And be sure to check out our critically acclaimed novel A Day of Fire that was short-listed for the Historical Novel Society’s 2015 Indie Award.
And be sure to check out our critically acclaimed novel A Day of Fire that was short-listed for the Historical Novel Society’s 2015 Indie Award.
I’m going to be baking a lot this week! Cookies for Santa, cookies for the Princesses classmates and teachers, cookies for the family and of course, cookies for me! I love to turn on sappy holiday movies while I bake–makes it so much more fun!
Here are a my top 5 favorite holiday cookies…
5. Peanut butter kiss cookies
4. Chocolate peppermint cookies
3. Cookie/brownie bars
2. Sugar cookies w/frosting
1. Pecan snowballs!
What are your favorites?
Check it out…
Down on her luck with men, Darla Strider wonders if she’ll ever meet her own kilted hero. Considering she lives in present day New York City, the likelihood of that happening is nil. She’s certain only a Christmas wish could make her dreams come true. Until the day Aaron Sutherland walks into her café, and changes her whole world.
Leaving his pain in Scotland for life in the States, the last thing Aaron has in mind is hooking up with a city girl. But one look at Darla and she’s got him singing All I Want for Christmas is You…
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If you follow me on Facebook you may have seen some posts by me over the last 6 months about my dog having cancer. He has two different tumors–one around his heart and one in the lower lining of his stomach. Six months ago, we were told he’d have a month or two, and that hopefully the meds would help him to feel better.
They did! He was better than better–outside playing soccer and basketball, stealing the kids food from the table and even making a flying leap to snatch a Lemonade Girl Scout cookie. He was doing awesome. He gained weight, his coat looked beautiful, all the allergies he’d suffered from for the first 9 years of his life disappeared. He was the miracle dog.
And then overnight, everything changed.
When we returned from Thanksgiving, we found that his belly had bloated, like he’d eaten four dozen donuts. He wouldn’t lay down, he paced, he started vomiting and having diarrhea again. He’s lost interest in food (even the crazy expensive organic canned dog food I feed him!), though we’ve been able to entice him to eat cheese, ham and chicken (and Girl Scout Cookies!). I took him to the vet and they did x-rays. His tumors are bigger. Things are going down hill so fast. The vet gave us a few more meds to help. That night, he collapsed from exhaustion–since he wouldn’t lay down. The vet then gave us some pain meds for him. We figured out how to prop him up on pillows and cover him with blankets to get him to lay down for anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour, but that was it. Is it. Now his leg and foot are swelling up…
We were told at this point, he’s not going to get better, that we’re basically making him comfortable until its time to make THAT decision. But the thing is, he’s not comfortable. He’s in pain. He isn’t sleeping.
And yet today, when I came home from the store, he wagged his little nub tail like crazy. I bought him a toy and he actually played with it for five minutes.
So… he’s happy, even if he’s in pain?
How do you make the decision to put your dog to sleep forever when they still wag their tail when you walk into a room?
I grew up with dogs, dealt with their passage–I was sad, I cried, but this is different. This is MY puppy.
On Mother’s Day 2004, my husband took me to a boxer breeder’s house to pick up my baby. There were two puppies left–one sassy girl who kept biting my ankles, and then this adorable little puppy with the biggest underbite I’d ever seen. Already he was a tough guy. Being a Vin Diesel fan… I named my dog Diesel, cuz he’s a big tough guy. (Nicknames: Deez, Deezy-wheezy, Deez-nuts, and Doidle <–this last one coined by Princess#3 who couldn’t pronounce his name).
We brought him home and things were never the same again. I have had a love/hate relationship with this dawg. And he with me–you see, he gains enjoyment out of driving me crazy! lol
First, the hate: He tore apart my wedding bouquet that I’d carefully preserved. He ripped up a new pair of shoes (only once for some odd reason). He humped a giant Tigger doll which forced me to throw it away. He is a master escape artist–give him five minutes and he can dismantle any crate, he can open outdoor gates, can dig up a lead and yank it out of the yard, and he knows how to open doors, freaking genius. He was also an expert at opening the diaper genie…not pretty. He shredded the molding around a door in our new house. He’s never learned NOT to beg at the table. He snores LIKE A CHAMP causing me many sleepless nights. If he’s mad at me, he sh*ts in the house. He smears his slobber all over everything. He lifted his leg and PEED on me during the fireworks…Poor dog suffered from TERRIBLE allergies…the vet told us he was probably allergic to himself (which I could understand since I got hives from petting him sometimes). When I talk on the phone he stands behind me and barks. When I sit at my computer, he stands behind me and barks… Needless to say, there’s been a lot of hating going on.
BUT–he is the best damn dog I’ve ever had, and here’s the reasons why I love him so much: He’s a boss and he knows it. He is very loyal and protective–one time he head-butted a man out of the house. Coincidentally, the man was warning me that my deck was on fire. He is AMAZING with kids, and willing to dress up like a princess and play tea party. He loves to cuddle with the kids, and lay on my lap until my legs go numb. He is yard trained–he’d stay in the yard no need for an electric fence. He cleans up all the food under the table. We taught him to air lick kiss, so instead of slobbering your face, he licked the air around your face! Although, every once in awhile he’d make a leap in the air and get you right in the mouth! He makes the best faces–you can almost see what he’s thinking (I mirrored Frosty’s personality in THE HIGHLANDER’S CONQUEST after him). He is always glad to see me, no matter what. He loves to play ball–soccer, basketball, anything, he loves to run and jump and chase it with you. I love that he likes to hike and explore with us. He’s fun to play with. I love to watch him mangle his new “pets” when we give him stuffed animals. I love the way he finds any scrap of fabric
and lays on it–even socks, and how he finds the places in the house where the sun shines in to lay down and relax. I love that he follows me around, that he wants to be with me all the time. I love when we get in the car, he sits on a seat like all the humans and doesn’t think its weird. I love the way we could make him “speak” at us. I love his energy, his fascination with life and his never-ending optimism that we’re definitely going to give him whatever it is he wants, and he’s not afraid to bark at us until we do. I love that he isn’t allergic to chocolate, because lord knows he’s sneaked into plenty of candy boxes. I love the way, when he yawns sometimes, his lip gets stuck on his teeth and he ends up making this really funny face.
I hate that at some point I’m going to have to say goodbye.
And that point is coming quicker than I thought.
My dear friend’s aunt showed her this poem and she passed it on to me… It has helped me to feel better, but not 100%. I’m not ready to let go…
THE LAST BATTLE
If it should be that I grow frail and weak
And pain should keep me from my sleep,
Then will you do what must be done,
For this — the last battle — can’t be won.
You will be sad I understand,
But don’t let grief then stay your hand,
For on this day, more than the rest,
Your love and friendship must stand the test.
We have had so many happy years,
You wouldn’t want me to suffer so.
When the time comes, please, let me go.
Take me to where to my needs they’ll tend,
Only, stay with me till the end
And hold me firm and speak to me
Until my eyes no longer see.
I know in time you will agree
It is a kindness you do to me.
Although my tail its last has waved,
From pain and suffering I have been saved.
Don’t grieve that it must be you
Who has to decide this thing to do;
We’ve been so close — we two — these years,
Don’t let your heart hold any tears.
**UPDATE** Thank you all so much for you kind words and support! It means the world to us. We sadly had to let go of Diesel on Friday. He was in so much pain. But we know he is in a much better place now–Rainbow Bridge. He’ll always be in our hearts, never forgotten.
We’re hosting Thanksgiving this year at my house! And can I just tell ya how many people were like–“but we need a real turkey!”
Yes, I’m a vegetarian. No, that doesn’t mean you get a fake turkey…
In fact, I’ve enlisted my sister and brother-in-law to make TWO turkeys, and from what I hear they are going ALL out! And everyone that’s coming is bringing something delicious that they love to have every year.
So what, you may ask, am I making???
Here’s my Thanksgiving menu…that everyone will be able to enjoy AFTER we play a friendly, family game of soccer 🙂
(my meat-eating friends have devoured these in the past)
(along w/some real cheese…)
Bread Bowl w/Hummus and Veggies
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Pumpkin and Caramelized Onion Baked Ziti
Asparagus, Portabella, Sundried Tomato & Grains served in a roasted butternut squash w/a savory lime/evoo sauce
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Vegan Sausage Stuffing
Vegan Green Bean Casserole
Garlic & “Cheese” Bread
Herbed Pumpkin Knots
(from Oh She Glows)
Pumpkin Brownie Pie
Looking for a sweet, holiday treat? Check out my new novella release, A KILTED CHRISTMAS WISH.
A KILTED CHRISTMAS WISH is a sexy, contemporary novella of about 20,000 words.
Down on her luck with men, Darla Strider wonders if she’ll ever meet her own kilted hero. Considering she liv
es in present day New York City, the likelihood of that happening is nil. She’s certain only a Christmas wish could make her dreams come true. Until the day Aaron Sutherland walks into her café, and changes her whole world.
Leaving his pain in Scotland for life in the States, the last thing Aaron has in mind is hooking up with a city girl. But one look at Darla and she’s got him singing All I Want for Christmas is You.
MARYLAND ROMANCE WRITERS is excited to announce its 2013 Fall Workshop
WRITING FROM THE GROUND UP
Learn the Steps Involved in Writing a Novel
This dynamic workshop will walk you through the creation of a novel from the opening hook, through plot points, world building and character building . . . all the way to the all-important black moment and The End.
We will cover the following topics:
DATE: Saturday, October 26
TIME: 1-5 P.M.
PLACE: Catonsville Library, 1100 Frederick Road, Catonsville, Maryland
COST: $30 for MRW Members and $35 for non-MRW Members.*
TO SIGN UP: Visit http://www.marylandromancewriters.com/
With the craziness of packing, etc… this post got away from me! But I still want you all to be prepared. Here is my Top 10 list for pitching at a conference.
TEN: Have a one line hook/pitch ready. Could be a sentence or a question, but gives the idea of the book.
A Highland warrior steals the intended of an English noble only to fall in love. — THE HIGHLANDER’S REWARD
Gabrielle thought sleeping with her brother’s best friend in college was a colossal mistake–until he becomes her rebound and shows her what real love is. — THE REBOUND PACT
What happens when an emotionally damaged woman travels back in time, into the arms of a dangerous, sensual Highland warrior, who challenges her to let go of her inhibitions? — BEHIND THE PLAID
NINE: Memorize your one line pitch.
EIGHT: On an index card, write down your title, one-liner, and your blurb. Carry this with you everywhere. You never know when an editor at a bar or in the hallway might ask for your pitch.
SEVEN: Be prepared to take 5 minutes to talk about your book and your characters. Why is it unique? Why should they bother paying for it? Make sure your pitch shows this.
SIX: Practice your pitch with friends. It helps to actually talk it out with someone else, rather than just what’s on the page.
FIVE: Don’t offer them your printed manuscript!
FOUR: Prepare some questions for the agent/editor you’re pitching to. Show that you are interested, and that you’ve done your homework. Make sure they acquire what you are pitching
THREE: Be prepared with a second pitch! They may ask for another book!
TWO: Take a deep breath and relax. They are people, too.
ONE: When you’re finished, don’t ruminate on anything you think was a mistake to say, or what could have gone wrong. Pitching is hard, but they are used to people being nervous. Don’t beat yourself up. Revel in the fact that you did it! Go chat with your friends!
Good morning and Happy Friday! Hope you have some fun things planned for this weekend. We will be doing a bit of unpacking, family coming into town AND I’m going to be sneaking in some time to pack a little for Nationals next week! AH! It’s coming quickly! If you haven’t tuned in already, I’ve written a couple posts in preparation for the conference (links below), and today I’m going to talk about the your budget — cash to have on hand.
That’s about it for what I usually run into. Remember there are always ways to save — splitting meals, bringing snacks, sharing your room, buying only a certain number of books, banning yourself from the gift shop, having only one/no drinks in the evening.
I’ll be back tomorrow with a post on pitching.
Yesterday, I wrote briefly about what to bring and what not to bring. Today I’m talking about preparing your agenda. Before arriving at RWA Nationals, its always good to have an agenda written — even if it’s loosely written. Once you arrive, it can get very chaotic, overwhelming and busy. Imagine 2000 excited women converging in one spot–loud, lol. If you had workshops you wanted to attend, gatherings, friends to meet, etc… you don’t want them to get lost in the void of chattering, laughing, and whooping.
The first time I went to an RWA conference, I was 7 months pregnant and had just returned from Disney World. I was not prepared, and I was OVERWHELMED. Ever since then, I always make sure to have a loosely written schedule.
RWA.org, even has an agenda builder on it now to help you.
Here is a list of scheduled events: http://www.rwa.org/p/cm/ld/fid=560
Here is the list of workshops: http://www.rwa.org/p/cm/ld/fid=562 (also the link for the agenda builder.
In case you were wondering… I will be presenting at RWA! Along with Laura Kaye and Stephanie Draven, we’ll be presenting: How to Tackle Taboos in Erotic Romance (CRAFT). I will also be moderating: Focus on Nook Press (SELF-PUBLISHING). If you are a PRO member and attending the PRO Retreat, you may see me there as well–I am being awarded as PRO Mentor of the Year 🙂
In addition to marking workshops, events you want to attend, check in with your local chapters to see if they will be holding any get-togethers. Email writing friends who are going to see if they want to meet for a meal/coffee/wine.
Don’t forget to schedule in some down time. Whether you need it for a nap, for writing, for calling home, make sure you don’t forget to take it. I usually come back from a conference needing a vacation! Exhilarating, inspiring, exciting as it is, conference can also be quite exhausting.
I am an early to bed person, early to rise… Yet, my husband always teases me because at conference I may not be in bed until 3am…
If you see me, make sure to stop and say hi!
Come back tomorrow for talk on budgeting… You don’t have to spend too much to have a great conference!
Today I’d like to welcome my good friend and fellow chapter mate, Laura Kaye! A New York Times and USA Today best-selling author, Laura writes in several genres with both small and large presses. She’s ventured into the world of self-publishing and has agreed to answer my questions about her experience. Thanks, Laura!
When the opportunity arose to get my rights back on two books with a small press, I knew it was the right time to dip my toes into self-publishing. So I started with two backlist titles as a way of easing into it. Both books, Hearts in Darkness and Forever Freed, are available as ebooks and print books.
Since these were backlist titles, I didn’t have to worry about hiring editors this time around. However, I did go through both manuscripts and do some minor editing of my own. Amazing how our writing changes over the course of even a few years! I hired cover designers to create professional covers for me—for Hearts in Darkness, I hired Tricia Pickyme Schmitt, who designed the original cover for the small publisher; and for Forever Freed, I hired Hot Damn Designs. Both did a phenomenal job on the covers and that step was easy. I also hired Hot Damn to do all my ebook formatting and they really walked me through the process of acquiring ISBNs, the quirks of uploading to the various sites, etc.
A variety of things. Both books were well established before, but I still did major cover reveals, got my street team involved in shouting them out, featured them in blog hops and other blogging opportunities, and took out some advertisements, too. I didn’t do full blog tours since they were back list titles, but I do usually with new releases.
Easiest was working with cover artist and getting great covers I love! And I adore the control over that process! Hardest was figuring out everything I needed to know and everything I didn’t know. I’m still not fully proficient, as evidenced by the fact that I’m paying someone to do my formatting, which more experienced self-publishers often do themselves. But I’m figuring out a little at a time so that by the time I can release fully new books, I’ll have a better handle on the whole process.
The pros in my opinion are the control you have over the whole process, how quickly you can release a book, and the greater royalty rates you can receive. I think it’s also important that you can decide whether to also offer a book in print. Hearts in Darkness is a 30,000-word novella, and that’s not the kind of thing most publishers would take to print, but I can offer it as a self-publisher.
The cons in my opinion include the time investment required to do the business side of things, the lack of publisher support for promotion (which varies from publishers, of course, but there’s no one even built in to retweet or share my twitter or facebook posts, for example…), and finding a readership on your won. I think the latter is less challenging if you’re established, but it’s still a consideration.
Hearts in Darkness has been out for 5 weeks and Forever Freed just re-released. I currently have 13 books for sale or pre-order, and I definitely have had the experience of the sales bump with each new release. I saw it when I re-released Hearts in Darkness, too. Backlist is king.
I have a short time line, and only sales to report on Hearts in Darkness so far. But, I’m selling 500 a month on Amazon, 100 a month on B&N, 100 a month on Apple, and 25 on Kobo. I’d recouped my up-front costs, which were mostly the cover and the purchasing of ISBN numbers, in the first few weeks.
Do it right and be professional. Hire editors, professional cover designers, formatters. No one should be able to look at the inside or outside of your book and know it’s self-published.
I write in contemporary and paranormal romance and have 13 novels either out or up for pre-order. I have four series underway: Hearts of the Anemoi (South of Surrender most recently) , Vampire Warrior Kings (Taken by the Vampire King releases 8/1) , Heroes (2 out and 2 more coming in 2014), and Hard Ink (Hard As It Gets debuts this November!).
I’ve been interested in all things paranormal since I was a kid. I love the magic, the possibility that such things could be real, and the dark sexiness of paranormal stories. I also love contemporary stories because you could imagine them really happening and the characters being people you might actually know.
My next books aren’t self-published, but include Taken by the Vampire King (August 1), Hard As It Gets (November 26), and Hard As You Can (February 25)
I’m almost always running a giveaway somewhere! The best thing to do is keep an eye on my Facebook or Twitter!
I think there’s a range of quality among self-published books, with more and more high-quality books and established authors moving into self-publishing every day. You can find errors and weak stories published by publishers and self-publishers, so problems aren’t isolated to the self-pubbed. But I think self-published authors need to know they’re working against that reputation and need to do everything they can not to contribute to it.
The New Adult books have really taken self-publishing by storm! And though many of them have been picked up by self-publishers, I’d still recommend Wait for You by J. Lynn, Easy by Tammara Webber, and Monica Murphy’s One Week Girlfriend and Second Chance Boyfriend. I’d also recommend books by self-published authors Eliza Knight (ahem!), Marie Force, Katie Reus, Laurie London, and Laura Wright, among others!
Thanks so much for having me here!
Thank you for being here, Laura! And for the shout-out *winks*. If you’re looking for an emotional, evocative, adventure, please download Laura’s books! She is amazing!