Archive | May 2014

Put Your Heart In A Book Conference – Registration Opening!

***Permission to Forward Granted and Encouraged***

Save the Date
Registration Opens June 1st!

NJRW’s Conference “30 Years of Happily Ever Afters!”

October 17-18, 2014
Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel
Iselin, NJ

Early Bird Pricing: June 1-July 31st
NJRW Member $215 – Non-member $240

Prices go up August 1st, so get in early.

Don’t miss this opportunity to take your writing to the next level. This year’s Put Your Heart in a Book Conference is shaping up to be the best ever.

Susan Mallery: Keynote Speaker
Stella Cameron: Luncheon Speaker
Jennifer Probst: Special Presentation*
Roxanne St Claire: 3-hour Pre-Conference Workshop ($45)

* For first 100 registrants (join in the workshop with Jennifer Probst!)

Some things to expect:

  • Workshops for writers of all levels 
  • Editor/Agent Appointments
  • Literacy Book Fair/Author Signings (a portion of proceeds will go to Literacy Volunteers of NJ)
  • Opportunities for Networking 

 

Here is a partial list of agents and editors scheduled to attend:

Agents:

  • Louis Fury, The Bent Agency 
  • Jita Fumich, Folio Literary Management 
  • Lisa Rodgers, JABberwocky Literary Agency 
  • Annelise Robey, Jane Rotrosen Agency 
  • Lori Perkins, LPerkins Agency 
  • Sarah E. Younger, Nancy Yost Literary Agency 
  • Stephany Evans, FinePrint Literary Management

Editors:

  • Nicole Fisher, Avon Books 
  • Sarah Murphy, Bantam Dell 
  • Angela James, Carina Press 
  • Treva Harte, Loose Id 
  • Lauren McKenna, Pocket Books 
  • Mary Altman, Sourcebooks Inc. 
  • Cat Clyne, Sourcebooks Inc. 
  • Eileen Rothschild, St. Martin’s Press 
  • Melissa Ann Singer, Tor/Forge 
  • Julie Mianecki, Berkley 
  • Kristine Swartz, Berkley

… … and more to come

Workshop presenters:

  • Madeline Hunter, PAN/PUB Retreat Kickoff Speaker 
  • Susan Mallery, Screw The Muse, I’m on a Deadline 
  • Stella Cameron, People Make Your Story 
  • Jennifer Probst and Jen Talty, Sweet, Snarky, or Sexpot: What Makes a Good Heroine? 
  • Christine Bush, First Timer’s Workshop 
  • Anne Walradt, Writing the “Can’t Put It Down” Novel 
  • Laura Curtis, Personal Branding for Authors 
  • Nancy Herkness, Sell Your Book, Not Your Soul 
  • Julie Ann Walker, The Hard and Fast Rules for a Kickass Query & How to Make Your Characters THUNDER 
  • Beth Ciotta, Derring-Do, The Passionate Writer’s Guide to Success 
  • Julie Rowe, Taming Twitter 2-hour block 
  • Mary Burton, Novel Write 
  • Joanna Shupe, Tech Tips for Writers 
  • Judi Fennell, How to Self Publish & Novel In A Nutshell 
  • Tina Gallagher and Pattie Giordani, Pitch Perfect 
  • Nisha Sharma, GMC in the YA Novel & Score! Game plans, Strategies, and Plays 
  • Sandra Pesso, Work Your Social Media Platform like a Rockstar 
  • Shiloh Walker, Draw Me A Story 
  • Jen Talty, Building Your Author Brand 
  • Bob Mayer, Write It Forward 
  • Jen Talty and Bob Mayer, E-pub, POD, and the Future of Publishing 
  • Laura Kaye, The Secrets Behind Becoming a Bestseller 
  • Kristen Painter, Worldbuilding Through a Series 
  • Diana Cosby, Marketing for Impact 2-hour block 
  • Donna MacMeans, Grab Your Reader on Page 1 
  • Mallory Braus and Elizabeth London, Top Ten Ways You’re Showing Rather Than Telling 
  • Laurie Cooper, This Bridge Looks REALLY High 
  • K.M. Fawcett and Cathy Tully, Looking for Action? Writing Believable Fight Scenes 
  • Leigh Duncan, A Walk In The Plot 
  • Victoria Pinder, Be Your Own Agent 
  • Judith Roth, The Art of Self-Editing 
  • Sarah Younger 
  • Jeanette Grey, Domains and Graphics 
  • Vicky Sue Dreiling, Make Them Laugh, Make Them Cry 
  • Maria Snyder, Classic Writing Mistakes 
  • Susan Wall, Book Trailer Boot Camp 
  • Louisa Edwards, How to Give and Get Better Critiques 
  • Peter Andrews, How to Write Fast 
  • Laurie Bevin Cooper, How to Make Opportunities Happen 
  • Paula Scardamalia, How to Use the Tarot To Write

If you have questions, please contact: DC “Desi” Stone, NJRW’s 2014 Conference Chair, atconfchair@njromancewriters.org or, Jackson D’Lynne, Assistant Chair, at jacksondlynne@yahoo.com

For registration questions, please contact: Jenny Baskwell Registrar, at registrar@njromancewriters.org.

We will be adding to the list of agents and editors, so please check our web site www.njromancewriters.org frequently for updates!

 

In The Mind of Laura Kaye – 30 Years of Happily Ever Afters

This week we’re jumping over the hump with our featured workshop presenter and best-selling author, Laura Kaye!

Laura will be giving a workshop at our conference in October. The Secrets Behind Becoming A Best Seller is just one of many fabulous workshops we have scheduled.

For more information on our conference, on when registration opens, and other popular questions, please visit our website at http://www.njromancewriters.org.

Please welcome Laura!

How did you come up with the idea for Hard As It Gets, the first book in your Hard Ink series?

I had been writing contemporary romances featuring active duty military and veterans for a while, so I took that base and added a more military-centered suspense plot to it, and then set it all in the sexy and gritty setting of a tattoo parlor. Specific influences were that I worked for the military for eight years as a professor at the Naval Academy and that I’ve always been fascinated with tattoos (I have two…).

I want to ask where and of what, but I think I’ll call you out at the conference with that. *winks* How long did it take you to write Hard As It Gets?

It took me four and a half weeks to write it, but I only cranked it out so fast because I had to. When I sold the Hard Ink series to Avon, my writing schedule was already totally booked for 2013, so I knowingly overloaded my schedule to be able to write this series.

WOW! That’s an amazingly short amount of time! What was it about your book that made your editor want to buy it?

I think my editor loved the combination of the military heroes, the brotherhood of the team, the sexy tattoo setting, and the suspense plot combined with the fact that the team is operating outside the law. I kept getting feedback that there was a “Sons of Anarchy” vibe, but at the time I’d never watched the series so I had no idea what they were talking about. Then I went on a SoA Netflix binge and got it!

I take it you’re addicted now? What was the most difficult aspect of writing Hard As It Gets?

Two things: how fast I had to write it, and the fact that I had to plot out the suspense elements. I don’t usually plot, but I find I can’t write suspense without doing so.

How much research did you conduct for Hard As It Gets and what was the most interesting thing you did while conducting your research?

What didn’t I research for this book? LOL There was a lot to research while writing this – everything from Baltimore neighborhoods to Maryland gang activity to the heroin trade to growing heroin in Afghanistan to how to use a gun and what kind of equipment you use to scan for surveillance bugs to how to do tattoos. And this list only scratches the surface. Plus, since it was the first book in the series, a lot of research was required to just build the world. I also watched a whole slew of documentaries on the Army Special Forces – that was fun!

Why did you decide to write romantic suspense?

Actually, I don’t think I chose to write it. I thought I was setting out to write more military romance. Because I don’t plot and because I sold this series on proposal with only the first chapter of the first book written, I really had no idea how central the suspense plot was going to become. Having done it now, I really respect romantic suspense authors!

What is your process for writing a book? For example, are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you start at page 1 and write your book sequentially or do you skip around? Do you start with your characters or the plot?

I’m definitely a pantser, except for the romantic suspense elements, as I’ve said above. I need to know the characters very well, and they’re usually what come to me first, and I need to know the conflict. Then I just open up a Word document and start writing. I’m very linear; I can’t skip around when I write.

Do you use any techniques, tools, or aids to help you write?

Not really, unless you consider music a tool or aid. I pick one song that reflects the song or characters to me and listen to it on repeat the whole time I’m writing.

OMG, I do the same thing! Do you write multiple drafts or barely need revisions when typing, The End?

I write one draft, but I edit as I go. So, each day when I sit down to write, I re-read what I wrote the day before and revise it. That gets me back into the story again to write new pages. I also have beta readers who read behind me as I write, and I incorporate their edits as I go, too. By the time I write “The End,” I’m done.

How do you make time to write?

For four years, I balanced writing with a full-job teaching job at the Naval Academy. Last year, I took a leave of absence to write, and in December I retired from teaching entirely to write full-time. I’m very lucky to be able to do that. Now, I treat it as a full-time job committing five days a week to a minimum 8:30am-5pm schedule, usually much more. I’ve given up a lot of hobbies and relaxation time to write, too.

When you are writing, who is in control? You or your characters?

The characters.

Who has had the most influence on your writing?

I feel like I’ve learned a lot about what I know about how to write male point of view by reading J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

*sings, “love it!”* Have you had any “ah ha” moments as a writer?

I have lots of them when I’m writing. As a pantser, there are many times when something you do early in the manuscript makes sense much later (like you planned it!) and it’s totally surprising.

What advice do you have for other writers?

Lots: first and most important, there’s no one right way to do this! Never let anyone tell you otherwise. Some things that have been useful for me are: write as close to every day as you can – you can’t revise or sell what you haven’t written; surround yourself with other writers pursuing publication (through writing groups or critique partners); never give up!

Why did you decide to become an author?

Hmm. I’m not sure I decided this. I was already a non-fiction author before I started writing fiction. But in 2008 I had a brain injury and as I healed I was struck with a very strong creative urge that included, among other things, the urge to write a book. Three months after I started writing, I had my first draft. It literally took over my life. But once I’d finished that first book, it was a part of me and I never looked back.

Why did you decide to become a romance author?

I love the hopefulness of the romance genre, in which every book tells you no matter the obstacles or hurdles or pain in your life, you deserve and can find your happily ever after. Plus it’s fun!

Would you tell us your story of getting “the call?”

My first real “call” story came after I already had two books published. I’d submitted a book to Harlequin’s Nocturne line and editor Tara Gavin called to buy that and one more like it. THAT was SO exciting and I danced around my office and scared my dog. But by far the most thrilling call I got was when my agent (who I got after I’d sold 16 books on my own) called to say HarperCollins was making an offer on my Hard Ink series. Totally surreal.

What was the most exciting thing that happened to you after you signed your contract – besides receiving your first check as a published author?

Most exciting thing was—and still is—hearing from readers that something you created touched them in some meaningful way.

If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing?

I’d still be teaching American history at the U.S. Naval Academy.

How does your family feel about your career as a romance writer?

My family is very supportive of me and excited for me. I couldn’t do this without them!

What books can we expect to see in the near future?

I have a lot of releases in 2014 in three series, including:

4/22/14: East of Ecstasy (Hearts of the Anemoi #4)

5/12/14: Dare to Resist

July: Heroes series book

8/19/14: Hard to Hold On To (Hard Ink #2.5)

October: Heroes series book

11/25/14: Hard to Come By (Hard Ink #3)

What do you want your readers to take away with them after reading the story?

I just want my readers to have been touched by the story or characters in some way. But, honestly, someone finding they can just lose themselves in my world for a few hours is also very rewarding. We all need to escape sometimes.

What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as an author?

Persistence and resilience. You’ll hear a lot of no’s/rejections and get negative feedback, but you have to carry on.

What was the defining moment that you considered yourself an author?

The moment I finished my first complete draft, to be sure. Lots of people say they want to write a novel and lots of people start to write a novel, but actually finishing one is a rarer thing.

If you could choose anyone, past or present for a mentor, who would you choose?

Yegads. J.R. Ward.

With so many changes in publishing over the past year, where do you see the future of publishing going?

I think we’ll see all formats continue to be available for writers and readers in the future, but I also think we’ll continue to see the trend of author control and autonomy continue, which will probably force the publishers to offer more author-friendly terms to remain competitive.

Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one?

I do much of my reading on the Kindle app on my phone.

If you could have one special, supernatural power, what would it be?

Ability to move/travel anywhere just by thinking it.

What makes a man attractive to you?

One of the most attractive things about a man is the way he shows his love for his woman.

What is the most interesting thing you’ve ever done?

LOL. Um. *winks* I’ve done lots of interesting things. Traveled throughout Europe for 4 weeks with my husband before we had kids. Did archaeological work at the Jamestown Fort site the summer we proved the original 1607 fort hadn’t been eroded away into the James River. Met the U.S. president and took a picture with him in the Oval Office.

Where do you write?

Most days, I write at a Panera Bread with my best friend and fellow author, Lea Nolan.

How long have you been writing?

I started writing in 2008 after a brain injury left me with a new creative urge. My first book was published on April 20, 2011.

Okay, get ready, we have our rapid response portion. Don’t think about your answers, just say the first thing that comes to mind. Ready? 

Favorite color: Blue

Favorite number: Eleven

Favorite Actor: Channing Tatum. Heh.

Favorite Actress: I don’t really have one.

Wine or liquor? Wine

Tea or coffee? Tea

Decaf or caffeinated? No preference – caffeine has no effect on me!

Boxers or briefs? Boxers

Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate

Donald Duck or Goofy? Neither! LOL

Frozen (the movie) or Tangled? I haven’t seen Frozen yet but I loved Tangled.

Channing Tatum or Johnny Depp? Ha! I answered this already! 😉

Thank you, Laura! We’re all cheering you on, girl!

Want to meet or attend Laura’s workshop? Make sure you check out the information on our conference at http://www.njromancewriters.org and register come June 1st!

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In The Mind of Donna MacMeans – 30 Years of Happily Ever Afters

This week we’re jumping over the hump with our featured workshop presenter, best-selling author, and multi-talented, Donna MacMeans!

Donna will be giving a workshop at our conference in October. Grab Your Reader On Page 1 is just one of many fabulous workshops we have scheduled.

For more information on our conference, on when registration opens, and other popular questions, please visit our website at http://www.njromancewriters.org.

Please welcome Donna!

I know that it’s somewhat disconcerting to discover a CPA who is also a romance writer.  The progression was a bit of a shock to me as well.  I’ve always been a prolific reader but not necessarily romance.  After all, I was a business executive.  One can’t very well take a romance novel into work and expect to be taken seriously.  At least not one with a half-naked woman on the cover.  So it’s a particular surprise to me that I write romance, especially the ones most frequently referred to as bodice rippers.

            You see, one day I happened to read OUTLANDER by Diana Galbadon.  I’d picked it up by accident at the local bookstore.  I thought it was a different novel, but as it was on the manager’s recommendation shelf, I figured it would be good.  It was more than good, it was wonderful.  After reading this phenomenal book, I noticed that the first several pages were filled with accolades from romance reviewers.  I figured if this was a romance, I was a fool for avoiding it for so long.  But I still wasn’t brave enough to be seen in the romance section.  I found that if I stood in the cooking section, I could jump out and grab a book off the end cap of the romance section.  Thus I bought a book by a NYT bestselling author that had a Scottish laird as the hero and an Englishwoman as the heroine, just like OUTLANDER.  I knew the answer to the story question in the first chapter, but didn’t believe it would take a whole book to find the answer.  I was wrong.  I believed I could do better …and so I tried.

            I’m not sure I ever wrote a “better” book, but “trying” launched me on this fabulous journey of writing.  I love writing.  I love romance.  If I were to win the lottery tomorrow, I’ll continue to write.  I’d just do it in a better environment (grin). I shall always be grateful to that NYT author for tossing me that particular challenge.  She changed my life.  Truly, she did.

            While I particularly enjoyed reading historicals, the research involved terrified me.  So I began my writing journey with romantic suspense.  About the time I began my third manuscript, I learned that Lori Foster was holding a contest on her website.  Submit three pages that showed sensual tension.  A winner would be chosen for contemporaries and historicals every week and sent on to her editor, Kate Duffy.  Kate had a reputation for purchasing some of the winners and publishing their stories as novellas through Kensington.  I had an idea for a striptease but that kind of story didn’t really fit a contemporary setting.  For one thing, we don’t wear enough clothes!  A striptease with today’s wardrobe would be more like flash fiction. (grin).  But I loved my concept!

            I decided to place the story during the Victorian period because I loved the clothes and the corsets. As I thought about the situation that would lead to my striptease, my story grew and grew.  I missed entering that contest, but my first historical, THE EDUCATION OF MRS. BRIMLEY, became a full novel.  Once it was finished, I submitted it everywhere, and consequently was rejected everywhere.  By the summer of  2006, I was fairly depressed.  Though Mrs. Brimley was a Golden Heart Finalist, so was my very first book.  I didn’t think Mrs. Brimley had a chance to win so I didn’t do a lot of preparations.  I decided for my next book, I’d return to my paranormal roots and so began a story about an invisible heroine.  She turns invisible in moonlight – can’t help it.  Because I’d done so much research about the Victorian era, I set the story during that time frame.  I made her a bit of a thief who would venture out in London,naked, during the full moon.  That’s the book I figured would win the Golden Heart.  I had every intention of entering it for the 2007 contest.

            I went to Nationals in 2006 mainly for the perks of being a finalist.  Much to my surprise, THE EDUCATION OF MRS. BRIMLEY actually won the Golden Heart for long historical romance that year.  An agent started calling me and two weeks from the date of the ceremony, Dorchester made an offer.  I called the agent who said she could do better.  She sent the manuscript to St. Martin’s who also made an offer.  I explained that as Cindy Hwang at Berkley already had the full (I’d pitched it to her a month earlier), my agent would need to contact her to let her know that an offer had been extended.  I didn’t think Berkley was interested in the book – I was wrong.  I ended up in an auction between St. Martin’s and Berkley.  Berkley won.

            Since that experience, I’ve had several exciting moments.  I joined the blog group THE ROMANCE BANDITS.  My invisible heroine book, THE TROUBLE WITH MOONLIGHT, won the critic’s choice award for Historical Love and Laughter in 2008 at the Romantic Times convention.  Mrs. Brimley sold all over the world and was made into a manga edition (!!!)  I’ve met fabulous writers and had one really cool fan experience.  My husband had set up an August vacation in Los Cabos, Mexico.  He got a good deal – who wouldn’t going closer to the equator in August (grin).  While sitting in the Asian restaurant, I noticed a woman reading a kindle.  I asked her what she was reading.

            “Just a romance,” she said.

            “How about that – I’m just a romance writer,” I replied.

            She wasn’t impressed.  But when she asked my name, she discovered she had all four of my novels – every one including the release that had come out two weeks before.  I was so stunned, I forgot to ask her name or get her email.  So if she’s reading this, be sure to come up and tell me during the conference.  I owe you a hug.

            Of course, that was two books ago.  My seventh book, THE WHISKY LAIRD’S BED. came out this past July.  It’s the second book in The Rake Patrol series.  The series originated because a friend had sent me an op-ed piece in the NYTimes about Victorian personal ads.  The Victorians used the personal ads in a manner similar to today’s Craig’s List.  Men would place advertisements for women, and women would place advertisements for men.  I took the piece to my plot group and said “I think I can do something with this.”  We talked it over and came up with a series of story ideas that all revolved around personal ads.  The first book was called THE CASANOVA CODE and dealt with a code-breaker heroine (the ads were sometimes written in code), a reformed rake, and Japanese erotica.  It’s a fun book.

            THE WHISKY LAIRD’S BED is set in Scotland.  A personal ad lures my heroine’s best friend to Scotland and my heroine rushes to save her from what she imagines is white slavery.  She’s wrong, of course, but she’s a firebrand who believes her way tends to be the right way.  Unfortunately, her way involves Temperance (no-alcohol), and her friend is staying at the home of a Scotch distiller.  It’s a sort of Guys n’ Dolls without the music and with a cool Scottish setting.  While I was working on the book, I suddenly realized that my landscape descriptions all sounded like Ohio.  I told my husband I had to go to Scotland.  He said Scotland wasn’t on his bucket list. 

            “That’s okay,” I said.  “I’ll go alone.  I make friends easily.  I’ll take a tour so I won’t have to drive.” 

            I was busy planning my trip when he relented (darn!) and said he wanted to go.  So we went.  I was sitting on the tour bus as the guide drove through a forest and thought how the landscape resembled that of Virginia and West Virginia.  It made sense that so many Scottish families settled there.  “You know,” the tour guide announced.  “We had a geologist on the tour recently who gathered some of the rocks at one of the waterfalls.  He said that the limestone proved that Scotland was once connected to the Appalachian mountains.”  I thought – great!  I could have spent the week exploring Virginia for a much cheaper cost than the trip to Scotland!  (But it wouldn’t have been half as much fun…)  I tend to write a sexy but fun book.  My title originally was The Whisky Laird, but I didn’t think that conveyed the sexy angle so I added “bed.”  It works I think.

            It takes me a long time to write a book – I think because I write historicals.  Everything has to be researched.  The fastest I’ve ever written a book is in one year and that was my invisible heroine book.  They all have their challenges, but the more I write – the more I become a stronger writer.  I tend to write the first draft and then do one massive revision.  I write on my back porch.  It’s screened in so no bugs.  There’s something about being surrounded by nature that helps me get in the zone.  I write organically.  I know where my story needs to go and have an idea about the characters.  I mentioned my plot group before.  It’s a small group of three other writers, all members of the Romance Bandits.  We were all finalists in the 2006 Golden Heart competition.  We flesh out ideas for books and the characters.  Sometimes we start with an idea.  Sometimes we start with a character.  Whichever way we start, we end up in the same place. I’m the only historical writer in the group but that doesn’t really matter.  A good book, a well-crafted book, has the same basic components regardless of genre.  But thanks to their creative minds, I have a whole drawer full of books to write.

Lovely story, Donna, and thank you for sharing! Okay, get ready, we have our rapid response portion. Don’t think about your answers, just say the first thing that comes to mind. Ready? 

Favorite color: Peacock blue

Favorite number: 6

Favorite Actor:  That’s a tough one.  I like Ed Norton and Michael Ruffalo and the guy that plays Ichabod Crane on tv, Tom Mison.

Favorite Actress: How about Maggie Smith – the dowager countess on Downton Abbey LOL.

Wine or liquor: I prefer liquor.  A cool margarita, or Jack Daniel’s in diet coke, or a good Scotch.  I’m flexible (grin).

Tea or coffee: Iced tea with lemon.  I’m trying to drink more warm tea – but it requires a degree of preparation.  I’m not into preparation.

Decaf or caffeinated: Definitely caffeinated

Boxers or briefs: Boxers. 

Chocolate or vanilla: Chocolate.  No contest.

Donald Duck or Goofy: Give me the duck!

Frozen or Tangled:  Loved Frozen.  Let it go, let it go…

Channing Tatum or Johnny Depp: Now this is really difficult.  Channing Tatum has the body but Johnny Depp has the most expressive eyes.  I’ll take them both, please.

(Laughing) I hear you! Thank you!

Want to meet or attend Donna’s workshop? Make sure you check out the information on our conference at http://www.njromancewriters.org and register come June 1st!

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In the Mind of Elizabeth London – 30 Years of Happily Ever Afters

This week we’re jumping over the hump with our featured workshop presenter and all-around guru editor, Elizabeth London!

Elizabeth will be giving a workshop at our conference in October. The Top Ten Ways You’re Showing Rather Than Telling is just one of many fabulous workshops we have scheduled.

For more information on our conference, on when registration opens, and other popular questions, please visit our website at http://www.njromancewriters.org.

Please welcome Elizabeth!

What advice do you have for other writers?

I thought an editors perspective here might be interesting. 🙂 I do get asked a lot what one thing I’d share with new writers and while my answer often changes based on my mood (and which manuscript I’m currently working on) I find that I give the following advice to new and established authors I work with: slow down and take your time. It’s a delicate balance, especially in the realm of ePublishing where current market trends indicate that in order to be successful, an author needs to build their backlist as quickly as possible. While I don’t disagree with that in theory—and you should absolutely abide by any due dates you’ve agreed to with your editor and publisher—remember that you’re looking at a long term career path. Take a few extra weeks or months—whatever it might take—put your first draft down for a week or two, go back, make all the structural changes you know it needs, then polish it and then send out on submission or to your editor. I can’t tell you the number of manuscripts I see, especially in slush but also from established authors, that could have really benefited from a second or third pass. Strike to learn from every edit and incorporate that knowledge in each future manuscript. An author who doesn’t grow or change may keep their readership—but an author who strives to evolve their standard of excellence with each book will grow their readership and that’s what ultimately determines the success of their backlist.

That’s a good point, I do see a lot of “newer” authors trying to rush the process. Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one?

I have (and adore) my iPad mini. I use the Kindle App for all of my reading, including new submissions.

Mr. Stone just bought me one yesterday! *grin* If you could have one special, supernatural power, what would it be?

Why do I only get one? In that case, I want the ability to mimic other people’s special abilities—that way I’d have them ALL!!! (MWHAHAHAHAHA!)

*laughing* I love it! What makes a man attractive to you?

Intelligence, passion and drive—and if that all happens to be wrapped up in a 6’2” wall of muscle? All the better.

What is the most interesting thing you’ve ever done?

For my thirtieth birthday I took lessons on the flying trapeze—would have been far less interesting if I wasn’t so terrified of heights.

Is this the point that I tell you, you don’t look a day over 21? *chuckles* How would you describe yourself in five words?

Driven, funny (never on purpose) chocolate lover, daydreamer, introvert.

What are you reading now?

Slush pile submissions, of course.

What is your favorite quote?

This changes based on my day, my mood and my Pinterest activity, but here’s one I keep on hand for long days, mornings and chocolate withdrawal: Quit Slackin’ and Make Shit Happen—Unknown.

What comes first—characters or the plot?

As an editor I prefer stories that originated as strong and compelling characters—they’re the ones I pull from Slush and they’re the ones I look forward to working on the most. For me, plot is really about the mechanisms the author chooses to best showcase—and grow—their character throughout the story. I’d sooner forgive a weak plot over two-dimensional characters.

Cat or dog person?

I have both. Two cats and a bullmastiff that thinks she rules the house—the cats like to dissuade her of that idea.

Okay, Liz, get ready, we have our rapid response portion. Don’t think about your answers, just say the first thing that comes to mind. Ready?

Favorite color: Green.

Favorite number: 7

Wine or liquor? Depends on the season and my mood. Usually, wine.

Tea or coffee? Tea, but I drink both.

Decaf or caffeinated? Decaf.

Boxers or briefs? Puh-lease. Commando.

Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate.

Frozen (the movie) or Tangled? Tangled.

Channing Tatum or Johnny Depp? Channing Tatum.

Thank you, Elizabeth!

 

Want to meet or attend Elizabeth’s workshop? Make sure you check out the information on our conference at http://www.njromancewriters.org and register come June 1st!

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In the Mind of Julie Ann Walker – 30 Years of Happily Ever Afters

This week we’re jumping over the hump with our featured workshop presenter and NY Times Best Seller, Julie Ann Walker!

Julie will be giving two workshops at our conference in October. How To Make Your Characters THUNDER Onto the Page and The Hard and Fast Rules for a Kickass Query are just two of many fabulous workshops we have scheduled.

For more information on our conference, on when registration opens, and other popular questions, please visit our website at http://www.njromancewriters.org.

Julie is also celebrating a new release this week, so please join me in congratulating her and welcome her to NJRW!

Why did you decide to write romantic suspense? 

I’m a voracious reader, everything from mysteries to chick lit, romance to thrillers.  And romantic suspense seemed to be the only genre that had it all.  It combined the who-done-it of a mystery with the humorous take on issues affecting the modern woman that’s the staple of chick lit.  It has the thrills, chills, and spills of a thriller and, of course, the happily-ever-after of romance.  Basically, it’s all things good rolled up into one fast, fun, riveting read.

Who has had the most influence on your writing? 

My husband has definitely had the most influence on my books.  I write tough, tender, oftentimes hilarious alpha males, and Mr. Walker is an absolute gem when it comes to bro-speak and guy-isms.  You know, those words and phrases men like use?  The funny one-liners or the inventive curses?  He – usually unknowingly – gives me tons of ideas for unique and witty dialogue.  Bless him and his deliciously typical male vocabulary.  *wink*

Why did you decide to become an author? 

It’s weird, but I never really “decided” to become an author.  Like I said, I was always a voracious reader, and over the years I looked for stories about ex-special operations soldiers turned spies.  Stories that were thrilling and intriguing and sexy.  Stories that centered around men who knew the difference between being alpha and being alpha-holes – there is a HUGE difference – with a lot of bromance and snark thrown in for fun.  But I could never find a book or a series that seemed to hit all these marks.  So I thought, “Well, I guess I’ll just have to write it myself.”  It seemed to be the only solution.  And the first book I penned, HELL ON WHEELS, ended up being the debut title in my Black Knights Inc. series.  So I guess you could say I fell into writing, into being an author, in the usual way… I had a story to tell.    

Would you tell us your story of getting “the call?” 

Ha!  My agent tells me it was the most anti-climatic moment of her life.  You see, I had been out on a bicycle ride – the lakeshore in Chicago is a gorgeous place to exercise – and I’d blown a tire.  I was in the middle of replacing the tire, my hands were greasy, my knuckles were bleeding, and it looked like there wasn’t going to be enough air in my little portable compressor to blow up the new inner tube, when my phone rang.  My agent was like, “We just got an offer for not one, but three books in the Black Knights series.  Squee!”  To which I responded, “Good, great.  But can I call you back in thirty?  I’m dealing with a bit of an issue here.”  Click.  She tells me she just sat there, blinking at her phone in disbelief.  But, in my defense, I think I was in shock.  Because when I called her back after having ridden home on a half-inflated tire, you can bet I squealed and happy-danced like nobody’s business.  Still, even after two years, she has yet to forgive me for my initial lackluster response.   

Oh my goodness, that is hilarious! Can you tell me what books can we expect to see in the near future? 

Oh, I’m so glad you asked.  I’m very excited about what’s coming next!  First of all, I signed a contract for the remaining books in the Black Knights Inc. series – that’s a total of twelve for anyone who is counting.  So, tons more BKI fun to come!  Next, I’m writing a new series about a group of former Navy SEALs who have turned their talents as dive-specialists into a lucrative salvage business.  Here’s the tagline: “Six men.  One sunken Spanish galleon.  Millions of gold and silver coins lying in wait on the ocean floor.  And a past that refuses to let the guys of Wayfarer Salvage forget the Navy SEAL motto that the only easy day was yesterday…”  It’s like Mission Impossible meets Treasure Island.  So fun!  And last but certainly not the least, I’m spearheading a romantic suspense anthology – to debut April 2015 – which includes some of the top names in genre.  All proceeds will go to the Wounded Warrior Project, a charity I’m very passionate about since it strives to enrich the lives of soldiers who have sacrificed so very much in the service of our country.  As you can see, there’s so much to look forward to!     

I love that you are contributing to that project, as a veteran myself, it really touches home. What was the defining moment that you considered yourself an author? 

It was the day I saw a woman reading one of my titles on a plane.  In that instant, I thought, “Holy smokes!  Someone besides my mother is actually reading a book I wrote!”  LOL!  It was a happy moment, let me tell you.

What makes a man attractive to you? 

Confidence.  And not the too-much-hair product-wearing/gold-chain-sporting/I-can-take-any-of-you-mofos-in-this-bar kind of confidence.  But the real deal.  The man who has weathered the storms, taken his lumps, been down-and-out a time or two, but come out the victor in the end.  The kind of quiet confidence that radiates from a man even when he hasn’t spoken a single word. 

What is your favorite quote?

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ attributed to Mark Twain

What’s your favorite place in the world to visit? 

Florence, Italy.  I’ve been there three times, and each time I fall just a little bit more in love with the place.  It is so quintessentially Italian.  Cobbled streets.  Grand fountains spurting crystal-clear water in the centers of piazzas – squares.  Statuary and art around every corner.  Pasta.  Prosecco.  And an unabashed zest for life.

Where do you write? 

I write in my home office… which I share with my husband.  Imagine, if you will, two people who sit not two feet from one another.  Both wearing noise-cancelling headphones.  Both guzzling coffee like it’s going out of style.  Both garbed in last night’s PJs.  We’re a sorry pair to look at most days, but we’re productive.  *snort*   

Cat or dog person? 

Both.  If it’s fuzzy and cute, I’m in. 

Favorite reader-fan story? 

I received a piece of fan mail from a woman who had undergone back surgery.  According to her, she was in immense pain, we’re talking excruciating, the kind that even the highest doses of morphine couldn’t combat.  She was miserable, her spirits were failing, she hurt so badly she wanted to die.  In an effort to take her mind off the agony, her sister brought her the first four books in my Black Knights Inc. series.  And for fifteen hours straight, while she followed the BKI boys on their adventures, she wrote that she was pain-free.  I have to admit, that’s about the highest compliment I’ve ever received…

Okay, Jules, get ready, we have our rapid response portion. Don’t think about your answers, just say the first thing that comes to mind. Ready?

Favorite color:  Red.  It’s so visceral, so vibrant.

Favorite number:  Thirteen.  I was born on the 13th, and I’ve never found it to be unlucky.  Knock on wood.

Favorite Actor:  Timothy Olyphant.  The man just has that certain je ne sais quoi.  Maybe it’s the flirty smile?  The flinty eyes?  The swagger?

Favorite Actress:  Jennifer Lawrence.  Now there’s a gal I could share drinks and a plate of chili cheese fries with.

Wine or liquor?  I have to choose?  Why not both?

Tea or coffee?  Coffee, please.  And preferably by the gallon.

Decaf or caffeinated?  Wait, what?  Do people actually drink decaf?  I thought that was a myth!

Boxers or briefs?  Briefs.  I like to see what’s in store for me.  *wiggles eyebrows*

Chocolate or vanilla?  Both.  And in large quantities.

Donald Duck or Goofy?  Goofy.  He’s just so good-hearted.

Frozen (the movie) or Tangled?  Tangled.  Flynn Rider is my kind of hero.  Funny, flirty, with a little scruff on his chin.

Channing Tatum or Johnny Depp?  Johnny Depp.  I like a man who doesn’t take himself too seriously.

Thank you, Jules! 

 

Want to meet or attend Julies workshop? Make sure you check out the information on our conference at http://www.njromancewriters.org and register come June 1st!

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Save The Date! NJRW 2014 Put Your Heart In A Book Conference

***Permission to Forward Granted and Encouraged***

Save the Date
Registration Opens June 1st!

NJRW’s Conference “30 Years of Happily Ever Afters!”

October 17-18, 2014
Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel
Iselin, NJ

Early Bird Pricing: June 1-July 31st
NJRW Member $215 – Non-member $240

Prices go up August 1st, so get in early.

Don’t miss this opportunity to take your writing to the next level. This year’s Put Your Heart in a Book Conference is shaping up to be the best ever.

Susan Mallery: Keynote Speaker
Stella Cameron: Luncheon Speaker
Jennifer Probst: Special Presentation*
Roxanne St Claire: 3-hour Pre-Conference Workshop ($45)

* For first 100 registrants (join in the workshop with Jennifer Probst!)

Some things to expect:

  • Workshops for writers of all levels
  • Editor/Agent Appointments
  • Literacy Book Fair/Author Signings (a portion of proceeds will go to Literacy Volunteers of NJ)
  • Opportunities for Networking

Here is a partial list of agents and editors scheduled to attend:

Agents:

  • Louis Fury, The Bent Agency
  • Jita Fumich, Folio Literary Management
  • Lisa Rodgers, JABberwocky Literary Agency
  • Annelise Robey, Jane Rotrosen Agency
  • Lori Perkins, LPerkins Agency
  • Sarah E. Younger, Nancy Yost Literary Agency
  • Stephany Evans, FinePrint Literary Management

Editors:

  • Nicole Fisher, Avon Books
  • Sarah Murphy, Bantam Dell
  • Angela James, Carina Press
  • Treva Harte, Loose Id
  • Lauren McKenna, Pocket Books
  • Mary Altman, Sourcebooks Inc.
  • Cat Clyne, Sourcebooks Inc.
  • Eileen Rothschild, St. Martin’s Press
  • Melissa Ann Singer, Tor/Forge
  • Julie Mianecki, Berkley
  • Kristine Swartz, Berkley

… … and more to come

Workshop presenters:

  • Madeline Hunter, PAN/PUB Retreat Kickoff Speaker
  • Susan Mallery, Screw The Muse, I’m on a Deadline
  • Stella Cameron, People Make Your Story
  • Jennifer Probst and Jen Talty, Sweet, Snarky, or Sexpot: What Makes a Good Heroine?
  • Christine Bush, First Timer’s Workshop
  • Anne Walradt, Writing the “Can’t Put It Down” Novel
  • Laura Curtis, Personal Branding for Authors
  • Nancy Herkness, Sell Your Book, Not Your Soul
  • Julie Ann Walker, The Hard and Fast Rules for a Kickass Query & How to Make Your Characters THUNDER
  • Beth Ciotta, Derring-Do, The Passionate Writer’s Guide to Success
  • Julie Rowe, Taming Twitter 2-hour block
  • Mary Burton, Novel Write
  • Joanna Shupe, Tech Tips for Writers
  • Judi Fennell, How to Self Publish & Novel In A Nutshell
  • Tina Gallagher and Pattie Giordani, Pitch Perfect
  • Nisha Sharma, GMC in the YA Novel & Score! Game plans, Strategies, and Plays
  • Sandra Pesso, Work Your Social Media Platform like a Rockstar
  • Shiloh Walker, Draw Me A Story
  • Jen Talty, Building Your Author Brand
  • Bob Mayer, Write It Forward
  • Jen Talty and Bob Mayer, E-pub, POD, and the Future of Publishing
  • Laura Kaye, The Secrets Behind Becoming a Bestseller
  • Kristen Painter, Worldbuilding Through a Series
  • Diana Cosby, Marketing for Impact 2-hour block
  • Donna MacMeans, Grab Your Reader on Page 1
  • Mallory Braus and Elizabeth London, Top Ten Ways You’re Showing Rather Than Telling
  • Laurie Cooper, This Bridge Looks REALLY High
  • K.M. Fawcett and Cathy Tully, Looking for Action? Writing Believable Fight Scenes
  • Leigh Duncan, A Walk In The Plot
  • Victoria Pinder, Be Your Own Agent
  • Judith Roth, The Art of Self-Editing
  • Sarah Younger
  • Jeanette Grey, Domains and Graphics
  • Vicky Sue Dreiling, Make Them Laugh, Make Them Cry
  • Maria Snyder, Classic Writing Mistakes
  • Susan Wall, Book Trailer Boot Camp
  • Louisa Edwards, How to Give and Get Better Critiques
  • Peter Andrews, How to Write Fast
  • Laurie Bevin Cooper, How to Make Opportunities Happen
  • Paula Scardamalia, How to Use the Tarot To Write



If you have questions, please contact: DC “Desi” Stone, NJRW’s 2014 Conference Chair, at confchair@njromancewriters.org or, Jackson D’Lynne, Assistant Chair, at jacksondlynne@yahoo.com

For registration questions, please contact: Jenny Baskwell Registrar, at registrar@njromancewriters.org.

We will be adding to the list of agents and editors, so please check our web site http://www.njromancewriters.org frequently for updates!