Win Books and Prizes in the Night Owl Reviews Winter Wonderland Web Hunt
 
 
Picture
May 14 - 18, 2014 I will be in New Orleans, LA for the 2014 RT Book Lovers Convention.

 
 
I will be suspending my monthly blogs to start interacting with readers on Facebook!

Please visit and Like my page at www.facebook.com/lilysantananovelist for a chance to win an Unexpectedly You book/beach themed gift basket. The promotion will run until October 31, 2103 when a random Facebook follower will be chosen to win the prize.

Thank you and I look forward to chatting with you on FB.

Lily
 
 
Picture
Make sure to stop by for a chance to win a beach themed gift basket or a $25.00 AMZ gift card.





Stops:

Sept 30th:    Snarky Mom Reads
Oct 1st:       It's Raining Books
Oct 2nd:      Straight from the Library
Oct 3rd:       Bunny's Review
Oct 3rd:       2nd Stop - Stephanie's Book Shelf
Oct 4th:       Long and Short Reviews - Review Only
Oct 4th:       Beyond My Writing Space

 
 
I love to read books where the sexual tension is palpable on the page. As an author, I know how difficult it is to achieve this. Throwing your characters in bed for l'amour doesn't always, if ever, achieve sexual tension unless you've managed to build it up to a point where the chemistry is cracklling the page.

As a reader, I know when the author has hooked me. My heart beats, my plams sweat, I get that giddy feeling the heroine gets and I LOVE it. So exciting. I eat up the page like it's Cheez Doodles (crunchy, of course, duh).

So how do you manufacture the chemistry on the page? I'm certainly not the expert, but like many of you, have an opinion. It all boils down to emotional stakes. This is the internal arc of the character that you establish in the set up. The scenes where the sexual tension is at its peak is when the hero or heroine is overcome by an emotion (physical or not, but typically is)  they can't control, even if they know it is to the detriment of their current belief system about who they are as an individual. 

As a reader, many of us have felt this emotion before. We can relate. We know that 'going there' is emotional suicide, but we can't help ourselves. A force, unbidden, propels us toward the 'danger.' 

In Unexpectedly You, I tried to bring this heat for Emma in this scene where she checks on Mitch after he dives into the ocean to save her dog. 
 
He has a fever. Panic gripped her heart.

She stirred him, but he didn’t budge. “Mitch? Mitch, wake up. Are you feeling sick?”

“M-mm c-cold.”

Cold. All right, she had to shut the window but to do so, she’d have to cradle his sleeping form and hope she didn’t fall flat on top of him in the process.

Emma slipped off her clogs. The queen bed barely had enough room to place her foot on either side of his head, but she managed. The window was brand-new, thank God, and slid shut without much effort. She was about to climb off, but Mitch suddenly turned on his back and she lost her balance. She fell backward on her butt in an ungraceful swoop, balancing on her knees to keep from crushing him.

“Crap,” she yelped, embarrassed beyond reason for the awkward way her knees cradled his head beneath her.

She would have jumped off had his arms not come around her waist and held her in place. “And here I thought I was having a wet dream,” he said, his voice thick and hoarse.

The look in his eyes ignited a fire inside her belly. Her lips dried and her throat tightened. She tried to say something but her tongue felt thick.

In a single move, Mitch flipped her over on her back with him on top, his hot, naked leg over her legs. His rumpled hair and drowsy eyes made him look boyishly handsome.

She cleared her throat. “I was checking to see if you were warm enough.”

His lips turned up at the corner. “If I wasn’t then, I’m sure as hell on fire now.”

The intoxicating way he stared at her melted her bones. “Why did you leave the window open? You could catch a fever. I brought you soup. It’s tomato. Do you like tomato soup?” She knew she was chattering nonsense but couldn’t seem to find the energy to meet his gaze. The ache inside of her was impossible to ignore and as hard as it was to admit, she liked Mitch’s weight on top of her. She’d forgotten what it felt like to be engulfed in a man’s arms.

He raised his head a few inches from her face and tried to smile. “This must really be happening, because tomato soup was never part of my wet dreams.”

Emma shrugged. “Sorry, but I wanted to check to make sure you were okay.”

He moved to allow her to sit up on the bed and then cursed under his breath when he saw the bulge beneath his boxers. He yanked the blanket nonchalantly over his waist. “Thank you for the concern. As you can see, I survived my stupid attempt at being a hero.”

She nodded. “That was a brave thing to do.”

“It was a stupid thing to do.”

“It was stupid. But brave nonetheless.” She tried to focus on finding the right words to thank him but her attention kept getting distracted by the tantalizing amount of skin and muscle on display. She drew in a long breath to gather herself. Mitch simply raised a brow. “Thank you for saving my dog. If there is any way I can return the favor?”

He leaned back on the bed, placing both his arms behind his head. She tried to ignore the way his stomach pulled in tight and how his biceps flexed against the pillows. His amused smile seemed to have guessed at her discomfort.

“That’s a hell of a question to ask a man when minutes ago you had his head between your legs.”

She swallowed hard. “You know what I mean.”

He grinned. “You know what I need you to do. That’s the deal we made, right? Just keep your end of the bargain.”

“I’ll keep my end of the bargain. Don’t you worry.”

“I don’t worry.” He nudged the blanket lower with his leg so it dipped below his belly button. Her mouth parched.

“Emma?”

“Hmm?”

“Why don’t you go on home before I take you up on your offer?” He arched his brow suggestively.

Mortified, she jumped up, wheeled around and walked out of the bedroom with her back as stiff as the wet jeans she’d picked up from the floor.

“Sleep tight,” she heard him say from the bedroom before she shut the trailer’s door.

Like a moth to a flame.
 
 
Picture
Finally! I can reveal my fabulous cover for my debut romance, Unexpectedly You, which will be released August 26, 2013. It is, however, available for pre-sale now...so what are you waiting for? Get it while it lasts. Now! (Sorry, I always wanted to sound like one of those annoying mattress discount ads on the radio).

All kidding aside, I'm thrilled to have my dream finally come to a reality. I hope you enjoy Mitch and Emma's enemies-to-lovers story. I had a blast writing it and in all honesty, when I finally wrote The End, my heart broke. 

I fell hard and fast for my hero Mitch McKenna. Though the same can't be said for my feisty heroine Emma LeFleur. You see, it took Emma a while to see Mitch's charm. Eventually, Mitch's sexy sense of humor melts her heart but not before she almost drives him mad in her attempt to make him regret the deal they'd made. Here, check out one of her brilliant moves.

EXCERPT:

Emma jumped every time the door chimed, signaling a customer had entered the store. She glanced at the clock and sighed. She expected Mitch to come in at any moment and she was dreading having to face him again—especially after having had to endure his smug expression on the drive home last night. Damn Lorraine and her perverted mouth.

She was in the back room, busy pulling a red-and white-checkered sweater over a fidgety apple head Chihuahua, when Dorinda poked her head in. “You’re taking Bogie and Lulu to the parade?”

She had to bite her lip to keep from grinning. “No, I’m taking Bogie. Mitch is taking Lulu.” She lifted the dog, carefully keeping her fingers away from Lulu’s bared teeth. “How does she look?”

Dorinda’s mouth gaped open. “Mean and ridiculous. Does Mitch know he’s taking a five-pound diva to the party?”

She beamed. “I thought I’d surprise him.”

“Oh, he’ll be more than surprised,” Dorinda muttered, her voice fading as she hurried to the front of the store to welcome a customer.

Emma hoped it was Mitch. She couldn’t wait to see his expression when she handed him Mrs. Madsen’s cherished companion, now homeless. Served him right. He should adopt Lulu; he was responsible for taking the poor dog’s home from under her paws. Mrs. Madsen’s kids wanted no part of the ill-tempered dog since they had young children. Poor Lulu would have ended up a statistic at the shelter if Emma hadn’t offered to watch her ‘til someone decided to adopt her.

She heard Mitch’s deep voice coming from the front of the store and immediately her heart did a somersault.

Get a grip.

Why did she have to be so sensitive to his presence? He wasn’t even within eyesight and already nervous energy hummed in her veins.

She grabbed both dogs’ leashes and headed out front. As expected, Mitch’s eyes narrowed when he saw her toting the two canines. She smiled demurely, certain her eyes were blazing with mirth. “Mitch, meet Lulu. Your date.”

Mitch rubbed the prickly growth on his jaw, but his eyes were transfixed on Lulu, whose teeth were bared and ready for battle. “My what?”

“Lulu is your date for the doggy costume parade.”

He coughed into his closed fist. “Very funny.”

Emma kept her steadfast gaze on Mitch’s face and avoided looking at Dorinda, who was by the cash register pretending not to be listening to their conversation. “Does that mean you don’t want to go?”

Mitch rolled his eyes before he broke into a devastatingly handsome grin that made Emma’s toes curl. “I get it. I get it. You win. I’ll take her. But there’s no way in hell I’m taking her wearing that stupid sweater.”

“It’s a pirate’s vest to keep her warm.”

“She’s a dog.”

“It’s cold outside.”

“She’s got fur.”

Emma arched her brow. “You’re not worried about what people might say about your masculinity, are you?” She noticed him clenching his jaw and snickered inside.

“It’ll take more than a toy dog to ruin my masculinity. And why isn’t your dog wearing a costume?”

She pulled a red-and-black bandana out of her apron and tied it around Bogie’s neck. “He wears this.”

“Of course he does.”

She shrugged out of her apron and grabbed her Windbreaker. “Shall we?”

Unexpectedly You, Carina Press ISBN # 978-14268-9601-9

To save his flailing real estate development project Mitch McKenna knows what he must do: persuade his nemesis and neighbor Emma LeFleur to go to bat for him and convince the town that he’s a sweetheart. Easy as pie, unless you consider he’s threatened to bulldoze her home with her in it.
 
 
As you can see, I had a really boring time at last week's Romantic Times Conference (NOT).  Really, it was my first time and I was simultaneously excited and overwhelmed. I had a fan-girl moment meeting Janelle Taylor. I even had dinner with The Laura Kinsale at a local barbeque place called Smokin' Guns. We gushed over the deep-fried mac & cheese.
 
RT did a fantastic job organizing every event to precision. I was in awe. This conference reminded me of how huge (did I say over 2,000 attendees?) the romance community is and how fun to spend it with old and new friends.

Readers flew in from as far as Seattle, Boston, LA, and New York to meet their favorite authors. Who knew folks would choose to spend their vacation in a conference standing in countless lines? But, then again, we did have Julie Garwood, Jude Devereaux, Angie Fox, Brenda Novak, Robyn Carr, and many many more amazing authors on site to hob nob with and dance the night away. I can only beg the Publishing Gods to grant me such amazing readers one day. You people are hard-core and the reason we write. We love you!

Hope to see you at next year's RT 2014 in Nawlin's.
Picture
Ellora's Cave Disco Ball with their cover models. No, I am not photoshopped. They might be. Bwaahhhah.

 
 
Back from hiatus folks! Sorry for being MIA. As my chosen title states, sometimes life just takes over and everything takes a back seat. But the recent terrorizing events in Boston and Texas remind us that we cannot take our loved ones for granted and we must not let our dreams languish. We should treat each day as a precious gift to cherish and share with those we love.
As promised, here's my list of the top 10 books that helped me get published. 

1. Larry Brooks - Story Engineering (a bible)
2. Leigh Michaels - On Writing Romance (inspirational and relevant)
3. Michael Hauge - Writing Screenplays That Sell (crack - a must read)
4, Les Edgerton - Hooked (eye opening)
5. Stephen King - On Writing (masterful yet humble)
6. Jack Bickham - Scene and Structure (who knew I needed a sequel?)
7. Ronald Tobias - 20 Master Plots (foundational)
8. Evan Marshall - The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing (nitty gritty)
9. Jordan E. Rosenfeld - Make a SCENE (super nitty gritty - the engine of your story)
10. Christie Craig and Faye Hughes - The Everything Guide to Writing a Romance Novel (this is the book that started it all)
Special thanks to:
11. James Vogler - The Writer's Journey (need 10 cups of expresso and Redbull before reading, but brilliant)
12. Jessica Morrell - Bullies, Bastards and Bitches: How to write the bad guys of fiction (fun and empowering)
 
 
Picture
Back in 2008 when I first decided to seriously pursue my dream of writing romance for a living I picked up Leigh Michaels' On Writing Romance. Though there are thousands of books on crafting a novel - some focusing on plot, scene, characters, viewpoint, etc., Ms. Michaels' book covers all of the above but with the added complexity of having the romance be at the the center of your story. A romantic novel has two protagonists - the hero and the heroine. There are two internal arcs not to mention the external conflict and - yeah the romantic arc as well. James Patterson, Dean Koontz - ha! They have it easy I tell you. Though more than once I've felt like killing off a character or two when they refuse to bend to my will.

I loved Leigh's book so much that as soon as I learned she taught a romance workshop with NYC's Gotham Writer's Workshop, I eagerly registered. After attending both Romance I and II, I knew why I loved her book so much. Leigh is truly a gifted instructor and it showed not only in her thoughtful feedback to my stories during class, but also in the way her narrative flowed in her book. To the point and with great examples.

That was three years ago. Today, my first book is being published by Carina Press. If you're reading this, Leigh, I want to thank you. Thank you for the encouragement I received from you. Thank you for your book that helped me make sense of the crazy insane world of writing a romantic novel. Your generosity in sharing your experience writing for Harlequin (over 80+ novels) has been an inspiration. I'm excited to be writing for Harlequin's digital first press today - it seems like a natural progression for me based on the knowledge learned from a wonderful teacher.

Click on book to learn more about Leigh Michaels.

 
 
Picture
·Today begins my series posts on books that made me say "Ah Ha!" By no means will the list be exhaustive of all the spectacular books on writing available and probably sitting on my reading shelf. However, these particular books hold a special place in my heart because they helped me finish my manuscript and in the process gave me hope that I can achieve my lifelong dream. Thus, without further delay, the first book on my list is (drum roll please...)

1.
Story Engineering by the fabulous Larry Brooks (pictured above speaking at the Rose City Writers Winter Intensive, April 1, 2012, Portland, Oregon).

· This book kicked my ass. It lit neurons I didn't know existed. It brought a lot of story structure theory I've read before into focus in a way that I was able to relate and therefore use in my work. Another reason I enjoyed Mr. Brooks' book is he uses recent movies as opposed to movies from the 1970's or even 1980's to exemplify his concepts. By doing so, I wasn't worried about his concepts being out of date with today's viewers and readers.

· Here's the most important nugget of gold Mr. Brooks helped me understand and for which I will always be grateful. 
Let me set the stage: During our last Winter Intensive, speaking to a room full of romance writers, Mr. Brooks was puzzled when all of the questions thrown at him had to do with the non-romantic external plot. Shaking his head, he asked, "Aren't you all writing a romance novel?" Absolutely no one in the audience had an answer and I started to worry that no one in the audience got what he was talking about.


·Here it is folks: If you are writing a romance, your focus should be on the H/H and showing the reader how they fall in love. The HOW part is the 'romantic plot' so even though there should be another external plot that will move the story along its arc, this is really secondary in a romance novel. Seems simple, right? Not so much. It's actually easier to develop an external non-romantic plot with lots of twists and turns but harder to show that developing love between two people.

·Wow! Thanks Mr. Brooks for this. I will always be grateful.  Want to know more about Mr. Brooks' visit to the Rose City Romance Writers? Check out his blog here. http://storyfix.com/what-i-just-learned-from-a-room-full-of-romance-writers