Prince of Solana 5-Star Review from InD’Tale Magazine

InD'Tale Magazine

InD’Tale Magazine

Totally on cloud nine right now!

InD’Tale Magazine, a reputable and well known review magazine for romance novels, gave PRINCE OF SOLANA a 5-star review!

 

Commence Happy-Dance!

WhoseLineDanceNow

Check out the actual review here

Not only did it receive such a glorious review, they also gave it the coveted Crowned Heart Award for Excellence!

I cannot thank them enough! I’m so humbled and thrilled!

What are you waiting for? Pick up your copy of PRINCE OF SOLANA today!

Kindle click here

Paperback click here

Nook click here

Be sure to check out InD’Tale’s website for other reviews from awesome novels!

YouLoveMeTheMask

Kidney Stones and Hydrocodone

It’s been over a week and this selfish kidney stone has decided to make a pillspermanent residence in my system. Supposedly, there’s only 1, and supposedly, it’s small enough to pass on its own. But by the number of pain pills I’ve taken since last Wednesday, I’m doubting that information.

Obviously, I can’t drive while I’m on this medication. I can’t even write. Good Lord, what kind of crazy things would come out of a Hydrocodone-induced mind? Kinda scary to think about.

The only way I’ve made it through this past week, aside from Hydrocodone and Zofran, is through the help of my family. Chauffeuring my son around for school and his bajillion appointments every week, cooking dinner, and babysitting my youngest— it’s a lot to ask for. Especially from someone who doesn’t like to ask for help.

I’m so lucky. To have the help there when I need it. There are plenty of folks that have to go through this kind of stuff completely alone. So I give a huge hug and major thank you to my family: you know who you are.

But this damn stone has taken up enough of my life, and enough of my family’s demonstonelife. So we’ll see what this urologist has to say today, and I hope it can evict this tiny demon stuck somewhere between my kidney and bladder.

And hopefully sometime before the end of the month, I can get back to writing.

I’ll post an update when I can. Any of you gone through this ridiculousness before?

Book Birthday for AUDREY’S PROMISE

I’m back from RWA in San Antonio, and I’m completely overwhelmed and RWA Swaginspired at the same time!

Click to purchase

Happy Birthday!!

Coincidentally, it’s AUDREY’S PROMISE‘s book birthday this week! 1 year ago a dream came true and my debut contemporary romance went live on Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble!

So to celebrate, I’m giving away a free copy of AUDREY’S PROMISE and a bunch of books and other goodies I picked up at RWA! 1 lucky commentator on either my Facebook post or Twitter page or this post will win! You have to say what you love about romance novels, and I’ll announce the winner on Friday.

So tell me, WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT ROMANCE NOVELS?

kisses

 

Open Call for Reviewers- FREE E-Book!

I received wonderful news from my publisher last week, announcing they are giving their authors more free e-copies of their novels to share with reviewers and bloggers!

Guess what that means?FreeEBook

OPEN CALL FOR REVIEWERS!

I’m asking for anyone who is willing to read AUDREY’S PROMISE, and write a review (at least 150 words) to post onto Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Good Reads, and any review sites they belong to (blogs included). I will email a .pdf file copy of the novel to you (completely FREE!), and you can download it to any device you prefer (Kindle, Nook,  Kobo, etc).

WriteAReviewMy request is that the review be posted within 6 weeks of receiving the novel. If you don’t like the book, that’s ok. I will not be offended. But please keep your reviews PG rated (no swearing or personal attacks). Keep it strictly on the book and characters. 🙂

Here’s the book blurb:

Audrey Allen is poised to become the youngest Texas senator, a position that fits 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, an ambitious and tantalizing journalist, joins her at Thanksgiving for an in-depth look at the promising candidate. But he has an agenda of his own that’s not entirely honorable.
Ethan could stir up trouble for her budding career, or awaken the deep passions she’s buried for so long. Will Ethan find that he values love more than getting the story?

Thank you in advance! Either comment on this posting or send me an email through my CONTACT PAGE.

Now: KeepCalmReadOn

Time Flies and Priorities Change

Time is flying by, even more so that I have a definitive timeline to get this BlurredClockmanuscript finished. My deadline is BBDD. Before Baby Due Date.

With that comes a massive priority struggle. Between my son’s schedule, gearing up for the baby (and picking out a name!), as well as finishing this manuscript and critiquing a friend’s manuscript, blogging has fallen off of my priority list. Not a great first posting for 2014, I know.

But that doesn’t bode well for an author trying to market a recent release. I can’t devote that much time to social media or blogging, because I selfishly would rather focus any free time on writing/critiquing. Come mid-March, free-time will be a fond and distant memory (much like sleep). Writing will become ‘that thing I love, but I need to take a shower and 2hr nap today.’ So the stories in my head will be stuck on the rear-burner. Along with my blog.

BabyandStorkBut I want you all to know that I won’t be going away completely. I promise I’ll still be here. Albeit, a much more tired, ragged version of myself. It will take me longer to respond to emails and hop onto Facebook/Twitter. But I WILL respond. Priorities will shift (they kinda have to!) but I know this blog will still be here when I’m ready.

More importantly, I’ll still try to market AUDREY’S PROMISE as much as possible and attend those treasured conferences and events (between feedings!). RWA National is a major one for me, particularly since it’s in Texas this year. At some point, I’ll have my first book signing!

In the meantime, I follow several blogs that will more than make up for my lack of presence. Feel free to follow these folks and fill your brain with inspiring knowledge and entertainment!

Greater Ft Worth Writers 

Author CA Szarek

Author Kimberly Packard

Author Scot Morgan

The Creative Penn

Nathan Bransford 

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.

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.

Apologies for Silence

I apologize for my silence over the last few weeks. 2013 isn’t starting off as promising as I’d hoped and we’re dealing with a not-so-pleasant situation, that I have no idea when will be resolved.apology

But I know you all understand. Family and health come first.

Sadly, this also means I haven’t been able to write much either. If it weren’t for the Writer’s Retreat I participated in the second weekend of January, my word count for the month would be a big fat ZERO.

Speaking of writer’s retreats, I highly recommend one for you fellow writers out there. We didn’t want to spend a lot of money or be too far from home, so we went to a local lake and rented a small cabin. January and February are off-season for those places, so you can get some INSANE deals, which we did. Over half off.

So wherever you are, you can always find those kinds of tucked-away places to get you away from your normal grind, without spending too much or being too far away if an emergency pops up.

Thanks to the two incredible ladies who joined me~ I hope to partake in another one soon!

God willing.