I am thrilled to share that my paranormal romance, THE RAVINE, took first place in the new adult category of YARWA’s Rosemary Contest! YARWA’s Day of YA was held at RWA Nationals in Denver, and though I couldn’t make it out, the coordinators posted a live stream that made me feel like I was there. Thank you to the contest judges and coordinators and congratulations to all the finalists!
THE RAVINE took first place in the Fool for Love Contest!
This past Saturday, I joined the fabulous Virginia Romance Writers for their June Awards Luncheon. We all got lei’d (fun tropical theme) and listened to guest speaker Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches give a humorous and thoughtful talk on reviews. Soon after I was honored to learn that my new baby, THE RAVINE, had taken first place in the light paranormal category of VRW’s Fool for Love Contest!
Okay, so super-cheesy awesomesauce to add to this day–my supportive hero husband came down with me for the ceremony, and afterward, we went to check out the botanical gardens in Richmond. It was supposed to rain that day but turned out to be gorgeous-hot. There was a butterfly exhibit in their conservatory that was breathtaking–insects of iridescent blue as big as my hand. I savored the moment. It’s easy to forget, when you’re working hard toward something, to stop and look around you. Here’s to hope and a long journey filled with bright little moments.
THE RAVINE is Now a Five-Time Finalist!
So excited!! My newest story, THE RAVINE, recently finaled in five contests: Young Adult RWA’s Rosemary Contest, Virginia Romance Writers’ Fool for Love Contest, Desert Rose RWA’s Diamonds in the Desert Contest, Valley Forge Romance Writers’ The Sheila Contest, and Chesapeake RWA’s The Rudy Contest!
Every book I write is a book of my heart, but this story holds special significance for me since it took me to a much deeper place emotionally than the others have. I can’t thank my critique partners enough for helping me to get this project into shape: Kimberely Ash, Arell Rivers, Aryn Youngless, and Noella Phillips. Love you guys!!
Coming out of the writing cave for a quick post about my new project, The Ravine.
Both can see ghosts after dark. Both struggle with silence. They’ll need to work together if they hope to defeat his malicious poltergeists and stop her ex-boyfriend’s blackmail by the end of the summer.
This new adult paranormal romance is the sixth project I’ve completed in my adult life and has special significance for a few reasons. I aim to write atmospheric books, and the landscape in The Ravine moves between two of my favorite settings in New Jersey: The Delaware Water Gap and the shore. The setting rises as its own character, a metaphorical divide between the hero and heroine of the book who are also divided by class and whose houses face each other across a ravine. Silence about the past and overcoming that silence factors largely into this work. My hero is mute, but he is empowered in his ability to communicate through other means. It is the heroine who actually struggles the most with silence as she’s been taught that it is better move on and forget, burying your feelings rather than examining and validating them.
Ghosts factor largely into this project as both the hero and heroine are plagued by poltergeists. They will need to work together to bind friendly ghosts to them in order to keep the poltergeists at bay. It was too fun to write their ghost-hunting scenes, especially with such a dramatic landscape as a backdrop. Without getting too deeply into it, small-town drama and the hero’s fear that a particularly malicious poltergeist will bring harm to those around him threaten to put out the spark that glows between these two characters. They will need to overcome more than ghosts in order to find their happy ending.
Here’s a link to my Pinterest inspiration board for The Ravine:
Hey all! Just wanted to gab a bit about some of the best books I’ve read recently. I’m curious about what you’ve read as well. Recommendations are always welcome!
THIEF OF SHADOWS by Elizabeth Hoyt
This is the forth book in Hoyt’s Maiden Lane Series, and though you can read them out of order, I suggest reading them all because–yes–the are that good. Hoyt does a beautiful job of weaving her own invented fairy tales and legends through the chapters, enhancing the themes already present in her books. Winter Makepeace, the hero of this tale, is my new favorite book boyfriend. 🙂 He runs an orphan’s home by day and rescues children by night. He fights in a mask and is, in a sense, the Batman of this world. He’s also married to his work, rejecting the possibility of a traditional family life in order to protect St. Giles. Winter is sober and blunt in his role the orphanage’s caretaker, but allows himself to be more bold in his role as the Ghost of St. Giles. Needless to say, there are awesome sword-fighting scenes and love scenes.
SECRET SANTA by Kati Wilde
I have a soft spot for holdiay-themed romances and absolutely love how far Kati took the themeing of this one. This is a steamy novella with a down-on-her-luck heroine you can’t help but root for who gets absolutely everything she wants for Christmas. An orphan who was passed from one foster home to the next as a child, Emma now has a hard time trusting others. She’s also always worked hard in order to survive and never really made time for a boyfriend. She begins working for a small, family-owned company that produces hand-made furniture. Logan, a gifted carpenter and artisan who works in the shop, falls for Emma on first sight. He helps her with her clunker car, finds out she doesn’t have a Christmas tree, and well…things take off from there. 😉
TYCOON by Joanna Shupe
Shupe does a beautiful job of expressing complete, complex characters and a full plot in the short space of a novella. Her Guilded Age historicals are fabulous, and if you’d like an introduction to her world, this is a great place to start. After Clara Dawson, a perfume counter girl, witnesses a murder, she flees to the train station. She surprises a man on the platform with a kiss, pretending to be his wife so that she can evade the men chasing her. Surprised by her kiss but seeing she’s in need of help, railroad typcoon Ted Harper invites her onto his private car. He’s suspicious of her motives–thinking she’s out for his money, but as events unfold, he finds himself falling for her.
I also want to give a quick shout out to my current reads. FIRE’S REVENGE by Jeni Burns is a fun and sexy new adult paranormal that takes place in my home state of Jersey. STRANGE THE DREAMER by Laini Taylor is an incredibly inventive and vivid young adult book I’m listening to on audio. What are your current reads?
Why I Write
Biggest reason: I write because I enjoy reading so much, but more on that later. 🙂
I write because it feels good to let my muse run wild. And I don’t have to be perfect–not on the first go. I can write and rewrite a scene until it works. I can put better words in my characters’ mouths and give them stronger motivations. Stronger hearts.
I write because I love to play with words and with plots. An English major to the end, I can’t help deconstructing movies and books. There’s a thrill that comes with uncovering metaphors, themes, and more that I hope to reproduce for my readers.
I write because I hope. That’s the essence of romance–that Happily Ever After.
My first exposure to romance was through fairy tales. I love the darker nature of true fairy tales along with the magic, adventure, and happy endings. Later, I got a taste of romance in novel form including my gateway drug to paranormal romance, L.J. Smith’s Soulmate. (Love you L.J.!) There were also the Harlequins poorly hidden in the back of the family closet and romantic movies from Disney to Dirty Dancing.
I write because I love where I live. Maybe I’m partial because I’m from NJ, but there is so much change over the landscape here. It’s more than the variations over the shore, farmlands, mountains, and cities. It’s the local color and how local–how different it can be from town to town. It’s gorgeous, white-sand pine trails and moldering, ancient, abandoned cinemas. There is darkness to my writing and the alternate Jersey (names changed to protect the innocent, etc., etc.), but it’s infused with splashes of light. With color. With hope and the strange and, of course, magic. I love to play with fantasy, tropes, atmosphere, desires, geek life, grit, and the Jersey world I grew up in to create something entirely new.
Finally, I write because I think there is a place in this world for every strange little story. There are many goals tied into writing for me, but the biggest by far is to connect with an audience who wants this mix of darkness and light in their books. I believe in happy endings and write them, but there’s nothing saccharine about then ends of my stories. Instead, I write endings that make sense with the characters and the story world. Sacrifices are made and happiness is earned.
I would consider myself incredibly lucky to connect with readers who would love romance, world-building, and the way that I twist it all together. Maybe one day. 😉
THE TWENTY-EIGHTH KISS finaled in the Fool for Love Contest!
So I haven’t posted in a while, and I’m curious–how is everyone out in blog land? Have you read any un-put-downable books lately??
I have a few recommendations:
- IT ENDS WITH US by Colleen Hoover — Not your usual NA romance. A must-read, heart-breaking, bone-deep book.
- FRIGID by J. Lynn (Jennifer L. Armentrout) — Incredibly hot friends-to-lovers NA romance.
- WICKED INTENTIONS by Elizabeth Hoyt — The first in her Maiden Lane Series. I went back for this on after reading DUKE OF SIN. This is not your usual historical romance. Hoyt is a master! Check her out for beautifully-written, outside-of-the-box characters.
- VAMPIRE MINE by Kerrelyn Sparks — Sparks is the kind of author that reminds me of why I started writing paranormal in the first place. She strikes a perfect balance between the high stakes of a dangerous universe and the quirky humor of its characters.
So I have news. 🙂 I’m excited to share that my new adult paranormal romance, THE TWENTY-EIGHTH KISS, finaled in Virginia Romance Writers’ Fool for Love Contest!
This contest holds special significance for me since I finaled last year with my young adult paranormal romance, BENEATH US. Awards were presented at a tea party themed luncheon hosted by VRW that I attended. I was ecstatic to hear that my YA project took first place in the young adult / new adult category! We were given out tea cups as gifts after the luncheon, and I keep mine on the counter for good luck and as a reminder of all the awesome writers I met that day.
Now, I’m crossing my fingers for my new project, THE TWENTY-EIGHTH KISS! This is the eighth RWA chapter contest in which this project has finaled. TTEK took first place in three contests so far: The Heart-to-Heart Contest, The Beacon Contest, and The Four Season’s Contest. For more, see my Projects page.
Michelle Joyce Bond
THE TWENTY-EIGHTH KISS: #novelaesthetics
I created a Pinterest board for my new adult paranormal romance, THE TWENTY-EIGHTH KISS, to showcase its #novelaesthetics. Check it out here: THE TWENTY-EIGHTH KISS: Pinterest Board
Michelle Joyce Bond
EMERGE by Tobie Easton: YA Fantasy with Humor and Heart
Imagine being a teenager who has to deal with the challenges of not one but two societies: human and Mer.
EMERGE is a fun, unexpected read that adds some major twists to the classic Hans Christian Anderson tale: “The Little Mermaid.” For someone who grew up with Disney’s The Little Mermaid (and obsessed over the thing to the point that my entire bedroom was mermaid themed), this book has an added charm. I could tell Easton had a lot of fun defining her story against popular culture’s idea of mermaids and their history.
Here’s the blurb from Goodreads.com:
Lia Nautilus may be a Mermaid but she’s never lived in the ocean. War has ravaged the seven seas ever since the infamous Little Mermaid unleashed a curse that stripped Mer of their immortality. Lia has grown up in a secret community of land-dwelling Mer hidden among Malibu’s seaside mansions. Her biggest problems are surviving P.E. and keeping her feelings for Clay Ericson in check. Sure, he’s gorgeous in that cocky, leather jacket sort of way and makes her feel like there’s a school of fish swimming in her stomach, but getting involved with a human could put Lia’s entire community at risk.
So it’s for the best that he’s dating that new girl, right? That is, until Lia finds out she isn’t the only one at school keeping a potentially deadly secret. And this new girl? Her eyes are dead set on Clay, who doesn’t realize the danger he’s in. If Lia hopes to save him, she’ll have to get closer to Clay. Lia’s parents would totally flip if they found out she was falling for a human boy, but the more time she spends with him, the harder it is for her to deny her feelings. After making a horrible mistake, Lia will risk everything to stop Clay from falling in love with the wrong girl.
Easton takes time to lovingly build a story world around Lia from Mer including history, language, clothing, housing, cultural traditions and so much more. While reading, I not only felt like a part of Mer society, but I enjoyed all the little details Easton wove into her vivid descriptions of setting.
Humor is a huge part of EMERGE. Easton’s Mermaid puns had me laughing out loud, and her voice kept me turning pages. It’s fun to imagine being Lia (girl gets to live in a Malibu mansion and she’s a mermaid??), and I couldn’t wait for her to kiss hottie, Clay. 🙂
I hope you enjoy this book and check out Tobie Easton’s website!
What’s your favorite mermaid tale?
Michelle Joyce Bond
Hey, fellow writers! The following is a list of my all-time favorite craft books with some of my thoughts on each and links to Goodreads for more information.
I’d love to hear from you about your favorites as well. Please feel free to share them in the comments section. 🙂
VERBALIZE by Damon Suede.
A fresh way of viewing and crafting fiction that will blow your mind and offer a blueprint to reassemble the pieces. Forget what you know about building a character. With humor, wisdom, and vivid examples from popular fiction, Damon offers a better way to go about building a book—from a character’s core outward and utilizing verbs. Helpful exercises make it easy to apply his craft advice whether you are a plotter, pantser, or an inbetweener. This book is a game-changer not only for the writers who pick it up but for genre-fiction as a whole.
ON WRITING ROMANCE: HOW TO CRAFT A NOVEL THAT SELLS by Leigh Michaels
This is one of the first craft books I ever picked up. Once upon a time, I figured out that the romance plot was central to all my stories and began seeking sources to help me. This book was an incredible eye-opener. On Writing Romance begins with the history of the romance novel and moves to particulars about its craft including subgenres, character-building, and conflict.
Read more about this title on Goodreads by clicking here.
THANKS, BUT THIS ISN’T FOR US by Jessica Page Morrell
The full title of this book says it all: Thanks, But This Isn’t For Us: The Compassionate Guide to Understanding What’s Wrong With Your Writing and Leaving the Rejection Pile for Good. Morrell is one of my all-time favorites. You’ll see two more titles by her on this list. In this book, she uses her unique sense of humor and relatable examples to share common errors newbie writers need to know. Also, the cover is adorable.
Read more about Morrell’s title on Goodreads by clicking here.
GMC: GOAL, MOTIVATION AND CONFLICT by Debra Dixon
This is an indispensable look at the very heart of any story. I’ve read blog and portions of craft books that cover this topic, but I enjoy the depth to which Dixon takes it. You can have all the beautiful prose in the world, but if your story lacks a strong foundation, you will lose your reader.
Read more about Dixon’s title on Goodreads by clicking here.
BULLIES, BASTARDS & BITCHES: HOW TO WRITE THE BAD GUYS IN FICTION by Jessica Page Morrell
Did you get a kick out of the title? I did. 🙂
In this book, Morrell goes deep into the antagonist–offering character types, pitfalls, and advice on strengthening your bad guys. Go deep into the dark side.
For more on Morrell’s book, click here.
ON WRITING: A MEMOIR OF THE CRAFT by Stephen King
An incredibly inspiring book by some writer of whom I’m sure you’ve never heard. 🙂 But in all seriousness, this is an incredible all-around book that is part life, part writing, part wisdom.
For more on King’s book, click here.
WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL by Donald Maass
This is an all-around great book that offers writing techniques to help your work stand out in the slush pile.
Read more about Maass’s book by clicking here.
BETWEEN THE LINES: MASTER THE SUBTLE ELEMENTS OF FICTION WRITING by Jessica Page Morrell
This is a fabulous book to read during the revision process. It’s a lot to take in, so I suggest reading a bit, applying, and going back for more. In this book, Morrell “shows you how to craft a unified and layered novel or short story by mastering subtle storytelling techniques” (Goodreads blurb).
Read more about Morrell’s title by clicking here.