Guest Post + GIVEAWAY with Shaila Patel: Avoiding the Traps in Writing Romance

Hello! I am so glad Spring Break is here! Woot woot! I am currently a little under the weather right now, but I am so glad I have a wonderful author here on our blog today. I met Shaila Patel a couple of weeks ago at the Southeastern Young Adult Book Festival, and it was so awesome to meet her! She is one of the nicest author I’ve ever talked with, and I’ve loved our little chats. I loved her debut book Soulmated, and she is giving away an e-copy of her book along with some swag. The swag is great; I have some at home and I love them! Hope you enjoy!

Two souls. One Fate. soulmated_shailapatel_1600x2400_seriestitle

Eighteen-year-old Liam Whelan, an Irish royal empath, has been searching for his elusive soulmate. The rare union will cement his family’s standing in empath politics and afford the couple legendary powers, while also making them targets of those seeking to oust them.

Laxshmi Kapadia, an Indian-American high school student from a traditional family, faces her mother’s ultimatum: Graduate early and go to medical school, or commit to an arranged marriage.

When Liam moves next door to Laxshmi, he’s immediately and inexplicably drawn to her. In Liam, Laxshmi envisions a future with the freedom to follow her heart.

Liam’s father isn’t convinced Laxshmi is “The One” and Laxshmi’s mother won’t even let her talk to their handsome new neighbor. Will Liam and Laxshmi defy expectations and embrace a shared destiny? Or is the risk of choosing one’s own fate too great a price for the soulmated?

 

a-shailaAbout the Author

As an unabashed lover of all things happily-ever-after, Shaila Patel’s younger self would finish reading her copy of Cinderella and fling it across the room because it didn’t mention what happened next. Now she writes from her home in the Carolinas and dreams up all sorts of stories with epilogues. A member of the Romance Writers of America, she’s a pharmacist by training, a medical office manager by day, and a writer by night. Soulmated is her debut novel and the winner of the 2015 Chanticleer Book Reviews Paranormal Awards for Young Adult. She loves books, craft beer, tea, and cozy window seats—but she’ll read anywhere. You might find her sneaking in a few paragraphs at a red light or online gushing about her favorite books.

Publisher Information:Month 9 Books

Represented by: Agent Amanda Leuck of Spencerhill Associates


A Shaila

Avoiding the Traps in Writing Romance

Hi Kester! Thank you for having me here today to talk about avoiding clichés and stereotypes in writing romance.

As a romance writer and a huge fan of romance novels, I can say with certainty that there are no original tropes. A trope is a scenario or plot device, and in love stories they form the foundation on which the romance is built. Examples include the girl falling in love with her brother’s best friend (or vice versa), or the rich, spoiled hero who falls for the one girl who hates him, or even the classic love triangle where a heroine has to choose between two boyfriends.

All romances are based on a trope, yet despite the predictability, we fall in love with a particularly romance novel because it doesn’t feel like the same old story. And that’s probably because it avoided using clichés and stereotypes that usually leave us uninspired and bored. Imagine eating steamed broccoli, or steamed carrots, or steamed cauliflower every night at dinner. Sure, they’re different vegetables, but having them prepared the same way doesn’t get you excited about sitting down to dinner. The same thing can happen in writing.

So how do you avoid the blahs in writing a romance?

Start by subverting the reader’s expectations. Let’s take the example of Beauty and the Beast. Why not make the beast the heroine instead of the hero? Why not move the story into the present day? Or what about making the beast a Hollywood A-list celebrity instead of a recluse? Now you’d have a story that would spark the imagination and make you forget that you already know what it’s all about.

Once you’ve subverted the reader’s expectations of the trope being used, create characters that can’t be contained on the pages of your book. It’s inevitable that you’ll use a few clichés and stereotypes, but don’t rely on them. Instead, captivate your readers with images and characterizations that force them to spin their expectations until they’re dizzy.

Here are three ways you can do that.

First, create fresh character descriptions. By their very nature, clichés and stereotypes don’t inspire us to think. They’re like shortcuts that are overused and instantly tell us what thought, description, or idea is being conveyed. If I were to describe a character’s hair as “golden locks,” you’d know I was describing blond hair. But does it paint a picture in your mind? Not really. How about this: “hair like garlands of pale yellow primroses.” Paints a different picture, doesn’t it?

Second, develop your characters by adding depth. Create an interesting backstory and personality flaws that—again—subvert the reader’s expectations. Taking the trope I mentioned above (the rich, spoiled boy who falls for the girl who hates him), maybe his backstory is that he was poor as a child. Or maybe he’s struggling with turning his parents in for their illegal activities. Why not make him insecure to counter his confidence? Or even embarrassed by a learning disability? There’s nothing more ho-hum than a one-dimensional, perfect character. It leads writers to fall back on expected character-types that you’d find for specific romance tropes, but worse, it makes the story predictable.

Third, have the expected character-type change and grow. If the hero or heroine doesn’t, you run the risk of having flat characters that do nothing to jazz up your trope. Do you have a brooding male hero? Give him a quirky hobby like doing magic tricks. With an interesting backstory, the reader would know why the hero loves the sleight of hand involved with card tricks, and by the end of the story, it could be part of the reason he grows and changes. Do you have a shy heroine? Give her an unexpected cause to champion and allow it to be one of the reasons she transforms by the end of the story. Parallel the hero and heroine’s growth, and intersect them when you need to advance the romantic plot. The goal is to have readers cheering for the hero and heroine, both as individuals and as a couple—all so that they won’t be thinking how predictable the trope is.

Using a romance trope in the same way that it’s always been used is like an uninspiring cliché. It doesn’t create a fresh image in our minds. It isn’t engaging. And if you can’t engage a reader, they’ll likely forget what they read.

And who would want to read a book like that?


Thank you so much, Shaila, for coming onto our blog! I’m so glad to have you guest post for us!

If you want to check out Shaila’s social media pages or buy Soulmated, check out the links below!

Contact Links:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads

Buy Links for Soulmated:

Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Books-a-Million| Google Play | Indiebound | Kobo


Now onto the giveaway! Woo hoo! I think you should enter this giveaway because I loved Soulmated A LOT! I mean A LOT! It was amazing! You’ll really enjoy it!

Just a few quick rules:

1) This is open to ALL International residents. For US Residents, you will get more swag than Int’l residents because of postage.

2) You must be truthful when entering!

3) You must be 18 years or older or have parental permission.

4) Winner must respond within 48 hours of me notifying him or her.

Here’s the Giveaway Link!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I wish you the best! Hope you have fun! 🙂

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

 

 

 

 

 

Soulmated by Shaila Patel

Hello! Last Saturday, I finally got to meet one of the nicest and best authors at the Southeastern Young Adult Book Festival (post to come soon)! Her name is Shaila Patel, and she is an amazing romance writer! I am so glad I got to meet her, and her debut book Soulmated just released in January! Go buy it and check it out!

Goodreads Summary: **Winner of the 2015 Chanticleer Book Reviews Paranormal Awards in YA**soulmated_shailapatel_1600x2400_seriestitle

Two souls. One Fate.

Eighteen-year-old Liam Whelan, an Irish royal empath, has been searching for his elusive soulmate. The rare union will cement his family’s standing in empath politics and afford the couple legendary powers, while also making them targets of those seeking to oust them.

Laxshmi Kapadia, an Indian-American high school student from a traditional family, faces her mother’s ultimatum: Graduate early and go to medical school, or commit to an arranged marriage.

When Liam moves next door to Laxshmi, he’s immediately and inexplicably drawn to her. In Liam, Laxshmi envisions a future with the freedom to follow her heart.

Liam’s father isn’t convinced Laxshmi is “The One” and Laxshmi’s mother won’t even let her talk to their handsome new neighbor. Will Liam and Laxshmi defy expectations and embrace a shared destiny? Or is the risk of choosing one’s own fate too great a price for the soulmated?

DISCLAIMER: I received a free electronic ARC copy of this book from the author in exchange for a review. I have also received swag from the author. These will not affect my review in any way.

Rating: 10/10 stars

Overall Thoughts: Soulmated was actually one of my most anticipated releases of 2017, and I was so excited when I got an e-ARC of it from the author! This book was really impressive for a debut author; it definitely exceeded my expectations and grabbed my attention! It’s not just a normal lovey-dovey romance, but instead, it infuses a unique relationship with an air of tension, mystery, questioning, and suspicion. This is not your average young adult romance. It is one of the best I have ever read!

Humor and Relatability: I have not laughed in a book more than this one! There is a lot of humor in what the characters do or say that both teens and adults will laugh at! I know because I’ve chuckled quite a few times. The ethnic diversity of the characters are so authentic that at times it’s funny! I could hear Liam’s Irish accent, and I loved it when Laxshmi corrected her mom’s grammar. I was going “Same!!!” Even the Irish and Indian terminology in the book is great; I had the urge to go “What’s craic?” (which is Irish for “What’s up?”) to some of my peers!

Romance: There are many reasons why the romance between the two protagonists is so unique and amazing!

1) Diversity. The author embraces each of the character’s ethnic backgrounds and portrays it so well in the book. The interracial romance breaks boundaries, yet it uses Laxshmi’s Indian heritage as an important element of this story. You just have to read to find out how it is both helped and harmed their connection.

2) Ups and Downs. The two went through many trials (not spoiling the ending). Both questioned whether it was right to pursue a relationship with the other, yet the still harbored feelings for each other. The dual-POV definitely added a layer of internal conflict that really works with this storyline. 3) Fantasy. Liam being an empath prince adds a ton of tension on the relationship. He is forced to find his “soulmate,” yet he questions whether Lucky (his nickname for Laxshmi) is the one. He at times feels dead-set that she is “the one” but at other times he doesn’t. The empath politics that surround this romance also adds a new sub-plot to it. There are some twists and surprises in store! Read it to find out what they are!

Some Details: There were, like many books I have already read, some parts where I had to think or read about what happened. I had to re-read the ending to grasp the events that were unfolding, but once I realized what was going on, I was shocked. There is a weird time-jump in the middle of the book that actually made me think the Liam at the time was an impostor (it was Liam for real by the way), but other than that, I don’t have a problem with anything!

My Review in a Nutshell: The ending definitely shocked me. I was like “What???” and “I need to read the next book!” I literally want to know what happens next! Overall, I enjoyed this book! I love it so much! Patel did not disappoint in her debut book, and I am so glad I was able to read it!

Recommendation: 100% Yes! I think you will be “soulmated” to this book! (Ha! Get it? No. Tough crowd.)

+ J.M.J.

Til next time!

~ Kester

Secrets of a Reluctant Princess Blog Tour: Guest Post by Casey Griffin –

Hello! Welcome to my tour stop for the Secrets of a Reluctant Princess Blog Tour! I know this little intro isn’t as long or personal as the others, but I’m a little bit crunched for time at the moment, but I hope you enjoy it!

soarptour

 

Secrets of a Reluctant Princess by Casey GriffinSecrets

Publication Date: March 7, 2017

Publisher:  Entangled Teen

At Beverly Hills High, you have to be ruthless to survive…

Adrianna Bottom always wanted to be liked. But this wasn’t exactly what she had in mind. Now, she’s in the spotlight…and out of her geeky comfort zone. She’ll do whatever it takes to turn the rumor mill in her favor—even if it means keeping secrets. So far, it’s working.

Wear the right clothes. Say the right things. Be seen with the right people.

Kevin, the adorable sketch artist who shares her love of all things nerd, isn’t exactly the right people. But that doesn’t stop Adrianna from crushing on him. The only way she can spend time with him is in disguise, as Princess Andy, the masked girl he’s been LARPing with. If he found out who she really was, though, he’d hate her.

The rules have been set. The teams have their players. Game on.

Link to Goodreads

Purchase Links:

Google Play | BAM | Chapters | Indies | Amazon | B&N| Kobo | TBD | iBooks

 

Link to Tour Schedule

 

Now onto the guest post!

Casey Griffin

Speaking to Teens

Maybe it’s because I never matured past high school, or because I read a lot of YA, but I’ve never had much trouble putting myself in a young adult’s shoes to write a story from their perspective. In fact, it’s fun, refreshing even, to try to see the world through the eyes of a teenager. All that youthful optimism, the world at their feet, the rest of their lives ahead of them (yet, ironically, they can’t imagine ever being as old as I am). So what do I keep in mind while writing from a young adult’s point of view?

I’ve been there

  • I was once a teenager. I won’t tell you how long ago that was, but it wasn’t too long ago that I can’t remember how monumental some things seemed, how exciting, how scary, how frustrating. And if for a moment I take away some of the boring grown up things that occupy my brain space as an adult like bills, mortgages, and my career, it’s easy to still feel some of those same things. Heck, when it comes to romance, it doesn’t matter how old you get. When you fall in love, it still feels just as exciting and important as your first crush.

For teens, everything is new

  • I’ve had years of experiences that helped me develop the social and emotional tools to deal with a variety of situations (translation: I’ve made a ton of mistakes). For a teenager, a lot of those same experiences are new. They’re discovering their own achievements (and mistakes) for the first time. Add a dash of homework, a good dousing of hormones, trap them all in the same ugly building day after day, and OMG the world is ending! But it’s also fresh and exciting. Where an adult might feel skepticism or suspicion, a teen would have a fresh take on it.

It’s not easy being a teen

  • Many adults (read “all”) think they know everything and that teens should be learning from our past mistakes and limitless wisdom. But adults forget that teens can be pretty resourceful, and we can learn a lot from them too. Young adults deal with a lot these days. Not just in their own lives, but almost on a wider scale—as in globally, thanks to social media and the Internet. After becoming a step mom to a teen myself recently, and with three nephews all around that age, it feels like being a teen is tougher now than when I was one. Maybe there are more issues to face, maybe more pressure—or maybe that’s just all the years playing with my memory.

Put yourself in their shoes

  • While the vast majority of YA authors are not YAs themselves, I think it’s important to stay in touch with the age group you’re trying to write for. If an author has teens in their extended family, it’s as easy as connecting, asking questions, finding out what they’re up to, and what’s important to them. Of course there’s always excellent YA books, TV shows, and movies. It’s all about stepping out of your adult shoes and into theirs—you guys are still wearing platforms, right? 🙂

 

Thank you so much, Casey, for your wonderful guest post! Great to have you on our blog!

 

Now onto the giveaway!

Giveaway Information: 

  • One (1) winner will receive a signed copy of Secrets of a Reluctant Princess + a Tiara!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

About the AuthorCasey

 

Casey Griffin can often be found at comic conventions on her days off from her day job, driving 400 ton dump trucks in Northern Alberta, Canada. As a jack of all trades with a resume boasting registered nurse, English teacher, and photographer, books are her true passion. Casey is a 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel finalist, and is currently busy writing every moment she can.

 

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

 

Hope you enjoyed it!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

 

 

The Taming of the Dudebro, Volume 1 Paperback Cover Reveal!

Today I’m helping reveal the paperback cover for The Taming of the Dudebro, Volume 1, a YA/NA hybrid contemporary romance retelling the classic comedies of Shakespeare, by Jane Watson. This paperback includes the first two books of the series, The Taming of the Dudebro and A Midsummer Night’s Dudebro. It releases from Snowy Wings Publishing on April 18—the same day as the ebook of A Midsummer Night’s Dudebro!

Title: The Taming of the Dudebro, Volume 1
Author: Jane Watson
Release Date: April 18, 2017
Publisher: Snowy Wings Publishing

This special paperback bind-up includes the first two books of the series, The Taming of the Dudebro and A Midsummer Night’s Dudebro!

In The Taming of the Dudebro, Patricia’s dream is coming true: she is directing her own play, a one-act written by her best friend, Grizz, for the school’s annual Drama Festival. Everything seems to be perfect until her teacher assigns Kurt Minola, the biggest jerk in the school, to work on her play. Kurt is lazy, selfish and irresponsible. The only good thing about him is his attractive twin brother, Ben—but even he can’t seem to change Kurt’s attitude. Kurt’s presence turns Patricia’s dream into a nightmare… until Patricia and Grizz decide to take matters into their own hands, and subject this insufferable surfer-dude to some taming.

Then, in A Midsummer Night’s Dudebro, with the theater festival behind her and graduation around the corner, Grizz Sheridan figured she was done with Kurt Minola. She wants to focus on spending time with her friends and enjoying her last summer before she goes off to college. No such luck now that Kurt’s crushing on her best friend (and his twin brother’s girlfriend), Patricia. It seems like he’s glued to her side no matter where she goes—class, parties, even Prom.

Grizz thinks her luck is changing when she begins working at Merry Mule Coffee Roasters and meets super hottie, Dimitri. That is, until a certain surfer boy starts working there, too—and suddenly seems to have turned his romantic interests elsewhere…

Will Grizz survive the summer?

Add The Taming of the Dudebro, Volume 1 on Goodreads!

Learn more about Jane Watson at her website, janewatsonauthor.com, or visit her on social media: Twitter: @janewatauthor, Instagram: @janewatsonauthor

 

So here’s the cover!!!

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To be or not to be…

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That is the question?

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Go wisely and slowly…

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Those who rush stumble and fall.

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Are you tired of these Shakespeare quotes?

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So am I… I can’t find anymore good ones!

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So here it is!

A Taming

Cover designed by Key of Heart Designs