Sunday, December 28, 2014

New Year's Resolutions

Every New Year's Eve the topic of resolutions comes up. I resist making them, but usually give in. This year I've decided to think of them as continued growth in areas that concern me.

1, Organizing my home. I've started cleaning out the old already. I finally gave up my VHS tapes. Well, most of them. They went to Good Will today along with old cups and glasses I rarely use. I still need to place old pictures into albums and scan paperwork I want to toss.

2.  Increase my writing time. I've decided to keep the laptop on my lap while watching TV if I haven't written that day. This will allow me to open the file and work at a leisurely pace. I think I procrastinate sometimes because writing is work even if it is my passion. I don't know anyone who writes a perfect draft every time.

3. Increase promotion. My new laptop is helping tremendously. The touchscreen has allowed me to place my social media on my start screen. The links are at my fingertips. This too can be accomplished during TV time. Right now, we are watching The Sopranos.

4. Diet. I already reduced my sugar intake which helped me drop ten pounds. Next, I am going to reduce snacking. Changing one area of my life at a time is the key for me.

I hope your new year is everything you want it to be whether you make a resolution or not.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Lesson From Reese

Today was one of those days when The Universe conspires to send a message. On Facebook, I read a post from a writer who bashed the ability of well-known authors. She felt they should be cast aside to make room for newbies. Her frustration came through loud and clear even if I don't agree with such posts.

Later, I watched 60 Minutes. Reese Witherspoon spoke about the difficult time she went through after her divorce. Despite receiving an Oscar, she was having trouble finding projects that she was passionate about. Her career floundered. She was probably as frustrated as the writer on Facebook today. Reese finally decided to start her own production company and optioned two books before they were published. (I assume she received advanced reader copies.) She wanted to make movies that mattered to her. The first movie she produced was Gone Girl. Her new company made millions.

Reese reminded me that I need to write books that mean something to me, not just books that might get published by the big guys. Traditional publishers are going to stick predominately with the authors who sell millions. They are in business to make money. I don't need to be another Carol Higgins Clark or Nora Roberts to be happy, although it would be nice. I just need to know I am tapping into my creativity, using my voice, and putting out a quality product. Today, authors are fortunate. There are many avenues we can take to publish our books. We don't have to sink money into a production company to share our craft with the world the way Reese did. I don't know about the woman on Facebook, but I plan to focus on writing what makes me happy and not worry about who publishes it or how much money I make.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Learning From Movies - The Fury

I am not a big fan of war movies, but I agreed to see this one with my husband. I'm glad to say the acting was good. The dialogue was usually believable. Unfortunately, most of the plot was predictable. At least it was for me. That could be because I'm a writer.

When they introduced the young soldier who wouldn't shoot anyone, I knew the story would center on how he becomes a killer. When the main jerk in the movie told him he was a good man, I knew the jerk would die soon. When they decided to face down over a hundred Nazi soldiers by themselves, I predicted everyone would die except for the young soldier.

To be fair, I did not predict that this handful of men would decide to face down over a hundred German soldiers near the end.

What can writers do to keep their plot points from becoming predictable? Write a list of possible twists in the story until you start to come up with ones that are different, yet believable, and true to the characters. You can also ask a friend what they think will happen next in the story and if they guess your plot, change it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

What I Learned From The Eagles

My husband took me to an Eagles concert for my birthday last week. They are by far my favorite band. They sang for two-and-a-half hours and I recognized almost every song. Yes, we were one of the youngest couples in the arena. They started the band when I was in grade school and reunited when I was in high school.

Between songs, they told the story of their band.  I found something they said to be interesting and enlightening. At one time, people thought the band was history because popular music had changed, but they continued to perform the songs they enjoy and radio stations continued to play their music. Not all young people know who they are, but I was surprised to discover my twenty-six-year-old daughter knew two of their songs. She said the radio station had just played Witchy Woman that morning.

Writers who are chasing the trends and not getting anywhere need to stop and write the novels that speak to them. Even if you don't make the Top 10 lists, you will be happier.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Tips For Entering Writing Contests

Like many writers, I have both judged and entered writing contests. I am not a contest diva, but I have finaled in over half a dozen and even won a couple. I learned the most about entering contests by judging them. I have a few tips I have learned through my experiences and by listening to other writers give speeches on the topic.

1. Make sure you are entering a contest that is appropriate for your genre. If you are writing a paranormal ghost story where the emphasis is placed on the paranormal element with little interaction between the couple in the story, you should not enter a romance writer's contest.

Your manuscript has a better chance of scoring well in a romance contest if the hero and heroine meet soon in the entry. You will find most romance readers want this as well.

2. Read the contest directions several times. They usually provide manuscript guidelines. If they want the first 20 pages, don't send them the love scene in the middle of the book. If they want double-spaced, don't send in a single-spaced entry. If they want an entry that is not published and not under contract, don't send them the first pages of your self-published book. If your book is available for sale  in a store or online to the public it is considered published.

3. Remove your name, address, email and phone number from your manuscript and synopsis before sending in your entry.

4. Ask for a copy of the judging score sheet before deciding to enter. A romance score sheet may judge on the conflict between the hero and heroine. This will give you an opportunity to read up on romantic conflict before deciding if yours is strong enough. If not, you can strengthen your conflict or decide not to enter the contest. Tip: An extremely strong conflict would be he is a fireman and she is an arsonist. I can't take credit for that. It is the most often used example floating around Romance Writers of America chapters for years.

5. Make sure your synopsis provides every major plot point including the ending. If it is a romance, you need to include the conflict. Tip: I have often heard agents and editors say you must include the ending in your synopsis.

6. Read over your entry several times for mistakes before entering.  A set of fresh eyes can help.
I have my husband give my entry a once over. He'll catch missing words or sentences that don't make sense.

7. Every score sheet I have seen includes a rating for point of view. Head hopping is discouraged. Your entry will usually do better if you stick to one character's point of view per scene. If you want to change point of view, you are better off changing at the beginning of the next scene. If the first paragraph gives the character's name, action, and thoughts, the transition to the new point of view will be made clear (usually).

8. End your entry on a hook that leaves the judge wanting to read more. (Advice given by Harlequin author Linda Style.) If the contest rules say "up to 20 pages" that does not mean you have to end at the bottom of the 20th page. I end my scenes with a hook and find that is the best place for me to end an entry. I may enter 17 pages if that is where my scene ended with a hook.

9. When deciding which contests to enter, look at the judges and grand prize. If your are trying to get your work before a major print publisher, you are better off with a contest that has one of their editors judging the final round. The Valley of the Sun contest has a grand prize that should appeal to both indie and traditional writers: the top scorer will have their entire manuscript edited by professional editors. If you want to spend a lot of money entering every contest available for your type of writing, that is also an option.

10. You are the final judge. Entering contests is an emotional roller coaster. You are on pins and needles hoping to make the final round, but when you read a negative comment, your bubble bursts. Just remember, judging, just like reading, is subjective. When you read a comment about your work, ask yourself if it rings true. If not, you can ignore the judge's advise. If all three judges make the same comment, you might want to think carefully before tossing it aside. There are times I read the score sheet, put it aside for awhile, and then went back to it before improving my manuscript again. I am in a better place emotionally to decide if the judge was correct or not.

Don't fall the words at the top of this blog entry, the main purpose for entering writing contests should be to improve your writing.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Building Sympathetic Characters

Once again, my husband and I are behind the times. We never watched The Sopranos until he bought the first season recently. I have to admit, it wasn't what I expected. I expected another version of The Godfather. What I saw was a great example of how to make a bad guy likable.

I found myself feeling sorry for the main character, Tony. He has an aging mother who can't take care of herself and yet refuses to move into a retirement community. His wife is never happy. His daughter and wife are always fighting. Plus, his son gets into trouble at school. We might not be able to relate to a mobster, but we can relate to Tony and his multitude of family problems. The fact they are all happening at once, makes us feel sorry for him.

This approach can used with your hero, heroine, or even your villain if you are trying to make him or her multidimensional. Villains are the hero of their own story.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Fed Up

Like so many Americans, my husband and I shop at Costco. Today, my husband picked up the DVD Fed Up. The picture is blurry, so I'll tell you the sentence above the title reads, "It's time to get real about food." It is narrated by Katie Couric.

We watched it this afternoon and was surprised to learn that the experts in this film do not believe that reducing calories and increasing exercise is the cure all for losing weight. They say calories are different. I did know eating vegetables and fruits is better for you than eating chips. Aside from the health value given to differing types of food, I figured you ate a hundred calories and spent three hours burning it off no matter what it was. (Joking a little here.)

They showed how drinking a sugary soda goes to your liver and is turned straight into fat. I'm sure this may be oversimplified, but it scared me. Not that I drink regular soda, but I do drink a ton of flavored coffee creamers. In the past, I wasn't worried about Diabetes because I have great genes and in a huge family of sugar addicts, no one was ever diagnosed with the disease. On the other hand, I do have huge hips and thighs, so I am ready to try a new path.

After watching the movie, I was once again convinced I need to eat better, not perfectly, but better. My husband even offered to make my lunches. (I've made his for the past four years.) That is incentive enough. I even Googled homemade coffee creamers and found some I will try. I had tried to make my own in the past, but thanks to the exploding Internet, I now have recipes. My past attempts were a huge failure.

I believe this documentary is worth the time and effort to watch. It focuses on our children and the struggle they have in a society that promotes unhealthy foods in the media. It also shares how attempts to improve packaged foods have failed. Have you ever noticed that there isn't a % of Daily Value for sugar on food labels?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Increase the Danger - Let's Be Cops

Romance novels are often accused of being formulaic because they all have a happy ending where boy gets girl. That guaranteed happy ending is why romance novels sold well during the recession. What makes them different from one another is the journey. After boy loses girl, what must he do to win her back? What dangers must our couple face in a suspense to triumph over the bad guys?

You could say comedies are formulaic. They make you laugh and then, in most cases, have a happy ending. Last night, my husband and I watched Let's Be Cops. I expected a silly movie that would make me laugh. What surprised me was the way the writers kept increasing the danger. At first, the main characters could end up in jail for impersonating police officers. Then they bought a police car, which would increase the length of their sentence. Next, while impersonating police officers, they interfered with the illegal activities of the bad guys and humiliated them. Soon we discover one of the bad guys is a detective who wants to kill them. Although that is bad enough, they each must run for their lives without the other until they join up to defeat the evil villains.

I knew how the story would end twenty minutes into the movie. How we got to that ending was a fun ride.

That is what we must do as a romance writers. Drag your hero and heroine through hell and back until they have grown as people and accomplished their goals. At that point, they have earned the happy ending.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

2014 Hot Prospects Contest - LOW ON ENTRIES!

2014 Hot Prospects Contest  - LOW ON ENTRIES!
Sponsor: Valley of the Sun Romance Writers

****Permission to forward****

Looking to sign your first book contract, switch from a small press to a large
publisher or simply explore another genre of romantic fiction? Turn up the heat
on your writing career with the Hot Prospects Contest.

GRAND PRIZE: The grand prize winner of the contest will have their entire manuscript (400 pages, Courier, 12pt, Double spaced) reviewed by two professional editors at Novel Needs

Announcement by a former winner:

“After finaling and winning the hot prospects romantic suspense category with my entry The Gilded Cuff, Lauren Plude from Grand Central made a three book offer for my series. I just wanted to extend my thanks and gratitude to your chapter for hosting the contest and bringing in such great final judges! Thank you!” ~ Lauren Smith

Fee: $25 for Valley of the Sun RW chapter members
$30 for non-chapter members
Chapter website has PayPal capability.

Postmark Deadline: September 1st, 2014
E-Submit Deadline: Midnight, September 1st, 2014

Eligibility: The Hot Prospects Contest is open to any work that is not under contract and
is unpublished at the time of entry.

Enter: 3-5-page synopsis and up to the first 25 pages of story (30 pages max). Entry or
synopsis may be shorter, but neither may be longer than specified.

Categories/Judges: Trained judges for preliminary round

Final round judges

1) Historical/Regency
Editor—Esi Sogah, Kensington
Editorial Director - Angela James, Harlequin Carina Press

2) Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal
Editorial Assistant –Kristine Swartz, The Berkley Publishing Group
Editor—Amy Stapp, Tor /Forge

3) Romantic Suspense
Associate Editor- Lauren Plude, Grand Central Publishing
Editor -Tera Cuskaden, Samhain

4) Contemporary Long/Single Title
Editor at Large – Sue Grimshaw, Random House
Editor—Cat Clyne, Sourcebooks

For More Information, entry form, and rules, see website at For questions please email

Those entries that do not final will be returned approximately October 30th,
2014 to help those who plan to enter RWA's Golden Heart.

Lena Jakes and Lisa Heartman
Valley of the Sun Hot Prospects Co-Chairs

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Barbara White Daille

It is my pleasure to introduce Barbara White Daille and her new release

The Texan's Little Secret - August 2014
Coming home might be the worst decision Carly Baron has ever made. Each minute on her family's busy ranch is one minute closer to seeing him—her first love—the man who broke her heart seven years ago. While coming face-to-face with Luke Nobel again brings back painful memories, Carly quickly realizes there are other strong feelings just under the surface…. 
Luke would be a lot better off if Carly had stayed away. Being a single dad to an adorable two-year-old girl and managing the Roughneck is tough enough, but resisting the sparks that fly whenever he and Carly are together is near impossible. But first she must tell him her secret. The truth could heal their past…or forever destroy their chances of becoming a family.

Rancher at Risk - January 2014
Court Me, Cowboy - e & larger print now available
The Texan's Little Secret - August 2014

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Creating Characters - And So It Goes

My husband and I weren't sure what to expect when we watched the movie And So It Goes. The fact I was dabbing at tears at the end says it all.

Any romance writer who wants to know how to take an unlikable hero through a character arc and make him likable, should watch this movie. Oren, played by Michael Douglas, is obnoxious, but we know he must have some redeemable qualities because he has a friend who understands him.

Next, we discover why he lost his compassion and can accept how this happened. Early in the film, he is thrown into a situation where he must rediscover his finer qualities with the help of a new love interest. Each step of his journey is believable. At the end, he has to prove he is a better version of himself by giving up the one goal he has worked so hard to obtain.

It is a simple formula, but it works.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Writing Contest

2014 Hot Prospects Contest

2014 Hot Prospects Contest
Sponsor: Valley of the Sun Romance Writers

Looking to sign your first book contract, switch from a small press to a large publisher or simply explore another genre of romantic fiction? Turn up the heat on your writing career with the Hot Prospects Contest.
Grand Prize Winner
  • The grand prize winner of the contest will have their entire manuscript (400 pages, Courier, 12pt, Double spaced) reviewed by two professional editors at Novel Needs
  • All finalists in each category will receive a certificate, a graphic for their website and an acknowledgement in the Romance Writers Report. Approximate date of winner notification is December 15th, 2014.
Valley of the Sun RW Members
  • $25
Non-Chapter Members
  • $30
Payment Options
  • Valley of the Sun RW reserves the right to return all entries and fees if the minimum entry number for each category (5) is not received. Entrants will be contracted to see if they wish to place their entry in another category before entries are returned.
Postmark Deadline: September 1st, 2014
E-Submit Deadline: September 1st, 2014
The Hot Prospects Contest is open to any work uncontracted and unpublished at the time of entry.
Trained judges for preliminary round, Editors for final round.
Single Title Contemporary-
Romantic novels released as individual titles, not usually part of a series. Projected word count: over 70,000 words.
  • Editor – Sue Grimshaw, Random House
  • Assistant Editor – Cat Clyne, Sourcebooks, Inc
Romantic Suspense-
a suspense/mystery/thriller plot is integrated within a romantic novel. Projected word count: over 70,000 words.
  • Editor – Associate Editor- Lauren Plude, Grand Central Publishing
  • Editor -Tera Cuskaden, Samhain
Romantic novels set in a time period prior to 1945. Projected word count: over 70,000 words.
  • Senior Editor – Esi Sogah, Kensington
futuristic, fantasy, or paranormal elements are integrated within the love story. Projected word count: over 70,000 words.
  • Editor – Editorial Assistant –Kristine Swartz, The Berkley Publishing Group
  • Editor – Amy Stapp, Tor /Forge
Those entries that do not final will be returned approximately October 30th, 2014 to help those who plan to enter RWA’s Golden Heart.
  • Your synopsis should be between 3-5 pages.
  • Up to 25 pages of your manuscript.
Total Submission
  • Entry should be 30 pages max.  Entry or synopsis may be shorter, but neither may be longer than specified.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

I Swear My Roommate Is a Vampire

It is my pleasure to introduce writer Arabella Thorne and her novella:

I Swear My Roommate Is a Vampire
Ever declare bankruptcy? Don’t. It sucks…. Okay, really bad joke. Anyway, after my bankruptcy, my home equity line payment took a jump into the ozone layer and I needed extra money, fast. So, I decided it was time for a roommate.
After screening lots of potential candidates (let me tell you, what a real life horror story that was), I became desperate and did something I never thought I’d ever do. I rented my master suite to a vampire.
I know, what you’re thinking: Dracula, fangs, blood, hot, sexy, the whole package. Well, this one’s different. He’s the perfect renter—quiet, neat, tidy, pays on time. In fact he reminds me of my high school algebra teacher.
All was going well, until things started to happen—nasty things. Apparently, not everyone likes vampires and has no intention of letting people live and let live. Especially with a human as a roommate.
Reality…. Now that really bites!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

So You Want To Write A Book

Want to be a writer and not sure you have what it takes? I attended a conference workshop taught by Martha Alderson, who has been dubbed The Plot Whisperer. (Pictured above) In her book, Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master, she says, "Anyone can write a book. The trick is to write a good book. So long as you are honest and true to yourself, you have what it takes to write a good book."

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Writing Advice From Janet Evanovich

Writers should continue to study their craft. You can join writing organizations and listen to speeches, or you can simply pick up a book and read the advice given by experts. I enjoy reading novels by Janet Evanovich (pictured above) so I picked up a copy of How I Write - Secrets of a Bestselling Author by Janet Evanovich with Ina Yalof.

In the section on characterization, Janet gives three tips.

1. The main character must want something.
2. Someone or something (nature, money, distance) must stand in the way of his getting what he wants.
3. The choices that a character makes in his efforts to overcome obstacles and ultimately get what he wants define the character.

For more advice, you can pick up this title in ebook, paperback, or audiobook.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Learning From Movies - Jersey Boys

Friday night, I watched Jersey Boys. What a great movie! Clint Eastwood picked another winner. I remembered the songs from my childhood and was surprised I knew the lyrics. Of course the story wouldn't have been made into a movie if the group didn't have hurdles to overcome and drama behind the scenes. I'm not sure if Jersey Boys will appeal to a younger crowd, but I hope so.

Although the songs are still playing in my mind, I did find lessons in the story that also apply to writers.
First, Frankie Valli kept working on improving his ability. No matter what you want to accomplish in life, you need to keep working toward your goal.

Second, he stayed true to his voice. No one sang like him. That can be good or bad, depending on what your audience wants. He could have tried to alter his singing style, but he had faith in his talent. Writers need to learn this lesson. Don't try to emulate Nora Roberts or Stephen King. Find your voice and let it work for you.

Finally, Frankie found a songwriter who could produce hits. Once you find your voice, write the story that will appeal to an audience. Analyze the stories and movies you like. What is it about them that appeals to you? I'm not saying to follow the trends. Do you enjoy a mystery element in a story? Or perhaps taking a fairy tale and twisting it? What about crazy relatives? Use what appeals to you to bring out the story that you want to share with the world. Odds are if you love your story, someone else will, too.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

What Influenced You?

This weekend, I found the second season of Murder She Wrote in a bookstore. I have to admit, while growing up I watched a lot of television, which included the Jessica Fletcher character pictured above. I also enjoyed Diagnosis Murder, The Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Charlie's Angels, and Matlock. I'm sure I'm forgetting a few titles. Don't get me wrong, I did read, but for every one book I read, I watched twenty mystery shows with my mother. I still enjoy watching these reruns over and over again.

I discovered I had a strong desire to create stories in my early forties. As Jessica says, "You're never too old to start writing." I had always felt like there was something missing in my life and when I put pen to paper that feeling went away. These shows I watched greatly influenced my writing. I'm not satisfied with a story unless it has a mystery element. I also find I'm not comfortable with writing extreme violence or sex scenes. I blame that on watching too many reruns of the Brady Bunch. I'm joking. I feel the enjoyment I found watching family type mysteries, also touched me in a way that I find myself replicating their tone.

Sometimes when my mother visits, we watch Matlock together and I smile. I guess I can thank my father for my writing genes and my mother for the type of stories I write.

What influenced your writing?

Sunday, May 18, 2014

A New Look At Rejection - Law & Order

I am a huge fan of Law & Order Criminal Intent. Recently, I heard the Jeff Goldblum character say that rejection is God's protection. It never feels good to receive a rejection letter from an agent or editor no matter what stage you are at in your writing career, but his comment made me look at rejection in a new way. Instead of feeling depressed when you receive that dreaded email, try asking yourself what could God (or the universe) be protecting you against? Is this a good time in your life for writing deadlines? Perhaps a positive change is coming and you need the extra time to enjoy your promotion, baby, grandchild, remodeling project, move to a new home, etc. Is the editor of the line known for huge rewrites that you would not welcome? Or maybe that editor is about to leave for another publisher. If she took you on, you might find her replaced by an editor that doesn't like your style. The publisher may be about to sell the company or face bankruptcy. There is always the chance that you are close to publication, but still need to learn a bit more about your craft and this rejection is protecting you from embarrassment.

If you choose to accept that rejection is a form of protection, then put that dreaded email behind you and continue to write and learn more about your craft. When you receive your contract, it will be a distant memory.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Introducing Shari Broyer

It is my pleasure to introduce Shari Broyer and her book Ether Man.

This quixotic story blends paranormal mystery, comedy and romance.

If you hear a voice in your head, you’re schizoid, right? Not Esther, she’s conjured up Ether Man, a being she can hear and sometimes feel. But when Irving, the EM, refuses to fully manifest, a frustrated Esther vanquishes him and books a singles cruise for herself and her BFF, Yolanda. Aboard ship, Irving reappears as a “stowaway”; Esther meets the man of her dreams; and Yolanda meets trouble. Now, Esther and Yolanda must prove their innocence in a murder case, and Irving tags along.

You can purchase her book at Amazon.

Shari Broyer has been writing since childhood. Her earliest award: a 1st place trophy for Creative Writing at 8th grade graduation. She writes in many genres and does not restrict her creative muses (she believes she has far more than the nine commonly known ones).
Formerly she was: Editor in Chief of Kent State University--Ashtabula's literary magazine, Kaleidoscope; Facilitator, Writers' Forum, Barnes and Noble, High Point, NC; host of Writer's Digest World's Largest Writing Workshop; published in various literary anthologies; top 100 winner, Writer's Digest 2000 competition--Inspirational category, etc.
Currently, she facilitates Writers Roundtable at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, AZ; is Board member/Newsletter Editor for the Desert Rose Chapter of Romance Writers of America and is also a manuscript editor for hire (see her website She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and its local Chapter, Christian Writers of the West. When not feverishly writing or editing, she enjoys reading, swimming, mild hiking, the arts (theater, ballet, concerts, art galleries, art shows, museums, etc.), traveling, spending time with friends and family, and playing with her cat, Baby, who by the way, is featured on the cover of The Cat Who Would Be Black.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Writing With Emotion

If you are like me, Mother's Day brought with it a mixture of emotions. My daughter prepared dinner for my husband me Saturday night. Watching her cook, in the home she decorated, filled my chest with pride. Of course, we reminisced. I laughed while telling her husband stories about her childhood. Later, she gave me a coffee cup with a sun border. She had written the lyrics to "You Are My Sunshine" on the coffee cup. I remembered gazing into her eyes and singing that song to her when she was a baby. Tears welled in my eyes.

Today, my husband and I took my mother out for a late lunch. This time I remembered being the child. We pulled out our iPhones and shared family pictures stored on Facebook. All those yesterdays flooded back. My heart ached for my brothers living in different states. I don't see enough of them.

Holidays give us a chance to get in touch with our emotions and to be grateful for the people in our lives. As writers, it is our job to create worlds in which our characters feel those same emotions. If we do our job well, our readers won't have to wait for holidays to laugh, love and cry; they can open the pages of a romance novel.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Introducing Donna Hatch

It is my pleasure to introduce Donna Hatch and her newest Regency romance, A Perfect Secret.

Genevieve must break off her engagement with Christian and marry a blackmailer but after a year, she flees his violent domination. Just when she thinks she's started a new life, her husband tracks her down and stalks her. Though brokenhearted when Genevieve called off their engagement to marry another man, Christian will do anything to protect her from the madman--except risk his heart.

You can buy her book at Amazon:

or at Barnes and Noble:

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Increasing Your Productivity

If you ask my writing friends what they would like to improve in their writing, many would say the number of books they complete each year. We all want to be like Jennifer Ashley, who writes more than most of us combined. We know it takes determination, and although the mind is willing, the body is weak. What can we do change this?

At our last Valley of the Sun Romance Writer's meeting, Lexi Post spoke on this issue. She had us write down what our writing style included. Mine varies. I am more productive if I leave the house and go to Barnes and Noble. Being around books while I sip on my white chocolate mocha inspires me. A location away from home also removes distractions like the TV and dirty dishes in the sink. After a few hours, I can no longer function and need to get away. I also need to walk around. I usually go home, feeling like I accomplished a great deal, but still have more to do. At this point, I may edit while watching TV. This is not going to increase my productivity. Next time, I'll walk the mall and then try writing either at the food court or another eating establishment. Jennifer writes at one location in the morning and another in the afternoon.

My other obstacle is weeknight exhaustion. I have a full-time, high-stress job. Once I'm home, I'm beat. If I sit down at the dining room table with a bottle of Starbucks mocha and a snack, I can write for about an hour. Then I can follow up later with edits in front of the TV. You might have caught onto my major flaw: relaxing in front of the TV. I need to save it as a reward for a successful writing day.

I have a lot to work on this year, so I will continue to try various methods of improving my productivity and let you know how it went.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Romance Author's Booksigning Open to the Public

Tempe Mission Palms Ballroom
60 East Fifth Street
Tempe, Arizona 85281

General Information:
You are invited to attend one of the largest book signings in the Valley.  New York Time’s Bestsellers Christie Craig, Sylvia Day, Allison Brennan, Karin Tabke, Jennifer Ashley and many more favorites, will be available to meet and greet their fans while they sign their books.

Authors scheduled to appear:

     Jennifer Ashley                                                  Kayce Lassiter                                          
     Judith Ashley                                                     Debbie Lee                         
     Allison Brennan                                                 Sandra Lee Smith     
     Shari Broyer                                                     Annette Mahon
     Mary Buckham                                                  Mary Maxie
     Patricia Burroughs                                             Cathy McDavid
     Laurie Schnebly Campbell                                  Terri Molina
     Stacy Connelly                                                  Judythe Morgan
     Christie Craig                                                    Debra Mullins 
     Barbara White Daille                                          Marina Myles
     Sylvia Day                                                        V. S. Nelson 
     Alison Delaine                                                   Virginia Nosky
     Kerrie Droban                                                   Pinkie Paranya
     Barbara Duell                                                   Marie Patrick
     Marion Ekholm                                                  Lexi Post
     Connie Flynn                                                     Erin Quinn 
     Ramona Forrest                                                 Sarah Raplee
     Calista Fox                                                       Deena Remiel
     Roz Denny Fox                                                 Vijaya Schartz
     Cynthia Garner                                                 Mimi Sebastian
     Tina Gerow                                                       Linda Style
      Marie Harte                                                      Karen Tabke
      Donna Hatch                                                    Pam Tracy
      Arlene Hittle                                                     Kris Tualla
      Jannifer Hoffman                                              Ann Videan
      Shanyn Hosier                                                 Susan C. Yarina
      Morgan Kearns                                                Beth Yarnell
      Vanessa M. Knight

Friday, March 21, 2014

Introducing Marie Patrick

It is my pleasure to introduce Marie Patrick and her book

Mischief and Magnolias

The year is 1863 and Natchez, Mississippi, has peacefully surrendered to the Union Army. Several homes in the city are commandeered…but not everyone surrenders peacefully, especially Shaelyn Cavanaugh.  When her home and beloved steamboats are taken over by Major Remington Harte and his small contingent of men, Shae strikes a bargain to allow her and her mother to remain in their home—her mother will cook for the men in blue and she will clean up after them. Her ultimate goal? Make Major Harte leave. Her plan of attack? Make the little things in his life difficult.
Wounded by a sharpshooter’s bullet that nearly took his life, Remy has taken an assignment to transport supplies and troops utilizing the Cavanaugh steamboats. He is determined to find the persons responsible for ambushing his scouting party, leaving most of his unit dead—and extend kindness to those around him, especially Shae. Instead of being upset at finding she added vinegar to his coffee and poured molasses in his boots, Major Harte is intrigued. His admiration grows for the feisty woman and her pranks…and he looks forward to what she might do next.
When Shae’s steamboats disappear, attributed to the Gray Ghost, a guerilla fighter with the Confederacy, and accusations of espionage grow against her, Remy has to decide between following his head or his heart. If he makes the wrong choice, he could lose his men, his reputation and the woman who has become more important to him than he ever expected.

Novels by Marie Patrick
Coming soon: Mischief and Magnolias
A Treasure Worth Keeping, available on Amazon and Crimson Romance 
A Good Man For Katie, available on Amazon and The Wild Rose Press
A Scandalous Woman, available on Amazon and Whiskey Creek Press
Touch the Flame, available on Amazon and Whiskey Creek Press
Angel in the Moonlight, available on Amazon and Whiskey Creek Press

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Beta Readers

From what I have heard, Beta Readers are volunteers, who are not writers, who read an author's manuscript. They give feedback based on the average readers point-of-view. Bob Mayer, a New York Times Bestselling Author, suggests using Beta Readers.

I decided to give it a try. I am in the process of changing a cozy mystery into a sweet romantic mystery. In order to do this, I need to change half of the scenes into the hero's point of view. The original book has already been edited. What I need now is a set of fresh eyes to look for obvious mistakes. My husband, my mother, and a friend at work have been reading what I have finished so far.

What I have discovered is that they often find different mistakes, or different aspects of the book stand out to them. This has been a valuable experience. Of course, I do have my writing friend who will look at the final copy for anything that stands out from a published author's point of view. I do plan on using them again in the future.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Tackling Big Projects

This past week, I needed to clean our bedroom. That involved going through drawers and an overcrowded bookshelf. Between my day job and writing schedule, I don't have much time left over for luxuries, like cleaning. I tackled the job one corner at a time. Thursday evening, I cleaned and dusted the end table. Friday evening, I dusted the television area. Saturday morning, I went through drawers and dusted the large dresser. Finally, today, I sorted through books and dusted the bookshelf. Afterwards, I felt like I had accomplished a huge task and still found time to write.

I realized later, that the idea of tackling huge jobs one step at a time can be applied to any task that seems overwhelming. If a writer sits down and writes one paragraph a day, the book will take shape. Hopefully, once you sit down to write that paragraph, you'll write more.

Once I accomplished my task, I felt so good I treated myself. No, not to a sundae, but to a small candy bar.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Introducing Mary Maxie

It is my pleasure to introduce Mary Maxie and her book, Sophie's Calgary Stampede.

A Washington DC corporate lawyer arrives in Calgary Alberta just in time for the annual ten days of madness called the Calgary Stampede. Feeling like a brown shoe with a tuxedo or a Manolo high heel with a cowgirl outfit, Sophie is about to find out what the new wild west is all about.

You can learn more about Mary and her books at

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Single Awareness Day

My husband calls February 14th "Single Awareness Day." He heard it on the radio about ten years ago and it stuck. A single friend of mine wears black every Valentine's Day. It makes you wonder how many people emotionally suffer on this day. Even if you are in a relationship, that doesn't mean the day will be full of chocolates and roses. I remember crying one Valentines, back in my twenties, when my significant other failed to acknowledge the day. After hearing some stories, I've decided they might as well call it, "Prove You Love Me Day."

Valentines is not going away anytime soon, so what can be done to make the day less painful? It really is a matter of perception. I am in a point in my life where most holidays, other than Christmas, are not that important unless I get the day off work. My husband and I bought our gifts and cards together, except for a CD I found for him. We received exactly what we wanted, and in this case, needed. We tell each other every day, in many ways, that we love each other so there is no need to prove anything. Communication is the key. Tell each other what Valentines means to you and what you would like to receive. There is no law that says a gift has to be a surprise. If money becomes an issue, you may have to compromise.

Keeping in mind that the candy and flower companies have blown the holiday out of proportion, you can accept that you don't need a significant other to be happy and treat yourself to the gift of your choice. When I was single, my sister, mother and I bought each other small boxes of chocolates. Who said sugar has to come from a man to be good?

Remember, you are the only person who can make you happy.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Next Romance Author's Booksigning in the Greater Phoenix Area

As the Glendale Chocolate Affair wraps up, I'm sure many of you are wondering when the next large booksigning will be held in the greater Phoenix area. The good news is you only have two months to wait.
The Desert Drams Writer's Conference will be holding a romance author's booksigning.

April 5, 2014 @ 7pm-8:30pm
Tempe Mission Palms Ballroom
60 East Fifth Street
Tempe, Arizona 85281

General Information: 
You are invited to attend one of the largest book signings in the Valley.  New York Time’s Bestsellers Christie Craig, Sylvia Day, Allison Brennan, Karin Tabke, Jennifer Ashley and many more favorites, will be available to meet and greet their fans while they sign their books.

Authors scheduled to appear:

  • Jennifer Ashley
  • Allison Brennan
  • Mary Buckham
  • Patricia Burrough
  • Laurie Schnebly Campbell
  • Toni McGee Causey
  • Shelley Coriell
  • Christie Craig
  • Sylvia Day
  • Connie Flynn
  • Cynthia Garner
  • Jami Gold
  • Donna Hatch
  • Morgan Kearns
  • Annette Mahon
  • Cheyene McCray
  • Cathy McDavid
  • Jess Michaels
  • Debra Mullens
  • Erin Quinn
  • Vijaya Schartz
  • Linda Style
  • Karen Tabke
  • Pamela Tracy
  • Kris Tualla
  • Carol Webb

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Character Development

Over the Christmas holiday, my husband and I started watching the Breaking Bad series. Half of the writing team of Tia Dani (Bev) and her husband also watched the series after it ended. We later compared notes. Bev and I agree that the character development was remarkable. We see these average, law-abiding people travel to the dark side due to their changing circumstances. This show is a must see for all writers. You can find it on Netflix or DVD.

Sunday, January 26, 2014
click on conferences

April 4-6, 2014
Tempe Mission Palms Resort
Tempe, Arizona

Speakers Include:

  • NY Times Best Selling Author Christie Craig: Keynote
  • #1 NY Times Best Selling Author and #1 International Best Selling Author Sylvia Day
  • Award-winning Author and speaker Mary Buckham
  • NY Times Best Selling Author Allison Brennan
  • NY Times Best Selling Author Karin Tabke
  • NY Times Bestselling Author Jennifer Ashley
  • And many more
This national bi-annual conference gives writers a chance to ready their manuscripts and pitch to sell them to big-name editors and agents. New York Times bestselling authors Christie Craig, Sylvia Day and Mary Buckham are just a few of the speakers who will keep the 200+ attendees’ creative juices flowing. 
Powerhouse agents and editors—including editors and senior editors from Grand Central Publishing, Random House, Decadent Publishing and Boroughs Publishing, as well as agents from Trident Media Group, The Nancy Yost Literary Agency and The Bradford Literary Agency—will be on hand to give advice and present workshops. Agents and editors visiting the conference actively seek the high caliber of talent found among those who come to Desert Dreams.
In addition to workshops and opportunities to mingle and meet authors, Desert Dreams attendees are given a one on-one appointment with an agent or editor of their choice free of charge. There’s one catch: attendees must sign up early for their choice since agents and editors are scheduled on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Desert Dreams also offers a book signing open to the public on:
Saturday, April 5th from 7:00-8:30 p.m. in the Mission Palms Ballroom.
To sign up, just click on the Online Registration tab at the left side of the page.
Member price is now only $205 and non-member price is just $235, so sign up now.
Desert Dreams Writers’ Conference provides authors of all skill levels – from beginner to multi-published – with the tools necessary to take their writing to the next level. Session included general writing, career development, genre-specific, agent/publisher spotlights, as well as an agent/editor panel. Check out our roster of acquired editors and agents along with our keynote speakers and workshops. Did you miss the 2012, 2010, or 2008 conferences? Order workshop conference CDs and MP3s.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Lessons From Shadow Recruti

Many of you know I often find writing lessons while watching movies. This weekend, I watched Shadow Recruit. Although I enjoyed the suspense and action scenes, I encountered one problem with the movie. I couldn't fully understand why the United States would fall into another great depression if Chris Pine's character couldn't prevent a terrorist attack. Pine's character quickly explained to Costner's character what the bad guys were up to in a way he would understand. Frankly, I would need a white board with all of the elements carefully explained and color-coded. I know very little about the stock market.

What could they have done differently? Granted, Pine's character didn't have time to fully explain the details; the bad guys had tried to kill him and he was afraid they were following him. One possibility was for the information to be reported back to headquarters so that other CIA analysts back in D.C. could slowly and carefully explain to their superiors the details and how they could lead to a depression.

The lesson: make sure you fully explain to your readers what the danger is in your story.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Writing a Series

Writers can learn a great deal from watching movies. This weekend we watched the second movie in The Hunger Games series. I admit I did not read the series and my comments are based only on the movie. I enjoyed the movie, but felt like it ended in the middle of the story. Many writers will tell you that each book in a series needs to have its own gratifying ending even if it is part of an overall story. If you don't believe this, watch the first two movies in The Hunger Games series and ask yourself how you feel at the end of the second movie. You do want to see the next movie in the series, but until it comes out, you are left feeling like you put a book down in the middle. Your audience may hang in for the next movie/book or they may be upset and feel like they wasted their money.

The owner of a bookstore once told me she has customers who won't read a series until the entire series is in print. They don't want to get caught up in something that makes them wait for another installment. By giving your audience a happy ending in each installment they walk away with a feeling of contentment that can carry them until the next book/movie comes out.

Experienced authors often say your career is only as good as the ending of your last book. That is what a reader remembers when they decide to purchase your book- or not.