October 29, 2021

The Meet-Cute

In a romance novel, how the protagonist and their love interest meet can set up the entire story. Meet-cute is defined as the scene where the people who will form a romantic relationship meet for the first time in a memorable way. 

In A Fairy Godmother's Redemption, Drew Parker meets his future love interest Seraphina Jacobs at Faye's Cafe. Needless to say, she leaves quite the impression...


A young woman, wearing a long black sweater over tight jeans, with thick, shiny blonde hair, stood tapping her foot by the counter. She flipped her hair over her shoulder, and—Drew swore—he saw it move in slow motion. She was old-Hollywood glamorous. He was mesmerized until he heard her speak.

“I asked for a decaf, soy latte with an extra shot and cream. Does this look like—”

Poor Faye. What a rude girl. Drew moved to the counter beside the rude customer and took a sip of her drink. “Tastes fine to me.”

The woman looked shocked. “Huh?”

“Faye’s busy. Why don’t you say ‘thank you’ for your drink and—” He pointed toward the exit.

“I never!” The young woman tossed her hair, turned on her five-inch stiletto heels, and stomped out of the restaurant. An older woman with her grey hair shaped in a stylish bob offered Faye an apologetic look before following her through the swinging door.

Faye burst out laughing, not even trying to hide her mirth. “That was something.”


Their next meeting is under less tense circumstances...

Since Drew and Sera don't instantaneously click, would their introduction be considered a meet-ugly? Let me know what you think in the comments.

Now, I'm off on the writing adventure called NaNoWriMo. Wish me luck, and "see" you in December!

October 26, 2021

An Excerpt from A Fairy Godmother's Redemption for #TirgearrTuesday

Madison bit her bottom lip, looking guilty. “We notice lots of stuff when people don’t notice us.”

An invisible force tugged on his heartstrings. Shit. I’m complete shit at this parenting thing. “I’m an adult. It’s my job—” Right now anyway. “—to worry about you. Not the other way around.”

Madison’s eyes filled with unshed tears. “It’s all our fault.” She turned on her heels, escaping into her bedroom.

Mackenzie, looking tough as always, glared at him. “Now, you’ve done it.”

Resisting the urge to smack himself in the face, Drew pushed down the frustration of feeling like a constant failure. “Okay, I’ll bite. What’s bothering Madison?”

“We really liked Jana.” Mackenzie’s bottom lip quivered. “Madison was afraid she broke up with you because she didn’t like us.”

“Oh, half-pint. Jana did like you. She’s mad at me for something I did. Grown-up relationships are complicated, but—” He grasped for a way to explain that they’d understand. “Children are never to be blamed for adult problems.” His mother’s bitter scowls whenever she looked at him—whenever she bothered to be around—flashed in his memory. Not if I can help it.

Mackenzie plopped onto the couch, resting her head in her hands. “Daddy was going away.”

She spoke so softly Drew had to strain to hear her whispered words. It took him another moment to let their meaning sink in. Their father—his father—had been about to abandon another family. “What makes you think that?”

“We heard him yelling at Mommy.” She blinked away her tears. “Mommy told us she and Daddy were going for a drive. Our neighbor came over to watch us. And—”

She didn’t need to finish the sentence. He knew that had been the last time the girls had seen their parents alive. He clenched his hands into fists. That damn bastard. If he was still alive, I’d kill him.

Seemingly unaware of Drew’s brewing anger, Mackenzie continued speaking. “—our fault.”

“No, half-pint. Your dad was a selfish ass—jerk who only thought about himself.”

“Is it bad— that I still miss him?” Conflict flickered openly in her eyes.

“No, not at all. I’m sure you have plenty of good memories.”

“We do.” Mackenzie opened her mouth but closed it again without saying anything.

“What else is on your mind, half-pint?”

“Sera seems nice.” She squirmed in her seat. “Is she gonna be your new girlfriend?”

Drew stifled a chuckle. “It’s too soon to tell. Going on a date or two doesn’t mean you’re in a relationship.”

“What happens when she goes away? She’ll go on tour and forget all about us—you.”

“There are no guarantees in life, Mackenzie. Sometimes, you have to go for it and, you know, if it doesn’t work out, then you live with it.”


At the sound of Madison’s plaintive voice, he looked up and spied her leaning against the doorframe of her bedroom. 

“Are you going to go for it? With Sera?” Hope warred with fear in her eyes.


In November, I plan to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)... #TirgearrTuesday will return in December... depending on how NaNoWriMo goes.

October 25, 2021

Quote of the Week

Happy Halloween!

In November, I plan to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)... Quote of the Week will return in December... depending on how NaNoWriMo goes.

October 22, 2021

Social Justice Topics in Romance

It's important to write what you need to write, but it's equally important to keep your finger on the pulse of trends in fiction. Especially if commercial success is your objective. According to Meaghan Wagner of NY Book Editors, "social justice topics are (and have been) on the rise in romance. It's one of the strengths of the genre that gets overlooked, romance is always at the forefront of changing social trends." Never underestimate the genre of romance!

I write romance because I'm a romantic at heart, a complete softie for a happily-ever-after. Books, as a source of entertainment, need to provide an escape from reality, a place where conflict exists but so do resolutions. But, at the same time, fiction is a "safe" place to tell the truth, a palatable means of communication, an observation noted by many authors as well as depicted on the silver screen in scenes like this iconic one from A Few Good Men.

Col Jessup: I'll answer the question. You want answers?

LTJG Kaffee: I think I'm entitled to them. 

Col Jessup: You want answers?!

LTJG Kaffee: I want the truth!

Col Jessup: You can't handle the truth!

The world is filled with heavy issues, including many involving social justice. It is up to us, as a civilization, to hold those in power accountable. Utilizing fiction to enlighten and educate is a non-threatening way to encourage thought and dialogue. Resolution has never been found by ignoring problems.

Some of the major social justice issues facing us today include: voting rights; climate justice; healthcare; refugee crisis; racial injustice; income gap; gun violence; hunger and food insecurity; and equality. In particular, I feel strongly about human rights.

A few years ago, my family and I visited High Park in Toronto where I saw this monument honoring Larissa Kosach (1871-1913). She was a Ukrainian author whose works featured themes such as: the relationship between individual and community; social justice; the role of woman in society; human dignity; personal and national liberty; and the role of the writer in driving positive change (betterment). More than a hundred years later, her work still has an impact.

The incorporation of serious topics into my work isn't always intentional. I tell the stories that my characters need me to tell. Other authors may concur to experiencing this bizarre character-driven creativity. Overall, I am respectful of others and their choices. And, likewise, I depict my characters in a straightforward manner with thoughtfulness and honesty. If they were a purple-haired cyclops, then...

The Magicals Series covered a range of topics, some included intentionally and some brought to my attention by my readers. I am in awe of the insight my readers have shown when it comes to analyzing my books. A Vampire's Tale touched on parental expectations, suicide, and survival. Readers appreciated the inclusion of a LGBTQ+ character in A Wizard's Choice. My intention was simply to show Dr. David Laurent as he wanted to be shown—a practicing psychologist with brown hair and a neatly trimmed beard, a preference for chinos to jeans, and with a serious partner named Robbie. Alina Lehrer experienced a trauma in A Wizard's Choice so I knew her story would explore that topic. A Fairy's Quest also delved into mental health conditions and post-traumatic stress disorder, in particular. In A Fairy Godmother's Redemption, readers noted issues of growing up too soon, abandonment, mental abuse, and manipulation.

I will continue to write truthfully. And, in doing so, I (and hopefully my readers too) will gain insight and perspective on the unique human experience. I am less optimistic about commercial success. Realistically, I have long learned that the truth can be unpopular, but I still strive to create entertaining and thought-provoking stories.

October 19, 2021

An Excerpt from A Fairy's Quest for #TirgearrTuesday

Rylan polished off the tart and wistfully eyed the second one.

She held back a smile, watching him practically salivate over the sweet. “Go ahead.”

He didn’t even hesitate. Just popped the tart in his mouth, offering her an endearing smile with his cheeks puffed full. His long bangs flopped in front of his eyes, making him appear much younger, boyish even. She could picture him as a child. Even imagine what his son would look like. The thought caught her by surprise. She’d just met him, for goodness sake. Although—her cheeks reddened—I know him a lot better now.

As if he knew where her thoughts were headed, he scooted behind her and drew her into his arms. She rested the back of her head against his chest, close enough to feel the vibrations of his steady heartbeat. “What about you?”

“What about me?” He reflected her question nonchalantly, but she sensed an undercurrent of unease beneath his casual veneer.

“What’s your deal? You’ve listened to me babble out my whole life story—practically—and I know so little about you. Other than—” She made a point of counting on her fingers. “You’re from Paris, you love to travel, and you have three older sisters.”

“Oh, ma chérie—” He raised her fingers to his lips and placed gentle kisses on her fingertips. “You have seen into the deepest recess of my soul. You know everything that matters.”


The rest of her words were lost as he captured her lips in a bruising kiss. She opened her mouth to accept his probing tongue, and the rest of her questions flew out of her mind. He tasted intoxicating—an enticing combination of the sweet strawberry tart he’d just eaten and a spicy flavor completely unique to him. His artful command over her body sought her surrender and promised more pleasure in exchange. She wanted to lose herself again. And why not? This was her night to truly be free.

October 15, 2021

Book Review for Damaged by Graceli Kaye

Writing a book review is an art. I am a writer and a reader, but I don't often write book reviews. I greatly admire those who do. Book reviews are essential to the commercial success of a book. Especially for a new or indie author. I know this first hand. I've literally sent out hundreds of review requests, tailored specifically to each reviewer. I track dates for requests, emailed ARCs, and follow-up emails in an Excel spreadsheet. I've also used book review services and websites like Bookspout. The majority of reviews for my books are ones I've directly requested.

I know the importance of book reviews. I know an effective book review can be short and simple. It doesn't have to be a lengthy book report - just a "I liked it" or "I recommend this book" or something along those lines. Serious (professional?) book reviewers, those with book blogs or podcasts, who review books on a regular basis for authors and publishers often include a book description and reasons or examples to support their opinion.

Writing a book review provides affirmation to its author. For the most part, we are a shy and serious lot. Publishing our books is akin to putting an important piece of ourselves on display. Yet writing our books is a calling we cannot ignore.

I see the art of book review writing as a calling as well. As mentioned at the beginning of this post, I don't often write book reviews, but when I do it's because I feel this book needs to be read.

I love to read. And, when I'm not writing, it's fair to say I'm an avid reader. I've found many of my recent reads on Instagram. Damaged by Graceli Kaye is one of them. Damaged is the first book in The VAC Chronicles, a three-book series. Right after I read the book description, I thought - this could be a series on Netflix. And Damaged did not disappoint.

My Review

The VAC Chronicles are a series of books, new adult drama, whose characters are connected through the fictitious university of Valessia-Anders College.

Geneva Blake is the protagonist of Damaged. She experiences trauma and, during the course of the story, a transforming life change. The book includes multi-character perspectives, written in first person. This approach provides unique and in-depth insight into each character. This emotion-provoking story is intense, involving serious topics of abuse and trauma. The writing is forthright and brutally honest.

Damaged is unlike any book I've ever read. The captivating and complicated characters could easily star in the next Netflix or Amazon Prime original series.

Buy Now

Amazon US

Meet the Author

Graceli has been a lifelong writer. She began in 5th grade as a way to process and deal with issues by using her creativity. Over the years, she continued to write until some seemingly unrelated storylines began to intertwine to the point that they couldn’t be separated, and that’s when The VAC Chronicles were born. Some of the stories in the series have already been published, and she has countless more in the works with hopes to bring them to you soon.

When she is not working or spending time with her family, Graceli can be found absorbed in her world, writing the next book or books in the series. She currently lives in Maryland with her two adorable kids and awesome husband while surviving on caffeine drinks, kitty cuddles, and Zumba.

Find out more at www.thevacchronicles.wordpress.com


October 12, 2021

An Excerpt from A Wizard's Choice for #TirgearrTuesday

The hair on the back of Kurtis’ neck stood up. His shoulders tensed, and his body moved into a defensive posture. Another thrall? Or something more sinister?

The air around him moved, and he caught the faint whiff of spicy perfume. Dee. His face curled into a disgusted scowl. What does she want now? She materialized in front of him, one eyebrow raised in an enticing invitation. She looked him over, giving him a thorough inspection that caused him to flinch. Showing weakness was not an option. He knew better. Planting his feet at hip-width, he crossed his arms over his midriff and plastered a look of indifference on his face.

Taking her time, she sauntered toward him. The V-neckline of her red dress dipped scandalously low. His breath hitched, from a conflicting mix of shock and lust, as his eyes followed every deliberate sway of her hips. He wrestled to regain control.

Something about Dee wrecks me on every level. 

Her lips curled into a brief smile. She knew what she was doing. And she enjoyed it. With a coy smile, she stalked around him, stopping only to run her hands over his biceps.

October 8, 2021

Creating A Magical World

What is the most important attribute of world building? The same principle applies as regular novel planning. Believability.


Your fictional world can vary from the real world with magical elements (magical realism) to a completely foreign realm (fantasy). The sky's the limit as long as you are consistent. Your world needs structure, rules, and—for a completely fabricated world—even a map. Ever wonder why fantasy books include maps? A map is the very essence of a plan. You follow a map (or directions) to go from Point A to Point B. Different types of maps highlight different information—borders; location of cities; physical features—optionally including changes in elevation and landscape; climate; resources; and roads. Maps also need a scale and legend.

My world is Earth-based so I didn't need to create an original map. Google Maps provided all the information I needed for my research.


Once you determine your world type, you need to develop characters, varying from humanoid to alien. It's important to define physical characteristics, accents, traditions, familial relationships, and politics.

My characters are human with magical abilities, and I tracked their connections using family trees.

This is scan of my main family tree. I couldn't find a template with enough generations so I improvised. Kurtis and Alina in A Wizard's Choice tied all the characters from the series together. Even though they didn't end up romantically connected, this version of the family tree made the most sense. I use a few other family trees to record dates of birth and other information, including all the information on one diagram was too cluttered.


Your story has a setting and characters, but what happens in the beginning, middle, and end? Understanding plot structure is essential to keeping your story on track. As a reformed pantster, I see the value in using a plot template. I use a combination of the Three Act Structure and Save the Cat.

The Three Act Structure is the perfect example of plot, keeping to a basic model of beginning, middle, and end. Act 1 sets up the story, presenting the setting, characters, and conflict or reason for the story. Act 2 provides clarity on the conflict and questions the protagonist's chance of success. Act 3 brings the conflict to a conclusion and ties up any loose ends.

Save the Cat is a straightforward approach, expanding on the Three Act Structure and following 15 points (or beats). Opening Image is how the story starts, how things look before the story begins. Set-up defines the setting and introduces the characters. Theme Stated foreshadows what the story is actually about. Catalyst is the inciting incident, the life-changing event that kicks off the story. Debate is the character's attempt to avoid the conflict. Break Into Act II details the character's choice and launches the story. B-Story is a subplot, often a romantic storyline, defusing tension from the conflict and further empathizing the theme. The Promise of the Premise (Fun & Games) provides the entertainment, showing the protagonist in action. Midpoint occurs at the halfpoint, introducing a plot twist or raising the stakes. Bad Guys Close In ramps up the tension and casts doubt on the protagonist's chance of success. All is Lost is the opposite of the Midpoint where the protagonist loses everything. Dark Night of the Soul (Black Moment) is how the protagonist reacts to losing everything and introduces new information, often through the B-Story. Break Into Act III shows the protagonist using the new information to take action and brings stories A and B together. Finale is resolution of the conflict. Final Image shows how much has changed during the corse of the story, often the opposite of Opening Image.

My Version - Save the Cat in Three Acts

Act I
Opening Image
Theme Stated

Act II Part 1
Act II
Fun & Games

Act II Part 2
Bad Guys Close In
All is Lost
Black Moment

Final Image

I've used this approach since introduced to Save the Cat a few years ago, which was a plot structure game-changer for me. Understanding plot is like following your story's map. The step-by-step directions really help you get from Point A to Point B. And for the pantsters out there... Despite the careful planning, my characters still manage to throw me for a loop.

Once you establish a setting, characters, and plot, you get a story. The End.

October 5, 2021

An Excerpt from A Vampire's Tale for #TirgearrTuesday

“How about you?”

“Not much to say about me.” She shrugged in the dark then realized Corgan was watching the road, not her. “I'm twenty-three. I studied business in college before I dropped out. My parents didn’t support my decision. They thought they could change my mind. When I stuck to my guns, they, well, they disowned me. I worked for a newspaper, but I hated it there, so I quit my job and started writing novels.” 

“Your parents hurt you.”

Marisa stared out the window. “Yes.”

“Despite what they said, they are still proud of you.”

“I don’t think so, Corgan.”

Trust me. “Leaving your job was out of character for you.”

“Definitely. My friends didn't understand. They thought I’d completely lost it. In their minds, I left a decent paying job to chase a pipe dream.”

“You needed to find your own way.”

“You get it.” Marisa bit her lip, thoughtfully. Corgan understood her. She didn’t know how, but it seemed like he’d known her longer than a few days.

“Sometimes your own way isn't the easy way.”

“Damn straight! The term 'starving artist' comes to mind.” 

“Do you go without, love?” The alarm was evident in his voice.

October 4, 2021

Quote of the Week

The "Quote of the Week" segments in October will feature a spooky theme in honor of Halloween.

Last year, because of COVID, my sons didn't go trick-or-treating. Don't worry, they still got some candy. We ordered their favorites online. This year, when asked if they wanted to go out, they declined... Not because getting their candy delivered was so much easier than walking from house to house collecting treats... They think they are too mature to go out. It's the end of an era.

I have many fond (and some not so fond) memories of trick-or-treating with the boys. When they were really little, we all dressed up and pulled them in the wagon around the neighborhood... When they were old enough to go with their friends (but too shy to go without their parents), we stood at the ends of driveways, close enough to hear the chorus of angelic thank yous after they got their treats.

Even though they think they're too old for trick-or-treating, I'll still get them some Halloween candy. It won't feel like Halloween without it.

Stay tuned for next week's spooky quote... if you dare.

October 1, 2021

Genre Confusion?

Literature has come a long way from a simplistic classification of fiction and nonfiction. Literary nomenclature is constantly evolving.

Nonfiction versus Creative Nonfiction

Nonfiction, for example journalism, academic texts, and biographies, is based on fact with a purpose to express or inform. Good nonfiction should have a coherent topic and clear purpose.

Creative nonfiction combines the characteristics of traditional nonfiction with the various techniques and styles of fictional writing. With an emphasis on story and tone, creative nonfiction can be easier and more enjoyable to read than traditional nonfiction. Genres include memoirs, biographies, and personal essays (like blog posts). It is important to note that reporting factual information is still the cornerstone. Things to keep in mind when writing creative nonfiction? Fact check. Issue a disclaimer. Present the information objectively, considering your audience and possible consequences.

The concept of creative nonfiction is new to me. I've employed the technique for several years in my blog, but I didn't know this form of writing had a particular designation. My original content includes my opinions, my writing journey, and interesting book-related topics. It's not limited to these areas. I often share promotional posts from other authors. I research my topics, if research is required, and hope my readers find my musings entertaining if not informative.


Fiction is not based on fact. The author writes about imaginary people and events captured in the form of short story, novella or novel. There are three types of fiction: literary; genre; and mainstream. Literary fiction follows non-conventional plot structures and focuses on the main character or characters. Genre fiction uses familiar templates, character archetypes, and tropes in such categories as romance, mystery, thriller, science fiction, fantasy, young adult, historical, magical realism, and speculative. Mainstream fiction is fiction that becomes extremely popular outside its core audience.

I write genre fiction, but recently I've questioned what genre applies best to my books. Hence this post. I  took a short detour when I stumbled upon creative nonfiction... First, let's quickly define the main genres in genre fiction.

Romance - development of a romantic relationship moves the plot forward, ending in happily-ever-after (HEA) or happy-for-now (HFN)

Mystery - an exciting hook (like a murder) and suspenseful pacing with a clear outcome to solve the mystery

Thriller - like a mystery with more suspense and shock

Science fiction - occurs in a dystopian past or distant future with emphasis on technical or scientific advancement

Fantasy - occurs in an imaginary world, often includes mythical creatures or aspects of a medieval time period

Young adult - coming-of-age stories with a target audience of 11 to 15-year olds

Historical - incorporates real historical events or places, also the reimagining of historical events or people

Magical realism - based in the real world with elements of magic

Speculative - offers alternative realities to the past, present or future

What do I write?

Classifying a novel into the correct genre and subgenre is very important. Firstly, it defines the crucial characteristics of the story, like plot, setting, and characters. And, secondly, it contributes to reader's expectations which can impact reviews.

Now, to the crux of the matter... what do I write? Based on the provided definitions, I can easily eliminate mystery, thriller, science fiction, fantasy, young adult, historical, and speculative from the list. My stories include love as a central plot and magic in the real world so either romance or magical realism seem applicable. 

In particular, my current book series is The Magicals. I introduce the reader to my magical world of vampires, wizards, and fairies. And, yes, as the series title implies, there is magic.

Romance has many subgenres... so if I dig a little deeper I find...

Romance Subgenres

All romance subgenres must include a central love story and satisfying ending (either HEA or HFN).

By age group: young adult (12-18 years old); new adult (18-29 years old); adult (over 30 years old)

By category: historical (occurs in a historic era, excluding regency); contemporary (occurs in the same time period as the author, from 1970s to present day); erotic (includes explicit sex); paranormal (includes supernatural creatures); regency (occurs during the regency era, between 1795 and 1837); and suspense (includes suspense, mystery, or thriller elements).


I write adult paranormal romance.

But what about fantasy or urban fantasy?

The list of romance subgenres wasn't 100% complete. That was the mainstream list. If you keep digging, then there is no end to the rabbit hole. What about romantic fantasy? What about urban fantasy? What's the difference?

This conundrum has puzzled writers and readers alike. Forgetting about romance for the moment... Paranormal stories are set in the real world with supernatural creatures. Fantasy stories are set in imaginary worlds with creatures more mythical than supernatural. Urban fantasy is paranormal with magic and includes at least one romantic storyline. I write romance novels about supernatural creatures in the real world and magic. So, I'm left with the question. Do I write paranormal or urban fantasy?

Second Conclusion

The answer is both... I write paranormal with magic so both paranormal and urban fantasy are applicable.

There are many crossovers and similarities among the different subgenres of romance. Since urban fantasy is not included in the mainstream list of romance subgenres at the moment, I write paranormal romance. All that analysis just to come to the same conclusion... which is on brand. Maya Tyler - Paranormal romance with a twist. <<sigh of relief>> I wasn't looking forward to rebranding.