Saturday, April 28, 2012

Reader feedback on One Man Advantage

I've already heard from a reader who read One Man Advantage, and while she liked the story and had positive things to say about it, there was one aspect of the story that disappointed her, to the point where it impacted her overall experience reading the book.

To be honest, I'd wondered about this when I finished writing One Man Advantage. (For those who haven't read it, I'll try to talk about this without being spoilerish.) When I started writing this book, I'd thought the answer to this unanswered question would come to me as I wrote. I even asked some readers what they thought about it. Because another truth is, I don't even know the answer yet!

I'm mostly a "pantser", although I do plan the turning points of my stories - but those are based more on the emotion and the epiphany and the decision that has to happen for the character at that point, not actual plot events. Many plot events come to me as I write the story and get inside the heads of the characters. As this story unfolded, I brought in characters from past books briefly, but this was not their story - this was really Nicole's (and Logan's) story. I do see it mostly as Nicole's story, with her character growth being more than Logan's.  And when the story ended, I realized there was no more opportunity to add something in that was really unrelated to Nicole's story. 
I didn't do it deliberately to try to sell more books.

I asked my editor's opinion about this too, and she felt the story was fine the way it was.

Could I have gone back and changed things? Possibly…but when I look at the only scene where this could have happened, this scene was a turning point for Logan. That was his "black moment" where he believed he'd lost everything (again without giving spoiler details).  If I'd added in that significant, life-changing event for a character who is really a minor character in this story (despite how attached we all may be to him from his own story!) this would have detracted from the impact of Logan's dark moment. At that point, the focus had to be on Logan, on what was happening with him and how he was dealing with it, and not on another character.

The other place I could have changed things up was the phone call between Logan and his mom, near the end of the story. But something that momentous seemed out of place there, during the resolution of Nicole and Logan's story.

A reader's experience reading a book is always subjective - we all have our own filters and hot buttons and experiences that influence us when we read. And I'm very sorry when any reader is disappointed reading any of my books. For me, as an author that’s the worst thing about writing  - disappointing readers. There may be people who don't like my books, and I can live with that. But if someone who likes my books buys a book and reads it with certain expectations, I'm really sad if I let them down. On the other hand, I can't write my books to please everyone, because we're all so different. So all I can say is -  I will find a way to answer this question!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Release day: One Man Advantage

Today my book One Man Advantage is out!

One Man Advantage is my third book to feature a hockey player hero. Lest you think that hockey players are big and ugly and have no teeth, behold a few of the Winnipeg Jets:

Blake Wheeler

Zach Bogosian

Andrew Ladd

Evander Kane

These days the younger players mostly have their own teeth because they have to wear mouth guards. But some of them clearly don’t like it, as you often see them with the mouth guard hanging out of their mouths as soon as the whistle goes.

Andrew Ladd

But of course, it’s not looks that make a hero, although big muscles and a sexy smile do help! Qualities of determination, passion, loyalty, dedication, sacrifice and courage are important for heroes too.

Even a professional athlete can have insecurities. In One Man Advantage, Logan Heller grew up in a family with four boys, all who play hockey. Oldest brother Tag (Faceoff) was drafted by the NHL while in college and left college early for his pro career. He’s captain of his team, a natural leader. Next oldest brother Jason (Breakaway) played major junior hockey and also was a top draft pick. They’re both considered top players in the league. Younger siblings often struggle with living up to the accomplishments of their older siblings, but it might be especially hard to follow those kinds of achievements.

When Logan meets Nicole, he discovers they have a lot in common. Both their families are considered “hockey royalty”, Logan’s because of the three brothers playing in the NHL, Nicole’s because her father is Jacques Lambert, a hockey legend and now owner of an NHL team. They both love hockey. Nicole played too. And they both grew up feeling that they might not live up to their family’s expectations of them. (They also have some things in common they like in the *ahem* bedroom.)

But a hero is brave enough to face his insecurities and flaws and steps up when life is difficult. In One Man Advantage, Logan gets traded to a new team and even though he knows it’s part of the business and not personal, it still feels like a punch in the gut. He’s faced with starting over, with a new team, in a new city. He feels bitter and resentful and some guys might let that affect their performance. 

Here's an excerpt from One Man Advantage:

He took off his jacket and laid it on the floor. He looked at her as he sat on the floor, leaning against the wall opposite the windows. “Take off your jacket.”
“Because I said so.”
She snorted. “Hah.” But pleasure expanded inside him as she unwound her scarf from around her neck and removed her jacket, laying it on top of his on the floor. Beneath she wore a pair of low-rise jeans that hugged her hips and legs all the way down to the beige Ugg boots. On top, a black long-sleeved T-shirt clung to her full breasts.
“Come here,” he said.
She walked over and slid down the wall until she was sitting on the floor beside him.
“It’s a nice view,” he said.
“Yes.” She stretched her long, jeans-clad legs out in front of her and crossed her booted ankles.
Logan had always thought Ugg boot were the Uggliest thing ever invented for women to wear on their feet. Give him a pair of pointy toed stiletto boots any day. But he found himself unaccountably charmed by her chunky fleece-lined boots.
He turned his head to look at her, and she too rolled her head against the wall. Their eyes met.
Lust slammed into him like a body check.
They looked at each other. Moments accumulated. Heat built.
He dropped his gaze to her mouth, so lush and soft looking. His gaze dropped lower still and observed her breasts rising and falling with her quick, shallow breaths. She was affected by him too. There was something there.
He would never move in on another dude’s girl, but she’d only dated the guy once and he’d eat a hockey puck if he was wrong about her being as attracted to him as he was to her. He leaned in closer, slowly. Her eyelids dropped, her lips parted and then he closed his own eyes as he brushed his lips over hers. Once. Twice. And then he opened his mouth on hers and kissed her deeper.
He lifted a hand and dragged his fingertips over the soft skin of her jaw, then cupped her face and held it while they kissed. And yeah, hell yeah, she kissed him back, opening for him, and when he slid his tongue into her sweet mouth, she made a soft little sound in her throat that encouraged him. Her tongue moved against his and his brain shorted out, heat sizzling over every nerve ending in his body.
“Don’t do this,” she murmured, shifting her mouth away from his. He kissed her cheek instead.
“Say it like you mean it,” he murmured back. She groaned and triumph flared inside him. With his thumb on her chin, he tilted her head back toward him and kissed her again, longer, deeper.
“I can’t do this,” she whispered. “I can’t.”
“Why, sweetheart? It feels like you want it as much as I do.” He nuzzled her hair, her ear, breathed in her scent, something fresh and clean, green and citrusy. Heat pounded through his body with every beat of his heart, building in his balls.
“I... câlisse.”
“Hmm, what?” He opened his mouth on the side of her neck and sucked, so gently.
“I don’t want to want you!” she cried, but her hands grabbed his arms and her fingers dug into his sweater, holding on to him, not pushing him away.
“Why?” he asked again. “What’s wrong with it? Christ, Nicole, there’ve been sparks flying ever since we met.”
She moaned.
“Right?” He was pushing, because if she really wanted him to stop, he had to stop. He wanted to be sure of what was going on.
“Right.” The word sounded dragged out of her. He smiled and moved in for another kiss, another hot, mind-scrambling, sense-robbing kiss.