Sunny Side

Are you on my mailing list? If you have been on it since the beginning, you've already received three short stories, three deleted scenes, and notice of hundreds of free books (not all mine, of course!)

You can still get the latest freebie. When you sign up, you get a copy of my new novella, Sunny Side. It's Vancouver Vice 1.5, and takes place after The Tao of Hockey.

It's the story of an optimistic hockey fan named Rosie, a tech genius named Peter, and the dating app that brings them together. Sign up on the sidebar on the right. 

I just wanted to add that the research for this book has resulted in my receiving ads to meet nice men in my area every time I go on the internet. Oh well, better than the email offers I get to meet Russian women.

Finally, if you're not already sold—did I mention free?—here's an excerpt:

Number 12 skated behind the net to make a pass to the next player and gave Louise a full view of his face.

    “Oh. My. God.”

    I smirked. “Told you so.”

    “He’s gorgeous. Like Chris Hemsworth hot. Those eyes, those cheekbones, those lips—everything. I can only see his neck, but it looks like he’s really built too.”

    “He is. I Googled him, and there’s a photo of him in a t-shirt and shorts at training camp and everything looks… amazing. And he’s got a huge package.”

    “What?” Louise dropped the binoculars and stared at me.

    I laughed. “Just kidding. You can’t tell that from a photo.” Unless his legs were positioned in just the right way and the shorts fabric was clingy, which they hadn’t been. 

The Relaunch


It's Kelly and Phil. Or K-Phil.

Well, my evil plans are coming to fruition. The relaunch of Hockey Is My Boyfriend is well under way, with new editions of Part One and Part Two uploading onto Amazon as I write this. A new cover for How The Cookie Crumbles is coming as well. And the only tasks remaining are a final read-through of Part Three and then off for some special formatting with the guru of formatting, Jaye Manus.


It's Kelly + Jimmy. Couple name: Jelly.

I also wanted to sing the praises of my cover designer, Murphy Rae. She’s at Indie Solutions by Murphy Rae. I found her ages ago while websurfing, but I didn’t pull the trigger on a redesign until I could see the end of Part Three. I have to confess it was hard to find a cover designer I really liked, since I’m pretty fussy. My day job is in visual arts, so I have strong opinions on what I like.


Imagine you’re a cover designer and your client says she needs three covers. And the girl has to look the same, but the two guys have to look different. Also, she’s half-Asian, athletic, and she can’t be wearing dresses or too much make-up. Um, if you could add a little hint of hockey, that would be good. If I were the designer, I’d be pulling the eject button, but Murphy Rae was extremely professional and came up with covers that I love. She even did surgery on one model so her nose looked more Asian.

Also, did you know if you search for half/Asian/women on stock photo sites, this is what you get:

 What’s really embarrassing is how long it took me to figure that out.


I am still writing the bridge story, but will get it to everyone on the mailing list this week. Meantime, reread Parts One and Two, and get ready for the awesomeness that is Part Three! (She said modestly. Hey, I’m just so excited for you to read it.)

It's Kelly + ?

Great News


Lots of good news! Hockey Is My Boyfriend, Part Three is finally done. It’s in copy-editing right now and unless there are drastic changes or formatting issues, I am planning to release the book on June 1. There will be no presales so I can get the book to you the soonest—after all, it’s only four months later then I said it would be.

I have been working and reworking this book for the last seven months, no lie. Part Three went through a lot of different iterations, but I believe it’s a lot stronger now and has some interesting structural quirks. I’m really excited to hear your reactions.

I am currently writing the bridge story, so I will send it out in my newsletter next week. And if you’re not like me—completely immersed in the life of Kelly Tanaka—it may be time to reread Parts One and Two. If you’re not on the email list yet, you can sign up right over there -----> 

And I have new covers too. I’ve been working with a fantastic cover designer and I’m redoing all my covers. I now have a marketing mentor, author Zoe York. Her first directive was to get my books looking more like other hockey romances. So I have done that, and I will do a full relaunch of my books on June 1st as well. Party! Confetti! Just in time for the Stanley Cup Finals too.

I want to thank everyone who took a chance on me when my covers were different. I like to think that you are all people who put writing first, which is what I do when I choose books. I think my book sales have been great and I’ve been been in touch so many lovely readers. However, Zoe thinks I can reach a wider audience. And that’s what all authors want, right?


I will reveal all the new covers soon, but here’s a sneak peek!


Yup, full wrap covers. That means real, live books too.



Coming soon... really!


Hello to all my patient readers!

If you’ve been holding your breath, waiting for Part Two of Hockey Is My Boyfriend, then you’ve probably passed out by now. And I’m really sorry about that. I know I promised this book for October, and I was aiming for the start of the hockey season. However, now it’s going to be closer to that other momentous October date, Hallowe’en. Still, it’s better than my first two books, which were both months behind schedule—something to do with that toxic mix of editing and perfectionism.

But enough of my psychological issues, I will have an official launch date and online presales later this week. In the next two weeks, I'll tell you lots more about the book. I have a special offer. And the blog will have a deleted scene from the book which will update you on everyone from Part One. And newsletter readers will get another deleted scene as well—so sign up on the right, if you haven't already.

And what’s the book about? Well, it takes place two years after the first book. Kelly has completed two years at McGill, and she’s come home for the summer. But she’s not staying in Vancouver for very long. She’s winging her way cross-country to a town in the Maritimes, called Fredericton. Do you know Fredericton? A quick poll of my on-line writing group found all the Americans scratching their heads and a few Canadians giving guarded “Yes, but don’t make me find it on a map” answers. One woman answered, “Of course,” but she lives there.

So if you don’t know it, Fredericton is a very pretty town and the capital of New Brunswick. Don’t make me explain New Brunswick. Let’s just say it’s in Eastern Canada. Take a left from Sidney Crosby’s house, drive five hours and you’re there. And Kelly’s there too. Well, she's nearby at the wholly fictional Lake Carswell, working at a hockey camp. And she’s going to meet someone there, because it’s a romance, right?

I don’t like to brag, but I genuinely feel that after all the writing, editing, and sweaty effort, this is my best book yet! I really hope you’ll enjoy it. 


Are you on The List?


My photos are so much lamer since I started respecting copyright.

It’s autumn, back to school, cooler nights and you know what that means: hockey season! At this time of year, I’m filled with optimism that my team will have their best season ever. But that’s because they’re full of potential and haven’t yet broken my heart. I’m sure you can sympathize, since most fans experience emotional highs and lows during the long hockey season.

Ironically, I find it easier to write in the off-season, since I’m not watching hockey games all the time. And I’ve been writing and editing a lot this summer. If you have already read Hockey Is My Boyfriend, you know that there are three parts. Part One was released on July 21st. And Part Two should be released around the beginning of the hockey season, which is October 8th. I’ve got my fingers crossed—as well as my legs, toes, and eyes—that all the revisions will be done by then.

Meantime, what to read? I’ve written a short story that links Parts One and Two. If you’re on my mailing list, I’ll be sending it out on Monday. If you’re not on my mailing list, there's a place to message me at the bottom of the righthand sidebar. If you haven’t even read the book yet, what are you waiting for?

Here’s a sneak peek of the short story, French Kiss, for you. It takes place two months after Kelly arrives at McGill.

October 2004
Kelly

Kiana, my next-door neighbour, and I were walking back to our residence after a late breakfast. It was the Saturday of the Thanksgiving weekend, and our residence had emptied out. Everyone within driving distance of home had fled Montréal, and the building felt strangely forlorn.
“I feel like a loser since I have nowhere to go for Thanksgiving,” Kiana complained. But she wasn’t a loser at all; she had turned down multiple invitations because she was trying to get a big assignment completed. “It’s not like I could have gone home to Oakville anyway. My parents are in Istanbul right now.”
“No way I could afford to go home to Vancouver.” I missed my family and friends a ton, but the airfare alone would have been over $600. Besides, I had games on Sunday and Monday.
“Ahmed told me that the foreign students are doing a Thanksgiving dinner, with turkey and everything, on Monday. Did you want to go to that?”
“Actually we’re doing a team potluck after our hockey game. Since we’re all here anyway, one of the assistant coaches offered to host. I’m supposed to bring a dessert. What should I get?” No way I was cooking, but dessert was easy; I’d zip over to Provigo and buy something.
“Pumpkin pie, of course,” Kiana said. But I figured someone else would do pie, maybe even bake one. I liked chocolate desserts better.
When we got up to our floor, we could see a guy hanging out down at the end of the hallway.
“Who is that?” Kiana wondered, squinting. “Oh boy, is that Carl? I thought he went back to Ottawa.” 
Carl was the “hot guy” on our floor. Kiana, as well as half the girls here, had a crush on him. Possibly she saw this as her big chance to be alone with Carl and work her charms.
“I thought everyone else left,” I said. It felt empty enough. When we got closer, the guy turned around at the sound of our voices.
“Not Carl,” Kiana whispered to me. “But something even better. Who is that hottie?”
I sighed. “It’s my ex-boyfriend. But what the hell he’s doing here, I do not know.”


Only One Sleep Left!


Whew, Hockey Is My Boyfriend, Part One will launch tomorrow. And just in time, since I have completely run out of questions to ask myself. So this is the last Q & A session. This is the last time I will ever interview myself—much to the relief of everyone, including me.

Q: When can I buy this book?
A: Well, I have uploaded it and Amazon says it will be available in 12 hours, which would be midnight tonight. So exactly on July 21st, which is the birthday of our heroine, Kelly Tanaka! Of course, the Zon is little unpredictable, so it could be live right now, or not until tomorrow morning. I will post the link when it's live.

Q: Who will like (y)our new book?
A: People who like to read about hockey and/or relationships, but like a dash of realism. Also any of my friends and family who want to remain so.

Q: How will you be celebrating the publication of your third book?
A: To celebrate I am going to be eating cake and possibly drinking something with fruit and tequila. Maybe I’ll replay a hockey game to get into the spirit. I can choose between the Olympics and a whole DVD of World Junior Hockey Championships I got on sale. Then, I’ll start editing Hockey Is My Boyfriend, Part Two.

Q: Any last words, Mel?
A: Buy the book! You’ll enjoy it and you’ll be keeping me in cake.



Drive Me Crazy


Woot, only two days left until the launch of Hockey Is My Boyfriend, Part Two.
I’m very excited, mainly because I can finally stop asking myself questions. People around me are starting to whisper and give me pitying glances. More than they do normally.

Q: So Mel, in a sentence, what is the book about?
A: This book is essentially about first love. That time of life when you search for meaning in every word or action. When just the touch of someone’s hand sends your body into overdrive. That crazy mix of hormones and emotion, where everything is so important and dramatic. 

Q: That was more than a sentence. You seem to be speeding down Memory Lane in a Ferrari.
A: Yes, and now I must go and take a cold shower. Speaking of cars, here’s another excerpt. Kelly is confiding in her most practical friend, Charmaine.  
Charmaine shook her head. “You’re asking the wrong person. I know nothing about relationships. I do know I could never go out with a guy like Phil.” 
“What does that mean, a guy like Phil?” 
“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to insult you.” Charmaine peered at me to make sure I wasn’t offended. “I only meant that I could never date him because he’s so out of my league.” 
“Why not? You’re cute and really smart. What more could a guy want?” 
She started to giggle nervously. “Phil is so good-looking and experienced with women. Dating Phil would be like learning to drive in a Ferrari—way too much car for a beginner.” 

April Showers... And Bathes As Well

....bring May flowers
This is part of a daily series of interviews leading up to the July 21st launch of Hockey Is My Boyfriend, Part One, where I ask myself questions and then answer them. You don’t have to tell me, I know it’s weird. I’m looking forward to the actual book launch, where I’ll get to answer someone else’s questions.

Q: Well, our reading audience seemed to enjoy hearing about the hero of the book, page hits were way up. Except for the hero sandwich photo. I’m sure some other kind of ribs would have gone down better. Heh, heh.

A: I refuse to objectify men. Except in my writing.

Q: Let’s get back on track. Tell us more about Kelly’s best friend, April Lachance?

A: I have a beta reader named Daisy who adores April. She likes her sarcasm, her confidence, her great clothes, and the fact she gets to dole out advice to Kelly all the time. Daisy has a secret dream to be an advice columnist or a television judge. I think she identifies with April, big time. Daisy was quite offended when April said something slightly cruel to Kelly and made me take that part out of the book. Daisy seems to be bossy enough to be a judge. Good thing she doesn't read my blog.

What I like is the easiness of the relationship between April and Kelly. They’ve known each other since they were ten years old, and remained best friends the whole time.
I love my long-term girlfriends, the ones I too have known for years. We understand each other’s personalities so well and there’s no fooling each other or pretending to be something that we’re not. April knows Kelly’s idiosyncrasies and helps her when she wants help.

And the book has one of my favourite kind of scenes: a makeover! I love all kinds of makeovers—rooms, finances, gardens—but my fav is appearances. So that’s what I wrote in here. In fact, April fixes Kelly up in each book in the series! You’d think Kelly would get the hang of dressing herself, but apparently not. So if you too like that, here’s a little excerpt from Chapter Nine, Makeover Magic.

Back at her place, April sat me down at her dressing table. “Okay, makeup time.” 
“Really? I don’t want to wear a lot of makeup,” I protested. This date was turning into a way bigger deal than I thought. 
“Don’t worry, Kelly. After all these years, I know you.” April and I had been friends ever since I moved to North Van seven years ago. “Close your eyes.” 
I closed my eyes, felt April’s fingers near my eyes and then a sharp pain. 
“Ouch! What are you doing?” I asked. My eyes flew open, and she was holding a pair of zebra print tweezers with one of my hairs in them. 
“Do you know how long I’ve been wanting to clean up your eyebrows? You have nice brows, but when I take out a few stray hairs, it’s really going to open up your eyes.” 
“But it hurts,” I protested. My eyes were watering as she kept plucking. 
“Don’t be a baby. I’m sure getting slammed into the boards hurts more than having your eyebrows plucked.”

Hello Hero

What you get when you Google image search "hockey hero"

Q: Well Mel, yesterday’s post was kinda whiny. So today, let’s talk about something more exciting—sex! Tell us about the hero of Hockey Is My Boyfriend, Part One, Phil Davidson.

A: If you like guys who are tall, dark and good-looking with great bodies, you might find Phil attractive. Also, he has a soft side: he’s into music and likes to play guitar. And he's definitely vulnerable when it comes to anything around our lovely heroine, so awwww. Phil is packing heat, if that matters to you. But most importantly for Kelly, he’s athletic and good at hockey. They do all kinds of outdoor things together: hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, and swimming. 
It’s a match made in Vancouver. Really, around here all anyone wants to know on Monday is whether you went to Whistler in the winter or the beach in the summer.

Hockey Is My Boyfriend, Part One is about first love. Phil and Kelly have known each other since they were ten years old and they’ve always been good friends. As Phil has, er, matured, he’s become interested in Kelly in a whole new way. Apparently that’s a whole romance genre: the friends-into-lovers thing. But really, it makes a lot of sense, a person that you know and feel comfortable with is a good candidate for a relationship. Or maybe they set the bar for what your ideal may be.

I’ll let Phil explain it himself. When Phil was sixteen, he started looking at Kelly differently. Here’s an excerpt from the book, from Phil’s POV:

I could also pinpoint the day I started liking Kelly for real. 
It was a few months ago. For a while, I’d been noticing that she was developing physically, and I was changing too. 
One day, we went for a long kayak ride. It started raining on the way back, and we were getting chilled. After we put the kayak away, we ran up to the deck, and jumped in our hot tub to warm up. She didn’t have her bathing suit, so she stripped down to her sports tank and borrowed a pair of running shorts from me. 
“Holy doodle, this feels great.” Kelly sunk down into the water. “Really, it’s like everything good at once, we’re getting warm and the jets are massaging us.” 
She fully immersed herself for a moment. Then she brought her head up and made this noise, almost a moan, and I got a hard-on. 
Her eyes were closed, and I really looked at her.Lots of half-Asian girls are cute, but Kelly was all bright and energetic. When she talked, her whole face lit up. But now, when she was completely relaxed, she looked beautiful. Her face was kind of heart-shaped, with tanned skin, a few freckles, long eyelashes, and really full lips. And her body was hot, too. Kelly was strong; she went to the gym a lot, so she had great definition in her arms and legs. But she also had a tiny waist and this incredible ass. 
She opened her eyes and smiled at me. Luckily she had no clue what I was thinking, which was mainly how I’d like to jump her, right there and then. 

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post. And remember, Hockey Is My Boyfriend, Part One will be available for download on July 21st.

Party Girl

If nobody comes to my party, I'll eat these all by myself.
Today our Q & A is less breathless. There’s only one question: What kind of expectations do you have for Hockey Is My Boyfriend?

A: Augh. Such a tough question.

Each time you write a book, it’s like throwing a party. You do all the preparation: cleaning your place, buying drinks and food, cooking, decorating, etc. Then there’s this one moment before the party starts that you think, “Is anybody going to come?” Right now is that moment.

I feel pretty blessed with the sales of my first long novel, How The Cookie Crumbles. I knew very little about book marketing or promotion, so basically I put the book out there and crossed my fingers. Lots of great people found the book and let me know how much they enjoyed it. I took it for granted that many indie authors had good sales, but since then I’ve learnt that many sell less than a dozen books to non-family member.

As I’ve written before, I think my success is partly due to the fact that romance readers are avid readers who are able to size up books from the sample and don’t need a ton of hype. In addition, lots of readers—me included—just like hockey books.

Having said that, I don’t think that my books are typical. They are usually longer than most novels, and mix up humour, drama, and sex in a way that makes them a little harder to classify.

Hockey Is My Boyfriend is different in a few ways. In the first chapter, the heroine is only fifteen years old! I’m pretty sure that will turn off some readers right there. But it’s about first love, so I wanted to start at the beginning. Don’t worry, nothing statutory happens, and I fast-forward two years soon afterwards. 

The other way that HIMB is different is that it’s divided into three parts. Part One takes place in high school. Part Two takes place during Kelly’s third year at university. Part Three is when she graduates and starts working. So it’s a long story—surprise, surprise, I know.

So, while I’m extremely excited about the book (after all the rewriting and editing I’ve done, I should be!) I’m still getting the pre-party jitters. I worry that people sampling the beginning will write it off as some lame young adult novel. And I’m worried that people who think it’s a YA novels are going to freak out when they get to the sex scenes. 

But why worry? This book is for smart readers who are interested in relationships. And hockey. And I’m sure those people will find it.

A Week of Awesome


Only one week to the July 21st launch of Hockey Is My Boyfriend, Part One! So, leading up to the big day, I will post daily questions about my latest masterpiece. And then I will answer them! A circle of self-indulgence, really. But hopefully the Q & A will tantalize you enough to want to read the book.

Q: So Mel, what’s the new book about?
A: Well Mel, the new book is about Kelly Tanaka. Our heroine is a little hockey-obsessed, she plays hockey and loves to watch hockey and discuss hockey.

Q: Hmmm, a hockey-obsessed woman? This is sounding a little familiar….
A: I can’t skate. So, not that similar at all.

Q: Are there any attractive guys in the book?
A: Yes. At least two. And so romance as well as hockey. Therefore, a hockey romance!

Q: Why is it called Part One? Is this like Star Wars, where there are all those stupid prequels and sequels? That irritating Jar Jar Binks isn’t involved is he?
A: No irritating characters here, except maybe Ada in Chapters 37 & 38. Hockey Is My Boyfriend is a trilogy. The completed adventures of Kelly Tanaka currently sit at 300K words—so rather than creating the proofreading job from H-E-double hockey sticks, I divided the narrative into three parts. Parts One and Two are both the size of a normal novel at 70,000 words—well, actually 69K *snicker snicker*—and Part Three is 160K. And I haven’t yet edited Parts Two and Three. When I edit, sometimes things get longer…

Q: Is there a happy ending?
A: Well, you know, it depends what you mean by a happy ending. Some people might consider the personal growth and independence of the heroine as a happy ending. Others might see the evolution and hardiness of the human spirit as a good note to end upon.

Q: So, no.
A: No. Not until Part Three.

Q: Is there a cat?
A: Of course, there’s always a cat. This one is named Gino. Yes, after that Gino.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's awesome questions and so-so answers!
A: I think you've got that reversed.

Happy Days!







Today is Canada Day and the perfect day to announce that my very Canadian heroine, Kelly Tanaka, will have her book launched this month. Maybe her name doesn't sound Canadian, but she is. She loves hockey! She's multicultural! She's sexually backward. These are all proud Canadian traditions.

The book is written, edited and finalized. Formatting is in progress, and I have a new cover. I did keep the results of the cover vote in mind, but I also went back to my original design brief of quirky minimalism and tweaked a whole bunch of stuff. And when I say "design brief," I mean that I brief myself and then tell myself how I've done. A weird process, but then I also pay myself $10,000 for the great cover. Don't tell the tax department.




Without further fanfare, here's all the news: Hockey Is My Boyfriend, Part One, will launch on July 21st, which is coincidentally Kelly Tanaka's birthday. Yay, cake all around!

Introducing Melanie Ting, Book Reviewer


Like most writers, I love to read as well. My reading habits are pretty diverse, but when I first got my Kindle I made the mistake of getting a bunch of free romances. That was a trip to the intersection of Credulity Crescent and Predictability Place. I understand that some readers like to escape the real world, but I think you can escape without completely breaking the gravitational pull of common sense. However I may be wrong, which happened once in 2010.

So when it comes to romance, I stick to ones about hockey. At least if it’s bad, I still get to read about hockey. Sadly though, certain hockey romances seem to have been written by people who don’t know anything about hockey. This is something that mystifies me. Why on earth would you write about something you didn’t have a real enthusiasm for?

Anyway, I’m the world’s pickiest reader when it comes to hockey romances. And I can’t even vent, since reviewing hockey romances would be a conflict of interest for me. Not to mention the possible retaliation. “Oh, so Melanie Ting hated my realistic novel about an orphan from Africa who made his way up to the top line in the NHL and won the love of a beauty queen/sports reporter/trial lawyer/animal rights activist? Well, let me trash her stupid book about…cookies? What the heck?”

Meanwhile, Ali Crean offered to review my book for her fabulous book blog, All the Things Inbetween. And by offered, I mean she put a call out for indie books to review and I applied. She scheduled a review of my book for April, but then she got so sick that she completely stopped posting and reviewing. Desperate, she sent out a message asking if anyone would like to help her out by providing blog content. 

SuperMel to the rescue. I offered to write a couple of book reviews and author interviews. But because I’m lazy busy, I reviewed two books I had already loved and interviewed two authors I already knew. I figured I could kill a whole flock of birds with one stone (with that analogy, I’m clearly not an animal rights activist heroine) by helping out Ali, promoting two authors I admire, and also getting my name out there. And now maybe when Ali finally reads my book, she’ll think, “Well, that Cookie book’s okay, but Mel did me a solid by doing those reviews, so 5 stars!” I know, Machiavelli has nothing on my twisted mind.

My interviews and reviews have already started running. This week I interviewed Kate Willoughby and reviewed her book, On the Surface, is today. Next week, I interview Jaymee Jacobs, and review Play the Man. And do check out the rest of Ali's book blog. Her review style is like a literary cat on crack. And I mean that in the best possible way.

Having no experience at all in book reviewing, I went for the humour, and both Kate and Jaymee were totally hilarious in their interviews. Check them out and see for yourself.

Links:
Interview with Kate Willoughby where we play Marry, Date or Dump with members of the Los Angeles Kings. Woot!

Review of Kate Willoughby's hockey romance, On The Surface.

Review of Jaymee Jacob's hockey romance, Play The Man.

Interview with Jaymee Jacobs, where she explains how to tell if you're talking to a puck bunny or a hockey fan. In case you didn't know. Also you can play the Love Triangle Game, invented by me!