#FirstChapterFriday: A First Look at SAVANNAH’S SONG (+ Win Rare Prizes!)

Welcome to the first ever First Chapter Friday, day for peeking behind the scenes of your favorite authors’ writing process! Each author involved in the blog hop has posted the first chapter of her current work in progress. You also have the chance to win rare prizes: signed and personalized copies of those chapters! Who doesn’t love getting snail mail? Read to the end of this post for all the details. Good luck, and enjoy!

Savannah's Song, Chapter 1

The following is a work in progress. Content subject to change.

© 2015 Elizabeth Barone. All Rights Reserved.

The light denim fabric whispered against Savannah’s skin as she knelt to unzip Chloe’s pajamas. She slid a finger between the zipper and the little girl’s skin, careful not to pinch her. In the year since she had started taking care of her boyfriend’s daughter, she had never had any emergencies, but she wasn’t about to start.

“Arms up.” She tickled Chloe’s belly. The four-year-old giggled and her arms shot into the air, begging for Savannah to tickle her armpits. Grinning, Savannah wriggled her fingers into Chloe’s skin. The toddler shrieked with laughter, nearly falling to the floor. Savannah caught her and, in one swift motion, peeled off her pajamas. She sighed, wondering how much longer Chloe would want to wear footed jammies.

A door squeaked on the other side of the apartment. “Daddy’s home,” she told Chloe. “Hurry!” She tugged an undershirt off over Chloe’s head, then helped her step out of the night’s underwear. The floor groaned under Max’s feet as he crossed the apartment. Savannah dressed Chloe in a romper and sweater, then maneuvered her feet into socks and sneakers. The grocery store would be cold inside, their only form air conditioning all summer.

Max eased into Chloe’s bedroom, his messenger bag still slung over his shoulder. Several leftover newspapers poked out of the bag. He brushed hair out of eyes punctuated by dark circles and gave Savannah a nod. “Gonna take a shower.”

“Wait.” She stood, brushing dried soap from her bare legs. She had shaved for the first time in days, specifically so she could wear shorts. Spring in Boston had seesawed between cool rain and warm rain. She was ready for summer. Crossing the room, she stood on tiptoes and pressed a kiss to his lips. “I figured I would drop you off at the studio, and take the car to go get some groceries.” She couldn’t remember the last time she had left the house in the last week.

Even though it would be nice to drive, the Taurus wasn’t the same as her BMW. Selling it had been the only way they could afford the move from Boston to Connecticut.

Max ran a hand through his hair. “This early?” He nodded toward the yellow clock on Chloe’s wall. In complete contrast to her pink and purple bedroom in Connecticut, Chloe had asked for yellow when they moved in. “Don’t you think it’s a little early to be dragging Chloe out?” His voice was rough. He stepped away from Savannah. Continue reading #FirstChapterFriday: A First Look at SAVANNAH’S SONG (+ Win Rare Prizes!)

Introducing the Lovely Mina V. Esguerra, Author of New Adult Romance! (+ Win an Ebook!)

I recently read Playing Autumn, Mina V. Esguerra’s latest release. The romance blooming between Haley and Oliver was so sweet. Plus, the ending was the most romantic ever. (It made me all teary and giggly!) Mina writes beautifully, and she’s fun to chat with on Twitter. Get to know her in the Q&A below, then enter to win a copy of Playing Autumn for your Kindle!

Playing Autumn, by Mina V. EsguerraWhat is the New Adult Spotlight series? What inspired you to write it?

My Spotlight series is composed of the books that would be more conventionally “New Adult” as far as international readers are concerned. Sexy characters under 25 but over 18. It’s also my playground really for all these stories I wanted to do but couldn’t before. Here I write about classical violinists turned rock stars, rugby players, environmentalist hunk actors—pretty much a peek into my fantasy world, haha.

Houston—especially the area that the Breathe Music Festival was set in—was super vivid in Playing Autumn. What kind of research did you do?

Playing Autumn was the first book I wrote that wasn’t set in the Philippines, but I did still stick to a comfort zone — my family lives in Houston. With a few exceptions, every single location of a scene in that book is a place in Houston I’ve been to.

You have an entire series dedicated to Filipino culture, which is amazing because we definitely need more diverse books—but you also write about a wide variety of people. Did you face any particular challenges in portraying such a diverse range of characters?

It was a challenge that a friend asked me to take on, and I did. I don’t know if it’s the same anywhere else, but it can feel like there’s a societal push against certain kinds of stories if the characters are Filipino. (Women shouldn’t have sex outside of marriage or even want it, issues like that.) So what can a romance writer do if she wants to tell other stories, that are based on real emotions? In my case I’ve found an outlet for it, by setting it somewhere else, by making the characters more diverse. Sometimes I still don’t get a pass, for example when the reader knows I’m Filipino and can’t get over the fact that someone like me will be writing something that steamy. And yet I feel I should have the freedom to write this, just like how other people feel free to write about anything they want.

What is your favorite Filipino dish (and can you share a link to a recipe)?

Lechon paksiw. It’s a stew that you make with leftover roast pig, and my dad makes the best. He hasn’t shared his recipe though (even to me) so here’s something that might be similar: http://icookonboard.com/2014/12/26/lechon-paksiw-sa-mang-tomas. (Now I want this!)

In Playing Autumn, Oliver gets into a lot of fist fights. If all of your male leads got into one massive brawl, who would come out the winner?

I love this question! After some help from friends on Twitter, I choose Diego, from my Interim Goddess of Love series. That was my only fantasy series, featuring gods of Philippine mythology, and Diego is the ill-tempered God of the Sea (who is also a college student, the kind who starts fights and trashes dingy basement bars). He’ll win, but he’ll also play dirty, and he might have actually started this fight, haha.

What are you working on next?

I just finished the fourth Spotlight novella (this one’s about Victoria from Playing Autumn and is set mostly in Cozumel, Mexico and New Orleans), and it’s in editing now, for release in June.

Almost finished with the fifth book in this series (rugby player and book blogger characters, set in the Bay Area). I’m likely writing another romance book set in Manila. I also have a sort-of dystopic (actually utopic) story that’s very political that I’ve been dragging my feet on, but I did do some research for that lately so who knows?

Mina V. EsguerraMina V. Esguerra writes contemporary romance, young adult, and new adult novellas. Through her blog Publishing in Pajamas (minavesguerra.com), she documents her experiments in publishing.

When not writing romance, she is president of communications firm Bronze Age Media, development communication consultant, indie publisher, professional editor, wife, and mother. She created the workshop series “Author at Once” for writers and publishers, and #romanceclass for aspiring romance writers.

Her young adult/fantasy trilogy Interim Goddess of Love is a college love story featuring gods from Philippine mythology. Her contemporary romance novellas won the Filipino Readers’ Choice awards for Chick Lit in 2012 (Fairy Tale Fail) and 2013 (That Kind of Guy).

Enter to Win

Mina is giving away 1 Kindle copy of Playing Autumn! I will choose a winner on Friday, April 24th. All you have to do to enter is sign up for my email newsletter.

You’ll also receive:

  • a sneak peek at the next author I’m interviewing
  • exclusive access to my secret Facebook group
  • a free short story for your eyes only
  • and more!


#ShowYourWork—Riley is Making Me Crazy

"All Riled Up" (The Nanny with the Skull Tattoos), by Elizabeth BaroneI’m having trouble with “All Riled Up,” the short story I am planning to treat my email list to. Specifically, I’m having a hard time getting a handle on Riley’s character. I want her to come off as vulnerable. I’m not sure whether that’s coming through, though. She’s taking a pretty promiscuous approach to finding love. Beta readers gave me varying opinions, which means it’s open to interpretation. I guess at this point, I need to just “be done with it” and let readers decide.

“Be done with it.”
-Skye Taylor

Usually, when a story is giving me this much lip, I put it away and move on. I really like this one, though. Plus, readers of The Nanny with the Skull Tattoos specifically asked for more Riley! Quite a few people wanted to know why she dropped off Max’s radar. I thought it would be fun to tackle that question in a side adventure. I knew what she was up to, but Max never finds out. He’s too busy with his own problems—and so is she.

I just need a little more time with this one. Bear with me! I will get it to you. :)

PS: Want to get this story for free? Sign up for my email list. CLICK HERE!