Monday, February 28, 2011


I had a great time at my first book signing on Saturday! Sincere heartfelt thanks to those of you who came and to those of you who didn't, perhaps you can make it to the next one!

By the end of the hour-long event, my stack had dwindled down to nothing!

My wonderfully talented sister-in-law, Laura, baked this celebratory cake. Isn't it amazing?!? Yes, that mock book is edible too! She's got mad skills...but I've mentioned that before.

I answered some great questions--including one from Husband that he'd never asked before. I wonder if he was waiting until this very moment to make me blush. He asked why I get most of my inspiration during church sermons. I don't have a clue, but it's the truth.

I read a bit from the book. I had to force myself to sloooow way down. It's a harder task than you realize...unless you've actually heard me read aloud (sooo sorry former students).

The one above isn't the greatest picture, but it caught the warm ambiance just right.

I signed books and had an absolute blast! Very surreal.

Afterwards, we went to lunch and I de-stressed with the ones I love the most. I don't post pictures of Husband and munchkins often. It's a writing blog about my writing journey, so I hardly feel pictures of my children apply...but none of this would have been possible without their support. So a family picture can fly here, I think.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Dark Tide Rising WINNERS!

I always love giveaway days, but today is super duper especially special. I get to announce the winners of the giveaway of MY book. *Sigh*. I'm a happy girl. I chose the winners by giving each commenter of the giveaway posts a number. Then I went to and let the numbers roll.

The winners are...(drumroll, please!!!)




YAY! I'm super excited! I'll be contacting you both via email shortly to get your mailing addresses. Thanks for entering everyone!

Also, in other news, I'm having a signing, Q&A, and reading tomorrow morning at 10am at Main Street Cafe in Manteca, CA. I'll have books on hand (what an ordeal it was to get them delivered here through all the storms, let me tell you) and I would absolutely, positively love to see you there!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Rejection and American Idol

Rejection was a theme on television last night. At least that's what I picked up.

On America's Next Top Model, Tyra decided to trick the models into believing they were being sent home instead of invited on the show. As they were ready to tote their luggage down the empty hall of their dreams, Tyra (as OZ) dropped her big ass curtain, revealing their trendy LA apartment.

The girls fell apart. I'm talking panic attacks and Niagra tears.

Was the point of the cruelty to make them appreciate their blessed position? Was it to make sure they knew how fast Tyra could *snap* her fingers and make it all disappear?

I changed the channel. All those dog-howling screams during the first few episodes really got to me. I may be deaf.

I started watching American Idol instead. It didn't take long before I was crying my eyes out. I couldn't believe they cut Chris Medina. (What a man, right? Talk about a hero.) Then Jennifer Lopez went and said something that made me think about writing...and once again, Rejection. There I was in my flannel PJs, sitting on the couch with my legs curled beneath me, munching on some popcorn, my dog snoring atop my feet, and J.Lo literally stops me mid-munch.

While crushing singers' dreams as lightly as she could, the diva said (forgive the paraphrase), "Don't let this No discourage you. You'll get rejected a lot in this business. I did. A lot. Now if you want this...if you really want'll learn what you've got to do to make it happen. And then you'll do it."

It was then I realized...some of those singers who got rejected will go home, decide they made it further than they ever thought possible, and be fine-and-dandy with that. They'll live perfectly happy lives knowing they gave American Idol the best shot they could...they got far...and they're proud. (As they should be!) They can sleep peacefully at night knowing they at least reached for their dreams. What makes me sad is that many of them had AMAZING talent. I'd buy a few of their songs, had they stuck to their guns and sealed a record deal. But it's what good enough for them, and not me, or America or the judges, that matters, right?

Some writers aspire to finish that one novel that's been hanging over their heads for years. Some writers finish that novel, then wait years to begin the agent hunt for fear of being rejected. Putting your heart and soul into something just to see it turned down is a hard pill to swallow. Some writers receive one rejection or ten or fifty and think Hey, I got this far. This was further than most people got. And they quit much too soon. Before they fully developed their craft. Before they really stretched themselves to the limit.

I think Jennifer Lopez was on to something. I think the people who make it...the ones who really make it...they're the ones who feel it's never good enough. They can always be better. Their work, their art, their drive, can never be strong enough. Look at the greats in any field and think about their determination, their sacrifice, their drive: Nora Roberts, James Patterson, Al Pacino, Anne Rice, Madonna, Cher, Michael Jackson, etc, etc, etc. I could seriously go on and on. Think about your favorite artist, in any form. Although there are insta-stars in any business, I'd be willing to bet they were faced with hurdle after hurdle before reaching their goal.

At least this is what I'm telling myself as I face rejection after rejection in my own journey.

For all you idol fans, my favorite this season is Tim Halperin. I'm not sure he'll win because he's not really the total package that American Idol looks for, but damn his voice is awesome.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Why Critique Partners are Important

1-They push you to be better.
They tell you when your work isn't good enough. Sometimes when I write, I have a tendency to think everything's great. I get the honeymoon period a lot. Me and my manuscript. Running off into the sunset holding hands. I become too familiar with the words and too in love with the characters. This is bad. Critique partners aren't afraid to tell you that your prose is murky and your characters are flat. They push you to dig deeper and write harder.

2-They lend an ear and a shoulder when you get rejected.
I don't know of a writer who hasn't faced rejection. (And by all means, if you're out there reading this and you haven't been rejected on your writing journey and your walls are full of shiny book-lovin awards...don't mention it here. You will be stoned.) It's easy to feel down when someone in the industry says your work won't be picked up. It's easy to take it as a personal attack on you instead of a simple decision on your work. Critique partners keep things in perspective. They remind you that you're not the only one struggling to make it. It's not personal. Have a drink. Or a donut. It'll all be better in the morning.

3-They celebrate in your victories.
I had a little victory when Dark Tide Rising got a five star review from The Romance Reviews. (Love the shameless plug.) I was jumping up and down. I was ecstatic. I read it a dozen times. I cried. Seriously. But there was no greater feeling than my writing friends congratulating me. I could hear the excitement in their emails. (OMG! WOW! CONGRATS!!!!! GO YOU!!) Victories, even little ones like starred reviews, are better celebrated together.

4-They GET IT like no one else in the non-writing world gets it.
It's hard to explain to a non-writer how important the Golden Heart awards are for romance writers. It's hard to explain why I enter the Daphne Contest. (I enter both every year.) The first thing a non-writer asks after seeing me toil over the submissions is "what do you win?" The answer is simple: A necklace. It's the most simple necklace infused with honor, respect, and writing glory. Truth be told, I don't even want the necklace. The necklace isn't what it's about. It's about knowing my work means something. It's about my work getting the stamp of approval from my peers. Writers get it. We gather year after year at RWA National, get all spiffed-out for the red-carpet award ceremony the final night of the conference and watch as our friends, colleagues and FAMILY take the stage to claim that simple necklace. Not so simple after all.

3-They plot!
I had originally planned my paranormal series to be three books. Enemy, Beloved is about a shape-shifter and a vampire (and a bunch of other cool fight stuff). Immortal, Beloved is about a human and a vampire (and a bunch of reincarnated lover, death all around stuff). The third in the series (Untitled) was going to be about a fallen angel and a vampire elder (and a bunch of other totally awesome stuff I haven't really figured out yet).

But...after a recent development which I can't share yet, I've put the third book on hold. Not for good. I'm still going to write it should a publishing house pick up the first two. (PLEASE PLEASE THEY'RE GOOD I PROMISE) Now, though, I've decided it's probably a better career move if I write something in a new direction. If I build a new world. If I stay in paranormal romance but write new characters in a new and equally exciting world.

Why, you ask?

Because I have to prove that I can write something other than the series I've already started. It'd be great to say I have The Crimson Bay Series and yet another coming down the chute that's the same, but different.

But I have no freaking clue what that book is going to be about. I have a general premise. I know I want to write angels or ghosts. I know I don't want to write demons. I know I don't want to write any book about people/monsters/otherworldly things rising up against God. Period. All the other details still need to be worked out. That's where my awesome critique partners come in. I talked with one last night while giving my kids a bath (Side note: NEVER attempt to plot while giving small children baths. Your bathroom will flood. Just sayin'.) Even though I felt like I had nothing to go on--a blank canvas that needed something beautiful painted on it, my critique partner started chucking globs of literary paint onto my blank slate. We mashed around colors. We smeared ideas right and left. Although my canvas now looks more like mess than art, it's a START. And I have my critique partner to thank.

4-And lastly (too long a post, although I could go on and on), they balance you out.
During the above plotting session last night, my critique partner and I realized that we write books the EXACT OPPOSITE way. I come up with a premise. I figure out the major conflict. I figure out who my hero will be in that conflict--major role, obviously. I then determine who would challenge him most in that world. There's my heroine. She, on the other and very interesting hand, develops characters first, then throws them into complex situations. She's a great writer. I'm honored to read and critique her work. I stand to learn a lot. But that's why I think we work. Without the balance we'd never learn, right? Yin is nothing but a funky crescent moon lookin' thing without Yang.

And I think that philosophical gem is a great place to stop.

Thank your critique partners today. They're your lifeline on this crazy journey toward publication.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Dark Tide Rising Giveaway!

I'm giving away two signed copies of Dark Tide Rising! I'll also be throwing in a few Dark Tide Rising bookmarks courtesy of Brenda Pandos.

Rules to enter:

~Contest open to US Residents only
~Be a Follower of my blog (All you've got to do is click Follow on the right sidebar and enter your email address. I'll never spam you--promise.)
~Comment this post answering the following question:

In Dark Tide Rising, police sergeant Mark Thurgood is deathly afraid of the ocean. What are you deathly afraid of?

~Winner will be selected using
~Contest ends one month from today: February 24th at 9pm. Winner to be contacted via email then announced through a subsequent blog post.

Also, today's Monday! Know what that means? It's time to meet other authors and writers!

It's Meet an Author Monday!


Follow as many authors as you like. Just follow the Linky list and hop from author to author. The idea is to find as many "new to you" authors as you can, and hopefully some great new reading material as well. Leave a comment as you hop from blog to blog! We'd love to chat with you!


Follow the Meet an author Monday host (Cali Cheer Mom) along with any of the wonderfully talented authors on the list.
You will need to enter your name and blog url into the Linky tool.
Grab our super cute button and place it in a post. (THIS IS IMPORTANT!) If you don't create a post for the hop, your readers won't have a place to comment, and the hop will stop with you. So create a post, paste in the Linky code and start hopping!
The purpose of the hop is to meet "new to you" authors and discover great new reads. Follow as many authors as you can. Leave a comment and introduce yourself!
If you'd like to share the Linky list in a post on your blog ( Please do!) just follow the link and grab the code.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Lady Gaga's Born This Way and Madonna's Express Yourself

Madonna's Express Yourself has always been one of my favorite videos. I'm talking all-time, folks. The ripped men (something about a grease-monkey...*sigh*). The pouring rain (the men are wet the whole time for crying out loud). The brilliant imagery (from the cat to the gears to the boxing match, I could go on and on...). Madonna's gawgeous outfits (though she was mostly half-covered in satin sheets {they're very romantic, but what happens when you're not in bed-Ha!}). Her rough and tough, manly yet feminine dancing on top of those stairs. The message. Awesome. Take a gander and slip back into the 90's:

Doesn't that just take you back? When videos were seductive without being slutty. (Enrique Iglesias, I'm lookin' at you and your "Tonight I'm F 'kin You" garbage.) I'm sure it didn't take me posting a youtube video for you to remember one of Madonna's top songs. You probably recently heard Lady Gaga on the radio and thought Born This Way sounded mighty familiar. Have a listen (it's the chorus that strikes me most):

Even PopEater and the Washington Post caught the similarities between the melodies.

I'm not a bitter fan. I don't think Lady Gaga stole the song. The lyrics are different. The music is too. This is nothing like Vanilla Ice stealing "Under Pressure"'s beats from Queen. (Minus adding the little "da da da da-da-da dum". Gimme a break.) I simply think she was inspired by Madonna's song and structured her tune around what made that one great.

Don't we all do things like this as artists and writers? Don't we study others' work, discovering what made them "work" and apply it to our own masterpieces? I know when I read I keep a pen and paper handy. I don't write verbatim. Ever. I don't even write specifics that strike me as being great (Like, THAT WAS A GREAT LINE. I may think that, but that line is "his/her" line. Not mine. Much like Madonna's song is Madonna's and not Lady Gaga's.) But when I'm reading a novel and, say, start reading fast, I make myself stop. Flip back through the last few pages. Re-read. Focus on WHY my speed increased. Did the sentences become choppy? Was it action-packed? Was there an increasing amount of tension in the dialogue? Likewise, when I get butterflies, I write down what happened. Not exactly, of course. I pause, go back, and figure out when the relationship between the hero and heroine changed into something I was feeling rather than reading. Sometimes the masterful things that happen are so subtle, if you keep reading, enjoying the pacing and story, you lose how the author accomplished the feat of pulling you hook-line-and-sinker into the story.

(Keep in mind I haven't been able to read the same since I started writing. YES some of the enjoyment is taken out...but dissecting story structure and writing dynamic has ALWAYS been one of my greatest interests. It was one of my strengths teaching English, I think. And, I hope, what will make my work eventually bash into shape.)

What do you think? Do you think Express Yourself and Born This Way are the same? Did Lady Gaga rip-off Madonna's melody? Did she make it her own?

How do you study craft? Do you dissect what works, like I do, and then apply it to your own writing? Or do you simply write what strikes you and To Hell with how everyone else is doing what?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day and Fried Chicken

I'm a romance writer. I'm supposed to be jumping for joy that there's a day reserved for celebrating the unique love you and your significant other share, right?


At least that's what the stores would have me believe. I went grocery shopping today and was slammed with a wall of red and white the instant I stepped in the store. Dozens of roses screamed to be bought for $19.99. (They're beautiful, sure, but I'd much rather have roses given to me when my significant other doesn't feel obligated to buy them or be shoved into the "all-my-other-friends-husbands-got-roses-for-their-wives-why-didn't-you?" category. Boxes of candy perched on the edge of racks for $16.99. (They're delicious, but they'll also make you feel worse when your pants feel tighter next week.) Everywhere I looked fluff-stuffed squirrels smiled at me eerily, holding signs that read "I'm nuts for you." (They're cute, but really? I mean...REALLY?)

That's when I realized I'm a realist. I'm practical. I don't need to buy my husband chocolates when I know I'm the one who's really going to be eating them. I don't need a special day to tell him I love him or that he's "beary special" to me.

So I did what any real, practical wife would do. I bought all the fixings to make his favorite meal. (I'm frying chicken as I write this.) Haven't you heard the saying "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach"? Well that's where I'm aiming. (Little side note: the first time I got my hubby's attention is when we were in high school and I offered him my sandwich--we were on a field trip and the lunch provided was peanut butter and honey sandwiches. I hated honey--still do.)

Today, tonight, forever, don't go for the "easy". Don't buy the card and do the usual. If you normally buy flowers, offer to go for a walk, pick some, pull a pre-planted ribbon out of our pocket, tie it around the stems and give it to him or her. (Husband can take credit for that one.) Spice things up. If you normally go out to eat for special occasions, eat in. Offer to do the dishes. Do something meaningful. Give a foot rub without having to be asked. Put effort into something that will make your significant other happy. Because when your partner realizes that you didn't take the easy-cheesy store-bought-romanticism way out, THEN you'll be jumping for joy. And it won't be because of the red-swamped holiday infused with love-firing cherubs. It will be because on this day, you'll feel closer to your partner than you were the day before.

Come to think of it, that's how every day should be lived, and loved. Don't you think?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Just. Hit. Send.

I know sometimes it can be terrifying. You just finished writing your query. You've pasted the whole thing into an email. You've addressed it to your dream agent. You've read the email a dozen times, skimming for errors, rewording things you know worked to begin with. Your finger hesitates over the SEND button...

And you re-read it again. Or SAVE DRAFT for later.

I went through something like that yesterday. I'm "finished" with Immortal, Beloved. I attached it to an email to my agent, said a prayer (PLEASE OH PLEASE LET HER LOVE IT AS MUCH AS ENEMY, BELOVED), or...okay, maybe I said two prayers (PLEASE DON'T LET IT SUCK) and STILL I hesitated over the SEND button.

It's just

Once you push that button there's no going back. There's no changing something you noticed wrong later. A lot of the pressure from the writing/publishing industry stems from the feeling that you get one chance to make it happen. One chance to make it or break it--publish your work or bury it beneath your bed. Or at least that's how it feels to me.

I think Eminem said it best in "Lose Yourself":
Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted-One moment-
Would you capture it or just let it slip?

You have one first impression with your dream agent. Once you have a Fantabulous agent who loves your first work, you have to impress them time and time again with each manuscript you write after the first. Mr. or Mrs. Dream Agent could easily say "No, this sequel isn't for me. Go back to the drawing board, keep the characters, and write me another." Listen, I just spent one month plotting Immortal, Beloved, four months writing that 350 page book and another month editing it.

I. Feel. Pressure.

As I hesitated over the SEND button, I thought back to when I was querying agents with Enemy, Beloved. It felt darn near close to the same feeling. Did I get everything right? Did I cross every T and dot every I? Did I close up every single thread? Did the characters arc as they should've?

Then I did it. I hit send.

You should to. What are you waiting for? Take the time to make your manuscript as good as you can get it, then send that puppy. You'll never get an agent/editor/critique partner if your computer mouse keeps hovering over the same email.

As for me, another waiting game has begun. (Did I mention I'm still on submission with Enemy?) The publishing industry is a s..l...o...w... road to walk folks. But that's okay because the people you meet along the way are happy-writer-lovers, supportive and make the steep legs of the trip not seem as daunting.

Speaking of supportive happy-writer-lovers (I love that phrase--sums everyone I've met in this industry *perfectly*)...I did an interview with Kaitlyn over at Nocturnal Readings. She's also posting a review of Dark Tide Rising tomorrow. So if you've got the time, between hitting that send button, stop on by!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Proud Critique Partner Over Here

An exciting announcement today:

My critique partner's second novel released today! (Isn't the cover gorgeous?) The dialogue is snappy. The plot is tight. The characters jump off the page. What more could a gal ask for! You can get your copy at Omnific's website or Amazon.

You won't be disappointed. *grin

Monday, February 7, 2011

Monday Blog Hop!

It's Monday again...don't know how that happened. I've been battling a sick household the last few weeks, putting final touches on Immortal, Beloved, and not sleeping well thanks to a strained shoulder that tweaked itself while I was doing P90X's Kenpo video. Air boxing is not to be taken lightly, let me tell you.

Have you entered a certain giveaway to win a free signed copy of a certain romantic suspense novel titled Dark Tide Rising? No? Get to it. Giveaway ends February 24th. All you have to do is comment the contest post found labeled under "Pararomance Contests".

On to the hop!

Here's how it works:


Follow as many authors as you like. Just follow the Linky list and hop from author to author. The idea is to find as many "new to you" authors as you can, and hopefully some great new reading material as well. Leave a comment as you hop from blog to blog! We'd love to chat with you!


Follow the Meet an author Monday host (Cali Cheer Mom) along with any of the wonderfully talented authors on the list.
You will need to enter your name and blog url into the Linky tool.
Grab our super cute button and place it in a post. (THIS IS IMPORTANT!) If you don't create a post for the hop, your readers won't have a place to comment, and the hop will stop with you. So create a post, paste in the Linky code and start hopping!
The purpose of the hop is to meet "new to you" authors and discover great new reads. Follow as many authors as you can. Leave a comment and introduce yourself!
If you'd like to share the Linky list in a post on your blog ( Please do!) just follow the link and grab the code.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Ten Rules for Writing Fiction

I'm not an expert by any means--I'll be the first to admit it. (In fact, most times I feel much more amateur than every other writer in the business.) I don't have hardfast rules I live or write by. I've struggled through four novels in two years. In that time I've acquired an agent, lost one, then acquired another. I've flown through chapters. I've trudged through paragraphs. But since I started writing there are certain "rules" I've come to write by:

Don't have easy dialogue. By that I mean don't always have the hero/heroine's questions answered. How many times have you really wanted the answer to a question and, instead of relieving you of your stress by answering simply, the other person in the convo gives you the run-around? Or goes off on their own line of questioning? Or stares at you like there's no way in hell I'm telling you *that* Make your characters squirm. Don't make things easy for them, even when it's a simple question. (And of course, everything in moderation, right?) Now that I think of it, I may just like to torture my darlings.

Carry around a notebook. Always. Record the tiny things that strike a cord in your own life. Jot down some dialogue from people sitting next to you on the bus. Take notes about the daily things that bring a smile to your face. And the ones that bring you down. Don't necessarily use those things word for word, but figure out WHY you wrote them down and WHY that particular scene elicited the type of emotion it did.

Once you *think* you've finished your manuscript (and I'm talking about the edited THE END not the first draft THE END) read it backwards to edit some more. Then read it aloud. Print it out and read it again. Then download it to your e-reader and read it again. I can pretty much guarantee you'll find something to change every single time (and probably even once it's published!)

Be hopeful and open, but expect the absolute worst. It'd be great to wish for NYT Bestselling status with your first sale...but that's probably not going to happen. It'd be great to think you could sell one book, make it big, then write whatever you want and have that be big too...but it doesn't work that way. It's easy to feel down when rejection hits (believe me) but you can't let it pin you to the mat. Get up and fight for your dreams some more.

Are you writing for business, pleasure or both. If you never plan on pursuing publication that's fine. Write for you and you alone. Ignore all rules--including these. If you're writing to make a career of it, treat it that way. Write every day. Edit on days you don't. Be *IN* the world you created, even when you detach from the computer. If you write for both business and pleasure I believe you've chosen the right path!

And for my final five rules, I'm going to pick and chose my favorites from an article in titled "Ten Rules for Writing Fiction".

"You know that sickening feeling of inadequacy and over-exposure you feel when you look upon your own empurpled prose? Relax into the awareness that this ghastly sensation will never, ever leave you, no matter how successful and publicly lauded you become. It is intrinsic to the real business of writing and should be cherished."--Will Self

"Description must work for its place. It can't be simply ornamental. It ?usually works best if it has a human element; it is more effective if it comes from an implied viewpoint, rather than from the eye of God. If description is coloured by the viewpoint of the character who is doing the noticing, it becomes, in effect, part of character definition and part of the action."--Hilary Mantel

"Remember: when people tell you something's wrong or doesn't work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong."--Neil Gaiman

"Let your work stand before deciding whether or not to serve."--Andrew Motion

And last but not least...

"The nearest I have to a rule is a Post-it on the wall in front of my desk saying "Faire et se taire" (Flaubert), which I translate for myself as 'Shut up and get on with it.'"--Helen Simpson

So there you go. Now shut up and get on with it.