My Report: RWA 2017



Romance Writers of America Annual Conference 2017


I attended the Romance Writers of America national conference two weeks ago in Orlando, Florida. It was great. Here is a list of the wonderful workshops I attended:


“Savvy Marketing for the Experienced Author” presented by public relations guru and author Mark Dawson. His ideas are everything they say—practical, functional, and results driven. I will have to look at my life and schedule in more marketing time to use his game plan to the best advantage.


“Writing Emotion: Opening a Vein” presented by author Virginia Kantra. This was very helpful about writing from deep point of view to increase the emotion in our stories. The best piece of advice was that all character motivation boils down a.) saving yourself or b.) saving another.


“Seducing Your Readers in Chapter 1” presented by the one and only Michael Hauge. Instead of grabbing/hooking readers, Hauge made a great case for seducing readers in the first chapter with hints of what is to come.


“How a Lady Does It: Sex in Historical Romance” was a panel discussion with helpful research information led by authors Valerie Bowman, Julie Johnstone, Madeline Martin, and Joanna Shupe. A good piece of advice here was to remember your characters’ backgrounds when writing their responses to anything.


“How to Gut Your Readers and Make Them Love It” presented by speakers Sonali Dev and Kristan Higgins handed out this valuable piece of advice: People may not remember what you said, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel. Make the reader feel along with the character on every page.


“The Golden Heart Awards Luncheon with Emcee Sherrilyn Kenyon.” This was the first year to hold the Golden Hearts as a separate event with a meal. I loved it this way. Focusing on the nominees and winners was great.


“Self-Promotion on Steroids” presented by veteran authors Winnie Griggs, Catherine Mann, and Joanne Rock was a great workshop. The authors offered practical tips on self-promo that they have used successfully. They inspired me to revive my blogs and start a newsletter (finally.)


On Friday morning, I pitched my work-in-progress to two editors. More on that in a future post.


“The Historical Kitchen” presented by Sara Dahmen was fabulous. She is a walking encyclopedia of early American pots and pans!


“History Undressed” presented by Victoria Vane was fun and informative. She dressed up in a Regency gown and showed us several versions of corsets.


“Writing Inclusive Historicals” presented by Alyssa Cole offered great information about language and word choice. Being inclusive means being respectful.


“Writing the Sweet Romance” presented by Susan Meier was jam packed with good information, and I won a free novel of hers! The handout she provided “13 Questions to the Selling Synopsis” is an absolute gold nugget.


“Focusing the Lens Through POV” presented by Winnie Griggs and Liz Talley provided a very helpful look at how to choose point of view and why.


After three and a half days of splendid workshops, I attended the “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing extravaganza. I’ve never seen so many romance authors and readers in one giant room. It was exhilarating. I bought books from historical author Tessa Dare, contemporary author Lee Tobin McClain, and the amazing author Brenda Jackson. Jackson told me that her Granger brothers series has been made into made into a series of movies on Passionflix and will start airing April 2018. Can’t wait!


Did you attend the conference? Tell us😊


See you next summer in Denver? It is worth it.





Your First Chance To Win

OK. I’m here. Travel exhausts me but it’s exhilarating to be among others who love romantic fiction. There is a tad over 400 in attendance. Food is good and folks are friendly. Attended some nice sessions with editors this morning and will be setting up for the book sale and signing in a little bit.

I’ve collected a bunch of great goodies for you if you win the drawing when I get home. Just leave a comment and your entered. I will post the winner on Monday.


Published in: on June 4, 2011 at 1:05 pm  Comments (3)  
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Lori Foster’s Reader & Author Get Together

In just a few days I’ll be in Cincinnati at Lori Foster’s Reader & Author Get Together.

Will I see you there? If not, never fear, I’ll be posting updates here as the weekend progresses. If you leave a comment at least once over the weekend, you’ll be entered into a prize drawing after I return. Can’t wait to hear from you!



Published in: on June 1, 2011 at 9:57 am  Leave a Comment  
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Lori Foster’s Reader & Author Get Together June 3-5

Will I see you at the fourth annual Lori Foster’s Reader & Author Get Together next month? Hope so. Please look for me at the Barnes & Noble book signing Saturday afternoon.


Published in: on May 25, 2011 at 12:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Please visit me today at Kelly Moran’s!

Giving away a free ebook at Kelly Moran’s today through Saturday. Comment to be entered to win! Remember to leave your email in the comment to be contacted if you win! Thanks~

Thanks to Kelly for hosting me on her site.



Published in: on April 28, 2011 at 12:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Wild Rose Press Celebrates 5 Years!

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE WILD ROSE PRESS on five years of romance. I’m proud to be a TWRP author. The staff and owners (Rhonda Penders and RJ Morris) run a great company.

My novel MESSAGE TO LOVE (June 2010) was edited by the wonderful Amanda Barnett who stuck it out with me through thick and thin.





Audra Wakely’s father has been seized by Spanish authorities and imprisoned for sympathizing with Cuban rebels. Raising the money to bribe officials if necessary, she sets off for Cuba to rescue her father. She doesn’t bargain on the interference of any U.S. officials—that is until she meets Rollins McBride.

Lt. Rollins McBride of the newly designated U.S. Naval Intelligence service is assigned to track Audra on her journey. He’s to arrest Greg Wakely, a U.S. citizen, for treason and gun smuggling. His mission and his heart are taken by surprise by the feisty beauty who sets a stubborn path toward finding her father and proving he isn’t a traitor—no matter what or who gets in her way.

Sizzle, spice, and intrigue heats up the Spanish American War in MESSAGE TO LOVE.


“It was a dream, just a very bad dream.”

She stepped back out of his hold. Clammy spots of moist heat lingered on her arms where his hands had been.

“I’m all right now.” Audra reached for the door and noticed the sickly sweet odor of liquor on his breath. “You can leave now. I want to go back to bed.” She pulled open the door and gestured into the hall.

“Sorry, but this time you’re going, too.” Rollins strode over to the dresser and pulled out a drawer. “Better pack. We have just under two hours.”

“I’m not in the mood for comedy, Rollins,” she sighed. “I’m really very, very tired. I’ve got to get some rest. Now—”

“Let me make myself clear.” He sounded gruff. “I said we’re leaving, and unless you want to get on a ship bound for Santiago with your shirttails hanging out, better change and get ready.” He made to leave the room. “I hope you have a shawl or something. It’s gotten cooler out, and we have half an hour in a wagon to get to port.” Then he vanished into his own room next door, leaving Audra gape-mouthed in the hallway.

“Who does he think he is?” She growled as she stamped her foot against the cold hard floor. “Infuriating! He is absolutely infuriating!” Audra heaved the door shut with gusto. “These are not my shirttails, either!”

Amazon buy link (print and digital)

The Wild Rose Press buy link (print and digital)

Visti The Wild Rose Press April 27 – May 1 for a celebration full of surprises!

Published in: on April 25, 2011 at 1:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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BridledHeart_w4783_680.jpgI’m happy to share fellow The Wild Rose Press author Paty Jager’s new book Bridled Heart with you today. It’s a wonderful story of love, forgiveness and understanding.

From the cover:

A specialized placement schedule and self-imposed vow of celibacy keeps ER nurse, Gina Montgomery, from getting too close to anyone. Music is her only solace and release from a past laced with abuse. But when that music draws the attention of a handsome rodeo bareback rider, her chosen solitary life–not to mention her vow–gets tested to the limits.

Holt Reynolds let his younger sister down when she needed him most. With the similarities to his sister far too evident in Gina, he can’t get the woman out of his head, or her poignant music out of his heart. But how can he find a way to free her bridled heart before the past resurfaces to destroy their one chance at happiness?

Paty Jager writes with a comfortable style and eases into this story beautifully with music and art. Those two creative outlets helps Gina and Holt deal with their personal demons. When Gina’s music and Holt’s art meet coincidentally at a fund raising event, the two people are drawn to each other as well. Gina’s history is unpleasant and she’s chosen to deal it with by shutting down her heart. It’s the only way she knows to help her cope until Holt enters. He is all cowboy but with the biggest heart I’ve ever met. He’s patient too, and that patience wins Gina over to give love a try. This time it’s within the loving arm’s of an understanding, and very sexy, bronco rider who will get inside your heart before you know it. Holt is also trying to cope with a mistake he thinks he made in the past with his younger sister. He didn’t listen. This time Holt hears everything Gina has to say and gives her the chance at love she deserves.

BRIDLED HEART is a winner!

A note from Paty: Thanks! I’m glad you liked the book. 
My website:
Wild Rose Press buy link:

It can also be purchased at Amazon and B& N.

Published in: on April 20, 2011 at 1:00 am  Comments (1)  
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Guest LAURA BROWNING’S Thoughts On The Digital Reader Revolution

Greetings, Laura. Thanks so much for being my guest today. I just have one question for you: What is your opinion on the electronic book and ereader revolution?

My idea of a wonderful evening used to be curling up on the couch to begin a new book. Reading at my own speed, I would slide my fingers along the edge of the page and slowly turn it, feeling the graininess of the paper beneath my fingertips.  In addition to the textures of different papers – the glossies of magazines, the slick pages of a textbook, or the rich, thickness of a novel’s pages – there were the smells. Newspapers and paperbacks reminded me of ink, library books came with the mellowness of age, and women’s magazines with the gradually fading aroma of the newest perfumes. I will always remember and treasure those sensations. At some level, I believe most of those will live on, but having said that I must add, I live in a family and with a husband who embrace technology.

I had a laser printer when many people were still using dot matrix. Somewhere floating around my house is one of the dinosaurs of digital photography that actually used a floppy disk. Even my first “computer” wasn’t much more than a glorified typewriter. But when it came to ereaders, I hesitated. I saw too many incompatible formats, similar to when VCRs first came on the market, and ultimately I just didn’t want to sacrifice the sensuous experience of turning those pages.

Two things made me take another look at ereaders and ebooks. First, I am a voracious reader. I can finish a short novel in hours. Reading at that rate can drown you in paperbacks pretty quickly. It’s also monumentally inconvenient when you go on vacation. Less avid readers simply don’t understand the need for a crate of books in the luggage. The second thing that made me rethink the move to electronic reading is my son. He struggles to read. There is a vast difference between what he would like to read and what he can read. I work with students who are the same way. An ereader gives them the ability to read what they are capable of reading, and I hope to improve their skills, without being the brunt of their classmates’ teasing.  There’s no childish cover to give them away.

Still not completely convinced because I’ve become much more cautious about spending big bucks on new technology, I eased into electronic books. Most of my early purchases are pdf files I have stashed on a flash drive. Then I discovered Nook and Kindle both had PC applications. Yes! Instant gratification was now mine. I could read right on my computer.  Finally giving in to the inevitable, I ended up with a Nook.

In the midst of all this electronic publishing upheaval, I finally took the step to becoming a published author. I searched out companies that dealt in ebooks with the option of print on demand because I now believe that is where the industry is headed. Electronic books will become the norm, and printed books will be a collector’s item.

Do I like that? There is a part of me that will always want to lift a book to my nose and inhale its unique fragrance. My Nook just smells like plastic.

Laura has a new release out this month!

The Silkie’s Salvation is set to release April 15, 2011 from The Wild Rose Press. Buy link right now is: 
Readers can find me on Facebook and also check out my website at:
 Laura Browning
The Silkie’s Call –  available now from The Wild Rose Press
The Silkie’s Salvation – coming April 2011 from The Wild Rose Press

Winning Heart– coming July 2011 from Lyrical Press

Thanks, Laura!

Published in: on April 18, 2011 at 1:00 am  Leave a Comment  


Hi, SANDRA!Sweethearts5c.jpg

Welcome and tell us a little about yourself. Thank you for inviting me, Liz. I’m happy to meet your readers. I bet we’ve enjoyed some of the same books. I’ve read my whole life; I can’t imagine a day without a novel of some sort in my hands. Movies are one of my passions, too, along with fast cars. We have a Corvette convertible–I love the wind in my hair–although a helmet when racing is smarter. While you read through this interview, you’ll probably notice the out of doors keeps me sane.

What are three things you cannot do without? My family. Mountains. Animals. I even like pigs, but not rats.

What is your opinion on the electronic book and ereader revolution? It’s the best thing that’s happened to publishing since papyrus and ink. IMHO, writers will eventually work on a level playing field. The stigma of self-publication will diminish and disappear. If a story is well written, it’ll sell. If it isn’t, it won’t. This won’t happen overnight. Like all major changes, it’ll take time and upheaval as opportunities open, shift and settle.

Personally, I like e-books and e-readers for the ease and economy of exploring outside my usual reading material. Those I love, I buy in traditional book form for my keeper shelf. I suspect this will eventually stop. I hate dusting. I have a small house. I move frequently and packing is a pain.

Address the ins and outs of an aspiring author seeking publication. It’s as hard as it is easy–keep writing, keep learning, keep submitting, keep faithful to your gut.

Talk about your publishing journey. My first contest experience was in the late 90’s. A fluke of circumstances, there were only four entries in my category, earned me Honorable Mention and infected me with the wanna-be-published bug. I completed four manuscripts in the next thirteen years between five moves; the deaths of my father and father-in-law three weeks apart; my husband’s back surgery and long recovery; marriages of both our kids; the births of grandchildren; and countless other distractions. I submitted three of those manuscripts to traditional publishers and allowed rejections to steal my steam. Like my humor, which is a half a bubble off plumb, my writing doesn’t fit the traditional mold. E-publishers accept the offbeat as long as it’s well written. Three 4 Star/Heart reviews from Sizzling Hot Book Reviews, The Romance Reviews, and The Romance Studio confirm what my editor and publisher saw in my writing. I’m blessed that some of my readers have been kind enough to tell me: “I couldn’t put it down.”

I’m gratified I persevered, mainly due to my critique partner’s pushing, prodding, encouraging. Caroline Clemmons rocks! Thank you, kind and wise lady. I’m forever in your debt.       

Talk about online book promotions. What has worked for you? I should skip this question because I’m such a newbie at it–I’m trying everything. But, I do have a couple points I believe are important. Marketing is a long term effort. “Caught by a Clown” was released January 21st, so I don’t have sales feedback yet to measure against my fledgling attempts. However, a blend of social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), radio interviews, and sites such as Goodreads that reach readers outside our writing circles promotes name recognition which, I hope, will eventually equate to book sales. The most important aspects of all of that are courtesy and respect, the cornerstones of The Golden Rule. Be sure your frantic schedule of writing, marketing, and living don’t overshadow the fair treatment of others.

Writing tips: Utilize senses twice as often as you think you should and you’ll come closer to grounding your reader in the scene and helping them care about your character. Explore outside the usual, “popular” senses of sight and sound, which should be individualized whenever possible to reveal character. For example: An older sister might groan at her younger sister’s prize rose garden and shred a blossom because their mother ignored them as kids in favor of tending the precious flowers. The younger woman might breathe deeply of their rich aroma, her mother’s scent, and relish their petals, soft and smooth like her mother’s cheek.

Touch seems to be the forgotten sense. Its intimate connection to the point of view character gives it greater strength in capturing the reader.

Taste is more challenging to incorporate outside of meals or snacks, but its unique application can be powerful and worth the effort, unless it’s so unique it jars the reader out of the story. lol

How do you balance life and work? Not well. I prefer writing, even marketing to housecleaning, laundry, cooking (yuck) or errands. I usually end up squeezing in things I should have been doing when my writing hits a snag. Most of the time, those problems crop up due to brain drain or I’m too close to the scene. If I’m tired, I choose something outside to rejuvenate me.  When I’m too close to the scene, I bustle about my chores until a fresh perspective frees the snag.

CaughtByAClown_w5118_120.jpgTalk about a specific book of yours. That would be “Caught by a Clown,” my first published novel. Available through The Wild Rose Press, , the spicy romantic suspense involves a spontaneous freelance journalist on a mission of mercy who finds herself entangled with a methodical undercover FBI agent out to settle a score. As you might guess, these opposing personalities strike sparks from the moment they meet.

Here’s the blurb:  Stacie Monroe’s spontaneity lands her in hot water again when her best friend’s little brother disappears and Stacie trails him to a nudist resort. To get inside the exclusive oasis and convince him to return home, she must blend in, a move tailor made to shock her oh-so-proper family and renew efforts to bring her in line.

That’s exactly what Special Agent David Graham intends to do when she interferes in his case. Yet, the soft-hearted temptress challenges his resolve, revealing the path to a love he thought impossible. Will that love survive when he betrays her in order to unravel the final twist in his case and convict a vicious killer?

Excerpt: Stacie tapped one sandal-clad foot on the floor while Agent I’d-Rather-Scare-You-Than-Confide-In-You ignored her. She glanced toward the bathroom, crossed her legs, and wished she hadn’t finished that last glass of wine.

     “Aren’t you going to search that closet or open those two bottom drawers in the dresser?” she asked when he tucked his camera inside his pack.


     A nasty suspicion raised its head. “Why not?”

     “Don’t have a search warrant. That limits me to a visual inspection of what’s in plain sight.”

     “I won’t tell,” she pushed, despite being certain of his response.

     “There are laws.”

     She groaned over the close match to a pronouncement she’d heard her whole life. There are rules.

     Boring. Snoring. Gone. Think of something else.

     Like how Agent By-The-Book caused this mess. If he’d mentioned being from the FBI when they met in the office none of this would have happened. He ignored her interest in Alan Walsh and her intelligence in favor of treating her as if she were a child in need of a lesson.

     Nature threatened to float her teeth, but Stacie refused to ask for relief. She fidgeted on the hard chair and crossed her legs the other way. The backs of her thighs pulled where her skin had stuck to the wooden seat. That twinge of pain reminded her she ought to be thrilled Graham claimed a badge and not a rap sheet. Instead, she rattled the handcuffs that shackled her to the chair and worried how far he meant to carry her arrest.

BUY the paperback at TWRP  or Amazon 

BUY the Ebook at TWRP or Amazon Kindle or DigiBooks Café

Find out how far David carries Stacie’s arrest and learn who’s “CAUGHT BY A CLOWN.”

You can also hook up with “Caught by a Clown” at my website , or my blog

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? Absolutely. I hope my readers will hold their breath, laugh out loud, even sigh and maybe, by the end of the story, believe they, too, have the strength it takes to meet their challenges. If so, I’ve added a bit of value to the world, and that’s a good thing.


What writing books do you recommend and why? The first that springs to mind is Dwight V Swain’s “Techniques of a Selling Author.” Its broad coverage and excellent pointers serve as a thorough guide for new writers and a great review for established writers or ones wanting to address a particular problem.

Alicia Rasley’s book “The Power of Point of View” illustrates how to immerse a reader in the viewpoint of the character with the most at stake in a scene. “The Power of Point of View” is available through her website at . She also offers a wealth of articles for every level of writer.

If you have trouble with telling rather than showing, check out William Noble’s book, “Show, Don’t Tell.” He addresses openings, backstory, action, pacing and senses among other aspects. Every writer struggles with one or more of those at some point.

Donald Maass’ “The Fire in Fiction” uses excerpts from published works to illustrate his points on how to ratchet up the quality of a writer’s pages. He also offers exercises at the end of each chapter to strengthen and encourage all who seek to improve their writing.

A particular favorite of mine is Rebecca McClanahan’s “Word Painting: A Guide to Writing More Descriptively.” She delves into point of view, characters, and settings through our senses, which are often missing or shortchanged in stories I read.

Liz, thank you so much for letting me chat with your readers. I hope they enjoyed it as much as I have. Please stop by my website or my blog anytime. I can also be contacted at  I wish all of you the very best in your endeavors.

Published in: on April 11, 2011 at 1:00 am  Comments (17)  

Seven Hearts for MESSAGE TO LOVE!

MESSAGE TO LOVE received seven hearts from The Stephanie Loves review site. Check it out!


What Stephanie Thought: I was really impressed by this book’s complex plot. Brimming with accurate details from the late 19th century era, it was a romance that was full of both suspense and danger.

Audra’s journey begins in her comfortable and rather privileged home in the States. Fresh out of her preparatory school and innocent as can be, she meets Rollins, a dashing but overly confident lieutenant who claims to be on a “mission” to watch over her in her father’s absence. 

Self-sufficient and inexorable, Audra doesn’t want his assistance. But Rollins still insists, and before he or she knows it, they fall in love. There are several extremely passionate scenes in Message to Love — Audra and Rollins’s love is certainly intense, and certainly real.

Trouble brews when sleazy Jasen Angler (long-time property rival who’s recently bought almost everything Audra has left to her name) follows her to her trip to Cuba. She’s in search of her father, and she doesn’t need him. Or Rollins for that matter. But they both come anyway. Turns out, Jasen and some other corrupt officers have been planning to take advantage of Audra — and her fortune.

Then she discovers that her life — her life as she knew it — is not what she thought it was. And that Rollins, the good guy, the lover, isn’t who he says he is.

The ultimatum offered to Audra is that she is to choose either her father’s life or her first love’s — the type of decision neither you nor I would even consider to make. As a happily-ever-after romance, all ends well. The bad guys perish and the good guys (Greg and Rollins) survive. I thought it ended rather abruptly, but other than that, Message to Love was a  sweet, adventurous read. It was slightly slow-moving, but that’s because of the exquisite detail Arnold offered. I definitely recommend it to all historical romance lovers — especially those who appreciate a little love-making 🙂

Stephanie Loves: ‘Death is no place to linger, my friends,’ he offered. ‘The fortunes of many men are lost in the wind because they live in the vicious grip of death’s power. Exile, self-recrimination, revenge. It causes it all. It is a tragic fame to live in death.’ He downed the last of his liquor. ‘This, a soldier knows the best. Death is no place to stay.‘”

Radical Rating: 
7 hearts- A few flaws here and there, but wouldn’t mind rereading. ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Thanks, Stephanie!

Published in: on April 9, 2011 at 9:02 pm  Comments (2)