Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ring In the New Year

Pop the bubbly and celebrate in style!

Here's the Mick Mouse dude egging me on to keep my goals for 2010!! Whoops. I haven't even made them yet.
Time to hunker down, make those resolutions.

Have a happening New Years Eve!

Thanks for reading.
Cynthia Sherrick

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Looking Back...

Where did the year go?

And where's my inspiration?

Ahh. There it is.

There's nothing like the pristine beauty of nature to put the harsh realities of life back into perspective.

This past year was not my most productive year in regards to writing or my other objectives. I had ambitious goals for 2009 -- some were achieved, but I fell short in attaining all of them. In reflection there are several reasons (or excuses) I could share....but I won't. ;)

In regards to my writing, I did begin a new novel -- my third -- and I'm very excited about the story. I also worked on revisions on my second book. Even so, my ambitions were rather high, so I did not accomplish all I intended.

I did lose weight, although I ended up dealing with major stress and put half of it back on. (Okay maybe a tad more than half) and I queried only two agents instead of the dozens I had planned.

While it was a difficult year for me personally and professionally, I'm looking ahead to 2010 with a positive attitude, a fresh set of goals, and eager anticipation for a very productive year!


...bring it on!

All the photos were taken in Maine. :)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Merry Christmas from my island paradise!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

'Tis the Season

Fortified with my shopping list and checking it twice, I sat at the Barnes and Noble Cafe sipping an extremely strong cup of coffee. I pumped an abundance of sugar into my system as well by indulging with a piece of "to die for" classic coffee cake. Heaven. In other words I was out among the masses doing my "holiday shopping".
While gazing out the window toward the parking lot and nibbling on my coffee cake, I spotted a man striding through the maze of cars and people who looked very much like the actor, Larry David. I followed his progress as he made his way to the Barnes and Noble entrance, an expression of relief crossing his face at making it to his destination. I know how he feels.
At closer inspection it wasn't Larry David.

Brushing the crumbs from my hands and taking one final gulp of caffeine, I stood from my chair. Time to get going. Time to mingle with the other shoppers, elbowing through to the best displays, struggling not to buy something for myself, and clicking off in my head as I pick up fun and exciting gifts for my family and friends. ;)

Ahhh... the holidays.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

TARA Books for December

Being involved with a large and active chapter of the Romance Writers of America, there are always new releases to announce! How cool is that?
The Tampa Area Romance Authors proudly present two new releases for December:

Rion by Susan Kearney (paranormal romance)

Through the Garden Gate by Loretta Rogers (anthology)

Support authors! Go to your local bookstore and buy a new book today. :)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Long Haul

Writing a lengthy fiction novel is very much like long-distance driving. It takes time, it takes effort, it takes planning.

It works best if one maps out their journey, choosing areas of rest and refueling a head of time, plotting their daily mileage goals, with the ultimate outcome to arrive safely at their final destination.

Recently I embarked on a driving journey that was unmistakable long, tiring, and challenging. The first hurdle to overcome was taking the trip alone. This encompasses a multitude of difficulties one doesn't usually encounter when traveling with a spouse, family, or friends.

**The first challenge is doing all the actual driving myself. There is no one else to take over when fatigue settles in, or a difficult stretch of road is approaching, or a congested city looms on the horizon. I was also pushing to make the trip as quickly as possible. (This, I have discovered, is not a safe, healthy option) But I did it. ;]

**The second is the quandary of navigating. I may know where I'm headed, my route, my exit number, etc. But with no one sitting in the passenger seat, helping to read the signs, follow the map, and yell out "It's time, turn here!" it can mean trouble.....Okay, one of those nifty modern inventions called a GPS would have been nice, not to mention cruise control, but alas, I had neither.

**The third is the loneliness factor. All alone out on the American highway can be daunting. Checking into motels alone is not a fan favorite, but can be done. Be aware of your surroundings and stay safe. On the other hand, I really enjoyed the alone-time, as well. I could listen to my style of music (loud or soft), I could stop when I wished -- or not. I could eat when I wanted, where I wanted, and what I wanted.
I also used the many hours to plot a couple of stories in my head while driving the long stretches of lonely road.

**The fourth is dealing with the mile by mile, endless hurdles -- traffic, weather, tolls, construction, accidents, crazy drivers, and lets not forget the kings of the American highway... the big rigs. The only way to handle these invariable barriers is with consistent, cautious driving.

One of the parallels between a long driving trip alone and writing an extensive novel is experience. I did not embark on this journey lightly. I have many years' driving experience. I have driven a multitude of vehicles all over the United States, Canada, and Europe. Learning the rules of the road and honing my skills to know what to do (hopefully) in any driving emergency.

While writing a novel, there are endless challenges, as well. We choose a genre, setting, characters, plot, conflict, style and pacing -- working hard day in and day out, mile after mile, to stay on the rocky path and reach our final destination -- to finish the book. There is the constant struggle and joy to learn the craft of writing, to understand the complexities of weaving together a gripping story, pushing forward to reach the point of writing the words -- The End. We have to continue to overcome the bumpy potholes in the road toward accomplishing our writing goals. :)

My driving expedition began in central Florida and ultimately ended in central Maine. Roughly 1700 miles one way. (Of course, I had to drive back to Florida, as well.)

My fuel efficient 2007 Toyota Yaris was a constant, reliable companion -- loaded with my luggage, books, CD's, camera, cell phone, snack food, travel mug, road atlas, and two coolers. I also had a notebook where I kept a journal of my travel experiences. There's a game I love to play as well whenever I drive -- writing down license plates from different states. Whoops, not so easy when all alone. However, I solved this dilemma by memorizing the plates as I spotted them and wrote them down whenever I stopped. (The final tally was 37 states and four provinces) I also kept track of names and places along the way to research for possible story ideas and settings. All fabulous ways to keep my mind alert and my body awake.

My reward for taking on this two week quest to New England and back again, was the pleasure of being with family and friends, and visiting some beautiful scenic areas.

Dresden, Maine

Moosehead Lake, Maine

Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Lowell, Massachusetts

Somewhere in Georgia
(my last morning on the road)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New For November

Silent Night, Haunted Night
by Terri Garey

More Blazing Bedtime Stories
by Julie Leto

And from first time author, Carla Capshaw, comes a riveting story of passion, heartache, and redemption: The Gladiator.

Congrats, Ladies!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


All the sudden it's the last week of October. Yikes! Not certain how that happened. The day job has been very busy and beyond stressful. (company merger -- need I say more?)

I'm diving back into my writing and have been making strides, although I haven't hit my main yearly goal. I probably won't finish both my manuscripts as hoped, but will keep forging ahead. Had a tough year. Between work and taking on new responsibilities with the Tampa Area Romance Authors, as well as joining an online critique group, contest judging, and personal issues, I had difficulty keeping up with my own writing.
Now, I've cut back a bit and hope to keep my writing a top priority. :)

My characters are gearing up for stormy skies ahead.

The clock is ticking....

Saturday, October 3, 2009

October Books

Three members of the Tampa Area Romance Authors have books coming out this month.

Brady's Revenge by L.W. Rogers -- western

Make Her Pay by Roxanne St. Claire -- romantic suspense

Noah's Ark by Debby Mayne -- inspirational

Great job, congratulations!! :)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Contest Season

It's that time again.

Time for the national RWA RITA and GOLDEN HEART contests. Beginning today RWA will be accepting applications for both contests.

The RITA is for books published in 2009. Please check the RWA website for rules and guidelines for there has been some changes this year.

The GOLDEN HEART is for unpublished writers who have a completed manuscript.

Just remember -- it's an honor just to be nominated! :)

Thursday, September 17, 2009


I'm still here. I'm simply in a major, full-blown, down and dirty, writing slump. My WIP is swirling through my head constantly... plot, conflict, characterization. All trouble with a capital T.

There is always something keeping me from just sitting down and writing. My WIP needs so much work it's paralyzing my creative muse.

What to do, where to go??

I visited Maine this summer and had the immense pleasure of kayaking on this tranquil, pristine lake. No sign of human life for miles around. (Well, except for my friends)

My idea of heaven!

With this idyllic image in my head I shall move forward and attempt to rediscover my creative flow and my story. All my characters are sitting around, sipping coffee, taking a break -- hoping I'll leave them alone.

Okay gang, wake up and prepare to be shoved back into conflict and strife! I'm back....

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

TARA September Releases


Hunt Her Down by Roxanne St. Claire

Romantic suspense

Darkness Rising by Elissa Wilds

Paranormal romance

Lucan by Susan Kearney

Paranormal romance

Christmas Homecoming by Debby Mayne

Inspirational romance

Congrats on the new books, ladies!! :)


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Why Vampires?

It seems everywhere you turn these days there are stories about vampires. HBO has produced a television series called True Blood featuring characters who live for darkness and the taste of the scarlet liquid. Last season there was a short-lived television show on one of the major networks called Moonlight, where the main character was a private investigator as well as a vampire.

I've never watched either show.

Author Anne Rice wrote the novel Interview with a Vampire which was a best seller, and went on to become a hit movie starring Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and a very young Kirsten Dunst.

Again... never read the book, never saw the movie.

And one would have to be dead (or almost dead) or living in a coffin not to have heard of the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer....Best selling books about teenage vampires that has gone on to become a popular film. Would it surprise you to learn I haven't read the books or seen the movie?

At this point, I think not.

And who could forget the widely popular daytime drama Dark Shadows which aired from 1966-1971, and featured one of the most renowned vampires, Barnabas Collins.

Today there are so many books featuring vampires it makes my head spin. Oh no, that would make me possessed by the devil!

It doesn't take a telepathic mind-reader, or a vampire, phantom, witch, or any other frightening other-worldly figure to know, I don't care for paranormal stories.

Recently, I asked my friend Annie, who devours vampire stories, what the attraction was for her and vampires?
Her answer: They're sexy.


Obviously many people agree, and it's wonderful for anyone writing and publishing in the vampire genre. Just some of the many authors who have written novels featuring vampires:

P.C Cast, Shannon Drake, Christine Feehan, Charlaine Harris, Sheila Holland, Ellen Schreiber, John Steakley, and Cecilia Tan.
And even Arthur Conan Doyle has written his share of vampire stories. Check out The Vampire Stories of Arthur Conan Doyle.

Something for everyone. Well.... except for me that is.

How about you? Are you someone who embraces the world of vampires and other paranormal phenomenon?
Or are you like me -- afraid of scary things that go bump in the night?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Critique Group Contest

Want to join a fun, challenging online critique group? Check out Lynnette Labelle's blog for all the details. We have an opening in our online critique group, Rumored Romantics.

If you're a romance writer looking for a critique group, here is a fabulous opportunity. There are five of us and we're in the market for one more.

Lynnette is hosting a contest for our new sixth member. Good luck. :)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

New Books for Summer

by Karen Rose

by Joanne Rock

by Joan Johnston

These are the latest books out by some of our fabulous TARA authors!! I'm looking forward to reading all three. :)
Congrats ladies.

Click onto Borders to order your copy today!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Road Trip

It's that time of year again when the kids are out of school, the days are longer and warmer, and everyone heads out on their summer vacation. Well, I live in Florida where the weather goes from warm to steamy hot, and I don't have kids to worry about, but I do have a job and it's time for my summer vacation. :)

After considering all my financial options to get myself from central Florida to northern New England, I have decided to drive. That's 1500 miles one way. Phew. Okay, everyone thinks I'm a little crazy -- which of course I am -- but because of my need to have a vehicle up there when I arrive, I'm driving.

Understanding my history with long-distance driving my decision may not seem so far-fetched. At twenty-years-old, my best friend Annie and I bought an old van and fixed it up. We took two months to explore the vast United States, camping along the way. We had an awesome time driving down the east coast, along the gulf coast, through exhilarating mountain passes, into the dusty southwest, reaching our goal -- California. Our many exciting adventures will be a blog for another day. Fortunately Annie kept a journal of our trip so many of the delicious details are preserved forever. Without revealing my age, I will say it was many, many moons ago. ;)

Two months after that trip I boarded a plane and flew back to California to join the largest, traveling repertory acting company in the world. Covenant Players. I spent four years on the road traveling throughout the United States, western Canada, and parts of Europe with some amazing people and in all sorts of vehicles. My education behind the wheel was priceless. I had acquired an international drivers license so I was able to drive in the USA and Europe as well.

I own a Toyota Yaris that's fun to drive and boasts great gas mileage. So weighing my options -- flying vs. driving -- driving it is.

Wish me good luck!!

Monday, July 13, 2009


As a member of the Romance Writers of America, I have the opportunity to enter dozens of romance writing contests every year. According to the RWA website, there are 126 state chapters of RWA in the United States, 6 in Canada, as well as 19 special interest chapters. The special interest chapters are online chapters catering to specific genres and needs - historical, mystery/suspense, paranormal, erotica, chick lit, etc.

Many of the RWA chapters sponsor writing contests to raise money to support their chapters and enhance the writing skills and publishing opportunities for all members.

Some of the contests are geared to the unpublished writer, some specifically for the published author, and some include opportunities for both. With nearly 10,000 members of RWA, the competition to final in any of the chapter contests is tough. The national RWA hosts the RITA and GOLDEN HEART contests. The RITA is for books copyrighted within the year of entering the contest, and the GOLDEN HEART is for unpublished writers with a completed manuscript.

If a writer is looking to enter a contest, there are several factors to take into consideration.

Money: The cost of the contest, including postage, paper and ink. Although many contests are going all electronic so the latter isn't always a concern. However, for published writers there is the cost of shipping their books.

Time: Researching contests and the amount of time to polish the pages being submitted.

Final Judges: Is the final round judge an editor who works for a publishing house that publishes the genre you write and the word-count of your manuscript? Or perhaps an agent you would want to represent you and your work?

Scoresheet and critique: Many of the contests post their scoresheets on their websites, and there is usually some kind of critiquing offered -- but not always. This helps in the decision making process whether to enter a particular contest. Keep in mind, the national Golden Heart contest does not offer any critiquing, you simply receive a letter with your final scores.

Which contest to enter: There are a variety of contests to consider for unpublished writers, so depending on your need or expertise you can make your decision. For example the GOLDEN HEART can only be entered if you have a completed manuscript, but the first round judges only read the first three chapters and synopsis.
Other choices available are: 1st chapter contests, synopsis, query letters, individual scenes such as where the hero and heroine first meet, or first kiss, or first time making love. Some offer a contest where the scene features the villain.

So, make your decision on whether you desire a critique, or the editor/agent is one you want, or the prize is enticing, etc.

Be aware, however, that if you have a piece of writing polished and perfect and your goal is to get in front of an editor or agent, you better have the rest of the manuscript finished. The professional editors and agents sign on to judge these contests with the ultimate goal in finding fresh, undiscovered writers ready to be published. I have heard many stories of finalists having requests for partial and full manuscripts and they aren't finished writing the book. Not only does this make RWA look bad, it's a waste of time for the editor, and unfair to other contestants who might have finaled in their place with a completed manuscript.

That said, there are many newbie writers who use the contest circuit to enhance their writing skills with the critiques offered. As long as they submit knowing their piece needs work and they probably won't final.

It's about being professional. Follow the contest rules and regulations with the understanding of your responsibilities.

I usually enter only two contests a year due to limited funds. Although I'm on the prowl for one right now, so wish me luck, and here goes...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

What is It?

And what's it called?

I've been in Florida for over three years now and have never seen this flowering plant before. It bloomed from a gray branch shooting along the ground seemingly overnight back in February. It bloomed for about three weeks before it began to shrivel into a brown, dead-looking plant.

Recently the branch was broken (not certain what happened) so now it won't bloom again unless more shoots magically appear.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

New For July

Three more members of Tampa Area Romance Authors have new books out this month:

Atlantis Unmasked by Alyssa Day -- paranormal romance
Outcast by Joan Johnston -- romantic thriller
Kill For Me by Karen Rose -- paperback release -- romantic suspense

Congrats ladies! :)

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Happy 4th of July from Anna Maria Island.

Lean back in your favorite recliner.

Soothing landscape.


Have a fun and safe weekend.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Make Me Yours

Betina Krahn, award-winning historical author of The Husband Test, Paradise Bargain, and The Mermaid -- to name just a few -- has a new release out today: Make Me Yours!

This is her first book published by Harlequin Blaze and it sounds wonderful. I can't wait to buy a copy!
Congratulations, Betina. :)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Movie Night

I love a great movie, a fantastic book, a riveting play, a fabulous TV show, a stunning piece of artwork. Many people will agree on what is a great creative work, and many will express their opinions over what constitutes a disastrous creation.
The real truth -- Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

Recently I watched a movie that came highly recommended by several people. Four different friends told me (more than once) to rent and watch the movie Taken.

So I watched it.

Taken (2008)
Starring Liam Neeson

Taken is about a man, Bryan Mills, played by Neeson, who after years as some sort of CIA/spy operative is retired and living a quiet life in California near his ex-wife and daughter. Hoping to rebuild a relationship with the daughter, Bryan spends his time hanging with old spy buddies and thinking about his daughter.

Bryan's seventeen year old daughter, Kim, is allowed to accompany her eighteen year old friend, Amanda, to France. (Really??) Within hours of landing in Paris, both girls are kidnapped by foreign-speaking men planning to sell them to the highest bidder. (Wow!?)

Perhaps the best scene in the film is when Kim is actually being kidnapped and talking to her father on her cell phone. Bryan Mills snaps into spy mode and instructs Kim on what to do to make his job of finding her more efficient. So as the girl is dragged out from under a bed, screaming, we get to feel the horrific emotions of Bryan the father.
Bryan the ex-spy takes over and the film moves on.

That was the last really interesting scene in the movie.

One of the problems I had with this film was the casting. The daughter, Kim, is played by Maggie Grace, who looks like she's thirty-five instead of seventeen. A younger, more innocent looking actress might have helped audience sympathy.
The best element of this film is by far Liam Neeson -- one the finest actors working today. He brings riveting life to a character and film that otherwise would have really fallen flat.

As the character of Bryan Mills roars through Europe beating and killing everyone in sight, often five and six men at a time (Wow!? He's 57 years old!) my interest in the story wanes.
Erratic camera movement, sporadic sub-titles, way too many bad guys, car chase scenes, violent fight scenes, and finally a rescue scene that seems far too easy..... and Kim and Dad are back home in sunny California.

Hmm... okay. So, what of her friend, Amanda, you ask? Well, I'm not certain. At one point in the film Bryan discovers several girls lying around in drugged stupors -- and kind of rescues one because she is wearing Kim's jacket. He does hover over another one that looks like Amanda, checking her pulse. She has apparently died of a drug overdose.

Compared to so many crappy films being made today, this one really isn't too bad. What makes it frustrating is it could have been excellent. A more realistic screenplay, better direction, and a stronger supporting cast would have made Taken a first-rate film instead of a step above mediocre.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

TARA Contest Finalists!!

Thank you to all the writers who entered the 2009 TARA Contest. We had a wonderful turnout of amazing talent. It was challenging and exhilarating to judge and critique such high quality submissions.

Congratulations to all the finalists!

Single Title:

A Place at the Table -- Patricia O'Dea-Rosen
Dangerous Secrets -- Donna Meier
Forget the Past -- Rosemary Rothacker
The Second Wife -- Sharron Houdek

Series Contemporary:

Bottom Line -- Pamela Smith
In His Kiss -- Ruth Owen
The Perfect Match --Cindyann Jachrimo

Romantic Suspense:

A Little Death -- Tracy Falenwolfe
Alive at Five -- Linda Hurtado
Verdict -- Jean Mason


Bloodsworn -- Kathy Lane
Fire of the Dragon -- Lori Dillon Stacey
Reading the Waters -- Jessica B. Hunt


The Anchoring Ground -- Dorothy Canada
The Path -- Lee Rhuday Duncan
The Real Thing -- Morgan Taylor


Her Heart's Desire -- Jeri Gutierrez
Her Wicked Ways -- Darcy Burke
Pride and Promises -- Karen Lingefelt
To Love a Viscount -- Kathleen Cherry

Women's Fiction:

Missing Clayton -- Bev Irwin
One Woman's Trash Another's Treasures -- Hattie Mae Ratliff
Tootsie Takes Wall Street -- Teresa Bolyard

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Goals Revisited

In January, I posted about my writing goals and my plans to attain them. I also mentioned my pursuit of getting healthier and losing weight.

RECAP: One of my goals was to finish the revisions on my romantic suspense novel Island Moon by July 25th. Another objective was to finish the first full draft of Breath of Winter, another romantic suspense by December 1st. :) I came up with a schedule to work on both books simultaneously, with revisions on Island Moon four days a week, pushing through with Breath of Winter, three days a week.
Just getting in practice for when I have real deadlines!! Here's to positive thinking. :)

Mickey has been a great pal with helping me meet my writing goals!

UPDATE: Okay, not all good intentions work the same way in our heads as they do on paper. Writing two books at the same time worked for only a few weeks, due in part to life and new commitments which entered into the picture. (Have I mentioned I have a full-time job outside the home as well?)
My end objective remains the same: Finish IM by July 25th, and December 1st for BOW, only my plan to make that happen has changed. I'm working exclusively on IM until July 25th and when finished... on to the next. :)

My weight loss is progressing well, although very slowly. Since January, I have lost 10 pounds. I have reached a plateau for a few weeks, but am ready now to recommit to this goal and make it happen! I need to lose more.

Thanks to Mickey for pushing me to lose weight!

Look for another update in July.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Summer Sizzlers!

Only one week until our Tampa Area Romance Authors multi-author Borders book signing!

On Saturday, June 13th from 2:00pm-4:00pm

Come meet eleven fabulous romance authors:
New York Times Bestselling Authors
Virginia Henley, Joan Johnston, and Karen Rose

USA Today Bestselling Authors
Alyssa Day, Julie Leto, Roxanne St. Claire

Kathy Carmichael, Terri Garey, Debby Mayne, Diana Peterfreund,
and Elissa Wilds

909 N. Dale Mabry Hwy
Tampa, FL 33609

Thursday, June 4, 2009

June Books

We have several TARA members with new book releases this month!

Kiss of the Phantom by Julie Leto -- Paranormal Romance
Love Finds You in Treasure Island, Florida by Debby Mayne -- Inspirational Romance
Atlantis Unleashed by Alyssa Day -- Paranormal Romance
Outlaws and Lawman by Loretta Rogers -- Anthology (Western)

Also the reissue of First You Run, Then You Hide, and Now You Die by Roxanne St. Claire -- Romantic Suspense

And introducing first-time author Eliza March with her book Witch of Air and Fire -- erotic paranormal romance. This is an e-book available at Siren Book Strand. (For Adults Only)

Congratulations ladies!

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Mean Season

With the beginning of June, comes the dreaded hurricane season. It's a time of year where everyone must be aware and prepared -- especially living on the Florida coast. The heat kicks up to scalding and the summer breezes ride in on violent thunderstorms. Even so, the skies are some of the most spectacular I've ever seen.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Island Life

Scenes from my Florida island. :)
Beach party!

Searching for supper.

Clouds gathering.


Photos by Liz Smith

Friday, May 15, 2009

New This Week

Diana Peterfreund is the author of several books featuring college age protagonists. Her first, Secret Society Girl was published in 2006. Followed by Under the Rose and Rites of Spring (Break). The fourth in the secret society series Tap and Gown will be released this week.
Love the titles! :) Congratulations, Diana.

And in the fall her first YA novel, Rampant will be published.

Check out her website at

Saturday, April 25, 2009

To Prologue... or Not

Prologue: (from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

a. The preface or introduction to a literary work.
b. An introductory or preceding event or development.

I love to settle down in my comfy chair, open up a novel, and begin reading a brand new story. I especially love when there is a prologue.

Many readers insist they don't like prologues and even go so far as not to read them. What!? Why would you read a book and not read the beginning? Just because it says the word prologue?
I know several writers who choose not to include them in their work. I have also read published novels that include a prologue when in fact it should say chapter one.

To the best of my knowledge, I don't believe there are any hard fast rules pertaining to the use and construction of a prologue in a fiction novel. They come in every shape and size with an array of content. I have read books where the prologue was a mere two sentences long and others where they stretched into thirty pages. In both cases they worked well.

In a mystery/suspense/thriller novel, a prologue can be used to set up the crime, or tragic life-changing event. Often times the prologue might be in the villain/antagonist's point-of-view. This can enhance the tension when the main characters are introduced. We, the reader, know something our main characters don't. We feel the suspense as they head innocently toward the trap set up by the nasty villain. :)

Perhaps in a family saga novel, a prologue can be used to glimpse a piece of family history. A past event used to set-up the current storyline.

I write romantic suspense novels. In each of my three manuscripts, I begin with a prologue. Each prologue introduces a tragic event that affects the main characters in their present day life. They are life-changing events that help propel the conflict and characters throughout the books.

Over the years I have had each of my three novels critiqued by several different people. Often times it's one of my critique partners, sometimes in a face to face critique group, and occasionally through contests where the prologue/first chapter is judged by an anonymous writer. I usually do quite well in contests, scoring high, but I don't often final, and it seems to be because of my use of prologues.

Is it because other writers don't like prologues? Or they don't get the fact that it's a prologue and not chapter 1? Or am I starting in the wrong place, including too much back story? Probably all of these elements to some degree.
The real questions: How does the prologue enhance the story? Is it well written? Is it really necessary?

Prologues continue to be a great way to introduce conflict, show an historic event, steep the reader in the evil villain's point-of-view, enable us to view our protagonist as a child... or where ever your imagine takes you.

What is your opinion? To prologue... or not?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

April Release

Inspirational author, Debby Mayne's newest book, Peachtree Dreams was just released this month! Debby Mayne is a multi-published author and is a member of the Tampa Area Romance Authors. Check her out at

Some of her other books include: Double Blessing and If the Dress Fits

And in June look for: Love Finds You in Treasure Island, Florida

Congratulations Debby!!

Sunday, March 29, 2009


This past week The Romance Writers of America announced the finalists in the national RITA and GOLDEN HEART contests.
Two of my fellow TARA members were finalists in the RITA contest for published authors. Karen Rose and Roxanne St. Claire were both nominated for a RITA in the romantic suspense category. Congratulations, ladies!! :)

For a list of all the finalists, check out the RWA website:

The awards are given during a ceremony held at the national RWA conference. This summer the conference will be in Washington, DC! Fun.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

New Books

With the beginning of March comes four new books being released by TARA authors. Look for them in a bookstore near you. :)

You're The One That I Haunt by Terri Garey (Paranormal Romance)

Always Ready by Joanne Rock (Harlequin Blaze)

Through the Garden Gate by Loretta Rogers (Anthology)

And debut author, Carrie Ryan's book: The Forest of Hands and Teeth (YA Fantasy)

Congratulations to all of our fellow writers for their published books!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

2009 TARA Contest

We're gearing up for our annual TARA contest!

The TARA contest is open to unpublished writers or any published authors who haven't published in the past three years and are not currently contracted for any novel-length (40,000 words +) books with any publisher (epub, mass market, etc). We have an excellent line up of editors for the final round judging.

The categories and final judges are as follows:

*Series Contemporary-- Wanda Ottewell /Harlequin

*Paranormal -- Danielle Poiesz /Pocket

*Single Title -- Deb Werksman /Sourcebooks

*Women's Fiction -- Lindsay Louis /NAL

*Historical -- Leah Hultenschmidt /Dorchester

*Romantic Suspense -- Amy Pierpont /Grand Central

*Inspirational Anne Horch /Faith Words

Out of 22 finalists last year, 9 entries were requested by editors and one request resulted in a sale!!

Enter the first chapter, 4000 words max, including prologue if applicable. For all the rules and guidelines check out

The deadline for entries is May 1, 2009. :)

Monday, February 2, 2009

TARA Authors

We have many published writers who are members of the Tampa Area Romance Authors (TARA). Seven of them have books being released this week!

Hot Flash by Kathy Carmichael

Dead Right by Cate Noble

Kill For Me by Karen Rose

She Thinks Her Ex is Sexy by Joanne Rock

Something Wicked by Julie Leto

Kiss of the Demon King by Kresley Cole

Lords of Desire by Virginia Henley

Congratulations to all on their latest published books. There's something for everyone in these compelling stories -- romantic suspense, paranormal, historical, sizzling sexy, and romantic comedy.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Let's Get Published!

I recently went into my file where I keep all the names, dates, and other pertinent information in regards to contacting agents and editors. It had been a while since I visited this not-so-long list of who and when I sent a query, so I was shocked to learn I queried exactly two agents in all of 2008. What!?

My pursuit to get published will never become a reality with this kind of I'll do it tomorrow attitude. As mentioned in my earlier post about Goals, I have a strong personality trait (flaw) called procrastination. Never so evident as in my search for a literary agent.

I truly admire the writers who are working diligently to get their projects out there. It is the difference between getting noticed with a contract in hand....or never getting published. Keep in mind, however, if you are searching for an agent or publisher, make absolutely certain you have a finished, polished manuscript! Don't waste their time or yours with a project that's not proficient and needs major revisions.

Writing everyday has become an attainable objective for me, now I need to work on the challenge of sending out query letters to agents. My completed romantic suspense Summer Light is ready to be considered for publication. As an active member of Romance Writers of America and the Tampa Area Romance Authors, I have many resources available to me to augment my quest for an agent. Through the national RWA website, there is information -- for members only -- on the latest agents and publishers.

Time to get busy! :)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Scream For Me

Author Karen Rose writes incredible romantic suspense. In her books, she blends serial killer suspense with passionate sexual tension. A winning combination! :)

Her latest book, Scream For Me was published in hardcover last fall, and has been released this week in paperback. Pick up a copy and prepare to be thrilled and chilled. :) And in just a month her next release Kill for Me will be out. I can't wait!

Karen Rose is the award winning, New York Times best selling author of nine books including: Don't Tell, Count to Ten, and Nothing to Fear.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


There's been much discussion lately about setting goals and achieving them. This is a process as individual as each one of us. Like in our writing -- we are all unique -- writing different genres, styles, and lengths. Novels, short stories, non-fiction, essays, poetry, song lyrics -- wherever our passions lead us...

I am a master procrastinator! This is an irrefutable truth. Because of this personality trait, I have to work extra hard to attain whatever goals I have set for myself. For years, I worked to finish my YA novel, but never could. I realize now one reason for this was never having any realistic goals to help complete that book. I would work on it whenever I got around to it, whenever I felt like it, but usually only when I had a critique group to attend, or a conference on the horizon. And after several years of hearing myself chat about my work-in-progress in a group of fellow writers, babbling the same rhetoric year after year, I knew it was time for a serious change in my writing process.

When I began the journey to write and finish a 100,000 word romantic suspense novel, I set smaller, attainable goals for myself. I finally admitted this would be the only way to complete the book.

Here's some goal examples: Write ten chapters in three months, write and revise prologue in one week, take a writing class, write 25,000 words in six months, write 25,000 words in four months, find a critique partner, rewrite 1st 1/2 of the book in four months, write twice a week, write three times a week, write for ten minutes everyday.
Etc, etc...

To achieve a goal:
*First decide what you want to achieve. In regards to writing, you may have a project you've started but can't seem to complete (been there, done that), or perhaps you have an idea percolating ready to get down on paper (or typed into your computer). Whatever you decide, make certain you are ready and passionate about your project. Otherwise it will make finishing the work and achieving your goals much more difficult. And it will be difficult.

*Once you've made the decision on your project, decide when you want it finished. Two years? Six months, one year? If you are an unpublished writer, set a deadline and stick to it. For a published author, if an editor is waiting for your finished project in six months, you damn well better have it for him/her in six months.

As much as we would like the luxury of being at home writing all day, most of us have day jobs --not to mention all of the other turmoil in our lives -- so we have to adapt.

*Again, set your goals to short, attainable time lines to start. If a new project, perhaps your goal could be: Write and finish chapter one by Jan 10th or Jan 17th, or whatever you feel would realistically work for you and your schedule. Then create a way to adjust your day to day life to meet that goal, and stick with it. For me, I like to set a longer goal such as, write and finish new book by December 12th, 2009, and then set shorter goals to attain the final objective of completing the book.

This year, I have set three major goals for myself.
A. Write and complete rough draft of book three.
B. Rewrite and revise book two.
C. Find an agent/editor for book one.

Phew, it makes me exhausted just thinking about attaining these goals -- and my procrastination instincts kick in big time. I have a whole year, no sweat.

The truth is I have to work really hard to write one book in a year, (I haven't accomplished it yet) so to take on two, in various stages, is overwhelming. Also, the amount of work involved to query agents/editors, enter contests, networking, and anything else to get my book published, can be extremely time consuming.

So, there is much work to do. The only way to complete these writing projects to my satisfaction is to set numerous goals; to decide how much time to devote to each task and make it work.
I'm still developing a schedule to make these goals happen. I hope to compartmentalize each project and devote certain times of the day, week, and month to each of the three.

*One important factor to remember is our lives change constantly and so can our goals. If you have to change a short term goal, revise your writing process, or whatever you need to keep heading toward the final goal, it's okay. Just keep the ultimate purpose in your sights.
*Keeping a record of your daily/weekly writing progress helps to see how far you've come and can create momentum. (word count, chapter count, page count -- whatever your preference)
*Also, having a critique partner is a great way to keep yourself on track, as well as dangling rewards for yourself. This can keep the work fresh and fun and moving forward.

...Finished first half of book, treated myself to a massage. Now that's incentive!

I'll let you know how well I'm doing with my projects in six months. Goal: Write and post blog about keeping goals on June 3, 2009! :)

Pick your project, set your goals, and happy writing!!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Welcome 2009

Peace, health, and happiness to all!