Archive | June 2014

In The Mind of Stella Cameron – 30 Years of Happily Ever Afters

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

Stella will be giving a workshop at our conference in October, and is our Luncheon Speaker! People Make Your Story is just one of many fabulous workshops we have scheduled.

For more information on our conference, how to register, and other popular questions, please visit our website at

Please welcome Stella!

How did you come up with the idea for “OUT COMES THE EVIL”?

Sitting at the edge of the River Windrush in Bourton-on-the-Water in England and watching children play on flat rocks just under the surface.

What was it about your book that made your editor want to buy it?

The story’s irresistible, characters, fantastic plot, clever relationship ploys, amazing background and atmosphere and the absolutely nerve destroying tension.

How much research did you conduct for “OUT COMES THE EVIL” and what was the most interesting thing you did while conducting your research? 

So far I’ve had to suffer through three trips to England while researching this series. Shocking sacrifice. I am English by birth which means that a great deal comes naturally—I rarely need help with common terms, speech that sounds natural, or local customs.  It has been interesting to keep up to date with those elements that do change—social behavior, some obvious loosening of language, police procedure (although I’m not writing police procedurals, it’s impossible to pull off a story with both crime and in my case, male/female relationships, without have all the details at my fingertips). My interviews with many levels of policing were probably the most interesting part of my research, but learning the ins and outs of running a pub and pub life in general had its high points.

Why did you decide to write romantic mystery?

Even as I call the genre romantic mystery I’m unsure if that categorizes the books appropriately. I’ve always incorporated a sizeable dose of mystery in all of my books.  Now the balance leans more heavily into mystery—there would be no story without mystery.  My interest in strong relationships comes naturally and a building love interest we can get deeply involved with is a natural part of my stories.

That said, I need another serious thought here…I don’t choose a story, the story chooses me.  As with many writers, ideas cascade in regularly but the tale that will be told keeps jumping to the front of the line and won’t leave me alone.

What is your process for writing a book? For example, are you a plotter or a pantzer? 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 both a plotter and a pantzer, depending on where I am in the story.  I’m not sure I could be as excited as I am about writing if I wasn’t open to surprises.  Events pop up, unexpected events and I love to go with them, to see where they’ll take me.  But I also have to stop and plot.  A lot of serious, “why, when, what, where and how?” goes into any story.  Neglect these questions and you’re likely to have a mess on your hands.

Do you write multiple drafts or barely need revisions when typing, The End?

Many drafts and I never feel a story couldn’t be improved even if only a little.

How do you make time to write?

My career already counts as long… Writing has been a huge part of my life, always.  When my children were young I would have had much more to say on this topic, now, in truth, I write because I must and whenever I must.

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

Probably a combination.

Who has had the most influence on your writing?

Too many wonderful writers to name.  I’ve been very fortunate in my mentors.

Have you had any “ah ha” moments as a writer?

Yes, thank goodness.  Many, many of them.

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

The first sale call came in while I was looking down into the garden to check on my children who were on a climbing frame—something I always distrusted.  My mind completely blanked and I’m lucky I didn’t say something ridiculous like, “You want to buy my book?  You can’t be serious.”  I didn’t hear most of what the editor said but what a wonderful day that was.

*Smiles* Sounds lovely.  How does your family feel about your career as a romance writer?

My family like and respect my being a writer.

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

More romantic mysteries.  More of almost anything that tells me to hop aboard and go along for the ride.

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

There is no fictional situation that can’t be worked out.

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

Louise Penny.

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

Gosh, we must hang on to our hats and be ready for change, change and more change.  I do see even more of an explosion in digital reading.  The ratio, print to digital, has flattened somewhat but I don’t think it will ever be stagnant.

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

Yes.  Kindle.

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


What makes a man attractive to you?

Strength, intellectual, physical.  A sense of humor, gentleness, passion in all things.

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

Lots of interesting things, really.  Paddled in an outrigger canoe has to be a favorite.

What are you reading now?

Raven Black, Anne Cleaves.

What is your favorite quote?

“A loving heart is the truest wisdom.”—Charles Dickens.

How long have you been writing?

Twenty-eight years full-time.  All my life in some ways.

What comes first—characters or the plot?

This is not so simple.  An idea (situation) may come first, but almost at once, characters are jogging alongside.  But it is the people who make your story.

Who’s on your auto-buy list for authors?

Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick  Deborah Crombie. Louise Penny. Donna Leon.  Tana French.  Nicci French.  Lee Child.  Tess Gerritsen, Alan Bradly, Alistair McCall Smith, Elizabeth Lowell, JD Robb, Mary Deheim, PD James, and I don’t have enough time left before getting back to work for all of my automatic buys.  Don’t want to leave any out but, my word there are hoards of them.

Do you write to music? Do you make soundtracks for you stories? If so, what was on the soundtrack for your latest release?

I write to music, don’t make soundtracks, have broad and eclectic tastes.  At the moment I listen primarily to Mario Frangoulis since I tend to listed to the same discs over and over during a project.

What’s your biggest dream?

Justice for all.

If you were a millionaire would you still write?


Cat or dog person?

Both, and a horse, goat, elephant, kangaroo, you name it, I love all animals.  I am afraid of a few, though.

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: 7

Favorite Actor:   Allen Leech

Favorite Actress:  Judy Dench

Wine or liquor?  Wine

Tea or coffee? Tea

Decaf or caffeinated? Caffeinated.

Boxers or briefs?  Depends on the body.

Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla

Donald Duck or Goofy?  Goofy

Frozen (the movie) or Tangled?  Tangled.

Channing Tatum or Johnny Depp?  Johnny Depp

Want to meet or attend Stella’s workshop? Make sure you check out the information on our conference at and register!



NJRW Put Your Heart In A Book Contest – 17 DAYS LEFT

Image The New Jersey Romance Writers is celebrating 30 Years of Happily Ever Afters. This means thirty years of helping new and unpublished writers hone their craft, polish their manuscripts, and offer a supportive network of authors, writers, and friends. One of the aspects of the NJRW’s endless resources for writers is the Put Your Heart In A Book Contest. Whether it be through winning, receiving that needed feedback, or a sense of discovery, several Happily Ever Afters have resulted from the contest. Who knows? You might find your own on this very special 30th Anniversary of the New Jersey Romance Writers by entering the Put Your Heart In A Book Contest.


Information for the Put Your Heart In A Book Contest:

Entry Deadline: Entry period is from June 1, 2014 until July 1, 2014. Entries must be sent electronically and received by 12:01 a.m., July 1, 2014.

Entry Fee: $25 ~ NJRW members, $35 ~ All others

Eligibility: Unpublished or not Published in last five years.


Computer counts should be used to determine length. These are projected final word counts for your manuscript.

Contemporary Series: Category romance, 40,000 word minimum romances set in the present day.

Single Title Contemporary: Romances set in present day, 40,000 words minimum.

Historical: Single Title and category romances set before 1945. Includes Regency romances. 40,000 word minimum.

Paranormal: Fantasy, futuristic, paranormal and FFP romantic suspense. 40,000 word minimum.

Young Adult: Romance Novels with a strong romantic theme geared toward young adult readers. 40,000 word minimum.

Romantic Suspense: A work of fiction in which a romance plays a significant part in the story, but other themes or elements take the plot beyond the traditional romance boundaries. 40,000 word minimum.

Please submit the opening chapter of your manuscript, along with a chapter-by-chapter synopsis. Submission should not exceed thirty pages total, including text and synopsis. See Official Rules for details.

Prizes Awarded in each category

  • 1st Place:  $50 + plaque
  • 2nd Place:  $35 + certificate
  • 3rd Place:  $25 + certificate

Final Round Judges

An agent, editor and multi-published author will judge the final entries.

Contemporary Series
Agent: Kathleen Rushall, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency
Editor: Cat Clyne, Sourcebooks
Multi-published Author: Jennifer Probst

Single-Title Contemporary
Agent: Andrea Somberg, Harvey Klinger, Inc.
Editor: Angela James, Carina Press
Multi-published Author: Roxanne St. Claire

Agent: Sara Megibow, Nelson Literary Agency
Editor: Renee Rocco, Lyrical Press/Kensington Publishing
Multi-published Author: Terri Brisbin

Agent: Michelle Grajkowski, Three Seas Literary Agency
Editor: Mary Altman, Sourcebooks
Multi-published Author: Jeffe Kennedy

Young Adult Romance
Agent: Laura Bradford, Bradford Literary Agency
Editor: Eileen Rothschild, St. Martin’s Press
Multi-published author: Susan Mallery

Romantic Suspense
Agent: Courtney Miller-Callihan, Greenburger Associates
Editor: Patience Smith Bloom, Harlequin
Multi-published author: Stella Cameron

Contest Timetable

Final rankings will be announced and prizes awarded at NJRW Conference (October 17-18, 2014). You need not be present to win.

Questions? Please contact Katherine Givens, 2014 PYHIAB Contest Chair at

Please put PYHIAB Contest – Your Submission Category in the subject line of your email.

In The Mind of Beth Ciotta – 30 Years of Happily Ever Afters

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

Beth will be giving a workshop at our conference in October. Derring-Do: The Passionate Writer’s Guide to Success is just one of many fabulous workshops we have scheduled.

For more information on our conference, how to register, and other popular questions, please visit our website at

Please welcome Beth!

How did you come up with the idea for HIS CLOCKWORK CANARY?

Although I’ve had a few other releases since HIS CLOCKWORK CANARY (2013), I’m highlighting this particular novel because it finaled in the paranormal category of this year’s RWA RITA contest—Such an honor! I’m still reeling!

HIS CLOCKWORK CANARY is the second book in the series: The Glorious Victorious Darcys. The concept was born of a love of fantastical treasure hunts and morphed into a steampunk adventure where two time periods meld—The Victorian Age meets the Age of Aquarius. After pinpointing the basis of my ‘world’ these tales took off in ways I never imagined. A total rush to write.       

What was the most difficult aspect of writing HIS CLOCKWORK CANARY 

The world-building. Deciding how and why my alternate world came to be and then creating that world—the history, the lingo, the social and political environment. Since I based my world on a melding of the late 1800s and the late 1960s, reality-based facts were also essential. Research was intense and as important as imagination. Perhaps most interesting to me were the social and political aspects of the 1960s and how they mirrored similar elements in the Victorian Age. Writing this series is a challenge and a thrill!

Do you write multiple drafts or barely need revisions when typing, The End?

I write in layers. Going back and polishing or weaving in new details to what I wrote the day before and then moving on. I can’t move forward until I feel a click. Each scene propels me to the next. I tend to rewrite the first half of the book several times and then the second half almost always flows–first draft. Until revisions. It’s not what I’d call a fast process, but it’s the process that comes naturally to me.

What advice do you have for other writers?

Passion, perseverance, and dedication to craft are key. I’m also believer in positive networking. Don’t focus on what others can do for you. Consider what you can do for others. Generosity and genuine intentions will come back to you tenfold.

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

The fourth and final novel in my contemporary series—The Cupcake Lovers. IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE releases July 2014.  My Cupcake Lover novella—SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL will appear in a Christmas Anthology with stories by Lori Foster, Carly Phillips, and Sugar Jamison later this fall. Super excited about that!

Also this fall, BEAUTY & THE BIKER, the launch book in a new contemporary series—Impossible Dream—celebrating hope, love, and the magic of the human spirit! These stories are modern day fairy tales and very close to my heart. I can’t wait to share them with the world.

Lastly, the continuation of my steampunk series—The Glorious Victorious Darcys. A busy but exciting year!

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: Pink

Favorite number: 10

Favorite Actor: Cary Grant *swoon*

Favorite Actress: Sandra Bullock

Wine or liquor? Wine

Tea or coffee? Coffee

Decaf or caffeinated? CAFFEINATED!

Boxers or briefs? Briefs

Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate

Donald Duck or Goofy? Goofy

Frozen (the movie) or Tangled? Tangled

Channing Tatum or Johnny Depp? Depp. *sigh*

Want to meet or attend Beth’s workshop? Make sure you check out the information on our conference at and register come June 1st!