Thursday, April 25, 2013

Love this Hero

I've fallen in love with the hero of my book. There's something about Winston Harper that does it for me. Maybe it's because he's got a gorgeous bod. He's a professional swimmer, but he's hiding a wounded soul. Despite his woundedness, he's able to find the woman he loves and eventually, after much turmoil, give his heart to her.

I don't know why, but I love heroes that are flawed. They're not a perfect male who does everything right all the time, has everything together, and is super-successful no matter what. Winston Harper is successful outwardly, but what drives his all-consuming ambition is pain. It makes me wonder about sports people. What drives them? I'm sure for many of them it's just the passion for the game and for what they love doing. But are some of them driven by something much deeper than that?

In my first published novel, Wedding Gown Girl, Kienna helps Elaine dress beautifully for a wedding in one of her bridesmaids dresses. Even though Elaine has her sights on the same man that Kienna does, they become fast friends. My novel is Elaine's story. (And it even features Kienna.) It's the second book in the Wedding Girls Series. Elaine bakes wedding cakes.

She's sworn off dating athletes. She knows them as her brother is a professional swimmer too. So when Win enters into her life, she's surprised by how much she wants him. But Win doesn't want a relationship. He's focused on entering the London 2012 Olympics for South Africa. A relationship would just distract him. He has to win a medal, no matter what. His whole future depends on it. But Elaine is too good to resist.

I received a contract with Astraea Press for Three Tiers for Win today and can't wait for this book to come out. It truly was one of the funnest books to write.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

My Decadent Journey So Far

Today, I'm sharing a part of my writing journey experienced with Decadence Publishing. I write sweet, contemporary romance, usually set in my home country, South Africa.

When I received my contract with Decadence for the Ubuntu line, I was over the moon. I somehow sensed that their authors were quality authors and felt privileged to be a part of their group. That instinct has proven true since I've joined their group and seen their work and blogs! I loved the efficient way my submission and contract was handled. I wasn't left in the dark at all.

What a privilege to have my third book being chosen for their new line, the Ubuntu Line, which is centred on Africa. I love setting my books in my own continent. Africa has been my only home. I hope the world will discover some of its mysteries and beauties through my book. And I would love to write more books for the Ubuntu line.

How can I describe how wonderful the editing process has been so far? Zee Monodee has done something to my book and brought it to another level. Her editing skills are masterful. No error seems to pass her by. Every little detail is worked on and improved. All this is done without belittling or dragging down my writer self. Instead, she adds the personal touch, easing the stress of the editing process. My writing has improved with her advice. I have insight that's going to carry me further in my writing career. I still haven't entered into the next editing phase and look forward to the lessons I will learn there too.

What I appreciate about Decadence is being able to belong to their yahoo group of authors. It's the best way to keep abreast of what's happening amongst the authors and managers at Decadence. Makes one feel part of a huge, very efficient team. I have to admit that sometimes I feel overwhelmed with promo. This group is teaching this wide-eyed girl one step at a time how to take it to another level. I've loved entering into the other authors' worlds by reading their blogs. I haven't experienced such networking with a publishing company before and it makes this author who sometimes feels cut off on the other end of the world, feel a part of the group.

My book, Dragonfly Moments, which should be released some time in the middle of the year, was great fun to write. The book was one of the first romances I wrote several years ago. That version looks very different to what it looks like now. I picked up the book again about a year ago and rewrote it after all that I'd learned. I changed almost the whole book but the core trope was the same - an old flame coming back into the heroine's life when she's quite settled with things the way they are.

Two beta readers helped me with the book and then I heard about the Ubuntu Line through our Romance Writers of South Africa Group. Dragonfly Moments seemed perfect for it, so I sent it off. When I received a letter saying I could resend it with revisions, hope blossomed. The revisions seemed workable and I made them straight away.

To be honest, I didn't expect to receive the contract after that. It took me totally by surprise. When I did, I knew good things were going to happen.

Tessa looks stunning on the cover - just as arty and unique as I wanted her to. The colours are rich, mysterious and African. Don't you love the glittery design next to her eye? At first you don't notice but it's the perfect little touch to show Tessa's arty, funky side which she allowed life to suppress until Ryan brought it out again.

If you're keen on reading other Decadent Publishing authors' journeys, go to this link: Other Decadent Authors' Journeys

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Bridesmaids Dresses

In "Wedding Gown Girl," Kienna works at a bridal boutique. She loves finding the perfect dress for her clients at work every day but secretly designs gowns at home by night. Not bridal gowns but bridesmaids dresses.

The bridesmaid dress causes conflicting emotions in many. Some ladies have been forced to wear a dreadful or distasteful gown to please the bride, others have had the opportunity to look beautiful for a day. Nowadays, most bridesmaids pay for their own dresses, but they often receive gifts from the bride. There is a saying, "three times a bridesmaid, never a bride." Laughable, but I suppose no one wants to continue being the less important woman in the bridal party forever.

The history of bridesmaids dresses goes back far and is immensely fascinating. Nowadays, bridesmaids are there to assist the bride - carry her bouquet, check that her make-up and hair is neat, help with some wedding arrangements before and on the day and generally ensure her happiness. Especially, the maid of honor who is usually a close friend or older bridesmaid or sister. If she is married, she is the "matron of honor." One of the modern bridesmaid's most important duties is to organise a bridal shower or bachelorette party. These can range from wild drinking parties with male strippers to tame teas with kitchen tea gifts given to the bride. (I was subjected to wearing this outfit of sponges, scourers and pigtails, blindfolded and made to guess what was in the gift and if I guessed wrong, had to drink this strange concoction of mello-yellow and chocolate logs.)

In ancient times, bridesmaids dressed similar to the bride and would accompany her on the way to the groom's village, fending off other suitors from kidnapping her or stealing her dowry. In Roman law, they copied the bride's dress to confuse evil spirits to who the bride was. That was where the bridesmaid originated from.

One of my favourite channels to watch is TLC. Sounds boring, not like those gripping thrillers or sensual sensational series that people stay up late watching. I enjoy watching what people wear. Wedding Gown Girl was inspired by "Say Yes to the Dress" on TLC. The TLC channel has a website. They advise against ten colors for a bridesmaid dress. The colors are salmon, gold, silver, yoda green, bright orange, barney-purple, turquoise blue, neon and banana yellow. Check here for the full article: TLC Channel. The article describes these colors in a much more humorous way than I did.

Bridesmaids dresses vary as much as wedding dresses. There are some gorgeous creations with short, flared skirts, sweetheart necklines and long elegant skirts with high slits to show off a sexy leg. You could go simple and elegant or bold and embellished. The 2013 trend seems to be short, soft skirts, ruched bodice or waistline and sweetheart neckline. A satiny, simple look is in.

I'm curious to know what bridesmaids dresses my blog readers have worn. I was a bridesmaid twice before marrying. My first dress was a mint green with puffed sleeves for my step-sister's wedding - it was the early '90s. The second was a navy dress with puffed sleeves too - it was also the '90s. I enjoyed being a bridesmaid and felt particularly beautiful in the navy dress. I tried it on a couple of years ago, knowing it wouldn't fit but just hoping. I couldn't even get it past my thighs.

Here is a pic of my bridesmaids at my wedding. Maroon is my favourite colour. Doesn't it look striking with their dark brown hair? Ladies, I hope you don't mind me using your pic. You both looked lovely.

I'm giving away a PDF copy of "Wedding Gown Girl" to any commentor on this blog. Please put in your email address as follows: joeblog(at)webmail(dot)com.