How to Not Write by Laura Drake

A Million Ways Not to Write A Book

81xhdFP+g1L._SL1500_Novel writing is very hard stuff.  Trying to learn craft while balancing plot, ideas, genre, and market. How anyone finishes a novel amazes me.  Sometimes it feels like I’m golfing and juggling . . . at the same time.

We all have our own ways not to write. You know what I mean – the conscious or unconscious things you do to avoid writing the damn book. Mine is the “I can’t write because I don’t know what happens next,” model.  It even sounds legitimate, until the quandary stretches out two weeks, and I’m forced to face the fact that I’m avoiding.

It wasn’t until I joined a writer’s group though, that I found that everyone has their own way of not writing a book. The below are a few of the categories I’ve noticed:

  • Too busy; life is too disorganized. I’ll get back to it when . . . fill in the blank.
  • I’m blocked.
  • I have to do more research. I need to take more classes. When I know more, then I can write.
  • I have so many ideas swimming around in my head that I can’t decide which one to write about.
  • I start a story, but when I get to the middle, it peters out, and I move on to a new idea.
  • I’ve completed the novel, but it’s not ready. Years of revision – it’s never ready.
  • I’ve finished the story and edited it, but I never get around to sending it out.
  • I’ve written the first six chapters, polished it, and entered every contest known to man. It’s even placed in contests. I just never finish the book.
  • I have this wonderful idea. No really, no one has ever thought to do a book on this fascinating subject. Why don’t you write it, and we’ll both share in the riches we’ll get from it?
  • I’m afraid the person (family member) I wrote about in a novel (and disguised) is going to recognize themselves. My family will implode.
  • I don’t understand the character well enough. I need to do character studies, interviews, horoscopes on them to be able to write.
  • And mine; how can I write on, when I don’t know what happens next?

I may have missed a few, but you get the idea. Please, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not being critical. I am right there in the mix, and I believe every author, from Plato to Nora, has their own way of not writing the book.

BUT. One of the most important things that separates the successful published author from one who never finished the book is that they plowed through the above. One of my favorite quotes is from Randy Pausch:

“Brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want something badly enough. They are there to keep out the other people”

Those reasons are just roadblocks our brain throws up to cover up the fact that we’re scared. You can’t live with the thought that you’re too afraid of failure to reach for your dreams, so you use a perfectly legitimate excuse. I do it too.

But you know what I’ve found? When I ignore the fact that I don’t know what comes next, and sit down and type, something comes out. And sometimes what comes out is better than I imagined.

All the reasons above are perfectly legitimate.  They’re all true. The question is: are you going to let them keep you from holding that published book in your hand, and opening it for the first time? From your dream of seeing someone in a coffee shop somewhere, reading your book?

I’m not. I’m going now to write the next part, in spite of the fact that I don’t know what it is.


Author-Headshot-300x278Laura Drake is a city girl who never grew out of her tomboy ways, or a serious cowboy crush. She writes both Women’s Fiction and Romance.

She sold her Sweet on a Cowboy series, romances set in the world of professional bull riding, to Grand Central.  The Sweet Spot won the 2014 Romance Writers of America®   RITA® award in the Best First Book category.

In 2014, Laura realized a lifelong dream of becoming a Texan and is currently working on her accent. She gave up the corporate CFO gig to write full time. She’s a wife, grandmother, and motorcycle chick in the remaining waking hours. You can find her on Twitter or Facebook.

Laura will be teaching two workshops at California Dreamin’:

  • Bleeding on the Page: Writing Emotion
  • Balancing Backstory

LADY JANE’S SALON® OC

Lady Jane’s Salon OC is coming to
the California Dreamin’ Writers Conference!

lady jane

Saturday, March 28, 2015 from 9-11:00pm
at the Brea Embassy Suites
900 East Birch Street, Brea, CA 92821

We’ll have 2 salons going on at the same time in 2 different rooms–Giza and Tut’s. Feel free to bounce back and forth to catch your favorite authors reading from their novels.

This event is open to the public.

Salon 1

Tut’s

Salon 2

Giza

9:00

Mary Leo

9:00

Laura Drake

9:10

Elizabeth Boyle

9:10

Louella Nelson

9:20

Kitty Bucholtz

9:20

Patricia Rice

9:30

Jane Porter

9:30

Rebekah Ganiere

9:40

Lucienne Diver

9:40

April Kihlstrom

9:50

Dayle Dermatis

9:50

Susan Meier

10:00

Susan Squires

10:00

Linda O. Johnston

10:10

Christine Ashworth

10:10

Debbie Decker

10:20

Vicky Dreiling

10:20

Lisa Kessler

10:30

Chrisie Craig

10:30

Shirley Wilder

10:40

Teresa Carpenter

10:40

Anne Cleeland

10:50

Louisa Bacio

10:50

Maggie Marr

Click Lady Jane Schedule for an easy to print document.

Lady Jane’s Salon® OC was founded by author Beth Yarnall and is Orange County’s first–and only–monthly romance fiction reading series. Guest authors represent the full spectrum of the diverse and ever-evolving romance genre. Lady Jane’s Salon OC meets the second Monday of every month from 7-9pm at the Gypsy Den in Anaheim. Admission is $5 or one gently-used romance novel. Net proceeds from the Salon support an end-of-year donation to an Orange County based women’s charity. For the calendar of future salons and guest authors coming to LJSOC please visit our website at www.ladyjanessalonoc.com

Conference Jitters by Christine Ashworth

Calming Your Conference Jitters

Hi, everyone! Welcome to the wonderful world of the California Dreamin’ Writer’s Conference. Romance writers are the most generous, most giving, most supportive people in the publishing world, so set your expectation right now that you’re going to have a wonderful time at the conference this month.

Whether this is your first, or your tenth-plus conference, there’s always something to get nervous about. So let me tell you a few secrets, hm?

jitterFirst off, everyone is in the same boat. The new people are nervous because it’s their first conference. The old-timers are nervous because they’re probably giving workshops, or pitching again after not having to pitch for a long time. The agents and editors are nervous because they really want to find the Next Big Thing, and they’re afraid someone will faint on them (but more about that later).

What you need to remember, no matter where on the spectrum you fall, is that we’re all in this together. We’re all here to learn, to have fun, to teach, to pitch and be pitched to, to laugh and hug and buy books at the book signing, to sign books, to giggle with our roommates till the wee hours of the morning, and then wake up bright-eyed for another long day.

Conference is our reward for holing up in our rooms day after day, night after night, getting those words down, so do plan on having fun!

Okay now, regarding those agents and editors/publishers who will be here; I’m going to let you in on a little secret. They’re people, too. They’re friendly, fun people who, like you, are here to work (and maybe to escape the snows back east, but that’s fine with us). The very best thing about small conferences is you can talk with these people in a relaxed setting.

Didn’t sign up for a pitch? Maybe, just maybe, you can pitch to an editor or agent at lunch, or at the Dessert Reception on Friday night, or maybe in the bar. Be yourself, be friendly (not pushy!), and when they happen to ask you, “So what kind of romance do you write?” be prepared to give a clean, concise answer. Here’s a sample conversation:

Agent/Editor:  Hi, person to my left. What kind of romance do you write?

You, the Writer:  I write (insert your genre here – contemporary, paranormal, historical, erotica, etc).

Agent/Editor:  Cool. I’m actually looking to acquire that genre. What’s your current story about?

You, the Writer: It’s about a princess in hiding who is looking for the last Jedi Master to help her save her planet.

Agent/Editor: Sounds fascinating. Is it finished?

You, the Writer: Why, yes it is. It’s complete at 60,000 words.

Agent/Editor:  Then I’d love to see your first three chapters. Here’s my card.

Of course, not all agents and editors are going to (a) be actively acquiring what you’re writing or (b) ask you to send them chapters, but at smaller conferences, the possibility is high.  Agents and editors are people who want you to succeed, and there is absolutely no reason to be so terrified that you faint. Unfortunately, a lot of new conference goers don’t get the memo, and they shake in their shoes, develop a bad stomach ache/head ache, and forget to blink, until their pitch is over and done with.

If this is your first time, be prepared to be welcomed and congratulated for being there. Need a topic of conversation? Ask someone with a Speaker tag what they are going to be speaking about. That will help calm their nerves, which will help calm your nerves, and everyone gets to be friends. Cool, huh?

If you can, print out the conference schedule and try to choose from the myriad of tracks we have. It can be hard, when you want to go to three different workshops, and they’re all at the same hour, so a little forethought ahead of time may save you workshop angst.

Oh, and business cards. Yes, you need them. They are inexpensive at VistaPrint, or at Staples I believe, so check it out and grab some before the week before conference. Then make sure you pack them.

Clothes-wise, even though we’re in southern California, it is the end of March and therefore unpredictable. Not to mention, hotels can get cold (and hot!); so layer your business casual clothes, and you’ll be fine. Remember you want to give off a professional air; but suits/heels and hose aren’t necessary (because California!), unless, of course, that’s how you’re branding yourself.

Above all, come expecting to have a great time, and to meet new friends. It only takes one conference to get hooked.

Can’t wait to see you all there!

Cheers,

Christine Ashworth


ChristineAshworth1-150x150Christine Ashworth is a romantic from way back, having first picked up Harlequin romances at the age of twelve, then falling in love with bigger books when she swiped her mother’s copy of Rosemary Rogers’ Sweet Savage Love.

She’s happily married to an actor/dancer/guitarist/hippy man, has two tall sons, and tends to her garden and her family in southern California. You can read about her cooking, gardening, and wine picks at her website.

Preparing for Conference by Debbie Decker

IMG_0588_2Preparing for the California Dreamin’ Conference!

We’re down to the last few days before conference on Friday and the Conference Committee is hard at work trying to make this the best experience for you. So whether this is your first or hundredth conference, we thought we’d give you a heads up on preparing for this wonderful weekend.

To do before you get to conference!

  1. Look at the list of Editors and Agents. If you’ve already signed up for an appointment, your registration packet will contain the name of the Editor/Agent and appointment time. IF you didn’t ask for an appointment, forgot to register for one OR would love a second appointment, there will be an opportunity for you to sign up for the remaining spaces.
  2. Read and make note of the workshops that interest you most. Again…look at the website! Consider how a workshop will help your writing and your career. BUT…be flexible. For a number of reasons, a workshop might be moved so be sure to check for time or room changes or cancellations when you get to conference.
  3. Have business cards printed and be ready to hand them out!
  4. If you have any special dietary needs… the good news is that ALL the rooms at the Embassy Suites have a refrigerator, microwave and coffeemaker. I highly recommend you bring whatever food you need and have it in your room. Please contact Jann Audiss via the contact form if you have any dietary restrictions you need to discuss. There are also numerous restaurants in the surrounding area.
  5. For first-timers…DON’T bring your manuscript, partial or synopsis. The Agents and Editors do not want to see them AT conference. If interested, they’ll tell you where and how to send them after conference.

Once you arrive at Conference!

  1. Check in at the registration desk and receive your packet and goodie bag. Lots of us have pen names however; your registration packet will be under your LEGAL name. Your badge will appear as you’ve requested on your registration form, space permitting.
  2. There will be lots of information in the packets and some free stuff in the bags. Please read the information carefully, especially if you are one of the generous ones who have graciously volunteered your time to help at conference. Volunteer instructions will be in the packets.
  3. Appropriate dress for the conference is business casual. We writers are great at sitting at our computers in sweats, yoga pants, pajamas, etc.… yeah, we all do it. For conferences, it’s tempting to dress up. Don’t. You’ll be sitting in workshops and walking from room to room. Be comfortable BUT professional because you never know who you’ll be sitting next to (think editor/agent here). You may want to impress so they’ll take you seriously.
  4. Workshop etiquette. If you will need to leave before the workshop is over, please sit near the door so you don’t disturb the whole room. AND most of the rooms have no wifi (or extremely limited wifi) so prepare to take notes the old fashioned way…with pen and paper. Please charge your computers, phones and tablets in your room. Wires are a safety hazard in the workshops and hallways. THIS MEANS NO POWER CORDS IN WORKSHOPS.

NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK!

We all will know a few (or many) friends at conference but this is the time to get to know others who write in your same sub-genre or have experience in an area you’re lacking. This is an amazing place to connect and learn, and there are a number of ways to do it.

  1. volunteer-diverse-handsVOLUNTEER! We need you! AND you’ll get to meet people you wouldn’t have otherwise. We need you to help in a number of places, so take your pick! Registration, at the Editor/Agent area, in the workshops, or on Sunday at the book signing! All are wonderful ways to meet and learn, but the best part is that for every hour you volunteer, your name will be put into a drawing for a free conference fee in 2017! So please, volunteer and reap the rewards.
  2. Hang out in the bar or lobby area! This is the place to meet up or talk to the person in a workshop. Lifelong friendships are formed this way and who doesn’t want more friends?? Our rooms/suites are very comfortable and a great place to retreat when you need to catch your breath. Just don’t hide out there. Don’t miss learning and connecting!
  3. FIRST TIMERS MEETING! I’m such a retiring and quiet person (snort) that they’ve put me in charge of welcoming you and being your “go to” gal. So meet me at 5:20 on Friday evening (for only a half hour) and we’ll talk about how to get the most out of your first time at conference! (also…you’ll have a little flag on your badge. You’ll be surprised at how many people will want to get to know you!)

I hope this answers a few of the many questions you might have regarding the weekend. The Conference Committee has worked hard to make this an exceptional experience for everyone…speakers and attendees…and we hope you’ll come prepared to have fun!


_DEB0037See you all on Friday!!!

Happy writing,

Debbie Decker

Cal. Dreamin’ Registration Chair

 

 

 

 

Volunteer at #CDWC15 by Teresa Carpenter

4 Reasons to Volunteer at #CDWC15

volunteer-diverse-hands1) Make a Difference

California Dreamin’ is a collaborative effort of four RWA Chapters. It’s a fantastic event that allows members and other attendees an opportunity to grow through education, networking and advocacy.

The success of an event this size is only as good as its many volunteers. Make a difference by adding your hands to the work. Volunteering is an extremely rewarding experience. And it allows for opportunities like California Dreamin’.

2) Push Your Boundaries

Writers tend to be introverts. Heads down, focused on the workshop, the appointment, protecting our space. But when it’s your job to greet others, help them with their registration, or welcome them to a meal it’s easier to talk to strangers. And it’s easier to talk to them when you see them again in a workshop, at an appointment or seated together at a meal.

Volunteer, push your boundaries and broaden your experience.

3) Meet New Friends

Opening up to new people can be tough; however meeting good friends at a conference can be another story.

Volunteering brings all walks of life together and no matter your personality, interests, or background, you’re bound to connect with another writer like yourself. There is no telling who you may meet, or what sort of impact they could have on your life and career. 

4) Expand Your Network

Sometimes the most valuable connections are made out of the workshops. Being in different places at different times opens up opportunities to meet people in all aspects of the writing industry you may not have met otherwise.

A friendly exchange between you and an agent at the registration desk could ease an appointment later that day. It’s important to get involved to optimize these opportunities.

If you’re attending the conference and you haven’t yet signed up to volunteer, there are many opportunities.

For more information, please contact Teresa Carpenter, 2015 Volunteer Chairperson, via email to volunteers (at) caldreaminwritersconf (dot) org.


300 x 300Teresa Carpenter
A Pregnancy, A Party &  A Proposal, Harlequin Romance February 2015
Her Boss By Arrangement, Harlequin Romance, Out Now!
Project: Dream Girl, Borough’s Publishing Group, Out Now!

Our Conference Hotel by Jann Audiss

ESBreaIT’S HERE. After two years of planning the California Dreamin’ 2015 Conference is finally here!!

As the Hotel Chair, I have been working closely with the Embassy Suites Hotel staff to make sure your stay during the conference is enjoyable. The hotel is adjacent to the Brea Mall and Target, in case you forgot to pack any necessities or left an electronic accessory at home.

For those who need a Starbucks fix, you can find one located in both Target and the Mall. There are several restaurants surrounding the mall and across the street, including TGI Fridays. The Hotel also provides a complimentary shuttle to nearby downtown Brea, where you will find movie theaters, women’s apparel stores, and more restaurants.

proper-tableSpeaking of food, I want to share with all of you the menu Chef Zeferino has put together for us over the course of the conference.

Our Friday night Dessert Reception will be a “Build Your Own” Ice Cream Sundae Bar in addition to fruit and cheese for your indulgence.

Saturday lunch will be a Soup and Salad Bar held in the Atrium.

Our other meal selections for dinner Saturday evening and Sunday lunch will be:

SATURDAY DINNER

REGULAR/Gluten Free VEGETARIAN
Kale Salad with Strawberries, Braised Beef Short Rib, Scalloped Potatoes, Brussel Sprouts with Bacon, and freshly made Crème Brulee. Kale Salad with Strawberries, Stuffed Portobello Mushroom served over Penne Pasta tossed in Olive Oil & White Wine with Red Bell Peppers & Artichoke Hearts, and freshly made Crème Brulee.

SUNDAY LUNCH

REGULAR/Gluten Free VEGETARIAN
Spring Mixed Greens with Cherry Tomatoes, Julienne Carrots & Sliced Cucumbers, Chicken Saltimbocca, Wild Mushroom Risotto, fresh Green Beans sautéed in citrus butter and olive oil, and freshly made Sabayon with Fresh Berries. Spring Mixed Green with Cherry Tomatoes, Julienne Carrots & Sliced Cucumbers, Ratatouille served over Wild Mushroom Risotto, and freshly made Sabayon with Fresh Berries.

As a reminder, please be aware the hotel does not have a designated gluten free kitchen. Due to these circumstances, they are unable to guarantee that any menu offering can be completely free of allergens. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me via the conference website.

The hotel is also going to have a Specialty Cocktail called Cal Dreamin’ available in the Sweet Spot Bar and at the Dessert Reception and Saturday night dinner, prepared with Captain Morgan rum, banana liqueur, Malibu rum, orange juice, sour mix and grenadine.

It’s going to be a wonderful experience and we’re looking forward to seeing you all there.


Jann PictureJann Audiss has lived in sunshiny Southern California her entire life, and she’s been a member of RWA and the Orange County Chapter since 1992. She has held the positions of President and Ways & Means Director for OCC, and chaired the Orange Rose and Book Buyers Best Contests.

Currently, she is working on a romantic suspense under the pen name Jann Ryan to fulfill her publishing dream.

In 2011, Jann and ten other Southern California RWA Chapter members met at Ruby’s Diner in San Juan Capistrano and formed the first California Dreamin’ Writers Conference committee. And the rest is history.

Writing Historic Heroines by Terry Irene Blain

STEP BACK IN TIME: Creating Realistic Historical Heroines

Elizabeth_I_when_a_PrincessThis workshop at the California Dreamin’ conference will address the role of women in the time periods in Western Civilization in which many romance novels are set.

Addressing these questions will help you create your authentic historical heroine.

  1. How much “freedom” did she have?
  2. Who were some of the important women in her day?
  3. Which female archetypes might work best in a particular time period?

History gives a broad canvas in which to place your story.  There are many who made their mark in history, and one of my favorites is Elizabeth I.

Elizabeth’s greatness lies in two parts. The first is that she survived to become Queen, and second that she guided England from the disastrous state she inherited to a wealthy and stable country.

As the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth was born a princess. But as Henry progressed through his six wives, she was declared illegitimate, shifted from pillar to post and eventually reinstated third in the succession after her younger half-brother Edward and her older half sister Mary (who also went through the legitimate/illegitimate back and forth).

Nine-year-old Edward VI succeed at Henry’s death, and he pushed the English church further into Protestantism. To maintain the change in religion started under Henry, Edward and his advisors changed the order of succession, leaving out both Mary and Elizabeth. Instead, he left the throne to Lady Jane Grey, a great-granddaughter of Henry VII, and Edward’s cousin. However, on Edward’s death, the country supported Mary Tudor.

Unfortunately, Mary tried to bring England back into the Catholic fold.

While Mary was queen, there were several rebellions as protest against the reinstatement of Catholicism and against her marriage to Philip. As the Protestant heir to the throne, Elizabeth was the focus of any attempt to end Mary’s reign. Mary had Elizabeth in and out of the tower or under house arrest with these rebellions.

Her early childhood and her confinements taught Elizabeth to keep her innermost thoughts and feelings to herself, and she continued to do so throughout her queen ship. She managed to survive and with Mary’s death, Elizabeth came to the throne.

The second part of Elizabeth’s greatness was her forty-four year reign that brought stability to England.

91IaITspgBL._SL1500_At the time of her ascension, Scottish preacher John Knox published “The First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Reign of Women,” predicting disaster with the regency of Catherine de ’Medici in France, Scotland’s Mary, Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I in England.

France was racked by religious wars under Catherine and her sons, and Mary was forced from Scotland and lived as a prisoner in England. Only Elizabeth and England prospered. She became the Supreme Governor of the English Protestant church, which evolved into today’s Church of England.

Early in her reign she refused to marry, for to do so would tie England to another country. And later her various engagements formed alliances that helped the country. She often spoke of England as her child.

Other major events under her reign included the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, which let England rule the seas and develop her colonies in the Americas. This was the time of the Elizabethan Renaissance as under her reign, prosperity and stability bought forth a burst of literary figures such as William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlow and Edmund Spenser.

Not too bad for a woman born, who grew up and came to reign in a man’s world.


DSC00004-234x300Terry Irene Blain earned a BA and MA and taught Amer­i­can His­tory and West­ern Civ­i­liza­tion at a com­mu­nity col­lege. While she was teach­ing all this aca­de­mic knowl­edge, people told her, “You should write a book.” Her excuse was that she wasn’t the best typ­ist in the world. Then her hus­band bought a com­puter. She had always enjoyed read­ing romance nov­els, and his­tor­i­cal titles like Samuel Shellenberger’s Cap­tain From Castile, the Elsworth Thane Williams­burg nov­els, and the Jan­ice Holt Giles Amer­i­cana nov­els. In all these stories, the romance ele­ment was a uni­ver­sal­ity. Regard­less of time or set­ting, social cus­toms, eco­nomic con­di­tions, pol­i­tics or wars, she was always sucked in by the rela­tion­ship between men and women.

She first wrote Ken­tucky Green. Some of her ances­tors lived in that area, and one fam­ily story has a great-great-great however-many-great grand­fa­ther hunt­ing with Daniel Boone. She was lucky enough to grow up with a sense of com­mu­nity and his­tory from the sto­ries she heard her fam­ily tell. It gave me a sense of place, and a sense of what she wanted—which was to write his­tor­i­cal romance, which gives her the oppor­tu­nity pass on the sto­ries of who we are and where we come from, explor­ing the rela­tion­ships between men and women.

 

Writing Novellas by Chris Marie Green

Baby, We’ve Come a Long Way (Or Are We Going a Shorter Way?)

It wasn’t so long ago that, as an author, I was entirely focused on writing full-length novels. You know—those things that contain over 50,000 words? At the time, I thought that this was the only market for me.

NA copyBut a new day has dawned. Shorter works, such as short stories, novelettes, novellas, lunchbox romances, and serials are hot now, and not just because readers love them.

In the workshop I’ll be participating in with Louisa Bacio and Michelle Klayman (THE LONG & SHORT OF IT: Novellas, Novelettes & Lunchbox Romances), we’ll be chatting about how these shorter works can support your longer career goals—as well as the differences between each category and how to make the most of each of them.

One way authors are using shorts is as loss leaders and samples of their larger books; these shorter works are hooking readers into their backlist novels as well as future ones. Writers can also utilize shorter works to satisfy readers’ hunger for more, more, more in between their bigger releases since the audience wants to spend more time in the worlds the authors have created.

Writers are also penning stand-alone short works because these punchy little treats are one-night reads that can really satisfy on their own!

I’ve made good use of these formats myself, and not only for business purposes. Writing short keeps me on my toes as an author—it helps me to hone my craft because, honestly, writing shorter doesn’t necessarily mean the writing is easier. (One short story I created took about half as long as a bigger novel because I had to be extra judicious about editing and ruthless with pacing. No joke!)

Most recently, one of my publishers, Berkley’s digital first imprint, InterMix, asked me to do a prequel novelette for my new New Adult series, Aidan Falls. I jumped at the chance to write WHISPER, and not only because it sounded fun and was a good promotional move—I had several things I wanted to cover in this introductory hook to the rest of the series.

NA2 copyFirst, I wanted to introduce the town and community of Aidan Falls, Texas, where the next two full-length novels, HONEYTRAP (out February 17th!) and SUGARBABY (out May 19th) take place.

Second, I wanted to give readers a peek at the bad boy hero of HONEYTRAP, Micah Wyatt—I wanted him to be a slightly mysterious presence that readers would hopefully want to know better.

Third, I wanted to give them a satisfying romantic buildup using a premise well suited for a short work (a secret admirer posts a meme on a phone app about the heroine).

Fourth, I wanted to preview the premise of the entire series at large: how technology affects us romantically and personally these days.

As a bonus, after I finished writing WHISPER, I realized that the story of the hero and heroine could continue, so I explored more of Carley and her secret admirer in SUGARBABY as a subplot.

And that’s just a taste of how a shorter story can fit into the bigger picture. I hope to see you at the workshop so you can learn other ways!


VB book photoChris Marie Green and her alter ego Crystal Green have written over seventy books in total. Chris Marie Green is the urban fantasy author of the Vampire Babylon series, including the indie self-published, spin-off Lilly Meratoliage series, plus the Jensen Murphy, Ghost for Hire series. RITA nominated Crystal Green writes romance, namely the Aidan Falls new adult series and the hot adult contemporary Rough and Tumble series.

As both pen names, she tries her best to avoid international incidents whenever she takes a break from her first love, writing, and cheats on it with her other true love—traveling. You can find her at Chris Marie Green or Crystal Green or hang out with her online at Twitter and Facebook!

California Hooker Contest by Christine Locksy

Fish Hook - HookingDoes your writing have what it takes to hook the editor? The reader?

Find out when you enter the California Hooker Contest!

Hi, I’m Christine Locksy, and I’ll coordinate the contest entries again this year. The contest opens January 15, 2015, and all entries must be received by midnight (PST) on February 15, 2015.

And, it’s a cinch to enter – you electronically submit your unpublished story’s hook, up to a maximum length of 3 double-spaced pages. We had almost sixty entries in 2013, so let’s beat that number!! The entry fee is only $10 again for 2015, and multiple entries are happily accepted. Give each of your works in progress a chance to win!

Be sure to check the conference website page now for the official rules and guidelines, and mark the page to easily come back on January 15th to submit your entries.

The final round of judges will be editors attending the California Dreamin’ Conference.

We’ll announce the winners at the conference March 27-29, 2015 – you need not be present to win, but we’d love to see you there!


We’re proud of our 2013 contest winners!

10305042_1039239369435692_369798246466905826_n1st Place:  Alexis Lusonne Montgomery, Monk’s Maybe Baby

2nd Place:  Carmen Fox, Divide and Conquer

3rd Place:  Christine Leo, The Sync

Honorable Mention:  Lyn Austin, City of Rocks

Twitter for Authors by Sarah Vance-Tompkins

What Would Jane Austen Tweet?

91mbFlX8nBL._SL1500_It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a romance author in possession of a book or manuscript for sale must be in want of Twitter followers.

But is that all there is to it?

As a social media strategist for several well-known brands, I know only too well social media is integral to the success of any small business marketing plan. Today’s hybrid authors must be social media savvy. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ and Tumblr have all evolved into attracting attention through graphics, pictures and videos, but Twitter is the social media platform where a writer’s voice can and really should shine.

You only get 140 characters on Twitter, so you need to make each Tweet count, but while you’re trying to promote your books, you don’t want to turn your Twitter feed into a virtual dumping ground of marketing tweets. You’ll become as notorious for that kind of behavior as several members of the Bennet family at the Netherfield Ball.

And nobody wants that.

Your Tweets create and shape the personality of you as an author. Just as you have a picture of Jane Austen in your mind’s eye, you can use your Tweets to create a your own lasting public image.

Engagement is key. And I’m not talking about how long Mr. Darcy struggled in vain to keep his feelings to himself. And while he may ardently admire and love Elizabeth, how will you make your followers feel the same way about you?

As a writer, Twitter is your medium. Do you have an active Twitter account? If you’re not using it, why aren’t you? Is there a way you can actually enjoy being social through digital media?

You bet.

During my presentation at the California Dreamin’ Writers Conference in March, I’ll put the focus on how you can use Twitter to enhance your author brand and promote your books. I welcome Twitter users of all levels of experience and expertise.


svancehighres copySarah Vance-Tompkins (@SarahVTompkins) is a debut author. Her recent release from Books To Go Now is Celebrate Me Home, a steamy contemporary Christmas romance. She earned an MFA in Film Production from the University of Southern California and worked in feature film development.

Prior to her attempts at writing fiction, she has been paid to write everything from obituaries to the directions for use on bottles of personal lubricant. She is a member of the Los Angeles Romance Authors and CRW-Online. She welcomes your questions and comments. Sarahevance@gmail.com