Monday, April 28, 2014

Book Review: Tawna Fenske's Frisky Business

I have to admit, what got me interested in this book was the cover, particularly the adorable pup peering over the bench. While it was clear this was a romance - and here I must say, I don't particularly gravitate to the romance genre - this book promised to have something more I could sink my canines into (pun intended). 

Here's a brief blurb from the back of the book:

No more rich men for Marley Cartman. Absolutely not. Thanks to her dad, ex-fiance, and the overbearing donors she schmoozes for a living, she's had more than her fill. From now on, she wants blue-collar men with dirt under their fingernails. But when Marley makes a break to handle donor relations for a wildlife sanctuary, she finds herself drawn to the annoyingly charming - and disturbingly wealthy - chairman of the board.

Judging by his hipster T-shirts, motley assortment of canine companions, and penchant for shaking up stuffy board meetings, you'd never guess that William Barclay the Fifth is a brilliantly successful businessman. Will has good reason to be leery of scheming women, and as he and Marley butt heads over the wisdom of bringing grumpy badgers to charity events, he can't help but wonder if his new donor relations coordinator is hiding something other than a perfect figure beneath that designer suit.

And just as I'd hoped, Tawna Fenske delivered. Just a page in and she had me laughing with her wit. Marley is a fun, intelligent and sexy protagonist. Her one fatal flaw is that she often opens mouth and inserts foot, saying whatever comes to mind and inadvertently revealing her own insecurities. But this is the exact trait that makes her extremely likable as a character. When Marley meets Will, the handsome hipster/self-made millionaire, the attraction is undeniable. However, if Marley wants to keep her new job as well as her promise to herself of staying away from rich guys with big issues, she needs to deny her attraction to Will. This creates some great tension.

But there's more to this story than the bittersweet tension of attraction that can't be acted on. Will's been hurt from a recent divorce and he doesn't know if he can really trust Marley, who seems so adept at switching personas in order to get donors to write big checks for the wildlife sanctuary. And Marley has her own secret. A couple of secrets really, which makes for a satisfying read.

A little bit about Tawna:

Tawna Fenske traveled a career path that took her from newspaper reporter to English teacher in Venezuela to marketing geek to PR manager for her city's tourism bureau. An avid globetrotter and social media fiend, Tawna is the author of the popular blog, Don't Pet Me, I'm Writing, and a member of Romance Writers of America. She lives with her fiancĂ© in Bend, Oregon, where she'll invent any excuse to hike, bike, snowshoe, float the river, or sip wine on her back deck. 

She's published several romantic comedies with Sourcebooks, including Making Waves and Believe it or Not, as well as the interactive fiction caper, Getting Dumped, with Coliloquy and Marine for Hire with Entangled Brazen. Her latest Sourcebooks release, Frisky Business, was praised by Kirkus Reviews as "
an appealing blend of lighthearted fun and emotional tenderness."

Tawna's quirky brand of comedy and romance has earned kudos from RT Book Reviews, which nominated her debut novel for Contemporary Romance of the Year, and from the Chicago Tribune, which noted, "Fenske's wildly inventive plot & wonderfully quirky characters provide the perfect literary antidote to any romance reader's summer reading doldrums."

You can find Tawna at:

Monday, April 21, 2014

Self-awareness and character building

Do you get the feeling that you know your characters a bit too well? Know her past with accuracy. Understand her feelings intuitively. Vouch for her actions 100%?

Are you sure your character is not you?
When I started working on my current WIP a few years ago a lot of my MC was me. She was timid, shy, lost, passive-aggressive and had mommy issues. My critique group gave me pointers about character development and ideas on how to build character consistency. I took notes. A very wise writer told me how it was difficult for me to see the character inconsistencies since so much of me was wrapped in my MC. Dutifully, I wrote that sentence down, too.

You see, I had no idea that a big part of me was my MC! It took me several months to realize that. And when I did, it struck me as doubly strange that someone I knew as well as myself came out so inconsistent on the page.

We all write a bit of ourselves in each of our characters. Memories, personal ticks, family occasions are all fair game. But I had done something more. I had drawn a caricature of myself and conveniently called it my main character. What I needed to do was take myself out of my MC with precision and build a character that was more truthful to my story, not necessarily one that came to me more easily.

Of course, before doing this I had to research the phenomena. What good writer wouldn’t! When I read up on it, author interviews touched on this topic. Most authors either embrace the concept that the central character is semi-autobiographical version of themselves or completely disassociate themselves from their MCs. It was a recurring theme, which made me feel less alone dealing with the issue while at the same time forced me to confront the amount of work needed to be done to build a character who was true to my story.

So, 1), I journal-ed more from my character’s point of view. I gave her scenarios to see how she would react. I’d get up in the morning and make notes about the weather from her POV; I’d spend a few minutes at the end of the day summing it up from POV.

On other days, I’d write my own journal to build my own self-awareness. To see what my reactions were like. To understand my own POV. To look at my writing style to see how it was different from my MC’s.

2) Then, I asked myself what was the problem my MC was trying to solve. What was the reason for her journey? While this was easy to answer, I had to look hard and deep inside myself to see if this was something I was struggling with as well. Whether my MC and I were looking to solve the same thing or had different issues just being aware of the similarities/differences was enough to build a more truthful character.  

A lot of my character inconsistencies came about because I needed to be more aware of myself and understand myself better. When this happened, I got better insight into my MC and what her journey was.
Self-awareness is key when writing a story and building a character. We tend to focus so much on the MC, our plot and our story that we tend to forget about the person who is actually creating the world. A bit of self-awareness goes a long way.

What do you think? How have you created your characters? How much of you is in your characters? 

Monday, April 14, 2014


Hi all!!!

I will be at YA Fest this coming Saturday with a bunch of amazing authors! I'll be signing my book, Triangles, and chatting with everyone!

Here is the info:

YA FEST 2014 is located in Easton, PA on Saturday April 19, 2014 at the Palmer Branch of the Easton Area Public Library. 1 Weller Place, Easton, Pa 18045.

Join us as 50 Young Adult and Mid-Grade fiction authors unite to sign books and speak with patrons.

Books will be provided by Barnes and Noble Southmont. A portion of proceeds will go directly to the library to help fund the YA shelves and events.

The festival will run from 10:30-3pm and feature a writing contest, signings, book sale, raffles and a Discussion Panel.

Here is the link to the list of attending authors:

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Scorned by Josephine Templeton

Me:  Fellow Crescent Moon Press author, Josephine Templeton, is on my blog today. Welcome, Josephine!

Josephine:  Hey, Toni!  I’m super-psyched to be on your blog today.  Thank you so much for inviting me!

Thanks so much for being here! Can you tell us about Scorned? Love the cover by the way!

My latest release is about Angelle, a former fallen angel who has to save a certain number of souls in order to get back in to Heaven.  Scorned, an urban fantasy with romantic elements, is the first in a series, and she must save Jack, an arcane hunter, from another dimension.  Can she find him before time runs out, and she is sent back to Hell?

Great premise! Can you tell us more about Angelle, your main character?

Angelle, God’s first Angel, fell from grace along with Satan. However, after thousands of years as Satan’s girlfriend, Angelle wants back into heaven and becomes human. Now she must atone for her sins and save as many souls as she damned while fighting vampires and demons. One more condition — she must remain celibate.

Well, that's a bummer. Tell us about Jack!

Jack, a vampire hunter, visits Angelle’s bar, and their attraction is instant. But after watching her walk away from a car accident, he’s convinced she’s a vampire and must die. When Angelle doesn’t burst into flames at sunrise, Jack joins her quest to save souls. The partnership is jeopardized when two of the Scorned Bride’s daughters enthrall him.
Angelle must save Jack from another dimension, but in doing so, she risks her salvation. 

Hmmm... Will Jack want to be saved by the time she finds him? And if they survive the Scorned Bride, can they survive each other? I guess your readers are going to have to find out!

You can check out Scorned at Also visit Josephine at her website at, and her blog on Good Reads ( and her fan page on FaceBook.

Thanks for coming on my blog, Josephine!

Thanks again for having me! Enjoy the demon-wings!