Flirt Back to School New Adult Blog Hop!

I’m excited about this giveaway hop! You can win a special prize from Flirt, and I have a digital copy of Isn’t She Lovely by Lauren Layne for one of you to win!

WELCOME TO FLIRT’S "BACK TO SCHOOL" NEW ADULT BLOG HOP GIVEAWAY!


Welcome to Flirt University’s Back to School celebration! It’s time for the Three R’s, Flirt style—Reading, (W)Riting, and Romancing! In the spirit of getting to know one another on the first day of school, Flirt, Random House’s New Adult imprint, has set up a New Adult blog hop so you can discover other blogs that love the hottest new romance genre.

As part of the hop, Flirt is giving away its signature "I <3 New Adult" tote (for carrying books, ereaders, and other fun things), and its signature "I <3 New Adult" mug (perfect for that morning coffee pick-me-up)! Just check out the Rafflecopter below—stop by each blog for more chances to win, and to meet awesome New Adult fans and reviewers!

Head back to Romance at Random on Tuesday, September 3 to find out if you won (we’ll email winners, too!), and don’t miss your first Flirt University "lecture" from one of Flirt’s esteemed New Adult Author Professors! They’ll be sharing their thoughts on everything New Adult!

I am excited to be part of this blog hop for a couple of reasons.  First, I love reading, especially romance!  It’s been fun seeing the changes in the genre over the last few years, and it’s exciting to see all of the new authors and new twists on traditional romance tropes.  I’m also super geeked to see so many people giving romance a try, and I’m looking forward to meeting new readers and romance authors!

GIVEAWAY!

 

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Click here for a list of all of the participating blogs!   http://romanceatrandom.com/flirts-back-to-school-new-adult-blog-hop-and-giveaway

Now for my giveaway! 

Isn’t She Lovely by Lauren Layne

Flirt New Adult Romance

On sale October 28, 2013

978-0-345-54911-2

The rules are clear—until they’re broken. Lauren Layne puts a New Adult spin on Pygmalion, also the inspiration for Pretty Woman, and gives the classic love story its edgiest twist yet.

“Who knew that pretending you’re not falling for someone would be so much more difficult than pretending that you are?” 

Stephanie Kendrick gave up her whole summer to ace her NYU film school screenwriting course, so she’s pissed to be stuck with a preppy, spoiled frat boy as her writing partner. Then again, with her piercings, black-rimmed eyes, and Goth wardrobe, Stephanie isn’t exactly Ethan Price’s type, either. He’s probably got his eye on some leggy blonde with a trust fund . . . or does he?

As the summer scene kicks off in the Hamptons, Ethan is desperate to make his snobbish mother forget the pedigreed girl who broke his heart. While Stephanie’s a stretch as a decoy, the right makeover and a pastel cardigan just might do the trick. She may not love the idea of playing Ethan’s brainless Barbie girlfriend, but the free rent and luxurious digs make a tempting offer. So does the promise of a ready-made screenplay idea inspired by their charade.

But when Stephanie steps into Ethan’s privileged world, the “acting” begins to feel all too real. The kissing and touching that were intended to fool the Hamptons crowd wind up manipulating them. And Stephanie faces a question she’s too afraid to ask: Is Ethan falling for the real her or for the dolled-up princess he wants to see?

About Lauren Layne

Lauren Layne graduated from Santa Clara University with a B.S. in political science that she has yet to put to good use. After dabbling in an e-commerce career in Seattle and Southern California, Layne moved to New York City, where she now writes full-time. She lives with her husband and their plus-size pomeranian in a tiny Manhattan studio.

Connect with Lauren: Facebook | Twitter | Website

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Spotlight and Giveaway! To Catch a Princess by Caridad Pineiro

Today I have a spotlight for To Catch a Princess by Caridad Pineiro! Enter for a chance to win a digital copy of the book – open Internationally!

 

To Catch a Princess by  Caridad Pineiro

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Imprint: Ignite

About the book:

Untold wealth, a loving family, a solid career in America: the only thing Princess Tatiana lacks is the one thing she really doesn’t want—a husband. Unfortunately, her parents have just arranged her marriage to a royal from the old country. Are they kidding? It’s the twenty-first century!

Police Detective Peter Roman is a royal living incognito … and escaping a secret that has haunted his family for years. He’s been quietly in love with his best friend Prince Alexander’s sister for as long as he can remember. Little does she know that he is secretly the Grand Duke to whom she is unwillingly betrothed…

When a series of high-end jewelry heists threatens Tatiana’s exclusive charity exhibition in glamorous Monaco, the two must trap the clever jewel thief before he strikes again. In a fight for their lives, Peter’s secret identity is revealed. With danger and passion increasing to the breaking point, she must decide: catch a thief…or trust the heart of her true love.

 

Watch for Caridad’s upcoming September 2013 release, For Love or Vengeance the first in a four (4) book Reborn Series.

 

 

About the author:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling paranormal and romantic suspense author Caridad Pineiro wrote her first novel in the fifth grade when her teacher assigned a project – to write a book for a class lending library. Bitten by the writing bug, Caridad continued with her passion for the written word and in 1999, Caridad’s first novel was released. Over a decade later, Caridad is the author of more than thirty published novels and novellas. When not writing, Caridad is an attorney, wife and mother to an aspiring writer and fashionista.

Links:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Purchase link:

GIVEAWAY!!

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Guest Post: Tony Cliff on Writing Strong Female Characters and Giveaway!

Today’s special guest Tony Cliff has a guest post for us, and after, you can win a copy of his graphic novel Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant.

Writing Strong Female Characters by Tony Cliff

I don’t know whether she meant it sincerely or whether she was just trying to tease me, but when a notably feminist-minded female friend saw the cover for my first little Delilah Dirk comic back in 2007, she said, “oh! You made a feminist character.” Knowing how vocal this friend could be about feminist issues, it was often fun to bother her about it with a grab-bag of stereotypically misogynist remarks, so she could have been returning the favour by maligning-but-not-really my labour of love. Pointing out that the project I’ve been working on for months secretly demonstrates feminist principles would have been a sort of, “ah ha, you’re part of the club and you didn’t even know it” statement. Whatever her intentions, she was the first person to posit that Delilah Dirk might be a “strong female character.” Since then, presumably because I am a human male and the incongruity is astonishing, I am often asked why and how I have written a “strong female character.” Let me tell you!

I’ll just pass by arguing about whether Delilah Dirk is, in fact, a “strong female character.” Since that first mention, enough people have framed her as such that I’m just going to roll with it. No one that I am aware of has argued that DD is specifically not a “strong female character.” If I’m reluctant to embrace that term (as indicated by my liberal use of scare-quotes), it’s probably due to my personal tendency to be contradictory, but also because I am occasionally suspicious of peoples’ motivations in throwing the term around.

I’ll also pass by the question, “why do you write strong female characters,” because Joss Whedon has already addressed that question very eloquently. Listen to him here (http://youtu.be/cYaczoJMRhs?t=1m44s).

If possible, I would also defer to Joss Whedon about how to write strong female characters. He has more experience than I do. I’m not entirely sure what makes a “strong female character.” Others have invested years of post-graduate study in this topic – there are tests to see if your work of fiction has sufficiently fully-featured female characters, there are classifications, there are archetypes and stereotypes… I just sat down one evening to invent an adventuresome character who seemed appealing.

Here is the extent to which I considered Delilah’s gender: inspired by Hornblower and Sharpe adventures during the Napoleonic Wars, I wanted to have a sort of logistically hyper-flexible (i.e. “globetrotting”) action character, and the genre and setting were already chock-a-block full of male characters. Plus, a female character in 1810 naturally faces more obstacles due to societal norms, which I thought would present more opportunities for conflict. It would generate laughs, too, because our society has come so far since then that the gender roles are comically outdated. Feel free to roll your eyes in disagreement, if necessary – again, I am a White Male. I was also motivated by the mainstream comics I had encountered – mostly Image comics of the late 1990s. The female characters were across-the-board boring. Too serious, too bland, no sense of humour, no depth or colour.

Meanwhile, throughout my life I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy the platonic friendship of a few actual human females. I have studied them – made notes, measured and analyzed their behaviours and characteristics. I have dissected their droppings and run samples of their blood through complicated scientific equipment, at great personal expense. I have made a surprising number of astonishing conclusions!

There are differences, but all you need to figure them out is a little observation, a little time, and to not be a raging garbage bag of misogynist filth. Sure, there might be subtle differences between a male character and a female character who are identical except for their gender. But the gulf is not very wide. Maybe you know how to write characters who fall all along the personality spectrum, from a cruelly selfish man to heroically brave man, to a paralyzingly cowardly man. If so, you’re more than capable of embracing the socially and physiologically imposed differences between genders. They are minor by comparison. Yes, there may be aspects of a character that are forced on them by their physiognomy and anatomy, how they think of themselves, and how your society of other characters treat them based on their perceived gender, but this is where imagination and observation come in.

So how do you write a strong female character? And is this different from a believable female character? Is there something that separates strong from believable? Is it just the addition of swords? Is it some other “empowering” trait? After all, the forcefulness of how a character represents their gender is not necessarily an indication of their strength. I am suspicious that when people say “strong female character” what they really mean is “believable female character” or just anything except “curvaceous plot device.” Assuming you want to step away from having your character serve the limited purposes of a plot device (ahem, Princess Peach, ahem, every damsel in distress), I like two simple tools for the job: contrast and depth.

Contrast is a simple idea, and it applies to anything you’re creating, at any step in the process. It is a flexible and infinitely useful fundamental concept. Follow along. When you’re reading a WHERE’S WALDO book (or WALLY, I guess, for you Europeans), it is difficult to figure out Where Waldo is because he is surrounded by other humans, some of whom wear stripy things and/or share similar colours with Waldo. This is low contrast. It’s hard to tell where Waldo is because he’s surrounded by so many things that are similar. He gets lost in the Waldo-ness.

Conversely, if you put Waldo on a flat, deserted ice floe, voila! he’s easy to see. He is the only Waldo-shaped and -coloured object that’s visible. This is high contrast. Waldo stands out because of all the not-Waldo-ness around him. Meanwhile, the polar bear behind him? Neither you nor Waldo saw it coming, because a white polar bear against a white background is the epitome of low contrast.

You can (and ought to) apply principles of contrast to everything. Readability and understanding increase when contrast increases. So it goes when you are creating a character. Their happy moments stand out in contrast to their sad moments. Their angry, intense, moments stand out in contrast to their quiet, meditative, sitting-and-sipping-tea moments. I believe this is what sets an interesting (“strong/believable”) character apart from a dull character. Certainly, if you’ve heard the term “one-note character,” this is a way to combat that, and it’s the beginning of achieving a little depth of character. Just put them in situations where they’ll be motivated to have different feelings.

It is frustrating to realize that I have just given advice that amounts to, “give the character more than one feeling,” because if you think about it that simply, it seems inconceivable that anyone could make anything even passably interesting for the maker without clearing this low hurdle. But I guess it needs to be mentioned. Those dour, guns-blazing ladies in my late-90s Image comics all had approximately two-and-a-half modes of expression: “scowl”, “scowl harder”, and “laugh derisively.” Sometimes they would look very serious while sunbathing by the pool, or on a boat, or on cloudy days. Not exactly a rich tapestry of emotion.

Conversely, in his series of novels, Horatio Hornblower is a well-rounded, fully-coloured character. The stories are no major touchstones in the history of literature, but they are solid, enjoyable, and are improved dramatically by the depth that C.S. Forester gives his protagonist’s character. Hornblower’s strength, resolve, and bravery stand out so much more impressively because they are contrasted against his worry, neuroses, and his internal conflicts.

For advice on achieving depth of character, I’m once more going to defer to someone with more expertise than me. After all, this is the sort of topic that one could write a book about, as many have. I like Lajos Egri. His excellent book THE ART OF DRAMATIC WRITING was written in the 1930s and is designed for the playwrights of the time. Nevertheless, it is a timeless, effective guide to building integrated characters and stories, whether you’re writing a novel, comic, movie, or even an actual play, as preposterous as that notion may be. If you didn’t know when it was written, you might mistake it for being more modern than McKee’s STORY. Egri’s emphasis is on designing stories that could not exist if it weren’t for the characters within them. Weak characters? Weak story. If that seems to you like it might be a recipe for the type of dull literary fiction that lacks the excitement of a good adventurous or romantic story, please see my earlier thoughts re: Horblower. Strong characters make for strong stories. A dull story is elevated and made interesting by entertaining characters, whereas the greatest roller-coaster of a plot is still mind-numbingly dull without interesting characters.

Much of Egri’s approach involves building a character up from their backstory. He is good at providing direction on how to do so. Now, admittedly, backstory and depth are not the same thing. But they can work in tandem. I find that one inspires the other.

Boiled down as simply as possible, depth can be found by giving your character likes, dislikes, wants, needs, preferences, quirks, and fears, among other things. Characteristics. Indiana Jones began as an homage to the heroes of adventure serials from the early 20th century. One of those is H. Rider Haggard’s character Allan Quatermain. Admittedly, I have not read a lot of Quatermain stories – maybe only three-quarters of one story – but you’d think that would be enough to give me a sense of his character. I know him only vaguely as a pith-helmeted avatar for the readers who would have revelled in what would have been exotic adventures back when those stories were written. What does everyone know about Indiana Jones? Whip, hat, competitive, and he’s scared of snakes. It’s not much, but it’s enough to be interesting, and it’s all established in the first ten minutes of his first story. The same can not be said for Quatermain. Say what you will about Wikipedia, feel free to contrast Quatermain’s “Appearance and Character” section with that of Indiana Jones or Horatio Hornblower.

At this point, I’ve wandered away from specifically talking about writing “strong female characters.” Though… I like to think that’s the eventual goal – some time far in the future, we might not need to differentiate between “strong female characters” and “strong characters.” Maybe you shouldn’t be writing strong female characters. Maybe you ought to write strong characters, making them ladies when that makes sense and men when that makes sense. Based on what I hear on Twitter and elsewhere, I can acknowledge that we’re not there yet, but I also get the feeling that I might be preaching to the choir: the type of person most likely to read about how to write a female character is the type who’s probably already inclined to do so, and that person is not the person who needs to be convinced of the value of a treating your differently-gendered characters equally.

So my hope is that you’ll keep writing your characters, and hopefully I’ve shared some viewpoints that complement your own. Perhaps I’ve simply illuminated some of my own biases, and you’ve encountered a type of thinking or some cognitive mistakes you want to avoid. Either way, I hope you’ll keep writing (or start writing) richly-developed characters and sending them out into the world so that, eventually, somewhere down the road, no one feels that a character’s gender requires a special approach to writing.

Thank you, Tony!!

About the book:

Lovable ne’er-do-well Delilah Dirk has travelled to Japan, Indonesia, France, and even the New World. Using the skills she’s picked up on the way, Delilah’s adventures continue as she plots to rob a rich and corrupt Sultan in Constantinople. With the aid of her flying boat and her newfound friend, Selim, she evades the Sultan’s guards, leaves angry pirates in the dust, and fights her way through the countryside. For Delilah, one adventure leads to the next in this thrilling and funny installment in her exciting life.

A little bit Tintin, a little bit Indiana Jones, Delilah Dirk is a great pick for any reader looking for a smart and foolhardy heroine…and globetrotting adventures.

Giveaway:

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Entangled Publishing Celebrates Covet August Releases and Giveaway

Entangled is celebrating their August Covet releases.  Check out their new releases, and then enter the giveaways below!


Covets have all the sexiness, emotion, and happily ever after that readers have come to expect and love from Entangled. They are firmly grounded in the contemporary world, but each novel brings in supernatural twists, breaking the contemporary and paranormal rules, alike. To find out more about their titles, chat with authors, participate in special events, and to find out what books you’ll be coveting next, visit the Entangled website, follow them on Twitter, and LIKE their Facebook page.

Today I’m happy to be featuring Covet’s August releases!!


The Awakening: Liam by Abby Niles
The Awakening #2

Shifter, Liam Doyle knows Hell. At least he believed he did. The night he feels his mate die, he learns how very wrong he was. Nothing he’d struggled with since Ava’s rejection compares to the emptiness that fills his soul by her death. Lost in his grief, he’s taken by surprise and drugged. When he wakes, everything changes. Nothing is what it seems, and someone is dead set on making him pay.

When Ava Michaels is taken captive, she’s thrust into a dark and terrifying world along with the man she was forced to leave behind. While being near Liam again is heartbreaking, the motive behind her kidnapping is gradually revealed. The more she learns, the more she worries Liam isn’t the man she believed him to be. He has enemies willing to do anything to extract their revenge. Can their love survive a crazy man’s vengeance?

Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Kobo * Itunes * Goodreads

The Demon’s Desire by Kendra Leigh Castle
Hearts of the Fallen #2

He’s as dark and dangerous as the storms he once commanded…and she can’t get him out of her heart.

Dru has spent two thousand years fighting to keep the people of Terra Noctem safe. In all that time, she’s only opened her heart to one man, with disastrous results. But when her city takes in a group of renegade Fallen, she finds herself drawn to the brooding and tormented Meresin, despite the fact that he seems to be the least redeemable of them all. When his instability hits a breaking point, Meresin’s only chance at survival is a perilous journey into a place from which few ever return. What he never expected was that confronting his demons would mean risking not only his future, but Dru’s as well…and that one stubborn vampire might give him back not just hope…but his heart.



About Abby:

Ever since Abby Niles picked up her first Sweet Valley High book in sixth grade and fell in love with Elizabeth and Todd, she’s been hooked on romance. By the time she reached high school, she was devouring meatier romances with pirates, cowboys and knights. She never imagined that those years of reading would one day lead to her becoming a published author.

In her late twenties, after having twins and becoming a stay-at-home mom, she started doodling stories to keep her sanity. Next thing she knew, she was actually submitting to publishing houses. And was immediately rejected. That didn’t stop her though. She found herself some kickass critique partners, honed her craft, and continued submitting.

And eventually sold a short story, then a novella, then a novel, and now a series.

Today, she juggles work, home life, and writing. It’s not always easy, but hey, who said life was easy?

In her downtime, which isn’t often, you can find her playing ‘Just Dance’ with her kids or trying to catch up on her never-ending to-be-read list. She also loves Zumba, and refuses to admit she looks more like Animal doing his Muppet flail than a sensual Latin dancer.

Find Abby online:


About Kendra:

Kendra Leigh Castle was born and raised in the far and frozen reaches of Northern New York, where there was plenty of time to cultivate her love of reading thanks to the six-month-long winters. Sneaking off with selections from her mother’s vast collection of romance novels came naturally and fairly early, and a lifelong love of the Happily Ever After was born. After graduating from SUNY Oswego (where it also snowed a lot) with a teaching degree, Kendra ran off with a handsome young Navy fighter pilot and has somehow accumulated three children, three dogs, and one enormous cat during their many moves.

While stationed in a remote corner of the Nevada desert, Kendra penned her first romance, and a career often spent working in fuzzy slippers and pajamas was born. Her work has garnered both critical praise and award nominations, but the best part has been connecting with readers who share her love of dark romance (not to mention heroes with sharp, pointed teeth). Kendra currently lives in Maryland, and can usually be found curled up with her laptop and yet another cup of coffee working on her next book. She loves to hear from her readers, and can be contacted via email or her Facebook page.

Find Kendra online:


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