Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Best Romance Writers of America Conference EVER

It's been a mad writing whirlwind around here lately. I'm about halfway through Wind Chime Café, but I'll take a quick break to recap the Romance Writers of America Conference, which was AMAZING!

I've been a member of RWA since 2004 and this was my fifth time attending the national conference. This was by far the best one yet. Why? Well, a few reasons...

1) I was not hyperventilating over the fact that a single agent or editor might hold the keys to my success as an author. I control my career now. I self-publish my books and connect directly with my readers. I have the power to make my dreams come true.

2) For the first time, there was an entire workshop track dedicated to indie publishing. Thank you Bella Andre, Barbara Freethy, Tina Folsom, and Liliana Hart for putting together so many fantastic workshops and for being such an inspiration. YOU changed the entire tone of this conference.

3) I participated in my first two book signings! Thank you to Sarah Morgan, two-time Rita Award winner and author of over 60 romance novels, for being such a joy to sit with at the Literacy Signing. And thank you to everyone who stopped by the Indie Signing! It was so exciting to bring so many books and not leave with a single one. :)

Since I got home, several writer friends have asked if attending a writers conference is worth it. I would highly recommend trying to attend at least one conference each year. The workshops will help take your writing to the next level, you'll get to meet some of your favorite authors in person, you can learn about industry trends and trade marketing secrets with fellow authors, and most of all you get to spend several days hanging out with new friends who share your passion for writing!

Other awesome things that happened this year: I met two close Twitter friends for the first time--Rachel Kall and Tracie Banister--who are just as wonderful in person as they are online. I got to spend the week with one of my best friends, Juliette Sobanet, and celebrate the release of her fourth book, Dancing with Paris. And I made a bunch of new friends who I'm excited to stay connected with online and hope to see again at next year's conference.

How do you get the most out of a writers conference? Some say you should go with a goal in mind. I say, go with a completely open mind. Smile and be friendly to everyone. Try not to sit with people you know at lunch, and switch it up at dinner, too. Don't be afraid to introduce yourself and get to know everyone. You never know, you might make a new friend.

The best advice I got before this year's conference was from Bob Mayer at his "Write it Forward" workshop back in March (which I highly recommend, by the way). He said, "Once you leave the room, you don't go back until the day is over, because you can't network in your room." I took his advice to heart this time, and while I was so exhausted from socializing by Saturday night that I could hardly see straight, it was worth it! Besides, there's always Guinness when things get really dire... :)

Thank you to everyone who made this conference such an amazing experience this year. Now...back to writing Wind Chime Café. :)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Book Signing in Atlanta

If you live in the Atlanta area, I will be signing paperback copies of The Seal Island Trilogy on Wednesday, July 17th from 5:30-7:30pm at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis! Over 400 romance and women's fiction authors will be signing books at the "Readers for Life" Literacy Autographing hosted by Romance Writers of America. Proceeds from the book sales will go to literacy charities, and you can click on the link to view a list of attending authors. If you're in the area, I'd love to meet you! :)

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Kindle Fire #Giveaway!!

Want to win a Kindle Fire? I thought so... :) I'm participating in a joint author and blogger sponsored giveaway, hosted by Blkosiner's Book Blog. There are also a few books and additional prizes up for grabs, including an e-copy of The Selkie Spell!

Sponsoring Authors and Bloggers:
Mike Hartner
Trisha Wolfe
Chris Everheart
Ashley Lavering
Susan Kaye Quinn
Sophie Moss
Rebecca Ethington
Emma Michaels
Kelly Hashway

The giveaway is open to anyone who can use Amazon. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, July 5, 2013

Wind Chime Café Recipe ~ Smith Island Cake

Hope everyone had a happy 4th of July! I've been writing like crazy and having so much fun getting to know Annie and Will from Wind Chime Café. Since no café book would be complete without a fantastic chocolate cake recipe, I'm attempting to master the art of the multi-layered Smith Island Cake.

Smith Island Cakes are traditionally made up of eight to ten layers of yellow cake and smothered in chocolate frosting. The recipe hails from Smith Island, Maryland, a small Chesapeake Bay island and traditional working watermen community that lies twelve miles west of Crisfield, Maryland.

For the cake layers, I used the Smith Island Museum recommended recipe from Mrs. Kitching's Smith Island Cookbook. Watch the oven closely as the layers bake really fast, and try to give each of them a minute on the highest rack so they get a nice blast of heat on top.

Mrs. Kitching's recipe calls for an icing with lots of confectioners sugar. I'm not a big fan of confectioners sugar in icing since it makes everything taste so sweet, so I substituted my great-grandmother's chocolate fudge recipe, which is OUT OF THIS WORLD!!!!

What you'll need to make the icing:
3 c. sugar
1 large can evaporated milk
1 stick butter
2 heaping TB unsweetened cocoa or choc bars to taste
1/4 t. salt or more to taste

To make the icing, bring all the ingredients except the vanilla to a boil. Continue to simmer on low while stirring until the chocolate thickens (about 15-20 mins). Take off heat. Add the vanilla. Mix by hand until it's thick enough to spread (about 15-20 mins.) *warning* The icing will thicken and turn into fudge so you have to be ready to ice the layers as soon as it thickens to the point where it won't just drip down the sides.

How gorgeous is that?? Okay, so this might not be the easiest recipe to make, but with a few friends and a bottle of wine, it is so worth it! What do you think? Are you ready to give it a try? Or did you take one look at this and think, you have got to be kidding me!?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Selkie Spell is a FINALIST in the 2013 Readers' Favorite Book Awards!

*tosses rose petals*
Thank you so much to my readers for your support, and to my amazing design team, Blue Harvest Creative, for encouraging me to enter this contest.
I am so humbled an honored by the outpouring of support from my readers and friends on Facebook and Twitter when I first made the announcement yesterday. I am so grateful for all of you. Your encouragement and kindness motivates me to write faster, harder and better every single day.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.