2017 RONE Awards

Hi Everyone—Great News!

Sarika and Rafe’s story, The Fabrizio Bride, has been nominated for a 2017 RONE award in the Contemporary: Steamy category.

Voting starts today and lasts one week (May 22 – 28).

http://www.indtale.com/2017-rone-awards-week-six

The winner is determined in three stages: 1) Highly reviewed books in Ind’tale magazine make the first cut 2) All of my readers—like you—get to vote in the second cut!! 3) Industry professionals make the final decision.

So…PLEASE…if you LOVED Sarika and Rafe, LOVED how they finally came together in The Fabrizio Bride, take the time to click on the link below and help push them (and me!) to the finals.

http://www.indtale.com/2017-rone-awards-week-six

When you vote, you’ll have to register with Ind’tale Magazine. There’s a link on the page to take you right there.

Thanks again, everyone! And FYI: I’m hoping to write a third book in the Sizzling, Sexy, Santa Barbara series this summer called The Berrucci Rules starring Lorenzo and Callie—can’t wait!!

Much love to you all,

Alyson McLayne  🙂

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The Call

I wanted to let you all know that I had some huge news a few weeks ago. I got THE CALL!!

For those of you who don’t know, THE CALL is when a writer like me, who’s been working on my writing for many years and has been submitting to agents and publishers (as well as self-publishing), finally gets notified in some way, either through an editor or the writers’ agent, that they’ve sold their first manuscript to a publisher. This is definitely a Squee!-worthy moment. 😀

In the writing world, we call the events surrounding this—THE CALL STORY—and I finally have mine!!

As some of you may know, Sourcebooks has a program on Wattpad where you can tag your manuscript submit2sourcebooks and it goes directly to an editor. It almost feels like a secret back door into the Sourcebooks clubhouse because not many people know about it, and it doesn’t feel like you’re going through “official channels”. You don’t have to write and submit a query letter, blurb, synopsis, or partial manuscript, and there aren’t any e-forms to fill out—nothing. If your manuscript is complete and already on Wattpad, all it takes is about thirty seconds to tag it correctly.

I had a pretty quick response from Sourcebooks saying my book, The Sons Of Gregor MacLeod, a historical romance set in the Highlands, was under review and they’d get back to me in 2 – 3 weeks, which is REALLY fast in publishing terms. In the end, it took longer than three weeks, but I thought that was probably good news because maybe the manuscript had been kicked up the ladder.

I don’t know exactly how long it took the editor, Cat Clyne, to get back to me because honestly, I…um…forgot about it. I was a Golden Heart finalist at the time, and I was super busy with that, plus I’d self-published two short contemporary romances called The Fabrizio Bride, and its sequel The D’amici Mistake, and I had recently done a MAJOR revision on the beginning of The Fabrizio Bride despite the fact that it had already been published for a while (yay for self-publishing!).

So when I received Cat’s enthusiastic message on Wattpad about my manuscript, I was thrilled! Unfortunately all I could read was the first few lines of the message on my phone and my laptop was dead—yup, that happened—and I had to run out the door to get my kids to preschool, so I couldn’t even wait for the laptop to power up. DOH!

Needless to say, I now have apps on my phone for most of my social media and email. 😛

After rushing back home, I finished reading Cat’s lovely email, in which she praised my book and the series potential/hook (five foster brothers), sent me her direct email and asked me for more information on the series and myself, plus the full manuscript. I didn’t have time to do all that right away, so I just sent a note saying I was interested and would send the material ASAP. She got back to me asking to meet for coffee at RWA’s National conference, which I was attending in a few weeks for the Golden Heart awards.

Slow lizard blink, um…YES!

I sent her the material she’d requested plus a note about the revisions I had planned for the book. Unfortunately, it was now the weekend, and I had to wait. But by the time I woke up Monday morning (west coast time), Cat had responded with another email, calling my book ‘Highlander catnip’ and asking if I wanted to set up a phone meeting to go over my planned revisions.

This is when the clouds opened up, sunlight poured down, and the Heavens sang.

I’d been close to a sale several times with my writing in the 27 years since I wrote my first romance. I’d been agented twice for both novels and screenplays, I’d won or placed in several big writing contests, even winning $1000 in one contest, I’d worked with editors, agents, and producers on several different projects, and I’d been paid to revise other people’s work, but this—a revision meeting with an editor at a good publishing house on a manuscript/series I’d started almost ten years ago that was so near and dear to my heart—felt different. I thought, maybe I could finish the revisions in time for Nationals, and Cat would offer for my book after that.

I prepared for my phone meeting by writing up a revision plan and sending it to Cat ahead of time, arranging for my kids to be out of the house, and telling my fellow Golden Heart nominees about my progress—to resounding cheers and support! One nominee in particular (waving at Diane!) said maybe Cat would offer on the book during the phone call—she wouldn’t go to all the trouble if she wasn’t really keen.

I laughed, thinking wouldn’t that be nice, but then totally dismissed it. I was having a revision meeting. I’d impress my potential editor with my professionalism and insight, and I’d show her I could take notes and work with someone else to make a better book.

The day came, the kids vacated the house, I printed off multiple copies of my notes, got a fresh notepad, and tested several different pens to take notes with during the call—and I spread them all out perfectly on my dining room table. Being a theatre grad, I even did a few voice warm-up exercises, so I’d speak more clearly.

The phone rang, and all that was promptly forgotten as I chatted with Cat (who may be the nicest person in the world!). When it came to talking about the revisions, I did most of the talking until she said something along the lines of: Actually, I’m prepared to offer on all five books in the series. I stopped talking. I no longer had any words in my head.

I couldn’t have been more shocked. And I was excited, yes, but really just so damn stunned. Then I tried to be all cool (’cause selling your first book happens every day) and not emotionally vomit all over my new editor. Oooh, and didn’t that sound amazing—MY EDITOR!!

Yup, here came the emotional vomiting, although by then I think we’d finished the call and hung up. Now there was fist pumping and spasmodic happy dancing—and no one to share it with. I called my husband and got his voice mail, my dad was out of town, the kids were gone. Thank goodness my writing bestie picked up or I may have imploded. I HAVE A FIVE BOOK DEAL FROM SOUCEBOOKS!!

I talked to her for almost an hour, walking around my house because I couldn’t sit still, mind reeling, occasional spurts of tears. Finally my hubby called, the kids came home. I emailed my dad, Skyped overseas friends, and announced to fellow Golden Heart nominees and my local writing chapter that I’d SOLD!

Still, it didn’t seem real. It seemed more real when I got my agent Kevan Lyon, met with Cat at the RWA National convention, went to the Sourcebooks’ author dinner, and had to give my agent due dates for the rest of the books, including the due date for the first book, which I was still revising.

But you know when it became really real? One week ago when I hit send at 5:30 in the morning and sent Cat my first book.

Yup. Shite just got real (it is a Scottish historical, what did you expect?). Now onto book two. 😀

The Sons of Gregor MacLeod—a five book Highlander historical romance series, coming out the Fall of 2017 by Alyson McLayne.

THE WILD RIDE OF WATTPAD

What the heck is Wattpad?

Until last summer I would have asked the same question. The only reason I found out was because I entered my historical romance, The Sons Of Gregor MacLeod, into a Harlequin contest that chose Wattpad as its platform.

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My son and Max the cat—who is now chasing butterflies over the Rainbow Bridge.

At first I grumbled. I didn’t want to learn something new. I had kids, a husband, an old cat…how could I take the time to learn how Wattpad worked? Especially when I just wanted to write…by myself…in my jammies…wearing my ear plugs. Often in the dark in my kids’ room at night.

Kind of my own sensory deprivation tank where I could live in my head.

Well, Wattpad took me and my stories out of that tank and thrust us INTO THE WORLD.

A social platform.

Wattpad offers a place for writers to upload their books, and then anyone from around the world with internet access can read, vote, and comment on your story—good or bad.

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My Wattpad banner, featuring my self-pub book covers.

At first, my stomach churned just thinking about it. But then I got used to the uncertainty, to being thrust out of my comfort zone, to my book baby being released into the world—and amazing things happened.

I kept my book up on Wattpad after the contest ended, and the votes kept trickling in—and not from friends and family trying to get me a publishing deal. No, these votes were from strangers…who read my book…and liked it.

But I still didn’t see Wattpad as a vehicle for getting my writing out there. Boy was I wrong.

Commence the Wild Ride.

In December I received an email from Jennifer Dibble, the Romance Specialist at Wattpad, asking if Wattpad could feature The Sons Of Gregor MacLeod. The book was being considered by a publisher at the time, so I asked if she’d consider a different manuscript.

She agreed, and on April 5th, 2016 my contemporary romance, The Fabrizio Bride, the first book in my Sizzling, Sexy, Santa Barbara series I’ve since self-published, went up on Wattpad’s Romance Feature page.

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It’s been almost four months, and so far the two books have garnered about 700,000 page views, 20,000 stars, over 1,000 comments, and readers on every continent except Antarctica (although I hear those penguins love romance!).

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Blue indicates the countries reading The Fabrizio Bride. The darker the blue, the higher the number of reads.

And there’s more. Wattpad also chose The Fabrizio Bride to be featured on Cosmopolitan.com, leading to even more readers.

Submit2Sourcebooks.

But let’s not forget about my historical romance The Sons Of Gregor MacLeod that started this journey: Wattpad also facilitated the sale of the series (5 books!) to Sourcebooks, an established New York publisher. Turns out forward-thinking publishers have heard of Wattpad, too, and they’re looking for material.

I became the second Wattpad acquisition by my editor. They’re planning to keep the first book in the series up on Wattpad even when it goes to print.

Strap on your jet pack.

So now when someone asks you, what the heck is Wattpad? You can say it’s a Wild Ride—at least, it has been for me. And I’ll continue to hang on for as long as I can and go wherever it takes me—with the occasional stop to refuel in my sensory deprivation tank. 😉

 

 

GOLDEN HEART INTERVIEW

Hi Guys! I’m being interviewed today over at The Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood blog—all about my Golden Heart nominated manuscript, my writing process, and how I broke out of my writing dry spell when life (and babies!) got in the way. 🙂
Please drop by and say hello!
http://www.rubyslipperedsisterhood.com/gh-guest-alyson-mclayne/

Thanks!!

Alyson McLayne

REVISIONS II

Hi Guys!

It’s been about two months now since I put The Fabrizio Bride up on Wattpad, and I’ve had some wonderfully encouraging, heartwarming, and hilarious messages/comments since then.

THANK YOU!!

I’ve also had a few detractors. Which is fine—good, actually—everyone’s entitled to their opinion and when you’re invested in a book, you’re often very passionate about it—whether you love it or hate it.

And you know what? ALL the comments, positive and negative, have helped me to look at my manuscript with new eyes, to see what what’s bugging people, what’s making them laugh, what’s making them sigh—so I can revise and create a better book.

WHICH I HAVE DONE!

After about a month of digging through the muck of a major revision—mostly on the first third of the book—I have come out the other side with a story I’m much happier with.

I heard all of you, and I recognized what an invaluable source Wattpad is to find the weak spots in my manuscript. I worked a lot on Rafe to show his broken side, to make him more heroic and caring in the beginning, so he’s someone everyone can root for. And I worked on Sarika, too, giving her more strength and resolve while still allowing her vulnerability to show through. I cut scenes, added scenes, reworked scenes, all with the hope of creating a stronger story and more admirable characters.

I would love you all to re-read The Fabrizio Bride, if you have time—if not the whole book then the first three chapters. And PLEASE let me know what you think. Did I succeed? Or do I need to pull my gum boots back on and keep digging?

Maybe in the future…but for now, I think I’ve written a better book. I hope you all do, too.

Sincerely,

Alyson McLayne

fabrizio bride book 1damici book 2

REVISIONS

fabrizio bride book 1I’m contemplating more revisions on my self-published novel The Fabrizio Bride – and because it’s a digital book, I can do that (yay e-books!). Not the whole thing, just the first three or four chapters. The thing is, I keep revising and revising this sucker because I wrote the first three chapters about ten years ago, put it down, then wrote the rest a few years later. And it shows (at least it does to me). I’ve become a better writer since then and my writing voice has changed and developed. So now I’m not sure the beginning of The Fabrizio Bride reflects my true writing voice. The last half of the book with the…and the…well, I don’t want to give it away, but the last half is TOTALLY my voice, lol.

But just the thought of a major revision makes me tired, especially when I think of how many revisions I’ve already completed on this book. I finished the last one a few days ago only to get a critique back from a trusted writer friend who made some really good points. Points that require me to go into the manuscript and rip it up, not just patch it over. It’s like digging up your front lawn and putting down new sod versus doing a power rake and throwing some grass seed on top. You’re thrilled with the results once the new sod is laid, but when you’re doing it, you feel like you’ll never get out of the muck – especially if you have kids running back and forth through the dirt (you know who you are!).

The problem is that I keep thinking this revision is going to FINALLY fix all the problems and the book will be perfect (yeah, right). As a writer, it’s hard to let go because the books we write are a reflection of us, as well as an indication of our future books. But that’s not necessarily the case. In the same way that we grow and change as people, our skill as writers (and what interests us to write) grows and changes. Someone who read the first three chapters of The Fabrizio2134981 Bride (or God forbid my first two novels before that!) might not recognize my voice in my 2016 Golden Heart manuscript WØLFF: Rise Of The Valdyr, which is a paranormal romance filled with myth, magic, world-building, and save-the-world type action.

But there’s also a lot about The Fabrizio Bride that I love, which is why I keep going back to fix it and why I decided to self-publish it. And I know a lot of you loved it, too – exactly as it is – and you’re probably asking yourselves, what problems? Bless you. You’ve been wonderfully supportive since I started this self-publishing journey. I’m so happy that the book moved you – made you laugh and cry – I intend to keep all that good stuff. For all the wonderful comments, however, I’ve also had some not-so-wonderful comments. And the detractors haven’t held back any punches. When I remove the sting of the hits, I can see they have some good points, too.

So, back to the drawing board. Back to reworking some of Rafe and Sarika’s motivations and also re-thinking what’s happened in their lives just before the book starts and why they broke up in the first place. Back to making Rafe a little more heroic from the start and showing his broken side a little better. Back to making Sarika a little less likely to succumb to passion, but still not being afraid to show she’s hurt without people perceiving her as weak.

Anyway…must…start…revising. I shall let you know when I come out of the muck of revisions and hopefully have a better book.  🙂

Take care,

Alyson McLayne
2016 Golden Heart Finalist – WØLFF: Rise Of The Valdyr

P.S. Check out book two in my Sizzling, Sexy, Santa Barbara series, The D’amici Mistake!

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EXTRAS!!

Hi Guys,

I just wanted to let everyone know I added additional scenes from two different books under my EXTRAS tab on my website, plus more Fun Facts about me (if you’re a Sci-fi or comic book fan it might interest you to know what my husband does for a living!!).

The first added scene is from my Golden Heart® nominated manuscript, a paranormal romance called “WØLFF: Rise Of The Valdyr”. It’s a prologue set in the Appalachian mountains when the heroine is fifteen. Even though I love the prologue it didn’t make it into the final cut of the book. Find out why!

The second added scene is from my historical romance set in the highlands of Scotland during the medieval time period.  It’s called The Sons Of Gregor MacLeod and is the first in the series starring the foster-brothers. It’s also a prologue, but one I’ve decided to keep. 🙂

Enjoy!!

Alyson McLayne

Hello My Lovelies!

I’ve had this question a lot in the last few weeks, so I thought I’d clear it up in one mass email/blog. Are you ready?

Here goes. The second book in the series (the one following “The Fabrizio Bride”) is called “The D’amici Mistake” and it stars Santo and Elena. This story is not available on Wattpad. You can only buy it at online retailers for $3.99.

$3.99? But that’s so cheap, you say!

Yup, it is. Think of the hours of fun you’ll get for about the cost of a cup of coffee – more if you add a chocolate brownie…which I so would do. And it has no calories – the book, that is. The chocolate brownie definitely has calories. (Unless you eat it so fast it doesn’t count. Hee hee!)

Anyway…back to the (sizzling, sexy) “The D’amici Mistake”. You can search for it on your own, or click on the link on my website:

https://alysonmclayne.com/the-damici-mistake/

While you’re there, check out the deleted scenes from both “The Fabrizio Bride” and “The D’amici Mistake” that I’ve posted under EXTRAS. You may find them interesting. Plus there’s a bunch of new FUN FACTS about me!

Thanks for listening and buying my book instead of a calorie-laden, yummy dessert and whipped cream-topped, specialty coffee. Oh, who am I kidding. Buy the book, the coffee AND the scrumptious dessert. You won’t regret it. 🙂

Cheers and happy reading (and eating!).

Alyson McLayne

P.S. Please leave a review. It’ll burn at least 20 calories.

Featured on Cosmopolitan.com!

An excerpt from ‘The Fabrizio Bride’ is being featured on cosmopolitan.com right now!

Check it out!

http://www.cosmopolitan.com/sex-love/bedroom-blog/news/a56396/wattpad-on-cosmo-ex-lover-returns/

Wattpad on Cosmo: When an Ex-Lover Returns

“Closing her eyes, she arched her neck and let her lips fall open, the sexual pull between them too strong to resist.

 

April 5th is Book Release Day!

The first two books in the SIZZLING, SEXY, SANTA BARBARA series will be published on April 5th: THE FABRIZIO BRIDE & THE D’AMICI MISTAKE

Please visit your favorite retailer – and don’t forget to leave a review!

Also, connect with me on social media to get special updates. 🙂

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fabrizio bride book 1         damici book 2

 

Cosmopolitan.com wants to feature ‘The Fabrizio Bride’

I woke up this morning to a message from Wattpad saying Cosmopolitan.com wants to feature an excerpt from my book “The Fabrizio Bride” on April 20th. Woot! So that’s two mornings this week I’ve woken up to excellent news. What a way to start my day.

fabrizio bride book 1

I’m so excited to share my story with more readers and welcome them to Sizzling, Sexy, Santa Barbara!

Alyson McLayne

Golden Heart® Finalist!

I was sleeping with the kids this morning (my daughter had a bad night) when my phone started vibrating. It was just after eight. I debated answering it because both kids were still asleep, and I wanted to be, lol. But then I saw it was from the States, and suddenly I was WIDE AWAKE. I picked up and proceeded to do a lot of whooping and happy dancing (waking the kids) as I was told one of my manuscripts, a paranormal romance called WØLFF: Rise Of The Valdyr, was nominated for the Golden Heart Award. For those of you who don’t know, the Golden Heart is like the Academy Award for unpublished authors. I don’t have an actual book cover for the manuscript yet, but here’s a fantastic photo my husband found for me.

wolf eyes

See official announcement here

2016 RITA® & Golden Heart Finalists Announced

Romance Writers of America (RWA), the trade association for aspiring and published romance fiction authors, announces the finalists for the 2016 RITA and Golden HeartAwards. The RITA — the highest award of distinction in romance fiction — recognizes excellence in published romance novels and novellas. The Golden Heart recognizes excellence in unpublished romance manuscripts.

Up to 2,000 romance novels are entered in the RITA competition each year. A novel may be entered either by the author or by the book’s publisher in one of the contest categories. After the first round of judging by published romance authors, entries that meet the qualifications to become a finalist then advance to the final round.

The 2016 winners will be announced at a black-tie awards ceremony on July 16 at the 2016 RWA Annual Conference in San Diego, California.

Paranormal Romance

“Better Dead” by Pamela Kopfler

“Constant Craving” by Kari W. Cole

“Don’t Call Me Cupcake” by Tara Sheets

“Kissed at Midnight” by Ainsley Wynter

“The Mer Chronicles: A Duty Too Far” by Kate Ramirez

“Taxing Courtship” by Jaycee Jarvis

“WØLFF: Rise of the Valdyr” by Alyson McLayne

 

Also listed on USA Today