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.





The Pitty-pat of an Author’s Heart

The tiniest of things can make an author’s heart go pitty-pat with excitement. I write historical romance, which requires a great deal of research. I’m good with that. I love digging around in libraries, visiting museums, and imagining what it might have been like to fall in love in another time period in history. And reading. I love reading almost as much as the writing.


As for my characters, I adore the challenge of bringing together two people during a particular historical era and showing how the events impacted their relationship. Every time period has its obstacles, and I’m especially curious about how people faced the challenges of their times while falling in love. So, I spend appreciable hours in libraries where my heart often feels giddy when I find something delicious to include in a book. Just such an episode happened this week.


My current work-in-process is set in 1796 America. The American Revolution has settled down, and the country is facing difficulties on every level. The Northwest Territory is the new frontier as people desiring more freedoms and less crowding travel westward to the Ohio country beyond the Allegheny Mountains. Part of what gets my story moving is the Treaty of Greeneville between the United States government and the Indians of the Iroquois nation. This agreement was signed on August 3, 1795 in Greeneville, Ohio following General Anthony Wayne’s once-and-for-all quelling of Indian hostilities against settlers.


What happened in the Special Collections of the library yesterday brought a thrill to my heart. While I have seen the wording of the Treaty online, I had yet to see an actual and official copy of the Treaty until yesterday.  The Treaty is the motivation that sets my hero, Romney Applewood, on his journey, and it just feels luscious having seen a primary resource confirming the contents. Sometimes a writer has to travel for miles to see authentic documents, but I am grateful to have this wonderful collection literally twenty-five minutes from my house.


Besides giving me a thrill to see, hold, and read a primary (original) resource, I have confirmation for those questioning my spelling of Greeneville in the manuscript. The current town, still located in western Ohio, has dropped an ‘e’ from the spelling of its name. It is now Greenville, Ohio, and some past readers of the WIP have commented that I’m spelling it incorrectly. The document I viewed this week in the library proved my spelling to be correct.


I am trying to find time in my schedule the next two months to visit GreenEville, OH.




Published in: on February 22, 2017 at 4:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Good Girl” AJ NUEST Breaks The Rules!


On the whole, I would describe myself as a rule abider. I don’t function well living on the edge. In fact, going anywhere near the edge sorta makes me ill. I like everything organized and neatly placed where it belongs (explains my obsession with nesting bowls). I thrive inside a schedule, happily checking things off the list as I go about my day (clarifies my fascination with pretty much any office supply store).

However, I recently discovered an area where I LIVE to break the rules. Not consistently, and usually not without reason, but when I write I sometimes purposely break those rules our editors always tell us to avoid. Shhh… It’s naughty, I know. I can’t help myself. I sneak in a passive sentence here, or maybe use too many adverbs there, fully aware the sentence structure is technically wrong. But I like it that way. And sometimes a passive sentence conveys a story element an active sentence never could. And sometimes, I do it to just push the envelope – to see how much I can get away with before I’m busted. Shhh… don’t tell…

Here’s the thing. Of the last two novels I read, both of them brilliant, and both of them fantasy, the authors balled up the rules and tossed them out the window. One author switched perspectives mid-paragraph, sometimes even mid-sentence, and I could’ve cared less. (Here’s where my CPs are propping their hands on their hips and screaming, “WHAT!?”). But I got so involved in the story, the transitions became seamless. If I wasn’t a writer, I never would have noticed his technique. The second author jumped back and forth in and out of hindsight language. Evidently it’s a big no-no for your main character to “tell” the story, because this takes the reader in and out of the action. This author had his hero detailing the story of his youth to a Chronicler, and I LOVED the way the story unfolded. Even when the action screeched to a halt and I was jolted back to the present. All this did was make me turn the pages faster!

I’m wondering if the fantasy genre is more lenient with rule-breakers. Maybe the very nature of a “fantasy” implies writing styles outside the norm. Either way, I learned a lot from these authors. Most importantly, I wanna be one. How awesome would it be if my writing was so unique, my story so powerful, I could break the rules and get away with it. How totally fantastic if my characterizations and plot line were so stellar, I could disregard a major writing directive and then get handed an award (yes, one of the authors mentioned above won the 2007 Quill Award). Hmmm…I know I’ve got a fantasy in here somewhere. Oh, yep, there it is…

So tell me, what writing rules do you live to break?     


Jezebel’s Wish Blurb:

Haunted by nightmares, tormented by guilt, Jezebel came to Redemption Ranch to escape the past—except now she’s stuck in the middle of nowhere with no redemption in sight. When her mother pushes her into riding lessons with local veterinarian Matthias Saunders, Jezebel balks. Sure, the doctor is gorgeous, but he’s completely obnoxious and knows how to push every one of her buttons.

Only her deep connection with The Reverend, a gentle stallion who guards her darkest secrets, has her agreeing to spend any more time with Dr. Saunders. Caring for the stallion is the first bright spot in her life in months, and if being around the horse means she has to deal with Matthias Saunders, then so be it. Surely a city girl like her can handle one country vet—even one with disturbing blue eyes. Can’t she?

Jezebel’s Wish Excerpt:

Jezzy stopped. “I thought I was having a riding lesson.”

“You are.” He nodded toward the empty paddock. “Go in.”

“Go in?” Jezzy propped a hand on her hip. “You sure you know what you’re doing? Because it was my understanding that an actual horse is needed for a riding lesson.”

“Don’t you think it would be wise at this juncture to leave the understanding up to the professionals?”

Jezzy rolled her eyes. “You’re making this way too easy. Professionals? Please. Don’t get me started.”

“Why not? Getting you started is exactly what I’m here for.”

Jezzy’s jaw dropped. She didn’t quite know how to interpret that remark.

He held out the rope. “Now go in. And take this lead line with you.” Steely blue determination glinted in his eyes. There was no way he was going to give in.

Jezzy snatched the lead line from his hand and stormed through the gate, then turned when he closed it behind her.

He put a foot on the bottom railing and rested against the gate, facing the horizon. “Take the chair to the center of the paddock and sit down.”

“And just exactly how is that supposed to teach me to ride?”

He cocked an eyebrow. “You want out of the deal?”

Jezzy’s fist clenched tight around the lead line. What she wanted was to march back to the fence and smack his face.

Jezebel’s Wish Buy Link:


The Wild Rose Press

Book_Photo2008_web.jpgAJ Nuest lives in northwest Indiana with her loving husband and two beautiful children. She is the author of two contemporary romance novels.

Visit her on the web at:


Facebook: Tattered Pages

Published in: on April 25, 2011 at 1:00 am  Comments (16)  
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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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Embracing The Future of Publishing

In his cutting-edge blog Write It Forward, popular fiction author Bob Mayer postulates some important points about the future of publishing. His question “What’s the first thing you walk into now in a B&N?” made me stop and take a mental revisit of the last time I walked into my local mega book “Store” (not using the store’s actual name for now). Mayer rightfully comments on the shelves of major brick and mortar book stores being filled with things other than books and the hardback best sellers have taken a back seat at the front door to ebook reader kiosks.

This echoes my own experience this past weekend when my husband bought an ebook reader. While the sample station set up with four competing ereaders was located directly in front of the café, we had to walk through several feet of displays offering toys, candy, action figures, and calendars to find it. The ereader kiosk was completely surrounded by t-shirts, coffee, mugs, and games. And not one employee approached us to guide us through any questions involved in making a triple figure purchase in their store!

We decided on the Velocity Cruz and since the one we could touch and handle was bolted to the table, we assumed we needed employee help to buy one. Nope. Just go to the checkout counter where they are under lock and key. The cashier tried to sell us a two-year warranty plan with a flimsy protective case and did not offer to let us take the ereader out of the box before purchase, just pushed the warranty deal which we declined. Two hundred dollars and some odd change later, we marveled about being basically ignored by the entire store even though we felt like we had just made a major investment. Not that we wanted applause or anything while leaving the store, but some customer service would have been welcome.

The next day I received an email from the “Store” that the Velocity was now on sale for thirty dollars less than we had paid less than 24 hours ago. Grrrrr. I appreciate that book stores are clinging to the printed versions but with the nod to dismal sales nationwide, stores closing right and left, and discretionary income more than lazy about coming back to life, I expected a more positive experience during the purchase.

Meanwhile, my husband has been like a kid with a new toy. Being an IT guy, he has pushed, pulled, clicked, downloaded, researched, and READ several books in just a couple of days. But he hasn’t downloaded anything from the “Store.”

By the way, we were suitably impressed that the book teaser installed on the ereader was a Brenda Jackson romance Irresistible Forces. At least they know what sells. How many ereaders does the consumer have to buy for stores to embrace the future of publishing?


Published in: on October 27, 2010 at 2:37 pm  Comments (5)  
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