The Lord Meets His Lady by Gina Conkle

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Gina Conkle who is celebrating the upcoming release of The Lord Meets His Lady, the third book in her Midnight Meetings series.

How to Create Page Turning Dialogue by Gina Conkle
Dialogue is a much-debated topic in romance. One day you’re at a conference and a bestselling author spouts rules of dialogue. The next day, you’re reading another bestselling author’s book, and she’s broken every one of those rules.
How do you navigate writing with mixed signals?

It’s maddening…like driving in Italy. My one trip to Florence highlights this point. Our car had the green light. We started to go when another car zoomed through a red light. My husband’s Italian colleague slammed the brakes and shrugged it off with, “Red lights. They’re suggestions.”

The same phrase was said in the movie Under the Tuscan Sun. Maybe it’s an Italian thing, but the spirit of those words stayed with me. In writing, it’s good to learn the rules. Then you can break them. After all, your job is to woo your reader, draw them into the world you created.

This is why one rule guides me: Don’t get in the way of your story.

But every traveler needs a roadmap. Here are five suggestions:

1. To Tag or Not to Tag

You may have heard the only dialogue tags you need are said and ask. It’s true. You can get by with said and ask. But where’s the fun in that? I use whisper, coax, call, cry, murmur, or nothing at all. You know when dialogue sounds clunky. It can happen as easily with said and ask as yell or whimper.

The point is, tell your story. If an offbeat dialogue tag does the trick, be judicious, but go with it. It’s your voice. Don’t be afraid to drive outside the lines.

2. Nonverbal cues speak louder than words

Less than 10% of our communication comes from what we say. The next tier (more than 30%) comes from vocal elements such as tone, pitch, and rate of speech. The final tier (more than 50%) is pure body language with hands and eyes top contenders.
Here’s a challenge. Grab some paper and create columns for nonverbal cues: tone, pitch, rate of speech, breathing, eyes, eyebrows, mouth, nose, hands, fingers, chin, etc. Then, go through a current manuscript and put a hash in each nonverbal cue column. Did you discover certain writer habits? I once had a reviewer nab me for too much “head snapping” and you know what? She was right!

Mix up your nonverbal cues—like the boob shoulder. Marilyn Monroe made this pose famous: a woman’s coy glance past her shoulder (bare is better). Men view it as sexual. Women generally view it as favorable and friendly.

Actions speak louder than words in life and on the page. From page one to “The End” vary the body language.

3. Be aware of gender differences in speech patterns and behavior

Men tend to be less profuse with their facial expressions. They will tease or use more vocal cues such as sarcasm in dealing with sensitive topics, while women are more stream of conscious talkers. Men give less eye contact during conversation and frown or squint more. It means they’re mulling over what’s being said. They prefer being shoulder to shoulder in conversation while women prefer being face to face. Women tolerate interruptions more than men.

Don’t be afraid to turn gender norms upside down. While the above is scientifically proven, consider the outliers. There are blunt women and effusively verbal men. Consistency is the key to character authenticity.

4. It’s in the voice

Do all your characters speak like east coast college grads? If they are east coast college grads, fine. Now dig deeper. Look at their verb choices. Do they have pet phrases? A manner of speaking which reveals personality?

If number three above was the how of character speech, number four is the what. In one of my books, the hero was a well-educated man while the heroine was self-educated. She is fighting tooth and nail for every bit of progress. I made sure her voice reflected that on the page.

Men use commands more often than woman, and in a problematic situation, women ask more questions (to the chagrin of the males in the room). And that brings us to the next interesting point.

5. Dyads are it

Do you feel overwhelmed when writing a scene with three or more people? It’s a lot to juggle. Intimacy can get lost in the shuffle of setting and action. And what do you do when you’re writing, say a band of brothers series? Secondary characters need to shine for your readers to fall in love with them but not take over the book.

Dyads foster intimacy. In interpersonal communication theory, this means communication really is between two people and two people only. Person A speaks with person B and vice versa. They are both aware Person C is with them, but communication is always between two people. Person A can shift to Person C (thus creating a new dyad and Person B is out of the connection). This is why small group scenes can overwhelm. Ever had feedback like “There was too much going on” or “It was too much of XYZ characters”?

How does this translate to say a boardroom or ballroom scene?

Be aware of the dyads you create. More than ever, each word matters in an ensemble scene. You’ve heard the wisdom, if you show the reader a bat in chapter one, it better come back at later in the story (i.e. foreshadowing). Likewise, with your secondary characters and their dialogue, make it count.

Ask yourself, if their words reveal character? Move the story forward? Or feed the conflict?

If you find you’re writing group scenes, and the heroine and heroine’s arc is drifting, shift gears. Bring them together. Focus on a private moment in a crowd before returning to the ensemble cast. Your reader will feel the connection.

And that’s what dialogue in romance is all about.

Thanks for hosting me here. ~ Gina

Lord Marcus Bowles has stained his family’s reputation for the last time. Only after spending a scandal-free year restoring some far-flung property can this second son return in good graces. But Marcus isn’t one to abandon a lone damsel on a dark country lane.

One stolen kiss and Genevieve Turner’s handsome midnight savior disappears. Typical. No matter, Gen is finally on the way to her new post, and hopefully to finding her grandmother as well. Instead she finds her mischievous hero is her new employer. Surely a few more kisses won’t hurt…

Enjoy an Excerpt:

She yanked the door wide open, blinking at bright sunlight and an even brighter man.

Her breath caught. “Lord Bowles.”

“Miss Turner, how nice to see you again.” His greeting alone could be a proposition the way his voice caressed her name.

She stood mutely, the floor uncertain beneath her feet. Behind him the Beckworth geese waddled through the yard, their orange beaks poking the ground. The rogue followed her?

Her mind spinning, she blurted, “What are you doing?”

Hazel eyes glinted beneath his black tricorn hat. “I’m standing on your doorstep. Will you let me in?”

“No.” She stuffed the crumpled letter in her pocket. “Mr. Beckworth and his brothers aren’t here. They have business in Learmouth Village.”

Creases deepened at the corners of his friendly eyes. Lord Bowles wasn’t put off. There had to be a social nicety for this, but where she came from, if you didn’t want someone at your door, you told them.

“I know they aren’t.” His voice dropped lower. “I came early to see you.”

What was she supposed to do about this? A polite refusal formed, but his lordship’s vision snagged on her cleavage before popping back up to her face.

A scoundrel always showed his true colors.

She crossed her arms and leaned against the doorjamb, all pretense of a proper servant gone. “And who’d be calling? The honorable vicar?”

Lord Bowles chuckled. “I apologize for the surprise. Mr. Beckworth and I are longtime friends. I started to tell you about the connection when we repaired the coach brace.” He paused and took a measured tone. “But our road side conversation went in a new direction before I had the chance.”

She smarted when he said a new direction, a stinging reminder she’d pleaded with him to hide her true identity…from his friend no less. What a neat bit of trouble this was. Did his lordship think she was here to steal the family silver? A laughable thing since the humble Beckworth cottage had none.

“Then you would be the old army friend coming to dinner,” she said flatly.

“I am. Worse for the wear but not…so old.”

She shoved off the doorjamb, her mind assembling all the pieces. His lordship’s gentle humor was a balm in this clumsy moment. Lord Bowles was tonight’s honored guest and the reason for the small feast she was preparing in the kitchen. She wanted to tell him to come back later, but Mr. Beckworth might take offense if she did. What would a proper housekeeper do? There was also the matter of her character, such as it was. She didn’t want Lord Bowles thinking ill of her.

Mildly chastened, she clasped dough-flecked hands together. “I am not a thief, milord. If that’s your concern, please know I’d never cause harm to Mr. Beckworth or his family.”

“I believe you.”

Never had three words sounded so lovely. They’d rolled off his tongue without a second’s hesitation. She hesitated. Shutting the door on Lord Bowles wouldn’t be wise. Letting him in didn’t work either.

“I knew there was a possibility our paths might cross,” she said, stalling in hopes wisdom would strike.

“And you thought I’d pretend we’d met for the first time should we be introduced in the village.”

“Yes.”

Lord Bowles nodded, hands clasped behind his back. “While I don’t believe you’re out to harm Mr. Beckworth, this still makes me complicit in your deception…against my friend.”

Her status hung in the balance. Did he have concerns about her circumstances? Or was he in search of a dalliance? Power was his.

“Does that mean you’ll not mention my real name or The Golden Goose to Mr. Beckworth?”

“I already gave my word.” He flashed a disarming smile. “Now will you let me in?”

She was doomed. Lord Bowles was trouble on two legs. He knew how to open doors with his smile alone. A sculpted lower lip balanced his thinner upper lip, a scale of sensuality and wit. Her solitude and better judgement were about to be breached by a consummate flirt wielding his version of honor. Men were by no means a novelty. She was skilled at brushing them off or being unnoticed when the mood struck, but she’d have to face facts.

London allowed obscurity. Cornhill-on-Tweed would not.

“No harm in showing you to the parlor. Mr. Beckworth and his brothers should return within an hour.”

He stepped inside and passed his hat to her, sunshine crowning his chestnut-colored hair. “Any chance you’ll sit with me awhile?” He stretched free of his black redingote, the collar brushing curls at his nape.

“None. I clean the parlor, milord I don’t sit in it.”

He laughed at her bald rejection, and a single lock slipped free of his queue’s black ribbon. The curl hid behind his ear, the strands a sun-kissed contrast to the rest of his brown hair. The vulnerable lock of hair begged to be neatened. She hung his hat and coat on pegs, glad for her hands to have something to do. Lord Bowles stood less than an arm’s length from her at the cross roads of proper and intimate, a winsome smile on his face.

And her wish to be a respectable domestic slipped a notch.

About the Author: Gina Conkle writes sensual Georgian romance and lush Viking romance. Her books offer a fresh, addictive spin on the genre, with the witty banter and sexual tension that readers crave. She grew up in southern California and despite all that sunshine, Gina loves books over beaches and stone castles over sand castles. Now she lives in Michigan with her favorite alpha male, Brian, and their two sons where she’s known to occasionally garden and cook.

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Buy the book at Amazon, Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Chapters, iBooks, or Indiebound.

Where Did This Book Come From? by Gina Conkle – Guest Post and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Gina Conkle will be awarding an Amazon Kindle Fire 7” to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Where did this book come from?
By Gina Conkle

It’s safe to say the two hot novellas in Waiting for a Girl Like You are off brand for someone who writes squarely in historical romance. This book is steamy. It’s my first true self-published work, and it’s contemporary. Writing these novellas flew in the face of what I know about career wisdom.

Writers should stick to their brand.
Writers should first publish 5-6 books in one romance subgenre before moving to another.
Writers should have a marketing plan for self-published books.

I didn’t do any of the above with this new turn. So why dive into something totally new and different?

My quick answer: I needed the creative challenge.

The sex scenes are the hottest I’ve ever written. Then there is the first story in the book…Proper Care and Feeding of a Broken Heart is told in first person. Both stories are novellas when I tend to write long (mostly single title books). And yes, there was writing in a contemporary setting with smart phones! If you read the second novella, Anything But Safe, you’ll get my meaning. Really, none of this is my comfort zone.

So, that’s the writer’s side of things. The business end came next.

This career swerve made me appreciate all the little things traditional publishers do. But you know what? This book recharged my writer batteries. My agent and I talked strategy for my three romance subgenres. Eventually, I’ll have a website for my hot contemporary romance. I’ll write a “what’s next” for Mark and Abbie and for AJ and Jennifer (characters in the two novellas). There will also be two very different brothers who will each get his own hot story…this time longer.

What I do is creative, but it’s business too. I need to be intentional, which this latest turn taught me. It’s good to shake things up and give yourself a new, creative challenge. If you like Waiting for a Girl Like You, you might also like my free short storyListening to Her (find the link to get your free download with my social media connections).

As I close, an entrepreneur guru posted a question recently that says it all: When was the last time you tried something new?

Please tell me in the comments the section below. What new thing have you tried or want to try?

Thanks for hosting me!
-Gina

(Two stories in one Book)

“Proper Care and Feeding of a Broken Heart”

Bookstore clerk Abbie is off-the-charts nervous her first night moonlighting in a sex-for-hire job. If she only kept her mouth shut…but nothing goes as expected, including the intense blue-eyed surfer who walks through her door. Mark wants to work out a few kinks —and leave the lifestyle for good. Past mistakes still haunt him, but sweet Abbie turns Mark’s plans upside down, and two broken hearts discover honesty is the hottest aphrodisiac.

“Anything But Safe”

Former trophy wife Jennifer wants to thrive again, but when her new life hits a speedbump, her unlikely hero is rough working man AJ. The woman he rescued is out of his league, but the two together are magic. Jennifer smooths his hard edges, and when she’s with AJ, her true, quirky colors show. A surprise threatens to derail the two who quickly learn…love is anything but safe.

Enjoy an Excerpt from “Proper Care and Feeding of a Broken Heart”

“I don’t know what Mrs. Smith told you but when she said ‘fresh face’ that was code for I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve never done this before. Any of it. Not sex for hire. And certainly not BDSM. Much as I want to bolt, I need the money. So can we get this over with?”

Another dry chuckle. “You know how to get a man going.”

I glared at him through my bangs and hugged myself tighter. Music pulsed from the room next door, but I couldn’t say what the song was. Did they need a sound track to get going? The frazzled side of me surrendered to how little I knew about sex. Despite standing bravely, I was small and adrift on an unknown sea.

Surfer Man stepped within touching distance, his blue eyes on the verge of grey, lit with a strange mixture of hard shell and tender patience. A faint line traced the left side of his mouth like contempt came easy.

“First rule,” he said evenly. “You only talk when spoken to.”

“Then what am I supposed to call you?”

The question startled us both. I was throwing out the no names rule and for good reason. Something dawned on me. With the closed door, it was just the two of us. This square room was my island. Control could go either way. Surfer Man’s mouth opened, but an adrenaline rush took over and my hip cocked sideways. In the world of fight or flight, my body tensed with its version of fight.

“Oh, let me guess. You’re going to say Call me master or some crap like that. I work at a bookstore. I’ve read those please spank me Mr. Billionaire books.”

I liked a few of them. Reading the books was one thing. Living them was another.

One side of his mouth curved up. “Maybe you should tell me how you really feel.”

I exhaled slowly, blowing bangs off my forehead. No sense in telling him what I really thought. Talk about a mood killer. No man wanted to hear me say this place is for losers who can’t find a girl. Yet, this guy was no loser.

“Real billionaires don’t look like you do in those jeans of yours.”

He chuckled, his blue eyes flaring wider. “I’m no billionaire.”

Oh, but you are one hot man. Thankfully my filter worked and I kept that to myself.

About the Author: Gina Conkle writes Viking and Georgian Romance with a new dip into hot Contemporary Romance. She grew up in southern California and despite all that sunshine, Gina loves books over beaches and stone castles over sand castles. Now she lives in Michigan with her favorite alpha male, Brian, and their two sons where she’s known to occasionally garden and cook.

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The Lady Meets Her Match by Gina Conkle – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Gina Conkle will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Rough-around-the-edges Cyrus Ryland rose from humble origins to become England’s wealthiest citizen and most eligible bachelor. Called the King of Commerce, he thinks nothing of marriage until he hosts a masked ball and discovers an alluring woman hiding in his study. After one dance the lady vanishes, leaving behind a single shoe. The hunt is on, but finding her is only half the battle.

Claire Mayhew wants her hard won independence…a mid-town shop of her own. She resists the scorching attraction with Mr. Ryland — her new landlord, but Cyrus isn’t a man who gives up easily.

Enjoy an excerpt:

“Mr. Ryland, on your first visit to my shop, you questioned my accounts. Now do you plan to inspect how I manage the messengers?” She was being a little tetchy, but that assessment of his touched a sore spot. “As long as I pay my rent come Friday, whatever else happens is no concern of yours.”

He cracked a smile. “Not afraid to put me in my place, are you?”

“As in reminding you that you’re my landlord and you’ve no business giving me such commentary? I’m happy to. I doubt you share your opinions with the male proprietors who rent from you.”

Frayed nerves and a morning fraught with mishaps put her on edge. To admit this to him would be akin to acknowledging a chink in her shopkeeper’s armor. She wasn’t choosing her words with care but let them flow nonetheless.

“Duly noted, Miss Mayhew. I admit I haven’t changed my mind on this venture of yours,” he asserted.

“At the table, even you acknowledged the dangers preying on women in London. At least my sister’s business proposition must prove some goodwill during this trial period.”

She heard him, but her vision caught on the curious red ribbon. Ryland glanced at the box under his arm, his stance relaxing.

“This is the other reason for my visit today,” he said quietly, holding out the wooden box. “It’s for you.”

Her gaze snapped up to his. “For me?”

Claire reached out, accepting the gift with cautious hands. She hefted the box gingerly up and down, checking the sides.

He chuckled. “I promise there’s no viper inside.”

“You bought me a ledger, didn’t you?” Her tone lacked all enthusiasm. A rectangular account book could fit inside the box. So would a shoe.

“If I did, you must agree a ledger would do you good.” His brows slammed together, a small vertical line forming above his nose. “But you won’t know until you open it.”

About the Author:

Gina writes Viking and Georgian romance with a softly sensual side. She loves history, books and romance…the perfect recipe for historical romance writer. Her passion for castles and old places —the older and moldier the better— means interesting family vacations. Good thing her husband and two sons share similar passions. When not visiting fascinating places she can be found delving into the latest adventures in cooking, gardening, and chauffeuring her sons.

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