Memorable Love Scenes by Tara Lain

Love Scenes in the Trees? Get Ready for Tara and Louisa!

Hi everyone. I’m Tara Lain and I write the Beautiful Boys of Romance. I’m so excited that I’ll be speaking at California Dreamin’ 2015 along with my friend, Louisa Bacio. We’re going to talk to you about writing love scenes that people won’t skip. By definition, if you write romance, you write love scenes. Your characters may just hold devoted hands or have sex on the dining room table. Either way, your readers need to read every word of that scene and feel they’ll miss something important if they skip a comma. That’s what Louisa and I get to explore with you in our talk.

Canning 28-02If you’ve ever seen any of my books, you know that I write MM romance. I read my first MM book by accident, and was captivated by the fluidity, lack of gender roles, conflict of masculine archetypes, and exquisite combination of sexiness and heartfelt emotion that characterized this unique pairing. I was hooked and that was 25 books ago – most of them MM.

But whether you write MF, MM, or MMMFFFF (LOL), love scenes are love scenes. The gender and number of your lovers may impact where and how they come together, but not the basic rules of creating a great love scene (as we’ll discuss further at Cal Dreamin’).

In my books, I try to practice what I preach about creating great love scenes. One of those cardinal rules is to use what you have in your characters and plot to create unique, memorable venues, costuming, and other details that set your love scenes apart from the missionary position in the bedroom standard. (Not in every love scene, of course, just enough to add spice.)

My newest release — Canning the Center on Dec 17th – is a sports romance with a definite twist. It’s about a young NFL football player who hides the fact that he prefers men and then falls in love with a mathematician who moonlights as a drag queen! All through the book, the unique undergarments that drag queens wear add a bit of mystery and spice to my heroes’ love making. But I also introduce a hazing scene in the football locker room in which the rookies are required to wear garter belts under their uniforms for a game. Of course, I couldn’t pass up a love scene in which my 300 pound, 6’7” football center prances into the bedroom wearing his garter belt. My beta readers say it’s memorable!

In March, my next paranormal romance (Winter’s Wolf) comes out. I swear those guys never have a love scene indoors. Paranormal romances are a great excuse to create slightly wild and very attention-getting romance. All that fur! Have you ever written a book about a dancer? If so, I hope you took full advantage of the dancer’s extraordinary flexibility to add some spice. I actually have a paranormal romance in which one hero is a pole dancer (The Pack or the Panther). Consider the possibilities. And I’ve written love scenes in an extraordinary number of car models– including a Tesla Roadster. I think my most unusual love scene took place fully underwater in a book called Beach Balls! You should have seen me holding my breath while sitting at my desk trying to figure out what exactly was possible while scuba diving.

But I don’t want to give too much away! I hope you’ll join Louisa Bacio and me for our California Dreamin’ workshop on writing fabulous and memorable love scenes. Remember, even if your lovers barely touch lips, all these rules will still apply (well, maybe no garter belts!). I’ll see you at the Conference! : )


profilepix2Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT erotic romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 25. Her best-selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, Best Paranormal Romance, and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards. She is a member of RWA PAN and NINC.

In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft. She lives with her soul-mate husband and her soul-mate dog near the California beaches where she sets a lot of her books. Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!

You can find Tara at her website, on her blog, on Goodreads, Twitter, and Facebook. Her books are available at Amazon and other leading retailers.

The Value of Pinterest by Elena Dillon

Why My Pinterest Addiction Is Good for My Writing Career

I have a lot of stuff I should be doing on a daily basis.  I have a writing schedule I need to stick to.  I have a husband, children and a household to run. Everyone says Facebook is a time suck. Not for me. Pinterest is it. The second I get on Pinterest, I am immersed.

I love bright and sparkly. When I get on Pinterest, my brain says “Ohhhhh shiny….” And the next thing I know, two hours have gone by. I love the recipes, funny quotes, clothes, shoes, cars and the stuff that reminds me of my childhood. What is not to love about this site?

I’m an addict. There, I’ve said it. I’m addicted to Pinterest. I really can’t just use it in moderation. It’s an all or nothing proposition for me but as it turns out, it’s a good thing. Mostly.

The nice thing? A lot of this can be productive. I used to think Pinterest was only good for recipes, cute dog pictures and crafts I was never going to do. Don’t get me wrong, that’s one way to use it, but Pinterest shouldn’t be underestimated and here is the reason. Traffic.

23315332Pinterest drives traffic. And well it should because really when you think about it, Pinterest is a search engine. A search engine with lots and lots of people looking for all kinds of stuff.

Also, as a romance author, who is my main demographic? Women. Who are the main users of Pinterest? Women. Pinterest is a search engine being used almost exclusively by the demographic I’m trying to reach. For this reason alone it’s a platform that shouldn’t be ignored.

Now do I focus exclusively on my books when I’m on there? Absolutely not. I have varied interests and they are all on there, but that definitely works to my advantage. On top of that, I don’t have to necessarily interact with anyone. As an introvert at heart, this is a huge plus as far as I’m concerned.

I’m doing the workshop “Pinterest for the Confused and Terrified” for the California Dreamin’ Conference and I would love to share with you all the many ways you can use Pinterest to help promote your brand, your books and attract readers. I have tons of ideas and tips. And I do love to share my addiction with others.


Professional Picture MKElena Dillon writes Young Adult Romantic Suspense. She lives in Southern California with her husband and kids. She spends her days writing and catering to their English bulldog, Brutus.

Connect with her online on Twitter, Facebook or her website. Or…you might find her on Pinterest!

Law Enforcement Workshop Preview by M.A. Taylor

51iYGgtQKdLHello all, my name is Margaret and I write under M.A. Taylor. I write both fiction (Romantic Suspense/ Mysteries) and non-fiction (How to . . . for  Writers). I was beyond fortunate to work for nearly twenty-four years in a field that I absolutely loved – Law Enforcement.

I mean seriously, where else can you get paid to:

1.    Be nosy and ask lots of personal questions,
2.    Drive faster than the posted speed limit,
3.    On rare occasion, get to blow stuff up?

It’s no wonder cops shows saturate television and films. Creating believable characters with realistic mannerisms, speech, not to mention navigating the ever important complex emotional reactions is essential to connecting with readers. That’s where I come in. Having worked in various areas of law enforcement throughout my career, I enjoy sharing the reality of law enforcement life.

I’ve worked patrol, narcotics, asset forfeiture, State, Federal and local Task Forces, Wire Intercepts (Taps), California Tribal and Card Club Gaming, Sex Crimes, and a whole lot more. I share many of my law enforcement experiences as a method to teach the nuances of the cop subculture.

One thing I always tell my students, law enforcement officers (LEO’s) work predominately in the grey area, so with proper motivation, just about any action could be viewed as justified or understandable. The key is to know and define what the ‘box’ is. So . . . when you break the rules, it’s done on purpose for a truly compelling reason. I love working with writers because you all keep me on my toes with great scenarios regarding compelling reason.

At the California Dreaming Conference in March 2015, I will be presenting Crime Scene Investigations and How Cops Cope/Cop GMC.

The Crime Scene Investigation class will be unique because I will be presenting the class with a recreated crime scene that students can walk through. The plan is to make it as hands on as time permits.

unnamedWe’ll be covering:

  • Arrival at the scene and set up.
  • What area(s) make up the Crime Scene?
  • Processing the Crime Scene.
  • Objectives while at the scene of the crime.
  • Who does what and why?
  • Myth Busting CSI

In How Cops Cope/Cop GMC we will delve into the dark psyche of the Law Enforcement Officer (LEO). Work in law enforcement is not only dangerous to the physical body, it’s also quite detrimental to the emotional psyche. Cops learn various coping mechanisms, some appropriate others not so much, on how to survive emotional trauma associated with the job.

Some of the mechanisms I’ll be covering will be:

  • Gallows Humor
  • Debriefings
  • Psychologist
  • Disassociation
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Professionalism
  • Promiscuity
  • Alcohol/Drug usage

I will lay out how most LEO’s Goals and Motivations for being ‘On-the-Job’ start long before they ever consider becoming a police officer. Then I’ll tie most of the conflict in any LEO’s life to their chosen coping mechanism, and how it bleeds over into their personal life.

I look forward to seeing you at the conference.


CHP Academy Grad photo

M.A. Taylor spent more than twenty years in law enforcement. After seven years with the California Highway Patrol (CHP), she became a Special Agent for the California Department of Justice (DOJ), spending over a decade in Narcotics…including assignment to a Federal DEA-HIDTA Task Force. Margaret’s areas of expertise range from surveillance to wiretaps to tribal gaming, sexual predators, investigations and more.

You can join M.A. Taylor on Facebook or Twitter.

What is Conflict? by Susan Meier

81e9Z0mCUoL._SL1500_Just a taste…

At the conference in March, I’ll be talking about using conflict to drive your story. But do you really know what conflict is?

A while back, I went to a workshop wherein the speaker described conflict as two dogs fighting over one bone.

I walked out scratching my head. If the dogs were a male and a female, and they were INCREDIBLY sexually attracted, why not mate and share the bone?

No pun intended in that example by the way. :P

The problem with that speaker’s theory was that her characters had a clear external conflict…they wanted the same bone…but she never mentioned internal conflict (which is the reason they wouldn’t just mate and share the bone).

EXTERNAL CONFLICT might be about dogs fighting over a bone, but the reason our two dogs wouldn’t mate and share the bone is the reason they wouldn’t commit permanently to each other (or maybe anyone), which is the INTERNAL CONFLICT – the SUPREME ELEMENT of a romance novel.

If I’m calling internal conflict the SUPREME ELEMENT of a romance novel, that makes it pretty ding-dang important. And knowing that internal conflict is probably the most important element of your book — that success or failure of your story depends on that internal conflict — you’re probably now terrified to try to come up with one.

Well, rest easy. There are lots of ways to come up with a great internal conflict for your book. And not just a conflict that makes sense, but a conflict that is so important to your story that it seems to drive your book.

And that’s the basis of my workshop on letting conflict tell your story for you. Looking at conflict not just as something to drive a wedge between your characters, but as something to drive your story!

So join me in California in March! There’s nothing I like better than talking conflict!


893004_579623678723819_1205346237_oOne of eleven children, Susan Meier was raised on a small farm in western Pennsylvania and attributes her love of stories and writing to lying in grassy fields staring at the clouds daydreaming!

Susan has written 54 books and always delivers a heartwarming story, reminding readers that family and love go hand in hand. Sexy or sweet, funny or sad, her characters make some serious lemonade out of their lemons.

Susan is an avid but terrible golfer, and a woman who desperately wants to learn to cook without having to involve the fire department. She still lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, three children, and two very personable cats.

Susan loves hearing from fans and can be found on her website and Goodreads. You can also like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter!

California Dreamin’ Workshop Preview by Judy Duarte

SoldierOur guest blogger for this week is Judy Duarte, here to share a sneak peek at our upcoming conference’s workshop sessions. Judy’s latest book, The Soldier’s Holiday Homecoming, will be available November 1st!

The 2015 California Dreamin’ Conference Committee is determined to provide workshops that will appeal to a diverse group of attendees—from the beginning writer to the experienced. And since most authors are interested in a variety of publishing formats, we’ll have that information as well.

So far, we have scheduled 60 different workshops and panels for you to choose from. And that’s not counting the pitch practice session or the chats.

We’ll kick off the conference with the popular Book Camp that begins at noon on Friday, which you can attend even if you don’t register for the conference. This time we’ll be offering April Kihlstrom’s Book in a Week! So be sure to check it out on the website.

The conference will actually begin on Friday evening at 6 pm. If you’d like a sneak peek at what we’ll be offering, here are the tracks and just a sampling of our many workshops and panels:

CRAFT

BUSINESS / INDUSTRY

SPECIAL INTEREST

  • Cop GMC – M.A. Taylor
  • SEAL Team: The Real Deal – Anne Elizabeth & Carl Swepston, Navy SEAL (Ret.)
  • Women’s Role Through the Ages – Terry Irene Blain
  • Writing Romance Novel Tie-ins to TV Series – Nancy Holder

THE WRITER’S LIFE

And we’ll be offering a new track this year:

 SELF-PUBLISHING

If you haven’t registered for the conference yet, don’t wait too long. We expect to sell out again this year!


JDphotos_004An avid reader who enjoys a happy ending, Judy Duarte couldn’t shake the dream of creating a book of her own. That dream became a reality in 2002, when Harlequin released her first Special Edition. Since then, more than forty of her books have hit the shelves, including two novellas and an online read.  A USA Today bestselling author and a two-time Rita® finalist, Judy has won two Maggies and a National Reader’s Choice Award for her heartwarming stories.

Why Attend a Writer’s Conference?! by Cami Brite

You might wonder why people make such a big deal about writer’s conferences. Why should you attend one if you already know enough about writing to get words on a page? Writers spend a lot of solitary time at the keyboard. Sometimes we need to get out of our heads, and a conference is the perfect place to do that.

IMG_4251This year, I went to the Romance Writers of America national conference in San Antonio. With about 2,000 attendees, it’s a big deal with three full days of about 100 workshops on a variety subjects, three keynote speakers, spotlight sessions on various publishers, pitch appointments with editors and agents, book signings by published authors, the annual RITA & Golden Heart awards ceremony, and other things I can’t recall at the moment. Many chapters and publishers also host parties and events, so there’s always something to do.

I attended more workshops than my mind could take in and had a great time getting to know people from my local chapter as well as many others.

I had my very first pitch with an editor, which was inspiring. It was wonderful to sit down with a knowledgeable industry insider, to tell her a bit about my characters and their story, and to get some objective feedback. We talked until the very last moment, and I left with a smile on my face and her card tucked safely inside my conference badge holder.

I returned home both exhausted and energized. Despite being incredibly tired and having a huge assortment of laundry ahead of me, I felt buoyed up with a sense of empowerment. Before the conference, I had been dragging my feet when it came to my daily writing commitment. Now, I’m eager to put words to the page.

Here are four great reasons to attend a conference:

  • Education: Workshops on a variety of topics offer something new to learn (or something vital to relearn). My favorite workshop at the RWA conference was Sarah Maclean’s presentation on Mastering the Art of Great Conflict. I didn’t learn anything new, but she summed up all the important points we need to remember when plotting out a story. (And she did it with panache. The whole room was buzzing.)
  • Networking: Conferences provide rare and relatively painless exposure to editors, agents, and other writers in both formal and casual settings. The contacts made at a conference might be the most important in a writer’s career.
  • Pitching: The opportunity to pitch your work to editors and agents is rare in a normal writer’s life. Sure, you can tell your story to friends and family…but why not tell someone who can help get your book finished and published?
  • Motivation: Call it conference afterglow. Following a conference, it’s possible you’ll find yourself writing better and faster than you have in years.

Next March, I’ll be at the California Dreamin’ conference, ready to fuel up with a new dose of empowerment. Will I see you there?


camib-1Cami Brite belongs to Los Angeles Romance Authors (LARA). When not busy with her day job and web duties for LARA and the California Dreamin’ Writers Conference, she is busily working on her very first contemporary romance novel, currently entitled Hotel California.

You can find Cami at her website and on twitter.

Pitch Appointments and Critique Sessions? Sign Me Up!

pitchingOne of the most important elements of any writers’ conference is the opportunity to meet and pitch to editors and agents. We are very excited about the incredible editors and agents who will be at the conference in March. You can find out more about them here.

A pitch appointment is included in the conference price for those attendees with a finished manuscript who request an appointment. If you’re new to pitching and need some incentive, check out some of the success stories in this blog like this recent story from Diane Benefiel.

For an additional $25 fee, attendees of the conference will also have the opportunity to participate in one small group critique session with an attending editor or agent. Each critique group will be made up of five writers and the editor/agent. Participants will submit the first ten pages of their manuscripts ahead of time for the agent/editor, and the pages will be provided to the other writers in the critique group for discussion and feedback.

Pitch appointments and critique session signups will be available on the website beginning August 15, 2014. Until then, you can find out more details here.

 

Pitching the Right Publisher by Diane Benefiel

DianeBenefielI attended my very first romance writers’ conference, the California Dreamin’ conference, in March 2013 with great anticipation. All of the sessions and extras looked like so much fun.

There was a bit of anxiety, however, about pitching my just-completed novel. I’d never pitched before but knew if I wanted to publish I had to do it.

I attended the evening session where I could practice my pitch on an experienced author and this helped a lot. The next morning I was there, bright and early, ready to meet the agent and two editors I was scheduled for. Each was a different experience, but all asked to see at least a partial.

I sent thirty pages to the editor, who sent back a very positive rejection letter. I say positive because while she didn’t want to represent me she was very encouraging and had some good suggestions.

Next, I sent my manuscript to the editor who had requested the whole thing, didn’t hear a peep for two months, sent a follow up email, waited, sent another and still nothing, a-need-to-protect-highres-nologonot even an acknowledgment of having received my submission.

I informed that editor I was going to submit elsewhere and then sent it to the second editor who represented Decadent Publishing. Within a day, I had received confirmation they had received my submission. Within a month, they asked to see the whole thing.

By October, I had gotten that wonderful email saying they loved A Need to Protect, my romantic suspense, and would like to offer me a contract. Throughout the entire process, the Decadent staff has been amazing. They respond promptly (even on weekends!), are full of helpful suggestions, and have been amazingly friendly.

A Need to Protect was released on March 14, 2014, just one short year after the conference. I can’t wait to see what the 2015 conference will bring!

Diane Benefiel

 

Publishing Success by Alanna Lucas

AlannaLucasauthor-picOnce-Upon-a-Montana-Christmas-cover-213x300Our registrations are rolling in and if you haven’t reserved your spot for March just yet, we’re here to tempt you with another success story from Alanna Lucas!

It was at the California Dreamin’ Conference that I learned about the ‘What’s in a Name’ contest being hosted by Boroughs Publishing Group.

After meeting Michelle Klayman, CEO of Boroughs Publishing Group, at the conference, I was inspired to enter–even though I did not have a completed (or started) novella.

Not only did I manage to finish the manuscript, I won the contest! 

And by the end of 2013… Here it is!

Boroughs Publishing Group will be with us again in 2015. Watch our blog for future posts about what the editors will be looking for in March…and don’t forget to register soon!