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

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 Unexpected Duchess (Playful Brides, Book 1) by Valerie Bowman

unexpected duchessHero: Newly appointed by the crown, Lord Derek Hunt, the Duke of Claringdon, made a promise to his friend Julian, who is dying. His moniker among the ton is the Duke of Decisive for he makes quick decisions and sticks to them – winning many battles and honors because of it, including his dukedom. He will wed Lady Cassandra because it not in his nature to be indecisive or to change his mind. But a kink quickly appears in his plan when a friend of the lady in question insists Cassandra is not interested.

Heroine: Lady Lucy Upton will not let her dear friend be coerced into a courtship with the dashing duke. Cassandra is in love with another and waits for his return from the war. If the duke and Cassandra’s mother had their way, Cass would be wed before the fortnight was out. When Cass asks for help, Lucy does what she does best – interfere and deliver cutting set-downs. But it doesn’t scare Claringdon off. Instead he comes back for more again and again and Lucy’s traitorous heart hopes it’s because of her and not Cass.

Review: One of my favorite scenes is the verbal wit challenge between Derek and Lucy. He asks her to dance and she says “no.” He must then come up with 20 cleverer ways to turn a gentleman down for a dance. I won’t share my particular favorites, because they’re just too good to give away. I also enjoyed Derek wooing Lucy by writing letters to her appearing to be from another suitor. She sees the differences between the letters and the person and can’t quite make them fit, but doesn’t suspect Derek is writing to her.  The friendship between the ladies is strong, which is nice to see. The story itself is silly and very humorous. I would only change the timing of Derek’s change of heart and the start of his pursuit of Lucy sooner. For somebody decisive, he was too hesitant to break a promise that needed breaking.

Narrator: Alison Larkin could deliver on Lady Lucy Upton. She brought much life to the heroine and brought out her personality and wit. She delivered Lucy’s set-downs with a flourish!

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: The Unexpected Duchess, The Unexpected Duchess (Audiobook)

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Get into Bed with Isobel Rey (Author Interview)

substitute

She’s driven by his desire…
It took all of Alexia’s courage to leave her abusive boyfriend and strike out on her own. When she lands a job at a glamorous sports agency, she thinks she finally has it made. But shy, blonde and beautiful, Alexia is totally unprepared for the fast sexual politics of rich men and ambitious women that is waiting for her. Most of all, she is totally unprepared for her dazzling but damaged new boss, Nathan Fallon.

Keira: It takes a lot of strength to walk away from domestic abuse. How does Alexia, in your book Substitute, gain her courage to do just that?

Isobel Rey: The kind of bullying that Alexia experiences is not obvious and overt, it’s the kind of drip, drip low grade bullying that builds gradually and erodes a woman’s confidence.  It’s insidious and creeps on her.    She gets the courage to leave when she realises how far she’s fallen, how he’s got into her head and under her skin to undermine her.    She looks at the closed door,  determined to sear the image in her mind to reinforce her decision to leave.    The decision to leave in these circumstances is often made after a small incident, it’s not the incident itself which prompts the action, but the cumulative effect of the bullying.   Something snaps in her head, and she knows she has to go.

Keira: Glamorous and sports? Isn’t that an oxymoron? Unless we’re talking about figure skating… are we?

Isobel: Well actually, having been around the world of sports promotion I can say that it is most definitely a glamorous world.   The world of Premiere League Soccer sees players who are paid millions, drive eye-wateringly expensive cars and sign multi-million pound sponsorship deals.    The world of tennis, Formula One racing, Soccer and now even Golf attract huge money, with the accompanying glamorous women and money hungry agents.  It’s a high octane world of partying, champagne and bed-hopping.

Keira: So what’s office politics like in Substitute and does it differ from normal life?

Isobel: The office politics in Substitute is typical of the type of business that attracts big money in any capital city in the world.   Any workplace where the stakes are high and naked ambition rubs up against huge egos is going to look like this.   I’ve worked in these workplaces!

Keira: Tell us about Nathan Fallon, her new boss? How is he damaged?

Isobel: Nathan is a soldier, an officer.   So many veterans suffer quietly with Post Dramatic Stress Syndrome because they don’t talk about their experiences.     In order to operate in the theatre of war, like Iraq or Afghanistan, they have to put some of their emotions away in a box in order to survive some of the horrors they see or the violence they are forced to commit to survive.     Nothing can prepare you for killing other human beings, not even in battle. They also suffer from a condition called Hyper-Vigilance, having been in threatening situations for 24 hours a day.     They then come home and find it difficult to reconnect with loved ones or new relationships.   Some cope better than others.  But Nathan has been rejected by the woman he thought would be there for him.    The thought of her kept him going during the fighting, but he feels a deep sense of betrayal when he comes home.  He’s an officer and a gentleman and has a huge sense of honour, loyalty and integrity.    He finds it very difficult to let that go.

Keira: Did your advertising experience help in the writing or publishing of this novel?

Isobel: Yes it did.    The world of advertising brings you into contact with all types of industries, including sports promotion.    I witnessed this world first hand, and let me tell you it’s no exaggeration!

Keira: How do you define love?

Isobel: Love is about complete trust and acceptance.    If you find the right person, they will be the best company in the world, and the one person you want to talk to first thing in the morning and the last thing at night.   They allow you to fly like a kite,   but they anchor you, so you don’t get blown off course.

Keira: What makes a great Happily Ever After? What’s required?

Isobel: A great happily ever after has to be realistic.   There’s no guarantee that the prince will love the princess in 5 years when the kids are screaming and the nannies have handed in their notice.    But if the two people involved are grounded enough to understand each other and want to accept everything about the other person then that happy ending is believable.

Keira: Any advice you’d give your younger self now that your first book is published?

Isobel: The personal advice I would give myself is never worry what other people think of you, the only people that count will accept you as you are.    And I’d give myself some professional advice as a writer – spend more time observing people and what makes them tick.

Keira: What are your favorite writing rituals that help put you in the writing mood?

Isobel: I like to take the weekend off and go to the coast, and sit in cafes by the beach with my laptop and headphones.   Listening to great music by the ocean really lets me switch off and get writing.

Keira: What’s up for you next?

Isobel: This is my first book in this genre, and I was encouraged to write it because of the types of world I get a window into from my job.    The book has been so well received that I think the next book will focus on a different world.      Haven’t decided which one yet!

Buy: Substitute

Review: Thornbrook Park (Thornbrook Park, Book 1) by Sherri Browning

thornbrook parkReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Synopsis: After the death of her husband, Eve Kendal has only one option when she is disowned by her parents for marrying beneath her. She must leave India and go to London to live with her friend Lady Sophia Averford. The place that has become a new home for her is called Thornbrook Park, and the Dower House is where she will be living for the duration of her stay. Although she is in dire circumstances, she does have a plan for the future. An investment her husband put aside for her will come to fruition soon and when it does, she will use the money available to buy her own house.

Review: The synopsis sounds like the perfect start to Eve’s life, but life is not that reliable when other people are concerned and before long we find that an unscrupulous investor has stolen the money her husband had invested for her, and she is left with nothing. No future and no house to be hers. At least that is what she thinks until she meets Marcus and is instantly attracted to him. Unfortunately for her, he is betrothed to Alice, at least as far as Sophia is concerned, so he is out of bounds to her romantically. That doesn’t stop her having feelings for him though, and the feelings are reciprocated. In fact his interest runs so far that he is willing to help her uncover the mystery of her stolen money and make accountable the cad who stole it.

Good bits:

  • The initial meeting between Eve and Marcus.
  • The setting of the story. Thornbrook Park sounds like a wonderful place.
  • The other characters all have something interesting to hide, so be prepared for some revealing side stories.

Bad bits:

  • It took a long time to get to the good bits.
  • Some of the characters could have been left out.

Summary: As it is set in 1906, the story does mention what happened during that time and how difficult it was for most people who didn’t grow up with wealth. If readers like the period TV series such as Downton Abbey and Pride and Prejudice, this is one that will thrill readers as some of the characters are believable as is the setting. Eve’s affair with Marcus might sound like a great one for her, but Marcus has problems of his own as he feels the guilt of being alive while many of his friends he served with in the war died.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Thornbrook Park (A Thornbrook Park Romance)

Review: You Belong to My Heart by Nan Ryan

you belong to my heartReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

The setting is Civil War-era Tennessee.

Mary Ellen Preble goes down to the river but gets a surprise when she gets there. Clayton Knight grew up alongside Mary Ellen. As you read this story, you will find that it is linked with actual historical figures. It shows the amount of research or love for the time period that went in to developing this story.

If you like setting your ambience as you get into the mood for reading, I can almost picture reading while sitting on a swing under a huge tree. There would be a gentle breeze and the dress would have to be one from that time period – and don’t forget the bonnet. Or maybe you’re even sitting on a blanket under said tree waiting to enjoy a picnic with your true love.

Maybe you like to travel. Why not take this book and travel around the state of Tennessee and learn about some of the state’s history. It may sound a little morbid but why not go to an old cemetery and find a comfortable spot to sit, read, and try to think if some of those people around you were friends with our couple.

I had no trouble picturing everything in my mind because this author’s descriptions are that good. Nan shows the reader how two people can go from first love, to summer love, and then to a forever love. But with any first love, life and parents can get in the way.

We also see the sad parts – one being a female during that time period. Women had few choices back then and it seemed as if it was always the wife’s fault if the husband didn’t get the things he wanted – just a big bully. It’s also a reminder of how far we have come with a lot of things. But pain doesn’t change no matter if it’s the 1800’s or now.

It also must have been a hard book to write since we know how some of it ends. But you can still feel the emotions that come alive with Nan’s words. If you love(d) the film “Gone With The Wind”, this would make a great follow up. It helps to fill in some of the more romantic scenes that they couldn’t shoot back in the 1930’s.

As you get toward the end, just like the family members of the military, this author has the reader holding their breath until they find out for sure if the main characters got their happily ever after. But you have to keep reading because you want to know if you’re going to be right or wrong. I’ve been reading all types of romance novels for a long time and it’s sad to say that this is the first Nan Ryan book I have ever read. Now that I have, I know it won’t be that long before I read another one. And I hope you won’t wait as long as I did. And if you love a good historical romance, you will get your money’s worth with this book.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: You Belong to My Heart

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