Billionaire's Matchmaker, an Anthology
by Shirley Jump, Susan Meier, Jackie Braun and Barbara Wallace
Driving Mr. Wrong Home by Shirley Jump: When a handsome man from Gabby’s past agrees to a cross-country road trip, her master plan to re-launch her art career quickly morphs into an unexpected, romantic reunion.
The Sheriff’s Secret by Susan Meier: Marney’s 9-1-1 emergency help arrives in the form of a rugged, blue-eyed cop. Now she has the perfect bodyguard to keep her safe during those dark, steamy nights…
Love Unleashed by Jackie Braun: The last thing Mia wants is a relationship…yet the headstrong florist can’t keep her hands off her sexy-as-sin ex-boyfriend. Will she open her heart before he leaves town for good?
Love in the Shadows by Barbara Wallace: Jenny is a woman on a mission – she’ll even resort to dognapping to make her point! But can she teach a reclusive, emotionally-wounded tycoon that love heals all thing?
Excerpt from Love Unleashed by Jackie Braun in The Billionaire’s Matchmaker anthology
Marney leaned down and patted Charlie’s head. “Bye, boy. Don’t let her do anything I wouldn’t do.” He let out a soft yip, almost as if he understood.
Mia, however, wasn’t sure she did. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing. Be good.” Marney pointed a finger at the dog. “Charlie’s going to be on his best behavior for me. Aren’t you?” Mia said.
Was it her imagination or did the little dog wink?
“You just keep telling yourself that. Well, I’d love to stay and chat, but I have to run.” Marney was halfway out the open front door when she called over her shoulder, “Oh, by the way, Charlie has a checkup with the vet at five-thirty today. Don’t be late.”
The door closed on Mia’s shocked expression. By the time she made it to the porch, Marney was already in her car driving away. Tires actually squealed. Mia scowled. The only veterinarian
in Chandler’s Cove was Gideon Roth, hence Marney’s speedy getaway.
Gideon was a prime specimen of a man with a muscular build, thick sandy hair, rich brown eyes that could undress a woman with a glance, and a mouth that could turn her most wanton fantasies
into reality. Mia knew all of this firsthand.
Gideon Roth was her ex-boyfriend.
She’d broken up with him six months earlier. Marney and Gabby, as well as Jenny Travolini—the other woman who formed their close quartet of friends—had been surprised. And no wonder. Gideon was a prize. Not only gorgeous and gainfully employed, but smart, funny, and abundantly decent.
Mia’s reason for dumping him? He’d said, “I love you.”
Three little words that most women longed to hear. Not Mia. Especially when Gid had gotten down on one knee on Christmas Day and backed them up with a diamond engagement ring large enough to have its own ZIP code.
Panic had bubbled up, burning her like lava. God help her, for one foolish moment, hope had as well—a geyser’s worth of it had shot up and then rained down on the old, painful memories. But
nothing could wash away the past, which was why Mia had come to her senses.
Why did Gid have to go and ruin a really good thing with a declaration of love and a proposal of marriage?
Mia trusted neither.
HOW TO BEGIN A BOOK WITH A BAM!
Those of you who are participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this month might be struggling with creating a strong opening for your novel. I know how challenging that can be, so I sat down and analyzed how I, and other authors, do it so well.
On the Food Network, there are a few stars that stand out, whose cooking methods have created buzz all over the country because they have a powerful delivery. My favorite of all of the chefs used to be Emeril Lagasse and his signature “Bam!”
Books that are memorable, that stand out in your memory, also have Bam. They start with a bang, drawing you in and keeping you there, page after page.
You may look at those books and wonder how the author did that, how she got all that power into one little opening. There are a few tricks to the trade to create a powerful opening, as follows:
- START WHERE THE TROUBLE STARTS: After judging dozens of contests over the years, the number-one mistake I see new writers making is starting off too slow. They ease into the book--and end up leaving the reader wondering when it’s going to get interesting. They often feel they need to pump in all this back story, so the reader will “know” the character. The point of a book is for the reader to GET TO KNOW the character, as the person’s layers are peeled back one at a time. Don’t start with all that blah-blah about the character’s background. Start with the trouble, the inciting incident that gets the character smack into something new--something life changing.
- START OUT ACTIVE: If you can, try to avoid using passive phrases in your opening lines. Sometimes, they can’t be avoided, but by and large, if you want a powerful, active opening, you need to use powerful, active words. “She was tired” isn’t nearly as powerful as “Jane Doe took the last step she had in her, then collapsed.”
- GIVE THE READER A LITTLE LIGHT: Often, the lesson of not inserting back story into the beginning of a book is taken too literally and writers put absolutely zero back story in, leaving the reader with too many questions. What happens is that the characters are two-dimensional because they lack the element that gives them life--a past. You want to HINT at the back story, not lay it all out in twenty-five paragraphs of narrative. Give us a tease, a reason to keep turning the pages to put more of the puzzle together.
- SET THE TONE: What kind of book are you writing? A comedy? A drama? A thriller? Whatever you are writing, that tone should be set from page one. If you’re writing funny, start out funny. If you’re writing a thriller, start out scary. There’s a book by Bill Johnson called “A Story is a Promise.” The basic premise of that book is that your novel is a promise to the reader. What the reader sees on the opening pages should be indicative of the book’s overall tone. Don’t start out funny and then have a serial killer come in and wipe out all your characters in a grisly scene. Make a promise--and stick to it.
- GIVE US A REASON TO CARE: In one of my earlier columns, I wrote about characters that readers care about. Readers latch onto characters. If you want your reader to form an attachment to your character, give them likeable tendencies. They should be flawed human beings whose stories you can relate to. Look at “Lost,” the hit ABC series that ran for many seasons and created a whole subculture of followers. In each episode, the writers focused on one of the characters, peeling back a little more of their story. You cared about everyone, even Sawyer, because you had seen them cry, mourn, celebrate and struggle over their lives. They were relatable people with strengths and vulnerabilities.
- LOOK AT GOOD EXAMPLES: Pick up five books (or more) that grabbed you from the beginning and look at the first paragraphs. The first lines. The first five pages. What did the author do in those pages that hooked your attention? Most importantly, what was their opening line? Most authors I know struggle with that opening line, revising it a hundred times before they are happy. It is, after all, the most important line, the one readers look at when they are skimming a book, deciding to buy it. Agent Evan Fogleman once told a group of writers that he knows within three lines if this is a book he wants to see more of or not. After judging a lot of opening chapter contests, I agree with him. I can often tell within a few lines if the author has what it takes. Does that mean that if you don’t have powerful opening lines in your work today you can’t write great opening lines? Absolutely not. Writing powerfully CAN be learned. If you have good basic storytelling skills, all the rest is honing your technique. Think of it in terms of coaching athletes. Many have wonderful raw, natural talent, but they need to have that talent honed and cultivated to fit the dynamics of the team, the game, and the coach. They are taught to use their strengths and improve on their weaknesses.
Writing a powerful opening creates a story that literally comes to life. Whether you are writing novels or articles, powerful openings will make the difference between your piece being read--or being pushed aside for another. Learn to grab your reader from the start with a little Bam! and you’ll be holding his attention for pages to come.
AUTHOR Bios and Links:
ABOUT SHIRLEY JUMP
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shirley Jump spends her days writing romance and women’s fiction to feed her shoe addiction and avoid cleaning the toilets. She cleverly finds writing time by feeding her kids junk food, allowing them to dress in the clothes they find on the floor and encouraging the dogs to double as vacuum cleaners. Look for her Sweet and Savory Romance series, including the USA Today bestselling book, THE BRIDE WORE CHOCOLATE, on Amazon and Nook, and the debut of her Sweetheart Club series for Berkley, starting with THE SWEETHEART BARGAIN in September 2013. Visit her website at www.shirleyjump.com or read recipes and life adventures at www.shirleyjump.blogspot.com.
BOOK TITLE: “Driving Mr. Wrong Home” in THE BILLIONAIRE’S MATCHMAKER, Indulgence
About Jackie Braun
Jackie Braun is the author of more than 30 contemporary romance novels. She is a three-time RITA Award finalist, a four-time National Readers’ Choice Award finalist and was nominated for Series Storyteller of the Year by RT Book Club in 2008. She lives in Michigan with her husband, their two sons and a former shelter dog named Pip.
Anthology name and my title: The Billionaire’s Matchmaker/Love Unleashed.
Blogging 2 Tuesdays each month on The Chocolate Box: www.chocolateboxwriters.com
About Susan Meier
In 2013 Susan Meier lived one of her career-long dreams. Her book, THE TYCOON’S SECRET DAUGHER was a finalist for RWA’s highest honor, the Rita! The same year NANNY FOR THE MILLIONAIRE’S TWINS was a Book Buyer’s Best Award finalist and National Reader’s Choice finalist.
Susan is the author of over 50 books for Harlequin and Silhouette, Entangled Indulgence and one of Guideposts' Grace Chapel Inn series books, THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS.
One of eleven kids, Susan never lacks for entertainment or amusement from her over thirty nieces and nephews. Her family’s Wednesday Morning Breakfasts are the highlight of her summer. And with lots of her nieces and nephews now in their twenties, wedding season is in full swing!
Susan lives in west central Pennsylvania with her husband, son and two crazy cats.
THE SHERIFF’S SECRET in the THE BILLIONAIRE’S MATCHMAKER anthology for Entangled Indulgence
Connect with Susan at
About Barbara Wallace
Barbara Wallace has been a life-long romantic and daydreamer so it’s not surprising she decided to become a writer at age eight. However, it wasn’t until a co-worker handed her a romance novel that she knew where her stories belonged. Her first Harlequin Romance debuted in November 2010.
Barbara loves writing sweet, smart, ‘it-could-happen-to-you’ style romances. She lives in Massachusetts with her other loves – her husband, their teenage son, and three very spoiled pets (as if there could be any other kind). She also loves hearing from readers.
You can find her at her website (www.barbarawallace.com), on Twitter (@BarbaraTWallace) and on Facebook.
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