#8Sunday- First Impressions

The fun part of writing a book is describing how characters see each other, especially if it’s for the first time. In A Heart Not Easily Broken, Ebony and Brian’s first encounter was in a night club beneath strobe lights, the ‘masks’ were on, and first impressions hard to see. A few days later they meet again and she gets to see the real him, no night lights, no masks….all real….And man, is she impressed!

Excerpt: 

His long torso, free of body fat, sported a light sprinkling of blond hair between his pecs.  His abdomen showed every cut of muscle I’d seen in high school biology textbooks. His abs were tight, his belly button nearly nonexistent.

Brian’s bronzed skin reminded me of a Greek statue, a testament of many hours spent working outside. His backward baseball cap hid the thick blond curls I’d seen at the club. The damp ringlets hung below its rim, accentuating his square facial structure and the shape of his nose. His blue eyes seemed to glow from deep within his skin.

Brian was unbelievably sexy.

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If you haven’t read the Amazon Bestseller, A Heart Not Easily Broken, buy your copy today! It’s $3.99 and available for Kindle, Nook, iTunes, and on Smashwords. If Paperback is what you prefer, find it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble! 

 A Heart Not Easily Broken Release Party!!!

M.J.Kane- Women’s Fiction/Interracial Romance/Contemporary Romance

Ebony is a smart, sexy, career-oriented black woman who wants nothing more than a summer fling with a man who challenges her mind and body. What she doesn’t expect is a blond-haired, blue-eyed bass player—who won’t take “no” for an answer—to accept the challenge.

When Ebony’s attempt at a brief fling turns into more, despite negative reactions from friends and family, she finds juggling love, family, and career are nothing compared to the ultimate betrayal she endures. Now her dreams spiral into lies and secrets that threaten her future and her best friend’s trust.

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For more information on The Butterfly Memoirs Series and a sample of the next book, Jaded, visit this link! 

Looking for more #8Sunday Samples? Visit this link! 

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!

MJ

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Independent Women – A Man’s Point of View

(This was originally posted on The Butterfly Memoirs Blog on 6/6/12)
A few weeks ago, I posted a blog about the various definitions
of the word independent, and asked for  women’s feedback. What Makes A Woman Independent? received a few interesting comments.

This week, I want to tackle  the subject from a different point of view.

What do men think of an independent woman?

As you know, the subject of the conversation blog posts on this site are direct reflections of the storyline and subject matter represented in the first novel of The Butterfly Memoirs, A Heart Not Easily Broken.  The heroine, Ebony Campbell, is an  independent, goal oriented black woman who knows what she wants.

Over the past seven years she focused on her education and reaching her career goal, not relationships. Her decision is about more than just her need to succeed. Past dating experiences are also a factor. She once dated a man who focused on his career as much as she did, and the relationship worked…until he tells her in order
for to move forward, she would need to give up her aspirations, forget her years of education, marry him, and stay home to have his kids. Needless to say, it was over.

Then, along comes Brian Young. Despite the difference in race, Ebony is drawn to him not only because he is goal oriented and has the same desire to succeed as she does; he’s supportive of what she wants to do in life. He never asks her to give up her job, quit school, or change to a career that is not time-consuming to make room for him. This mindset is the reason why Ebony falls in love with the man Brian is, and ignores their racial differences. The issues face when it comes to their families,or society in general, are inconsequential when finding the support she needs.

I had fun getting to know Brian as I developed his character. Not only is he good-looking, athletic, and an amazing musician, he’s a go-getter. When he decides what he wants, he lets nothing stand in his way.

That’s why when he meets Ebony and she brushes him off, he doesn’t take it personally. Instead, recognizing she is unlike most women he meets – the ones that faun over him because he’s in a band – he goes out of his way to get to know her. Her sassyness, willingness to work hard, the fact she has a plan to reach her dream, are more of a turn on for him than just how fine she is. His idea of a perfect woman is having a partner who will not only support him and his goals, she has her own. He’s tireless in providing Ebony the support she needs, be it verbally, financial, or just giving her some space.

I’ll let him tell you himself:

I listened to her go into detail about her daily work routine. Listening to her speak passionately about something she enjoyed made my day. Her enthusiasm reminded me of the way I felt about music. Women I’d dated before only talked about what they expected from me. It was refreshing to be with a woman with goals.

And my personal favorite:

When I met Ebony, sleeping with her was my initial goal, because hell, it had been impossible to ignore a body like hers. That night I was horny and in need of a release.  If she responded to the free drink, she would have been like any other woman: a quick lay with no strings attached.  But she didn’t.

The way she’d looked me up and down and questioned my intentions threw me way off my ordinary game and into uncharted territory. Up for a challenge, I grabbed hold and refused to let go. The more I got to know her, the more I fantasized and lusted…until now.

And somehow in-between all of this I did the unthinkable and introduced her to my life. My music. My family. Since when did I start introducing women I had only known for a month to my family? Family was sacred. You never brought an unknown element into the center of your life. A rotten influence could disturb the entire balance of what gave you peace in the world.

My slice of perfection. My slice of paradise.

My Eve.

I chuckled. My father described his relationship with my mother that way. And yeah, I confided in him that I thought I’d found ‘the one’. But I had no true idea what that ‘one’ was until now.

Never in my life had I ever been this satisfied after sex and yet still craved more. And the more wasn’t just about sex. I wanted her smile, her company. I wanted her to be just as important in my life as my guitar.

Anything Ebony wanted from me, she could have. My time. My money. My heart.

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Brian is not alone. I did a poll recently on Facebook and among the men in my life and asked which they would prefer:

  •    A woman who can take care of herself without being needy.
  •    No, I like being the one to take care of her
  •    I believe in teamwork. If we work together, we can achieve more and be happy.

The results came in as this:  Teamwork. Together we can achieve more and be happy.

Today’s way of life – and let’s face it, the economy – dictates, often demands, a woman wear more
than just the hat of wife, mother, and lover. Sometimes we have to take care of those things and assist our men in taking care of the house financially. It also means men are looking for more than just good looks. Finding a partner who is willing to dig into the trenches with them is one of the most important characteristics they are looking for.

Refreshing isn’t it? Though a good man is often hard to find, remember, he’s out there…somewhere, you just gotta keep looking.

On that note, I will end this blog with a music video that, in my opinion, adequately shows appreciation from a man to his hard working  woman. Enjoy! As always, please share your opinions!
 MJ
 

#8Sunday-A Heart Not Easily Broken- Healing

Sometimes you never know what you’ve been missing until it comes back to you…

Excerpt:

“God, Ebony… I love you.” He gripped me tighter and pushed up to give me everything he had.

When I came, there were tears in my eyes. He followed right behind me, his eyes focused on me.

This is what had been missing. My physical healing had been over long ago. Maybe now my emotional healing could begin.

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BUY your copy of this Amazon Bestseller for $3.99 today! For REVIEWS, SAMPLE CHAPTERS, and LINKS of all formats…all with just ONE-CLICK! 

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Does Your Family Choose Who You Love?

(This post was originally found on The Butterfly Memoirs blog, 4/12/12)

As much as we’d hate to admit it, family, in some way, influences the decisions we make, no matter how old we get.

As children, we look to our parents and other family members to guide us on the road to adulthood. How we dress, how we speak, what we think. Our beliefs influenced by experiences of those wise in their years. Why? Because as blank sheets, we have to learn how the world works.

Then we hit the dreaded teenage years. Our desire to become individuals, independent of those who taught us, and stand out from our peers emerges. What we now think, feel, and believe do not always coincide what we were taught. Our style of dress, word choices…our minds are now our own. Our personal experiences begin to break the mold of lessons learned.

But what about our beliefs? By beliefs, I’m not referring to religious ones, because everyone’s personal beliefs are their own. The beliefs I’m referring to are what determines who we fall in love with.

No matter where you go in the world, race – in some places more than others – is an issue. Who you decide to become friends with and whom you fall in love with is influenced by those closest to you. If the one your heart guided you to is not of the same race, the relationship may be frowned upon. Family, friends, and society as a whole, often feel they have the right to give you their opinions.

But what about your opinions? At what point do you put your foot down and go with your heart?

Nearly everywhere you look, families of mixed races can be found. The reactions to interracial relationships depends on where you live. The youth of today have learned to embrace the racial and cultural differences between them and their school mates. They look at the quality of a person and ignore skin color. I applaud this. What remains of prejudice comes from older people set in their ways, or from young ones who are still living under racist influence of those around them. When it comes to finding love, your heart should be your guide. Not family, not friends, not the people in the town you live in.

Family influence subject touched on in A Heart Not Easily Broken.

Ebony Campbell comes from a black family in North Carolina. Ebony’s parents are in their late 50’s and grew up when racial relations were tense. Their experiences taught them that races don’t mix when it comes to family. The constantly try to introduce her to every available black bachelor, which causes Ebony to be wary about getting involved with a man of any other race than her own.

Brian Young sees things differently. Growing up in southern California, he comes from a very liberal family. He was taught to see a person for who and what they are, no matter what race. When Brian meets Ebony, he is interested in who she is as a woman; the color of her skin only intrigues him. He has to work to break down the barrier Ebony sets up and convince her he has more to offer than just friendship. When their relationship progresses to more, Ebony must chose. Does she allow how her family feels about her dating a white man cause her to lose the happiness she has found?

Here’s this week’s question: Does your families’ opinions continue to affect the major decisions in your life? Where do you draw the line?

*** A Heart Not Easily Broken –  Book One of the Butterfly Memoirs, has been an AMAZON BESTSELLER  in: Multicultural Romance, African-American Literature & Fiction, African-American Romance, and African-American Women’s Fiction.***

 BUY your copy today! 

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop!

Thanks to Carol Fragale of 4 Broad Minds for tagging me for this honor! I have had the privilege and sharing blogs with her and several other talented Women’s Fiction authors on Goodreads.  So…let’s play!

Ten Questions About My Latest  WIP:

Autumn landscape1. What is the working title of your book? Jaded, Book Two of The Butterfly Memoirs (Currently in the hands of my editor.) Release date is March 7, 2013.

2. Where did the idea for the book come from? The story line is based on a secondary character in my first novel, A Heart Not Easily Broken, Yasmine Phillips, who is the best friend of the heroine, Ebony Campbell. Though the  novel focuses on Ebony, there are a few chapters where the reader is introduced to Yasmine to show where she is in her life. She’s ambitious, a hard worker, and full of self-confidence, especially when it comes to her relationships with men. She’s all about friends-with-benefit. During the course of the story, she winds up engaged to her main hook up. Everything seems to be working out until Ebony drops a bomb on her happy moment and she discovers her new fiance is not the man she thought he was. Jaded picks up two months later when we find Yasmine still reeling from the heart break of her engagement. Shes decided to give up on relationships of any kind and focus on finding herself.  She’s been working on a business  to start her own small business. Entrepreneurship is nothing new. She’s grown up watching her parents build and maintain their own business, a Bed and Breakfast chain of hotels, since she was in high school. Upon graduating collage, the chain expanded opening a second location. She’s managed the hotel for the past three years. During the course of the novel, Yasmine finds herself in a relationship that has her struggling to decide whether she is ready to open her heart up and give love another chance.

3. What is the genre of this book? Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction, Interracial Romance

4. Which actors would you choose to play the characters of the movie rendition? Oh, that’s easy! My male lead would be Columbus Short! He is exactly how I pictured Zachariah Givens while writing. For Yasmine, it would be a mix between Zoe Saldana or Megan Good.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? After heart break leaves Yasmine devastated, she must decide if fighting for love is worth the risk of  losing the woman she’s become.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency/publisher? I am Indie published through 5 Prince Publishing.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? I outlined the novel first, but from there it took 29 days to write my rough draft, complete with errors and no edits…about 85,000 words.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? I would have to say the first novel in the series, A Heart Not Easily Broken. I have worked hard to develop my own style of storytelling, so I can’t think of anyone to compare it to.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book? My stories are based on themes and ‘what if’ scenarios. Jaded deals with several themes: women as entrepreneurs, reaching your goals without the support of family, opening yourself up to love after heartbreak, friends-with-benefits relationships, dealing with sick family members, and knowing when to trust yourself to follow your heart.

10. What else about your book might pique the readers interest? If you’ve read A Heart Not Easily Broken and got to know Yasmine, the truth she learns at the novels end will have you wanting to know what happens to her. As I said before, one moment she’s in her happy place, then without warning her outlook on love will never be the same. You will want to know if and how Yasmine Phillips finds her Happily Ever After.

Whew! That wasn’t too bad!

The three authors I’d like to tag to introduce their Next Big Thing are: Nia Forrester, Candace Shaw, and Sharon C. Cooper!  Enjoy!

MJ

1st Person, 3rd Person, Omnipotent…Which One Are You?- Part 2

A few weeks ago, I shared information and examples of the three popular forms of point of view writing. If you missed it, follow this link.  
How do you know which one is best for you?
Over a year ago, when my writing journey began, my writing was all over the place as I tried to decide what POV to use. Nearly every author I read wrote in 3rd person. Some broke down each characters actions and thoughts by separating their voices with the use of chapter breaks. Others used scene breaks. Some did neither and head hopped.
 As a reader, none of the differences in their writing styles bothered me. As long as the story was good, and I was able to decipher the differences in character, I was pleased.
As a writer, I see things differently. 
Most writers, when starting out, strive to emulate the writing style of our favorite authors. Nora Roberts was my first introduction into reading romance, so I wrote the way she wrote.  What came out was what I thought of as a seamless flow of character(s), all thoughts and emotion in a scene. In other words, telling the story from the POV of all characters involved in the scene. There were no chapter breaks. There was no defining moment of a character POV changed. The scene progressed with the POV of all major characters involved.
The first book I read that used the 1st person POV was, don’t laugh, Twilight. I enjoyed getting deeper into the characters mind and seeing the story told from the way Bella saw it. Yes, it was biased and no one else’s personal opinions were understood beyond what she felt or imagined them to be, but after years of head hopping, it was refreshing. My favorite book in the series is Breaking Dawn where we were introduced to Jacob’s POV when Bella was unable to speak. Talk about exciting! ‘Hearing’ his crazy thoughts and not just being told by Bella what his actions were, we got to got to know his goals, motivations, and inner conflicts. Too bad we never got to see the same happen with Edward!
(I have no examples to offer when it comes to Omnipotent works because I can’t think of one, though I am sure over the years I have read a few. If I’m not mistaken, this form of writing is typically found in English literature. My understanding is that it is not a popular style chosen by authors today. I could be wrong, so forgive me if I am. )
It wasn’t until I attended a writer’s workshop that I truly learned how do decide what POV works for me. The instructor said this: take a scene, write it in 3rd person, then write it in 1st person. Read it aloud. How does it sound? Does if flow smoothly, does it sound rushed? Can you, the writer, identify with the character, does the voice sound natural?Which one do you feel the most comfortable writing? 
For me, it was 1st person.
Writing in 1st person allows me to experience my characters emotions and thoughts as if they were my own. With 3rd person, I feel as if I’m on the outside looking in, as if there’s a glass door allowing me to peer into my characters without knowing how they truly feel. My writing style allows me to step into the character’s skin, their clothes, and their lives. I feel their emotions as if they were my own. I taste, hear, see, smell what they experience. I become them to the point that when the scene I’m writing is a happy one, I am happy. If they are in pain or sad, I cry, literally, right along with them. At times I am so wrapped up in my writing voice that my family will walk by and as if everything is okay. It is then that I know I’ve truly channeled my characters voice. I never connected with my characters that way when using 3rd person. (can anyone say straight jacket? lol) 
I have heard many say 1st person writing should be for YA novels, not adult fiction, and definitely not romance. Why? Because 1st person stories are told from just one characters POV. If the plot is not entertaining and the supporting characters strong enough to interact with the leading character, readers can get bored, quick. My hat goes off to Janet Evanovich who seems to have mastered the single 1stperson narrative. Her Stephanie Plumb novels are highly entertaining, and her characters easy to fall in love with. The entire series is told by Stephanie Plumb alone. Her witty remarks, quick wit, mixed with the colorful cast make reading her latest exploits something to look forward too.
I found my writing style by taking the best of all my favorite authors and developing my own style of writing 1st person.
The goal of my stories is to show the depth of the heroine and the hero’s evolution as they progress through the novel. There’s no head hopping. There’s no confusion as to who’s speaking, or what they really feel. I use chapter breaks, not scene breaks to separate the two. And occasionally, when story calls for it, I introduce a third person’s viewpoint to break it up a little, but not just for the fun of it. Each character is planned and serves a purpose. My goal is that the reader is well aware of everything each of the characters have experienced throughout, good, bad, and the oh so fun in-between.
How does the publishing industry feel about the use of the various POV’s? Each genre is different, but since I write romance, I can tell you this: it’s frowned upon. During my querying process, I had an agent, who loved the story, tell me there were a few things she wanted me to change, but the biggest was switching from 1st person, to 3rdperson. Her reason, the Big Six wouldn’t take an IR/Contemporary Romance/Women’s Fiction story unless it was written in 3rd Person.
Wasn’t. About. To. Happen. 
The Butterfly Memoirs are about the character’s personal experiences as told by them, like a memoir. The definition of a memoir is: an account of one’s personal life and experiences; autobiography. It would not be the same written as 3rdPerson.
 Thin about it, do you write your diary in 3rd person?
I didn’t let that stop me. (By the way, a year later, as I prepared to query my manuscript, I sent it to the instructor whose writing class I took. She’s an author as well as an agent. After reviewing it, her comments were about technical issues. Never once did she say it should be changed to 3rd person).
The best advice I can give when deciding which POV to use when telling tell your story is this: learn the rules and use them. Discover which ones you can bend and bend them. Experience writing the scene from each point of view and decide which one sounds the best. Which one allowed you to channel your character the most? Then, tell the story the way you want it to be told. If it’s a little outside the box because you don’t want it to be the norm, go for it. Believe me, there are readers out there who feel the same way and will be happy to see support you.
My novel, A Heart Not Easily Broken, will be available September 20th. If you haven’t yet, read the first chapter. After that, grab a copy and see how the use of 1st person has worked for me!
Until the next time, Happy Writing!
MJ

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1st Person, 3rd Person, Omnipotent…Which One Are You?- Part 1

Deciding on the correct Point of View (POV) for your manuscript can be tricky.
One of the best analogies I’ve heard refereed to POV as the ‘camera’ in motion that shows the reader what is going on.

Who’s camera will you use?    

Do you stick with the traditional one person  POV and use the hero or heroine’s eyes? Do you allow more than one character to tell the story and see it from multiple angles? Or do you take on the role of narrator and tell the story from a distance allowing the reader to be privy to events the characters are unaware off?

And when you decide which character(s) have the spotlight, is their voice in 1st person, 3rd person, or omnipotent?
What are the definitions of each POV?

To learn more about each POV, visit the links to read more on About.com, Fiction Writing.

This point of view is from one character which serves as the narrator. Use of the words “I” or “we” distinguish this voice. It allows the readers to “see” and “feel” what this character sees and feels because you’re in that character’s head. 
This point of view allows for more than one character to tell the story. This is the most common form used in writing. Use of the words “he” or “she” distinguish this voice.
This point of view has a god-like quality because the narrator has knowledge of the thoughts and feelings of all the characters in a story.  It can become confusing since at anytime the reader can find themselves in the  POV of any character in the scene. If used, each individual voice should have separate scenes to avoid confusion.  Use of the words “he” or “she” are still used. 
Choosing which POV you use will change the voice of your characters and determine your writing style. My personal preference is to write in 1st person. I chose that POV for the voice of my characters for two reasons. First, my series is titled, The Butterfly Memoirs, which symbolizes the evolution of the characters as the book progresses. Since it is their story, or memoir, I wanted their voice to be clearly heard during the course of the events. My original manuscript was written in 3rd, but I found it impossible to portray thoughts and emotions to the depth I wanted without using the words “I” and “me”.
As an example of the differences in the POV voices, I will demonstrate with the opening lines of A Heart Not Easily Broken:  

In 3rd person: 

“This is the last time I wear this dress.” Ebony Campbell stated, a hint of irritation in her voice.
“Oh, please,” Yasmine, her best friend and roommate, leaned over and yelled.
The music pounding out of the nightclub’s speakers made it nearly impossible to hear her.
“Stop fidgeting. You look uncomfortable,” Yasmine added, winking at the bartender who handed them their drinks.
No matter how many times Ebony adjusted the hem of her dress, it was impossible to ignore the warm air tickling the backs of her thighs as people pushed past her in the crowded bar. It would take more fabric to keep her shapely derriere from involuntary exposure.

That was a simple change of pronouns: “I” to “Ebony”, and “me” to “her”, with a few additional action tags. I am so used to writing from ‘inside’ of the characters head that I had to change my mindset to make it work!

Now, here’s the same scene in Omnipotent:

“This is the last time I wear this dress.” Ebony Campbell said. Her irritation was evident in her voice.
“Oh, please, Ebony,” Yasmine, who was her best friend and roommate, had to lean over and yell.
The music pounding out of the nightclub’s speakers made it nearly impossible for them to hear each another.
“Stop fidgeting. You look uncomfortable,” Yasmine winked at the bartender who handed them their drinks. She really wished her friend would shut up and get with the program. 
No matter how many times Ebony adjusted the hem of her dress, knowing she would never be able to ignore the warm air tickling the backs of her thighs as people pushed past her in the crowded bar. She knew it would take more fabric to keep her shapely derriere from involuntary exposure.
I’ll be the first to admit that this point of view can be confusing! What was the difference? The use of pronouns was the same, “she”, “they”, except now the ‘voice’ is not just from Ebony’s POV. Yasmine’s thoughts/action would only be mentioned as an observation by Ebony if it was written in 1st or 3rd person. The POV character of the scene (Ebony) would have no clue that Yasmine was irritated by her comments…unless this was paranormal then she could be psychic and read her mind…..see what I mean? Confusing! 

Now here is the exact same scene in 1st person:

“This is the last time I wear this dress.” (No action tag needed. Her voice automatically tells you her mood)
“Oh, please, Ebony,” Yasmine, my best friend and roommate, yelled in my ear.
The music pounding out of the nightclub’s speakers made it nearly impossible to hear her.
“Stop fidgeting. You look uncomfortable,” she added, winking at the bartender who handed us our drinks.
No matter how many times adjusted the hem of my dress, it was impossible to ignore the warm air tickling the backs of my thighs as people pushed past me in the crowded bar. It would take more fabric to keep my shapely derriere from involuntary exposure.



Can you see the difference? None of the POV’s were better than the other, it’s all in how you want to tell the story and what voice you give your characters. 

How do you know which one is best for you? How does the publishing industry view writing in those POV’s?

Be on the look out for part two of the series where I will share a few more facts about the difference in point of view!

MJ

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