Behind the Scenes of My New Release: A Single Spark

In the midst of editing hubby’s sci-fi book last year, I got the itch to start planning a new romance series. The inspiration came one morning after I’d dropped the munchkins off at school. As usual, I had the radio on and happened upon the morning talk show of a top 40 station. The deejay had been sharing how she’d received a mistaken text from a man, a man she got very curious about.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

She did some Googling and located his Facebook profile. That’s when she pulled up his handsome photo and began spinning a wonderful romance in her mind. Guy texts girl by accident. Girl texts guy back. They strike up a conversation. One thing leads to another and bam!—they live happily ever after. Great, right? Except for the part where said guy is married. Oh, the disappointment! I really felt for the deejay as she shared her experience. It would’ve been such a great story if it all had worked out, right?

Right!

That’s when the wheels in my head began spinning out of control, leading me to come up with a story based on this very premise, and subsequently a whole series based on a family of five brothers.

Whoa baby!

It was my first time plotting out a whole series from beginning to end before I started writing. And boy, was it fun! I began searching for images I could use for the covers, and found five that worked perfectly. From there, I began coming up with character names, personalities and professions. Then I did some matchmaking and paired up each unsuspecting brother with a woman who would complement him well. I also had to figure out the obstacles to their happily ever afters and make sure they fell in line with some popular romance tropes. Here are some of the storylines you can expect in this series: frenemies to lovers, opposites attract, and marriage of convenience. I’m the most excited about this last one since it’ll be my first attempt at writing such a story.

This is also the first time I’m doing my marketing for a new release differently (thanks to the amazing advice of The Writing Gals!—if you’re an author, you gotta check them out). I won’t bore you with the details, but if you want them, feel free to ask!. Let me just say that each new book is another opportunity to learn what to do and what not to do, and this time around I’m a tad bit wiser and more patient. I actually sat on this book for a few months before I released it (I had another deadline to meet), and took my time getting the story “just right”. With feedback from my awesome beta readers, I spent hours fixing the beginning of chapter one and another few days making the last chapter believable and satisfying. I’ll admit I got frustrated a few times (or a lot!) in the process and wanted to throw in the towel more than once. But when I finally finished, I was thoroughly proud of myself and my stubbornness. Yay me! Haha.

I hope you’ll check out big brother Aiden’s story in A Single Spark. It’s at a special release price of 99¢ for a limited time!

The Wonder of Your First Crush

I was once a teenager. This may not come as a shock to most, but to my kids, it’s a bit weird to think of their mom as someone not much older than they are now. As I watch my munchkins grow older and taller, it’s a bit weird for me to think they’ll soon be going through puberty and all the lovely stuff that goes with it. Aside from those first glimpses of love (aka. infatuation), there’s nothing truly glamorous about adolescence. Oh, but to be able to experience all the giddiness and wonder of your first crush? That’s something worth remembering.

I remember my first crush back in third grade—yes, I started a bit young, but that might explain how I ended up being a romance author. 😉 Anyhow, my first crush was on a cute Asian boy in my class. I don’t remember his name, but I do remember that I stood next to him in our class photo. Fast forward to high school, and I fixed my sights on a blond football player who played the trumpet in band class. His name I do recall, but I’ll keep it to myself so as not to embarrass anyone. 😉

The great thing about these crushes was how innocent and endearing they were. There was no drama, only moments of daydreaming and hoping.

This is the kind of love I tried to capture in my newest release, Romantically Ever After. Gracie and Brady’s story is just plain sweet and maybe a tad bit naive, but I love how their relationship develops in an organic and genuine way. Not too much drama, but lots of tenderness and blushing. Just the way young love should be.

Here’s an excerpt:

Brady Hansen shook off his puffy winter jacket and fell onto his bed. He covered his eyes with his hands, his palms quickly warming from the heat in his face. Great. If he had a penny for each time he blushed in front of Gracie, he’d have enough money to buy her a couple dozen roses. Not that he ever would do such a thing. Nope, that’d be way too obvious. He was already sure she thought something was up with the way he escaped her company as quickly as possible. He sighed. It was either escape or confess how he felt about her, something he wasn’t ready to do. Not today, tomorrow, or ever.

 

He dug his phone from his jean pocket and switched it on. He clicked on his photo album and scrolled through the pictures he had saved to a folder titled with a simple letter “G”. G for Gracie, of course. Scrolling through the pictures, he stopped at ones they had taken a few months ago when they happened to both be wearing their green Oregon Ducks hoodies. He remembered that day well. They were sitting together at a cafe off campus and playing around with her new selfie stick. They’d taken a series of photos, each one showcasing a different expression. The faces they made ranged from normal to serious to downright silly. The last photo though was the one he loved the most. Gracie called it his trademark Brady face, also known as his “make a mental note” face. When they took it, with the two of them squeezing one eye shut and twisting their mouths to the side, he’d realized something.

 

He was in love with his best friend.

 

Brady loved that Gracie got him. She saw his goofy side and his clumsiness, and she accepted him for who he was. But that was the problem. Everything that she accepted about him was everything she wasn’t looking for in a guy. How did he know? It was obvious from the way she went gaga over the actors in those chick flicks she watched. They were all tall, handsome, and charming. Oh, he had the tall part down, but with it came feet that were too big for his body. Handsome and charming though? He’d need a fairy godmother for that.

 

That’s how he knew Gracie would never feel the same way about him that he felt about her. And why he couldn’t tell her how he felt. And also why he couldn’t be near her because every time he was, he ended up going gaga and doing something so not cool. Like falling onto her in an elevator and squashing her.

 

She had smelled so good though. Like fresh strawberries on a stack of homemade pancakes, the fluffy kind his mom used to make for him as a kid. He missed his parents and even his two older brothers living back in California, but not as much as he longed for his best friend down the hall. He missed hanging out with Gracie and studying with her. If only there was a way to turn off his heart, so it’d stop trying to fly out of his chest like those old cartoon characters’ did whenever they saw the girl they liked.

 

Knock, knock!

 

“Brady, open up! I have something to tell you!”

 

He shot up and almost fell off the bed at the sound of Gracie’s voice outside his door. Whoa. She sounded more excited that he’d ever heard her. Could it be? His heart started pounding as he wondered what she wanted to tell him.

I hope you’ll check out Romantically Ever After! It’ll for sure get you in the mood for Valentine’s Day.

Here’s a sweet song about young love, Kenny Holland’s “Less Than Three” that matches this story perfectly.

Do you remember your first crush?

Love’s Choice is Born!

My newest book baby, Love’s Choice, has arrived! 🙂 I shared a cover reveal a few weeks back, and am so excited, anxious, and relieved that the story is out in the world now. It’s always a strange love/hate, thrill/fear relationship that authors have whenever we publish a new book. Will readers like the story? But more than that, will the message we tried to convey through the story be heard?

These are two big questions I have about Love’s Choice because, to put it simply, it’s not an easy story to swallow. It’s very different from my other books, which tend to be lighthearted and fun (it does have funny moments though!). This story deals with the tough issues of abuse and an unplanned pregnancy, and also gossip within the church. Not happy topics people usually want to talk about, right? But I felt strongly that these are things we need to address. And there’s no better way to do hard stuff like this than in a fictional setting. (That’s one thing I love about writing fiction.)

So, I hope and pray you will give Nate and Missy a chance and see what truths you pick up from their story. You can preview it below and buy it for only $1.99! And please support all the other authors of the First Street Church Kindle World. Melissa Storm wrote the core series and there are now 40 books in the Kindle World. Yup, that’s a lot of books, but you can take this nifty online quiz HERE to see which book may interest you more (besides mine, haha). The best part is that all the books are part of Kindle Unlimited, so you can read them for free with your subscription. You can even try Kindle Unlimited free for 30 days (click HERE)!

I’ll leave you with the playlist for Love’s Choice, which includes a High School Musical song I listened to on repeat while I was writing the story. (Yes, I’m such a teeny bopper at heart). 😉

What tough issues do you appreciate authors addressing in their stories?

It’s Release Day for On Waves of Wanderlust!

The family and I took a trip last week to our happy place: Kauai. We had a wonderful time, despite the fact that vacationing with kids is pretty much life in a different place. 😉 But life on a tropical island happens to be 100% more beautiful, fun, and soothing than life in the “real world”. Here are some photos to prove it …

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It was so amazing in Kauai that I actually disconnected from social media most of the time while we were there. Who wants to look down at a tiny screen when you can be looking all around at the amazing sights?! And breathing in the fresh ocean air. And smelling the sweet tropical smells. And tasting all the yummy fruit? Happy sigh! 🙂

But back to reality … and speaking of traveling … today’s release day for my newest book baby (and the last book in my Seasons of Love series), On Waves of Wanderlust!

YAY!

This story was inspired in part by a cruise we took to Mexico years ago with my in-laws when we only had one munchkin and one on the way. The one thing I’ve learned about cruises is that you’ve gotta be prepared to EAT. The food is amazing, not only in quality but in quantity as well. We’re talking a dessert buffet at midnight. Yup, craziness! The other thing about cruises is that you get to meet new people and go on new adventures … and maybe even fall in love, just like Macy and Jake did in this story. 🙂

If you’ve never been on a cruise ship before, here’s your chance to take a virtual one. It’s the perfect length for when you need a pick-me-up during the day or need to escape real life for a little while. And best of all? It’s calorie-free and you won’t get seasick!

Check out the playlist for On Waves of Wanderlust here!

Where would you like to go on a cruise ship?