Clean Romance Giveaway

Just Ella

I don’t enjoy reading vulgarity. I am sickened by how over-sexed YA fiction can be, and I think using excessive expletives only shows an inability to communicate in a more intelligent manner. I either sound uppity or like a complete nerd. Either way, I feel these self-imposed standards are a nuisance. For example, if I am in the middle of a really great book and one of the characters starts throwing the F-bomb around, I’m likely to chuck the book across the room and never finish the story. That’s not normal, right?

Not only are my walls suffering, but I am eliminating a TON of potential reading material AND wasting my time on half of every offending book. You see the problem?

This is why I was so happy to have found Annette Larsen. Not only is her writing style engaging, but she keeps it clean for the sensitive types. I fell in love with Annette’s debut novel, Just Ella, and cannot wait until her next book is released.

Do yourself a favor and go buy this book right now. It is saturated with emotion and conflict, tension and sweet moments. The bonus is I can read it to my 7 year old without blushing.

If you would like to win a free Kindle edition copy of Just Ella – leave a comment below before midnight on November 4, 2013. I will announce the winner shortly thereafter.

Prefer paperback? Find it here.

Now, here is a post from the author herself. Thanks for joining us today, Annette!


A Few Lessons I’ve Learned from Reading and Writing

Exclamation Points: They tend to sneak into our writing where they don’t belong. I would suggest that they should only be used when a character is exclaiming something. Don’t fall into the trap of using them just to emphasize a point. If you want to give a sentence some punch, use your words. The sentence itself needs to be strong enough to demonstrate its own importance.

In the movie Dan in Real Life, Dan’s second daughter is dramatic and passionate. If you’ve seen the movie, you remember her screaming at her father, “You are a murderer of LOVE!” It’s hilarious—a great moment in the movie and she’s a great side character. But would you want to read an entire book from her point of view? Probably not. If a narrative has an excess of exclamation points, it can bring to mind a teenage girl, jumping up and down and clutching her hands as she tries to contain her excitement.

“It was the very worst experience I have ever had in my entire life!” has far less impact than a simple, “It was the worst experience of my life.”

Excessive exclamation can cheapen your words and make a reader roll their eyes. Whereas a statement of genuine emotion, with a matter of fact period at the end, will make readers sit up and pay attention.

Setting: You have to know where your characters are. This is something that I struggle with at times. My imagination and creativity are based in emotion, so I oftentimes see only my characters and I’m unable to see the setting. But even if the setting is of less importance, you have to have a clear vision of your characters’ surroundings. I spent a lot of time searching in Google images for castles, hedge mazes, lush gardens, etc… Do whatever works for you, but make sure you know what the setting looks like.

Villains: The bad guys in your stories have feelings too. It’s important to keep that in mind. A villain will have far more impact if they aren’t a caricature. An evil cackle and a sinister rub of the hands works for children’s movies, but if that’s not the feel you’re going for, then you need to take your villain’s character as seriously as you do your main characters.

Why do they act the way they do? What are their motivations? Who in their life loves them despite all their faults?

Have them show a little bit of vulnerability, maybe even give your readers a reason to sympathize with them. The bad guy/girl needs to be a person first, and a villain second.


38I was born in Utah, but grew up in Flagstaff Arizona and St. Louis Missouri, the fifth of seven children. I attended college at Southern Virginia University and Brigham Young University where I studied English and Theater. I now live in Idaho with my husband and four children.

I have Charlotte Bronte to thank for the courage to write novels. After being bombarded with assigned reading about women who justified abandoning either their families or their principles in the name of love, I had the great fortune of reading Jane Eyre. And that was it: finally a heroine who understood that being moral and making the right choice was hard, and sometimes it hurt, but it was still worth it. After rereading it several years later, I realized that if I wanted more books to exist with the kinds of heroines I admired, then I might as well write a few myself. My books are about women who face hard choices, who face pain and rejection and often have to sacrifice what they want for what is right. The consequences are often difficult or unpleasant, but it the end, doing what’s right will always be worth it.

I believe there is no substitute for good writing or good chocolate. Fortunately, one often leads to the other.

Buy Kindle version of Just Ella

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Check out Annette’s website

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For a chance to win a free Kindle edition copy of Just Ella – leave a comment before midnight on November 4, 2013. I will announce the winner shortly thereafter.


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36 comments

  1. Wahoo! This is definitely a problem–finding appropriate content in YA. MG, now worries, but people seem to think YA has become a training grounds for erotica. I found squeeky clean content in Chanda Hahn’s Unenchanted, Heather Dickson’s Entwined, and recently learned about a new site dedicated to scouring for clean reads. http://www.thefussylibrarian.com Now I’m off to tweet about the giveaway!

  2. I’ve already read the book and enjoyed it. I’ve had the same problem with good books that are just too full of profanity or human plumbing lessons. What’s wrong with just telling a good story without the garbage? Thanks for writing something clean and enjoyable.

  3. I get really irritated with books that swear like that too. There are other words in the dictionary, people should use them!

  4. Wow..you pointed out some very common errors..I am myself prone to using exclamation marks everywhere which I am still trying to remedy so reading your suggestions was a great help.. 🙂

  5. I love finding authors who write clean books – especially since they seem to be harder and harder to find. Thanks for the chance to win this great book.

  6. Great advice, Annette! I’m so happy you wrote your book as I appreciate a clean romance just as much 🙂

    Thanks for hosting Annette’s post, Kelley. You are both awesome.

  7. I loved reading this book! I search out clean romances to read and sometimes it’s a difficult thing to do. Thanks for writing such a wonderfully romantic and perfectly clean that I can read and enjoy and also share with my teenage daughter.

      1. Yes, I love Jenni James’ Jane Austen retellings. They are great! I also love Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson and I’m excited to read her next book Blackmoore.

  8. I love your question about villains: “Who loves them in spite of their faults?” It humanizes them.. I’m going to keep that one in mind from now on. Thanks for the tip.

    1. I don’t know how many times I’ve read through this post, and I didn’t pull that quote out of it, so thank you, Beth. You’re right, that is a fantastic question to ponder. Nobody is always evil or always good. If they were, they’d be boring and we wouldn’t relate to them at all.

    1. The cover is beautiful, isn’t it? It’s a step beyond the norm with the hand-painted image. It seems tons of book covers have no relevance to the book, so this one is refreshing.

  9. As a teenage girl who loves to read I am always searching for clean, quality books (especially cute romances). It is extra hard to find these books sometimes, so I was extremely happy to stumble upon this one!! I would very much love to win a copy to read on my Kindle!!! Like Charissa said, sorry about the extra exclamation points. However, I do happen to be “a teenage girl, jumping up and down and clutching her hands as she tries to contain her excitement”, so I guess it works. 🙂

    1. Whether you win the book or not, this comment made me laugh out loud, which means you win as my favorite comment of the day. I loved that line in the post, and I love it even more now. Thanks for showing up and taking a joke well. Good luck in the drawing, Natalie.

  10. I really don’t see the point in over using swear words. You can get your point across just fine without them. I’ve been wanting to read this for a while now!

  11. You mean something I don’t have to worry about my daughter reading over my shoulder briefly when she walks up behind me?? That’s new. Lol!

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