November 14, 2019

A Massive Print Book Giveaway!

I've joined with some awesome fellow authors to offer you all a wonderful giveaway of thirteen romance paperbacks! As you can see, I'm including Tasting Temptation (check out an excerpt here).

For a chance to win, simply enter the Rafflecopter below. Good luck!

September 2, 2019

What's Happening Behind the Scenes

I'm still learning Patreon, still trying to figure out the best way to make this a worthwhile experience for both followers and patrons. One thing I've realized is that, naturally, you don't know what you don't know. 

By which I mean you can't know what's going up there, what Patrons get to see, or even what Followers are seeing unless you are one. So I've decided to offer a quick roundup. As always it's entirely up to you if you'd like to join me on Patreon! 💕

Also in case you missed them, some of my more popular recent public posts:

I know I've largely stopped posting on this blog, so it may seem like I've disappeared. But I haven't! I'm just not cross-posting from Patreon because I figure anyone who wants to see that content can follow me there. As a friendly reminder, there is no cost to becoming a follower.

Even if joining a new platform isn't your thing, please let me know what's been going on with you!

August 5, 2019

August Wide & Shine Giveaway

Wherever you read, that's where we'll be!

August Wide and Shine giveaway graphic with cupcakes and LoveKissed book bargains logo

Happy August, everyone! I've joined a group of romance authors offering you some awesome deals on every reading platform. And, of course, a giveaway! 😉

    And if you haven't yet, don't forget to grab your copy of 
    Tasting Temptationthis week just $0.99!

Image featuring book cover of Tasting Temptation as well as text: "Emotionally gripping and explosive." —BiblioManiac; After last summer's failed attempt at romance, Gina is done with men. And especially with millionaires. But scratching an itch with the bartender at her best friend's wedding couldn't hurt. Right? Read an Excerpt

July 9, 2019

A New Look for Tasting Temptation!

Can you believe it's been just over 3 years since Tasting Temptation came out? Those of you who've met Gina know how determined and persistent—not to mention fashion-conscious—she is. When she recently insisted it's time for a makeover, how could I refuse?

So, after hours of sorting through options and the painstaking work of dealing with Gina's exacting standards and my perfectionism, her story has a brand new look! What do you think??

If you haven't yet, make sure you check out the story readers call "emotionally gripping and explosive" "with some very hot naughtiness thrown in."

And don't forget to tell me what you think of the new look in the comments! Gina's dying to know. 😉 💕

June 24, 2019

Lost In Translation

This post first appeared on my Patreon page, but it received such a positive response (even private emails on the subject!) that I decided to repost it here. Want to get these posts as soon as they're up? Follow me on Patreon

You may not know this, but I'm trilingual, and I got my bachelor's degree by studying literature in all three languages. While I could pretend there was some higher ambition there, the reality is mostly that I like reading—and I especially like reading in the original language. Because no matter how good the translation, something is lost when an author's words are filtered through someone else's understanding.

This isn't to say we shouldn't translate stories—we should! But we should also be aware that we may not quite be experiencing the work the way it was originally created. While I was aware of this before, it was crystalized for me during one semester in college, when I was assigned Madame Bovary in both a French lit. class and a comparative lit. class led in English. You wouldn't believe how different the experience was! While the story is pretty dreary in English, the original is infused with touches of humor. Now, obviously I don't mean it's a comedy, and they certainly aren't laugh-out-loud moments, but the humor is there, lightening the entire reading experience. (Writing my paper based on the French version didn't go over well with the TA who'd only read the English... Whoops.)

The difficulty in conveying the original author's meaning struck me once again when I was discussing the musical Notre Dame de Paris with someone who doesn't speak French. Luckily—you'd think—the musical has been translated into multiple languages, including Russian and English. But as I was listening to the Russian version, I couldn't help noticing just how different the lyrics are, how drastically the characters are changed as a result, even if on the surface it's the same story.

Now obviously translation is even harder with lyrics because they have to fit the melody, but I'm still going to pick on these translations a little bit. To illustrate, I'm going to use an excerpt from perhaps the best-known song from the musical: "Belle."

Since I know you all don't necessarily speak these three languages, I've translated the French and Russian versions into English (for meaning—not at all poetically):

French version

Russian version

And the English version:
Belle, is the only word I know that suits her well
When she dances oh, the stories she can tell
A free bird trying out her wings to fly away
And when I see her move I see the hell to pay

She dances naked in my soul and sleep won't come
And it's no use to pray these prayers to Notre Dame
Tell, who'd be the first to raise his hand and throw a stone
I'd hang him high and laugh to see him die alone
Oh Lucifer, please let me go beyond god's law
And run my fingers through her hair, Esmeralda
So what is it Quasimodo craves so badly? In the French version, it's a rather innocent desire: running his fingers through her hair. In the Russian, this has been transformed to (euphemistically) spending a night with her. Suddenly the character seems much more worldly, much more like the other men who ultimately destroy her (Frollo, the priest, and Phoebus, the soldier). In the French version, both the priest and the soldier have a carnal desire for Esmeralda, while Quasimodo's is a more general, more innocent longing for closeness. For him, it's not about sex.

Note also how much more of the Russian text is about him—his ugliness, his happiness, etc. The French, meanwhile, focuses more on describing her and commenting on their society. And there's more intention in the Russian, a choice being made—"I would sell my soul to the devil"—as opposed to asking the devil for the favor of caressing her hair since Quasimodo already feels doomed to hell for having watched her dance.

While the English version seems a touch closer to the original at first, by the second verse that all changes. Though it ends with the line about running his fingers through her hair, that verse starts with: "She dances naked in my soul." In the original, he's stricken by having seen some skin exposed as she danced, but in translation she's dancing naked in his mind—once again eliminating the juxtaposition of how Quasimodo sees her compared to the other men, equating all three men.

Also in the French, Quasimodo—again, quite innocently—says someone who would judge Esmeralda (by throwing the first stone) doesn't deserve to walk the earth. But in the English this has become rather sinister and malicious: "I'd hang him high and laugh to see him die alone."

Seriously, just take a moment to appreciate how differently this character is presented within a handful of lines. "She's so beautiful, no one should want to hurt her" vs "If someone raised a hand to hurt her, I'd kill him and laugh at his gruesome death."

It's a stark reminder that words matter. And when our experience of someone's words is filtered through someone else's manipulation (via translation), our experience of the characters and the world created by the original author is unavoidably altered.

Unfortunately, most of us can't learn every language out there, or even most of them. And when it comes to traveling and basic communication, things like translation apps are definitely useful, even life-changing. But that utility doesn't translate (pardon the pun) to literature, where nuance is so important.

While we shouldn't give up on reading in translation, it would serve us all well to remember just how much can be lost or distorted by translating someone's art, even when done by a human and not an algorithm. It's one more very good reason to encourage people to learn new languages, opening new worlds not just through reading, but by reading the original author's words to experience what they really wanted to say. And if you do speak another language, all the more reason to practice it by exploring its literary culture in the original.

April 23, 2019

Fire Trucks, Garter Belts, & My Perfect Ex by Heather Novak

Sometimes, visits home are relaxing; other times you crash your car, bid $3,000 on a date with your ex, and find out your dead grandma isn’t actually dead. 
Warning: Small-town-itis is contagious, even to porn stars.

Cover for Fire Trucks, Garter Belts, & My Perfect Ex by Heather Novak, featuring blond man and redhead woman almost kissing

About Fire Trucks, Garter Belts, & My Perfect Ex:

A full-length sex-positive romantic comedy!

After facing the same health scare that took her mother, adult film star Vera Eastman sets out on a road trip to finish her mom’s bucket list. First stop, the hometown she escaped the moment she graduated. Her defiant arrival puts her face-to-face with her first love—her first everything—Jack Reeves.

Jack’s still the guy who can steal her heart with a smile, but he hasn’t forgiven her for leaving, and avoiding him proves difficult. Not only is he her grandma’s neighbor, but Grandma pays Jack to mow the lawn shirtless, and his firefighter job has him frequently rescuing Vera, as her ability to find trouble—was it her fault the ladder on the water tower broke?—becomes as formidable a matchmaker as her grandma.

Small-town-itis must be contagious. That’s the only explanation for Grandma’s stupid cat being in love with Jack’s damn dog, for Vera’s sudden urge to move home, and for her falling for Jack all over again. Eating chocolate body paint out of the jar can’t even help her with this mess.

Read an Excerpt:

“Welcome to the stage the first quarterback to lead the Grenadine Tigers to a state victory, his graduating class’s homecoming king and valedictorian, and winner of the highest bid for the last three auctions…”

My entire body stilled at Tamicka’s words. Jack.

“…Jack Reeves!”

At the sound of my ex’s name, years of laughter, memories of making out under the bleachers, and the feeling of his skin against mine all slammed into me at once, forcing me back a step. I mumbled an apology to whoever I’d walked into, but I didn’t move. I couldn’t move.

My Jack.

I dropped my phone, my hand unable to figure out how to hold it anymore. What were hands, even? All of my brain power went to staring at the amazingly sexy man who slid forward and into a dance move I had taught him when we were kids, his hips rotating as he spun around.

Eleven years had been very, very kind to this man. He had been the cutest boy I had ever seen when he was seventeen. Now he was off the charts. My mouth went dry. My eyes nearly fell out of my head.

The reddish-brown hair I had loved to rake my hands through was still short on the sides, but now a little longer on top. His once clean-shaven face now sported a close-cropped beard that I bet would feel amazing against my thighs. I had kissed every single freckle that dotted his fair skin over and over again.

He was still…

And his smile…

The way his collarbone…

Those forearms…

All the women around me, and some of the men, started murmuring and reaching into their purses and wallets.

I’d known it was a probability I’d see him while I was here, but I hadn’t expected to suddenly feel like I was home. I twisted the gold band on my right ring finger over and over again, concentrating on yoga breathing so I didn’t pass out or do something stupid.

I raised my hand, not even sure what Tamicka was saying or if bidding had begun. All I knew was that I needed to be near him again. “Three thousand dollars!” I yelled.

Well, so much for not doing something stupid.

Grab Your Copy & Keep Reading!

About Heather:

Photo of Heather Novak
Bold, Breathtaking, Badass Romance.

When she's not pretending to be a rock star with purple hair, award-winning author Heather Novak is crafting sex positive romance novels to make you swoon! After her rare disease tried to kill her, Heather mutated into a superhero whose greatest power is writing romance that you can't put down.

Heather tries to save the world (like her late mama taught her) from her home in the coolest city in the world, Detroit, Michigan, where she lives with Mr. Heather and their hypoallergenic pets.


Connect with Heather:

April 1, 2019

2019 Writers For Hope Auction for RAINN

The annual Writers For Hope auction, which raises money for the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), is happening this week!

Writers For Hope logo with website

Over 100 donors have provided awesome auction items—from books to consultations to full manuscript critiques and even a weeklong getaway. There's definitely something for anyone who likes books! Check out all the auction items here.

Among the goodies up for grabs? A signed copy of Fallen and a tote bag

Fallen novel and tote bag featuring the cover

Bidding takes place all week, through 8:59pm Eastern Time on Friday. Watch out for any last-minute bids. 😉

This auction is such a great reminder of how well the literary community can come together for a fantastic cause. What will you bid on?? 💕

March 18, 2019

Keeping Up in a Virtually Social World

Nowadays, with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, personal blogs, and more, authors are expected to produce an endless stream of witty, useful, personal, and distinct content (not counting that whole writing books thing). But believe it or not, not all authors are inherently fascinating people.

The terror of the blank page has multiplied, tormenting introverted authors across social media platforms. 

The thing is, while I love genuinely connecting with readers, pretending I have a never-ending supply of something worth saying can be draining and intimidating—and not only for me. It doesn't help that many platforms are now actively hiding the things we do post.

Some authors, of course, actually are outgoing (or outgoing on social media) and have intriguing personalities. Or adorable pets. They set the bar impossibly high. So the rest of us, well, fake it. Or desperately try to do so, even though what we actually want is to return to a time when books spoke for themselves, and authors could legitimately retreat into relative obscurity, even as their work rose to unparalleled popularity. (Hey, a girl can dream, right?)

This pressure to be interesting is perpetuated by much of the advice that has circulated for years in author communities. And to that end, “fake it 'til you make it” used to seem like a pretty good motto. Projecting confidence does encourage others to assume you actually have something worth saying. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite help you figure out what to say—which can leave you writing about the impossibility of being interesting 100% of the time.

While writers can’t disappear entirely into our writing, I struggle to remember that I also don’t have to play the “keeping up” game. Yes, creating and maintaining a virtual presence is part of the job, but that presence needs to be a reflection of me, not of who marketing experts think I am supposed to be.

So I'm left hoping that despite not being an endlessly fascinating chatterbox, what my readers ultimately want is to connect with the real me. This is part of why I'm moving away from platforms like Facebook that have become pay to play—meaning if I don't pay, readers don't see my posts, even in my VIP reader group. I'm hoping Patreon will allow us to (re)connect in a more genuine way. As long as I can figure out what to say. 😉💕

February 25, 2019

Plagiarism, Ghostwriting, and the Business of Writing Fiction

Last week was a bit of a mess in the romance world. Monday, Courtney Milan—a well-respected author who also used to clerk for a Supreme Court Justice—posted about a startling revelation: her work had been plagiarized. As it turned out, the person involved had plagiarized work from dozens of romance authors, plus things like online recipes for good measure.

The situation blew up quickly as more and more instances of plagiarism were found within work bearing that name. You can read another quick summary from BookRiot here. Personally, I'm caught somewhere in between:
    Wondering just how stupid someone has to be to steal from huge names like Tessa Dare, Courtney Milan, Lisa Kleypas, and oh yeah, Nora Roberts. Seriously, if you're going to plagiarize, why would you choose such massive hitters? And lawyers? Many of the authors involved also have the weight of Big 5 publishers (and their legal teams);
    And feeling pretty hopeless at the financial success this person was able to achieve with stolen work, and likely other scammy practices.
But believe it or not, that's only the beginning. In "defense" of her plagiarism, the person publishing as Cristiane Serruya (who knows if this is a real name, a pen name, or a false persona for a publishing group) then blamed a ghostwriter. Ghostwriters then came forward claiming Serruya provided written chunks that they had to rework into a book. Presumably those chunks were the plagiarized pieces, but that's not actually the point of my post.

This "revelation" brought to the forefront another big conversation in the romance world. Thankfully we all (except the perpetrators) agree that plagiarism is wrong. What the fiction world can't agree on? How we should approach ghostwritten fiction. (Everyone seems to be on the same page that ghostwriting things like memoirs is fine. I'd personally still prefer it if those ghostwriters were at least acknowledged in the book somewhere, if not on the front cover.) Many authors took up a new rallying cry: I Write My Own Books. Sometimes, there's an expletive involved.

February 18, 2019

Summer Seduction Blurb & Cover Reveal!

If there's one thing that's constant in writing, it's that every story is different. Summer Seduction has more than proven that.

Not only did it start with a fairly detailed outline, but it also has a cover and a blurb ready before the draft is even finished. I know many other authors do it this way. Some start with a cover and write a full story based on that. Others start with a blurb and go from there. For me, this is a first—but as I said, in some way, every story seems to be.

Another first with Summer Seduction? Sharing the completely unedited, raw first draft as it's being written (start reading here!).

And now, the point of this post... What do you think of the cover and description??

About Summer Seduction :

    When Jeremy meets romance author Taralynn Harwood in a hotel bar, he’s glad just for the opportunity to buy her a drink. When she takes him back to her place and has him sign a non-disclosure agreement, his imagination—and libido—run wild. But after she kicks him out of bed, the blow to his ego forces him back to her, ready to just about beg for an opportunity to perform better. He’s willing and eager to learn the art of pleasure from one of the hottest romance authors in the business.
    Tracy doesn’t hide from her achievements as Taralynn Harwood, touted by readers and reviewers alike for the off-the-charts heat of her books. What she does hide is a secret that could destroy her entire career. But when her failed one-night stand shows up at her door—NDA already signed and enforceable—it seems like the perfect opportunity to indulge in a little research. All for the sake of her books, of course.

February 4, 2019

Celebrating 6 Years with a Huge Anniversary Giveaway!

6 years ago today, this blog was born. It has since gone through several different stages as I joined the writing community, explored various publication paths, and struggled in both my writing and non-writing lives. If you've been along for the ride, you know there have also been quite a few growing pains.

Still, 6 years is pretty amazing. They included Terri G Long's Flash Blogging challenge, numerous Flash Friday entries, a dive into Publishing Contracts, and so much more. In that time, I've indie published a poetry collection, a flash fiction collection, 3 novels, 2 novellas, and a short story. I've been part of anthologies, been published traditionally, and sorted through the mess of that publisher's reputation falling apart due to the reality behind the scenes. It's been a lot.

That also means there's plenty to celebrate. And as you know, my favorite way to celebrate is by giving away goodies!

Photo showing the prize pack components listed below

Prize Pack Includes:

Just in case folks have any problems finding the "follow" button on my Patreon page, I've outlined it in red below. Of course if you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments!

January 22, 2019

Getting Feedback Never Gets Easier

Readers' feedback is absolutely invaluable to the overall quality of a story. Receiving this feedback is inevitable if a writer is serious about creating a completed product, and considering this feedback—whether or not we ultimately choose to incorporate it into the work—does improve our writing, especially when the feedback includes criticisms and not only compliments.

Knowing this intellectually does not, unfortunately, change the trepidation we feel when giving our book to a reader for the first time, the anxiety we feel as we wait for a response, and the insecurity we feel when reading critiques and comments. I've written before about receiving reader feedback—from a friend!—for my first novel, Mending Heartstrings. Still now, 5 published books and uncounted critique rounds later, receiving reader notes hasn't gotten any easier.

The anxiety starts when I send the story off, but invariably gets so much worse when an email with notes pops into my inbox. What if the reader hated it? What if the work I thought was almost done actually needs months of more revising? Or worse, what if it's actually a worthless waste of time, storage space, and (occasionally) paper?

Keep Reading...

January 14, 2019

Something Special to Kick Off 2019!

At the end of last year, I kicked off my brand new Patreon page. It's been an interesting experiment thus far, and I'm excited to share a something special:
To thank my Patrons, each one will receive a limited-edition card in an exclusive design with a personal handwritten note!
Not a Patron yet? This applies to everyone who's a Patron as of midnight February 1st, at any level of support, so you can join now!

Check out the details here.  Become a Patron here. Or follow me on Patreon (no commitment!) so you don't miss out on future cool announcements! 💕

Not sure what this Patreon thing is all about? One cool thing I'm doing is sharing my new story, "Summer Seduction," exclusively there. Read the first part now!