Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

an uneasy compromise - Every Other Saturday by M.J. Pullen

From romantic comedy author M.J. Pullen comes a unique story about finding help when you need it most, and love where you expect it least.
As the Saturdays wear on, however, they may discover they have more in common than car seats and custody schedules.


From romantic comedy author M.J. Pullen comes a unique story about finding help when you need it most, and love where you expect it least.

Even though their daughters have been in the same Jewish preschool class for three years, struggling store owner Julia Mendel and sports blogger Dave “from the Man Cave” Bernstein have never gotten along. She sees him as a definitely arrogant, possibly misogynist symbol of everything that’s wrong with the men in her life. He sees her as the odd, short-tempered PTA president, out to make his life more difficult at every opportunity.

As part of his job, Dave accepts an on-air challenge: go out with a different woman from a Jewish dating site every Saturday for the next four months, and blog the results. He quickly secures his daughter’s favorite preschool teacher (and super-nanny) Ms. Elizabeth to make the experiment possible. Little does he know Julia is in desperate need of the same sitter for the same schedule, so that she can take a part-time job while pacifying her son, who has severe OCD.

A confrontation in the carpool lane leads to an uneasy compromise: they will pool their resources to share Ms. Elizabeth’s services every-other Saturday night. After a while, Dave finds himself sharing his dating stories with non-Jewish Julia across her kitchen table; while she reluctantly turns to him for the masculine perspective – especially for her son – she’s been missing since her divorce. As the Saturdays wear on, however, they may discover they have more in common than car seats and custody schedules.

“Five Keys to a Powerful Love Story”

Whether it’s in romance or another genre, a powerful love story is the kind that draws us in and doesn’t let go. It leaves us rooting for our heroes and heroines to not only win the day and overcome the obstacles in front of them, but also capture the heart of the one they love. 

A love interest gives us more than a happy kiss at the end of the book, it reveals a side of our favorite characters we may not otherwise see, and—when done well—transforms them into something more than they were before. 

Here are five essential elements to an amazing, transformative love story:

1. Flawed, realistic characters. For a love story to take hold in our hearts, we have to believe it is real, which means we have to believe the characters are real, too. Even the most fantastical creations of a fiction writer’s mind can seem real if we give them relatable characteristics: both likable, endearing qualities and imperfections. If I pick up a book, and the hero or heroine seem too perfect or like there’s no room for internal growth, I usually get bored and put it down.

2. Inevitable connection. Whether the characters realize it or not, the reader of a powerful love story should have a strong sense that the two of the characters are inevitably drawn to one another and destined to change one another’s lives: for a moment or forever.

3. Rising tension. Every story has a conflict arc: the problem or story question that appears in the first few pages, gets worse, and then gets waaaay worse. Eventually the problem is resolved at the climax of the book’s action. Even in a non-romance, the romantic storyline should follow the same general arc, with the tension between the two main characters rising with each scene until—one way or another—it resolves. The tension can be sexual, romantic, psychological, logistical… as long as it both pulls them together and apart at the same time. 

4. External conflict. Just like internal growth is important, characters must also face external challenges—not just on their way to resolve the book’s problems (the mystery, the battle, the external events)—but also keeping them from each other. To hook readers and hold our interest, the love story has to give us both tension and something to root for.

5. A happy ending, or something like it. In a true romance, the happy ever after (HEA) is essential. Readers who read romances want to know that the main character will end up with the right person – even if it’s only temporary. In other genres, when the love story is not the main plot, this isn’t a requirement. Readers do want the romantic tension resolved in some way, however. This can be done with a satisfying happy ever after, a dramatic twist, a big reveal, or some other event that breaks the tension we’ve spent the whole book feeling. It’s okay if this is a “resolved for now” scene with hints that the tension between them could return later. As long as the romance doesn’t fizzle out or leave us hanging!

About the author:
MANDA (M.J.) PULLEN, former therapist and marketer, is the author of complex, funny contemporary romances. She was raised in the suburbs of Atlanta by a physicist and a flower child, who taught her that life is tragic and funny, and real love is anything but simple. She studied English Literature and Business at the University of Georgia, and Professional Counseling at Georgia State University.

Manda has a weakness for sappy movies, juicy gossip, craft beer and boys who talk baseball. After traveling around Europe and living in cities like Austin and Portland, she returned to Atlanta where she lives with her family.

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