ending. The following tips will help.

1.     Have a twist or a surprise. As a reader nears the end of a book, he knows things are coming to a head. Have a surprise, such as a protagonist stuck in a swamp. He is doomed, but in a burst of determination, uses his belt to reach a tree branch and saves himself.
2.     Exploit powerful emotions. Reading is primarily an emotional experience. The author’s object is to move the reader. At the climax, knock the reader over. When Scrooge becomes giddy, so does the reader.
3.     Have justice prevail.  Justice is vindicating the innocent and punishing the guilty. It is poetic justice when a man drowns his aunt in a bathtub, buys a boat with the insurance money, and drowns when the boat sinks. Readers crave to see justice done.
4.     The climax should make the novel whole.  After you resolve the core conflict, you must also answer secondary questions. Will the daughter continue to hate her father? Will the wife be reconciled to her cheating husband? You don’t have to answer fully, but most should be answered at least in part. A good climax leaves the reader feeling the story is finished. Scrooge has been transformed and will never be a miser again.

5. Don’t Go Overboard on Description
Description is a slave, not a master and is only there to enhance the actions of the actions.  Without the actors and the story, it is worthless.  Novices often go overboard on description and describe things in voluminous detail, but without a fast-moving story, nobody cares about the scenery. Keep description short.  Aim for density by using a few carefully chosen words.

Description that moves is description that works.  There are two ways to set description in motion.  First, put the description itself into action by using active verbs.  Second, sprinkle the description through the action of the story.  Make the described things do something, or put a character into the scene and reveal the objects through his actions.

Passive description; There are two tall oak trees in the yard.
Active description; Two oak trees tower over the house.
Interactive; When Joanne was a kid, she used to climb the two tall oak trees in front of the house.

Marlene Bateman Sullivan grew up in Utah, and graduated from the University of Utah with a Bachelor's degree in English. She is married to Kelly R. Sullivan and they live in North Salt Lake, Utah with their two dogs and four cats. Marlene has been published extensively in magazines and newspapers and wrote the best-selling romance/suspense novel, Light on Fire Island. She has written three other cozy mysteries; Motive for Murder, A Death in the Family, and Crooked House, as well as the romance, For Sale by Owner.

Marlene has also written a number of non-fiction, LDS books:  Latter-day Saint Heroes and Heroines, And There Were Angels Among Them, Visit’s from Beyond the Veil, By the Ministering of Angels, Brigham’s Boys, Heroes of Faith, Gaze into Heaven; Near-death Experiences in Early Church History, and The Magnificent World of Spirits; Eyewitness Accounts of Where We Go When We Die.   

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