Romance Writers Retreat Recap!

I always expect to have a wonderful time at Washington Romance Writers Spring Retreat, but this year was one of the best.

First came the book signing, which everyone agreed was a resounding success. Lisa Dyson and I each had a carton of books to give away, generously provided by Harlequin. We each gave away 35 books! Here we are, accidentally all color-coordinated.
11081286_781309335315396_5628325628032543771_n

After the book signing I had an hour’s consultation with Barbara Vey, a romance reader extraordinaire, writer of Publishers Weekly’s Beyond Her Book blog, which continues today on Barbara’s website. Barbara shared some of the wisdom she’s gained from her years of writing the blog, connecting with other readers and authors and industry people. She had all kinds of great ideas to improve my social media presence. Keep tabs on me and let me know how I’m doing, everyone!

IMG_2322.2015-04-18_164542 (1)We had wonderful workshops, especially Kathleen Gilles Seidel‘s setting workshop, inspirational speakers–Bella Andre, Rita Clay Estrada, and Mary Kay Andrews, and precious time talking with others who love writing. (Pictured here is Rita Clay Estrada, but the photo doesn’t do her justice. She is beautiful in person, especially when she smiles! All our speakers were lovely people. I had a chance to chat with Bella Andre who could not have been nicer. Rita made an effort to reach out to the other participants, which I greatly admired.

And then there was Romance Jeopardy, Elvis-style. If I do say so myself, our team had the BEST costumes, if not the highest scores.
11554_10206165464166034_3170238513108488640_n

I also made a new friend. Janna MacGregor is shown in the Elvis photo, next to me, second from the left. She is a WHOLE LOT prettier than that (and I am not nearly as heavy as I look!!). Jan came all the way from Kansas City and we bonded over a love of writing Regency Romance.

The Retreat always closes with the Raffle Baskets. Here was one of the most coveted ones.
IMG_2339.2015-04-19_030517
I know he looks real, but he was merely a life-sized cardboard figure. If you look closely you can see there was a basket associated with him.

Alas, I did not win him….

I almost forgot….I also won an award! Washington Romance Writers chose me to win the Outstanding Achievement award, given to a member to honor her body of work. It was a total surprise and I was very very moved to have been selected. The crystal has a place of honor in my home.
11149273_10206162572453743_8015777179791945561_n

As I said, it was a wonderful wonderful weekend.
What plans do you have for this weekend?

Retreat 2015!

Today I’m off to Washington Romance Writers Spring Retreat in Westminster, Maryland. This is one of the highlights of my year, a chance to get together with writing friends and talk writing all day Friday, Saturday and half of Sunday.

I’ll be participating in the Pre-Retreat Multi-Author book signing. This is the first year we will not be at Turn The Page Bookstore, Nora Roberts’s husband’s store, because Nora had a conflict this weekend. Without Nora to bus in (literally) eager readers, we are not certain how successful the signing will be. It will be in a mall so we might get passers by interested.
WRW Pre-Retreat Signing_web_v2
Unfortunately, the Books-A-Million cannot get copies of my April book, Bound By Duty, but this may be good luck for readers, because I’m going to give away Mills and Boon copies of my backlist books. And, thanks to my friend, Lisa Dyson (Catching Her Rival, May 2015), who did the legwork, Harlequin might be sending copies of my April book to the signing along with her May book. So if you are in the area, stop by the book signing from 11 to 2 and get free books!

During the Retreat itself there are certain highlights I look forward to every year.

The first is Kathy Seidel’s workshop. In years past, Kathy used to simply do the opening talk, but lately she has moved to a more participatory workshop format. This year her topic is settings. What Regency author doesn’t love settings?

On Saturday night we have Romance Jeopardy, a game that I believe was invented by WRW. The last two years we’ve had a theme and participants dress up accordingly. This year the theme is Elvis Presley.
elvis-presley-in-jailhouse-rock-qu

Then on Sunday there is the Raffle. Here are two of the baskets my pals Helen, Virginia, Julie, and I have created for the raffle.
20150412_194316-1
We call this basket “Good To The Last Drop,” and it is stuffed with coffee items.
Our second basket is “The Game Is Afoot,” with items that are all Sherlock Holmes.
20150412_200646-1

Needless to say, I can’t wait! Next week I’ll let you know how it was!

Oh, I should also tell you that the dh and I did visit the cherry blossoms in Washinton, D.C. last Saturday. They were about a day away from their peak.
IMG_2309

Hope you have a wonderful weekend! What are your plans?

More Spring

I’m obsessed with spring this year. I can’t remember when I’ve been so excited to leave winter behind and welcome all the beauty that is spring.

Yesterday I went to lunch in Old Town Alexandria with my friend Ave Miles and we happened upon this lovely weeping cherry tree.
IMG_2922.2015-04-08_180706

My dh is in Wilmington, NC, and he sent me this photo of a tree in the United States Colored Troops cemetery there.
FullSizeRender
The trees here in my backyard in Virginia are only now budding (see the one starting to bloom?)
IMG_1200

Last week this plant in my front garden was so small I thought it might be a weed. Look at it now! It’s even starting to flower!
IMG_1201

I just love this time of rebirth. No wonder we celebrate Easter in the spring of the year. If New Year’s Day gives us a chance to start all over again, so does spring. Spring is filled with beauty and hope and there is no reason why we can’t fill ourselves with beauty and hope.

So celebrate Beautiful You and have hope that whatever feels like winter in your life can bloom into spring when the time is right.

And with spring, isn’t it nice that I have a new book, the start of a new series? Bound By Duty, Book 1 in the Scandalous Summerfields series, is still available in paperback and ebook at most online vendors.

And I have a new contest, as well! Congratulations to Karen P of Florida who won my last website contest.

And a special thanks to Judy, who always comments so faithfully here. She wrote a lovely review of Bound By Duty on Amazon!

Spring!

We’ve really earned spring this year, at least in the Northeast and Midatlantic when we got snow instead of spring rains. Our daily lows are still hovering near freezing, but today is one beautiful April day. Sunshine. Light breezes. Blue skies.

Everywhere trees are budding. In my front yard the bushes are budding and the jonquils are starting to bloom. Pretty soon we will be seeing the cherry blossoms, followed by the dogwoods and azaleas.

Virginia is spectacularly beautiful in the spring. So is Washington, DC. A few years ago, my dh and I went to see the cherry blossoms in DC. See how beautiful they are!

IM001368

IM001365

 

Don’t forget to enter the Harlequin blog Easter Egg hunt! Just look on my website for my egg. Lots of prizes!

I’m also featured on Happy Ever After blog today!

What is your favorite part of spring?

Harlequin’s Story

There is a wonderful article about Harlequin, written by Kelly Faircloth. It tells the story of how Harlequin began and brings it up to the present. I highly recommend reading it. It’s called “How Harlequin Became The Most Famous Name In Romance.”
gqzzus61heq9nciwwrnc
I confess that I did not come to reading Romance by reading Harlequins, but when I first started to write, I quickly learned that there was a great opportunity to get published through writing series romance and I started reading some. These days I read my friends’ and critique partners’ series romances and often judge the books in the RITA contest. I love the diversity of the Harlequin books. Not all of them are wonderful, but, taken as a whole, I think it is pretty impressive that over 100 books are released by Harlequin each month and, of that number, the majority are great stories. 

I quickly learned that I didn’t quite understand the different lines well enough to write them. I turned to writing Historicals, and, ironically, I wound up at Harlequin anyway. And I’m happy I did. I’ve learned a lot about writing romance from these masters. 

miss-mb_350I was actually first published by Mills and Boon, the UK branch of Harlequin, which has its own story of publishing spanning over 100 years. I still think of myself as primarily a Mills and Boon author. It is pretty special to be a part of over a century of publishing.

The article tells about Harlequin being acquired by Harper Collins this year and makes the remark that no one knows what that will ultimately mean. That is the truth!

Do you read the Harlequin lines? Have you in the past? Which is your favorite?

 

 

 

 

Bound By Duty Is Here (sorta)!

IMG_1187It is always exciting to know that one of my books is actually on bookstore shelves or available from online vendors. March 17 was the day for Bound By Duty.

I used to check bookstores to actually see the book on the shelf, but in my area of Northern Virginia, it is getting harder to find Harlequin Historicals in stores. KMart is a good bet. And Barnes and Noble, although last I looked the Harlequin Historicals were nearly hidden on the shelf after the alphabetical Romance books. Borders always used to display them with the other Harlequin books, but, alas! Borders is no more. Any book store can order the book for you, though. That is something readers do not realize. Even stores like the prestigious Politics and Prose in Washington DC, can order Harlequin books for you.

It is easier to order the books online these days, though, and I’ve always depended upon Amazon, but this time Amazon has let me down! On release day it said it would take 1 to 3 weeks to ship Bound By Duty. Yesterday it said it was out of stock and today it says it will ship on March 23. I hope this means that there were bunches of pre-orders, but I suspect somebody slipped up somewhere. Luckily, Bound By Duty can still be ordered from eHarlequin. Book Depository has it, even though they have not managed to find the cover image. BarnesandNoble.com has it, as does BooksaMillion.com.

frustration2Glitches like with Amazon and Book Depository make an author want to tear her hair out. This is a part of the business over which we have absolutely no control and yet sales are the way our books reach readers!

I’m not going to let a little glitch spoil my excitement, though. My book is out there. It has been reviewed by RT Book Reviews. (Four Stars!) It is front and center on my website and readers can get their hands on it. Even if it might take a little extra effort.

How do you buy your books these days? What frustrates you that is totally out of your control?