Tag Archives: Writer

Tuesday Treats: Fall Recipes!

FrozenLimeDessertCome check out the Tuesday Treat recipes on Smart Girls Read Romance blog! TurkeyPerfect timing for Thanksgiving and fall weather!


Click here for deliciousness that will make you drool!

New Awesome Book: ROGUE’S CALL by CA Szarek

For those of you who are interested in Fantasy Romance, a new one hit the shelves this week that you absolutely MUST read!Rogue'sCall

Book 3 in the King’s Riders Series


She’s on the run, but doesn’t know it…

Raised in the security of the king’s castle, Lady Elissa Durroc remembers nothing of the death of her family or how she survived it. As an elemental mage with control over all four elements, her powers are rare. And coveted by dark magic. None darker than the mage who killed her parents.

When the king learns the mage knows Elissa is alive, he orders her to Greenwald under the guise of choosing a husband. Her protection falls to Sir Alasdair Kearney, a knight whose prowess on the battlefield is rivaled only by his appetite for women.

Alasdair’s not sure what to make of being a glorified nursemaid, despite Elissa’s beauty and intriguing magic. The rogue has rules. Rules that don’t involve being tempted by his noble charge.

Elissa is drawn to the knight, even though he’s not on her list of suitors. Can she guard her heart and her magic? And when the dark mage comes after her, will it be too late to matter?

I promise, you do not have to read these books in order, to understand everything. CA Szarek writes each of them as a standalone, and they are all fabulous!

Chrissy-140SMCA Szarek is a brilliant romance author, a bestselling, award-winning one! She writes romantic suspense and epic fantasy romance. If it’s a good story, she’ll write it, no matter what genre it seems to fit. She’s a hopeless romantic at heart, and always will be: Risking it all for Happily Ever After!

She’s originally from Ohio, but moved to Texas as soon as she could. She’s happily married and has a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. When not writing, she works with kids.

King's Riders

If you care to follow CA Szarek on Facebook or Twitter, or find more of her fantastic books, (including her steamy and riveting romantic suspense series Crossing Forces) check them out here:


https://twitter.com/caszarek (@caszarek)

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5815085.C_A_Szarek

Website: www.caszarek.com

Blog: http://caszarekwriter.blogspot.com/

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/C.A.-Szarek/e/B00BJY74BY/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Prince of Solana Alternate Ending


Click on cover to Purchase PRINCE OF SOLANA

Exclusive for those visiting the website or on my subscribers list, an alternate ending for the Prince of Solana!


*DISCLAIMER: The scene below contains adult content, including explicit language and sexual intercourse. It is not suitable for children under the age of 17 years old. Reader discretion strongly advised.


“I owe you everything,” he whispered into her neck, nuzzling below her ear. “You saved me, in so many ways. Whatever you want, mi diamente, it’s yours.” He fluttered a kiss on her skin and slowly trailed his hand up her uninjured arm. “Money, jewels, horses…a palace.”

Everything shifted and she pushed back, placing her hand on his sash. Her fingers trembled over his chest as she processed his words. What is he doing?

“Going forward, nothing in my life is certain. Except as a Peralta, I will always have a target on my back. I have no right to ask you this, to put you in more danger with everything you’ve already sacrificed. I understand if that risk is too much for you.” He cupped her neck. “But I’m in love with you, Gemma Westfall. I want you with me.”

Gemma’s mouth opened, but nothing came out except a gasp. She gripped the opening of his jacket, fighting back the growing lump in her throat. The deep color in his eyes hypnotized her, but she forced herself to look away. Anyone would melt into those eyes. Give anything to stay lost in his gaze.

He fluttered a kiss on her forehead, pulling her closer to his chest. Her senses were overloaded by his musky cologne, burying the stubborn will that told her to back away. His heart raced under her hand. “Now that I’ve found you, I won’t let you go,” he breathed, almost winded.

“Why?” she asked into his neck. The lump in her throat made her voice crack. “I have nothing you need.”

“You are everything I need.” André held her elbows and gazed hard into her eyes. “I need you with me. You give me the strength to do what’s right. To make it through all of this chaos.”

Her mind whirled. She couldn’t imagine the responsibilities on his shoulders, or how she could possibly help him with any of them. She was merely a shell of what she used to be.

“This room is yours,” André continued. “The palace, gardens, stables, it’s all free reign for you. An entire team of Royal Guardsmen will accompany you anywhere you want to go on the island. At any time you want. The best clothes, most expensive jewels, whatever you want. As long as you’re with me.”

Gemma’s head hurt the more André spoke. All the attention and extravagance he promised, overwhelming as they were, wasn’t anything she wanted.

“Or…you can live in a house of your own just off the palace grounds.” André’s voice became significantly less enthusiastic. “Ride horses until your boots fall off. Just…please stay.”

Everything he offered was worth more than she could ever hope to earn in a lifetime. Supposed to represent the love of a man worth a hundred times that. But the man she fell in love with on a dusty ranch thousands of miles away was far less extravagant. And infinitely more precious. He stood in front of her wearing his true colors, the ones he was born to wear. The ones she would never dare ask him to remove.

When she didn’t respond, his voice lowered even further. “Is it…the cartel you’re worried about?”

“I could give a shit about them,” she murmured. It was so hard to look into his eyes. She’d cave if she did. “I don’t know how to fit into this world, André. You’re regal, I’m country. You’re distinguished, educated and everything a woman could want, and I have a foul mouth and an ugly history. You have a country depending on you, and all I have is…” Her voice trailed off and she didn’t want to say it. It hurt to even think it: I have no one, just a shattered heart.

“You have me,” he finished for her, kissing her knuckles and breathing her in. “For the record, I worship your mouth.”

Gemma’s laugh sounded like a sob.

“I love how direct you are,” André continued. “No nonsense, with a heart ten times bigger than Texas. Not a single ruler in the world could rival your pride and loyalty. Stefano, Rico, and all of Solana already adore you. Let me be your family, Gemma.” He held her hands like in prayer, his fluttering lips melted her insides and made everything ache. She didn’t have the heart to tell him she didn’t care about the people. His people. They meant everything to his family legacy, and he belonged here. But she didn’t.

Not the qualities needed in royalty. Her heart wept so much, no words made it past her throat.

“I can wait until you’re ready,” he whispered into her hair, clearly sensing her fear. “You don’t have to decide anything today. Right now, just be with me. The man you met on the ranch. Who christened himself on horseshit, made you throw sugar in my face, and whom you love to ride into oblivion.”

Gemma flushed and heat pooled in her core. “You’re the best time I’ve ever had.”

He grinned. “Me too.” He led her inside, so gentle and handsome she could barely breathe. Standing in a room meant for a princess, she felt something cave inside her. Her will, her defenses, common sense, she wasn’t sure. Whatever it was, it was lost. “It’s not a quilt by your pond or the hull of a boat.” André’s voice melted over her skin like silk. “But I think I can still make this our best time.”

Gemma used her good arm to grab his elbow and pull him into her, flush against her chest. “As long as when you kiss me, you can’t look anywhere else. I don’t want to remember anything else right now.” Her voice shook and her knees quaked. “Not yesterday, not what we lost, or what will happen tomorrow. I just want you.” Tears built behind her eyes and she tried to breathe.

Through the cotton shirt, her nipples rubbed against his sash and they felt heavy. Aching. André’s eyes darkened and his lips parted on an inaudible gasp.

She opened her lips to say more, but André smothered her mouth with his own. His tongue swept inside like a conquering explorer, tasting every corner. Like she was a spring of eternal water and he couldn’t drink enough. He cradled her head and tilted, delving deeper and pulling her closer.

Every move was gentle, tender and careful. Dragging his hands down, he found her skirt and drew it up in his fingers until he reached the skin of her thighs, never releasing her mouth. His touch trailed up her legs and a groan rumbled in his throat. “You may not like skirts, but your legs are made for them.”

She lunged for his mouth again, desperate to suck on that sunbeam taste she adored. Those plump lips that ignited her fires and drove her wild. Though she couldn’t lift her arm higher than her waist, he worked around her inability, careful when lifting her shirt over her head and sliding it down her arm. Without a thought, her black bra came next. The wound was still bandaged and she hated the mobility restriction. André didn’t seem to mind as he caressed her skin, moving to her aching breasts and teasing her nipples with the palms of his hands. Shocks rocketed to her sex, instantly wetting her folds.

Maravillosa,” he moaned and bent his head to suckle one between his lips. Everything ached. That sweet coil building everything inside to a breathless torture. Every flick and swirl of his tongue drove her a step tighter and weaker. She clung to his shoulder, her fingernails digging into his muscle leaving red indents. One of his hands braced against her back, pulling her closer into his mouth, while the other slid up her thigh to the apex and cupped her. Her hips ground against him, involuntarily.

“As much as I love this skirt,” he murmured against the valley of her breasts. “I like you better in nothing.”

“You’re wearing more than me,” she panted. “But I’ll admit this is a good look for you.” She pulled on his sash, loving the feel of the silk along her peaked nipples. He slipped two fingers in the side of her panties and stroked her clit, swollen and sensitive. She jerked at the surging heat, and winced at a stab of pain radiating through her shoulder and neck. He pulled back instantly, but she urged him on by gyrating her hips to the same rhythm as his fingers.

“I don’t want to hurt you,” he stammered.

“You will if you stop,” she panted and slipped his coat off his shoulder. With a single roll of his arm, the coat dropped to the floor. He unbuttoned the vest and then the shirt. Gemma used her good arm to pull the sash over his head and draped it over her own. The silk caressed her breasts like his fluttered kisses she loved. The grin he gave with flashing eyes made her heart skip.

He slipped her skirt and panties down together, slowly skimming her legs to her knees, then let the fabric drop to the floor. He took a step back and drank her in. She wore nothing but his royal sash and her boots. The hunger in his eyes, that feral gaze would have made a timid rabbit skitter away, but not her. She slid a finger up and down the silk, slow and sensual, giving him a chance to drool while he shucked off his belt and pants.

Everything about him was toned and tan. Everything. But her eyes focused on his thickness, fully erect and near dripping from the tip. He was as ready for her as she was for him.

He leaned down and pulled a condom packet from his pants pocket. She watched him tear it open with his teeth, and then slip it on with those skilled hands. He was like a tropical tiger, fixated on his target with intense hunger that made her heart race.

He prowled up to her and slipped a hand over her fleshy bottom. With a squeeze, she bit her lip and raised her knee, wrapping her leg around his thigh. With her legs opened, he didn’t wait for a further invitation and slipped himself inside her tight sheath, full to the hilt. She gasped and clutched onto his shoulder for balance, letting her body adjust to the fullness of him. The coil wound tighter, and she bit back the urge to let it spring loose. Her arm trembled, but her other wasn’t strong enough to hold onto him. With a roll of his hips, he gripped her ass and hoisted her up onto himself, letting her wrap both legs around him.

In an instant he’d moved to the bed and carefully—slowly and lovingly—laid her back on the comforter, still buried inside her. The jostle was only painful for a moment, but once settled back into the bed that wrapped around her sides, she relaxed. The bed was the perfect height for him. He adjusted himself to her entrance and rolled his pelvis into her. A moan crept up her throat with each ripple. André grabbed her leg and removed her boot, and then repeated with the other leg. All without pulling out.

“You’re a drug,” she whimpered. With another swirl of his hips, she clutched the comforter. “So addicting and hard to break free of.”

“Never,” he grunted on a thrust. “I won’t let you break free of me. Just fall into me, Gemma.”

She whimpered and arched her back, feeling him drive deeper into her core. The heat grew higher and higher. Every muscle throbbed with a coiling ache only he could quench.

“I love the little sounds you make. Your fight for control, to ride me into submission.” His raspy voice as he continued to thrust made her wetter with every syllable.

“This will be your only chance to dominate me without a fight.” She smiled and placed a hand on his chest, feeling the muscles flex and quiver. His skin was hot, nearly steaming.

“Fighting with you is the best thing in the world, next to this.” He thrust hard and she cried out. Her body jerked at the painful pleasure. He leaned over her further, their faces only inches apart. “You’re too much to let go. You consume me, mi amor. Love me. Fall into me.”

Something squeezed tight in her chest, and she almost sobbed. She gripped his neck and held his gaze right over hers for several more thrusts. His eyes had darkened, full of primal lust—or was that her reflection?

The coil wound tighter, tighter…then a final plunge sprung it loose. Every muscle quaked and throbbed as she screamed her release. André continued driving into her, panting with beads of sweat on his neck. Her channel clenched and pulsed around him, and she squeezed her legs around his thighs. He was building, on the verge of release himself from his pushes more jerky and urgent. His eyes clamped shut and his mouth fell open. A guttural groan erupted from his throat and his hot seed shot into her.

“Open your eyes,” she panted through her own throbbing climax. He stared straight down into her open soul. Every fleck of brown in his irises lit up as he finished his orgasm with slow swirls of his hips. The hottest thing she’d ever seen. She pulled his head down and smothered her lips over his, plowing into his mouth like his cock dived into her. His body shuddered and he angled his head, massaging every inch of her tongue with his own.

This was the man she loved. Free, animalistic, loving the fight as much as she, but not afraid to let her win. Letting her consume him, even if only for a night.

Because that’s all she could give him.

André collapsed to her side, careful not to jostle her more. Tingles raced all through her body, especially into her face, as she savored the delicious moment staring at the chandelier above their heads. A breeze fluttered through the curtains, kissing her skin with cool relief. Everything here was beautiful, exotic, even hypnotizing. Foreign.

A tear trailed down her cheek. Gemma went to wipe it away, but winced when she used the wrong arm. Everything around her was foreign. André was the only part that she understood. The love for his family, his people, his country, determined to make up for any previous shortcomings. She envied that. Mostly because she no longer had that choice. Everyone to whom she owed something was dead.

Though immersed in the most beautiful place on Earth, her life was a disaster. She loved a man she couldn’t hold, and had no hope of deserving his status. Loving a prince—a king—had taken away her home, her livelihood, and everything she knew.

The only thing left it hadn’t taken was her freedom. Control of the remnants of her life. Let me be your family, he’d said. Her heart soared and sank all at once. She’d craved a family for the longest time, almost as much as her own independence. But the image in her head had been vastly different than the one he’d laid before her. Much simpler, less intimidating, and less restrictive. In that dream, she’d been a whole person.

André fell asleep at her side and for several hours she watched his peaceful slumber, loving how he smiled in his sleep, instead of being plagued by more nightmares. Just as the afternoon sun drifted across the comforter, she rose and dressed, somehow managing to put her arm back in the sling, all without waking him.

Crystals and gems covered almost every inch of the room around her, and through the balcony doors promised a paradise only seen in her dreams.

Yet the real treasure slumbered in the bed, one of which she wasn’t worthy. More importantly, André wasn’t ready for her. Even if she were the kind of woman to stand beside a King, they both still had too much baggage to sort through before they could commit to each other. Until he’d done that, she wouldn’t imprison him either. She pushed back a strand of hair off his forehead and fought back the moisture in her eyes. After the lightest and most painful kiss to his temple, she snuck out of the room.

Descending the stairs in the royal palace was the most glamorous walk of shame of her life. And the worst. The dwindling sunlight smacked her in the face before she disappeared into the limo and rode off.

To Be Continued in CROWN OF SOLANA

Release Day for PRINCE OF SOLANA!


Click on cover for Amazon link

It’s finally here! It’s finally release day for my newest book baby, Prince of Solana!

And with all of the ice and snow, it couldn’t be more perfectly timed! I could really use a tropical escape.

There are so many people to thank for helping me get this book through to publication. The agonizing hours of editing that I thought would never end, and all of the incredibly helpful critiques that forced me to swallow my pride because they were so right… mostly to my critique partners in Greater Fort Worth Writer’s group, to my family for putting up with my crazy side while I fought through writing this, to my mother for our summer plotting sessions in the pool, to my brother the history buff in helping me make this realistic, to my father for reading the story before I submitted it (yes, a romance! Thanks Dad!), and especially my husband. My ultimate support and encouragement. For watching our boys so I could write, attend critique meetings, and promote my passion.

And how do we celebrate a new book release in our house? By packing more boxes to get ready for our move!

I hope everyone loves this book and as much as I do! I hope Andre becomes your new book boyfriend, and the Island of Solana is a wonderful escape from winter for you. If you liked the story, please be sure to leave a review on Amazon, GoodReads, or from wherever you bought the book. Now I’m off to finish writing the sequel, JEWEL OF SOLANA! Princess Alanna’s story!

Upcoming Book Signings, Galore!

So many awesome book signings coming up, in case you didn’t know.

The biggest one is at the RT Book Convention at the Hyatt Regency in Dallas, rtdallasTX on Saturday, May 16th, 2015. I’ll be signing both Audrey’s Promise Prince of Solana in the largest reader convention showcase ever! I’d love to see you! Click here for details!

If you can’t wait that long, I have 2 others at local libraries. The first is:

Haltom City Library’s ‘A Night of Romance’ on Friday, Feb 13th 6:30-Chocolate_Candies_Cupcakes8:30pm

A whole bunch of local romance authors will be selling and signing books, while mingling with readers, and even possibly reading a few excerpts. I’ll be signing Audrey’s Promise. Click here for details!


Keller Library Author Showcase on Saturday, March 21st 12noon – 2:30pm

More details coming soon, but a whole bunch of local authors from various genres will be selling & signing books, myself included! Specifically both Audrey’s Promise Prince of Solana. The Keller library is off Johnson Rd in Keller, TX. Would love to see you if you’re in the area!

Official Release Date for PRINCE OF SOLANA Feb 25th!

I’m so proud & excited to announce the official worldwide release date of

PRINCE OF SOLANA is February, 25th, 2015!!

This is the first in my new romantic suspense trilogy, Royals of Solana!



Available on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and other e-book retailers, as well as in paperback on Amazon & The Wild Rose Press website. Links will be available soon for preorder.

It has been an extremely long road to getting this puppy published, and I promise is well worth the wait!

Sequel-Hell: About to Commit Manuscript-icide

I’m in that horrible, gut-wrenching place called “Sequel Hell.” Where you frustrated-writerquestion everything about the plot, the characters, even the overall plausibility of the trilogy. My confidence is near bottom on this thing.

I’ve finished the first novel in the trilogy and sent it out to several publishers (it’s a romantic suspense). I have the plot outlines on both the second and third stories, and I’m not quite halfway through writing the second. And I want to rip it to shreds already. Not just rip it to shreds, but make snowflake chains of it and watch it float over the edge of a massive canyon. Call this the edge of Manuscript-icide.

I’m hoping this is just a case of the ‘drastic willies.’ I’ve told a few of my friends who visited “Sequel Hell” recently that they were just overreacting. I helped talk one of them off the ledge of manuscript-icide as well. The stories were fantastic (because they are!!! *Cough* Kim and Chrissy.) But I’m not so confident that’s the case with mine.

My goal was to have the first draft of this novel completed by Dec 31st. Not going to happen. Mild panic attack set in last week when I realized there was only 2 weeks left until that deadline, and I still had a crap load of non-writing related stuff to do. Which takes away from my fragile writing time. Throw in a few minor complications with a pregnancy that requires more doctor visits…bottom line is that deadline is just unrealistic at this point.

So now I have a more realistic goal: finish the first draft before this baby comes.

That is, if I don’t have to start all over again. Which is very possible with the way my brain is functioning right now. *manuscript in hand, approaching the freakin’ ledge*PaperOffLedge

How To Choose a Writer’s Conference

*This article originally appeared in the GFWWriters June 2013 Newsletter*

CoWritten by author C. A Szarek.

So you want to attend a writer’s conference? First time? Even BETTER!HowtoChoose

There are so many great ones out there. Before you make any decisions, make sure you do your research, talk to others that have gone; listen to what they have to say.

Most conferences have their agenda listed with plenty of time to review it beforehand. Read over it carefully so you can plan your conference experience.

What do you want to accomplish? If you’re attending to socialize, you’re not maximizing the resources writers’ conferences offer. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with meeting other authors, but it probably wouldn’t be beneficial if this were your main attendance goal.

Authors attend conferences for many reasons, but here are a few main benefits that draw people.

*Pitching: This is a fantastic opportunity that is rather unique to writers’ pitchingconferences. Personal, face-to-face contact with editors and agents who want to give you a shot. Believe it or not, they attend conferences for some of the same reasons as authors, but the positive thing here is these particular editors and agents make time because they are actively seeking quality work.  No waiting in that pesky slush pile email box.  Here are tips on how to create a perfect pitch.

Sometimes these are what we would consider big deal editors from the coveted New York Houses that you don’t get into without an agent. This is a major benefit of a conference. On the same token, agents are not always easy to sign. Speaking to one face-to-face, whether from a big agency or not is a great opportunity. Even if your current project isn’t right for them, your impression can make them remember you.

This alone can be a great reason to attend a conference. But make sure you research well. Some conferences charge extra for this perk, though most don’t.

If you’re a conference virgin, even the thought could have you shaking in your boots, but don’t. Editors and agents are people, too. They enjoy talking to you. Just think of it like this: You can practice your pitch all you want, but if it’s not natural, it can lose appeal even if your words are awesome. So speak to an editor or agent as if you’re telling your best friend about your book. No one knows the book better than you.

Don’t let nerves make you miss out on this conference-unique opportunity.

*Workshops: Most conferences have a variety of sessions that cover everything from craft to marketing to industry trends. This should be a deciding factor in which conference you choose. No matter what stage your career is in, whether you’re pre-published or have several books out there, you never stop learning as an author. The more you write, the better you get.

So, look at the agenda (most will have it available beforehand) and see which would benefit you most. You shouldn’t have any ‘free’ blocks in your schedule. There should be so many interesting classes you just have to attend, how can you possibly choose between them. Research the presenters as well: are they experienced in what they’re presenting? Have they given it before and have others found it helpful? Workshops can be one of the best reasons to attend a conference.

*Book Signings: A perk of many a conference is a book signing that’s open to the public. Hopefully this won’t be your only reason for attending a conference, but it can be a nice experience as well. You get your name and your book(s) out to authors as well as the general public. Here are tips on how to have a successful book signing.

If you are going to take part in a signing at a conference, ask questions. Will they have a sponsor? Will you have to be your own cashier for the books you sell? Will sales benefit a charity? (This is very common at conference book signings) and research what turnout they usually have, if the conference is annual so you can plan the number of books and swag you need to bring.

*Networking: Another awesome reason for attending a conference! Read thevintage-social-networking brochure/agenda to see what headliners will be at the conference of your choice. Then, make it a point to speak to these people. Yes, you really can talk to famous authors! Just like editors and agents, they’re people, too! You never know what kind of friends you could make—for life.

Let your inner social butterfly come out and shine! It pays to talk to people. Writing, like any other industry can depend on who you know. So make contacts! Get business cards and keep them handy. Write down their email addresses or website, and get their Twitter handles.

Other authors, editors, agents, you never know who can be around the corner, at a meal, even hanging out in the lobby at the conference. Make use of free time by being observant. Read name badges. Don’t be afraid to ask other authors what they write. And remember, when someone asks what you write—they really do want to know.

You could end up with a fantastic critique partner or some awesome new reads.

Other factors to consider in choosing which writer’s conferences to attend are:

*Genre Specific: Make sure you pick a conference that includes the genre in which you write. If your stories are mainly thriller or science fiction, then attending a romance based conference won’t be as helpful. There are plenty of conferences that are more specific to a particular genre to which gears many of their workshops and key speakers. Pay close attention to those. But of course don’t disregard the broader conferences like the Writer’s Digest Conference, where many big editors and agents always attend, looking for new talent for their lineup.

*Budget: How much can you spend in a given year on these conferences? Between registration fees, airfare, hotels, food, books, contests, and other miscellaneous items, the endeavor can get expensive. The best conferences are those that do not charge extra for pitch sessions, specific workshops or even parking. Make sure you choose one that has all of those included (unless you don’t plan to pitch your manuscript).  Another tip is to choose conferences that are geographically close, saving you the cost of airfare and/or hotel. Or if you have several friends all attending, split the costs by sharing a hotel room and make a road trip out of it. Most conferences offer an ‘early-bird’ rate, so book early if you can. Some conferences also give out ‘scholarships’ to help ease the cost to a few individuals who present a financial need.

*Attending Agents/Editors/Authors: If you’re pitching a novel or just want to meet the experts in the industry, make sure the ones you’re really interested in plan on attending. Conferences will always list the names of presenting authors, agents and editors on their websites in advance, especially those that will accept pitches. They often include the kinds of stories the experts are actively looking for. So research the editors and agents attending and see if they cover your topic/genre. If you’re spending this much money, make sure it’s worth your while.

Conference Etiquette

~Dress appropriately. No one is asking you to wear an uncomfortable suit or dress or three-inch heels for an entire day of workshops, presentations and pitch sessions. But be professional. Don’t show up in ratty jeans, tank top and flip-flops.

~Don’t stalk agents/editors in the bathroom or just before they present. They are clearly focused on other things and they won’t give you their full attention. And it’ll annoy the hell out of them, and that’s not the kind of impression you want to leave.

~Networking is a must, but monopolizing conversations with constant reminders of your story is a turnoff. Give others a chance to talk, and LISTEN.

What to Bring

~Business cards with your email address and contact info (write the title and genre of your current work on the back)

~Notepad or Notebook and a good pen

~Synopsis/Query Letter

~A prepped 1-line ‘elevator pitch’ of your story.

~A small messenger bag to carry the ‘goodies’ you’ll get

~Cash- for buying books, the cash bar, raffles, tips for housekeeping

~Light Jacket/Sweater- you never know how powerful the air conditioner will be

~Extra Luggage Bag- to cart home the extra books and stuff you’ll get (if you’re flying, and if you don’t leave extra space in your original bag)

~Snacks- if you’re staying at the hotel overnight, do you really want to pay hotel prices for a bag of chips or granola bars?

What to Leave

~Laptop (leave it in the hotel room)

~A copy of your full manuscript. If agents ask for it, they all prefer email. (Why would you want to cart around the extra weight, anyway?)

~Shy or Wallflower Tendencies- this will kill your experience at conferences, and the whole point is to network and meet people who will help advance your career and/or skills

Hopefully this will help you in deciding which conference(s) to attend and how to prepare. More than anything else, remember why you write: what keeps you going back to that keyboard or notepad? Everything about a conference is supposed to help make you a better writer and be more successful. Good luck and keep writing forward.


Now for the long-awaited cover of my contemporary romance novel, Audrey’s Promise. My debut novel, and I’m constantly giddy over it.


Audrey’s Promise will be published Nov 1st, 2013 with the Wild Rose Press.

Audrey Allen is poised to become the youngest Texas Senator, a position she’s primed for with her nickname, “The Peacemaker.” But she’s unable to make peace with many in her hometown, where memories and grudges run deep from a decade-old tragedy. Ethan Tanner, ambitious and tantalizing journalist, joins her home for Thanksgiving for an in-depth look at the promising candidate. But he has an agenda of his own that’s not entirely honorable. Will he stir up more trouble for her budding career, or awaken the deep passions she’s buried for so long? Can Audrey hold on to the promise she’d made?

Darker Side of Writing

I started writing this story that planned to be more romance than suspense. As BookRoseI’ve written further into it, it’s becoming more suspense than romance, but what concerns me the most is this has become darker than I anticipated.

I realized my motivations for one of the major turning points wasn’t strong enough. But I had to get my heroine, Gemma, to abandon everything she knows to join the hero back to his home country. So instead of leaving to keep her home safe, I’ve forced her to leave because her home doesn’t exist anymore (for lack of better explanation, and I don’t want to give spoilers!)

But I’m struggling with how much darker the story has become. I normally don’t write this morbid, but it makes the motivation strong enough for the character. One particular scene had me in tears as I wrote it, but it was crucial.

The reason I’m so concerned is this doesn’t fit the standards of the current publisher I work with. Selling this story could prove to be more difficult than I’d like.

Writers: have you ever experienced something like this? Where a story morphs into a different genre or tone before your eyes? How do you handle it? Or maybe I should finish the thing first and worry about those issues later. Hm, conundrum.