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What Makes a Heroine “Feisty”?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or on a desert island, strong female leads are quite popular now in movies, television shows, and books. Women who can kick butt, both figuratively and literally, are everywhere these days. Think of Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones, or Sarah Connor in the latest Terminator movie, Dark Fate. Or the two sisters in Frozen 2. It’s a refreshing change from the guys always saving the day, and from what I’ve heard, many men also enjoy this trend of strong female characters in entertainment.

In the book world, especially in the Romance genre, such strong female characters are often described as “feisty.” The definition of the word according to Google dictionary is, “a person, especially one who is relatively small or weak, who is lively, determined, and courageous”.

“Feisty” definitely evokes an image of a take-no-crap, say-what’s-on- her-mind lady. It’s far from the shy, virginal heroines of yesteryear who had their bodices ripped. If her bodice is ripped today, it likely happened in a battle.

I realized how strong this trend is when I was recently invited to be part of a collection of Romance short stories called the Feisty Heroines Romance Shorts Collection. Organized by authors D.F. Jones and Tia Didmon, it releases June 16, 2020. Over thirty authors are on board, each writing a short story featuring a strong, compelling heroine in one of four Romance subgenres: Contemporary, Historical, Fantasy and Paranormal. Several of the authors are already award winning, USA Today, or New York Times Best Selling Authors. These ladies know their stuff when it comes to creating feisty female characters.

The female characters in my books tend to all be strong and independent. Sarah in the Higher Elevation series faced a series of trials, including escaping death, averting a kidnapping, and unexplained supernatural forces, not to mention single parenthood!

The tagline for my second series, the Love Grows series, says it all— “Strong, protective heroes, feisty, independent heroines. When they meet, love grows in unexpected ways!”  Both Sacha, from Not So Broken, and Melanie, from Not So Wrong, are quite capable of fighting their own battles, and they do. Meeting their match in the heroes they fall in love with only serves to strengthen them.

I must be pretty feisty myself (though my husband calls it, “stubborn”), because I can’t imagine writing any other type of female character. I’ve faced a few hard knocks in life, and I know I’m stronger as a result. Being feisty doesn’t mean a person (or a fictional character) is rude or insensitive—far from it. It means they have a strong sense of who they are, and they will fight passionately for what they believe in. Feisty women are also protective of the ones they love, and those who are in need.

That’s something that I hope will never go out of style. Perhaps one day soon, Feisty Heroines will be the norm.

 

To preorder the Feisty Heroines Romance Shorts Collection:

Amazon-https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08188KPK1?tag=books2read02-20

Apple Books (ibooks)- https://books.apple.com/us/book/feisty-heroines-romance-collection-of-shorts/id1488638490?fbclid=IwAR2Pz6M1ic9eCCXV0BGdWHMiTICAT0-albebrt4H7v9-UC_qjqBVGsX8te4

Barnes and Noble- https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/feisty-heroines-romance-collection-of-shorts-d-f-jones/1135023539?ean=2940163674169

Kobo-https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/feisty-heroines-romance-collection-of-shorts

 

To Check out my books, go to my website at www.reneeregent.com, or click here:

The Love Grows series:

Not So Broken (Book1)- https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07L3VLFF1

Not So Wrong (Book 2)- https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07W95G7T6

(Book 3, Not So Far, is coming in 2020)

The Higher Elevation series, Books 1-3- https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07YJ3V5KJ

 

 

 

 

 

When Your Novel Is More Than Just A Story

“Write to market”, they said. “Your books will sell better”, they said.

Most of the time, that’s good advice. I took it to heart when writing my latest contemporary romance series, the Love Grows series. However, I did have some reservations. They were concerning, even though they were more rhetorical than factual.
• Would a story written to fit a certain genre feel contrived?
• Would “hitting the buttons” or the “checklist” of a genre or trend suck all the creativity out of the story?
• Did I risk targeting a trend that has already passed?

Such are the burning questions which keep authors from sleeping.

Despite my initial reservations with “writing to market”, once I started writing, I found I was able to compose stories that I enjoyed while still targeting a specific audience.

The Love Grows Series

My approach was to take a popular trope- billionaire romance- and put my own twist to it. What could it hurt to try? If I hated writing it, or it fizzled upon release, the experience would provide valuable information. It would be a lesson learned. I’d write the best book I could, with a targeted cover and blurb, and niche-focused marketing.

In January 2019, I released the first book in the Love Grows series, Not So Broken. Creating the perfect title had eluded me at first. All the possibilities were either too on the nose, or too vague. My editor actually commented on a great line in the book, “perhaps I was not so broken, after all”, and I knew I had my title.

Oddly enough, that sparked the titles for the next two books, Not So Wrong, and Not So Far. Which proved to me that creativity can indeed flow within a framework, especially if you’ve some experience at writing fiction. Not So Broken was my fifth book, so I had the general plot structure and process down before I started writing a word.

To my great surprise, the book was well received. Based on the feedback, I’d “hit all the points” expected of the genre. And I’d fallen in love with the story in the process.

Not So Wrong

When I crafted the second book in the series, Not So Wrong, I took a secondary character from Not So Broken and gave her the spotlight. It so happened that Melanie Parker was a singer, which I had just thrown in when she appeared in the first book. Her profession became the central theme and conflict of the story, which I had not planned out previously.

The hero, her love interest, had also appeared briefly in the first book. Spencer Colebank was introduced as an annoying cousin, who was suspected of scheming to take over the family business. I don’t know why I chose him, of all people, to woo free-spirited Melanie. But I sensed there was much more to him than was shown on the surface, and the challenge of redeeming him intrigued me.
Boy, was I in for a surprise! He turned out to be as strong a hero as Gibson was in Not So Broken, but in a different way. He was all business on the outside, sucking up to his uncle (who is his boss) and trying to please everyone. When alone, he drank scotch and played piano. He was a musician at heart, and a chunk of painful baggage had dragged him down so far he thought he’d never get up again.

Meeting Melanie was the spark that brought him back to life, and to his first love, music. She encouraged him to pursue his passion, while she had all but given up on hers. Her family needed her, and she was plain tired of trying to find success with her band, Sparker. How they resolved these issues, confronted their pasts, and figured out a future together, was the story.

The Value of Creating

But it was so much more than a boy-meets-girl romance. As I said in the dedication, this book was a tribute to all the musicians, artists, and writers who sacrifice in large and small ways to bring beauty to the world. In an era where creativity is highly prized but at the same time, almost completely devalued, that’s a significant statement.

The creative arts can be a hobby, or a job, but either way, it involves giving a piece of your soul to the world. The internet has made creative works in all their forms plentiful, but that in no way lessons the value of efforts of the creators. The sense of abundant opportunity has made many creatives work even harder than they ever would before. The sad thing is, when there is more opportunity, there is also more competition vying for those opportunities. Which makes it increasingly harder to be noticed. Thus, the price of art, photos, music, literature, etc., goes down as hopefuls offer discounts and freebies in order to gain the attention of an audience, and ultimately, be able to afford to keep creating.

Not So Wrong was at heart, about the salvation of music and the sacrifices the characters were willing to make to keep creating it. Whether they were rich or not, they had the same desires, and the same struggles.

Themes Matter

The first book, Not So Broken, also dealt with larger themes–single parenthood, career vs. family, and loss. Those are universal concepts. Not So Wrong deals with the struggle to be your true self, and the sacrifices and compromises often necessary to make your dreams come true.

These are the themes that go way beyond the meet cute and the hopping in bed. All the flirting, romantic moments, and hot passion still serve to bring the characters closer, and by doing so, they eventually fulfill those larger goals.

Recently, a very vocal critic of the romance genre (we’ll never run out of those, it seems) called romance authors “literary prostitutes”. Blanket statements like that have to be taken with a grain of, or maybe a rock of, salt. One reason why romance readers are so voracious, (fueling a billion-dollar industry) is these books make them feel good.

And quite often, there’s more than just a cute love story between the pages, even if the book is “written to market”.

Here’s a sample scene from Not So Wrong:

Suddenly he was on the floor in front of me, kneeling. He took both of my hands in his and looked into my eyes. My heart skipped a beat. What was he going to say now?

“Melanie, you keep saying we’re so different, but we’re really not. Music saved my life, too. Piano lessons were a gift from my mother, her legacy to me. Later, when my world shattered, when I thought there would never again be any joy in my life, music kept me going. To share that personal salvation with someone else is a miracle. You understand me, and I understand you. That’s priceless. That’s something my money could never buy.”

Hot tears sprang from my eyes. I blinked them back, not wanting to cry in front of him. He was right; we had a deep understanding that connected us. I’d felt it that first night at the party when we played music together. Even before we confessed our deepest secrets, we knew them.

© Renee Regent, 2019

I love to connect with readers and other authors, so here’s my links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15611048.Renee_Regent

Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/renee-regent
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Featured Interview- Romantic Suspense Author C.F. Francis

“Welcome to the tropics, where the weather isn’t the only thing that’s HOT!!”

That’s the introduction you’ll find on the website of C.F. Francis, an up and coming author of steamy, suspenseful romance. And judging by the reviews for her first two novels, her latest book, Explosive Touch, is bound to be a must-read.

Ms. Francis is a native Floridian, who loves mystery, suspense and a romance. Her novels include all three and are set primarily in beautiful Southwest Florida.  The stories tell the tales of a team of Special Forces men who get into as much trouble off the field as they do during deployment.

I had the pleasure of talking with her recently to get the scoop on her latest release and find out what she has planned for the future.

Hello and welcome! First, let’s talk about setting. What was it about Southwest Florida that drew your interest as a setting for your books?

I live in Southwest Florida and it is beautiful.  Unless you’re setting is a fantasy universe, I think a writer should stick to settings they know and being a native Floridian, I know Florida.  And who doesn’t like the tropics?

And how do you come up with your storylines? Can the books in your series be read as standalones, or is it better to read them in sequence?

The James Gang series are intended to be stand-alone books.  They may refer to a character or plot line from another story but it isn’t necessary to know that story to read the one your in.  As for storylines, I work them out in my head.  I’ve been thinking about joining, or putting together, a “plotting group”.  Maybe I wouldn’t bang my head against the wall so often if I had a little help in winding my way through plots.

Did you do a lot of research for your books?

The amount of research depends on the subject but I’m always checking things as I want the “facts” to be correct.  My last story had a satellite phone in it.  I knew nothing about them.  Now I know more than I’ll ever need.  And it had bombs in it.  The FBI should be knocking on my door any time now!  The stories revolve around a Special Forces team and I am very fortunate a former Special Forces member is a friend.  He is always willing to help me work out ideas or tell me if I’m going in the wrong direction.  His wife was in the Army and with another friend who was an Army Intelligence captain, so I have some pretty good sources.

Do you have any other books planned?

Yes.  I’m working on a general outline for #4.  I’m normally a “panster” (I write by the seat of my pants) but wanted a little bit more of an idea of where I was going this time.  We’ll see if I stick with it.

Will you be making any public appearances?

I do book signings during “season” here in Southwest Florida.  If you’re interested, check my Facebook page.  As soon as I have copies of Explosive Touch in hand, I’ll be scheduling some.  I’m also planning on attending Heather Graham’s Writers for New Orleans Labor Day weekend.

What do you like most about being an author?

Creating characters I like to spend time with.  I’ve also found I like creating mysteries as much as I like reading and solving them.

Thanks for filling us in on your books and your world, C.F.! I can’t wait to read the next book.

Here’s the info on Explosive Touch, and the buy links:

Bombings, worlds apart, throw two survivors together. Troy, a mental wreck and physically damaged due to his last tour as a Special Ops soldier, is asked to protect Shayne from an unknown enemy. Is he up to the task? Can he keep his emotional distance from a woman who has become all too important to him?

Shayne Peterson cheated death when she survived a bombing at a Tampa country club. Still, she fights a nightly battle against the terror of being trapped under the rubble and her inability to identify the man who left the deadly package. After a move to Sanibel Island, she finds herself surrounded by former Green Berets. She feels safe—until it becomes obvious that she’s not.

A suicide bomber in an Afghani marketplace left Troy McKenzie, Special Forces soldier and former ladies’ man, disfigured. He should have died that day—punishment for his arrogance and misplaced trust. Unable to get past the memories and the boy he couldn’t save, Troy returns to Sanibel, seeking the support of his former brothers-in-arms.

Soon Shayne and Troy are battling their unexpected, and ill-timed, attraction to one another while staying one step ahead of a killer.

Amazon-  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07N687LCT

B & N-   https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/explosive-touch-c-f-francis/1130407022?ean=2940156282142

iBooks –  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/explosive-touch/id1450778610?mt=11

Kobo-   https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/explosive-touch

 

And if you’d like to follow C.F. Francis, here’s the links:

Website:  http://www.cffrancis.com

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Francis_Sanibel

FacebooK: https://www.facebook.com/cffrancisauthor/?eid=ARAZFu_6rVA0iOdTwyDJTbS6Wzz1bwHG6XeeZSvWJlcO6ILNZwvkVZem4DTT82q3WLiUqOx3PG6-bBMO

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why I Choose to Write Romance

“So, you also write romance? Well, I guess you have to eat.”

Condescending much?

I regret that when another author made that comment to me, I let it slide. We met online and decided to swap newsletters, since our work had some themes in common. We exchanged several pleasant emails, did the newsletter swap, and then he disappeared. I don’t know why we stopped communicating, but his initial comment still bothered me several months later.

Here We Go Again

There have been countless articles and posts written about the unfair bias against the romance genre, so I won’t rehash any of those here. But yes, it ticked me off when another author implied that romance as a genre was inferior to other genres, and the only merit it had was producing content in order to make money.

In other words, no “serious” author would stoop to writing romance. This was from an indie author, too—someone who knows how much work it takes to bring a book to market and how scary it is to put yourself out there without the backing of a publisher. He wrote the book that was in his heart, and it was well done, and well received. But you know what?

So did I.

It Goes Both Ways

My first book, Unexplained, (Book 1 of the Higher Elevation Series), was written with a central love story in mind. The heroine is a skeptical journalism student, and the hero is a psychic with the ability to project his mind outside of his body. They become tangled up in danger while trying to understand the meaning of their strange mental connection. The book ended up being a suspenseful Cold War spy story, with a twist. I never meant to straddle the mainstream and romance genres, but that’s how the story turned out. Readers who normally don’t read romance enjoyed it, and those who love romance enjoyed it, as well.

Because Unexplained attracted some non-romance readers, I was able to get some feedback from them, and I noticed something—there was often a “disclaimer” that they don’t normally read romance, but made an exception for this book. Why is that even necessary? The romance readers didn’t make any comments about having to read the non-romantic parts of the book. Will the stigma of romance being part of a story, or the entire story, ever go away? Gore and violence are often accepted, but not falling in love.

It doesn’t make much sense.

Romance Is Strong

However, the bias against romance won’t slow it down, because readers will continue to read voraciously, and authors will continue to write romance stories, myself included. My next novel, Not So Broken, is a steamy Contemporary romance, the first in a series. I chose to write this story because I love to hear how couples got together.

Isn’t that a universal question we often ask others—“How did you two meet?”

Don’t we all love to hear how a couple met, especially when there seems to be an element of fate? It’s fascinating to think that being in the right place at the right time led to a relationship. What if he had missed that train, or if she had decided to stay home instead of going out to that club? How can a chance meeting turn into something life changing?

I like to get inside the heads of my characters and figure out how to get two mismatched souls to come together despite the odds. The HEA, or happily ever after, is the destination and the story is all about the couple’s journey to get there.

Every group of people on the planet has those kind of stories—about two people falling in love. Love is love, and romance is universal, even for those who look down their noses at those of us who write about it.

That is why I choose to write romance. I’m damn proud of the title, “Romance Author”, and many of us are eating very well, thank you.

When You Really, Really Don’t feel Like Celebrating The Holidays

So not into it!

Are you one of those people who dreads the holiday season, while everyone else around you is making merry? Do you look forward to New Year’s Eve most of all, because it means all this holiday nonsense and commercialism will finally be over?

You’re not alone.

How and why one chooses to celebrate or not celebrate the holidays is an intensely personal thing. It may be cultural, it could be religious, or it may simply be personal preference. But when something is as pervasive in society as is our annual ramp up to the grand finale of New Year’s Eve, and all the hectic activity in between, it can take a toll on a person’s attitude.

Holiday Overload

I must confess that as I’ve gotten older, I am less interested in the holiday hubbub. Decorating feels like a chore; shopping for gifts becomes a race against time. Endless holiday-themed commercials become even more annoying than pharmaceutical ads, and I swear if I hear “Winter Wonderland” one…more…time…

But then, when Christmas is almost here, a yearning comes from somewhere deep inside, and I find myself searching closets for that old DVD of Rudolph or the Grinch or Charlie Brown. I actually look forward to exchanging gifts, because the pressure to find and wrap them is over. Seeing little kids getting all excited over the lights or going to see Santa melts my irritation away, and I find myself enjoying the holidays once more.

So now I try every year to not let cynicism take over, and enjoy the little things.

Deep As Snow

But some people have more serious issues with the holidays, and that is what prompted me to write the short stories that comprise my novella, Running In Snow. Sometimes past trauma can make it difficult for some people to enjoy the holidays. I’ve had a few unpleasant holidays in my past, so I wondered what it would be like for someone who refused to celebrate, but was in a situation where they had to?

What on earth would make them go through with it?

That was the basis for Noelle’s Promise, the first short story. Noelle had some serious trauma around Christmas from her childhood, to the point where she would not participate at all. Not with friends, not at work, not in any way. She simply avoided it.
But when she fell in love, her life changed. Should she continue to ignore the holidays, or try to join in her boyfriend Logan’s family celebrations? She makes a valiant effort to do so, but things don’t go as planned. Noelle discovers that sometimes the way past your fears is to go right through them.

Eve’s Hope, the second short holiday story, is about a woman who believes she is cursed. Every New Year’s Eve, something goes wrong. When her heater goes out in a rare Atlanta snowstorm, her handsome neighbor rescues her and invites her to his party. She makes the best of it, hoping to get through the night without her bad luck kicking in. Let’s just say there’s a few surprises in store before the clock strikes midnight.

I enjoyed writing these emotional holiday tales because I was able to explore those feelings of dread I get every year, but still end up on a happy note. Do you ever experience negative feelings around the holidays? How do you cope?

Running In Snow is available on Amazon and  other retailers (Nook, Kobo, iTunes) for just .99. I hope you enjoy the holidays, however you choose to spend them!

 

Cover Reveal of Running In Snow-A Holiday Novella

I know, autumn has just begun and in many places, it still feels like summer. At least it has here in Atlanta with ninety degree temperatures. But the Holiday Season is right around the corner and this year, I have a Holiday Novella release!

It’s called Running In Snow, and that is the cover in the featured photo. Elle at EJRDigital Art did a fantastic job at capturing the mood of these two heartwarming yet emotional holiday tales. Release date is November 7, 2017, and it will be available for preorder in October, date TBD.

Full disclosure here—I never had the desire to write a holiday story, or even short stories for that matter. But this is proof that writers can get inspiration from anywhere. The idea for the first story, Noelle’s Promise, hit me out of the blue. I read a blog post (sorry, I cannot recall the author) about writing holiday stories, and the idea came to me—what would happen if someone who didn’t celebrate the holidays was in a situation where they had to? Why would they not want to celebrate? How would that play out?

I guess it may be an unusual twist, but that seems to be what I do. If you’ve read my Higher Elevation Series, then you know I come at subjects from a different angle sometimes. These holiday stories are deeply emotional, and my characters go through some real soul searching. But they end up on a happy note.

Here’s the cover copy for Running In Snow:

Two heartwarming tales of love and redemption. And snow.

Noelle’s Promise

Does your past define the future?

Noelle has one cardinal rule─never, ever celebrate the holidays. But now she’s promised to spend them with her boyfriend, Logan, and his extended family. As the festivities begin, bad memories surface. She manages to suppress her anxiety and join in the celebrations, until an unexpected incident sends her fleeing into the night. Can she overcome her past before it ruins her future?

Eve’s Hope

Can a holiday be unlucky every year?

When her heater goes out in the middle of a rare Atlanta snowstorm, reclusive Eve accepts the invitation to her handsome neighbor’s party. Expecting to be bored to tears, she encounters a few surprises before the countdown to midnight begins. Can she survive just one New Year’s Eve without her bad luck kicking in?

 

I’ll be posting soon when more information becomes available. Until then, you can follow my Amazon Author Page for updates:
https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01M4IHA1A

Or follow my Goodreads Page:
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15611048.Renee_Regent

Or subscribe to my newsletter. They got to see the cover a few days ago, and enjoy exclusive content, and giveaways. You also get your choice of up to FIVE FREE mini-ebooks just for signing up:

http://www.reneeregent.com/newsletter-sign-up

And you can also get excusive news and giveaways for being in my Reader’s Group on Facebook, Renee Regent’s Readers. Message me and ask to join:

https://www.facebook.com/Renee-Regent-Author-1625365841109181/

 

I’ll be sharing this cover reveal on social media and would greatly appreciate any likes, shares, retweets, etc. I am so excited to share these stories with you! Thanks again as always, for your support.

May I be the first to say, Happy Holidays!

 

 

Why I Love To Give Free Stuff

I’ve been giving stuff away lately, and I have to admit, it feels pretty good! And I’m not even concerned about getting anything back. That’s the best way to give, isn’t it? Pay it forward and all that. So when I give I try to do so with pure intentions and hope karma does the rest.

Free Works, Apparently

I was pleasantly surprised this month when I had my “free days” on Amazon. My first book, Unexplained, had almost four thousand downloads! I had run some promotions on social media and a few newsletters, and it seems to have paid off. All three of my Higher Elevation Series books are in Kindle Unlimited right now, and the sales and page reads have been better than I ever expected. The idea of giving away that many copies felt weird to me at first, but at least my books are out there, finding an audience. So I consider this a win.

I’ve also given away paperback copies, signed, of course. I ran Goodreads Giveaways, I gave away books through my Facebook Group, Renee Regent’s Readers. I gave away an Amazon gift card when I did a takeover on Facebook. This is nothing new, authors have been doing this and more for years, but I never realized how good it would feel to do it. I knew giving things away was a good business strategy, but it’s more than that. It’s something I actually look forward to. Even though it’s common now to hand out swag and free books, people still get excited about it, and for me, seeing their excitement is the fun part.

But Wait, There’s More!

All this giving away of goodies had me thinking, “What else can I give?” While looking through the statistics report of my blog for ideas, I decided to compile a free mini ebook. Or two. Well, I ended up with five, actually!

I’ve been blogging since 2013, and according to WordPress, I have over 2,400 followers. I’ve written over one hundred posts on various topics, some of which have been viewed thousands of times. I love blogging and have covered diverse topics over the years, so I compiled some of my most popular posts into mini ebooks by subject. They’re a quick, easy read, and I hope readers will find them fun and informative. Here’s a rundown:

Romance Novel Trends– a (sometimes humorous) look at the trends shaping Romance Novels today, from those ubiquitous “Ab Covers” to Seasoned Romance

Writing Tips on Marketing– the elusive Holy Grail of discoverability, and ways to find it

Writing Tips on Craft– Useful and practical information I’ve learned along the way. I put myself through the ringer so you don’t have to!

Supernatural/Metaphysical– curious about the Law of Attraction? Wondering if ghosts are real? Find out in this exploration of the unexplained, which often end up in my stories

From the Heart– In which I share stories from my real life experiences. There’s some humor, some heartbreak, and of course, love.

 

Whether you are a writer, a reader, or both, I hope you’ll find something interesting in these posts. They are available exclusively to my newsletter subscribers. If interested, you can sign up here.

There’s also a page on my website called “Free Reads”, where you can read the first chapter of Unexplained.

When it comes to giving, I feel like I’m just getting started. I have plenty of stories and blog posts still in my head, so don’t worry, there’s more to come. If you were one of the readers who downloaded or bought my books, or read them on KU these past few weeks, thank you from the bottom of my heart!

That’s the best gift anyone could give me.