About Rachelle Ayala

Rachelle Ayala is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance and romantic suspense. Her foremost goal is to take readers on a shared emotional journey with her characters as they grow and become more true to themselves. Rachelle believes in the power of love to overcome obstacles and feels that everyone should find love as often as possible, especially if it's within the pages of a book. Her book, Knowing Vera, won the 2015 Angie Ovation Award, A Father for Christmas garnered a 2015 Readers’ Favorite Gold Award, Christmas Stray received a 2016 Readers' Favorite Gold Award, and Playing for the Save got the 2017 Readers' Favorite Gold Award in Realistic Fiction. She is also a writing teacher and founder of the Romance In A Month writing community. She lives in California with her husband and has three children and two birds.

The Magical Balm of Friendship #RachelleAyala @mimisgang1 #mgtab

Photo by Matheus Ferrero: https://www.pexels.com/photo/four-men-sitting-on-ground-1974927/

Why do we like friendship fiction so much?

Think about it. What would your favorite story be like if the hero or heroine had no friends? Think about Frodo without Samwise Gamgee, or Harry without Ron and Hermione. I’m betting your favorite romances have at least one friend character, either the hero’s or the heroine’s or one of each. I like to write romances with a friendship group, such as the Bumblebees in my Bad Boys for Hire series or the Girl Crew in my Not Mine romantic comedy series.

Having friends is one of the most basic joys of being human. A friend is someone who wants to be with you because he likes you and enjoys spending time with you. It’s a voluntary association and it makes you feel special and recognized. Friends help you celebrate the good times in your life as well as support you through the bad times. They provide you with social cues and help you understand yourself, and of course, they give you a chance to care about them too. They also reveal things about your personality, either directly through feedback and counsel or indirectly as a foil or contrast or comparison of how they would have handled a situation.

Having a group of friends provides even more feedback. The love and caring as well as fun times and sometimes, friction, bring out the best in group dynamics. That’s why books and TV shows about friendship groups are so popular. We enjoy the drama, the loving, the hijinks, and even the support during sad times. When we read about friends and relationships, we learn how to relate to other people and we can vicariously feel the love and emotion, as well as taste the strife that sometimes breaks up a friendship. Of course, we root for the characters, individually and as a group, and when they are back in harmony and celebrating, we get to go along and party with them too.

These are some of the reasons I enjoy friendship fiction. It invites me into the group as a participating member and also allows me to hone my friendship skills by experiencing the drama and angst the characters go through. Do you enjoy friendship fiction? If so, please check out my Bad Boys for Hire series, where my group of Bumblebees met in preschool dance class. They’re all grown up now and still dancing together, and as each one of them finds their bad boy, the others are there to support them and celebrate and give advice. The boys become friends too, but only after meeting the girls. Check out all seven Bad Boys for Hire.

Bad Boys for Hire: Complete Collection

The ENFP Writer by #RachelleAyala @mimisgang1 #mgtab

Photo by Elle Hughes: https://www.pexels.com/photo/two-women-sitting-on-white-bench-1549280/

You’ve heard it said many times that writers are mostly introverts. They like to spend long hours alone in their writing garret with imaginary characters. Going out in the real world distracts them from their careful plotting and woe to any writer who shows his first draft to anyone else. I’ve tried all the rules and advice. Wrote out plot points. Tried to generate an outline and didn’t get farther than “Setup.” I read books on planning and scheduling. Tried many “methods” including Save the Cat, and Lisa Cron’s Story Genius among others, and have purchased video courses from Rob Parnell and David Farland to name a few. I also tried marketing courses and hoarded more training courses than I could afford but I’ve finally given up and thrown up my hands at all of the scheduling, planning, word-counting, and results tracking that all these experts say would make me a star author.

It wasn’t until I took a test at 16personalities.com that I realized why I didn’t fit in with most writers and the planning and tracking required to be a successful self-published author. You know, the ones who stick to a single genre, create a brand, do meticulous accounting on ad efficiency and sales metrics, plot their stories and stick to it, as well as sit down and write a certain number of words a day. I tried it all. Getting up early. Sprints. Timers. Martha Alderson’s plot planners, and Jami Gold’s beat sheets. Nothing worked for me because I am an ENFP personality type, which is extroverted, intuitive, feeling, and perceptive, better known as scatter-brained golden retriever who forgets about the ball she was running after when she spots a squirrel.

Here are some signs you might be an ENFP writer:

  • The complete inability to plot or even create an outline.
  • Jotting down plot points but when you go to write them, none of it pans out.
  • Going down the rabbit trail in the opposite direction you thought five minutes ago.
  • Letting your characters go off the rails to do their own thing.
  • Giving your rough drafts to friends or readers even though things might change.
  • No set writing schedule. Taking dares like starting a story for a boxed set that’s due in fifteen days.
  • Many unfinished story ideas littering your hard drive. There’s always that new, shiny thing.
  • Unable to stick to a single genre or sub-genre. Writing hot, steamy dark romance in one book while another one is clean and wholesome small town.
  • Mixing genres and adding ghosts, magic, violence, kidnappers, or Bible verses when the inspiration strikes.
  • Don’t even know who the real villain is as you’re writing. The reader is as surprised as the writer.
  • Have zero marketing plan as books, book covers, genres, blurbs, steam levels, and subject matter jump all over the map. Don’t want to miss out on anything.
  • Many series starters with one or two books. Takes forever to extend a series. Takes on too much.

Do these things sound positive or negative to you? To an ENFP writer, it is just the way it is without any value judgment. There aren’t many of us but if you’re an ENFP reader you just might like the surprises we have in store for you.

My latest book, Six Weddings and a Date, was as unplanned as an unintended pregnancy could be. As I finished Nick’s Christmas Ride, I got the urge to marry off six of my Christmas Creek couples. Having their ghostly relatives around would be fun, and everyone could use a big reunion. But, but, I was supposed to work on a creepy romantic suspense for the next Author’s Billboard boxed set. I can’t squeeze in a sequel, or could I?

I bit off more than I could chew and ran with the story. Holly Jolly was asked by every bride to decorate for their wedding but her reluctant groom, Gordon Gills, has never shown any interest in any of the bridal magazines she left lying around. Since ghostly helpers are always fun, I brought back Miss Marney Gills as well as Holly’s grandmother Ruby Colada Jolly. My own granddaughter [almost two] visited in November and treated me to an up-close interaction with a two-year-old. What happens as Ruby takes on human form to help her baby grandy get her greatest desire? Be sure to watch for the scene where Holly and her grandmother surprise Gordon with a tantrum and a nose wipe.

Six Weddings and a Date releases December 15 (tomorrow) on Amazon and will be available with Kindle Unlimited. I hope you enjoy the touch of the unexpected in your holiday reading.

Six Weddings and a Date, A Christmas Creek Romance #11

This story is fiction book #80 for me, which is quite amazing since ENFPs have a hard time finishing a project. My motivation to finish is to find out how the story ends, because until I’ve written the words, “The End,” and sometimes, even afterwards, I don’t know what actually happens to my characters. Publishing sets it in stone, and that’s what motivates me to finish.

Thanks for reading! What is your Myers Briggs Personality type? You can find out easily and for free at https://www.16personalities.com/personality-types. Email me on my website and let me know what you think. https://rachelleayala.net

Why I’m a Christmas Junkie by Rachelle Ayala @mimisgang1 #mgtab

Christmas in 1965, I’m the one in the blue.

Recently, a friend asked me why I write so many Christmas romances. [I’m working on #24]. I thought back to my earliest Christmas memories and why this holiday is so special to me that I start singing Christmas carols in July. It turns out that I’m nostalgic for all the Christmases past and the family fun times and memories.

Back in the 1960s, Christmas thoughts started with the arrival of the Sears Wish Book. We would take turns flipping through the entire catalog and dog ear the pages. Although we rarely got anything from the actual wish book, it was fun to keep hoping for that rock tumbler and be happy with the clothes or books found under the tree. I do remember getting the Lite Brite set and Spirograph. Even though my family wasn’t religious, we were always reminded that it was Jesus’s birthday first but that He gave gifts to us.

Back then, we worked on Christmas plays at school and made ornaments during crafts time. I was in the orchestra and we played Christmas music like Little Town of Bethlehem. The Christmas cartoons, Charlie Brown, Rudolph, the Grinch, the Little Drummer Boy, etc. were always highly anticipated. We’d go to our friends’ houses to watch them together. Sometimes, the parks and recreation would show a movie and have a tree lighting. Everyone wished everyone a “Merry Christmas” and our mailboxes were flooded with Christmas cards and letters.

Christmas morning was always exciting as it was hard to go to sleep the night before. Even though we lived in a small tract home in Southern California, my siblings and I wondered if we could hear the reindeer land on the roof. We were worried that my mother stored books and magazines in the fireplace and there wouldn’t be any room for Santa. Never thought what my friends who had actual fires in their fireplace would do.

On Christmas morning, we had to eat breakfast and get dressed first before venturing into the living room where the tree stood. That was the rule at our house. No opening presents in PJs. After the pictures are taken, the carols sung, we’d open our presents and yell out our thank yous to aunts and uncles [even if they weren’t there]. People would drop by [they didn’t need to call or text before coming], and then we’d run outside to share our toys with our friends. Some would have new bikes. Others skateboards, a baseball, or a board game. In the background, my dad played albums by Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. I also remember Mele Kalikimaka was one of my favorite songs and imagined Christmas in Hawaii [wrote about it in Seashells & Mistletoe].

What are some of your favorite Christmas memories? Why do you like to read Christmas romances all year round? What do you miss about Christmases past? What do you look forward to on Christmas day?

I love living everyone’s Christmas fantasies by reading Christmas romances and love stories. This year, we at Authors’ Billboard have eleven Christmas stories for you in Unforgettable Christmas Miracles. Each author brings a different and interesting perspective to this favorite of all holidays. Mine is crazy and off the deep end. Nick’s Christmas Ride where two irascible Texas Hold’em playing ancestors, three social media narcissists, an old-time fiddler, and a flying car seem kind of normal for Nick Jolly and Hayley Brockman’s unexpected Christmas Creek romance.

Unforgettable Miracles – brought to you by Authors’ Billboard

Magical Realism in Romance #RachelleAyala #mgtab @Mimisgang1

Image by Enrique Meseguer from Pixabay

Take a modern-day contemporary romance and set it in a familiar city or town. Keep the technology: texting, cell phones, the internet, and all the engineering wonders of the 21st century. But inject an element of magic or time travel or even a bit of shapeshifting or ghostly visitations. Since it’s a romance, you have a hero and a heroine. One of them or both are ordinary human beings. Or perhaps he or she appears like an ordinary human being–sometimes. Add in elements of mythology or magic but keep the romance front and central. This is what I’ve been doing in some of my stories which mix magical realism with romance.

I didn’t decide one day to incorporate magical realism into my stories. I’ve always liked reading stories that have strange and unexplained things going on. But it all started with a novella in 2015, Christmas Stray where a boy who claims to be an elf and his puppy appear behind the woodpile to a couple snowed in for Christmas.

What is this thing called magical realism romance? It’s easier to say what it’s not.

It’s not Fantasy or even Urban Fantasy. The setting is in the real world and the main plot line does not center around the fantasy world. There is no battle between kingdoms and realms and most of the characters are not aware of the magic taking place. Furthermore, no undue attention is drawn to the magic that happens. It’s accepted as “just is.” The main character does not permanently change into a creature imbued with special powers, and it’s not a journey of discovery and mastery in another world.

It’s not Paranormal Romance, although there are elements of the paranormal. Perhaps some can interpret a character as a ghost or a time-traveling spirit. However, the story world looks normal to ninety percent of the characters, and the plot does not center around the otherworldly creatures. There is no explanation of the changes or appearances that take place or any lore about the strange creatures like in vampire or werewolf shifting stories where there is a system of clans, transitions, fated mates, etc. Instead, the central plot line is an ordinary contemporary romance set in a mostly ordinary world.

What we’re left with is a romance with elements of magic rooted in the real world.

Of the eighty romances I’ve written, I count thirteen of my books to incorporate magical elements into the mostly realistic storyline. Nine of them are Christmas stories, and ten of them are concentrated in my Christmas Creek Romance series where something strange happens in most but not all books, and yet, at the end of the story, the strange happenings are forgotten or kept secret by the affected couple.

This last detail, of having most of the characters unaware of the time shift or otherworldly visitation or excursion to another realm is what keeps my stories in the dimension of magical realism which is defined as a genre of literature that depicts the real world as having an undercurrent of magic or fantasy. Magical realism is a part of the realism genre of fiction. Within a work of magical realism, the world is still grounded in the real world, but fantastical elements are considered normal in this world. https://www.masterclass.com/articles/what-is-magical-realism

Are you ready to be shapeshifted into a vintage MG Roadster convertible while the guy you’re crushing on is driving his dates around your small town? That’s what happens to town wallflower Hayley Brockman in my newest Christmas Creek Romance, Nick’s Christmas Ride.

Nick’s Christmas Ride by Rachelle Ayala

Let me know if you like magic realism in romance. If you do, check out gem girls, Sapphire and Ruby, where ordinary women meet up with demigods on the streets of San Francisco. Black Tied: Sapphire [wok firefighter, the son of the kitchen God] and Red Hexed: Ruby [accidental sword bearer to Lord Frey of the sword that can stop Ragnarok].