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Monday, June 26, 2017



At this year’s RT Booklover’s Convention, I was a teacher at the pre-convention Writer’s Boot Camp. It was a wonderful experience, not just because I got to share some wisdom, but also because I met a really great group of aspiring writers. We talked with each other quite a bit about “conventional wisdom” they’d heard, misperceptions about publishing, what to expect when they got their first (or their next) book into the hands of readers.

In that vein, one thing we talked about was the “write every day” rule.

I think “write every day” is at once great and terrible advice.

It’s good advice because it encourages writers to make time for writing, to make it a habit. It’s pretty easy to prioritize other things, but if you want a writing career, you need to not only finish the book, but also have some measure of discipline.

But it’s bad advice, because once we are in the habit, we feel guilty if we miss a day, or the pressure to produce regularly can become stifling.

But what does it mean to “write every day”?

Some writers have specific daily word count goals. So, if they aim to write 2,000 words per day, they won’t stop until they reach 2,000. That ensures a novel keeps moving forward each day.

Some writers have adjustable goals. Daily writing, but it doesn’t matter how much. Thirty words or 3,000 words is still progress.

Some writers can only write in cafes, or only at their own desk in their home office. Some can squeeze in writing whenever they have the opportunity, such as lunchtime at the office or in the car during their son’s soccer practice.

My personal goals are kind of loosey-goosey. I give myself project deadlines—i.e. “I want to finish my historical novel by July 15.”—but the amount of work I do each day varies greatly. Some of this is because my daily schedule varies a great deal (I’m a freelancer, so my job can be unpredictable) but also because my process is variable. For example, I write first drafts very fast and spend more time revising, so I have days when I probably have a net-negative word count, but I’ve revised a good chunk of a manuscript. 

But someone made a suggestion at Boot Camp that I’ve been thinking about ever since. Sometimes “writing every day” is not getting physical words on the page, but rather thinking about the story.

I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking about my works in progress all the time—in the shower, when I’m out walking, when I’m falling asleep at night. This has been a habit of mine since I was a teenager; I used to pass long car rides by making up stories in my head. It’s part of why I can write first drafts so fast; when I sit down to write, I usually know what I’m going to be writing.

So I like this idea quite a bit. Not that thinking should replace actual writing, but on days when you can’t make time to sit down and get words on the page, ruminating on a story could be a good alternative.

This is why I personally set big project goals. I like to set goals that are challenging but still within my ability to achieve, so I’m setting myself up for success without making it too easy. It’s like the NaNoWriMo challenge of writing 50,000 words in a month. It is doable, and thousands of writers worldwide succeed at it every year, but it definitely takes some effort.

When we do round robins at chapter meetings, a lot of you say, “I’m writing,” and that’s awesome! Keep writing and working on that book. But think about what “writing every day” means for you and how it can help you reach your goals. Let’s change “I’m writing” to “I finished,” and then, “I submitted,” and eventually, “I’m published!”♥

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Kate McMurray is an award-winning author of gay romance and an unabashed romance fan. When she’s not writing, she works as a nonfiction editor, dabbles in various crafts, and is maybe a tiny bit obsessed with baseball. She has served as President of Rainbow Romance Writers, the LGBT romance chapter of Romance Writers of America; and as Vice President of RWA/NYC. She lives in Brooklyn, NY. Visit her at www.katemcmurray.com.

Saturday, June 17, 2017


Every week we bring you an exciting hot book cover from one of New York's Leading Romance Authors.

Congratulations to Ursula on the release of her new book!


by Ursula Renée

SUMMARY:   Despite their different backgrounds, Randy Jones agreed to take Cassie Ann Porter for better and for worse. He never considered how much worse things could get, but he finds out after he returns home from serving in the army during World War II. Unable to find a job, he has to depend on his wife to support the family, which includes their two daughters, who at first refuse to have anything to do with him.

Cass works at the shipyard, one of many women employed to fill in while the men were gone to war. Her employer doesn't replace her and the others because he can pay them so much less than he would men, yet she would like nothing better than to be a stay-at-home wife and mother.

When a good intention goes wrong, Randy wonders if he and Cass have made a mistake in going against society's rules. Can the "worse" ever get better?


Friday, June 2, 2017


Every week we bring you an exciting hot book cover from 
one of New York's Leading Romance Authors.

Congratulations to Anna on the release of her new book!

by Anna DePalo
Harlequin Desire

SUMMARY:  To protect her reputation in a dog-eat-dog town, actress Chiara Feran needs a fake fling fast! Turning to the stuntman on her last movie, Rick Serenghetti, seems like a sure thing. But in Hollywood, things—and stuntmen—are never what they seem. Rick is actually a wealthy movie producer who stunts for kicks. And boy, is he intrigued by this latest role! But he gets more than he bargained for as the line between fantasy and reality blurs. Soon, a very real baby is on the way. Could a marriage proposal be far behind?


Wednesday, May 31, 2017


Here are some of the heroines that I have fallen in love with over time. They’re smart, resourceful, determined and in the end, they win their freedom, their independence and the hero!

by Kathleen Woodiwiss
A prisoner in her own home, she stubbornly refuses to submit to her conqueror and instead conquers him and wins his heart.

by Margaret Mitchell
Can we say, Bitch?! She’s selfish, self-absorbed but she is strong and loyal to Tara, to her Ashley and sometimes to Rhett.

Ginny, SWEET SAVAGE LOVE by Rosemary Rogers
A sweet virgin who grows up fast and learned to go after what she wanted, even if it was that western rogue who stole her virginity.

Elizabeth Bennet, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen
She won our hearts with her spunk and her realistic view of the marriage mart. And, we loved her loyalty to her family and her going toe to toe with the hunky Mr. Darcy. Zombies notwithstanding!

Ms. Celie, THE COLOR PURPLE by Alice Walker
She was raped by her stepfather, her children stolen, and sold into marriage with an abusive husband, but Celie is a survivor. She struggled, she kept her faith, she survived and in the end, she triumphed.

Lady Ana Cubillas, CONQUISTADORA by Esmeralda Santiago
A pampered Lady of the Spanish Court, she convinces her husband to travel to Puerto Rico to take over the family plantation. There she thrives as she embraces the land, the people and her true destiny.

Lt. Eve Dallas, IN DEATH series by J.D. Robb (aka Nora Roberts)
A no-nonsense futuristic police woman who has seen the horrors of what one person can do to another, but she stands for the dead and is not ashamed to admit that sometimes she needs a shoulder to lean on, especially her sexy billionaire husband’s.♥

Maria Ferrer enjoys reading about strong women who are loyal and smart and can be true bitches when the need arises. Thank Goodness there are plenty of these heroines to read about and to write about.  She hopes readers will say the same about the heroines in her stories.


Tuesday, May 30, 2017


It’s no secret that I love Wonder Woman. She’s a kickass warrior princess goddess Amazon superhero--need I go on? She isn’t a damsel in distress, and she holds her own among all the dudes in Justice League. What makes her really strong, though, is her depth of compassion for humanity. She feels, deeply. Wonder Woman shows us there’s power in vulnerability, and being a woman is not a weakness.

A few years ago, I read Goddesses in Everywoman: Powerful Archetypes in Women's Lives by Jean Shinoda Bolen. It discusses female archetypes using Greek mythology, and talks about how women embody these archetypes at different points in their lives. I’ve been interested in mythology since I was a kid, so this was fascinating stuff.

When I sat down to outline a trilogy of books based on Greek goddess archetypes, I had to go deeper. I studied the Athena archetype--not just her strengths, but her weaknesses, too. Athena, goddess of wisdom, craft, and war, was a Strong Female Character™, but she also supported the patriarchy. Unlike Wonder Woman, Athena didn’t understand or value feelings. If I was going to write a character derived from the Athena archetype, this journey had to be part of her arc. She was going to have to learn to feel, to empathize, to be compassionate. She was going to have to remove her armor, open up, and let herself be seen.

This character, Min (short for Minerva, Athena’s Roman name), isn’t Wonder Woman. Not yet, anyway. She hasn’t done the work to open up. Her armor is her cold demeanor, her sword is her intelligence and willingness to work for her cause, and her shield is her defensive manner and sharp tongue. I had to pair her with a man who was strong, but sensitive. Braydon’s divorced, and he comes from a big family--he’s felt the full gamut of emotions, and he helps Min experience it for herself. Eventually, Min forms deep connections not only with Braydon, but with the other two female protagonists in the trilogy, Venus and Diana. The ability to feel deeply and be vulnerable is a superpower in and of itself, regardless of whether one has flight, bullet-proof gauntlets, or a lasso of truth. My hope is that through these stories, readers will also recognize and value their own superpowers, and expand the female archetypes society has defined for us.♥

Golden Heart® finalist Alexis Daria’s debut contemporary romance will be released in 2017 from SMP Swerve. On Sunday evenings, Alexis co-hosts #RWchat, a weekly Twitter chat for romance writers. She also serves as PRO Liaison for the New York City chapter of RWA, and Municipal Liaison for the NYC region of National Novel Writing Month. You can find her on Twitter at @alexisdaria, and follow her blog creativestaycation.com.


Monday, May 29, 2017


What makes a strong heroine? 
It's only my opinion, but I think a strong heroine is one who, like a tree in a storm, knows how to bend with the wind and remain standing after it passes. No matter what happens in her life, particularly with the matters of the heart, she moves forward with her life.

How can a heroine evolve?
A heroine should move from being co-dependent on her partner and wishy washy to a strong woman who knows what she wants in life and how to achieve her goals, both personal and professional.

What attracts us to the strong heroine?
We admire her courage in the face of adversity and cheer her on through same. We also worry that she will achieve her goals. Men find strong heroines sexy because they are not shrinking violets who cling to a man's arm. They know how to make a man feel like a man without being needy.♥

Joan Ramirez has published three nonfiction books and is at work on her first romance novel. She is also an ESL and Special Ed teacher and hopes to start her own enterprise consulting in both fields.


Thursday, May 25, 2017


In March, I received The Call, which led to an agent, which led to a two-book deal with a major publisher. While I had been querying for exactly a year and a day, it was NOLA Stars’ Suzannah Contest that kicked off the flurry of activity. I know some people question the value of RWA chapter contests, but I think they’re a great way to receive feedback, gain recognition, and put your work in front of acquiring agents and editors.

If you don’t have close writing buddies or critique partners, or you want an unbiased opinion, most chapter contests offer feedback via scoresheets and comments from their first round judges. Judges are usually comprised of chapter members, PRO or PAN members, and sometimes even librarians or other industry professionals. Regardless, they’re all romance readers, and they’ll give you unbiased feedback on your pages.

While contest wins don’t directly translate into book sales, it’s pretty nice to be able to list “winner” on your website. And if you’re querying, it’s a cool thing to add to your bio paragraph. Some contests also offer cash prizes or trophies.

Many chapter contests have acquiring agents and editors as final round judges. Some of these contests don’t get a ton of entries, so if your first pages are really strong and you see an agent or editor listed on the chapter website that you’d like to get your work in front of, consider entering. If they like it, they’ll send a request through the contest coordinators. (Even if you’ve already queried that person or received a request through a pitch event, final judges have to read the contest entries they get, and they sometimes get to those before the slush pile.)

I had a great experience with the 2016 Suzannah contest. Here’s how the Northern Louisiana chapter describes it on their site:

The Suzannah is different from most other writers’ contests in that published authors and unpublished writers all compete against one another in a single pool of entries without categories. … Why would we do such a thing? Because this format allows published authors to anonymously test the waters in a new genre. It also gives unpublished writers the experience and prestige of having their writing judged as in the ‘real world’ against already established authors—just the way it is on an editor’s desk!

Your book doesn’t even have to be finished. Their website says, “Go ahead. Try out a new idea on us. Or dig that old manuscript out from under the bed, give it a dusting and send it in.” (http://nolastars.com/contest/)

When I entered Take the Lead, I only had three chapters written. Luckily, by the time I found out I was a finalist, I had completed the first draft. The feedback I received from the scoresheets was useful in revising my chapters before I sent them in for the final round, and for making my query pages stronger. Of the six final judges, I received requests from four. Two had already requested pages from other pitch events, but it was the contest that really got their eyes on my work. Three of the four made offers, and I ultimately won the contest’s grand prize. (Not gonna lie, the trophy is pretty sweet, even though it has the older title engraved on it.)

While I didn’t accept the offers that came through this contest, the Suzannah was instrumental in helping me sign with my agent and get a book deal. The contest coordinators and chapter president have stayed in contact, cheering me on. And now I’m a big advocate for RWA chapter contests.

By contrast, I entered a different novel in a few contests last year. The feedback showed me I was pitching the book all wrong, and helped me decide it needed another revision pass.

If you know what you want out of them, chapter contests can be a great way to help you advance your goals and put your work out there. Make sure to check out RWA/NYC’s own Kathryn Hayes “When Sparks Fly” Contest, coming soon!♥

Golden Heart® finalist Alexis Daria’s debut contemporary romance will be released in 2017 from SMP Swerve. On Sunday evenings, Alexis co-hosts #RWchat, a weekly Twitter chat for romance writers. She also serves as PRO Liaison for the New York City chapter of RWA, and Municipal Liaison for the NYC region of National Novel Writing Month. You can find her on Twitter at @alexisdaria, and follow her blog creativestaycation.com.