Tag Archives: Cheri Allan

Why #IndependentBookstores are so near and dear to my heart….

I’ve talked a lot on this blog about how much I love the Independent bookstore I have in my town, THE TOADSTOOL BOOKSHOP.

The managers are so welcoming and supportive of local authors and arrange booksignings, author meet and greets, and fun events for the entire community, in addition to stocking local indie author books ( something the big name book retailers do not!)

This year, when I heard about Independent Bookstore Romance Day,  on August 17, 2019, I called The Toadstool in Keene and asked if they were doing anything to celebrate the event. At the time, they weren’t, mainly because they didn’t know,  but once I informed them about the celebratory day, the managers went into hyperdrive to plan something to commemorate the day. I shunted some of my favorite local romance authors their way, and before I could say #iloveromance, an event was up and running.

See? This is why I love the TOADSTOOL so much!

So, come join me and four other fabulous romance writers on Saturday, August 17, 2019 at 4pm at the Toadstool Bookshop in Keene!

You can checkout the authors who’ll be featured at the event on their Amazon profile pages, here:

Angie Moran

Cheri Allen

Clair Brett

Amber Cross

Peggy Jaeger

I really hope I see a bunch of romance readers I know – and even more I haven’t met yet! – at the event. The Toadstool will be selling our books during and after the panel discussion, so click on the links above to see the books available. All of my print books are currently on sale at the Toadstool, but for the e-print only ones, you can find them here: 3 Wishes, Hope’s Dream, A Holiday PromiseFalling for You, and Be My Hero

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Filed under 3 Wishes, Author, Author Branding, author promotion, Candy Hearts, Contemporary Romance, Deerbourne Inn, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, The Wild Rose Press, Writing

A visit with Author Cheri Allan

I am so pleased to have talented author and my NHRWA chapter mate CHERI ALLAN visiting me today. She’s got a brand new release out – Book 4 in her Betting on Romance series, DEAL ME IN and  today, she’s talking about what’s involved with writing a series, what to avoid, and when to say – sigh – goodbye.

Here’s Cheri…

              Don’t Kill Grandma and Other Tips for Writing a Series

DEAL ME IN, my newest humorous contemporary romance, is the fourth and final book in my ‘Betting on Romance’ series. While I won’t claim this makes me an expert on writing series books, I’ve learned a few things along the way. (Pack snacks. Travel with friends. But I digress.) So, in the spirit of ‘do what I say and not what I do’ I thought I’d share some of my tips and observations for others.

  • Is it a series? What kind? First, know what you’re writing at the outset, because there is a difference between a serial (one story arc told in many parts) and a series (stories which may or may not stand alone but each having a unique story arc and conclusion.) My books are stand-alone novels interconnected by characters and the fictional setting of Sugar Falls, NH. Each book has its own couple, story arc and secondary plot lines, which make this a loosely connected series. However, I do have four match-making, poker-playing grandmothers who appear in each novel. Some authors choose to have a series arc–an overarching plot line–that carries through the series and resolves in the final book. I chose not to do this for two reasons: a.) that’s a heck of a lot of plotting for this pantser and b.) I didn’t want my debut stories linked too closely together in case I decided to pop off in another direction after book two. Promising a series resolution that never comes would be worse than never planning one to begin with. Happily, this also leaves me open to add another book in there at a later date. Keep those options open, people!
  • Who’s on first? It was about book three that it occurred to me that despite how intimately I knew my characters as I wrote each book, by the third book, I couldn’t remember a random character I’d mentioned in book one and now wanted to refer to. Now, I keep a master list of every character that appears in each book and a short phrase of who they’re related to or other distinguishing feature. Not only does it keep me from naming too many characters Ed (a distinct possibility), it saves a lot of flipping through old books trying to remember what I’ve named someone’s pet dog. (Max, as it turns out.)
  • My hero: Ned? Speaking of throw-away names, be careful of what you name those characters you think are only popping on screen for a moment. I was very cavalier in the first book about naming secondary characters only to realize by book two one of them would be a future hero. And I didn’t entirely love his name. (It was fine, but it was no ‘Levi.’) I’ve made peace with that, but unless you want a hero named Ned, choose carefully. Or be prepared to come up with a charming nickname.
  • Let each book have its own voice. You may be the ultimate plotter with color-coded sticky notes and a series bible with sheet protectors (you know who you are), but I’m here to tell you that over the course of writing two, three, or four books, your writing voice will find its rhythm, but your books may not always cooperate. When you think about it, it’s only natural that each book will have its own character. The story with the shy heroine or nerdy hero will have a different vibe than the one about the tough and snarky girl or wounded hero with PTSD. DEAL ME IN gave me heart palpitations half way through writing, because I realized this story was naturally more emotional than the others. Yes, there’s humor and grandmothers, but it has its own tone. And that’s okay. My voice is consistent, and unless I pop out of subgenre and introduce werewolves into my contemporary romance, readers will be okay with it, too. I’m growing and changing as a writer with each book, and so are you. Don’t sweat it.
  • But don’t kill grandma, either. There’s a limit to how much you can deviate from reader expectations. If you’ve set up a series where the reader feels safe, amused and somewhat insulated from the ‘real world’ (for instance) be careful how much of that real world you allow to intrude into your story arc. It may feel like you need to shake things up by series end, but if you deviate too far from established reader expectations (Werewolves! Ebola outbreak!), you’ll hear about it. I could, for instance, never bring myself to kill off a grandmother. These characters represent enduring friendship and unconditional love, and they’ve been there, shepherding other characters and my readers through four books with their poker, meddling and homemade cookies. They deserve to ride into the sunset on golf carts sipping cocktails, and I plan to let them.
  • Know when it’s time to say goodbye. For the very reason I can’t kill off grandma, I knew the length of this particular series was finite. They won’t live forever! I also don’t want the story premise to grow stale. That being said, I’ve grown fond of Sugar Falls, and with every fictional event and landmark I’ve brought into being, I’ve grown to love spending time there. So, I will. With a new But without grandmothers this time. They’re off playing with their great-grandbabies anyway.

So, tell me, what have you learned from writing your own series? As a reader, what is it about series you enjoy? What makes them feel stale? Discuss!

BLURB:
Is the game of love worth the price?

Deal Me In cover kindle

Grace McIntyre never planned to lose her virginity in a seedy motel to the hottie with the eagle tattoo, but she knew he was The One–until a heart-wrenching goodbye proved he wasn’t.

Despite three tours of duty and one heroic mountain-top rescue, Army veteran Jeff Dayton no longer dreams of a career in search-and-rescue. Two years ago, his politically-ambitious sister needed help spiffing up the family image to win a seat in the state senate, so Jeff returned home to Sugar Falls, New Hampshire, to walk the straight-and-narrow and take a job as a small-town cop. Now his tattoos are covered, his rock-n-roll father is under wraps, and Jeff should be bored out of his mind… but he never figured on reconnecting with his free-spirited high school sweetheart, Grace McIntyre.

Grace and Jeff have managed to dance around their rocky past since he’s come back to Sugar Falls, but when they’re both assigned to the town’s Harvest Festival planning committee, their attraction sparks to life, igniting both old passions and burning regrets. New revelations help them see each other in a new light, but it takes a small-town festival calamity–complete with a llama petting zoo, a female empowerment “demonstration,” and Jeff’s rocker dad on the main stage–to force these two to let go of the past and find the strength to forgive. Because half the fun of the game of love is winning… and the other half is deciding to play.

*** Mild sexual content; Mild language; No violence ***

BUY LINKS:

Amazon ///Kobo /// Nook // Google Play  //

Bio

cheri

Cheri Allan writes hopeful, humorous contemporary romances. She lives in a charming fixer-upper in rural New Hampshire with her husband, two children, two dogs, five cats and an excessive amount of optimism. She’s a firm believer in do-it-yourself, new beginnings and happily-ever-afters, so after years of wearing suits, she’s grateful to finally put her English degree to good use writing romance. When not writing, you might find her whizzing down the slopes of a nearby mountain or inadvertently killing perennials in her garden.

Betting on romance… because every woman deserves to get lucky.

 

 You can find Cheri here, or as she calls them, at her STALKER LINKS:

Facebook // Facebook,Author // Twitter // Website  //GoodReads

 

 

BETTING ON ROMANCE ( Books 1-3)

luckbook2all

 

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Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, Friends, Life challenges, love, NHRWA, Romance, Romance Books

Is This When the Miracle Happens? by Cheri Allan

My guest  blogger today is author Cheri Allan.

web site cover All or Nothing

I met Cheri Allan at NHRWA a little over a year ago and I was immediately taken with her open, easy, friendly and FUNNY personality. When I was lucky enough to read her first book, Luck of The Draw right before it was officially released, I realized she writes exactly the same way she does everything else in her life: with fun, heart, warmth and joy.  Her newest book,  All or Nothing, book 3 in the Betting on Romance series, is dedicated to her beloved mother, whose birthday is today – Happy B’day!! Today, Cheri’s blog is titled Is This When the Miracle Happens? Read  along and find out….

There are two facts about me you should know: I have successfully crammed a loveseat into the back of a Chevette, and my final grade in high school geometry was 103%.

I share these two little factoids not to brag (okay, maybe a little. I even got the extra credit questions right!), but because it was with this inflated sense of mastery over spatial thinking and physics that I approached a particularly difficult application of ice and water shield several years ago. (Think rubbery sheets of contact cement.) Dearest Hubby and I were weatherproofing our newly framed dormer before the summer T-storms hit again. I was leaning through the narrow rafter cavity with a piece of ice and water shield (sticky side out) attempting to reach in a direction that would require: a.) one of my elbows to bend backwards, b.) my arms to stretch another 6-8 inches, and c.) me to develop x-ray vision that would allow me to see through a 2 x 12 rafter. I had struggled for probably ten minutes or so at this task when DH leaned close to my ear and whispered, “Is this when the miracle happens?”

I dissolved into convulsions of laughter and ended up sticking the ice and water shield to my forearm (which, BTW, I don’t recommend) because it was perfectly clear that as much as I stretched and pushed and struggled, the physics of the situation where not going to change.

In ALL OR NOTHING, self-made tech millionaire Ian McIntyre has just returned from filming a reality dating show. Unfortunately, he did not find a match. This is an ice and water shield moment for the show’s producer who spends the rest of the book trying to bend her elbows backwards getting Ian to fall in love and choose a fiancée so the show’s ratings don’t go down the toilet.

It turns out that the kind of woman Ian asked to be matched with isn’t the woman he needs (big surprise!) And it takes a loveable puppy, some persistent paparazzi and one spunky heroine to get him to see he needs to approach things differently. Cue the triumphant music and happy ending as the hero and heroine run through a sunny field toward one another…

You see, sometimes the miracle happens (don’t ask me how I got that loveseat in that car) and sometimes it doesn’t, but as writers we have a tendency to continue to shove and twist during those difficult times waiting for the fairy dust to sprinkle down from the heavens so our elbows will bend backwards and the scene will work. Chances are good, though, that we won’t suddenly realize we’re double-jointed, and it will take a whisper from outside ourselves to see that we need to take a new tack.

This is where I admit the third fact: If it weren’t for my lovely, talented and painfully honest editor, you would probably throw my book at the wall. In ALL OR NOTHING, I had a plot line that was not working. I knew this, and yet a part of me still hoped that, somehow, I’d pull it off. (Shh! Don’t say anything! I just need to stretch a little more!) Enter my editor who said (and I quote): “WHAT?!” If she’d had a red Sharpie, my manuscript would have been glowing. She hated this plot line and told me the two (Or twelve. Really, I lost count.) reasons why readers would go on to hate me and my heroine if I left it in.

She was right, of course. I was struggling so hard to make it fit, I wasn’t able to step back and see that it would never work. Once I pulled that plotline, all sorts of things fell neatly into place… like a loveseat into a Chevette.

This whole experience has reinforced for me the VITAL importance of having a critique partner, a plotting group, a good content editor or simply an honest friend to point out when persistence has morphed into stubbornness. Anyone that knows me knows I’m an optimist. I believe in happy endings and true love and that, somehow, the sticky pieces of life will magically fall into place. (Ta-da!) The reason I believe so strongly in these things, though, is because I surround myself with those who have the courage to whisper the truth in my ear when it needs to be said so I can reach my goals another way.

Now, I’m excited to share ALL OR NOTHING with the world, because I know it delivers the magic of a happy ending (with only fictional joint pain.) And I hope, if you do throw the book at the wall, you do so out of convulsions of laughter.

It does make me wonder, though… If I had left that ugly, unsympathetic plotline in, would you have thrown your book at the wall? How far does an author/character have to go to make you lose all respect for them to the point they become unredeemable? Depending on your answer, I may have to send my editor an extra large bouquet of flowers to thank her…

Join my mailing list at http://www.cheriallan.com and be entered to win an ‘All or Nothing Gift Basket’ full of goodies and books from New Hampshire. Drawing to be held April 30th! But don’t wait. Download your copy of ALL OR NOTHING today! Just $2.99 for a limited time.

 

 ALL OR NOTHING (A Betting on Romance Novel, Book 3)

web site cover All or NothingWhen finding Mrs. Right goes oh, so, wrong…

Self-made tech millionaire Ian McIntyre has suffered through a reality dating show only to return home to idyllic Sugar Falls, New Hampshire, empty-handed, swarmed by paparazzi, and hounded by a Hollywood producer determined to deliver a Happily Ever After. But then his home is invaded by a sexy, snarky local staging it for the season finale, and Ian finds himself more interested in the cute and scrappy hometown girl dusting off his action figures than the audience’s favorite southern belle.

Auto mechanic Bailey Adams grew up on the wrong side of the tracks and is struggling to patch together enough odd jobs to buy a garage of her own. When the Golden Boy of Sugar Falls entangles her in his disastrous season of Happily Ever After, they both discover that some long-held dreams are only as ‘real’ as ‘reality’ TV. Now, with the deal on her dream garage in jeopardy and her unlikely love affair with America’s favorite geeky hunk playing out on national TV, Bailey must decide if she’s willing to risk it all for love… or be left with nothing.

**Mild sexual content; Mild language; No violence**

 

EXCERPT 

“Then take off your coat and avoid hypothermia.”

Her bottom lip jutted out. “You first.”

He shrugged out of his parka and hung it on a hook by the door, raising one eyebrow as he did so.

She took another long drink then tugged her coat off and hung it next to his. Melting snow dripped onto the floorboards beneath it. Stubborn woman.

“Your lovely flannel shirt is also soaked,” he said.

“Yeah, like I’m falling for that.”

“Don’t flatter yourself. I’ve seen lumberjacks make flannel sexier than you do.”

He didn’t know why he was goading her, but he felt on edge… wet, chilled and restless.

“Like you could resist me if I were standing naked in front of you,” she said.

She paused, as if she weren’t sure how those words came to be floating in the air between them. But there they were, raining down over him like hot sparks. Heat flooded through him, and he could feel his blood pumping. He watched her, the air crackling with awareness. The fire in the stove popped and something tumbled inside. His heart thudded in his chest at the word ‘naked.’

“Try me,” he finally said.

 

AUTHOR BIO : CHERI ALLAN

Cheri Allan writes humorous, hopeful contemporary romances. She lives in a charming fixer-upper in rural New Hampshire with her husband, two children, two dogs, four cats and an excessive amount of optimism. She’s a firm believer in do-it-yourself, new beginnings and happily-ever-afters, so after years of wearing suits, she’s grateful to finally put her English degree to good use writing romance. When not writing, you might find her whizzing down the slopes of a nearby mountain or inadvertently killing perennials in her garden. Betting on romance… because every woman deserves to get lucky.

BUY LINKS:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Nothing-Betting-Romance-Novel-Book-ebook/dp/B00VO56WMU/

Barnes & Noble/Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s?store=allproducts&keyword=cheri+allan

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/all-or-nothing-62

You can also find Cheri Allan on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter and (when she can figure it out) Pinterest. All three Betting on Romance books are available at most major on-line retailers and http://www.cheriallan.com.

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A Visit with Author Cheri Allan

 One of the pleasures of joining a writing group is  meeting talented, lovely, funny, and supportive people who love the same thing you do: writing. When I joined the New Hampshire Romance Writers of America chapter in 2013, one of the talented, funny, lovely and supportive writers I was delighted to meet was Cheri Allan. Cheri is one of the warmest people I have ever known. Her constant smile and positive way of looking at the world make her such a delight to be around. She is the kind of person who will turn your really bad day into a sunny, bright one. I’m so thrilled she accepted my invitation to guest blog today since her brand new book, STACKING THE DECK has just been released. Part 2 in the Betting on Romance series,  Stacking the Deck tells us the story of Liz Beacon and Carter McIntyre. At the end of Cheri’s blog entry is a except from the book.
Stacking the Deck cover image kindle cheriphoto 
Who said coming home is easy?
Author Bio:
Cheri Allan writes hopeful, humorous contemporary romance. She lives in a charming fixer-upper in rural New Hampshire with her husband, two children, two dogs, four cats and an excessive amount of optimism. She’s a firm believer in do-it-yourself, new beginnings and happily-ever-afters, so after years of wearing suits, she’s grateful to finally put her English degree to good use writing romance. When not writing, you might find her whizzing down the slopes of a nearby mountain or inadvertently killing perennials in her garden.
 
Cheri loves to hear from readers!
E-mail her at cheri@cheriallan.com.
Friend her at facebook.com/cheriallanauthor.
Or, visit her website and blog at http://www.cheriallan.com.

                Who Am I?  Authors in (Identity) Crisis

When Peggy first invited me to guest blog I immediately leapt at the chance to promote the release of my newest romantic comedy  Stacking the Deck and then I went into panic mode. WHAT. TO. WRITE? This is not, of course, much different than the typical day as we authors sit down at our keyboards, but having been through this blog tour/book release drill once before (thereby rendering me a veritable expert <snort!>) I wondered what NEW thing I had to write about. (Also a typical worry of authors on a daily basis.)

Which, if you are prone to distractibility (squirrel!) led me to thinking about how I wanted to portray myself to all you lovely people. And THAT, my friends, is what we authors struggle to master as much as the writing itself.

Let’s face it, we are fans, followers and social media friends with dozens of bestselling authors whose news feeds are filled with witty, pithy posts and pictures of adorable kittens, sexy men and sexy men cuddling adorable kittens. But… what if that isn’t us? What if we are allergic to cats? (Perish the thought!) Or we feel vaguely uncomfortable when we have a nearly naked man pulling on his underwear on our computer screen when our under-18 kids walk by? (“I’m doing research!”)

We’re told time and again we must develop a “presence” on social media, to “build a platform,” to “engage our readers.” As a writer, this feels like a blank page. A great and wonderful, horrible and magical blank page. I can be anything! we tell ourselves. AN-Y-THING! We whip out our hair dye and Photoshop manuals and practice our French just in case… well… who knows! We have the opportunity to reinvent ourselves! How cool is THAT? We do it every day with the characters in our books, why should we, ourselves, be any different?

Except we aren’t characters in books. We’re more like fan fiction. The basic character and backstory are already there. We can’t wash them away. We have to work with who we already are. I mean, I enjoy dress up as much as the rest of you, but I’m here to tell you, that taking on a social media persona that doesn’t feel like ‘you’ will eventually not ring true with readers or with yourself.

Figuring out how you want to portray yourself to the larger world is not so much about putting on airs as it is peeling off layers  to get to the core of who you are.

Because your image is, fundamentally, your voice. YOUR voice. What makes YOU write the books of YOUR heart and turn phrases with just the right elegant finesse to make your heart beat a little faster with excitement. You can’t fake the ‘you’ you present to the outside world any more than you can successfully copy someone else’s voice.

On the other hand, this doesn’t give you carte blanche to let it all hang out. No. No one needs to see the down and dirty, unshowered, ‘haven’t eaten food that didn’t contain unpronounceable chemicals and/or chocolate for a week because I’m on deadline and this is how I roll’ you. No. Neither do people want the ‘I’m stepping on my soapbox’ you. Because we can’t throw rotten vegetables over the internet, the mudslinging ‘you’ will have to rant in person.

The you WE want to see and interact with and get to know is still fundamentally ‘you’, but freshly bathed, and happy (generally) and sitting across from us in a coffee shop or in a park because we’re old friends, and we DO that sort of thing. And then you reveal those unique observations about life and love and friends and family and the shows you watch and the things that bug you… as friends. Because THAT’S the ‘you’ we readers want to know.

Let your public “persona” be the face of who you are when you are in the ‘zone’ of writing. That’s the real you. That’s the ‘you’ readers want to know and engage with. Maybe ‘you’ like kittens, pictures of sexy men, travel photos or talking about crafts. Whatever you enjoy sharing is the persona to share with the world, and the more you do that, the more ‘you’ in the larger world will mesh seamlessly with the ‘you’ you are everywhere else.

Now you all may be saying, “Ha! She’s talking about being real and honest and yadda, yadda but look at her PINK author photo! What’s that all about?” Well, I’ll tell you a secret about that photo. My critique partner HATES that photo with a purple passion. She thinks it’s cheesy and odd and not befitting my professional author persona. And while she has the looks and demeanor to portray a beautiful and glamorous author-self to the world. I am… pink. And I like being pink. When I look at my photo, it makes me smile in the way I do when I think of holiday lights and Dr. Seuss. It reminds me not to take myself too seriously. Maybe it isn’t glamorous or polished or sexy, but it feels like a more honest portrayal of who I am, at heart, than any glossy Glamour Shot ever could.

So, in the words of Dr. Seuss in Happy Birthday to You! come climb to the top of the world and shout with me: “I AM I!” Go ahead. It’s easy. And after we can grab a cup of coffee and chat about our books while searching the internet for random photos of sexy men cuddling kittens… because that’s how we roll.

Sharing time! Have you ever tried on a different public persona or image on social media? What happened? Did it feel “right” or like someone else’s hand-me-down you couldn’t wait to peel off when you got home? Tell us your story!

Amazon 1-click! http://amzn.to/1sCELnt
(Coming soon to B&N Nook!)
 
Stacking the Deck, Book Blurb:
 
Who said coming home is easy?
Liz Beacon has life all planned out—prioritized, color-coded and cross-referenced. She long ago traded in the geeky high school nickname, teenage pounds and dysfunctional family for a fab career, killer abs and a man every woman would envy. Okay, so her sex life is non-existent and her almost-fiancé is technically a coworker.  Life, if not perfect, is still on track. But then, Liz is called home to Sugar Falls, NH, to prepare her childhood home for sale. She’s spent ten years denying her insecurities and hokey lawn-ornament roots. There’s nothing she’d rather do less than face all she happily left behind, including her embarrassingly one-sided high school crush.
 
Carter McIntyre has sailed through life on his winsome smile… and by the skin of his teeth. A college drop-out with ADHD, he’s learned it’s safer to play the carefree charmer than step up and take over his uncle’s landscaping business. But then his class valedictorian returns to Sugar Falls and hires him for some home improvements. Now Carter’s wondering if it’s too late  to grow up, take a chance and win over the only girl who ever believed in him…
 
Luck of the Draw and Stacking the Deck, books 1 and 2 of her ‘Betting on Romance’ series available now in print and ebook. Betting on romance… because every woman deserves to get lucky.
Stacking the Deck, Excerpt:
He didn’t reply. Instead, he held her gaze, leaned closer and brushed his lips against hers. Soft. Warm.
 
Heavenly.
 
Her eyes fluttered closed and she clamped down on the impulse to drag him toward her and grind her mouth against his the way her body craved, fearing what might happen if she took even one tentative step down that slippery slope.
 
Instead, she let herself glory in the moment. Finally! Here! Today was the day Carter McIntyre kissed her again! Had she imagined it like this? His lips so incredibly warm? His breath melding with hers as his mouth parted ever so slightly? Journey playing ‘Open Arms’ in the background?
 
Okay, maybe there wasn’t a rock ballad playing on cue, but she made up for it by humming a soft moan of pleasure somewhere in the back of her throat as she let herself sink into the pleasure of this one, perfect kiss.
 
Just like the first time…
~ Cheri Allan 
Hopeful, humorous contemporary romance
Luck of the Draw  Available NOW in print and e-book! Amazon: http://amzn.to/1r1VePK 
Stacking the Deck coming October 21; Available for pre-order now! Amazon: http://amzn.to/1sCELnt 
Sign up for my mailing list! www.cheriallan.com

 

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