Writing is NOT Solitary

You might have noticed that last week I missed posting my blog. I had just returned from RWA’s national conference and by the time I realized I missed my blog last Monday, I decided it was Fate’s way of telling me to take a blog vacation for a week. So I did.

But I didn’t want to forget to share my conference experience with you. For me, the national conference gives me the ability to regroup, both mentally and emotionally as a writer. I attend sessions and find out what is happening in the world of publishing. But even more importantly, I catch up with my writer friends. Many of whom I only see at conference. Sure, I may email or talk to them since they are located all over, but there is something special about spending actual time together.

When I am with a group of writers, my sense or rightness (or “writeness”) returns. I gather with people who understand my language and have stories that won’t stay silent in their brains. Powerful friends to have.

So I got to spend time with my peeps to gear up for another year of writing and publishing. Batteries have officially been recharged.

Do You Feel Lucky? I do!

Writing can be rewarding, but it can also be hard. Even though I rely on a team of wonderful women to help me edit, proof, format, and cover my books, when it comes down to the writing of it, it’s me and my computer.

And as much as my characters talk to me a LOT, writing is solitary. So how do I keep moving forward?

I rely on my writing community. Today’s blog is a shout out to a wonderful group of super-women. We were all finalists in RWA’s Golden Heart contest in 2013. We’re from all over the world and write all different forms of romance. We call our group the Lucky 13’s.

And we’re fierce cheerleaders for each other. Give me an S-U-P-P-O-R-T!

Yesterday, I found out that I am a Holt Medallion finalist for my book TO HAVE AND TO HOWL and that is such a thrill and honor. But tonight, I was reminded how truly “Lucky” I am. An outpouring of congrats emails and Tweets came my way from my writing pals. After five years we still have each other’s backs.

Always there for each other. Always supportive. Always…just always…

Thanks Luckies for you Love – right back at you!

 

Why I Write

20170727_223659This past week I attended Romance Writers of America’s national convention. 2000 authors, editors, publishers, and other industry professionals under one (very large) roof talking the craft and business of writing. It is always an amazing experience to attend and spend time with people who get me the writer.

While the actual conference is exhausting, it is also rejuvenating as well. Spending time with others discussing writing and publishing is like my “spinach” if I was Popeye that is.

One of the fun things I got this week was a Do Not Disturb sign shoved under my hotel door from Harlequin. In the pic, the woman is reading a book as her hero carries her into the sunset. And while this is incredibly clever and came home with me to now reside on my office door, I came to an even bigger epiphany when I hung it there.

As a reader I am definitely carried away by the story, the scenery, the emotions, the characters, and anything else that moves me. But the same can be said as a writer. When my scenes are going well, I am IN THE STORY. I am living it and experiencing all that moves me. And that is a heady adventure. It can be emotionally draining sometimes, but more often that not, it is cathartic. To spend time creating worlds and characters who defeat the bad guy (since my books have mysteries too) and grow into beings that can love each other is the reason I keep writing.

So, if I could rework this picture a little bit, I might have the woman typing away on her keyboard since writers need time with their stories as well…

 

Finding Your Writer Tribe

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This past weekend I spoke at an Indie Author Day for the Cuyahoga County Public Library. The topic, you ask? “Indie Does Not Mean You Have to Do it Alone.”

I decided to talk about this since many writers just starting out think that they have to do everything themselves. And yes, while the actual process of writing is often done on your own, the publishing aspect shouldn’t be, even if you are self-publishing.

In my experience you need a tribe to succeed in the writing business. And as part of my talk I suggested ways for writers to find their tribe?

  • Fellow writers (why would you not want to talk to, learn from, and commiserate with others who are in the business of writing?)
  • Writing Organizations (RWA, Mystery Writers of America, Sci-Fi Writers, etc)
  • Online writing loops (Facebook groups & Yahoo groups for writers being two examples)
  • Blogs (like Creative Penn for example)
  • Libraries (amazing writer events and critique groups are closer than you think!)
  • Professionals (editors, cover artists, etc are part of the tribe as well)

Let’s face it, writing is a hard business and if you do it all alone, it can be an impossible business. Reach out and make connections, it will help you become a better writer and a better business person whether we publish indie or traditionally.

On An Adventure I Go!

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As you read this, I am heading off to attend Romance Writers of America’s National Conference! This year’s destination? San Diego! Yahoo!

There is something so amazing about RWA’s annual conference. As an author, I am surrounded by other authors who just get ME. They understand about the voices and the ideas that never quite go away. It’s like we speak our own language – a writer’s version of pig latin, if you will.

Being surrounded by 2000+ people in the business of writing helps me recharge, regroup and learn about craft and publishing. And of course, I get to meet up with my fellow writing friends live versus through social media. It’s wonderful to spend real time with them and catch up on their successes and challenges.

So during the week, I will try to post out on Twitter and Facebook as interesting things occur. Keep an eye out for that, my friends. And of course, I’ll let you know how things went in next week’s blog as well!

Off I go!!

Why I’m Glad I Opened this Email

2016BBAfinalist

On Friday morning I received an email with a subject line of one word: ‘Congratulations’. Now for most of you wary computer users, seeing the word congratulations from an address you don’t recognize sets off all kinds of alarm bells. Does the email contain a Trojan, or worm, or malware hidden inside just in time to screw up your day (and it was Friday the 13th remember).

But I opened it and promised not to click on any links inside (cause that’s how they get you).

Instead of a computer virus or declaration that I won a trip to some tropical island with ‘no strings attached,’ I found out that SENTINEL LOST, book 5 in my Mind Sweeper Series is a finalist for paranormal romance in the Booksellers Best Awards this year. Yippee!

And it got me thinking about my stories. How even though I sent SENTINEL LOST out into the world last year, that doesn’t mean that my work is done. Yes, I just introduced my new wedding planner series, but Kyle and my Cleveland-based supes are far from finished telling their stories. They continue to entertain new readers and I will be writing new stories in my Mind Sweeper Universe as well.

So it was a huge honor to find out that SENTINEL LOST is a finalist. Gave me a boost. (Believe or not, we writers need to get a boost every once in a while.) The winners will be announced at RWA Nationals this year in July and I’ll be there with my fingers crossed.

Don’t you worry, I’ll let you know how it goes!

Reflecting on Nationals

Last week my blog was about my conference hangover and how I was trying to reconnect with the real world. Now that my brain appears to be functioning again, I have had time this past week to reflect on my experience at RWA Nationals this year. And for me, I think that the 2015 Nationals was all about CONNECTIONS.

When I arrived at the airport, I met up with several authors who were traveling on the same flight to New York. And boy did we have a blast at the terminal waiting for our flight. Not sure if people moved away from us or not, but when a group of romance writers get together…the conversations can get a little interesting.

And the fun didn’t stop there. We were stuck on the tarmac for two hours when we landed in LaGuardia, but we took it all in stride. When we finally got off the plane, a woman stopped us and thanked us for entertaining her while we waited!

The entire trip was about connections for me. Meeting new writers and reconnecting with old friends. But the highpoint of the conference was meeting my fellow First Book nominees. We had spent months blogging, tweeting and facebooking about being finalists. And finally meeting them face-to-face was so wonderful. Because here’s the thing…you can be up for an award and that is pretty cool, but the friends you make along the way? That’s what really matters.

At the reception, we “Firsties” spent time together and snapped this awesome picture!

Left to Right: Alyssa Alexander, Natalie Meg Evans, Sonali Dev, AE Jones, Patience Griffin, Clara Kensie, Elia Wnters
Right to Left: Alyssa Alexander, Natalie Meg Evans, Sonali Dev, AE Jones, Patience Griffin, Clara Kensie, Elia Wnters

 

Twas the Night Before Nationals

In lieu of my normal Monday blog, I decided to write a poem in preparation for heading to RWA Nationals tomorrow…I hope you enjoy!

Twas the night before Nationals and all through the land
Writers were frantically making plans;
Shopping, last minute laundry and packing their bags
With clothes, costumes and extra cool swag;
In preparation for their upcoming trip
Where they will travel by train, car, plane, or ship;
To the isle of New York, the city that never sleeps
Which is a good thing since the city will find it hard to keep…
These writers in check.

So much to learn, absorb and explore
With workshops and spotlights and book signings galore;
Camaraderie, networking, and just plain fun
Contracts will be signed and awards will be won;
Before we know it the week will come to a close
And we will return home to write our own prose;
But not without new memories and life-long friends
Who become our cheerleaders and remind us in the end…
It comes down to Romance.

A New Fashion Statement

20150713_151448In one short week I will be on my way to RWA Nationals in New York City. And I have been working through my checklist of things to finish before I go…
• Finish editing book 5
• Order books for book signings
• Finish swag items
• Pick out outfits
• Buy essentials
• And the list goes on…

But one thing that wasn’t on my checklist was hurting my foot. Two weeks ago I landed the wrong way on the side of my foot and it proceeded to swell up and turn black and blue. Off to the urgent care I went to get an x-ray. And as I waited for the results the same words kept going through my mind. I’m leaving for NYC my foot can’t be broken…I’m leaving for NYC my foot can’t be broken.

Then I calmed myself down. My friends asked me what I would do if I had to wear one of those wonderfully fashionable medical boots to the conference. My answer? No problem. I would bedazzle it and maybe even screen print the cover of Mind Sweeper on the side. Because I will not be deterred from enjoying the conference.

The x-rays came back with no break, thank goodness. But my foot has only been happy in tennis shoes so far. So what does that mean? I may be pulling off a new fashion statement at Nationals this year. Almost all of my outfits I am taking are dresses. And I do not have the time or inclination to go out and find new outfits that ‘work with’ tennis shoes. So dresses and tennis shoes are now my modus operandi.

And this is the life of a writer. Something will always surprise you during the writing and editing process. Something unexpected that can derail you or you work around to find a new solution.

If you are heading to RWA Nationals and see a woman walking around in (what I think are) cute dresses with ridiculously casual running shoes introduce yourself. Odds are it’s me!

Fiesta of Firsts: When I First Knew I Wanted to Write Romance

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Welcome to week five in our Fiesta of Firsts celebration and my week to host the soiree. If you are just joining the par-taay, then let me bring you up to speed. Each year RWA has a published writing contest called the RITA’s. Finalists are chosen in different categories. And there is an award for First Book. It’s cool because you can only be nominated for First Book once and it pulls from all the genres- from contemporary, historical, erotic, paranormal, YA, romantic suspense, and inspirational. This year some of the RITA first book finalists decided to get to know each other a little better. And we wanted to share that experience with you. So each week one of us is asking about a ‘First’ and the other nominees are chiming in.

GIVEAWAY ALERT! I will be choosing one lucky winner from those who comment on my blog this week to win a digital copy of Mind Sweeper (or another of my books if you already have Mind Sweeper. I’m all about flexibility).

EVEN BIGGER GIVEWAY ALERT!! At the bottom of the post, you can enter a rafflecopter giveaway that includes a copy of EACH first book and a copy of one of our favorite books. Do the math, my friends, that’s 14 books all for you! So make sure to enter the giveway below!!!

If you have missed the other posts so far, you can check them out here:

This Week’s First!

Now on to this week’s first! The question I asked this week was…drumroll…When did you FIRST know you wanted to write romance? Or if you can’t exactly remember the romance part, then when did you first know your wanted to write?

Let the fun begin…


Alyssa Alexander

alyssaalyssa smugglerI had to think long and hard about this one, and I finally realized I don’t have an answer. I don’t remember a time I didn’t want to write–at least, not since elementary school. By middle school I was already trying to write my first book. It was romance, mystery and paranormal all rolled into one. (Ghosts, a love story, a villain–the works!) So writing was never a “choice”, nor was romance as my chosen genre. It was just was. I read romance, I dreamed of romance, and when it came time to put pen to paper, I never thought about what I would write. The result was romance twined with mystery and suspense. I guess I never strayed from those middle school roots!

You can visit Alyssa HERE


Clara Kensie

vbgptfqmpqpkghtlI’ve always enjoyed writing, but being an author was never something I set out to do as a career. I read a lot, though, and some characters I loved so much that I never wanted the book to end. But all books end, even if they are seven-book series like Harry Potter.

A few years ago, I realized that the only way that I’d never have to say goodbye to a character would be to write a book myself. I could develop characters I love, and write and write and write their stories. I could then spend years with my characters, instead of just a few days. A perfect plan, right? I brainstormed a list of all of my favorite elements to include in my book:

– Young adult – Realistic heroine – not perfect, but relatable – Devoted hero – mysterious and *hot* – Sweet but strong romance – Dark plot – Danger – Scary villain – Huge, jaw-dropping, didn’t-see-it-coming plot twists

I had a vague idea that it would be cool if the characters had secret identities. And that’s as far as it went. I was stuck.

A few weeks later on a cloudy November day, I was pulling out of a parking spot at the grocery store when I was hit with a “what if:” *What if there was a teenage girl who was the only member of her family without a psychic power? And what if they moved around from place to place because they were being hunted by a killer—and that killer had psychic powers too? And what if that girl met a boy…”*

It went on from there. I went home and wrote the story, being sure to include my brainstormed list of favorite elements. It took me only a few weeks to write, but between revising on my own and then with my publisher (Harlequin Teen), and then repeating the process by adding a sequel, I’ve been able to spend years with the characters I love so much. I’m thrilled that others are reading the RUN TO YOU series now, and loving the characters as much as I do.

You can visit Clara HERE


Sonali Dev

wzsvdkpgfkbmstrcWhile I was a voracious reader growing up, unlike a lot of romance writers, I discovered the romance genre a little late. Funny thing is I always ended up zeroing in on the love stories within the mainstream fiction and literary fiction I was reading. In retrospect, I was searching for the romance genre and I finally found it quite by accident. I was sick and asked the hubby to pick up something for me to read at the library and he brought home Catherine Coulter’s Rosehaven because it was sitting next to the checkout counter. I stayed up all night reading, unable to stop until I was done. Amazingly enough, my first thought was, “Wow! reading this feels exactly like watching a Bollywood film!” And I was hooked. I consumed every romance I could find after that and then wrote a fan fiction style Bollywood Film script based on some romances I had really enjoyed. When I had finished that script I knew that I was going to be writing love stories that meshed together Bollywood films and romance novels. And the rest as they say is backstory.

You can visit Sonali HERE


Elia Winters

dmsrrnynqmzzptrhI didn’t set out to be a romance novelist. I’d a lot of other genres: sci-fi, fantasy, YA, horror, and general fiction, but none of those books really came together. I’d actually written erotica as a teenager (shhh), little short scenes that graduated from “fade to black” to full-on sex as I grew more comfortable in my erotic writing chops, but I never thought about making that my career. I wanted to write novels, and I didn’t really care what genre they were. It wasn’t until my 10-year anniversary participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) that I decided to write a novel just for me, indulging all my kinks and fantasies. Ironically, when I finished this “just for me” book, I realized that it was the best book I’d written so far, and I wanted to publish it. That book was *Purely Professional,* the book now up for two RITA awards. Of course, publishing this book meant going public with my kink, which was a huge step, and committing (at least for a while) to erotic romance. Now, three books later, I couldn’t be happier with my decision. Romance is a wonderful genre to write, a triumph of my feminist ideas and sex-positive attitude, all wrapped up in a happily ever after.

 You can visit Elia HERE


 Patience Griffin

tkwrgtyyfnpzwlkyI fell in love with happily-ever-afters at the same time I fell in love with audiobooks during many long, long hours of commuting. I remember the exact moment when I thought.I want to do this. I want to write stories that end well instead of tragically or open-ended. I had recently listened to Julie Garwood’s book, The Wedding. I couldn’t get enough of the story, so I bought a copy. I was lying on the couch savoring every written word when it hit me-the fiction writing bug. I turned to PhD (my husband) and said, “I can do this. I can write a book.” His response back to me was, “Of course you can.” And as they say, the rest is history.

You can visit Patience HERE


Natalie Meg Evans

mvhyvqmrrqlsvkppI believe it was when I picked up Georgette Heyer’s ‘These Old Shades’ and got lost in a romance set in the late 18th century. I had just moved to London from a small, Midlands town and was lodging with my step-grandmother in the western suburbs. It wasn’t going too well. She, I think, was finding it hard having her home invaded by a willful 18-year-old. I was out of my depth, trying to find work in the big city. Gran had envisaged cosy fireside chats in the evening and I wanted to be out, pursuing my twin passions – being an actress and a nightclub owl. This was the early 1980’s when the London club scene was fizzing! But we did find that we had a love of Georgette Heyer in common, and she had a shelf-full. I’ve always though GH should be prescribed by doctors as an antidote to worry because of her power to transport the reader out of ‘real’ life into a dashing, sensuous world. At the time, I was writing serious, issue-laden stories. Georgette cured me of that! These days I allow reality into my work, but never forget that readers love stories that grip the senses, the emotions and above all, the heart.

You can visit Natalie Meg HERE


AE Jones

mnyxpdtfrdnjvpcvI have always wanted to tell stories. As a child I was addicted to TV and would rework the endings of shows in my head to ‘make them better’. My first manuscript was a very sweet, cozy mystery. And then my next manuscript was a mystery that wasn’t as cozy. But still, I wasn’t satisfied. I was a late convert to romances. I picked up my first one about seven years ago and it was like a light bulb went off in my head. The book was Lover Awakened by JR Ward. I wanted to write about relationships. And paranormal. I so love paranormal thanks to Joss Whedon (remember recovering TV addict here). So a paranormal author was born. And since I couldn’t give up my mysteries, I mashed them together. Why the heck not? Let the hero and heroine solve the who-done-it, and get a little somethin’ somethin’ with a side order of fangs and fur! A trifecta of goodness as far as I was concerned.


This Week’s Spotlight: Mind Sweeper

rdnjvpcvAn angel, a demon and a vampire walk into a bar. Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but it’s just another day in the life of Kyle McKinley.

Kyle was born with the ability to erase memories, and the inability to keep her opinions to herself. She and her teammates – a vampire who looks like a sexy pirate with fangs, and a Shamat demon with a penchant for Italian pastries – provide supernatural damage control when humans see too much. Today’s problem? A sword-wielding angel and a demon had a supernatural smackdown during happy hour in a Cleveland bar, leaving behind a headless vampire and a dozen human witnesses.

This latest supernatural slip-up is attracting all kinds of attention. So much attention that the police step in, and Kyle has to deal with Joe Dalton, a know-it-all human with the sexiest turquoise eyes she has ever seen. Kyle has no room in her life for yet another human who will treat her like a freak. However, Dalton definitely makes her naughty parts sit up and take notice, and it’s more than mutual. But before they can act on their attraction, they must join forces to solve a dangerous puzzle. And when they uncover the truth, the apocalyptic ripple effect forces Kyle to make a choice. Learn to trust again, or risk losing everyone she cares about, including Dalton.

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GIVEAWAYS:

1) Leave a comment over the next week (Friday, July 3rd – Thursday July 9th) below telling us what you think about our romance revelations and you will be entered to win a copy of Mind Sweeper (or another book in my series, your choice).

2) RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY! Win a Basket of Books from the First Book Nominees! Enter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway