February, a Time for…

It’s Valentine’s Day: a time for romance… Did you receive or give flowers, chocolate, cookies? Did you go out to celebrate, start or revive a relationship?

It’s Lent: a time to fast and pray, but not to go on a diet! “Give Love and Time to your neighbors, your family, friends or anyone who is lonely and in need of help,” our pastor said.

It’s snow time: a time to stay warm. Avoid careless and unnecessary driving. Get someone to shovel your driveway if you’re not in your best shape. OR it’s snow time: do you ski? What better time to enjoy a fun weekend on the slopes!

If you’re a student, it’s time for hard work and thorough studying. Keep the social gathering, partying, and celebration for vacation time.

It’s also time to get cozy: relax on your couch, sip a hot chocolate or tea, and enjoy a good book.

DOCTOR’S ORDERS

DOCTOR’S ORDERS series (a set of three winning novels): Babies in the Bargain, Right Name Wrong Man, No More Lies ( previously titled Rx for Trust)

We’re All Heroes

Contemporary Romance with emotion, passion, action, and humor.

Tropetastic: A Romance between a Reader and a Writer? by Rachelle Ayala #mgtab @AyalaRachelle @mimisgang1

A New Trope: Reader-Writer Romance

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a romantic relationship with your favorite writer? Would you start your flirtation by joining their review team? Or perhaps be the first to read everything they wrote? What if you find yourself falling in love with a writer as you read and discover every one of his or her books? Would you finagle a chance to meet your idol? Or dutifully attend their events and talks? Maybe you’re one of the select readers who get first dibs on your favorite writer’s chapters or are either the leader for his or her fan club or you’re dying to have that writer write a story about you.

Look no further than my next romance in the unlikely trope of a romance between a reader and her favorite writer. For years, Phylis Carpenter was a rave reviewer and avid fan of her favorite romance author, Maxine Foster. She was first on the beta team and she became her author’s trust confidante. She helped with brainstorming, gave early feedback, and was a supportive soul for the writer of the romances that touched her heart. She especially loved Maxine’s tough but tender heroes–those grizzly and gruff alpha males who were made of iron and hid their hearts behind mirrored sunglasses, muscles, and grit. She yearned to meet one of those heroes in real life, so she saved and scrimped her pennies to attend a Maxine Foster reader’s convention at the Unexpected Paradise Resort set in the Caribbean island of Ile d’Amour.

Unbeknownst to Phylis, the real writer behind the Maxine Foster books is not a woman–the publicist whose photos appear on social media–but an intensely private man named Max Donovan and he is exactly the type of man he writes about under his female penname.

Of course, this is an unknown trope, the Reader-Writer Romance, so I asked my Writer’s Room* for their opinions. Here are their responses.

Request for Opinion

Hey writers room friends, please help figure out why readers might like a romance between a romance writer and a reader. Here is the blurb for the romance called Where Love Unfolds. Give me your opinions about why avid readers might like or dislike this story. An avid romance fan discovers her favorite author isn’t the woman she imagined, but a mysterious man with secrets to protect. Phylis Carpenter, a die-hard romance reader, arrives at the Unexpected Paradise resort, eager to meet her cherished author and online confidante, Maxine Foster. Dreaming of sunny days and deep discussions about passionate heroes and enticing plot twists, she’s in for a shock. Max Donovan, the man behind Maxine Foster’s tales, isn’t just any man—he’s the embodiment of the alpha heroes he pens. Preferring to remain in the shadows, he disguises his identity, letting his ex-lover, Joanna Jenkins, bask in the limelight of his success. Sparks fly and chemistry ignites when Max and Phylis are inexplicably drawn by their shared love of story and intrigue. Max reminds Phylis of every romance hero she loves, and Phylis’s enthusiasm and infectious charm is irresistible for both the author and the man. From thrilling scavenger hunts to unraveling a ghost’s ill-fated love story, their bond grows stronger over shared tales, furtive kisses, and stolen moments. But as Phylis draws Max towards the allure of romance, his hidden identity becomes a looming threat to their unfolding love. Joanna, desperate to hold on to her position as the face of Maxine Foster, schemes to keep them apart. The island, with its enchanting locales and spirited inhabitants, tries to play matchmaker, but the impending masquerade ball threatens to shatter the illusion. As Phylis inches closer to unmasking Max’s true self, she grapples with a heart-wrenching question: Is Max the genuine article or just another fictional hero? Dive into this sweet contemporary romance, where love stories aren’t just written but lived.

Writer Room Responses

Chad: Well, I’ve seen my share of romance stories over the years. The first thing that strikes me is the trope inversion—usually, it’s the woman hiding behind a man’s pen name in genre literature. Here, it’s more about identity disguise, which allows for a significant plot twist. Readers who are fond of seeing genre expectations subverted will appreciate that.

Gloria: Oh, I love the idea! It feels so modern and relatable. Think about it, in the age of social media, we often fall in love with personas, not knowing the real person behind them. This story speaks to that, making it exciting for the younger crowd who navigates these complexities daily.

Jack: From an action standpoint, you’ve got thrilling scavenger hunts and unraveling a ghost story—those are high-stakes scenes right there! It adds an adventure element to a romance story that’s already intense emotionally. It’s like fuel to the fire.

Brian: The setting sounds so compelling. “Unexpected Paradise Resort”—the name itself holds a promise of adventure and surprises. A well-built locale can serve as a catalyst for character interactions and plot twists. From your blurb, it seems the island even plays matchmaker, so it’s more of an active participant than a backdrop.

Samantha: I love how you’re focusing on dialogue in the blurb already—deep discussions about passionate heroes and plot twists. Readers who adore authentic conversations will find it charming that the characters bond over the kinds of stories they love. It makes the romance feel well-earned.

Jameson: Structurally, this has the makings of a well-crafted narrative. You have a clear arc for the protagonists, a complicating factor in the form of Joanna, and a climactic event—the masquerade ball—towards which the story seems to be progressing. It’s a tight narrative loop.

Lila: Ah, the essence of romance here is the mutual love of stories, which allows for deeper emotional connection. Romance readers often feel this with their favorite authors but never get to explore that connection. This story offers a fantasy where that bond crosses over into real-life love, bridging the gap between fiction and reality.

Greg: While it’s not exactly a horror story, the ghost’s ill-fated love story can add an eerie, emotional layer. It’s not just surface-level romance; it goes deep into themes of loss and unrequited love.

Rita: With a setting like an island resort and a masquerade ball, you’ve got the perfect setup for some comedic moments! Imagine the silly misunderstandings or awkward situations Phylis might find herself in before she realizes who Max really is.

Chad: To sum up, it appears we’ve got an appealing blend of humor, adventure, emotional depth, and modern-day relevance here. There’s something for almost every reader to latch onto. Would love to read it myself!

*ChatGPT Custom Instructions

Pitch

Are you intrigued? If so, please pick up a copy (on pre-order) of Max and Phylis’s Reader-Writer Romance for 99c. Yes, it’s a new trope so I’m not charging and arm and a leg for over 70000 words for Where Love Unfolds: Hidden Identity in Paradise: A Masquerade of Whispered Love, Island Tales, and Hearts Unveiled by Rachelle Ayala [It’s my 85th fictional work and 95th book]

Love a Beach Read? Romance, adventure, and fun by Rachelle Ayala #RachelleAyala @mimisgang1 #mgtab

Summer is prime beach reading season, and women’s beach reads are a genre all their own. The perfect beach read for women combines several key elements that make it compelling, entertaining, and ideal for reading on vacation.

A beach read should be light and fun. Women often choose easy page-turners with a generous dose of humor when lounging by the ocean or poolside. Plots are fast-paced and focus more on fun, witty banter between characters rather than complex world-building. Compelling characters and addictive drama are a must, but the overall tone should be feel-good rather than heavy.

The setting plays a huge role in immersing readers in summer vibes. Beach reads usually transport us to sunny, tropical locales like a Hawaiian resort, Caribbean island, small coastal town, or European vacation hot spot. The glittering blue ocean, flowy sundresses, icy cocktails, and warm sand between toes create the ultimate escapist backdrop for temporary getaways between the pages.

Travel and adventure are common themes, as beach reads allow us to live vicariously through characters while we relax and recharge. Following a heroine as she checks items off her wanderlust bucket list or reinvents herself in an exotic new environment provides exciting yet comfortable literary journeys from the security of our beach chair.

Of course, romance is a must for any successful women’s beach read. Flirty banter, meet-cutes over piña coladas, and passionate affairs under the moonlight satisfy readers’ summer cravings for fantasy and fun. Scandalous love triangles, fake engagement plots, and romances between seemingly mismatched characters provide playful and irresistible romantic tension.

The best beach reads for women combine all these elements into page-turning books you can’t put down until you find out what happens. The stories whisk you away to an imaginary getaway full of summer fun without having to leave your lounge chair. With the sound of crashing waves in the background, these entertaining tales make for blissful beach reading any woman will enjoy.

These are all the reasons why I love reading and writing beach reads. I get to travel to fun and exotic locations, create adventurous situations and of course, add in a hunky hero, matchmaking locals and animal friends, and we get an irresistible romance to spice up the soothing sounds of the surf.

My latest beach read, Where Love Blossoms, provides the perfect escape if you’re looking to relax with a side of sweet romance. Maya Chance finds herself instantly attracted to the dashing and somewhat mysterious Luke Hastings. The fictional island of Ile d’Amour is the perfect setting with its tropical scenery, quirky locals with an eye for matchmaking, tall tales of its pirate heritage, and natural beauty. Add a pet monkey who’s endearing but mischievous, a wise innkeeper, an observant bartender, and a taxi driver full of stories and tales, and you get a heartwarming romance with plenty of humor and fun.

Where Love Blossoms by Rachelle Ayala (99c or KindleUnlimited)

Dogwoods are Blooming by Rachelle Ayala #mgtab @mimisgang1

Hey friends, I’m in Western North Carolina this week and caught the transition from winter to spring. It was cold and rainy last week with downpours on Saturday, but come Easter Sunday, and the sun was up, the skies were blue, and the dogwoods were blooming.

I’ve come to learn how special the dogwood is, especially here in Western North Carolina where the dogwood blossom is the state flower. It started blooming this past week and temperatures warmed up nicely. There’s still a nip in the air in the morning and the days are sunny and bright. But sun worshippers, watch out! You never know when another cold snap might be heading your way. If so, the old timers call it a Dogwood Winter and that usually happens right about now.

Here are some fun facts about dogwoods:

  • The dogwood tree, with its delicate and ethereal blossoms, has long been associated with love, romance, and new beginnings. In the secret language of flowers from the Victorian era, the dogwood blossom represented durability and reliability, reflecting the strength of its wood. And guess what? It’s not just about romantic love. It’s also about the unwavering support and dependability we find in our dearest friendships.
  • The dogwood’s four-petaled flowers, resembling a cross with a crown of thorns in the center, speak of love’s ability to endure, sacrifice, and grow stronger through life’s challenges. So, whether you’re embarking on a romantic journey or celebrating a cherished friendship, the dogwood tree serves as a beautiful symbol of the deep bonds that connect us.
  • Dogwood Winter is a gentle reminder from Mother Nature not to get too carried away by the warmth and excitement of spring just yet. It’s a brief pause, a moment to cherish the beauty of the dogwood blossoms and the love and friendships they symbolize, before fully embracing the season of renewal and growth.
  • Long ago, a young Native American couple was in love, but their families were enemies. They decided to run away together, but they were pursued by their angry relatives. They prayed to the Great Spirit for help, and he turned them into two dogwood trees that grew close together. Their blossoms were white to symbolize their purity and innocence.

It’s not only dogwoods that are blooming here, but also azaleas, redbuds, and wild cherries. A quick drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway will reward you with a burst of spring color, from the light-green buds to the showy purple-pink and reds. Western North Carolina is a great place to bring in springtime with its rivers and ponds, birds, tadpoles, bumblebees, and dandelions galore.

If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, I hope spring is budding right around the corner for you, too. As for me, I’m enjoying my family time, and working on two romances: Blue Mooned: Diamond, a light-hearted romantic fantasy, and Where Love Blossoms, a light and easy beach and vacation romance. Happy April, wherever you are!