$1.99 Harlequin sale is on now!

Harlequin is discounting a ton of books across many lines to $1.99 from October 6 - October 10, 2017. The Secret Marriage Pact, book #3 in my Business of Marriage series is among the discounted books. Snag it and many other great titles to read this fall!

Happy reading!

Harlequin, Harlequin Historical, Regency romance

An improper proposal! 

Jane Rathbone is used to being left behind, and no longer believes she deserves happiness. But when childhood friend Jasper Charton returns from the Americas, more dangerously sexy than ever, she has a proposition. She'll give him the property he needs if he'll give her a new future—by marrying her! 

Jasper never imagined taking a wife, but wonders if loyal Jane could be his redemption. And when their marriage brings tantalizing pleasures, convenient vows blossom into a connection that could heal them both…

Teacher Thank You Gift Basket

I recently put together this basket to thank a teacher. I decided to go with relaxing items like tea, an adult coloring book, coloring pencils, relaxing lavender and chamomile bath salts, hand cream and a fun pair of Harlequin slipper socks. I arranged all the items in one of the reusable tins I had leftover from my reader event table favors. After spending a day in the classroom with kids, what teacher doesn't need a little pampering? I hope this basket helps inspire you the next time you need to thank a teacher.

If you would like to pamper yourself, consider one of my books because they're relaxing to read.

Table Favor Ideas

table favors, swag, gifts, party favors,books, writing,

A few months ago, I attended the California Dreamin' Writers' Conference. The picture on the left is historical romance author Sarah MacLean giving the keynote speech. 

During the conference, I participated in a Barbara Vey reader event. There were two authors at each table and we were asked to provide table favors for the readers who were sitting with us. 
table favors, swag, gifts, party favors,books, writing,
My favor was a metal tin that included my latest release, The Secret Marriage Pact, gold tipped pencils to inspire creative writing, a glittery clothespin to help the participants keep all those bookmarks organized, and a net bag of M&M's because you have to have chocolate. Below, is a picture of how my tin looked on the table.

table favors, swag, gifts, party favors,books, writing,

Before the event began, I went around and photographed some of the other authors' table favors. Below are pictures to help inspire you. Enjoy!

The hotel ballroom while we were setting up.

Mugs and other goodies.
Striking bags and fun chalk board name tags on the bud vases.

These flip flop bags are adorable.

http://opheliabell.com/, ophelia bell
Simple but elegant glasses with a touch of red from Ophelia Bell.

http://deannacameron.com/, deanna cameron
I love the Tiffany blue paper in DeAnna Cameron's bags.

http://louisabacio.com/, louisa bacio
Louisa Bacio's table favors. I love the purple cooler bag.

https://christyjeffries.com/, christy jeffries
Christy Jeffries had cute gift bags.

Charlene Sands, http://www.charlenesands.com/
Charlene Sands' great western theme. Notice the bandanna tying the gift bag.

I love the pearls on the bags.

More simple but elegant glasses.

http://janeporter.com/, jane porter
These are Jane Porter's table favors. Notice the Beauty and the Beast theme complete with Beast's rose under a glass in the center.

Judy Duarte, http://www.judyduarte.com/
Judy Duarte's sassy red boxes are eye catching.

http://www.tanyastowe.com/index.html, tanya stowe
Tanya Stowe had a cute canvas bag with her book cover on it.

Sadly, it isn't in focus but this is an evidence bag. Very cute for a romantic suspense author.

https://alannalucas.com/, alana lucas
Alana Lucas' table favors.

Coffee Lovers Gift Basket

Are you looking for a gift basket idea for a large group or organization? Then here's a basket for you. I organized this basket for a group and everyone donated an item. I decided to go with coffee because most people love their morning cup of Joe.

Items in the basket included various types of coffee, cups, travel mugs, a Mr. Coffee Coffee Press, biscotti, Starbucks syrup, a Mickey Mouse Mug Warmer, a Starbucks gift card, small bottles of Kahlua, coffee scented nail polish, a book on the history of coffee and other assorted coffee related items. The items were placed in a shallow basket that can be reused by the winner. It was a fun and easy basket to organize for a group.

coffee, gift basket

If you enjoy coffee then you'll enjoy my books because they're great to read while you're drinking your coffee.

Tips for Finding & Getting the Most Out of Writing Organizations

writing, writing groups, how to, organizations

Writing organizations can be wonderful places where you can learn a great deal, meet like-minded people, and take advantage of great opportunities like live events and conferences. Below are some tips for getting the most out of writing groups.

1. Go on-line to find groups. The more groups you find, the more chances you'll have of finding ones that work for you. In addition to local chapters of national organizations, many libraries offer writings groups. There are also on-line writing groups that you can join in order to meet new people, forge new connections, and learn.

2. Give the group a trial run. Once you find a few groups, it will take some time for you to discover if the group is right for you. Many on-line and library groups have free membership so it's easy to attend a few meetings in order to get a feel for things. National organizations often offer one or two meetings free to potential members before they require membership. Take advantage of these to determine if the group is right for you. With all groups, use your time there to gauge if the other members are friendly to you and your current professional level. If you are a beginner, and everyone around you is also a beginner, it can help you to not feel alone. However, people at your level may not have enough experience to offer the advice, guidance or inspiration necessary for helping you to reach the next professional level. Don't be intimidated by the more experienced writers. Most of them remember what it was like to be a newbie, and they're eager to share with others what they know.

3. Give and you will get. Don't just suck up information but give back. You may not be able to contribute a lot at first, but as you become more experienced don't forget to help others the way others helped you. Teach workshops, offer guidance and critiques. You don't want to forget that you were once just starting out too. Also, take advantages of promotional opportunities that the organization offers. These can be great ways to reach new readers and build your fan base. Go to conference and workshops too so you can network with other writers and industry professionals.

4. Don't Limit Yourself to One Group. Every organization has its strength and weaknesses. By joining many, both on-line and in person, you'll benefit from a vast array of experience and knowledge.

5. Don't be afraid to leave the group if it no longer meets your needs. Your needs as a writer will change as you move forward in your career. Don't be afraid to move on when the writing organization no longer meets your needs. It can be hard to leave a group once you've belonged for a while. The familiar is comforting, but if a group is no longer helping you to attain your goals or provide you with pertinent information then it isn't doing you any good. There are many writing organizations, and you are sure to find another one that meets your current professional needs.

If you enjoyed these tips on how to find a writing organization that is right for you then you will enjoy my books because I wrote them while I was involved in many different organizations.

Should You Enter Writing Contests?

writing contests, writing, how to, life hack

When I first began writing, I was eager to enter my work in contests. I wanted quality feedback on my writing, and a chance to get my work in front of editors and agents. It was an eye-opening experience.

What I discovered after entering and losing a few contests is that contests are very subjective. I had books that didn't even final in contests get picked off the slush pile for publication. After this happened more than once, I decided that contests weren't for me.

Fast forward to a few years later. I had a number of book published by Harlequin and other publishers and I decided, on a whim, to enter a couple of contest. Low and behold, I came in first. At this point in my career, placing in a contest was an ego boost. This can be a tough business and you have to get your kicks where you can. Receiving a couple of trophies and being able to say "award winning author" were important to me.

Whatever your reason for entering contests, here are some important questions to ask before you send in your money and your writing.

1. What do you hope to get out of the contest? Are you looking for good feedback from a professional? Are you searching for validation of your work and a shinny trophy to display in your office (there's nothing wrong with that). Ask yourself why you want to spend your money on the contest. If your reason is simply because it's there and you happen to have written something, then the contest may not be for you.

2. Who is judging the contest? Who is judging the contest is an important thing to take into consideration. If you are searching for feedback on your work, then search for a contest that will be judged by professionals in your field or genre. If you are searching for a morale boost (there's nothing wrong with that), then look for contests judged by readers. What you don't want to do is enter a contest judged by amateurs if you're searching for a professional critique of your work. You won't get what you need, and it will be a waste of your time, money and resources.

3. What are the rewards for winning? Will your work get in front of an editor or agent? Will you get useful feedback? Is there a cash prize or a chance at quality advertisement? Your answers to these questions will tell you whether or not a contest is right for you.

4. Can I handle feedback? Judges comments can be helpful, and they can be brutal so if you aren't ready to see them, then don't enter a contest. On the other hand, taking criticism is a skill to learn and a contest can help you learn it.

5. What happens if I enter a lot of contests and I don't win? This might be a good indication that your work isn't really ready. Take the feedback offered by the judges, revise your work or start a new project, and give it some time. Develop your craft and then try again in a few months or even years. The timing, or the types of contest you are entering, may not be right for you.

I hope these tips helps you decide whether entering contest is right for you. Check out my books because some of them are award winning.

Small Details Can Make the Character

character, writing, novel, books, how to

When you're in an art gallery and gazing at old portraits, it’s easy to forget that all of the faces staring back at you were once real people with thoughts, hopes, dreams, love and ambition. Pondering these people and the "what ifs" of their lives can often inspire stories. Viewing the paintings can also help you when it comes to expressing your character through small details.

National Portrait Gallery, Gallery, portrait
When I explored the British National Portrait Gallery the last time I was in London, the portrait that really caught my attention was Don Justino de Neve by Bartolome Esteban Murillo. Neither the sitter nor the artist are famous enough to draw crowds, but the fat little dog with the red bow in the corner looking up adoringly at her master really rabbed me.

In a room full of the trappings of wealth, power and fame, this little dog helped remind me that Senor de Neve was once a real person. After all, only a real person with a genuine affection for his canine companion, or perhaps with a great sense of humor and the ability to poke fun at himself, would think to include a cute little dog in a red bow in such a formal portrait. Also, for a man dressed in dark clothes and with a serious expression, the red bow was a fun contrasting detail. It made me wonder if he was less stern than his image suggested.

By including a contrasting and unexpected element in your character's description or life, you can not only capture your reader's attention but reveal more about the character. Like the artist did with Senor de Neve, you can hint at a softer side, with something as simple as a little detail like a dog and a bow. 

The dog in the portrait not only suggests another aspect of Senor de Neve’s character, but it provides a connection to the gentleman. Looking around that one gallery, I couldn’t help but notice the number of companion dogs painted alongside their owners. I am very attached to my little dog, and to see so many people over the ages attached to theirs helped remind us that despite the years between me and the people in the portraits, we are not so different. Through details that are both unique, and at the same time universal, you can help your readers connect to your characters.

If you enjoy stories with dogs in them then check out my romance novels because many of my stories have dogs in them.