Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve

Ringing in the new year is always a special time. A moment to reflect on the past and anticipate the future.

Every year I make New Years resolutions, whether written down on a piece of paper -- soon to be lost in a wave of endless clutter on my desk -- or locked away in the file cabinet of my mind.

This year I'm feeling particularly hopeful toward my resolutions and about keeping them. One resolution I have made over and over for the past dozen years or so, is about my writing. My lists have included various columns that have read something like this: Write everyday, write more, finish book, start new book, finish 1st book, think about next book, think about another book, write down ideas, learn to write, give up writing, don't give up writing, send out queries, write a synopsis...

During the past couple of years, I have finally achieved several writing goals. I have a novel completed with a second one nearly finished, and the beginnings of a third. I write almost everyday -- no matter what. I have been more consistent with my blog postings, and have a finished synopsis for my completed novel.

I definitely feel a sense of accomplishment in my world of writing. There is more work to do and I still have writing resolutions on my 2009 list.

Another aspect of my life that requires attention is my weight and health. My lists over the years regarding this area have included the following: eat less, exercise more, lose weight, walk everyday, walk three times a week, walk two times a week, walk sometimes, drink more water, give up ice cream, no more candy, cut down on beer, buy skim milk, eat more salads... hmm. Well, you get the idea.

I won't bore you with my actual list of resolutions for the coming year, just know it will include the obligatory weight and writing items. :)

Also, a special thank you to my little buddy, Mickey, for keeping me in the race, heading for the goal.

Have a happy, safe New Year's Eve!!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Happy Holidays from Anna Maria
Island, Florida!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Writing Space

I can write anywhere. Taking pen and paper in hand, I can settle into a cozy chair, a park bench, on the beach, a corner table in Borders, or anywhere my imagination takes me. I love scratching out ideas for characters, plot lines, and settings.

However, the real down and dirty, nitty gritty work of writing happens at my desk on my computer. When I'm hunkered over, pounding at the keys, checking my scraps of paper, flipping through my "ideas" notebook, this is when the writing is happening.

Writing is just plain hard work. Whether you write short stories, poetry, screenplays, novellas, or a long, complex novel, the process of writing and getting the work done has to happen.

Each writer has to discover what process works for them. What time of day do you write? Morning, afternoon, late into the night? For most of us, we have busy, complicated lives where finding the time and place to write is a monumental hurtle to overcome. We squeeze in a few minutes here and there, an hour or two in between working, commuting, socializing, and the day to day business of living. Often we are slaves to whatever our hectic schedules dictate.

Over the past year, I have pushed myself to write everyday, no matter what. Even if it's only five minutes before I go to bed, or ten minutes before I head off to the day job, I force myself to write. Doing this I have developed a process of writing that works for me. With writing everyday, I keep my work-in-progress fresh in my mind and the desire to forge ahead keeps me focused.

Okay, my desk rarely looks like the photo above.

Admittedly, this is the usual organized chaos that is my work space. Perhaps someday I'll have a laptop computer to haul around everywhere. For now I'm satisfied with my spiral notebook and my personal computer sitting on my desk.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

My Writing Journey -- Continued

My frustrations over not finishing my YA novel Backstage Summer culminated with my discovery of reading romance. I picked up my first "romance" novel sometime in the mid 1990's. I love to read and spent years reading all sorts of fiction and literary novels. One overcast Sunday afternoon, I was in the local grocery store picking up something for dinner for myself and my husband, and as was my habit, I would peruse the paperback section to see what new and interesting stories were on the shelves. I never paid attention to any of the books with obvious bodice-ripped covers, or anything I considered romance. I didn't know anything about the genre so I was a romance novel snob.

I stood and stared at the variety of books when an interesting cover and title caught my attention: The cover was a solid pale-blue color with a small picture of an antique shop. Hmm, intriguing. The title was Hidden Riches. So I picked it up and read the story blurb. It was about a woman in her late twenties who runs an antique/curio shop and rents a room to a troubled ex-cop. Together they become involved in uncovering a smuggling ring, and fall in love in the process. Hmm, sounded promising. I bought it, took it home, and read it.

I couldn't put it down, I loved it! The blend of suspense, mystery, passion, and compelling believable characters captured my heart.

It was my first romantic suspense novel and it's written by Nora Roberts. At the time I'd never heard of her. Now I've read several of the dozens of novels she's written.

I was still fiddling with Backstage Summer, still hiding behind the illusion of actually writing the YA book. Meanwhile I went on a romance novel reading binge. For several years, I read dozens and dozens of romance novels -- mostly longer ones -- and discovered I loved them. I adore the blend of sexual tension, conflict, suspense, and the emotionally satisfying ending. My preferred genres are contemporary, contemporary romantic suspense, and historical suspense. Although the paranormal genre has fast become one of the most popular in romance and YA, it isn't my cup of coffee. :)

In the Spring of 2003, I went through a divorce from my husband, sold my house, quit my job, and moved from Massachusetts to Maine. Each of these changes are monumental in of themselves, but doing them all in one month was life-changing to say the least.

Living in a small cottage in the woods of Maine with my two felines, Coco and Lilly, the idea for my first romance novel blossomed in my mind.

In March of 2004, I joined Romance Writers of America, and became a member of the local chapter located in Brunswick, Maine. I met several romance writers and authors in the group, and felt like I'd finally found my writing niche. I also bought two books on writing romance, and so began my new journey as a writer of romance novels. I worked for several months to understand the dynamics of writing a long, complex novel. I dissected two of my favorite books -- Hidden Riches being one of them -- to comprehend what made it work, and why it worked for me.

And then the long, arduous, difficult road of having a finished manuscript in my hand was before me. I was determined to write and rewrite, and continue on writing until I was finished. Three years later, my first manuscript Summer Light was finally completed. It is a 110,000 word passionate, contemporary romance with elements of suspense. Most definitely my cup of Starbucks coffee!

Summer Light:
Jackson Sweeney is one of the top movie stars in Hollywood; Angela McCabe lives a quiet, academic life. Their worlds collide, their passions ignite during one unforgettable New England summer.

In the fall of 2005, I moved again. I left New England for sunny Florida and reside on a small barrier island on the central west coast. It is the inspiration for my second novel, Island Moon. I have finished the rough draft and am in the process of revising and rewriting.

My third novel, Storms in Winter is set in Lowell, Massachusetts and is also a work-in-progress.

One day I hope to revisit Backstage Summer and complete the novel. My inspiration for much of my writing is still Betty Cavanna. I admire her lifelong dedication to her craft, and although dated, her stories still ring true with her vivid descriptions, rich characterizations, and the emotional connection to her readers.
Exactly what I hope to achieve with my stories. :)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Phantom's Touch

Just released...

Julie Leto, New York Times bestselling author, delivers an exciting new novel in her series about brothers who were cursed by Gypsies -- and the contemporary women whose passions touch their destinies.

Phantom's Touch is the second in Julie Leto's phantom series. The first in the series is Phantom Pleasures and what a pleasure it was to read.

Hot and sensual -- a phantom fantasy you won't want to miss! -- Author Carly Phillps -- NYT bestselling author.

Buy it now, and enjoy!! :)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

My Writing Journey -- The Early Years

In first grade, I wrote and illustrated my first book titled Billy Goes to the Hospital. It was a gripping tale of poor little Billy who breaks his leg and ends up in the hospital. The nurses and doctors take good care of him, and soon he goes home with his mother and father. My first grade teacher helped me write out the letters for the text. Not bad for age six.

Back in my very young years, I was obsessed with all things "hospital". I wanted to be a nurse. By the time I was in the first grade, I'd had already had my one overnight stay in a hospital to have my tonsils removed -- that was all the rage back in the late fifties and early sixties -- so most of my early writing involved hospital stories. I then moved on to stories about school and camp. Having attended overnight camp at the age of eight, I was on my "summer camp" kick for a couple of years.

After all, we writers usually write what we know. :)

I was extremely lucky growing up. I had a mother and father, two older sisters, and a younger brother. I had a built in set of friends, and we all shared the thrill of creating stories in common. (see my earlier post A Family of Writers) There were many weekends that were very "Little Women" in our home. We would spend all day Saturday and Sunday writing a play, choosing the roles, memorizing the lines, figuring out the props and costumes, and then by Sunday afternoon or evening, our very supportive and patient parents would sit down and endure whatever production we presented to them.

All through junior and senior high school, I wrote short stories and poetry -- almost always keeping it private. At fourteen, I wrote a play for my ancient history class. I wasn't doing well in the class so for extra credit I decided to write a play. My teacher seemed to love it, so the next thing I knew I was in charge of producing, directing and acting in my own play. I had been taking acting lessons and had been involved in several plays (our home theater included) since I was six, so I embraced my production. After several weeks of rehearsals, and along with five of my classmates, my play was performed in front of an assembly of classes at school. Very cool. I do believe I received an A in ancient history that term. :)

My favorite writer when I was a teenager was YA author, Betty Cavanna. She wrote nearly a hundred books from the 1940's all the way into the 1990's. She was a wonderful writer of stories involving young adult women. Her stories were filled with beautiful prose capturing the emotional essence of struggling to grow up in middle-class American society. Her characters always felt like real breathing young women dealing with a myriad of problems and conflicts. Her stories reached beyond the ABC Afternoon Special pap. They were filled with vibrant emotions, endearing characters, stunning settings; heart-wrenching stories involving everything from racial tensions, sibling rivalry, school, death, divorce, and teenage romance.
Her books (many I still own and read again on occasion) also always have an emotionally optimistic ending.

I decided I wanted to write a book as memorable and poignant as Betty Cavanna!

So began my journey as a writer for young people. I became a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Something I highly recommend for anyone interested in the pursuit of writing for young people. I worked for years on short stories for children and younger teens. Now they call them tweens, I believe. I also began to write my young adult novel, Backstage Summer.

Backstage Summer is about fifteen-year-old Jamie Sims who moves to a new town in Massachusetts and becomes involved in the local summer stock theater. She develops a friendship with the theater owner's teenage son, and a desire to perform in one of the summer productions. The plot thickens with the discovery of a mysterious boy hiding out in the theater attic.

My time (when not working at my day jobs in retail or banking) was filled with learning the skills I needed to write and complete Backstage Summer. I took writing classes, joined critique groups, attended conferences and retreats, and read a variety of books on writing. For years, I wrote and revised and rewrote the first ten chapters of Backstage Summer. I worked hard toward understanding the development of characterization and the complexities of writing a longer story. Although I continued to work on the book, I had trouble bringing it to completion.

I finally realized that I either had to finish the darn book, or reevaluate the kind of writing and stories that truly inspired me.

There was a current of change blowing on the wind...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Published Friends

In the past few weeks, several members of my local RWA chapter, Tampa Area Romance Authors, have had new books published.

First I would like to say a special congratulations to Elissa Wilds on the publication of her first book Between Light and Dark. Elissa's book is a paranormal story full of magic and romance.

C.L. Wilson's third book in her Tairen Soul series, King of Sword and Sky was released at the end of October. King of Sword and Sky continues the epic journey of Rain Tairen Soul through the mystical fantasy of the Fading Lands.

Two weeks ago, Virginia Henley's newest book, The Decadent Duke was released. No one can match Virginia's blend of historical accuracy and passionate romance. Her sweeping, sensual romances are always a delight.

Check your local bookstores for Between Light and Dark, King of Sword and Sky, and The Decadent Duke!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Buy A Book Day

When the new book sales results for October were released by the top booksellers, the news was bleak. The tough economy is hitting the book business hard just like everything else. Published authors will have to work harder to keep their books on the shelves. Unpublished writers struggling to get agents and editors to take an interest in their work, will have less of a chance to become published.

There is something we can do to help. Buy a new book. Head to your local Borders or Barnes and Noble, or Wal-Mart, or Target, whatever bookseller is your preference, and buy a book.
Buy your favorite cookbook author, or romance, western, or horror. How about a children's book or perhaps young adult? There is a book out there for everyone. And with the holidays fast approaching, what better gift to give.

Buy a book and enjoy! :)

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Uh, not yet.

I can't quite fathom why people feel the need to decorate for Thanksgiving and Christmas hours after the trick or treaters have stripped off their Halloween costumes. (or so it seems)

According to my calendar, Thanksgiving isn't until November, 27th this year, and Christmas falls on well.... December 25th.

I do understand the retailers getting the holiday stock on the shelves ready to nab as many of those end-of-the-year shopping dollars as possible. (especially in this unstable economy) And I like to start my Christmas shopping early to ease the pressure on my pocketbook. :) But, decorating for Christmas nearly two months early is really too much.

When we were young, the thrill of spotting the first Christmas lights on someones tree or house was really special, and it usually happened the week leading up to Christmas.

I feel sorry for the small children and their parents who have to be assaulted with Christmas advertising, television specials, movies, parties, as well as a Santa Claus waving at us from every mall, store, and street corner. It's beyond my comprehension that any child could actually believe in the existence of "Santa Claus" in this kind of hyped up society.

I say all this because Christmas has always been one of my favorite times of year, and it's sad to see it stretched into a two month (or longer) ordeal instead of the special, magical time it could and should be.

Thanks for letting me rant. :)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Contest Season (Part 2)

For anyone seriously considering entering the Golden Heart Contest, I have a few comments on the pursuit of entering contests.

Many contests through the RWA chapters for unpublished writers offer a variety of enticements. Usually, the final judges are editors from publishing houses looking for new authors, occasionally they are agents seeking new clients. Sometimes published authors offer a full manuscript critique as a winning prize. Some contests award a small cash prize for the top winner. Some a piece of jewelry, some the entry fee for a local or national conference. All of them charge a fee for entering. This fee is to support the individual RWA chapter.

Know your contest, understand what type of contest you're entering, and what genre/category to submit your manuscript. Make certain it's the right contest for you and your work. Be careful not to randomly enter every contest you see advertised.

I enter very few contests for a variety of reasons. The first is about money. RWA chapters sponsoring contests usually charge anywhere from $10.00 to $40.00. The national Golden Heart is the most expensive I've found at $50.00. I'm also aware of the final judges lined up for a particular contest, if they are for a publishing house I know doesn't publish my category/length of work, I won't enter. I also haven't entered any contests that accept only electronic submissions -- yet.

Most contests are for a small part of your manuscript, such as the first chapter, first 25 pages, a particular scene, and some are for query letters, some for the synopsis, etc.

One of the most important elements in entering contests is that most of them offer a critique of your work even if you're not a finalist. This is the best part about entering in my opinion. :)

Again learn as much as you can about the contest and chapter sponsoring the contest. Know ahead of time whether the contest offers critiques so you won't be disappointed if you don't receive one.

The Golden Heart does not offer a manuscript critique. However, if you final you have the thrill and national esteem of being a finalist. The final editors then read the manuscripts and make their decision in choosing one winner for each category.

Of course the best part of entering a contest is the possibility of catching the eye of an interested editor and perhaps signing a contract to be published. Very cool!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Contest Season

Romance Writers of America and the multitude of RWA chapters throughout North America offer a myriad of contests all throughout the year. Any genre, style and length are available to the published and unpublished writer.

Right now the national RWA organization is accepting applications and payment for their annual RITA and GOLDEN HEART contests.

The RITA is open to any published writer who had a book copyrighted in the year 2008. For more detailed information check out the RWA website.

The GOLDEN HEART contest is open to any unpublished writer with a completed manuscript who hasn't contracted with a publisher as of the application deadline.
The cost is $50.00 and the deadline to get your application and money in to the national RWA headquarters is: November 17th, 2008! (December 1st for RITA entrants)
Time to get busy.

This is a fiction romance writing contest and the categories are as follows:

Contemporary Series Romance
Contemporary Series Romance: Suspense/Adventure
Contemporary Single Title Romance
Historical Romance
Inspirational Romance
Novel with Strong Romantic Elements
Paranormal Romance
Regency Historical Romance
Romantic Suspense
Young Adult Romance

The RITA includes two additional categories:

Best First Book
Romance Novella

For details and official guidelines go to the RWA website.

There are usually over 1000 entries for each the GOLDEN HEART and RITA contests. The competition is tough, but can be rewarding if one makes it to the finalists round.
The winners are announced at an awards ceremony held during the national RWA annual conference. Next summer the conference will be held in Washington DC! Fun.

Good luck to anyone entering the GOLDEN HEART and RITA contests!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Writing and Critiquing

One positive aspect of being a writer is all the wonderful talented writers we meet during our long and challenging journey. Writing is an individual process where we each learn and explore our own way to write. We all write in different styles, genres and voices. Some of us write fast and furiously, and some of us lope along at the speed of a slimy slug. It's what makes writing so exciting and rewarding.

Often times we are called upon to lend our services to our fellow writers in the form of critiquing. Whether we are a member of a writing class, involved in a writing group, or share our work with an individual critique partner, having our work critiqued is an important, necessary part of our writing journey, and it's one of the most difficult.

It's hard to hand our personal writing over to anyone -- including a friend, teacher, or stranger to be critiqued. But best to have their input before submitting your baby to an editor or agent.

Often times, I will be involved in judging a contest. This is fun because it's anonymous, and it allows us the freedom to be honest without creating hurt feelings. Of course, when I judge, I attempt to be as kind, gentle and diplomatic as possible -- making suggestions rather than telling someone what to do to make their story better. After all, it's only my opinion.

Remember all writers are at different levels in their writing -- from beginners all the way to professional, published writers.

Some basic rules to follow when critiquing:

*Make comments and suggestions -- do not rewrite their work
*Be encouraging
*Remind the writer that this is your opinion
*Point out the great lines as well as the sentences that could use revising
*Put in a smiley face or two :)
*Keep in mind the writing level of your author
*Remember, there is always something to learn when reading other writer's work
*Be professional
*Enjoy the process
*Critique unto others as you would want them to critique for you.

Good luck in your writing, and embrace the journey! :)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Friends and Writers

One of the great advantages of being a writer in the 21st century is we have myriad ways to socialize and network with other writers. The computer and the availability of the Internet allows us to communicate with family, friends and like-minded people from all over the globe. Amazing to be sure.

I'd like to introduce a fellow writer who fits into all three of those categories for me. He is family, a friend, and a fiction writer. How lucky am I?

Dell Smith writes short stories and novels of contemporary fiction. And without sounding too bias -- he's a damn good writer! His most recent completed manuscript is A Little Disappeared. He, too, is in search of a literary agent to help launch his publishing career. You can check him out at

Good luck, Dell! :)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Hope and Romance

As an unpublished writer, my desire is to be published. I work hard at my writing; learning and honing my craft, however it's equally important to know and understand the complex world of publishing. My goal is to have my contemporary romance manuscript, Summer Light, contracted and published by a top publisher in the industry. I've set my sites high, however, there are a variety of other opportunities in the world of book publishing.

There are the well-known New York publishers, smaller presses, vanity presses, e-publishing, self-publishing and everything in between.

According to the Romance Writers of America, romance fiction generated approximately $1.375 billion in sales in 2007! Wow.

That said, the competition is more intense than ever. RWA has a membership of around 10,000. That's plenty of romance happening. :) With the invention of word processing and the ease of computers, it's possible for anyone to sit down and pound out a novel. But the writer must know the basics of good writing and how to tell a compelling story.

I believe I've written a solid story filled with passion, hope, and romance. :)

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

First Year Anniversary

It's hard to believe it has been a whole year since I started my blog. I have enjoyed learning the intricacies of posting on the world wide web for all to read and enjoy. I'd like to say a special thank you to my sister-in-law, Liz, for helping me with negotiating through the world of blogs. :) She has her own blog where she showcases and sells her beautiful handmade jewelry and other wonderful pieces. Check her out!

Thank you, Liz.

I continue to work on my contemporary romance manuscripts with the hopes of publishing someday soon. :) My first novel is called Summer Light.

My two works-in-progress are Island Moon and Storms in Winter.

Check back for some fun stuff coming very soon. Thanks for your support! :)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Autumn Begins

In central Florida, the beginning of fall is a time for celebration with lower temperatures and less humidity. Finally the days are cooling off just a bit, and the snow birds are beginning to trickle back to the sub-tropical climate.

Being from New England and never liking the cold weather, fall was always a tough time for me. I loved the brisk air, the vibrant colors of the leaves, and the anticipation of the coming holidays, but the shorter days and the long cold nights were not always easy.

Now living in Florida I miss all that I loved in New England, and actually wish I could see the soft falling snow again. There is nothing more beautiful than white snow against a backdrop of a stark blue sky and evergreen trees.

The best part of being a writer is to be able to choose any setting and fill it with compelling, believable characters. I'm planning my third book to take place during the winter months in Massachusetts....I guess I'll have to move back.

Will I ever be content? Call me crazy! :)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Wonderful Weekend

I had a fantastic, relaxing, inspirational weekend at our TARA retreat! What could be better than being among fellow romance writers? We spent our time writing, plotting, and critiquing. As well as chatting, drinking, eating, and shopping. :) We also enjoyed the entertaining and wonderfully romantic movie, Ever After.

We stayed at the Lido Beach Holiday Inn overlooking the sparkling blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico complete with amazing sunsets in a dazzling array of scarlet, indigo, and pink.

Thanks to Vicki Lane, Jean Mason and to many of the Tampa Area Romance Authors for allowing us to enjoy such a beautiful weekend! :)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Writing Retreat

This coming weekend I'm heading off to a writing retreat in Sarasota, FL sponsored by the Tampa Area Romance Authors. I'm looking forward to a couple of days of relaxing, eating, drinking, socializing, critiquing and hopefully....writing. :)

I will be taking my laptop -- an old fashioned spiral notebook with lined pages -- and sitting by the pool, or on the beach, or in my hotel room....writing. No writing on the computer this weekend. It will be interesting to see how many of my fellow TARA members at the retreat will have electronic writing devices.

Happy Writing!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Movie Fun

I love movies!

I love a great movie just as I love a great novel. Of course, as we know, what one person loves another might not. We all have books and movies we love, like, don't like, and hate. That's what makes the world so fascinating.

Recently, I watched the movie Nim's Island. I loved it! It was refreshingly original and lots of fun. How can you go wrong with Jodie Foster, Gerard Butler, and Abigail Breslin in the cast? The movie is at times a cross between Home Alone and Romancing the Stone, but alot more fun.

Nim's Island is about a father and his eleven-year-old daughter who live alone on an island paradise in the middle of nowhere. The father, Jack (Gerard Butler) is a research scientist. Nim and Jack -- and a lively group of pets, including a pelican named Galileo, a sea lion named Selkie, and a giant lizard named Fred -- live an idyllic life on the island, until one day Jack goes off to sea and doesn't return. Nim (Abigail Breslin) reaches out to her favorite author, Alex Rover (Jodie Foster) who writes adventure stories. They start with conversations via email. (Yes they have the Internet on their island -- through solar power, of course) :)

Nim asks Alex Rover to help because her father is missing. Unbeknownst to Nim, Alex Rover is a woman and an agoraphobic, obsessive compulsive, and never leaves her San Francisco apartment. Jodie Foster plays Alex Rover with perfect quirky, comedic style. She truly is one of the best American actresses around today. Gerard Butler plays a dual role as Nim's quiet, studious father, and as Alex Rover's fictional adventurer character. Some of the best scenes are between Jodie Foster and Gerard Butler as she's traveling to the island to help Nim, and carries on real conversations with the fictional adventurer. Fun.

This is one of those rare films to be enjoyed by the whole family with elements of humor, adventure, suspense and romance. :)

Maybe you will enjoy it too?

On the bottom of the blog page is a list of some of my favorite movies.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Writing and Contests

Writing and finishing a novel is only the first step on the long, hard road to publication. For an unpublished author, it is a very difficult process indeed. There are dozens of different publishing options, and many decisions a writer needs to make.

First, it's important to understand what style and genre your novel falls under. Mainstream fiction, literature, thriller, paranormal, romance, suspense, young adult, mystery, western, science fiction, horror, action-adventure. And these are just some of the styles to indentify your work. Within these genres there are sub-genres.

You may have a young adult novel which is also a mystery -- Hoot by Carl Hiaasen, or a fantasy/paranormal -- all the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling

Or a romance that is also a suspense novel -- I'm watching You by Karen Rose

Or an historical that's also a romance -- Unmasked by Virginia Henley

Then it's a matter of researching literary agents and publishing houses to determine the best fit for you and your book. This is a time-consuming, but necessary job for anyone interested in getting their work published. It's a waste of your time and the editor or agent if they don't represent or publish your genre of writing.

One excellent way to possibly get in front of an editor or agent is by entering contests. There are hundreds of contests out there for fiction writers. In the romance writing world, almost every chapter of the Romance Writers of America sponsors a contest. Usually the final round judges are from some of the top publishing houses in the industry.

The Mystery Writers of America and the Sci-Fi Writers of America probably have simliar opportunities as well. Being a writer of romance, I don't know about their organizations first hand.

Check the internet for any fiction writing contest opportunities.

Just remember to do your research. Make certain the organization hosting the contest is legitimate, that the contest offers your genre of writing, and that the final editors are from a publishing house where you would want your work published. Also make certain the price is right. Most contests charge a fee to help raise money for their chapter or organization. However, some of them also offer a critique with your entry. This is a great tool to becoming a better writer and enhance your novel.

Every year, in the fall, The Romance Writers of America hosts the Golden Heart Contest, a national fiction romance writing contest for unpublished authors. I plan to enter this year with my manuscript Summer Light. :)

Wish me luck!!

Monday, August 4, 2008

RWA News

The annual conference for the Romance Writers of America took place last week in the beautiful city of San Francisco. It is a four day conference with additional days for board members and business meetings. I wish I could tell you first hand how wonderful the speakers and workshops were, but alas I did not attend. Since first joining RWA four years ago, I have dreamed of attending a national conference. Maybe, next year where it will be held in Washington DC.

One exciting aspect of the conference is the pitching sessions. RWA members have the opportunity to pitch their stories to agents and editors. It's a fantastic way to possibly get an unpublished manuscript in the hands of the people who have the power to get that book on the shelves.

Another highlight of the conference is the RITA and GOLDEN HEART Awards. They are the Oscar awards of the romance writing world. The RITA awards are for published writers. The Golden Heart is a contest for unpublished writers.

Tampa Area Romance Authors had two winners this year. TARA member Terri Garey won a RITA for best first book for Dead Girls are Easy. TARA member Christa Selnick won a GOLDEN HEART for her manuscript The Devil You Know.
Congratulations to both Terri and Christa!

Check out their websites.

Also check out the RWA website for more conference highlights and additional information.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Plot and Conflict

When we pick up a book in a bookstore or library, what are we looking for in a good read? Compelling characters? Exciting adventures? Exotic settings? An original and fresh idea?

Do we want a biography of some notorious criminal? Or perhaps an autobiography of our favorite historical figure?

Do we want a mystery or thriller? Fantasy? Western? Science Fiction? Family saga? Romance? Horror? Do we want a blend of styles and genres? Do we want James Patterson, John Grisham, Jane Austen, or Stephen King? Danielle Steel, perhaps? How about J.K. Rowling, Tony Hillerman, Nora Roberts, or Robert Ludlum?

Whatever your passion as a reader, there are stories to accommodate every taste.

As a writer, whatever style or genre, whether you are a NYT best selling author, or a struggling newbie just learning the ropes, every story must have the elements of plot and conflict. Without the drama of a plot, without the tension of conflict -- there is no story.

Every character must struggle with questions, problems, mysteries beyond their control. They strive to uncover clues, discover answers, maybe even fall in love. As readers, we hope to escape into other worlds created by talented authors. As writers, we continue to strive to make our words flow with powerful stories, exciting plots, nail-biting tension, and unforgettable characters.

Discover your passion! :)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

TARA Contest Finalists Announced

The 2008 TARA Contest has completed the first round judging and announced the finalists. The top three scoring entries in each category move on to be judged by an acquiring editor in their genre.

Check out the TARA website for a complete list of finalists.

We had a great turnout for the contest this year with a large number of entries, making the competition really tough. Congratulations to all the finalists!

A special congrats to TARA members, Sharron Houdek and Laurel Natalie for being amoung the finalists. Good luck to Sharron and Laurel!

Happy Writing :)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Summer Solstice

I have three calendars in my life. Two at home and one at work, and each one announces the beginning of summer differently.

The one hanging over my desk with an adorable kitten meowing at me announces summer on June 21, 2008 with the words: Summer Begins.

My calendar of Light Houses hanging in my bedroom says on June 20th: First Day of Summer.

The one at work from the World Wildlife Fund claims June 20th to be the first day of summer with a simple: Summer.

In New England the start of summer is celebrated with balmy breezes, cookouts, trips to the beach and bug spray.
In Florida summer is tolerated with adjustments to the air conditioner to kick it into overdrive, and a concerned eye on the tropics.

I completely get the whole snowbird concept -- live in the north in the summer, the south in the winter. :)

For me, it's always been a time of enjoying the longer days and warm nights. Whether I'm on the west coast of Florida watching the pelicans and dolphins, or strolling the sandy beaches of Cape Cod, I love the summer solstice.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Smell the Roses

Don't forget to Stop and Smell the Roses! Okay, that is certainly the classic cliche, but no less true.

A few days ago I overslept by an hour -- something I rarely ever do. I jumped out of bed, squeaked something rather unladylike, and raced into the shower. Fortunately for me -- in more ways than one -- I live very close to my day job. So, I still had time to shower, dress, and take a moment to enjoy a cup of coffee.

I stood in the kitchen, sipping my coffee, and staring out the window. Because I was off-schedule and in the kitchen at a later time in the morning, I saw a breathtaking sight.

The sun was shimmering through the big tree in the backyard, lighting upon a massive spider web. (If I had a digital camera, I would insert photo here) :) It was sparkling in the sun, radiating white, silver and a touch of other earthy colors. I couldn't see the owner of the web, but did spot a few unlucky bugs trapped in it's clutches.

I took a deep breath and relaxed, content I was able to enjoy the quiet moment. A perfect time to slow down and put everything into perspective.

Embrace life.

Happy Father's Day!!

Monday, June 9, 2008

What's in a Name?


As a fiction writer, I strive to create compelling, dynamic characters to live and breathe in my stories. It is imperative that my characters are as real as possible to me and to the reader. Of course, this is one of the most difficult challenges we must face as fiction writers -- make the story believable and make the reader want to turn the page.

One aspect of character development -- and there are many -- is choosing a name that fits the character. Finding a name that depicts the time-period, setting, character background, and personality is not always easy, but for me, it's always fun.

I have three different books of first names that I use to help find that perfect fit. I also use the phone book, television and movie credits, and other books, both fiction and non-fiction to help find that unique name for a character.

Here are a few notable fictional characters:

Scarlet O'Hara
Jo March
Christopher Robin
Ebenezer Scrooge
Sonny Corleone
George Bailey
Stephanie Plum
Jessica Rabbit
Oliver Twist

Recognize any of them? :)
They may not have the most unusual name (George Bailey), or maybe they do (Ebenezer Scrooge), but their names fit their characters for their story.

Whether choosing the name for the hero of your book, or the villian, use your imagination (and any other means you can find) to bring your characters and your story to life!

Thursday, May 29, 2008


With a peek at the calendar, I realized another month has come and gone with no blogging from yours truly. It's been a busy month with family visiting, writing, and TARA contest entries to coordinate and judge. :) Oh and of course I still need to work 40 hours or more at the day job. Fun.

For the TARA contest I am the coordinator of the Inspirational entries, a judge for one of the other genres (not at liberty to disclose that info yet), and I entered the Romantic Suspense category. It's wonderful to be involved and volunteer my time to my TARA chapter.

My brother and sister-in-law were visiting last week, and we had a really lovely, relaxing time. Sunbathing, swimming, shopping, and eating -- all the usual vacation activities. It was also a wonderful time for my brother and I to share our creative writing experiences. As fellow writers struggling to break into the world of getting published, we enjoyed talking shop. :)

I hope everyone had a great May. See you next month.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

New England Sunset

There are few moments in life more tranquil and beautiful than the sun descending into the horizon. This photograph is of one of my favorite places -- the sun setting over Cape Cod Bay.

Growing up in New England I had the rare privilege of being able to watch the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean, and set over Cape Cod Bay. Something I have come to truly appreciate more and more with the passing of the years.

Enjoy. :)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

TARA Contest Deadline

May 1st is the deadline for entries in the 2008 TARA contest! If you are an unpublished writer of romance here is your chance to shine. Not only do you have an opportunity to have your first 25 pages judged and critiqued, but your work could land in front of an editor.
The categories and editors are as follows:

Series Contemporary -- Wanda Ottewell/Harlequin
Paranormal -- Amy Pierpont/Grand Central
Single Title -- Danielle Poiesz/Pocket
Women's Fiction -- Lindsay Louis/NAL
Historical -- Leah Hultenschmidt/Dorchester
Romantic Suspense -- Allison Brandau/Berkley
Inspirational -- Natalie Hanemann/Thomas Nelson

Check out the TARA website for all the information and guidelines!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Writer's Block

What is writer's block and does it actually exist?

For me -- absolutely! So often my writing comes from my emotional state of mind. How do I feel today? Am I happy? Sad? Is my kitty not feeling well? Am I going through a heart wrenching divorce? Has a friend or a relative recently been sick or passed away? How difficult is my day job?

At this point in my writing career I have the choice of sitting down to write -- or not. If I don't feel the inspiration flowing through me, I'll pick up a book and read, or click on the television (probably not the best idea), or worse, surfing the net. However, the many professional, published writers I know, they don't have that luxury. They have deadlines! They have publishers who choose when their books are to be finished. They have editors who need the rewrites and revisions -- now!

Someday soon I hope to up my game and find an agent and editor interested in my work. At that point I need to be 100% prepared to do the work; get the job done and produce the words and pages that need to be finished. :)

I write as often as I can, but for the past few weeks I've been in a major slowdown. Writer's slump? Writer's dawdling? Writer's procrastination? Hmm...
Well, no more. It's time to write and push through to finish my second book.

Writer's block be gone!

Monday, March 31, 2008

More TARA Authors

Meet more TARA authors and their fabulous books!

Virginia Henley is one of the first ladies of historical fiction. She is passionate about history and it shows in her beautiful, epic novels. She blends history and fiction with her flawless writing. Some of her titles include: Unmasked, Notorious, and Insatiable.

Roxanne St. Claire writes exciting romantic suspense most notably with her Bullet Catchers series. First You Run hit the book stores on March 25th and promises plenty of romance, action, and suspense. The Bullet Catchers are "Trained to Protect and Licensed to Thrill". What could be better than that?

C.L. Wilson's first book, Lord of the Fading Lands came out in October 2007 to rave reviews. It is a sweeping fantasy set in another world where good vs. evil, and magic and destiny rule. The sequel is called Lady of Light and Shadows. Check them out!

Pick up a book today and immerse yourself in stories of love, passion and adventure!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

2008 TARA Contest

It's time for the annual Tampa Area Romance Authors writing contest!!

If you are an unpublished writer of romance fiction, this could be a great opportunity to get your work in front of an editor.

We offer seven genres of romance fiction with trained and published authors as the first-round judges. The final-round judges are editors from some of the top publishing houses.
The categories include:
Series Contemporary
Single Title
Women's Fiction
Romantic Suspense

For more information and all the details, check out the TARA website.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Authors of TARA

I am a member of the Tampa Area Romance Authors which is chapter #100 of the Romance Writers of America. It's a fabulous chapter with a wonderful variety of members, ranging from beginner writers, Pro members, all the way to New York Times best selling authors. Our members write everything from contemporary romance, historical, paranormal, romantic suspense, inspirational, westerns, mainstream, young adult, mystery, and everything in between.
Some of our published members include Virginia Henley, Karen Rose, Julie Leto, Kathy Carmichael, Debby Mayne, Kimberly Llewellyn, Roxanne St. Claire, Betina Krahn, Diana Peterfruend, Kresley Cole, and many, many more.

Julie Leto's newest book Phantom Pleasures is coming out on April 1st!

Karen Rose has her newest release Scream for Me coming in May.

Both are fantastic writers and NY Times bestselling authors. I can't wait for their latest books! Check out their websites and hurry to reserve their books.

I will write about some of our other authors and their upcoming projects and books very soon. Thanks for stopping by. :)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

My First Photo

I am new to the digital photography world, so today I will attempt to add a photo to my blog.

From what I can see, I think it's a done deal. :) Above is a picture of myself (far right), and my three siblings. From left to right, Robin, Laurie and Dell. They are not only my siblings, but three of my closest friends. The picture was taken by my sister-in-law, Liz, and we are posing in front an ice cream and coffee shop on Cape Cod. One of our favorite hang outs when we get together. Think chocolate! Yummy.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Back to Business

As usual time is speeding by so fast I can't seem to keep up. My goal was to post on my blog at least once a week... It's now February and I haven't been here since December. Time to get busy.

I have finished one contemporary romance called Summer Light. It's about a handsome and popular movie actor, Jackson Sweeney, who survives a tragic car accident that claims the life of his best friend's financee. Struggling to remember the accident, Jack leaves Hollywood behind for rural New England and begins a new life with his sister, Kate and his nephew, David.

My second book is a work in progess. At this point it's called Island Moon and takes place on Anna Maria Island in central Florida. I'm around the 1/2 way point through the first draft. My goal is to finish by summer.
Island Moon is a romantic suspense. More about the story later. :)

Thanks for stopping by...