Thought for the Month: Elements of Surprise in the Life of a Writer

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SURPRISE!

I’m one of those people who doesn’t like surprises — even good ones. However, as with other facts of life, surprises are inescapable; and the majority of them, at least in my experience, are welcome. It’s the fear of the unexpected that repels those of us who ascribe to the myth that we have control over what happens in our lives. We enjoy inflicting the element of surprise on our loved ones (who may not necessarily appreciate them), and we enjoy seeing those surprise wedding proposals on the KissCam at sporting events, but surprises are for other people, primarily those outside our private bubble.

When I saw this month’s optional question, “Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing?” the answer was easy. Every. Single. Day. As a debut author, whose only previous works have been unpublished attempts at fan fiction, the inspiration for my first “serious” work might have been the biggest surprise of all.

After dabbling in a disastrous attempt to co-write an erotic suspense novel with another indie author, I thought I might close up my laptop for good. I’d been burned–badly–by someone I trusted like a sister. My contributions were torn apart and ultimately deemed unworthy by my co-author, and I believed her. I felt like a failure, a fraud, and a fool. The betrayal was the worst kind of surprise–the kind that makes you question your self-worth, or worse, abandon your dreams.

I loved that story–and its principal character–so much, letting it go was like burying a loved one. Later, seeing it retitled and published by my former friend added salt to the wound that burned from the inside out. Then came the second surprise.

As I drifted off to sleep one night, a long-buried incident from my past turned into the story that only I can tell, and Where Angels Sleep began to unfold, like buds on a grapevine after the cruelest of winters. At that moment, as I frantically captured thoughts on paper, the characters came alive and guided my pen. The bitterness of previous experience faded and the surprise of self-discovery took hold.

Every time I’m tempted to give up–when I get blocked, the middle gets muddy, or yesterday’s prose reads like utter crap–I remind myself that this story is mine alone to tell. That the tragedy that inspired it infuses every paragraph, but its happy ending is mine to imagine. I remember the young man–my beloved cousin Paul–to whom the book is dedicated, and I resolve to finish it as a personal tribute to his memory. To devote the time, effort and money it takes to make it the best it can be. To publish it and to love it, even if it never hits a list.

As it turns out, the book’s theme has everything to do with what happens when life spins out of control, and how the right surprise, at the right time, can change our destiny. For a woman who’s not fond of surprises, this amuses me to no end.

Today I took a long walk to consider what to write for this month’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) post. (BTW, It should come as NO surprise to those who know me that I’m an insecure writer!) As I walked, enjoying the first cool, sunny day in weeks, a song from the Where Angels Sleep playlist came to mind. It deals with the memories–and associated feelings–that we bury “down deep in our souls.” To me, this speaks to the essence of authentic writing–the surprise of what emerges when we take ourselves to new depths and explore that which we most fear.

Please listen and enjoy. Think about what unique life experiences have led you to tell your stories. Leave a comment about them, if you please. Then go forth and write your next story.

About the IWSG

Purpose of IWSG: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting:  The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting! Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

Check out the details and sign up on the IWSG website!

The awesome co-hosts for today’s posts are Tyrean MartinsonTara TylerRaimey Gallant, and Beverly Stowe McClure.

An Unedited Excerpt from Where Angels Sleep (Turning Points, #1)

Joy

I dreamt about him, my dark knight in shining armor. He was a familiar stranger to me; it wasn’t the first time I’d dreamt of seeing him again, merely one of many since the night we’d met. And, unfortunately, it wasn’t one of those sexy fantasies where the handsome hero re-discovers his long-lost heroine, the love of his life, the one that got away, and says, “I never thought I’d find you again.” The one that ends with them making love and swearing their undying devotion to each other. The kind that makes you wake up breathless and horny, then reach into your bedside stand and grab your battery-operated boyfriend before drifting back to sleep or getting out of bed to face another day alone.

No, it wasn’t like that at all. He didn’t remember me. Or, worse, if he did, he didn’t want to admit it. It hurt to think I was so forgettable, but then again, I knew what we’d had was…nothing. Nothing at all. It’s what we both wanted at the time.

Liar. It’s what he wanted at the time. No strings, no morning after.

So now the dream itself was darker, the man still handsome, still needing to be the hero, but not looking for anyone, or anything. A beautiful, tormented stranger, blindly going through the motions. Everything about him radiated sadness and resignation.

I didn’t know who he’d come to visit at St. Michael’s, but in my dream, he was surrounded by two powerful angels, and at least a dozen hideous demons, circling him, fighting for control. As Danny and I watched from a distance, he sunk to his knees and pounded his fists on the ground, begging the demons to take him away. The angels fought for him. They looked at him, and then at us, begging silently for help. We waved our arms and shouted, trying to draw the demons away. We tried to run toward them, but our legs were frozen to the ground. The angels cried, and fell beside him. The demons laughed, triumphantly claiming their prize.

The darkness won. When the battle was over, we were released and forced to walk away, grieving, pleading with God to let him rest in peace. But the image of him, crumpled to the ground, his eyes fixed and wide, his face a mask of terror and resignation, chilled me to the marrow. He died in front of us, and I could do nothing to save him.

I woke up from the nightmare to see him sleeping in a chair next to Danny, and wondered what had changed him so much, in only a few short years, from a man in the prime of his life to a miserable, angry, broken stranger….

©2016 by Paula Radell. All intellectual property rights reserved. Unedited excerpt from Where Angels Sleep, a dark but inspirational romance for publication in early 2017.

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Thanks for reading! 

A photo representing the character, Joy Shepherd, from Where Angels Sleep, by Paula Radell

New Year, New Favorite Reads – Coming in 2016 (Part 1) …

Photo of book covers-favorite new releases for 2016

 

Favorite Authors, Favorite Books on the Way 

I’m starting the year on Cloud Nine of Reader’s Heaven with some new favorites by a few of the best contemporary romance authors I know. Hyperbole? Maybe – but it’s sincere. Some of these I’ve read, some I’m currently reading, and the rest are sizzling on my Kindle waiting to be savored. And the best part? It’s not even a complete list – it’s only the beginning. Read along with me in 2016 and discover some new favorites of your own.

Authors & Bloggers – If you have some new releases coming that aren’t on my list yet — please call them out in the comments, or email me at passionatepromos@gmail.com, and I’ll feature them the next time around!

January & February Releases 

AbruptionJanuary 2nd:  ABRUPTION, by Riley Mackensie

I’m absolutely in love with this story, by favorite authors Riley Mackensie. I received the ARC and it’s my first “official” read of 2016. I’ll be posting a review tomorrow – but in the meantime, don’t wait — one-click it today. If you love sweet, sexy, highly emotional romance novels with unforgettable characters – but especially if you love medical heroes & heroines — these authors, and this book, will NEVER disappoint.

Synopsis:

Everyone has a plan. Dr. Guy Hunter secures his dream fellowship with a beautiful free spirit by his side. Two unexpected blue lines don’t even shake his resolve—he is on his way to having it all. Until he isn’t. Abruption: a sudden breaking off Jules Chiappetti loves her boisterous over-involved Italian family but is determined to pave her own way. An MBA and boardroom job is her ticket out. Until it isn’t. Abruption: an unexpected event Four years later, Guy is consumed by the challenges of being a single father, still struggling with the aftermath that derailed his life and left his son with special needs. He doesn’t realize his world went dark the same day his wife’s did, until Jules, his son’s new nurse, shows him the light.

Order it on Amazon  |  Add it to Goodreads

 

Favorite author Emma Chase is releasing the third and final installment of her Legal Briefs series, APPEALED, on January 19th. I’ve read the ARC and it’s a perfect Appealedending to a great collection of steamy, tender, often hilarious stories about a group of attorneys that practice in Washington, DC. In true Emma Chase style, each hero is a keeper, and Brent Mason is no exception…he meets his match in Appealed, and his journey from player to lover to partner is well worth experiencing. Each book in the series may be read as a standalone, so read them in any order you like, although I think the stories build especially well when read in order. Review to follow on release day.

Synopsis:

When Brent Mason looks at Kennedy Randolph, he doesn’t see the awkward, sweet girl who grew up next door. He sees a self-assured, stunning woman…who wants to crush the most intimate – and prized – parts of his anatomy beneath the heels of her Christian Louboutins.
Brent has never let the loss of his leg in a childhood accident affect his ability to lead a fulfilling life. He sets high goals–and then he reaches them.
And now he has his sights set on Kennedy.
**
When Kennedy looks at Brent Mason, all she sees is the selfish, Abercrombie & Fitch catalogue-worthy teenager who humiliated her in high school to join the popular crowd. A crowd that made those years a living hell.
She’s not a lovesick social outcast anymore – she’s a DC prosecutor with a long winning streak behind her. Brent is the opposing attorney in her next case and she thinks it’s time to put him through a little hell of his own.
But things aren’t exactly working out that way.
Because every fiery exchange has her wondering if he’s as passionate in the bedroom as he is in the courtroom. Each argument and objection only makes him want her more. In the end, Brent and Kennedy may just find themselves in love…or in contempt of court.
APPEALED is a sexy, humorous romance about first crushes, second chances and the final verdict of the heart.

Buy it on Amazon | Add it to Goodreads

 

Photo of the cover of Pucked Over, by Helena HuntingJanuary 24th:  PUCKED OVER, by Helena Hunting (Pucked, #3)

Grab a glass of wine, crawl between the sheets and warm up your winter nights with the latest installment of the PUCKED series, by Helena Hunting. This hockey-themed series of romantic comedies is at the top of everyone’s list, with some of the most outrageous – and drop-dead sexy, snarky characters you’ll ever meet. Again, you can read these out of order, but to really enjoy them, start at book one and don’t stop until you’re panting for the next in the series. Forever Pucked is coming later this spring!

Synopsis: 

Lily LeBlanc isn’t versed in the art of casual sex, but after seven years in an on-again, off-again relationship, she’s definitely willing to give it a shot. And who better to try it with than her best friend’s boyfriend’s best friend? What could possibly go wrong? Nothing at all.

NHL player, Randy Ballistic, lives up to his last name on the ice and in the bedroom. His best friend and teammate has recently given up the puck bunnies and traded them in for a real girlfriend. And she just happens to have a seriously feisty, extra-hot best friend on the rebound. Randy’s more than happy to be Lily’s spring board back into the dating scene.

Casual sex is only casual until those pesky things called emotions get involved. Once that happens, someone’s bound to gets pucked over.    Buy it on Amazon |  Add it to Goodreads

February 11th:  THE SCORE, by Elle Kennedy (Off Campus, #3)The Score

The Off-Campus series continues with THE SCORE, another sexy, funny, sweet new adult sports romance featuring hot hockey players, by Elle Kennedy. Each may be read as a standalone, so start anywhere, but don’t miss a single one. If you love relatable characters, a little bit of angst, a lot of humor, and some steamy, sexy college boys … look no further. I’ve got the ARC, and am loving the story. Will be posting a review closer to its release date. Stay tuned.

Synopsis:

He knows how to score, on and off the ice …

Allie Hayes is in crisis mode. With graduation looming, she still doesn’t have the first clue about what she’s going to do after college. To make matters worse, she’s nursing a broken heart thanks to the end of her longtime relationship. Wild rebound sex is definitely not the solution to her problems, but gorgeous hockey star Dean Di-Laurentis is impossible to resist. Just once, though, because even if her future is uncertain, it sure as heck won’t include the king of one-night stands.

It’ll take more than flashy moves to win her over …

Dean always gets what he wants. Girls, grades, girls, recognition,girls…he’s a ladies man, all right, and he’s yet to meet a woman who’s immune to his charms. Until Allie. For one night, the feisty blonde rocked his entire world—and now she wants to befriends? Nope. It’s not over until he says it’s over. Dean is in full-on pursuit, but when life-rocking changes strike, he starts to wonder if maybe it’s time to stop focusing on scoring…and shoot for love.

Buy it on Amazon | Add it to Goodreads

 

Photo of the cover of The Shadow, by Sylvain ReynardFebruary 2nd:  THE SHADOW (Florentine Series #2) by Sylvain Reynard

Sylvain Reynard is, hands-down, one of my top 3 favorite authors of all time. I can’t shorten the list to just one author, because all three of my favorites are so very different in their approach to storytelling that it seems unfair to say one is better than the others. The Florentine Series builds on the beauty of his infamous Gabriel series and takes it to an entirely new level, blending art, history, literature, music, poetry, mythology and romance exquisitely with the mystery and breath-taking suspense of the paranormal. Truly a unique and unforgettable combination. I have the ARC for The Shadow, and have read just enough to know that I won’t be able to put it down when I finally have the time to savor it. It’s not just a book, it’s an experience.  The final installment of the series is underway, and SR reports that he is already working on his next collection. I’d order it TODAY if I could.

Synopsis:

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Gabriel trilogy comes the hotly anticipated follow-up to The Raven, a sensual novel set in Florence featuring the dangerously intoxicating coupling of Raven and William…

Raven Wood’s vampyre prince has returned, pledging his love and promising justice for every wrong done to her. In the wake of their reunion, Raven is faced with a terrible decision—allow the Prince to wreak vengeance against the demons of her past, or persuade him to stay his hand. But there is far more at stake than Raven’s heart…

A shadow has fallen over the city of Florence. Ispettor Batelli will not rest until he uncovers Raven’s connection to the theft of the priceless art from the Uffizi Gallery. And while the Prince hunts a traitor who sabotages him at every turn, he finds himself the target of the vampyres’ mortal enemy.

As he wages a war on two fronts, he will need to keep his love for Raven secret, or risk exposing his greatest weakness…

Buy it on Amazon | Add it to Goodreads

 

Later in 2016 … a few to keep your eye on:

Us, by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy 

The highly anticipated sequel to their best-selling M/M sports-themed romance, HIM.

Cover Photo -HIM, Sarina Bowen/Elle Kennedy

 

 

 

Marry Screw Kill, by Liv Morris

I have been an avid fan of Liv since I read her Touch of Tantra series. I’ve re-read it more times than I care to admit, lest I be labeled a certified Liv stalker. But if you love alpha billionaires and the kick-ass heroines that make them see the light of day … do not miss this explosively erotic and tenderly passionate story. Trust me on this.

A Sneak Peek at M-S-K:

There are two men in my life.
I’m marrying one, want to screw the brains out of another, and by the time this love story is complete, you may want to kill me.
Marry Screw Kill
The choices are still pending…

Roman Crazy, by Alice Clayton and Nina Bocci

Roman CrazyYou’ll have to wait a while, but it will be totally worth it. Releases on my birthday – September 13, 2016!

A delicious, sexy, laugh-out-loud modern romance about a newly single woman and her journey to find love again, from New York Times bestselling author Alice Clayton and debut author Nina Bocci.

Avery Bardot steps off the plane in Rome, looking for a fresh start. She’s left behind a soon-to-be ex-husband in Boston and plans to spend the summer with her best friend Daisy, licking her wounds—and perhaps a gelato or two. But when her American-expat friend throws her a welcome party on her first night, Avery’s thrown for a loop when she sees a man she never thought she’d see again: Italian architect Marcello Bianchi.

Marcello was the man—the one who got away. And now her past is colliding with her present, a present where she should be mourning the loss of her marriage and—hey, that fettuccine is delicious! And so is Marcello…

Slipping easily into the good life of summertime in Rome, Avery spends her days exploring a city that makes art historians swoon, and her nights swooning over her unexpected what was old is new againromance. It’s heady, it’s fevered, it’s wanton, and it’s crazy. But could this really be her new life? Or is it just a temporary reprieve before returning to the land of twin-set cardigans and crustless sandwiches?

A celebration of great friendship, passionate romance, and wonderful food, Roman Crazy is a lighthearted story of second chances and living life to the fullest.

Add it to Goodreads | Order it on Amazon

 

And last but not least … MY most anticipated release of 2016 … this time it’s personal.

Photo of images from Where Angels Sleep, by Paula Radell

Yes, my own first novel, Where Angels Sleep – a dark but inspirational romance about a young doctor who had, and lost, it all – and finds himself left with a choice between life and death.

Cover Design by the amazingly talented Fiona Jayde, of  Fiona Jayde Media (cover reveal pending later in the year)

Banner photo by my amazingly talented daughter, Sarah Nicole Thomas, owner of Modern Scribe Photography, Virginia Beach, VA.

Stay tuned … Goodreads and Author Website pending with exclusive sneak peeks & more.