Tag: Wendy Sparrow

Virtually Yours Releases Today! No Fooling

Virtually Yours CoverIf you’re looking for something to read this weekend, you can get eight novellas for under a buck. Check out Virtually Yours at your favorite retailers.

Since last spring, I have been working on this novella off and on, amid the three short stories I sold (and needed to edit), the Bible study I released in January, and the novel I hope you’ll see in print one day soon.

My story, “Matchmaker: Reality” is one of eight contemporary romances included in this boxed-set. You can pick up these eight stories (most about 20,000 words long) beginning today. For a buck.

No, that wasn’t a misprint. Eight romances for 99 cents. I know you want to do it before you read the rest of my post, so here’s the link.

How this came about

I’m friends with dozens of authors on Facebook. I follow dozens more on Twitter.

One of the romance writers I follow posted an article about an Invisible Boyfriend application that was going into beta testing. Her question with the article, “Doesn’t this lend itself to hundreds of story ideas?” (Or something like that. I don’t mean to misquote you, Kait.)

I was quick to chime in that indeed it did. Others did the same.

Later, Kait tagged the writers who had responded favorably to the question. Did we want to collaborate on a romance anthology based on a similar “fake date” application we invented?

There were ten of us who said “yes.” At some point along the road, two of the people dropped out.

First things first, we posted our story ideas to make sure none of them were duplicating a plot line. In the beginning, a couple of them looked like close relatives, but we changed it up. Now you’ll get eight stories with amazing twists and turns.

Then we got specific about the dating app we wanted to create. We agreed to call it Virtual Match. Titles for the collection were tossed around. And Virtually Yours was born.

Virtual Match is your one-stop shop to convincing those nosy relatives, the too friendly coworker, or your ex that you’re off the market. We’ll match you up with an attentive boyfriend or girlfriend. Texts, emails, phone calls, and even gifts. All the fun of being in a relationship–well, almost all the fun–and none of the commitment. You might even forget it’s not real.

The Stories

Here are the blurbs for the eight stories:

Wish I Might by Kait Nolan: Bookstore owner Reed wasn’t looking for a woman. But when the new clerk he hired won’t take no for an answer, he needs a girlfriend stat. His friends give him the perfect out—Virtual Match. But when Reed gets a second chance with the one that got away, his virtual girlfriend may cause more problems than she solves.

Lip Service by Wendy Sparrow: Amputee Berg is struggling with civilian life. Dating is perilous, but the girl next door is oh so tempting. His new gig as “virtual boyfriend” allows him to bask in her sunshine without risking rejection. Roxie has tried cupcakes and pizza and her neighbor doesn’t adore her yet. He recommends Virtual Match to get rid of a slimy coworker, but she absolutely can’t fall for her new fake boyfriend

Code Name: Girlfriend by Jessica Fox: Drew needs a girlfriend—fast. Trouble is he already told his nosy coworkers all about her, and she doesn’t exist. When his BFF sees an ad for Virtual Match, it seems like the answer to all his problems…until he starts falling for his match. Struggling writer Caroline thinks the tell-all feature on Virtual Match will make her career. Seems easy enough, until pretending to be someone’s girlfriend suddenly gets far too real.

Dream Home by Lisa Kroger: Evie doesn’t have time for the boyfriend her mom and sister think she needs. Still reeling from her husband’s death, she’s renovating the antebellum plantation meant to be their dream home. Enter Luc, her virtual boyfriend. Luc may keep her family at bay and provide company in the dark of night, but when sinister things start happening in Evie’s house, she’s still very much on her own.

Something Old and Something New by J.R. Pearse Nelson: Delia has finally managed to kick her cheating ex to the curb. In a parting jab at her lack of tech savvy and need for companionship, he signs her up for Virtual Match. The virtual boyfriend’s texts are as creepy as the idea and getting stranger, but she can’t stop them. When an old friend shows up on her doorstep, Delia is pushed to retire old heartaches in favor of a new vision of herself and her future.

Matchmaker Reality by Sharon Hughson: Ronnie isn’t willing to put her heart on the line. A fake boyfriend through Virtual Match will satisfy her nagging family and keep her heart safe. Unexpected sparks fly with her imaginary boyfriend and she gets in deep—her feelings unearthing a past secret she’d buried. When her virtual boyfriend wants to meet, reality might ruin Ronnie’s chances of a real connection. Will her heart survive and is love worth the gamble?

Virtual Surprise by Catherine Lynn: To convince her friends she’s moved on from her divorce, Anna signs up for Virtual Match. A fake boyfriend is safe and easy…until their relationship feels real. Then, there’s her high school crush—who broke her heart. Neither man is simple and one may not even exist. Luke’s job with Virtual Match is just for extra cash. He’s still dealing with his anger for the girl who once hurt him. Then, he starts falling for his assigned “girlfriend.” Is it worth the risk to make their match real? 

Home Field Advantage by Kate Davison: For Shelby, going home to Suwannee Grove after her sister’s death is the hardest thing she’s ever done. The reasons she left make it even harder. One look at Dallas and she knows her bigger mistake may have been staying away so long. Dallas has always considered Shelby the love of his life and he wants her her trip home to be permanent. But if Shelby ever finds out he was posing as her sister’s Virtual Match, he doubts even his home field advantage will help convince her to stay.

The Authors

I’m amazed and proud to be included in this anthology with two romance authors I regularly read. It’s like making an album with Karen Carpenter. What? You think I’m a good enough singer to share the same space with me.

Only in this case, it’s my first love – writing – that’s getting a boost. If you haven’t read the Wishful series by Kait Nolan, you should pick up the first book now. Wendy Sparrow also will have your sides hurting with her romance stories.

You prefer a little speculative or paranormal. You’ll probably find J. R. Pearse Nelson to your liking then.

If you’re like me, you’re always looking for your next favorite author. I LOVE and adore finding an author who entertains me. The only way to do that is to take a risk and try a new author.

I promise you, this will be a dollar well-spent. Two of these authors are on my “new favorite” list (and I’m thrilled to share a cover with them). I’ve read four of the seven stories I didn’t write. All of them are unique. Paranormal, sweet romance, and a little suspense are all represented.

No risk involved.

I know you’d spend a buck to support my writing. Now you can support eight independent authors for less than mailing two letters.

We all thank you.

Find VIRTUALLY YOURS at these retailers:  Amazon   | Smashwords

Whose story is it anyway?

In a non-parody of a comedic television show, let’s take a moment to investigate the ownership of a published work. Recently, this author has been pondering this oft-debated issue, and I’ve come up with four possibilities.

One of the co-authors in the romance anthology Accidental Valentine posted on the topic July 16, 2015. Her points made me reconsider this whole notion that a story belongs to any one person.

I hope you’ll take the time to read Wendy Sparrow’s post on this topic, as well as the comments (there were only two at the time of this writing). I won’t attempt to paraphrase what she says because I don’t want to twist her original meaning.

And there is the crux of this issue for me. How can I know Shakespeare’s intended meaning a few hundred years after his death? 

If an author is still living, and of sound mind, I suppose we could interview them to find out what they meant. However, if we assume that words can take on a life of their own when formed into a story, is the original intention even the point?

Those questions are to give you a hint how my brain arrived at the four possible owners of a story. (And I’m not talking about copyright issues because we have laws that clearly govern those.) Once a story is penned, published and consumed, does the story belong to the author, the readers, the literary community at large or the characters?

Perhaps you have a fourth alternative. I hope you’ll share it in the comments.

Author

As an author, it’s no surprise that my first thought of ownership centers on the story’s creator. Surely, the one who created it should be able to say, “That’s my story.”

As Wendy Sparrow says in her post, ” authors pour a little bit of themselves into what they write, so taking the author’s opinion away from the work might strip it of some of its value.”

I would say authors pour heart and soul into whatever piece of fiction they’re working on. And creative non-fiction based on personal experiences takes an even bigger chunk. If the author holds back, the writing lacks authenticity.

Like Hemingway said, “It is easy to write. Just sit in front of your typewriter and bleed.” (Read more on the debate of the true origination of this quote here.)

However, I can’t take full credit for any of the stories I’ve created. Something in the real world sparked the idea in my brain. It originated from that little seed. To grow it, I just kept expanding on the idea, asking “what if” until I had a solid story line.

Readers

I agree with Sparrow in that I am a reader first. I love to write. I live to write (or is that I write for a living?), but my first love is reading.

Once an author releases a story into the world through publishing, it settles into the hearts and minds of readers. Some stories are in the mind only as long as it takes to read them. Others embed themselves deep in the heart, offering up reminders of characters whose attitudes and experiences shaped my own worldview.

Do I write for readers? Yes. My stories are as much for them as it is for me. If I didn’t want to share it with someone, I wouldn’t.

Does that mean I’ve relinquished ownership to them?

What does that mean? Ownership, according to dictionary.com is “the state or fact of being a person who has or holds” some object. Ownership implies possession. If I possess it, it is mine.

Once I publish the story, I have consented to share its ownership. By making it available for public consumption, I’m sharing my creation. It’s like baking a cake. Everyone who consumes a part of the cake becomes owner of its deliciousness. I can’t take it back. It’s in them.

The same with written words. Once they are consumed, they become part of the consumer. That story is now part of the reader. It might go out as quickly as the cake. Or it might stay around for awhile (like the fat on my waistline from all the cake I’ve consumed over the years).

Sparrow says it well: “Authors want readers to invest in their stories…to become so involved that they care what happens to the characters. In some ways, we want to pass on ownership of our vision to the reader so that they immerse themselves in reading. It’s the only way a book becomes more than just text and becomes a journey.”

Literary Community

Once a book is published, it’s fodder for the public. One major voice in this realm is the literary community. You know who I mean, the professors at universities and English teachers at every level.

We’ve all suffered through a lecture on symbolism in some classic story or another. We were told the blue walls represented the author’s depression. The sword was a euphemism for death or power or kingship. (How can it be all three at once?)

In her post, Sparrow cited some literary figure and his theory on “The Death of an Author” (read more here if you’re interested). He’s one of many who believes if an author didn’t infer or state something in the text, it shouldn’t be later implied to be there.

Can we hear professors of literature everywhere sobbing?

Let’s face it, stories – especially fiction – are subjective. Each of us interpret the text through the stained glass of our own experiences. And the author did the same while they wrote it.

Can a story mean more than one thing? Certainly. It can live a thousand lives in the heart or mind of anyone who reads it and gleans meaning from it.

As an author, I want people to find themselves in my stories. I want them to relate to characters who are like them and find compassion for those who are completely contrary. Some of my writing is purely for entertainment, but even a short romance story I wrote had a deeper message: “breaking free from expectations takes determination.”

Characters

This is where my mind went after I read Sparrow’s post.

I might have birthed the story. In fact, I know I labored hard to perfect it on the page. It’s my baby. Or, I should say, it’s about a bunch of my babies. I’ve given them life by writing their story down and sharing it with others.

“Dream Architect” is whose story? Ashlin’s and Dylan’s. I told their story and submitted it to a publisher. The publisher liked it and bought the first American publishing rights to it. (So maybe the publisher is the owner of the story-for three years anyway.) Readers consumed the story.

But the story is about Ashlin and Dylan. It belongs to them. They lived it (as much as a fictional character can). They experienced the accidental encounter and the turmoil that followed. I wrote their experiences down and readers learned about them through reading, but the story is Ashlin’s and Dylan’s.

What do you think? Does a story have a single owner (possessor)? Do all of these people share in ownership of a story?

My Review of Accidental Valentine

Accidental ValentineAccidental Valentine by Varied Authors

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Yes, I have a story in this anthology. If you think that means I will give it a five-star review, you haven’t been following my blog very long.

I have very strict requirements for a five-star story. If you want to know more about them, check out this earlier post. Generally, when I give a book even a four-star review, one of these essential ingredients is missing.

In all fairness, I’m not going to review my own story. Do I think it deserves five stars? What do you think? I will, however, give the other stories a rating.

Don’t forget to check out the Blog Tour. For author interview questions, check out Sheryl Winters today and In the Pages of a Good Book on Tuesday. Also, Author Lynn Burke reviews the book, features one of the authors and has an excerpt at her site today.

Guiding Hearts by Claire Gillian

I enjoyed this story. It had enough of a whimsical feel to it – with the matchmaking GPS – that I kept reading to the end without stopping.

I didn’t feel like the characters were very well-drawn. A few important facts were thrown our way, but not enough for me to believe their motivations.

It is the only story that takes place over the scope of a year. I did like this aspect because it made it more believable.
In the end, the dialogue felt unnatural. The resolution was over-explained. I felt like the original premise got lost in the shuffle. I still give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Better Latte Than Never by Katrina Sizemore

This was a New Adult romance that took place on a single Valentine’s Day. The characters were old friends from high school. It shifted between two perspectives, which makes for the best romances, I think.

I had a hard time gauging the age of the characters. The few references to time seemed to contradict each other. Because of the immature responses they had, I placed them around 20.

The point of this story was excellent. The plot and premise were well-designed. The tension kept my interest, but in the end I was still thinking, “Could we just talk to each other already?”

It was my second favorite of the four stories, though, and I give it four out of five stars.

One Hot Angel by Jaylee Austin

There were just too many ideological disagreements between me and this story for it to get a fair shake from me. Apparently, an angel fell in love with a human and wanted a chance to keep her from dying. This could be accomplished if she fell in love with him.

The way to make her love him was all about sex. This is the only story in the anthology with explicit sex and offensive language. I was shocked by that because it is classified as a “sweet” romance anthology.

The fact that heavenly beings use physical lust as a way to someone’s heart is wrong on too many levels for me to recount. The woman in the story was shallow and I couldn’t relate to her motivation for destroying her ex-husband.
In the end, it is a two-star story in my book. The story and characters fell short, so it wasn’t just the overall premise I found lacking.

Rock My Bones by Wendy Sparrow

This story is the crown of the collection. I wasn’t sure if I would come away with a positive feeling about the anthology until I read this story.

The two points of view had a distinct voice and flavor. The idea that both of the characters wanted each other in advance made the fact the story happened in a day believable.

The museum setting was unique. The professions of the characters wasn’t cliche. The sexual tension was strong and I was surprised at the forwardness of the female character (Shay – I love that name).

Still, the dialogue was snappy. The inner thoughts true-to-life. The characters and setting believable and well-constructed. It made me laugh aloud several times.

It’s exactly the sort of story that can make a cynic believe in romance again. It gets a solid five out of five stars.
Where does that leave the anthology? I would give it four stars. Overall, the stories delivered on their promise. Don’t take my word for it, though, buy your copy here, and judge for yourself.

Will you read this anthology and leave a review? I would love if you left your first impressions as a comment here on my blog.
View all my reviews