Writing Tips with Franny Armstrong

I’m author Franny Armstrong, ParaNovelGirl. Para stands for paranormal, as in psychic abilities, Novel…well, it speaks for itself. As for Girl, I decided that even though I’m a woman, girl sounds so much better. There, now you know my secret. lol

I’ve learned a TON over the past twelve years as a professional writer. The what DON’T do’s tend to outrank the DO do’s. As in spelling do’s. (NOT a word) Honest.

As a Canadian, I write in the US version of English. Colour becomes color, and about isn’t truly aboot, like Americans think we Canadians sound it out.

The most important thing to remember before submitting your works, is to make sure your grammar and punctuation are perfected. Nothing ticks off an agent/editor more, than finding a plethora of mistakes in a manuscript.

Next, check your plot out as you write. There must be a thrilling beginning, a critically exciting middle, and a smashing end to the happily ever after story. Fun WOW?

The first page has to capture the reader’s attention and hold it. There’s nothing like a hot page turner to keep a reader on the edge of their seat. If they like your ‘hook’, they’ll continue to turn the pages. Setting a nice fast pace is important as well. Too much description of the background or of the room the hero/heroine is in can kill a story before it begins. Give it some spice by adding a few tidbits of information at a time. This will help the reader follow your lead.

One of the critical things to remember is that, even if you receive a rejection letter, don’t be shy about sending a ‘thank you for your time’ email, or a kind email asking what you need to work on to have them accept you. Some editors/agents will give you a second chance. TAKE IT!

There are many more things to remember, but we only have so many things to list in a short blog. Always use your manners, and never cut down the editor/agent online. Words travel fast, and the walls have ears. Once you post your thoughts, they stay on the WWW for all to see.

Best wishes for success, and remember one more critical thing: NEVER GIVE UP! No matter how many times you get rejected. Instead of crying over spilt milk, remember to ask questions to find out why you’re work was refused. Follow up, and always be polite. That’s it in a nutshell. Do you want to be successful? What would you do make this happen?

Sincere thanks for visiting this blog.

Franny Armstrong

www.paranovelgirl.com

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Jinn & Toxic Print Cover 200x300A team that doesn’t exist…

Toxic Tango Troop is an elite team of soldiers who are betrayed by one of their own. Their goal is to prevent shipments of illegal drugs to North America. The team struggles to find the teammates, missing after they scatter to evade capture. The government won’t acknowledge the team, so they’re on their own.

She is a military secret…

Jinn Dennison takes the place of her identical twin sister, Julie, a soldier on the team. They think she’s dead. Jinn shows up to save her sister Julie, whom she knows is alive. She races against time to find her before it’s too late. Using her psychic abilities, she connects with Julie who she hasn’t seen since they were ten years old, but someone is blocking their silent communications.

He believes she’s a traitor…

Tab ‘Toxic’ McIntosh has a special gift that is top secret. He captures Jinn then uses her as bait to stop the Iceman, a notorious drug runner, and unearth the traitor. Tab’s sister, Tara, was kidnapped from a resort, and he wants her back at all costs. Things get complicated when Jinn and Tab fall in love.

Can Jinn and Toxic battle against all odds to win the day, or will they die trying? Time is of the essence in this fast paced adventure where anything can happen.

Buy: Jinn & Toxic (Toxic Tango Troop Book 1)

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Franny Armstrong Author PicFranny Armstrong Bio

Franny Armstrong is a mother of three and a grandmother of four. Her husband supports her imagination and has the patience of a saint. Her characters are well rounded and share her wacky sense of humor.

FACEBOOKhttp://www.facebook.com/pages/franny.armstrong.author

BLOG - http://www.paranovelgirl.blogspot.com

Review: Bought for Revenge by Sarah Mallory

bought for revengeReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Synopsis: Captain Lucas Blackstone has, unlike many of his men he served with returned from the battle of Waterloo unscathed. By coming back, he hopes to renovate what was once his family’s mansion, but seeing it in its current state causes him concern.

Debutante Annabelle Havenham’s father has to settle with his debtors and the only way he can is to sell the mansion he has come to see as his home. He thinks Captain Blackstone is the worthy buyer, yet he wants more into the bargain if he is to get his revenge on her father for what he had done in the past.

Review: Lucas comes to Annabelle’s father pretending to be a Mr Monserrat to avoid problems, but even in this deceptive manner, Annabelle’s father thinks he recognises him. Little by little, Lucas plans to take the loathed Mr Havenham down, knowing no one can prevent what will come to pass. Once Lucas meets Annabelle he has feelings for her as she is a strong-minded woman who wants to be seen as an equal in relationships. He wants to take down her father, yet he also has a hard time making her a worthy pawn in his game. Lucas makes the mistake of getting too close to her, close enough to have feelings for her that could cloud his judgement if he wants revenge against her father. He does have a heart, though but he keeps it in check for his own sake if he is to make her father pay for his past sins. In doing so, he puts his future and that of Annabelle’s at risk – she might never trust him after he tells her he wants to ruin him. He was after all a child when the incident happened and as a result, he could be alienating the only woman who would love him back, and the one man who, if Annabelle would accept his offer of marriage, would accept his offer of marriage without question.

Good Bits:

  • Annabelle’s first meeting with Lucas.
  • The interesting business of the Havenham family painting that makes Lucas very nervous indeed.
  • The mysterious cousin Hugh and how he fits into the story.

Summary: What starts out as a heated romance novel soon turns into a murder mystery both Lucas and Annabelle have to solve before it is too late. I found this an enjoyable and gripping novel that twists and turns really well until the satisfying reveal at the end.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Bought for Revenge

Writing Sensuality into a Story

no ordinary homeGuest blog by Mary Sullivan, author of No Ordinary Home

I’m so happy to be here! Thank you loveromancepassion for having me.

I want to talk today about raising the sensual stakes in a novel without littering the book with endless love scenes. To my mind, it’s important to have the characters yearn for each other long before the consummation of their attraction. It makes that first sex scene so much more satisfying to read. The concept of delayed gratification is a sound one on so many levels. LOL

In my October Harlequin Superromance, No Ordinary Home, it was hard to envision what that attraction would look like and how it would grow because the characters were so very different from each other.

While the hero, Austin Trumball, might have had a rough start in life, he was saved with the help of a good-hearted sheriff and left behind those bad habits that surely someday would have led him to a jail cell. He’s grown up to be a deputy sheriff in my fictional town of Ordinary, Montana. The heroine, Gracie Travers, is a drifter. She’s been living the homeless life for six years. She has her reasons and feels no need to share them with law enforcement.

So, how was I to make their attraction to each other believable? How could a deputy sheriff ever find a homeless woman attractive? I started with character. Austin grew up to be salt-of-the-earth dependable, a trustworthy man on whom anyone can rely. Gracie has known so little of that in her life. Fiercely independent, she is nevertheless tempted by his dependability and stability.

Gracie might appear to be rough around the edges, but she has an innate kindness that life hasn’t managed to beat out of her. During her travels, she stops at nursing and old folks homes to give free manicures and pedicures to the aging residents. Then she sings old classic songs that they all love. Austin likes that about her. As a child, he was asked to grow up too quickly by an extremely dependent mother. He admires Gracie’s staunch independence even as he wants to help her.

As far as their physical attraction went, I built it in slowly, in small ways.

Austin has given her a few meals and her pride compels her to pay him back somehow. She has no money, so offers to cut his hair.

She approached uneasily, regretting now that she’d offered to do this. In her need to pay him back, she hadn’t realized this could be dangerous to her.

Touch. Six years of deprivation. She’d been starving. She craved touch. Had known too little of it, even before she’d run away.

She settled the towel across his back and broad, muscled shoulders. The warmth of his body seeped into her through the slightest touch.

Good-looking, fit, kind, generous, decent. The man was perfect in every way, or would have been in another time, under different circumstances.

Guard your heart, Gracie.

Then, in another scene, Austin drops her off in a small town where she is going to pick up money owed to her. It will (they think) be the last time they will see each other.

 “I guess this is goodbye,” he said and grasped her hand in his much larger one, engulfing her fingers with his calm, sure strength.

Why did she feel like crying, as if maybe she was walking away from the best man she would ever know? Certainly, he’d treated her well, but so had others. Some others. Not all. Not many.

Holy mac and cheese, how could a handshake be so devastating?

He tugged, gently, and she yearned forward. He leaned close, closer, his breath a caress on her cheek. Then his lips were on hers, warm and tender and firm.

In his kiss was the heat of summer, the shimmer of sheet lightning, the earthiness of morning dew.

His palm cradled her cheek, his thumb and forefinger angled her chin where he wanted her. His tongue played hide-and-seek with hers, so sweetly.

A dangerous kiss, it whispered intimate promises to her naïve daydreaming heart, promises that would hurt when they weren’t fulfilled.

She slid her lips and hand from Austin’s, slowly, memorizing the feel of him, to take out one month, one year, one decade from now when she was living alone and hiding from the world, and feeling the lack of love in her life. She almost certainly would live alone. In the future, how could she possibly ever find another man as good as Austin? She would need a memory to sustain her. Like this. Of him.

In the end, there was only one thing to do. Walk away.

She gets out of the car and walks away, but we see a little of what Austin feels about that kiss…

 “Goodbye, my left nut,” Austin muttered. After that kiss? That bit of perfection that should have been a beginning instead of an ending?

The beginning of what?

He didn’t have a clue, but he couldn’t leave her to walk away, not until he knew for sure she was safe. Then he would consider it.

Then, and only then, he would really say goodbye. Maybe. After he explored more of whatever it was that had built between them.

Later still, long before their first sex scene, Gracie ends up in terrible danger and Austin saves her. She has been able to save herself while on the road for six years, but the man attacking her is drunk, high and too strong for her. For once in her life, she is glad that someone else is there to help her. Gracie had let her pride get the better of her common sense. Austin is furious that she put herself into such a dangerous situation by sleeping in a back alley when she could have been safe in a hotel room with him, no strings attached. He loses his precious control around her. He takes her back to the hotel and she is glad to go.

 “What are you doing?” she whispered.

“I’m going to kiss you.”

“Why?”

“Because I have to do something or I’ll yell this place down. You frustrate me, woman.”

“Woman? You sound like a caveman. I have a name.”

“Quiet. You talk too much.”

Before she could protest, his lips were on hers, seeking and demanding.

Gracie felt his kiss to her toes, felt it everywhere, as though bubbles were dancing in her stomach and diminutive fairies were jumping for joy in her brain.

More, they shouted. Give us more. They danced jigs. They threw fairy dust into her bloodstream.

When he pulled back, she said, “I don’t talk too much.”

“You do.” He kissed her again. Just what she wanted.

The fairies whooped and danced some more. The fairy dust in her blood floated and twirled. The fairies sang love songs. “A kiss is just a kiss,” she told herself.

But no.

Not this one. This was THE kiss, the one that would go down in every history written from this point on, in the annals of romance, as the best kiss ever.

Austin drew away and Gracie sighed. He knew his way around a woman’s lips. “You’ve been practicing.

He picked up his shaving kit and dropped it into this bag then walked toward the door.

What—? Where—?

“What are you doing?”

“Going to get a room of my own. I can’t stay with you tonight.” He walked out of the room.

His rejection stunned her. It shouldn’t hurt. It did.

Fine. She didn’t want sex with him, anyway. Truly.

The fairies disagreed. They pouted, railing against the unfairness of life that they should be left excited and eager and wanting, while Austin had apparently felt nothing. They crossed their little arms and stomped their tiny feet.

Holy Hannah, how was she supposed to sleep tonight?

Again, Austin’s reaction to that kiss. We get his POV the following morning…

 After he’d kissed her last night, he’d had to leave the room because he wanted to make love to her badly, but not like that.

The first time he and Gracie made love—and they would—it wouldn’t be with him full of anger. It wouldn’t be while he was ready to burst with frustration because of how much she pissed him off.

It would be because of how much he liked her, just honest to God liked her spirit, her honesty and her generosity.

That day when he’d seen her singing with the senior citizens, he’d seen an angel in action, a woman who cared.

It will still be a while after this scene before Austin and Gracie make love and I hope that I built up the tension enough that it is as satisfying for the reader as it is for my hero and heroine.

NO ORDINARY HOME is in bookstores today!

Currently, I’m writing a short Christmas story, a free read to send out in my December newsletter. I have a real weakness for many of the romance plotlines that are considered clichés. The short story is about a man and a woman stranded in the middle of a snowstorm in a small cabin in the woods, alone, without electricity, with only a quilt in front of the fireplace to keep them warm. Well, you can guess what happens next!

You can sign up for my newsletter through my website. I send it out only three to four times a year.

MY WEBSITE: www.marysullivanbooks.com

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/mary.sullivan.1460

TWITTER: @MSullivanWrites

Buy: No Ordinary Home

Review: Twisted (Eternal Guardians, Book 7) by Elisabeth Naughton

Tempted.inddReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Cynna is a spectator of an interesting fight.  Nick is fighting for his survival without losing who he is.  Almost right away this author shows how ugly the beast of sexual and mental abuse is.  I found that even though this is part of a series, you could read this book by itself.  But if you want to know more about the Guardians, you’ll want to stay true to the series.

If you’re someone that likes Mythology (one of my favorites in English class) you’ll see that it’s combined with a group trying to protect us humans and half-breeds.  You might even recognize some of your favorite gods and those you loved to hate.  If you like some action in your read then this book will be perfect for you.  On top of that, Elisabeth adds a mystery into the mix that will heighten your reading experience – who doesn’t love a good mystery.

An interesting character to watch out for is Ari – you’ll understand when you meet him.  But he also makes me curious – what’s his story.  Nick gives the readers hints but I still found myself wanting to know more.  Both of the main characters are strong willed but for different reasons but that doesn’t stop them from realizing how much they need each other.  Once you get involved in the story, you will find it hard to put down – there’s just no good stopping point because something else will come up that will grab your attention.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: TWISTED (Eternal Guardians Book 7)

Review: In Your Dreams (Blue Heron, Book 4) by Kristan Higgins

in your dreamsReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Emmaline Neal is a police officer in Manningsport New York.  She has an extracurricular activity that most women don’t do.  Jack Holland puts on a brave face but he has some personal demons he has to deal with.  Right from the start this author will have you laughing and if you’re having a bad day, or even a bad week, this is a great pick-me-up.

As the story begins there are circumstances that will have you feeling sorry for these two.  Even though Em has a job most of us wouldn’t have, this author has made her a woman that you can identify with.  There’s a couples bonding scene that had me wishing I were an actual spectator.  And then the scene ends with me laughing – sorry I just couldn’t help myself.

Our author shows her readers how some of the “beautiful” people can be so self-absorbed.  She also shows how cruel people can be toward those that are “different”.  This would be a perfect book to read while you sit by a fire – jealous – having a mulled wine or cider along with your favorite throw or animal.  One thing I loved about this story is that the author didn’t create one picture perfect character.  It made them more believable and some more relatable.  There are even some readers who may also be able to identify with a few of them.  Jack is what might be called brooding and not everyone will like his character but that just adds to his persona.

This is a series that each book could probably be read on their own but it’s my hope that you are reading them in order.  It’s a town you will fall in love with and wish you could visit while on vacation.  If you do find that place and take reading material with you, make sure to take this series along for the ride.  It will be interesting to see if we get another look into the lives of the residents of Manningsport – I certainly look forward to finding out.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: In Your Dreams (The Blue Heron Series)

Audio Review: Surrender by Amanda Quick

surrenderHero: Lucas Colebrook, the new Earl of Stonevale, needs an heiress to finance the repairs of his crumbling estate and projects to revitalize the lands. He goes to his former love, the perfect paragon of society, Jessica (I can’t recall her last name.) She presents him with two choices – a young woman just out of the schoolroom (almost an exact replica of Jessica) or the very independent Victoria Huntington. Lucas knows instantly which heiress he’d prefer and strategizes how to win her. His conclusion is to give her exactly what she thinks she wants.

Heroine: Victoria Huntington, heiress, orphan, has fought off fortune hunters since being in leading strings. She’s even had suitors for her friend investigated by Bow Street Runners! Not easily fooled, Victoria knows if she waits just a little while longer, her status of spinsterhood will be sealed and the real adventures of life can begin. But she doesn’t really wish to wait – she wants to experience it all now and accepts Lucas’s escort through these experiences.

Review: Victoria is wildly reckless with her reputation and that of her friend’s. She doesn’t seem to truly grasp the consequences of any one of her little escapades. It off-balances the intelligence she seems to have regarding men. Lucas manages to distract her with what she wants – from adventures to watch boxing matches in the wee hours of the night or trips to brothels dressed as a man – and so escape her notice as another fortune hunter. He’s able to do this because Jessica is circulating that he’s due to receive a huge influx of funds. So, I have little sympathy when Vicky bemoans getting caught in the parson’s trap.

Lucas is patient and protective. His scheme is manipulative, but his intentions are roughly pure. He wants to aid his tenets and bring prosperity back to the region. I loved his stodginess and how it played with Vicky’s recklessness. They rub off on each other. He becomes a little less stodgy and she a little less reckless. I loved how he’d climb garden walls for her even with a wounded leg. Very romantic.

In the novel, he decides quickly he wants Vicky for more than her money, but doesn’t reveal his true need for the wedding until it is much too late. On their wedding day, before their wedding trip, Jessica reveals all to Vicky in an attempt to beg kindness for Lucas. What a little viper! Jessica is not a paragon – she’s clearly manipulative and while her words don’t endear her to hero or heroine, there’s no true repercussion. Vicky takes it out on Lucas instead of Jessica… and then in the end the couple uses Jessica once more. I find that very odd.

Narrator: Anne Flosnik is one of my favorite narrators. I liked listening to her immensely.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Surrender, Surrender

Review: The Escape (Survivor’s Club, Book 3) by Mary Balogh

escapeReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Synopsis: Sir Benedict Harper, a former soldier who has survived the Napoleonic wars wants to return home to get some kind of support and companionship. He could meet any woman, but Samantha Mc Kay is aided by Benedict who believes she must leave her oppressive in-laws. Benedict gets her safely to Wales where she can claim an estate she has since inherited.

Review: This is the third in the Survivor’s Club series, the first being The Proposal, and the second, The Arrangement. This book is the latest in the saga, and also one of the most interesting.

It might be a simplistic plot as Ben helps Samantha flee her oppressors in order to make a new life for herself, but it is more than that. Harper is a man left with war wounds he can’t easily get over. He feels as though he has nothing to offer a woman as handsome as her, and this gives him a dark outlook on life, one he doesn’t mean, but one that leaves him feeling quite sorry for himself. Ben has unwittingly inherited the family title, yet he is not a well enough man for the role of running the estate. Samantha has to contend with her in-laws after the members of her family die one by one and she is left alone with the others running her life. As she feels like she has let this happen, they now control her every movement preventing her from seeing visitors or going on long journeys to see friends. Her only outlet is to wander around the gardens with her dog at her heels.

Ben first meets her while she is out with her dog but it doesn’t go well but thankfully he makes it up to her. The story is a steadily paced one with both Ben and Samantha thinking about how each other will react to the love they feel. As she is in deep mourning, she has to act rather unhappy around everyone, even him, but when she reveals she wants to dance, he knows that she doesn’t want to feel that way anymore, instead she wants to get on with living her life, even enjoying it.

Good bits:

  • Ben’s reaction to Samantha and her dog while out riding.
  • Beatrice trying to be an outrageous match-maker for Ben!
  • Samantha’s friendship with her dog.

Summary: Though Samantha has reservations about Ben, she can only take action if she is to get the life she wants away from Bramble Hall. The Escape like More Than a Mistress and No man’s Mistress has remarkable characters weaved into a captivating story where anything can and will happen.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: The Escape (Survivor’s Club Book 3)

Audio Review: The Duke’s Deceit by Sherrill Bodine

Sherrill Bodine duke deceitHero: Richard, the Duke of Avalon, knows he’s made a terrible mistake. His fiancé is a horribly vain and self-centered chit, more concerned with appearances than him. When he makes a decision to travel right before the wedding to visit a philosophy professor in Scotland, she informs him that if he does not return with plenty of time for the wedding, she will call it off. He’s eager to skirt the deadline in hopes she will actually follow-through on her threat.

Heroine: Mary Masterton faces a terrible conundrum. Her late father amassed debts trying to realize a stud farm to a local noble. Sir Robert insists she wed him to cancel the debts, but Mary has no interest in the creep. When a heroic stranger is knocked unconscious by a falling timber while aiding her in rescuing horses from a fire, she claims him as her fiancé. When he wakes, he has no memory at all. He recovers and sticks around fulfilling all the desperate longings of Mary’s heart… but can she keep a man she loves in the dark?

Reviews: What Mary doesn’t know about the barn fire is that it was staged. Readers will realize right away who is behind the attack, or do they? There’s more going on then what is happening on the surface. It’s a little convoluted – involving a late grandmother, a cousin, a fortune, America, and blackmail.

Mary is a kind and tenderhearted heroine. She wants to tell the truth but is convinced by many parties that to reveal her deception to Richard would cause him irrefutable harm in his condition. He might die! So she holds her tongue, falls in love with him, and then the tables are turned. He regains his memories (not unusual) and pretends otherwise to get at the truth Mary hid. I liked Richard the man when was suffering under amnesia, he’s less likeable as the Duke in his initial dealings with Mary.

Narrator: Susan Duerden is a likeable narrator. I would describe her voice a bit like a stage whisper. It does not sound like how she might usually talk and is pitched a little low and a little husky.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: The Duke’s Deceit, The Duke’s Deceit (Audiobook)