Tag Archives: Jill Shalvis

Day 2…Book signings, class moderating, networking…

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So, I’m still a little giddy and emotionally high after the Nora Roberts Literacy book signing last evening. There were over 400 authors present – big names and not so big( like moi!) – and the horde of fans who came to purchase books was immense! Romance fans are truly the best in the world. I was sitting next to Julie James and I swear, some of her fans squealed when they came up to her and met her!! It was amazeballs cute. I was over the moon at the amount of books I sold, but even if I hadn’t sold one, I’d have had a great time seeing all my fav authors and making some new friends.
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So, today is official day 2 ( but really day 1 for all the workshops and meetings).

I have a Leadership breakfast to attend in my role as NHRWA Secretary, then a Kensington Spotlight to hear Steve Zacharious’ “news.” I’m taking two workshops and then moderating one this afternoon with the fabulous Jill Shalvis, Sarah Morgan and RaeAnn Thayne as the speakers. Can you just say, “PINCH ME, NOW?” I know!!!

These evening I am attending a cocktail party courtesy of Kenisington Publishers where I hope to meet many of my new fellow authors.

Lots to do…lots to talk about…..later, peeps.

While I’m in San Diego, here’s where you can reach me:  Tweet Me// Read Me//Visit Me// Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me//

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Filed under #RWA16, Author, Contemporary Romance, love, Romance, Romance Books, RWA, WIld Rose Press AUthor

Why we love Christmas romance books.

I was in Target the other day doing a little Christmas shopping and I found myself – surprise surprise – in the  Book department. There were no fewer than 15 brand-new Christmas romance  novels from 15 different authors.  Was I surprised? Not really.  We all know romance sells… And a Christmas romance sells even better.

This got me to thinking: Why is it that romance readers love a Christmas romance?

In the purest sense,  Christmas is a joyous time. We all want to be happy, in love, be loved, and give love.  The basic Christmas romance novel uses that universal desire for love and amplifies it. How you ask? Well, I’m going to tell you.

Typically, a romance novel set during the Christmas season will involve a heroine who is just not feeling the love. The love of the season,  or the love of a good man.  Enter our hero. He, too, may not be feeling the love of the season. He isn’t looking for his soul-mate; doesn’t think Santa is going to hand deliver a  girl for him down the chimney and leave her under the tree. BUT. It’s Christmas after all. The time of miracles; the time of wishes being fulfilled.

When our hero and our heroine do meet, it may not be love at first sight, or even second. Possibly not third, either. Some intangible thing, though, will bring them together and when they do find their love ( usually on Christmas morning or under the mistletoe) then the story gets resolved, because Christmas is the time for love to wash away all the evil, all the hurt, all the pain of the year before it.

I will admit freely and unabashedly I am a total sap for a Christmas romance story. The Hallmark channel and Lifetime Movie Network were made especially for me ( or so I tell myself). Their 24 hour a day holiday movies and specials – all about some sort of love/romance as the theme surrounding the Christmas season are favorites with romance novel readers from every walk of life. Happily ever afters abound, and Santa comes on Christmas morning, bringing you exactly what you wanted and wished for (usually a hunky guy in Christmas boxers…but I digress and that’s for another blog post).

Yeah, I know it’s kinda sappy and syrupy and maybe even schmaltzy, but I don’t care. Neither  do the millions of others who support ( read: spend their money on!) this cottage holiday industry.

So, while I settle down  in front of my roaring fireplace where I’m all warm and comfy with new Nora Roberts’ CHRISTMAS WIH YOU book, after just finishing Jill Shalvis’  MERRY CHIRTSMAS BABY , I hope you can take an hour or two this week and read a new holiday romance or watch the Hallmark Channel and/or Lifetime Movie Network. After all, we deserve a break from shopping, wrapping, cooking and decorating, don’t we?

Yeah…we do!

Christmas is coming and so is VALENTINE’S DAY!!!! Comingperf5.000x8.000.indd soon:: 3 Wishes, A Candy Hearts Story from the Wild Rose Press 2/8/16 release. Buy Links available soon!

Blurb: Valentine’s Day is chocolatier Chloe San Valentino’s favorite day of the year. Not only is it the busiest day in her candy shop, Caramelle de Chloe, but it’s also her birthday. Chloe’s got a birthday wish list for the perfect man she pulls out every year: he’d fall in love with her in a heartbeat, he’d be someone who cares about people, and he’d have one blue eye and one green eye, just like her. So far, Chloe’s fantasy man hasn’t materialized, despite the matchmaking efforts of her big, close-knit Italian family. But this year for her big 3-0 birthday, she just might get her three wishes.

 

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Filed under 3 Wishes, Author, Candy Hearts, Contemporary Romance, Friends, love, Romance, Romance Books, WIld Rose Press AUthor

RWA15 final thoughts…

So it’s a little less than a week since I got home from RWA15 in New York. My mind and body were depleted and yet strangely energized as well. Last year – as an RWA conference virgin – I was too excited to appreciate the networking going on around me; too excited meeting my favorite authors in the flesh; too excited to realize what an unbelievable opportunity the conference was to enhance my career.

This year was different on so many levels. Oh, I was still excited beyond belief at meeting my favorite authors- and some new ones – but I took the opportunity afforded  me and branched out in several ways to advance my writing career.

Last year the workshops I attended had more to do with seeing the well known authors presenting them. I took no classes on craft, marketing or the business of publishing. This year, those were the only classes I sat in on.

Last year I stood in line for 2 hours to get Nora Roberts’ autograph at the Literacy signing. This year I volunteered at the event and was thrilled to be assigned to one of my favorite authors of all time, Jayne Ann Krentz. I learned more from watching her  interact with her fans for just 2 hours than I could have learned in years in public relations courses. She showed me – up close and personally – what it’s like to be on the other side of the publishing/writing curtain (like that little Wizard of Oz tie-in??!). As a fan I’ve always seen just my own reaction to meeting a writer one time. Ms Krentz had to deal with hundreds of fans all individually  and uniquely excited, and wanting her to know what her writing means to them – and stay up beat, focused, and gracious, which she was to every single one of them. She never refused to have a photograph taken, or listen to a story about a particular book of hers, or even offer some advice to a fledgling author ( moi!), and her beautiful smile never slipped. By observing how she handled herself during those 2 hours I know precisely how to conduct myself during a book signing. Thank you so much, Jayne Ann Krentz!

From my PRO-retreat workshops I learned how invaluable branding, social media, and marketing are to a writer – whether she be multi-published or fledgling. Anna Alexander and Catherine Bybee were deep wells of information regarding these topics and if I came away with anything to remember during this conference it was this: “A person needs to hear your name 7-10 times before it’s recognizable to them.” Thank you, Catherine Bybee, for this gem. My tweets have increased 100-fold, as have my other social media alerts all because of this statement.

I met with my “dream” agent at a pitch session- something that put terror into my little heart. Not because of the agent, but because I was so nervous about “putting myself out there.” I don’t like to talk about myself – a dumb thing to hear from a blogger, eh?! But on paper you don’t have to look at me and I don’t have to look at you. It’s all fairly visually anonymous. I don’t get nervous when it’s on paper ( or the laptop, really). But face to face is another story entirely. Anyway. Despite my nerves, the agent was lovely, gracious and sweet. I’ll let you know in the future if things progress on this front.

One last memory that will live with me for the rest of my career is the workshop I took with Christie Craig. I’ve mentioned in a previous blog how I think she should be the keynote speaker at next year’s conference and here’s why: this woman is an inspiration in  more than just writing. Her personal journey through life and in her writing career could be made into a must-see television movie for the Hallmark Channel. It would win its time slot for the night, week, month and year. I have always put forth my own writing TAO called NGU NGI ( never give up and never give in.) Ms Craig lives this TAO every day and boy, does it show in her success. I think we can all  use her as an example.

RWA16 will be in San Diego – a town I’ve visited before and loved, so I can’t wait to go. Maybe next year I will be an author participant in the literacy signing. If so, I will remember what I learned from Jayne Ann Krentz about how to conduct myself with fans.

Thank you RWA, Jayne Ann Krentz, Christie Craig, Kristan Higgins, Tracy Brogan, Jill Shalvis, and all the other amazing authors who presented workshops, spent a little time with me out of class to answer any questions, and to my wonderful, talented NHRWA chapter-mates who all journeyed south to NYC this year.

 

 

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Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, Life challenges, NHRWA, Romance, Romance Books, RWA, Strong Women

RWA15, wrap-up…

Well, I’m back in my cozy, cool home. I finished unpacking, did two loads of laundry and went grocery shopping.

And I reflected on an amazing conference. Multi-published and award winning author Nalini Singh was the saturday morning key-note speaker. She had us laughing-and tearing up a bit-when she described her first trek across country on a train to her very first RWA conference. The Perils of Pauline could have been re-written and marketed as the Perils Of Nalini, as she described her experience on a broken down Amtrak train, an unscheduled stopover in Philadelphia, and the first time she was recognized and wished she hadn’t been!

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Saturday the workshops were outstanding, but the one  I want to talk about was Polish Me Pretty: Five Polishing Tips to Take Your Writing to the Next Level by Christie Craig.  If you don’t know about this amazing women – shame on you! I learned more from her about how to evoke emotions and visualizations when writing a scene than from any other human being alive. Ever. And not only is she is wonderful teacher, she is a truly exceptional motivational speaker. She shared the tale of her humble beginnings in life, teenage marriage and motherhood, her dyslexia, and her 100’s – truly!- of rejection letters before getting the call that changed her life. There should be some kind of petition started to ensure she is next year’s RWA16 keynote speaker. There wouldn’t be a dry eye or a belly that wasn’t shaking with laughter in the house.

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The conference ended with annual Rita and GoldenHeart awards ceremony. The fabulous Lisa Kleypas was the host and I can attest she is as beautiful in person as she is on her book jackets. I won’t name all the winners, but I will tell you my favorite of the night. Jill Shalvis – after 13 nominations – won for One in a Million in the mid length contemporary romance category. She is truly a fan favorite and one of my absolute must reads whenever she has something new out. hbrqqwtt

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I’ll need a few days to wind down and reflect some more on my experiences this year at the conference, so you’ll have to suffer through one more posting from me next week! Until then….here’s the last picture I took of the book giveaways. Add 25 more to this picture and you see why my arm is so sore from tugging my suitcase along on the road back home!

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Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, Life challenges, NHRWA, Romance, Romance Books, RWA

RWA15…it just keeps getting better

This was truly a total fan girl day for me. I volunteered to help out at the literacy signing and got my dream job: minion to Jayne Ann Krentz.

I know!

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Not only is she a gifted writer, penning a plethora of bestsellers in three names Jayne Ann Krentz, Jayne Castle and Amanda Quick, but she is sincerely one of the nicest human beings I have ever met. For two hours she smiled, took pictures and chatted – not to mention signing over 50 books – and impressed the he** out of me with her natural graciousness.  My favorite moment came when, almost at the tail end of the signing, three 20 somethings came up to her and actually screamed – squealed like pigs – her name. One of them had an antique fan that she assiduously fanned her excited self with. This was  – in my mind -a true fan girl moment (x3!)

The room had over 480 authors plus about 2000 super fans. It was very warm and very loud, but also very wonderful.

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I was luck enough to snag a few pix with some of my favorite authors.

Here’s me and the fabulous, funny, and very cute-as-a-button Jill Shalvis:

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Here’s my NHRWA chapter president, the talented and multi-published ( and just plain nice!) Chrystine Butler:

20150722_184826The line for Nora Roberts went out the door and down the corridor, so I didn’t wait for a pix with her, especially since I have the one taken with her last year framed and sitting on my desk at home. Sigh!

Tomorrow we get to the meat of the conference: the workshops, Publishing House events, and the general meeting.

Whew! I’m tired, elated, ecstatic and… well, you get the picture. More tomorrow from the city that never sleeps.

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Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, NHRWA, Romance, Romance Books, RWA

Christmas is coming and you know what THAT means, don’tcha?

With the holiday season approaching in a ridiculously fast manner, there are a ton of new romance books out with Christmas themes. Books about Christmas brides, Christmas babies, Christmas engagements, even Christmas cowboys ( Yowza!) It got me thinking about why this time of year has such a plethora of romance-related reading material popping up.

Christmas is a time of rebirth, of joy, of giving thanks for the blessings in your life, and ultimately for celebrating Jesus’s birth – remember folks: Jesus is the reason for the season. It makes some kind of sense then that the Christmas baby book bonanza for romance novels is such a widely loved trope. An unexpected surprise is delivered on a doorstop one Christmas morning : a baby. A women who never thought she’d have a child suddenly finds she’s now the “mother” to a slew of nieces and nephews whose parents have been killed, or who have abandoned them. A Christmas miracle happens and a women becomes pregnant when up to this time she hasn’t been able.

Such are the themes of Christmas baby books.

The Christmas bride books are also a popular sell. I will admit this since most people know it already, but I got married the day after Christmas. A few distant relatives and some friends found this date horrific and chose not to attend my wedding due to obligations elsewhere. That was fine with me. I chose this date for a number of reasons which I won’t go into. But it turned out to be a great date for several reasons: 1. All of both our families were together celebrating the holidays; 2. I always pictured a winter wedding, complete with snow and Christmas finery; 3. The Church was already decked out for Christmas – so I didn’t have to pay extra for flowers and decorations ( I’m no dummy, folks, when it comes to saving money), and 4. I knew it was a date my husband wasn’t likely to ever forget was our anniversary.

Getting engaged on Christmas is the second date only to Valentine’s Day where the question is popped. Truly, is there a better present than an engagement ring, all new and sparkly and put on your finger by the guy you want to spend forever with?? I think not.

So, with the holiday rush beginning now that Halloween is but a memory, you will see a large number of new releases on the shelves ( both store and Kindle) with holiday themed covers and stories. I suggest you buy a few that hit your fancy because – trust me – they all have happily ever after endings ( something we all desire ) and they will all make you feel just a little happier during the holiday season.

A few of my favorite new Christmas themed releases this year:

Christmas in Cupid Falls, By Holly Jacobs

A Cowboy’s Christmas Promise, by Maggie McGinnes

The Twelve Brides of Christmas, from The Wild Rose Press

Merry Christmas Baby, by Jill Shalvis

 

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Filed under Author, Characters, Contemporary Romance, Editors, Family Saga, MacQuire Women, NHRWA, Romance, Romance Books, RWA, Strong Women

Finding the funny…

There are times when I wonder why I can’t write as fast as I can think, and others when I wish I was a funnier writer.

I’m considered a wise-ass by most people who know me, and I won’t deny that descriptor at all. I can be bitingly sarcastic – but never cruel – and I’ve been known to make grown women  leave a dinner table and head for the ladies room just so they won’t pee in their pants from laughing.

I can be quick, biting, snarky, and sometimes guffaw-able, in real life.

But on the page, I die to find the funny.

Most humor is based on tragedy, or so the saying goes. Most of my humor is found in dumbass situations that happen everyday in my life. The Lucille Ball moments we all have at one time or another.

But when I’ve got characters I want to invest a little humor in, I’m lost.

Most of us know at least one person, an uncle, a friend, even a co-worker, who can take any situation and see the humor in it enough to make everyone around them laugh. These people are usually the “best-friends” in novels, like the Rosie O’Donnell character in Sleepless in Seattle. Always ready with a witticism – usually spot on and deadly – about whatever is occurring in the scene at hand. These characters lighten the mood, add realism to the situations in the book, and generally are well liked by readers.

Why, oh why, then, can I not write that person??

I’ve tried; believe me. The humor I’ve given my peeps sounds flat on the page and not funny at all. Writers like Jill Shalvis and Janet Evanovich can make me laugh out loud when I’m reading their work. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed at anything I’ve tried to write as funny.

I think it was famed actor Edmund Kean who said, “Dying (Tragedy) is easy; comedy is hard.”

Yup. Truth.

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I’m not a SLUT, Part 2

I had such an incredible reader response from the sentiment in my last post that I was blown away. I guess I’m not the only reader/writer of romance who feels slighted/insulted/infuriated by  people and media outlets who label us as stupid, naive, delusional or…slutty. Believe me, the VERY LAST thing I am now or ever have been is slutty! It’s laughable to even imagine it.

But in all seriousness, the lousy rap we as writers and readers of romance get is ridiculous.  Multi-published, award winning author Jill Shalvis recently put up this post:

“Was at a independent bookstore where I couldn’t find the romance section. When I asked, the clerk said they get so few requests for “those” books that they had only a small section on the third floor in the back. Huh. It’s been a long time since I got that kind of reaction. And here I thought romance was cool again but maybe not everywhere…” 

That says a great deal about the mind workings of book sellers. My thought is that perhaps that store gets such a small amount of requests for “those” books is because of “that” attitude!

I find myself frequently put in the position of defending the genre I write and read in. I’ve had women in their 20’s giggle at me because I’m “too old to read books like that.” I’ve had women my age tell me to “act your age and read serious literature.” I’ve had women at church look like they’d like to brand me with a big, scarlet R.

Really?

Until the day I go to the big library in the sky I will be a LOUD advocate for romance reading and romance writers, and I know I am not the only one. I state proudly and unequivocally  that I write it, read it, enjoy it, and promote authors/readers who do the same.

Who’ll stand up with me?

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Procrastination, thy name is Margaret-Mary…

Since menopause hit me with a punch to the gut – and everywhere else – I’ve had trouble focusing on tasks that in the past were literally no brainers for me. I was balancing the checkbook the other day and my mind started drifting to my current WIP and I began running the plot line in my head, trying to figure out some good twists and turns for my characters. Before I knew it, the balance in my checkbook was off by about a million bucks and I’d written the wrong amount on two of the bills I was paying.

After Mass last weekend, a friend asked me how I liked the sermon. I had to fib and say it was great when I had no idea – no frickin’ idea- what it had been about because, yet again, my mind she was a wanderin’. That’s pretty sick. Coming out of Mass and having to tell a fib right away. No exactly the most Christian thing I’ve ever done.

On my days off I try to start writing at about 6 am. If I’m going at a good clip I can get 9-10 hours of it accomplished before I need to start thinking about dinner. Sometimes I’ll take a break to toss in a load of laundry…maybe drop by the market to get some groceries.

But for the past month my mind has had trouble sitting at my desk and creating. I come up with all sorts of excuses to pull me away from the laptop, and I usually fall victim to them. The newest episode of Castle is on, of I need to catch up on Sleepy Hollow. Jill Shalvis has a new book out that I just have to read – now! There’s a new In Death addition waiting for me on my Kindle.

All these things are pulling me away from my writing.

Then, yesterday, it hit me. These things, these distractions, aren’t pulling me away. They’ll all still be there waiting for  me once I’m done writing. No, what’s making me procrastinate so much is me. Not the mundane little things I allow to get to me. Me. Myself. I.

For whatever reason, I’m a little nervous about this new WIP. I think about it all the time, truly, running plot lines in Church, thinking up dialogue when I’m at my paying job. I think about it all the time. And what I’m thinking up is good. Really good, for me. So why can’t I commit to getting it down on paper?

Probably time for some therapy…the question is, retail, or professional?

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How, exactly, do you do research for a Romance Novel?

Think about that question. Go ahead. I’ll give you a few minutes….

There are a thousand ways I can can answer it. Sarcastically, humbly, physiologically, literally…but you get it.

Author Jill Shalvis was recently asked this question in an interview and she did a pretty good job answering it. Because what, exactly, are people wanting to know when they ask that research question? We all have a pretty good idea. They don’t want to know how you got your info about being a master chef, the FBI, corporate raiding, or anything else that’s in your story. They want to know  how you did your research on…how you came to know about the…wait for it… SEX.

This is what the average lay person ( no pun!! Well…maybe) thinks a romance book really is. A sex novel. A book strife with page after page of position changes, body noises, multiple loud orgasms, and descriptions of unmentionable private body parts. The kinds most people don’t discuss aloud. But they do read about them. Frequently, if the romance novel selling stats are to be believed.

I’ve tried to answer this question as off handedly as I can when asked it. I really don’t know what people expect as an answer. Maybe they think I’ve visited a brothel and watched (Eeew!) the going’s on. Maybe then think I’m a secret porn video watcher, hidden in my bedroom, the lights and blinds drawn, the tv sound muted, just watching and categorizing what’s happening on the screen. Again, eeew! Maybe they think my husband and I are wild and crazy “swingers,” (Eeew, squared!) Whatever people think or believe, here’s the truth according to me, so therefore, here’s MY truth.

I’ve been a romance reader since my 20’s. I  like every kind of romance from sweet ( no sex) to sensual ( a little) to NC17( one step down from Erotica.) My research, for lack of a better word, has been done by reading the genre and getting to know the books and authors who write them.  And P.S. I am married and have had a child so I think I know how  the act is accomplished.

Sex is sex. It’s not hard ( insert pun), nor is it brain surgery. It’s a natural, beautiful expression of love, commitment, and basic biology. We need sex for propagation of the species, folks. We haven’t evolved into a species that reproduces its young in test tubes yet – please, God, that never happens.

What the book buying public has to be made aware of with regards to romance novels is that they are not about the sex. That is just a small component of the story. Romance novels are about the emotions of two people falling in love, the challenges they face along the way to their happily ever after, surviving those challenges and spending their lives together.  They are stories of commitment, emotional growth, self discovery, and yes, they have some variant of sex in them because they are about people and people have sex!

So the next time you meet an author who happens to write in the romance genre, DO NOT ask them how they do their research unless you are referring to how they learned to handle guns, rappel down a mountainside, drive a speedboat while being chased or came to understand survival training. Or anything else related to the story other than the sex question.

You can, simply, ask this: “So, what’s your book about?”

Believe me, the author will tell.

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