Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Writing a Tame Romance in the Age of 50 Shades by Nicole Evelina

Please welcome Nicole Evelina to the Roses today with a fresh take on choosing her genre of romance.

I’ll be the first to admit that my award-winning romantic comedy Been Searching for You is about as far away from the erotica craze as you can get. It’s not technically a “sweet” or “clean” novel because it does have adult language (my characters are adults, after all) and references to sex, but other than some kissing and groping, the action takes place off the page. If it was a movie (which hopefully someday it will be), it would likely be rated PG-13. 

I’m not an inspirational/religious writer and my historical fiction novels are more graphic than Been Searching for You. So, in a time when “mommy porn” and all things BDSM seem to be the rage in the romance industry, why did I choose to go the alternate route, rather than writing where the money is? A few reasons:

  1. Sexy/steamy/graphic romance has never been to my taste. Even as a reader, I prefer to use my imagination. After all, a good writer can do a lot with some sexual tension and the power of suggestion. If I feel that way, chances are good that a portion of the reading audience does as well.
  2. Romance novels are widely believed (rightly or wrongly) to be all about sex. I wanted to prove that you could have a very romantic storyline that goes beyond the “will they or won’t they” or “when will they” questions in its plot into deeper issues (in this case the value of liberal arts education, the power of trust in yourself and others, and the sometimes conflicting nature of friendship). I know other books do this, but to people who have the misconception that they are all bodice-rippers, another one in the “more to it” column never hurts.
And most importantly,  

  1. I miss old-fashioned love stories. 
I grew up on romantic comedies like Pretty Woman and Bridget Jones’ Diary, in the halcyon days of the late 80s and 90s when you couldn’t go to a movie theatre without tripping over a Gary Marshal or Nora Ephron film. Those funny, sweet movies shaped my view of romance as something kind and gentle, as opposed to films like Trainwreck and its ilk, which are being hailed as “modern” romantic comedies. Please, please give me You’ve Got Mail (even though I don’t like Tom Hanks), While You Were Sleeping or French Kiss any day over those. 

I like the meet-cutes, goofy heroines and the inevitable happy ending. I like leaving the movie or closing the book feeling like love, peace and romance still have a shot in modern society. However, I’m not a big fan of the obviously contrived deception, so you won’t see much of that. (You know the storyline: the fake boyfriend/fiancée, the woman pretending to be rich when she’s not, the person with a lie that will have to come out in the end.) There is a plot line toward the end that involves deception, but it’s on the part of a villain, not the hero or heroine so it’s not the typical trope. 

At the end of a long day, I want to read or watch a story where women are wooed, not beaten into submission (even if it’s done with their desire and permission). In a world where our political system is worse than a circus and terrorism, the economy and public/school shootings are daily concerns, we need fairy-tale like escapism. That’s what rom-coms are, after all, fairy tales for those who have outgrown Cinderella, but still want the prince and princess to get married in the end.  

Don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with the wilder side of romance. If that’s your thing, go for it. But it’s not mine and I hope that I’ve provided a fun alternative others who feel like I do.

PS – Due to fan demand, I’ve recently decided to extend Been Searching for You from a standalone into the first book in a series. Each book will cover a different couple from the series (from the woman’s POV only, which is the way I write), but you’ll still get to see what else happens in the lives of the characters you’ve grown to love. There will be at least two more books in this unnamed series, but there is a possibility for more. And yes, they will remain on the sweet side. 


Annabeth is a hopeless romantic who believes in soul mates. In fact, she’s been writing to hers each year on her birthday since she was 16.

Now, at 34, she’s still holding out hope of finding Mr. Right even though he’d be fighting an uphill battle to gain her trust, thanks to a traumatic experience years before that’s left her unable to commit. 

When Annabeth meets a handsome literature professor named Alex on her 34th birthday, she thinks her quest may finally be at an end. Things don’t quite go as planned, so Annabeth resolves to do everything she can over the next year to find the unknown recipient of her letters.  But blind dates, Meetup events and online singles sites have nothing on what fate has in store for her when a co-worker unexpectedly quits and Annabeth finds herself working in close quarters with both Alex and her long ago ex, Nick. Fighting her attraction to one and loathing for the other, Annabeth is forced to face all of her old insecurities while keeping an eye on a scheming frienemy who may derail her hopes and dreams. 

Written in the tradition of Bridget Jones' Diary, Kim Gruenfelder’s A Total Waste of Makeup, and Melissa Pimental’s Love By The Book, this romantic comedy shows that love on the sweet side can exist for the modern girl, if only she’s willing to trust herself and search hard enough. 

Been Searching for You was the winner of the Romance category in the 2016 Colorado Independent Publishing Association’s EVVY Awards, as well as the 2015 Romance Writers of America Great Expectations and Golden Rose contests.


Ever since I was a teenager and Angela Chase, the main character on the teen drama My So-Called Life, said she equated the ticking of the 60 Minutes clock to the end of the weekend, I’ve hated Sunday nights. But none quite so much as this one.

            Not only was I facing the first morning of the new regime at work, but Alex was leaving for the conference too. I was so nervous that not even two glasses of wine could steady me. Alex, on the other hand, was the definition of calm and collected, watching TV as if this was any other night. It was driving me crazy. Finally, I kicked him gently in the ankle.

            That got his attention. “Ow! What was that for?”
            “How can you possibly be so calm? Your interview is tomorrow morning. Why aren’t you freaking out?”

            “Because you’re doing that enough for both of us.” He grinned and pulled me down next to him, pinning my hands behind my back and covering my face in kisses.

By the time he came up for air, I couldn’t help but smile back.

“I was going to wait to give this to you, but it looks like you need it now.” He fished a long, thin rectangular block out of the pocket of his tan wool sweater and presented it to me.

When I looked closer, I realized it was one of those weekly pill boxes that older people keep their daily medications in so they know if they took them or not. “You’re giving me drugs?”

“No. I’ll leave it to you to medicate yourself. Open the one for today.”

I popped open the lid on the far left marked with a capital S for Sunday. A small folded piece of paper jumped out at me, leaving a bed of dark chocolate Mini Kisses behind. I opened the page and read. “‘This note entitles the bearer to a single wish fulfilled.’”

Alex leaned over and whispered a few racy suggestions in my ear.

            My face flushed in response. “I’m up for that.”

            He pried my fingers from around the pill box. “And that’s just the beginning. Each day has a little surprise in it to help you get through the week since I won’t be here to help you in person.”

            I placed a hand on the side of his face and kissed him. “This has to be the most thoughtful thing anyone has done for me. How in the world did you think of it?”

            “I could lie and say it was my own ingenuity, but I’m man enough to admit I found it on Pinterest.”

            “I think it’s very sexy when a man is willing to admit to being crafty.”

            “Oh, you’ve seen nothing yet. Just wait until Valentine’s Day. There’ll be crafty things all over this apartment.”

            “Should I start calling you Mr. Stewart?” I giggled.

            “Perhaps not, but that does conjure a lovely mental image of you in only an apron.”

            Biting my lip to hide a grin, I waited until Alex turned back to the TV. Then I bounded to the kitchen, grabbed the apron that hung on the oven door, and shed my clothes. A moment later, he had his wish.

I crooked my finger at him. “About that desire you were going to fulfill?”

            “I think I said ‘wish,’ but I won’t argue over semantics.” He wrapped his arms around me, palms resting on my bare rear end.

            “Oh, this sounds like the plot to a romance novel,” I said, pulling his sweater up over his head. “The naughty cook who needs a lesson from the hot English professor.”

            He gave me a wolfish grin. “I like the way you think.”

            He carried me to the bedroom and made sure I didn’t have any time that night to worry about what the next day would bring.

Buy Links

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Scrambled Brains by Diane Burton

Omigosh, I almost forgot it was my turn to post here. Let’s blame it on my new book that will be released tomorrow. Better than blaming old age.

Lately, we’ve been sharing our writing processes. I find it fascinating to read how other writers develop their stories. The process is as varied as the writers themselves. Some of us (plotters) plot first: detailed outline, character analyses, setting details, pictures. Some of us (pantsers) write “on the fly” or by the seat of our pants We have an idea (first line, maybe), sit down at the computer, and start writing. Let things fall where they may.

My process is some of each. I start out like the pantser with the idea. But it’s not long before I have to know where the story is going. Plot is not a 4-letter word. I also need to keep track of things. Important things like the characters’ names (changing the name and/or spelling of same) can really disconcert readers; details about the characters like hair and eye color, career, etc. If I need to research a concept, I do it when I need to. I don’t always print out the info, but I will write down the link to the article(s). Setting or world building? As I write (the story), I’ll make notes on the town/house/indoors/outdoors/time of year/weather. Where do all these notes go? Not on little slips of paper. I’d lose them in the mess that I call my desk. I keep a separate digital file labeled “notes” or “details.” (I’m not real creative with file labels.)

For my newest book, a science fiction romance novella MISSION TO NEW EARTH to be released tomorrow, I did more research than normal. The Mars One Mission has fascinated me since I first heard about it. By chance, I noticed the Science Channel was running a series called “Mars Rising.” I recorded those programs to watch more than once and replay facts I missed. The movie Avatar gave me the idea of my characters traveling to their new planet in cryosleep. And, of course, I needed info on cryosleep. Again, I jotted down notes (in my computer file) along with the link to the articles.

Meanwhile, I needed to actually write the story. But wait. Who were these people? Why would they leave everything behind to go to a new planet? Many times, I had to stop writing the story and figure out things. Is it any wonder that my actual story writing was slower than normal?

A plotter would have worked out all of this first. The writing would have gone much smoother if I had. But that’s the way I work best. And that’s what I tell new writers: try different ways and see what works best for you. Don’t be afraid to change.

MISSION TO NEW EARTH will be released tomorrow, August 31st. Currently it’s on pre-order for 99 cents at Amazon.


Would you go on a one-way trip to explore a new planet? Would you do it to save humankind?

Earth’s overpopulation and dwindling resources force the United Earth Space Agency to expedite exploration of new planets for a possible new home. When new crises ensue—a giant tsunami and the threat of nuclear winter—the timeline changes. Eight years of training crammed into four. Sara Grenard and her team prepare for launch, but are they ready for the one-way trip? Will the Goldilocks planet prove just right for Earth’s inhabitants? Before time runs out.


I strolled up to the man I loved and put my arms around his waist. When I rested my head on his chest, I heard the thud of his heart. Normally, a reassuring sound that always made me go weak in the knees, it beat more rapidly than usual. He was still agitated.
“Hey, guy. Everything will be all right. We’re ready. More than ready.”
“I know. It’s just—”
Leaning back in his arms, I reached up and patted his cheek. “Settle down, big boy. I think Bill and Ana have the right idea. From Gloria’s blush, she and Tom do, too.” I gave him a long kiss. At first, he didn’t respond—still worked up over the latest simulation. Then he gave in, as I knew he would. Not to be smug, but Marsh did like my kisses.
His kiss turned hard, demanding, as he strained to maintain control. I wanted him that much, too. But not on the tile floor in the lav. The shower had possibilities. When he eyed the enclosure, I knew he was thinking the same thing. Too bad I had other obligations. That was me, duty first. I could be such a stick-in-the-mud.

Diane Burton writes science fiction romance, romantic suspense, and mysteries. She blogs here on the 30th, on Paranormal Romantics on the 13th, and on her own blog on Mondays.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Do You Judge a Book By Its Cover? By Mackenzie Crowne

I admit, I do, and blame it on human nature. I can’t help myself. I’m a visual creature. As with most things in life, I look at a book’s cover and either yawn and move on, cringe in horror, or decide I simply must have. I can’t tell how disappointed I am when a one-click worthy cover turns out to be a DNF story.

It’s like lusting after a gorgeous slice of New York bakery cheesecake, then biting into one of those pre-packed cardboard jobs you find in the frozen food isle at the grocery store.

Utter disappointment.

Because I don’t write independent, my publishers are responsible for the creation of my covers. They request my input, of course, but they often have their own vision that goes beyond the single story, and don’t necessarily allow me approval on the finished product. As you can imagine, waiting for the cover of my newest book is like standing on the sidewalk between that bakery and the grocer. I lust for the former and fear the latter, and have swallowed some cardboard in my time.

Then, once in a while, the bakery shows up, like with my next release, To Win Her Back.   I haven’t officially done a cover reveal yet, but I love it, and had to share with all of you.

So, what about you? Are you a "Wow! Great cover" one click type or is it the blurb all the way?

When Mac isn’t busy purchasing books with gorgeous covers, she spends her time weaving HEAs for her characters, like those in her Players series from KensingtonBooks

Oh, OH! And if you're looking for a deal, book 1 of the Players series, To Win Her Love, is on sale for a limited time.

Sunday, August 28, 2016


Readers and Roses, welcome G.D. Ogan as our guest today. One lucky person will receive a digital copy of the book of your choice just for commenting. Please enjoy!
Hello to readers of this blog, I’m G.D. Ogan and I have a three book Paranormal-Romance Series in addition to my topic on a writers personal creativity versus an editor’s expectations.

Topic: Must the premise of a writer’s story “conform” to the expectations of an editor?
My feelings are that writers shouldn’t be bound by the expectations of others including all powerful editors. While true that finding a publishing house willing to “step outside the box” and publish stories that go against the norms of a specific genre’ has in the past been a seemingly insurmountable
task, if we allow anyone to dictate what we write we will be untrue to ourselves and therefore negatively impact our creativity. As I see it, this is one of the great benefits in Indie publishing, that WE are responsible for saying what will and won’t be in our stories. My own experience with an editor trying to force me to NOT publish my first novel may be instructive. An editor had read my first novel prior to publication and said it violated the genre’ and therefore I couldn’t publish it. The specifics of his concern were that my novel contained vampires who, having been turned against their will, refused to abase themselves by becoming blood-thirsty attackers of innocent humans like the evil vampires who had changed them. That such a thing as “good vampires” violated the genre’! Clearly he had never read or seen the Twilight Series. He also said he had never heard of vampires being “intimate” with each other. Again Twilight among other novels had already had that as part of their stories. To make a long story short, rather than change my story to align itself with the editors narrow views of vampirism, I Indie published my “Immortal Relations” series of novels through Amazon’s Create Space Program and I’m glad I did. What follows is information about the first book in the series as well as where to find it along with the others currently available in print and digitally. 
The Blurb:
When Gary Logan discovers an old black-and-white photograph of his father in Prague with a woman's handwriting on the back, he flies there to investigate where his father had worked, only to meet and fall in love with a beautiful lady who he believes to be a vampire. In love with her, Gary is initiated into her coven of guardian vampires, beginning an extraordinary journey of epic proportions.


"STOP!" the General yelled. "I want to hear nothing more of this beast Semenov! If I had been his commanding officer, I would have dragged him into the middle of the compound and shot him myself. What barbarian allowed him to continue in the Army?"
Zikoff looked like he was about to have a heart attack, so the General calmly asked, "Did you tell the headquarters about his atrocities?"

Now, eyes filled with tears, Major Zikoff said, "Repeatedly, it is why I asked to give up my scheduled promotion to higher rank and be placed into the Reserves. I no longer felt I could be a party to his crimes and couldn't get the headquarters to stop him. I had told them that I believed Semenov to be criminally insane and that he should be sent to an asylum for treatment and to safeguard society."

The General then patted Major Zikoff on the shoulders saying, "You did your best, and you couldn't have done more without the backing of the headquarters."

Major Zikoff broke down sobbing and sat down in a chair with his head between his knees. Through his sobs, he said, "So many women and children, so much unnecessary death...we had become worse than barbarians. I couldn't do that anymore...I could never do that anymore."

Everyone in the room had tears just listening to what had once been a great soldier, who had seen too much, done too much, and who seemed no longer alive, but looking out from the bottom of his own private Hell. No one approached him so Adam (none in the room knew Adam was a vampire) went over, kneeled down to look him in the eyes, and while he spoke soothingly to Zikoff, mentally gave him permission to forgive himself and allow himself a peaceful life. Zikoff was then able to get up, saying to those in the room he was sorry, asking the General if he could be excused. General Kolukov said, “Yes Major, you’ve aided us immensely. You tried to do the right thing, go home and rest. No one is ever going to bother you about this again…EVER!”

Kolukov had placed Zikoff under his own protection. Once the major was gone, with fire in his eyes, the General said, “I want this bastard Semenov ‘terminated with extreme prejudice!’ I don’t want even a piece of bone remaining; I want him utterly and completely destroyed!”

Adam knew that, as a vampire, Semenov had super-human strength and was a trained Spetsnas killer, but Adam wondered if the General couldn’t have prevailed against Semenov in hand-to-hand combat at that moment. He had never seen such deadly anger in a human before.

General Kolukov spun aground to his Chief of Air Staff and said, “If it takes nuclear weapons, I will get the President’s permission, I want these infiltrators utterly destroyed.”

Buy Links: Book #1, “Immortal Relations”  Book #2, “Immortal Relations, Love and War”  Book #3 “Immortal Relations Coming Out” 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

California Dreamin' by Betsy Ashton

Last weekend I spent a couple of days with my cousin Aleta and her friend Duane. Like me, Aleta is an ex-patriot Californian. She grew up in the high desert near Victorville; I grew up in the Los Angeles area. She's younger than I am, so I remember things she doesn't from when she was a child and before she was born.

We had a terrific time reminiscing about what it was like to be free-range kids in the desert. By age four, we'd both learned to avoid scorpions and tarantulas. We knew cholla or jumping cactus could bite you badly. We knew not to go barefoot where bull weed grew because the thorns were dreadful. We learned to play outdoors, to ride our bikes in sand without helmets and to be back indoors when the heat of the day reached 95 degrees.

Aleta left about 25 years ago to move to Anchorage. That was abrupt, from the high desert to Alaska. She loved it. A few years later, she moved to Burlington, VT to be closer to her boyfriend's family. Grandkids are so important.

I left first in 1969 to go to grad school in Tokyo for two years and returned to finish my degrees in Southern California. I had no intention of leaving until I met my future husband in a bar in Tokyo. We were both there on business, the only two non-Japanese in the bar. He's the only man I met in a bar and kept. That's a story for a different post.

The more we talked, the more we realized how much we missed the California of our youth. Not the California of today, but the one that has become bigger than life in our memories. I took her to the beach for the first time and tried to throw her into the surf. It never dawned on me that this desert girl might be afraid of the ocean. I'd grown up in it, so I had a healthy respect for its power but no fear. She freaked out. We backed away, pulled our blankets way up on the sand and watched the waves from a safe difference. To this day, she remembers how I tried to drown her. NOT. SO.

I took her to see the Beatles. I don't know what was more exciting, the group itself or the silly girls screaming and tearing their hair out. It was her first visit to the Hollywood Bowl.

We had a host of dogs when we were little. She had a little brown brindle mutt named Chipper. She hadn't been born when her brother had a German shepherd named Duke. Great dog for a boy and a desert. I had a red mutt named Rusty. So I wasn't as creative in naming pets back in those days. Heck, I was only nine when we got Rusty. We had more dogs over the years, but both are pup-less now. I don't think either of us will get another dog. The last ones we each had were so special that no other dog can replace their memories.

Our lives took us all over the world. Odd that we ended up so close to each other. We meet twice a year in August for the races in Saratoga and in December for a friends and family 'Tween the Holidays party in Hyde Park, NY. One of these days I'll get her and Duane down to the lake. I won't threaten to throw her in this time. She's a sailor and has lost her fear of large bodies of water.

When we are California Dreamin' it's because we have great memories of where we grew up. I've put several into short stories. One of these days, maybe I'll share "Toad" with you all.

Where did you grow up? Do you have fond memories or could you barely wait to escape?


Betsy Ashton is the author of Mad Max, Unintended Consequences, and Uncharted Territory, A Mad Max Mystery, now available at Amazon and Barnes and NobleI'm really excited that the trade paper edition of Uncharted Territory was released this week. Please follow me on my website, on TwitterFacebook and Goodreads.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Getting it together ... "it" being the nitty gritty, of course

I blogged recently about my process for kicking off a book. I'm into writing it now (chapter 3 done, 12 more to go). As others have noted, there's more to it than just figuring out the basic plot points. Here're a few other things that are involved.

First is The Book. Every story of mine has a special notebook, usually something picked up at random while browsing in the office supply store. Not a spiral book per se, but something small, portable, and well, "right" for writing.

I create sections with those marvelous sticky tabs: Who, Where, Timeline, Snippets, Misc. In this book, "Misc" contains bits about the book on which I am basing this one (it's a Remembered Classics book, so I need some details from the original book). Then it's on to details.

Characters: I need to have pictures of people in my books. I always use actors and then describe them in rather broad terms so their identity is somewhat unknown. I find pictures of them and keep them in The Book. I jot down info about them: age, height, weight, eye color, nervous trait, favorite startled expression ("Holy crap!" "Damn", etc.) I do this for the major players in the book, villain and hero alike.

Where: oh, I love this part. I look at house plans and find the perfect houses for my people. This book takes place in a mansion and I had a firm idea in my mind of the floor plan. So I had to go online and skim through various plans until I found the right one. Then I skimmed through assorted designer sites for furniture, etc. I've designed so many lovely homes this way.

Snippets: these are the scenes that pop into my head when the characters start to speak in my brain. Sometimes this is just a cryptic note or two ("Charlie sees stray dog; approaches; John acts like she's crazy; contrast: she trusts; he doesn't"). Fuller scenes goes into the Snip file on my computer.

Timeline: I keep two types of timelines. Every character has a back story, so I'll jot down what their timeline is ("Charlie married when she was 22; her husband died when she was 30; she retired at age 50").

And I also write out the timeline for the story as I write it with one or two points from the chapter  ("Chapter 1: August 15/Sunday night; sticky humid day: Charlies agrees to interview for job. John comes to her house. She insists on taking her car to the mansion").

The timeline bit is really important because I need to track the days, the weather, etc. so there's continuity from chapter to chapter. I normally write a book from start to finish, but I do get interrupted now and then and it's good to have those reminders.

So that's the setup for the writing. Now it's just a matter of getting the story that's in my head down on paper. Piece of cake, right?

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Love, Liars, and Legends to Die For by Kim Kasch

Please welcome today's guest to The Roses of Prose, Kim Kasch.
You think you know someone then they rip your heart out…

It’s a tale as old as time, a story written through the ages. This is the history of love, liars and legends.

And it doesn’t take a legendary hero to experience love…or liars.

Everyone has experienced a terrible tragedy, been victim to a lie, and perhaps even had their heart broken.

It’s true. Even readers fall victim to a beautifully woven plot, where they get swept off their feet, while they turn the pages. And, a good book shows you just how easy it is to get caught up in a story and be tricked into believing the unbelievable. It’s even easy to become a party to a love affair, often at the hands of a skilled liar.

Throughout the pages of history people have been misguided by others. But deceit is eventually discovered, at least as we turn the pages on carefully crafted plots and search for the nuggets of truth hidden inside the stories.

For example, the most famous of lovers are often known for their trickery and deceptions, such as Cyrano de Bergerac. He romanced the woman he loved, the beautiful Roxane. But in truth he was lying to her all along and misleading her for the handsome but less skilled wordsmith than himself, Christian de Neuvillette. Christian wanted Roxane for a lover but he could not win her over with his own words, so he enlisted his friend Cyrano to win her hand. And Cyrano did as he was requested by deceiving the kind and naïve Roxane through trickery. In the end she was heartbroken when she learned the truth.

And then there is the story of Romeo and Juliet with her deceitful plot to trick everyone by her feigned death. But in the end, that too played out as a tragedy.

"For never was a story of more woe - than this of Juliet and her Romeo."

Legendary lovers might appear to live lives larger than most but they are also emboldened by the storyteller’s prowess with words. Many tales of heroic lovers are nothing more than big fish stories that appear much larger than they ever truly were.

When you spend a little time unlocking the history behind the lore, you might be disappointed, disillusioned and sometimes even disgusted, as you discover the truth. But it’s always worth the journey to find the truth behind the story because while you’re on the path through the pages, you will be sharing the Big Fish story and actually become a part of the tale. . .or maybe that should be “tail”.

Kim Kasch has a legendary love story coming out through Midnight Frost Books, in July. It is a Young Adult Romance based on the Danish legend of Morgaine Le Fey and the Viking.

She currently has a Young Adult Romance out through CleanReads, The Cats of Cullaby Creek.

Kelly and Kyle
These two shared some sort of history. And now I was in the middle of their story.
Sparks flew through the air. But, they didn’t seem to notice—or maybe they just didn’t care how uncomfortable they were making the rest of us.
I scanned the room. The terribly odd thing was that while they stood in the center of the cafeteria—arguing—everyone’s eyes were on me.
What is so interesting about me?
After a few seconds, I heard whispered accusations slammed back and forth, like a ping-pong ball. My name, muttered in odd and angry tones. No one seemed to mind staring at me, but only the bravest few were sneaking sideways glances over at Kelly and Kyle, hoping no one noticed.
This wasn’t what I needed on my first day at a new school. I hadn’t come here looking for instant enemies, but I knew I’d accidentally stirred a private pot and things were already starting to boil.
I needed to do something and quick. From the sounds floating around me, if they got into an actual argument, I was going to get the blame.
I spit out the first words I could think to say, “What’s a new kid to do, after school, around here… for fun?”

When Savannah meets Kyle, its love at first sight. And why wouldn't it be? He's perfect, as far as she can tell. But Kyle appears whenever things go wrong. Maybe he isn't everything she thought he was. It's a complete mystery until she discovers the water in Cullaby Creek is being bottled and sold as vitamin “infused” water. Mistic Water promises the impossible. And then, like a magical elixir, it delivers. People who drink it feel younger, smarter, faster...healthier. But it doesn’t take long before side effects hit. Literally. The secret has to be in the water…or is it something more?