Desert Rose RWA Conference

DDreams-Bookingsigning-PosterIf someone had told me five years ago that I’d love public speaking, I would have never believed them. Even though I’m an introvert, and speaking to more than one or two people is still a huge leap out of my comfort zone, I’ve learned to love teaching workshops about writing.

For one thing, it’s easy to speak about my passion. And for another, I feel I need to pay it forward by helping others who are new at writing just as many experienced authors helped me when I was a newbie. But one of my favorite things is watching the eyes of the workshop attendees light up when I say something that inspires them, or changes the way they write, or when they just “get” a concept I teach.

And, I have to admit, teaching workshops gives me as a writer a certain credibility, which was the whole reason I let my friend talk me into team teaching our first class together. We taught many classes as a team, and eventually we both began teaching on our own with a lot more confidence than that first workshop where we were both so nervous we could barely read our notes.

This weekend, I am teaching “Show, Don’t Tell” at the Desert Dreams Writers Conference in Tempe, AZ. There will also be a multi-author book signing Saturday night that is free and open to the public, so if you are in the Phoenix area, please stop in. And if you come to the book signing, please stop by my table and say hello. It’d be nice to have some traffic at my table while all those big time New York Times authors have massive lines that wrap around the hotel :-)

While checking and double checking what I needed to bring to the conference, I found this fun conference check list by Jami Gold and thought I’d pass it on to help those of you attending a conference somewhere in the near future.

The Ultimate RWA Conference Packing List

  • Clothes (casual business most of the time, dressier business for pitches or editor/agent meetings, dressy for Awards Ceremony)
  • Comfortable shoes & gel inserts
  • Snacks for between workshops when you can’t stop for lunch
  • Medications (no hangovers allowed) & prescriptions
  • Your schedule
  • Laptop/cellphone/camera (& chargers/power cords)
  • Paper/pen/highlighter
  • Business cards
  • Small toiletry case for purse or bag
  • Some way to ship back or carry your goodies
  • Some way to personalize your RWA tote bag to make it easier to find among the 2000 identical bags
  • Small sewing kit for wardrobe malfunctions
  • Bandaids for blisters
  • Mints/candies to suck on for energy and fresh breath
  • Swimsuit/coverup/workout clothes (for all that *ahem* unscheduled time you don’t have)
  • Cardigan for chilly conference rooms
  • Dress purse for Awards Dinner
  • Earplugs, white noise app on phone
  • Umbrella (shouldn’t need this for California this year)
  • Cash for tips, Literacy Booksigning, dining with friends, vending machines
  • Extension cord for hotel room (2-4 women, 1 sink—do the math)
  • Extra hangers for hanging all your nice clothes in the closet
  • Pins for lanyard (PRO, chapter, etc.)
  • Sharpie marker, tape
  • Hand sanitizer, wet wipes, stain stick or wipes, moisturizer

Other things to prepare and do:

  • Print out of hotel reservation, and email all important documents to yourself to ensure you have copies
  • Attach business card to phone/camera in case it gets misplaced
  • Make sure you drink plenty of water

*whew*  All right, what am I forgetting? *smile*

I’m not staying at the hotel this weekend because Tempe isn’t far from where I live (and I’m getting too cranky to sleep in a strange bed unless absolutely necessary), but I still have a bunch of things I need to bring. So here’s my list:

laptop and cord

Power Point presentation saved on a thumb drive in case their cords don’t fit my laptop

books for the book signing

display items such as book stands, postcards, pens, lace table covering

price sheet

note book and pen

business cards

my schedule

water bottle and snacks

items I’m donating to the hospitality suite: case of water bottles, cooler, crackers–both regular and gluten-free

I always carry breath mints and lip balm in my purse so I don’t need to pack that

(chocolate to hand out at the workshop (yes, I offer bribes for class members to ask questions)

cardigan for those chilly rooms inside the hotel

Did I forget anything? What do you like to bring to conferences?


Falling in Love or Growing in Love?

BigPinkHeartWe often hear the term “falling in love” but is it really something that happens whether or not we want it to, or does love only come to those who are looking for it?

As a romance author, I’ve written novels filled with characters not looking for love. They usually have other things they want to do, or need to do, before they start thinking about love and marriage.  It’s that surrender to love, whether or not they wanted it at that time, that can make such a sweet ending.

However, according to c/net, 75% of single men are actually looking for a long-term commitment.  This surprises me.  This tells me that most men want someone to be there for them, to talk to about their hopes and dreams and problems and concerns, someone to love, someone to share their future, someone with whom they can have a family.

Perhaps one of the reasons why my characters often aren’t looking for love is because when I me my husband, I wasn’t looking for love. I had all kinds of other things I wanted to do before I settled down, and a relationship would only get in the way. But when I realized that the nice guy who’d been hanging around was really someone special, I experienced not a few moments of dismay. I believe I even uttered the words “this ruins everything.”  So in a way, we grew into love so slowly I didn’t even realize we were doing it until I was in too deep to walk away. And yet, it did feel like falling because I wasn’t looking for love at that time.

And yet, here I am, twenty six years of marriage later, happy that I gave up those good things in favor of love and marriage–definitely something better.

How did it happen for you? Did you grow slowly in love, or did it happen so suddenly that you seemed to fall in love? I’d love to hear from you.

Oh, and happy Valentine’s Day!

Book giveaway–The Guise of a Gentleman

TheGuiseofaGentleman_432Win a free paperback copy of The Guise of a Gentleman, Book 2 of the Rogue Hearts Series.

It’s the proof, so there will be a stamped “proof” across the inside page, but otherwise it is exactly as a real paperback copy.

To enter,  simply follow the directions  in the Rafflecopter below.

Don’t be scared of Rafflecopter–it’s super easy and will walk you through the process.

Here is the blurb from the back cover:

Though her heart longs for adventure, Elise strives to be a perfect English lady living within the stifling confines of society for the sake of her impressionable young son. Her quiet world is shattered when she meets the impulsive and scandalous Jared Amesbury. His roguish charm awakens her yearning for adventure. But his irrepressible grin and sea-green eyes hide a secret.

A gentleman by day, a pirate by night, Jared must complete one last assignment from the Secret Service before he can be truly free. Elise gives him hope that he, too, can find love and belonging. His hopes are crushed when his best laid plans go awry and Elise is dragged into his world of violence and deceit. She may not survive the revelation of Jared’s past…or still love him when the truth is revealed.

Want it regardless? Buy the ebook copy now at Smashwords. Or Amazon. Or Barnes & Noble. Or the paperback copy here.

Last day to enter is midnight Sunday, February 9th.

Winners will be chosen randomly and announced on this blog.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest open to everyone but is void where prohibited by law.

Dressing a Kitten

Joseph_Wright_of_Derby._Two_Girls_Dressing_a_Kitten_by_Candlelight._c._1768-70I discovered this painting, Two Girls Dressing a Kitten by Candlelight  by Joseph Wright of Derby (1737-1797) between 1768-1770,  on a blog I adore called Two Nerdy History girls. While the author of the blog, Isabella Bradford, provided a fascinating discussion on the possible meanings of the painting,  I take a more simplistic approach.

Since I am neither an art critic, nor a psychologist, this painting took me down memory lane to my childhood.

As the very much youngest child of my family and living my earliest years  in a neighborhood with few children, I grew up pretty much alone. My saving grace came partially in the form of what seemed like a continuous supply of kittens as my playmates.  No kitten was safe from my affections. I spent hours dressing them up in my doll clothes and pushing them around in my baby carriage.

Though the painting may inspire deeper meanings, I love the idea that dressing kittens in doll clothes is a timeless past time.  Based on the mournful expression in the kitten’s face, not to mention the tail between his legs, the kitten isn’t enjoying the attention the girls are so lovingly lavishing upon it.  Still, I think it’s a sweet picture.

What do you see when you look at this picture?



Book Giveaway–The Stranger She Married Winner

TheStrangerSheMarried (1)Congratulations to Carisa Sparks Carico who was chosen in a random drawing to win a free paperback copy of my Regency Romance, The Stranger She Married, the first of the Rogue Hearts Series.

The new and improved version of Stranger She Married will be available in paperback to everyone in the near future. Keep posted and I will announce it as soon as that happens. In the meantime, it is available digitally everywhere digital books are sold including Smashwords. You can also still get the old paperback version with the old cover in certain places such as Amazon.

Book giveaway–The Stranger She Married

TheStrangerSheMarried (1)Win a free paperback copy of The Stranger She Married, Book 1 of the Rogue Hearts Series.

It’s the proof, so there will be a stamped “proof” across the inside front page, but otherwise it is exactly as it will be when the real paperback copies come out, which will be soon.

To enter,  simply enter the rafflecopter below.

Don’t be scared of Rafflecopter–it’s super easy and will walk you through the process.

Here is the blurb from the back cover:

When her parents and twin brother die within weeks of each other, Alicia and her younger sister are left in the hands of an uncle who has brought them all to financial and social ruin. Desperate to save her family from debtor’s prison, Alicia vows to marry the first wealthy man to propose. She meets the dashing Lord Amesbury, and her heart whispers that this is the man she is destined to love, but his tainted past may forever stand in their way. Her choices in potential husbands narrow to either a scarred cripple with the heart of a poet, or a handsome rake with a deadly secret.

Cole Amesbury is tormented by his own ghosts, and believes he is beyond redemption, yet he cannot deny his attraction for the girl whose genuine goodness touches the heart he’d thought long dead. He fears the scars in his soul cut so deeply that he may never be able to offer Alicia a love that is true. When yet another bizarre mishap threatens her life, Alicia suspects the seemingly unrelated accidents that have plagued her loved ones are actually a killer’s attempt to exterminate every member of her family.

Despite the threat looming over her, learning to love the stranger she married may pose the greatest danger to her heart. And Cole must protect Alicia from the killer who has been exterminating her family before she is the next target.

Want it for free? Enter below.

Want it regardless? Buy the ebook now at Smashwords. Or Amazon. Or Barnes & Noble. The print copy will be available soon at those same bookstores.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Last day to enter is midnight Friday, January 17th.

Winners will be chosen using and announced on this blog.


Contest open to everyone but is void where prohibited by law.

Chocolate Giveaway

Milk Chocolate Reindeer Lollipop (Set of 3)Reviews on Amazon are crucial for helping readers “find” authors.  Most people probably don’t think to leave a review for a book they liked.  So I am asking you for a review.

And I’m willing to offer an incentive, or a bribe, or whatever you want to call it. 

If you’ve read one of my books and honestly loved (or liked) it, please leave a review on Amazon and post the link to it in the Rafflecopter below to enter your name in a drawing for these cute Godiva chocolate reindeer pictured above, in your choice of light or dark chocolate.  (Due to shipping restrictions, this drawing is open to US and Canada residents  ONLY.) You may leave a review on Amazon for as many of my books as you wish, simply leave the link to the review for every book you review and your name goes in an additional time.

If you review my newest book, A Perfect Secret, you get double credit for reviewing it.A Perfect Secret

If you haven’t read any of my novels or short stories but you’d like to so you can be included in the drawing, send an email to me at, put “Mistletoe Magic for a Review” in the subject line, and I’ll send you a code to get a digital copy of my sweet Regency romance short story, Mistletoe Magic, for free. Once you’ve read it, you can review it.

If have not yet read my newest full-length book, A Perfect Secret, but you’re willing to read it and give it an honest review, I’ll give you a coupon to buy a digital copy at a 33% discount.  Just send me an email to the same email address and put “Perfect Secret 33% Discount” in the subject line.

Hurry! This drawing expires in one week, December 17th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If for some reason you can’t enter the Rafflecopter, leave your review link in the comments section below and I’ll make sure you’re  entered.

No purchase necessary.

Due to shipping restrictions, this drawing is open to US and Canada residents  ONLY.

Void where prohibited.


Realize Your Writing Dreams

Looking for a conference with all the benefits of an RWA national conference but at HALF the cost and in a more intimate setting where you can rub elbows with editors, agents and bestselling authors? LOOK NO FURTHER! Desert Dreams is a popular and informative conference held in sunny Arizona! Registration for the 2014 Desert Dreams Writers’ Conference, April 4 – 6, is now open!

SPECIAL FEATURE!! An in-depth Q & A panel with NYT Bestselling Authors: Sylvia Day, Jennifer Ashley, Allison Brennan and Karin Tabke! We also offer a number of workshops for writers of all levels with interest in the various publishing avenues, including self-publishing, e-publishing and traditional print publishing. Our speakers will share their expertise and vast knowledge of the ever-evolving world of writing and publishing! There is literally something for everyone at our conference!

Here are some of the wonderful speakers and workshops lined up for 2014 (subject to change): CREATING THE SUCCESSFUL SINGLE-TITLE (OR CATEGORY) SERIES: GOING THE EXTRA MILE with Jennifer Ashley

THE VILLAIN’S JOURNEY with Allison Brennan




THE X FACTOR with Karin Tabke

THE ART OF THE STORYBOARD with Patricia Burroughs & Toni McGee Causey



We also have a fantastic contest—Realizing the Dream—to enter, a book signing and amazing raffle items! Desert Dreams also sponsors a hospitality suite with food and beverage for ALL conference attendees! This is a conference you won’t want to miss. More high-profile authors than ever before, more one-on-one time with authors, editor and agents and more workshops!

The conference fee is only $200 if you register before December 31, 2013 (a $25 savings!). Or you can lock in the 2013 registration by paying $100 before the 31st. Simply fill out the registration form on the Desert Rose website (, and then make a payment of $100 to no later than December 31, 2013. Make the second payment of $100 no later than February 28, 2014, and you are paid in full! (Please note that there are no refunds after March 1, 2014.) Booked at the beautifully renovated Tempe Mission Palm Resort and Hotel and located in the heart of the Mill Avenue District, the resort is walking distance to sporting events, live entertainment and over 100 restaurants, nightlife venues and shops!

To book your hotel room and receive special conference pricing, visit the Desert Rose website (, click on the Conference tab on the top menu and choose a king, double/double or junior suite. Rooms are just $145 (excluding tax and resort fee) single or double occupancy. If you wish to upgrade to a larger suite there is no extra charge. (Subject to availability.)

For more information about this exciting conference, visit and click on the Conference tab for the list of speakers, editors and agents, along with the workshop descriptions to date.

Be sure to click on the Blog tab for interviews with some of our attendees. We look forward to seeing you April 4 – 6, 2014 in sunny Arizona! All the best and remember – you can Turn Your Dreams into Reality!

Marriage in Regency England

Ah, the ringing of wedding bells. It’s a lovely, romantic sound. It always conjures in my mind true love and happily ever after.

The hope of a bright future awaiting the couple probably isn’t much different now than it was centuries past. But the way people married has evolved over the years.

In Regency England, a couple could get married one of three ways: they could marry in a church after the reading of the banns, they could obtain a common license, or they could marry by special license. They could also elope and go to Scotland, but that’s a topic for different post.

A couple wishing to be wed in the traditional way had to have their ministers of their local parishes to read what was called “the banns” meaning he read their names for three Sundays in row, and also posted their names at each church for those three weeks. This was to provide anyone who knew of a good reason why they shouldn’t marry to declare it. Usually the reason someone objected was if one of them were already married, as was the case in the book Jane Eyre. If no one objected, then the couple could marry within the next three months. Marriages also had to take place between 8 a.m. and noon in one of their churches.

For those who wished to waive the reading of the banns, either because they wanted to marry sooner, or they wanted to marry in a church other than one of their home parishes, they could purchase a common marriage license. Some also probably did it as a status symbol as a way that they could afford the ten shillings that it cost to get a license. In order to marry by license, the couple had to get one from the archbishops of Canterbury and York and had to swear that there was no reason why they couldn’t marry. To obtain a marriage license, the couple—or usually just the bridegroom—had to swear that there was no reason why they could not marry. Marriages by common license required the couple to marry in a church or consecrated building.

A Special License was the third option. They were more difficult to obtain and they were also costly—to the tune of four to five pounds. They were also only issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury,and only to those of high rank. A special license gave the couple the option to marry any time or place they desired. Although they were encouraged to marry in churches, the marriage could be performed anywhere such as a home or garden. Few people were eligible to marry by special license. Only peers and their children, baronets, knights, members of Parliament, Privy Councillors and Westminster Court Judges had this option.

Since the father of Amesbury family in my Rogue Hearts series is the Earl of Tarrington, all the sons had the option to marry by Special License at the family county seat, and, out of tradition, all of them did.