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:




  • 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


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


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!