Friday, January 30, 2009

Interview with CJ Lyons

I’d like to welcome our guest today, CJ Lyons. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy again, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.  

I understand you have a new release out called WARNING SIGNS. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

WARNING SIGNS is the sequel to my debut medical suspense novel, LIFELINES. It takes place at Pittsburgh's Angels of Mercy's Medical Center where medical student Amanda Mason suspects there is a connection in the mysterious deaths of her patients. But when she begins to experience the same deadly symptoms, she realizes they are warning signs of worse to come.

With the help of her friends—Gina, a roommate recovering from her own trauma; Lydia, a streetwise ER attending; and Nora, a by-the-book charge nurse—Amanda must solve this medical mystery before she becomes the next victim...

WARNING SIGNS is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

My original title for the story was Catalyst, but Berkley's marketing department was worried that it sounded too clinical, so they came up with WARNING SIGNS. WARNING SIGNS definitely also fits the story, so it works for me!

What made you decide to write in this genre?

My background as a pediatric ER doctor gives me a bit of an edge in the medical suspense genre, not to mention 17 years of stories to draw from.

Are you a plotter or a pantser and how did it affect the writing of this book?

Definite pantser! I don't think it affects any particular book—it's just the way my mind works. I had a pretty tight deadline for WARNING SIGNS and there were times when I wondered if things might be easier if I plotted ahead of time—especially with having to weave four major plotlines together.  

But in the end, I think going with my instincts is the way to go. It's kind of fun not knowing what's going to happen next and surprising myself!

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book? What are your favorite research books or sites?

I drew on several recent news events as the basis for one of the plotlines in WARNING SIGNS. But my most fun research came when I went to Pittsburgh and met the River Rescue guys as well as when I went to Toledo and actually entered a hyperbaric chamber.

I'll be posting photos about my Adventures in Research on my website, under the Extras page, at

As for my favorite research method, it's talking to people. I'm on several helpful groups, including the CrimeSceneWriters loop where I both ask questions of the other experts and share my own medical expertise with other writers.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

I had set up the plotline in LIFELINES but really without any good idea of what exactly was causing Amanda's mysterious symptoms. Then, as I researched them, I came up with a way to incorporate current events into the book and it worked out very nicely.
Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

I had a lot of fun writing Lydia and Gina in this book. Even though it's Amanda's story, kind of a coming of age tale, both Lydia and Gina have significant changes in their relationships that were interesting to explore and set up for future stories.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research affect your character development?

Nothing so structured! Writing a series has allowed me to really get to know my main characters and I learn more about them with each book. I'm working on book 3 now, Nora's story, and they're still surprising me—but I love it when characters come to life like that!
A lot of my fan mail has been about the characters and how real they seem to readers—the best compliment a writer can get, in my opinion!

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

Too many to list! Here's a short list: David Morrell, Ray Bradbury, Mark Helprin, Lisa Gardner, Lee Child, Dean Koontz, Tess Gerritsen, Stephen King….again there are so many more!

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

I don't think I've really done any effective promotion, lol! But the one thing that seems to have helped is something that I was doing even before LIFELINES was released and that's teaching.
I've been lucky enough to have been invited to give keynote speeches, workshops, and master classes to groups such as the Colorado Fiction Writers, Oklahoma Writers Federation, the University of South Carolina at Beaufort, RWA National, MWA's Sleuthfest, Lowcountry RWA's Master Class, Left Coast Crime, and PennWriters, among others.

Getting great reviews (knock on wood, so far they've all been good!) from places such as Publishers' Weekly, Newsday, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Romantic Times, and the Baltimore Sun has certainly helped as well, but I have no control over them other than writing the best book I can.

What do we have to look forward next?

Book 3 in the Angels of Mercy Series, URGENT CARE, will be released November, 2009. It follows ER charge nurse Nora Halloran as she must face her past as a survivor of a vicious sexual assault when the perpetrator returns, only this time he's killing his victims.

URGENT CARE has been my most difficult novel to write so far. Not only is the subject matter sensitive, but I've personally cared for many sexual assault victims so that I find myself working extra-hard trying to honor their courage.  

This book also marks the turning point for several of the main characters and is probably the novel most reflective of my tag line: No one is immune to danger.

Thanks, CJ!

To celebrate her book release, CJ is offering a free copy of LIFELINES to one lucky commenter on today's blog. She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

About CJ:
As a pediatric ER doctor, CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge suspense novels. Her debut, LIFELINES (Berkley, March 2008), became a national bestseller and Publishers Weekly proclaimed it a "breathtakingly fast-paced medical thriller." The second in the series, WARNING SIGNS, is due out January, 2009. Contact her at

Buy LIFELINES or WARNING SIGNS at any major bookstore or online at Barnes and Noble or

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Chocolate Affaire Is Coming!

Yes, it's that time of year. In Glendale Arizona, February is the month for all things chocolate. And what goes great with chocolate? Romance of course. And we're packing a punch with a huge line-up of romance authors from Friday, February 6th to Sunday, February 8th. Below is a list and times of romance authors signing at Glendale's Chocolate Affaire:


Linda Andrews - 5pm to 8 pm
Renee Bernard - 5 pm to 10 pm
Stacey Connelly - 6 pm to 8 pm
Vicki Gaia - 6 pm to 10 pm
Donna Hatch - 6 pm to 10 pm
Carolyn Hughey - 5 pm to 10 pm
Kayla Janz - 5 pm to 10 pm
Denise Jeffries / Alexis Ke - 5 pm to 10 pm
Kathryne Kennedy - 7 pm to 8 pm
Valerie King - 7 pm to 10 pm
Tina Lavon - 7 pm to 8 pm
Judi McCoy - 5 pm to 10 pm
Cathy McDavid - 5 pm to 10 pm
Marie Patrick - 5 pm to 10 pm
Cassie Ryan / Tina Gerow - 5 pm to 10 pm
Vijaya Schartz - 5 pm to 9 pm
Pam Tracy - 5 pm to 8 pm
Peggy Parsons / Evanell - 5 pm to 8 pm


Linda Andrews - 10 am to 2 pm
Renee Bernard - 10 am to 10 pm
Laurie Schnebly Campbell - 10 am to 1 pm
Lois Carol - 10 am to 7 pm
Stacey Conelly - 11 am to 5 pm
Tia Dani - 10 am to 10 pm
Roz Denny Fox - 12 noon to 2 pm
Vicki Gaia - 12 noon to 6 pm
Donna Hatch - 12 noon to 6 pm
Carolyn Hughey - 10 am to 10 pm
Kayla Janz - 10 am to 10 pm
Denise Jeffries / Alexis Ke - 10 am to 10 pm
Kathryne Kennedy - 7 pm to 8 pm
Valerie King - 7 pm to 10 pm
Tina Lavon - 7 pm to 8 pm
Allison Leigh - 2 pm to 5 pm
Judi McCoy - 10 am to 10 pm
Cathy McDavid - 10 am to 10 pm
Marie Patrick - 10 am to 10 pm
Eden Robins - 10 am to 2 pm
Cassie Ryan / Tina Gerow - 10 am to 10 pm
Vijaya Schartz - 12 noon to 9 pm
Vicki Lewis Thompson - 12 noon to 2 pm
Pam Tracy - 10 am to 7 pm
Carol Webb / Lynne Logan - 10 am to 10 pm
Susan Yarina - 12 noon to 5 pm


Linda Andrews - 10 am to 2 pm
Renee Bernard - 12 noon to 5 pm
Tia Dani - 12 noon to 5 pm
Carolyn Hughey - 12 noon to 5 pm
Kayla Janz - 12 noon to 5 pm
Denise Jeffries / Alexis Ke - 12 noon to 5 pm
Judy McCoy - 12 noon to 5 pm
Cathy McDavid - 12 noon to 5 pm
Marie Patrick - 12 noon to 5 pm
Cassie Ryan / Tina Gerow - 12 noon to 5 pm
Vijaya Schartz - 12 noon to 5 pm (workshop from 3 to 4 pm)
Pam Tracy - 12 noon to 5 pm
Kim Watters - 12 noon to 4 pm
Carol Webb / Lynne Logan - 12 noon to 5 pm

Come on by and say hi to all the authors, and... get yourself some chocolate!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How to Talk Male (The Male Voice/POV) On-Line Class

How to Talk Male (The Male Voice/POV)

February 9-22, 2009

As a friend of mine once said, "Men and women are different. I know, I've seen one of each." We all know the physical
difference, but there is also a difference in the way men and women talk think. Learn how to make your hero sound like a real male character. Workshop will address the physiological differences between male and female and then progress to how these differences affect the way men and women think and talk.

Consider this example: A woman has car trouble and arrives home over an hour late to find her husband pacing in the driveway. As soon as she gets out of the car he says "Where the hell have you been?"

Is he angry? No, this is just male speak for "I was worried, are you all right?" This class will help we women writers make our
heroes (and other male characters) sound like men. Students will be encouraged to take a look at their own work and, if they desire, share with the class as we learn how to talk male.

About the instructor:
Terry Irene Blain was lucky enough to grow up in a large Midwestern family with a rich oral tradition and spent her life surrounded by men. Not just her father but grandfathers, great uncles and uncles and, eventually two brothers. She served in the US Navy surrounded by men. Later with a Masters Degree from the GI bill, as a college instructor she taught US History and Western Civilization and was again surrounded by a majority of male instructors. More insight to the male POV has been provided by her husband of almost 40 years as they raised their two sons to adulthood.

Her published romance, KENTUCKY DREAM, won several unpublished contest, and was eventually published by Kensington as a Precious Gems. KENTUCKY DREAM finaled in the Golden Quill 2000 contest in both Best Historical and Best First Book category, and won Best First Book. This story has been re-released as KENTUCKY GREEN. Also currently available is
COLORADO SILVER, COLORADO GOLD, another historical romance. Visit her website

Recently her western historical mss. have placed in several contests including Book Of Your Heart, Enchanted Word, Spring Into Romance, Ignite the Flame and Golden Opportunity. Terry says: "Writing historical romance gives me the opportunity to pass on stories of who we are and where we come from while exploring the relationship between men and women. What could be more fun than that?"

Visit the RWA San Diego website to enroll.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

People Watching

Are you stuck in the middle of a scene? Do you need a new idea, but it just won't come to you?

Exercise those writing muscles - people watch. You’ll soon become an expert on nonverbal communication. You’ll recognize the movements people make when they are upset, happy, sad, despondent... Before you know it, you’ll be including these actions in your stories. (Show, Don’t Tell) New plot ideas will come to you with ease. (Okay, maybe easier than before.)

One evening my critique partner, Deborah McTiernan, and I ate dinner in a crowded restaurant. At first, we were disappointed when we had to sit at a noisy table near the bar. That soon changed. A young woman and her friends strutted in and sat on the stools near the bartender. The pretty brunette wore a huge diamond engagement ring, but that didn’t stop her from flirting with the man sitting beside her. As the minutes passed, we watched their body language indicate obvious interest in one another. They both turned toward each other on their stools. Their knees were as close as they get without touching. Both leaned in close to hear one another once they struck up a conversation. Deborah and I created our own storyline to go with this couple and each move they made. We both wondered if she would cross the line and leave the bar with the man she’d obviously just met. We knew her final decision when she swiveled back around to face her friends, leaving this poor guy dejected and alone. I kept hoping a prettier woman, without a ring, would sit next to him.

Over the Christmas holiday, Deborah and I ate dinner at another local restaurant. A man waited at least ten minutes for an attractive woman to arrive. We decided they knew each other well since he made no attempt to dress up for their “date.” She sat straight and kept distance between them even when he leaned closer. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to know she wasn’t overly thrilled to be with him. Her feelings became quite obvious when he ran his hand over her back and she stiffened. That relationship was on its last leg. I felt sorry for this guy. Remembering the woman at the other restaurant, I began to wonder how many men were feeling rejected.

On the other hand, there were two occasions that warmed my heart. I was walking through a store when I spotted an older couple holding hands. Technically, he was holding her finger. That told me he was a macho guy even at his age. I had to laugh. The other heartwarming moment occurred when I had stopped at a red light. In my rearview mirror, I spotted a young couple. They were probably seventeen or eighteen. I got the impression she was shy. She kept glancing down at the bouquet of flowers in her hands, but she never looked directly at him. Every time she played with a petal, the young man grinned with pride. He knew he’d scored. Young love is so cute. I hope neither one of them ever forget that day. Even if they do, I sincerely doubt they will ever forget each other. As Tim McGraw sings, “The memory of a first love never fades away…And a heart don’t forget something like that.”

The next time you’re out in public, look around, there’s a story just waiting to unfold before your very eyes.

Happy writing,
Tina LaVon

Friday, January 23, 2009

Interviw with Pamela Tracy

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Pamela Tracy. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called Daddy for Keeps. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

I’d love to talk about Daddy for Keeps. It’s my first straight romance for Love Inspired. By nature, I think I’m a comedian, which makes writing suspense so much fun. I get to go against nature. In Daddy for Keeps, I didn’t have to curtail nature. I could write humor. For example, here’s the first paragraph:

The billboard on top of the grocery store featured a picture they'd taken straight from his mother's photo album. Lucky Welch, headliner of this year's Selena Rodeo, shook his head and hoped no one recognized the bull in the background. It had belonged to his grandfather and was a family pet named Whimper.

Here’s the back cover blurb:

The moment Lucas "Lucky" Welch sees the black-haired, green-eyed boy at the rodeo, he knows. The child is his late brother's son. But why was little Robby kept a secret? He demands answers from the woman claiming to be Robby's mother, Natalie Crosby. But the pretty, protective woman isn't forthcoming. And once Lucky learns the truth behind Robby's birth, he understands. Especially when some family matters get more than complicated. As a bull rider, Lucky knows he just has to hang on tight and keep showing Natalie that his wish is true-blue: to be a daddy—and husband—for keeps.

Daddy for Keeps is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

My title was Lucky in Love. I, genius that I am thought that was a snappy title. Harlequin didn’t think so, and they know best. I didn’t arrive at the title. It arrived to me.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

Oh, again, the genre found me. I started writing paranormals, which I dearly love, and even in those – think vampires, ghosts, time travelers – I didn’t write sex scenes. As a Christian, it just wasn’t second nature, and I wasn’t comfortable writing them (yes, I tried). When the Christian market caught up to the twentieth century, I was ecstatic. I love writing about faith issues. To me, the faith issue is plot, black moment, and romance all rolled up into one.

Are you a plotter or a pantser and how did it affect the writing of this book?

I’m a pantser. I always know my beginning and my end. I have a handout that divides chapters that I keep next to my desk. I think of writing as being playdough. I’ve got my green playdough (Go, I’m at the beginning, I love this part). I’ve got my red playdough (Stop, I’m at the end, wrap things up. I love this part). As I write a few colors come to me naturally. Black – controversies. Pink – love. Yellow – good secondary characters who add to the plot. Green – usually the setting is a character. Oh, wait. Some green didn’t wind up where it deserved so now it’s in the middle. Oh, some of the red needed to happen later. That’s how a seat of the pantzer keeps from having a sagging middle. As for this book, the only thing being a pantzer affected was how to truly deal with the real ‘mother’ issue.

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book? What are your favorite research books or sites?

I read biographies of bull riders. I watched two bull riding movies. I went to bull rider sites (someday I might even start a bull riding school. Looks like fun).

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

This is one of the reasons why I’m glad I had my goal in mind and never strayed. I wanted to write for Harlequin from day one. Daddy for Keeps is an idea that formed almost a decade ago. I don’t remember where I got the idea. I only know that about eight years ago, I started the story, and two years ago, when I had grown as an author, I got to finish it.

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

I think I liked Natalie. I’m an adopted child, and I’ve always been amazed by the emotional attachment that isn’t by blood. There’s a poem that I dearly love:

Not flesh of my flesh,
Nor bone of my bone,
But still, miraculously my own.

Never forget for a single minute,
You didn't grow under my heart,
But in it.

~Fleur Conkling Heyliger

My dad carried that poem in his wallet because he loved me. How could I not identify with Natalie.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research affect your character development?

I don’t really have character sheets anymore, although I always mean to. I usually think of movie stars and gauge my h/h after them. Then, I develop personality. No interviews. Research changed Lucky more than Natalie because “I” could be Natalie. I’ve never been a bull rider.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

I want to be Debbie Macomber when I grow up.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

LOL, I’m doing lots of blogs. Then, too, for this book, I started the Craftie Ladies of Romance blog. Nine other authors joined me, and together we promote.

What do we have to look forward next?

Fugitive Family, a Love Inspired Suspense, hits the shelves in August.

Thanks, Pamela!

To celebrate her book release, Pamela is offering a free book of Daddy for Keeps to one lucky commenter on today's blog. She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...


Pamela Tracy is a writer and teacher in Scottsdale, Arizona, where she lives with her husband and son. She was raised in Omaha, Nebraska, and started writing fiction while earning a BA in Journalism at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas.

Her first novel It Only Takes a Spark was published in 1999. Since then she’s published fifteen more writings in suspense, romantic comedy, and Christian inspiration romance. Three more novels, two suspense and one straight romance are slated for 2009 and 2010. Her 2007 release, Pursuit of Justice, was a RITA finalist and took second in the ACFW’s Book of the Year contest for published authors. Her 2008 suspense Broken Lullaby is an RT Reviewer's Choice nominee.

Besides writing, teaching, and taking care of her family, she is often asked to speak at various writers’ organizations in the Phoenix area. She belongs to Romance Writers of America and the American Christian Fiction Writers. She is president of the local ACFW chapter, Christian Writers of the West. In February of 2005, her newlywed status changed to that of newlymom.

Check out author’s website at


Thursday, January 22, 2009



Saturday, February 21, 2009 - 8:30 am to 4:30 pm

In the Northwest Valley, at Union Hills and 47th Avenue
(exact address and directions given upon registration)

Time for good resolutions, and what better way to start the year than to give your career a boost by getting published in 2009.

Whether you are finishing a book, or have written two or three, if you are still looking for a publisher, you are not alone. Or maybe you lost your publisher. But even in this tight economy, there is some good news... There has never been so many opportunities for a writer to get published. No kidding!

But some ways of getting published are more lucrative than others, and some can prove lethal to your career. Which one is best suited for your book? Which can endanger your future? What's the story about POD? And what about MP3 audiobooks? How far can you trust a small press? Where do you sell novellas? Are print books on the decline? Are e-books finally viable? And what can you expect from your publisher as far as marketing? Does self-publishing still carry a stigma? Should you be worried about the large publishers buying off the competition? And what's the deal with partnership publishing? Subsidy publishing? Do you really need an agent? How important is it to be on Amazon? And who controls the all important distribution?

Come and learn the pros and cons of each opportunity and make the right choice for your particular book, your particular field, your particular genre, considering where you are in your career right now, to get happily published in 2009.

Get all your questions answered. This is a small group, so space is limited, but everyone will get personal attention.

Registration fee: $70.00 (early bird $60.00 before February 1st, 2008)
includes morning coffee, rolls, working lunch, and professional critique.
Credit cards and payments accepted through Paypal.

More information at:

Registration form and payment options:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Why Can't I put This Book Down? On-Line Class

Conflict: Why Can't I Put This Book Down?

Dates: February 2-28, 2009
Instructor: C. J. Carmichael
Cost: FREE to FTHRW members; $20.00 for all others

Registration Deadline: January 28, 2009

Course Description:

Have you ever started writing a romance novel with great excitement, only to have the words begin to dry up after the first three or four chapters? Chances are your story is lacking in conflict—and if this is the case, you are not alone. A lack of conflict is one of the main reasons editors reject manuscripts for publication. In this workshop we will examine how conflict is introduced, layered and developed to provide an exciting, page-turning read.

About the Instructor:

Hard to imagine a more glamorous life than being an accountant, isn’t it? Still, CJ Carmichael gave up the thrills of income tax forms and double entry book-keeping when she sold her first book in 1998. She has now written over 25 novels for Harlequin and strongly suggests you look elsewhere for financial planning advice.

How to register:

Fee: FTHRW Members: FREE; FTHRW Non-Members: $20.00

Did you know FTHRW members get access to 12 free workshops a year?
Check all the benefits out at http://www.fthrw. com

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Building Romantic/Sexual Tension

Building Romantic/Sexual Tension

Like many women across the country, I read Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight. A friend insisted. Normally, I have no desire to read Young Adult Fiction, nor am I into vampire stories, but I couldn’t put it down once I reached the end of the first chapter. Stephenie pulled me in with her use of deep first person point of view. I quickly felt as if I were in this heroine’s head. At the end of the chapter, I suspected the hero was a vampire, but she didn’t confirm my suspicions right away, so I wanted to read further. By the time I knew I was right, she’d hooked me with the romantic/sexual tension. Twilight is the perfect example of an author doing it right.

What is romantic/sexual tension and why did I lump these terms together? Romantic tension is the building of the emotional feelings bringing the two characters together. Inspirational authors usually deal mainly with romantic tension and not sexual because of the religious themes in their books. They build this tension by first showing the hero and heroine are good people worthy of the love of the other. Then by showing an emotional connection developing between the two. These people need each other because they are happier, better people together than apart. They are two puzzle pieces that fit. This is true of any book with a romance or romantic subplot, not just inspirational ones. In my book, Liquid Hypnosis, the hero’s calm personality settles her nerves by just being near her. Her life is better with him by her side.

I lumped both terms together because books that are not inspirationals need to build both the romantic and sexual tension simultaneously. The emotional pull between the two intensifies, as does their physical desire to be together. If you have them committed with great sex at the end of chapter three, there’s no compelling reason for your reader to stick with your story. Erotic romances might have the couple falling into bed in the first chapter, but there usually isn’t the emotional commitment we know comes at the end of the book. Think of the movie Pretty Woman. The Julia Roberts character won’t kiss Richard Gere’s character because it’s too personal. The payoff of watching the movie is near the end when she finally kisses him and we see she’s in love. (“Show, Don’t Tell”) Kathryne Kennedy is amazing when it comes to building sexual tension. The first sex scene is never a total commitment both physically and emotionally, so you want to read on. In Tia Dani’s Color of Dreams, coming soon from The Wild Rose Press, the fairy can’t sleep with a man until her 29th birthday or she loses her powers. Every time they try to get together, something or someone intervenes. Talk about needing a cold shower.

A successful book or movie will bring the hero and heroine closer both emotionally and physically one step at a time. In Twilight, Stephenie shows an attraction between the two characters, but keeps them physically separated at the beginning of the book. No touching of any kind. First, they are stretched out near each other on the grass, and then later she accidentally touches his hand. When he does finally kiss her, she tries to pull him close and he throws himself back against the wall because he’s afraid he’ll lose control. Okay. Here we have a good guy whose main concern is protecting her, yet we see how strong their attraction is. As a mother, I was glad they didn’t do anything since she’s a teenager. As a woman, I had to keep reminding myself this vampire was born in the early 1900s or I would have had to stop reading the book there.

Sex scenes, if you include them, should focus on the emotions of the characters. How does she feel when his breath warms her skin as he leaves a trail of kisses down her neck? How does her body react? What is she thinking when he looks into her eyes as if nothing in his life has ever been more important than that moment in time? The initial stage (foreplay) is the time when the two characters are showing their true feelings for one another. I believe the more you focus on emotion, and the less you focus on Tab A and Slot B, the more you’ll connect to your reader’s fantasies. Our imaginations can fill in all of the blanks nicely. If you write erotic romances, that is a different story. Your readers want those types of details.

After building the romantic/sexual tension with small touches and acts of kindness or heroism, you should show the strength of their love. In Twilight, we know the hero is worthy because he doesn’t want to be a monster. Also, he tries to stay away from her because he’s afraid he’ll hurt her. Of course, his feelings for her are too strong and he can’t stay away. Now that pulls on the heartstrings. What woman can resist a man who loves her so much he’s willing to overcome any obstacle to be with her? In The Notebook, Noah’s love for her is so intense he defies the odds stacked against them. He ignores her parent’s objections, the differences in their financial status, time separated, her being engaged to another man, and in the end, he even fights mental illness to keep her close as long as possible. Every woman should be loved by a Noah.

A good story will keep the two characters separated by a powerful conflict. I can’t think of a stronger conflict than the hero fighting his baser instincts to literally suck her life right out of her. The heroine trusts he will not harm her, thus showing how strong her feelings are for him. (Remember, if he kills her the story is a thriller and not a romance.) Those of us not writing vampire stories will have to use more modern day conflicts. An example often used is “If he’s a fireman, make her an arsonist.” My heroine is a DEA agent, so I had my hero commit a criminal act – for noble reasons.

If you are thinking this is a lot of work, you’re right. So far, you’ve had to show they are good people worthy of each other’s love, prove they will be better together than apart, build the sexual tension by starting off with small touches, then lead into kissing and eventually making love. If you have more than one sex scene, the first one cannot have the total emotional and physical commitment to one another. The conflict keeping them apart has to be so strong the reader is wondering how in the world the author will ever overcome it. Finally, you reach the point where a choice is made. The characters have to decide that their love and need for one another is so powerful they are willing to risk anything to be together. In Liquid Hypnosis, she puts her career on the line to be with him. He has to be willing to overlook her doing some horrible things to him in the name of that career. Once that emotional commitment is made, then it is time for the two to hit the sheets giving of themselves without any reservations. At this point, I would quickly wrap up any other storyline you have. I believe readers will only give you a chapter or two at most before they put the book down once they’ve received the emotional payoff.

Building the tension may be a lot of work, but if you love your hero, most of this will come naturally. Trust your instincts.

Tina LaVon

Friday, January 16, 2009

Interview with Anne Carrole

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Anne Carrole. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.  

I understand you have a new release out called Re-ride at the Rodeo. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

I’d love to. Re-ride at the Rodeo is about two people who have to come to terms with their past in order to build a future. Clay Tanner is a footloose saddle bronc rider who doesn’t take life seriously. He’s just out to have a good time and he thinks the little blonde working the rodeo looks like she could use one. When Dusty Morgan turns him down faster than an eight second buzzer, he starts angling for a re-ride. But Dusty wants nothing to do with a rodeo man and the reasons have nothing to do with her love life. Clay knows he should walk away but he’s never had a woman so determined not to go out with him and he wants to know why. But getting the answer may cost him more than he’s prepared to give.

Re-ride at the Rodeo is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

In rough stock events a re-ride means a second chance and a rider can get a re-ride if the animal doesn’t perform up to minimum expectations since the performance of the horse or bull is half of the cowboy’s score. Since Clay is looking for a second chance with Dusty and the climatic scene takes place center stage at the rodeo, the title, Re-ride at the Rodeo, just seemed to fit.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I love the history of the American West, particularly as it relates to a woman’s role in taming it since women were offered more freedom out West in the Victorian era (even to being granted the right to vote as early as 1869 in Wyoming Territory)than anywhere else in the world at that time. That history also developed a culture of independence and self-reliance, of true grit and determination that continues to infuse western culture in the twenty-first century, the modern rodeo being one example. I find my muse comes easiest when the hero is wearing a cowboy hat be it in the nineteenth century or the twenty-first.

Are you a plotter or a pantser and how did it affect the writing of this book?

I am definitely a pantser. I start with the characters and a situation and then let those characters take me on their journey of romance and self-discovery. Often I write scenes out of order and then quilt them together. I always know the beginning and the ending when I start to write. It’s the “how did they get there” that is the pantser part. Dusty popped into my mind—a little insecure, a product of the rodeo lifestyle, someone who’s vulnerable but covers it up with a spunky spirit. Pairing her with someone who she thought was out of her league and who lives the very lifestyle she hates provides a push-pull that forces her to face her past.

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book? What are your favorite research books or sites?

I always do research, whether writing historical or contemporary. There is always something to learn. I enjoy the research. I’ve followed rodeo for a number of years so I’m pretty well-versed in the rodeo culture. But two books I found helpful that look at the effects on the individuals who participate are Biting the Dust by Dirk Johnson and Chasing the Rodeo by W.K. Stratton. Rodeo sites that are helpful include and . When writing a story, you have to be sure you are giving the reader an authentic experience so there are always little things you have to research like how much does a saddle bronc rider’s saddle cost, what is an average entry fee, what would be a reasonable payout for a win, what score is considered a good score, etc.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

I was reading an account of one family’s struggle with the rodeo lifestyle and I wanted to reflect the reality of that lifestyle in my story. I also wanted to write about a heroine who wasn’t the typical glamour girl. Dusty is cute and spunky but her small stature and petite frame don’t make her cover girl material and add to her vulnerability and insecurity around a guy who seems to have it all.

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

Usually I like writing about my hero best but in this story, I have to say Dusty is the one I most enjoyed writing about because of her spirit that masks her vulnerability. She has some growing to do in the story before she can accept herself for who she is and realize that she’s got something to offer.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research affect your character development?

Usually, characters come knocking on my door, so to speak. They barge into my thoughts and whisper “have I got a story for you.” They tease me by showing me snippets of their story until I have to write it down. I usually write the first three chapters of a story and then go back and do the character sheets. Those first few chapters give me a chance to get acquainted and the foundation to dig a little deeper. Because my day job involves a lot of psychological profiling, once I’ve got a character in my sights, I pretty much know how they are going to act and react in situations. I do a lot of research before I start to write with the goal of enriching the character’s story. It’s often the details that make a character click with readers.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

Many authors inspire me from the classical authors of Jane Austen and Anthony Trollope to romance authors like Linda Lael Miller who writes both western historical and contemporary novels.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

I have found sites like MySpace great vehicles to link with people who share your passions. I am in several rodeo groups on MySpace and have met a lot of female fans of the rodeo who also bought my book when it came out—and left me many nice and supportive messages once they read it.  

What do we have to look forward next?

I’m writing a contemporary about a woman who is heir apparent to her grandfather’s stock company only to find that a man who walked away from her ten years ago is being tapped to run the place. And I’m just polishing up an historical that starts in Saratoga Springs and ends up in Texas with an arranged marriage and a lot of secrets that won’t stay buried.

Thanks, Anne!

Thanks for asking me to blog at Cheaper Than Therapy!

To celebrate her book release, Anne is offering a free ebook of Re-ride at the Rodeo to one lucky commenter on today's blog. She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

Anne Carrole writes both contemporary and western historical romances. Her story Re-ride at the Rodeo is part of The Wild Rose Press Wayback, Texas Series. She’s an eastern girl with a western heart who was raised on a farm (yes, they have them in the east) with horses, dogs, cats, chickens, rabbits and whatever other animals she could convince her parents to shelter. Besides reading and writing romances, she loves antiques, gardening and tennis. Married to her own urban cowboy she’s also the mother of a teenage cowgirl. She’s co-founder of the western historical romance site

Check out Anne’s website at and at where she writes about the old and new west.

You can purchase Re-ride at the Rodeo from The Wild Rose Press at
main_page=product_info&products_id=991&zenid=168afd002d97ff7f31530a0f4b12a792 .

Thursday, January 15, 2009

And a Big Congrats To...

I thought I'd give big congratulations and high-five to the members of my chapters for their accomplishments this month.

Enchanting the Lady by Kathryne Kennedy has been picked up by a German publisher. This is Kathryne's first foreign edition!

Vijaya Schartz's book A Desperado for Christmas received four angels from Fallen Angels Reviews.

Lee Avalone, aka Brit Blaise, has been nominated for a CAPA for Sex Scene: Take One.

Tiny LaVon's Liquid Hypnosis has been nominated for a Pscyche Award. Way to go Tina!

Jennifer Ashley has also been nominated for a CAPA Award for her title The Dragon Master.

The publishing company, Sapphire Blue Publishing, which is owned by Tina Gerow and Isabella Clayton, is now recognized by RWA. Wow, that's fantastic ladies!

It will be interesting to see what everyone from Valley of the Sun Romance Writer's of America is up to next month.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The X-tremely Productive Writer-On-line Class

Workshop Title: The X-tremely Productive Writer

Instructor: Kara Lennox

Date: 2/2 - 2/27/09

What writer doesn't dream of producing three, four, or five books a year? It's more achievable than you think. Writing is like using a muscle; if you increase your outcome a little at a time, it's easier than trying to suddenly write as fast as Nora Roberts.

First you have to recognize your enemy. What, exactly, is keeping you from writing as fast as you'd like? Is it your "real life," making too many demands on your time? Learn time-management tricks for squeezing your writing into a busy life.

Is it your internal editor, second-guessing every sentence you put on paper? Learn to recognize the many faces of fear, which is behind most procrastination and writer's block, and how to overcome it or live happily with it.

Does your muse take frequent vacations? Develop concrete strategies quick idea generation and brainstorming, so you're never at a loss for what to write--even if you're a seat-of-the-pants writer. Learn how to "write blind," change your writing habits, and the power of ritual to
turn on your creativity.

Figure out what your personal avoidance patterns are. Does a bad contest result or rejection letter put you in a writing funk? Do you need a lengthy rest after finishing a book? Do you slow down as you approach a love scene? Gain insight into conquering them.

Avoid setting up a writing schedule that is too strenuous, risking burn-out. Learn the warning signs of burn-out and more serious problems, such as depression, that often go hand-in-hand with burn-out, and how to head them off at the pass.

And finally, learn about the magic foods that give you energy and spark your creativity. (There's a reason writers love chocolate!)

About the Instructor: Kara Lennox

Kara Lennox, a.k.a. Karen Leabo, has been refining her goal-setting techniques for more than twenty years. She set out on this path after a chance reading of a self-help book well before she sold her first novel. Now, fifty-something published books later, she feels her techniques have proven themselves over and over again in all areas of her life. Kara has written for Harlequin, Silhouette and Bantam Loveswept.

Deadline to register: 2/1/09

Fee: $20 YWR members; $25 non-members. RWA Membership isn't required; Anyone can take our courses.

Where to sign up: You may register online at our website.
Please click the Pay Now button and follow the instructions for Paypal, then EMAIL us at To Confirm. You may also YRW at for any other questions.

Thank you for considering our workshops!!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Busting The Writing Myths

I am amazed when I hear about people who believe they can sit at a typewriter for a week and produce a novel that will make them millions of dollars. I’m sure the success of the Harry Potter series helped inspire many of these fantasies. The truth is, writing is hard work – even if you love it. Most writers spend years producing one manuscript after another before even getting the first one published. Like most professions, you start at the bottom and work your way up. There are exceptions, but those are rare and that is why their stories end up in the newspaper.

Now that I've busted that myth, I'll move on to others. Know the truth before you decide to spend all of your free time typing away. If you are going to become a writer, do it for the right reasons.

Myth 1 – Writers don’t have to work outside the home. Most writers have day jobs because they cannot live off their advances (money given upon acceptance of a manuscript) and last I heard royalties for any publisher were usually around 4% of each book sold. Advances for beginning writers are usually $0 with small presses and $1,000 - $5,000 for the bigger houses. You have to earn back the advance before you are paid any royalties. It may be a year or so before you see a check. Also, if you have a three-book contract, you may not see any royalties until after you earn the advance back on all three books.

Myth 2 – Writing a book is easy. Anyone can write a book. Writing a good book is a different story. Many writers spend years learning to plot and bring their characters to life. I’ve heard of some authors who produced 16 or more manuscripts before selling. Some writers are never published. I was fortunate to have my fourth manuscript bought by Wild Rose. If you are serious about becoming an author, join professional organizations like Romance Writers of America and read craft books.

Myth 3 – Writers sit around in their pajamas all day, typing and eating bons bons. I’m not really sure what a bon bon is, except for the ice cream filled ones. I will admit one afternoon I started typing and at 9:00 that night, I realized I had only eaten pretzel rods and sugar free Popsicles. (Not exactly a nutritious dinner.) Several of my friends and I confessed there are times we had worked on our manuscripts throughout the morning, and into the afternoon, without getting dressed first. This is not usually the norm. We all have places to go and people to see.

Myth 4 – Writers are famous people with glamorous lives. Several coworkers have called me a celebrity and I know I must have looked at them as if they were crazy. I’m not really sure how many people have seen my penn name in print, but I can assure you the vast majority of authors are not recognized in public – even some famous ones. Don’t get me wrong, there are moments that are exciting. The first time I saw my book at the Arrowhead Barnes and Noble near my home, my eyes fluttered and my pulse raced. I was interviewed for an education magazine and couldn’t believe they gave me a full-page. That was surreal. I was shocked when I received fan email. Also, whenever I receive a good review, final in a contest, hear my book was nominated for an award, or someone says they enjoyed my story, I am thrilled. It feels like Christmas morning. I am also star struck when I have conversations with well-known authors, agents, or editors. On the other hand, the first time I mailed a manuscript to an editor, I thought I was going to be sick. No one looks forward to possible rejection. At least no one I know. Book signings may look impressive, but I hate them. I feel like I’m on display. I will do workshops for the promotion, but they make me nervous, even with speech and debate experience. If you add up all of the days with thrilling moments this past year, there were about 20, which isn’t bad after six years of learning my craft. I just don’t want anyone thinking every day is like riding an amusement ride. Most days, I am just plain ole Tina. I teach, try to avoid cleaning and cooking, type my stories and my blog posts, spend time with family and friends, read or watch movies, and marvel at how lucky I am that I have learned to enjoy the simple moments in life.

So, why do I write if it isn’t usually exciting, glamorous, or making me a lot of money? Because it fills a void. I need the challenge of plotting twists and turns. I am thrilled when I make myself laugh, come up with a good line, or when the scene practically writes itself. If you are going to write, do it because the process excites you. This business is too difficult to do it for any other reason.

Good luck,
Tina LaVon

Friday, January 9, 2009

Interview with Elisabeth Naughton

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Elisabeth Naughton. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called STOLEN FURY. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Hi Kim, thanks for having me here today! Chocolate and therapy…what a great combo! (We aim to please KW)
STOLEN FURY is a contemporary romantic adventure novel. Lisa Maxwell is an archaeologist who has spent most of her adult life searching for the Three Furies, a priceless set of ancient Greek reliefs. Finally, after fifteen years, she finds the first in a cave in Jamaica. She makes plans to search for the other two relics but is momentarily distracted by a handsome stranger she meets while lecturing in Italy. Unbeknownst to Lisa, that stranger, Rafe Sullivan, is also on the hunt for the Three Furies, and he knows Lisa has found one. He seduces her, drugs her, then steals it from her, but not before a wild attraction he didn’t plan for ignites between the two.

When Lisa wakes the next morning and realizes she’s been duped, she sets off to find Rafe and settle the score. However, other treasure hunters are hot on their trails, and Lisa soon discovers that the only way she’s going to find all the Furies is to partner up with the same sexy scoundrel who swindled her in Italy. Suddenly, she’s not just worried about losing the Furies, she’s afraid if she’s not careful, she may just lose her heart as well.

STOLEN FURY is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

Originally, the book was titled Make Me Believe (the title it finaled under in the 2007 Golden Heart), because the book is really about believing in something other than yourself. However, that title didn’t portray the suspense/adventure angle very well, so my editor and I brainstormed new titles. We wanted something that could carry through all three books in the series, and “Stolen” was the word that really links the three together. Obviously, because the relic they’re searching for is a relief of the three Furies from ancient Greek mythology, that’s where the word “Fury” comes from. The other two books in the series are STOLEN HEAT (summer 2009) and STOLEN SEDUCTION (early 2010).

Would you describe your book as a cozy, mystery, suspense, or thriller?

STOLEN FURY is categorized as a sexy romantic suspense, though it’s more a romantic adventure than anything else. There’s definitely murder and mayhem (as with all romantic suspense novels) but there’s a very clear adventure/treasure hunt angle you don’t find in most romantic suspense novels.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I have loved lighter-variety romantic suspense novels for years. Before I wrote STOLEN FURY, I tried my hand at the dark, gritty RS that was selling at the time and while I finished a good book with characters I loved, I realized I didn’t want to be writing that type of RS. I wanted lighter, more adventure-style RS. And there just wasn’t a lot of it on the shelves at the time. So I put the dark RS away that I had just finished (didn’t even try to sell it) and wrote STOLEN FURY. And when I finished I knew it was the type of story I wanted to continue to write.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

Lisa Maxwell was actually a secondary character in a book I wrote years ago (one that needs major revisions before it’s publishable). From the moment she came on the page, she was a force to be reckoned with. Sassy, smart-mouthed, a real take-no-prisoners woman who wouldn’t put up with much from a man. I never planned to write her story, but then one day as I was writing a scene for that book, she was with the heroine and casually commented that she didn’t believe in love. I remember stopping, rereading that line, which I’d just written (unplanned) and wondering, “Well, why not?” From then on, she wouldn’t get out of my head.
Fast forward a year or so. I’d just finished that dark RS I wrote about earlier, and Lisa popped back into my head. She wouldn’t leave me alone. So I thought long and hard about the type of hero she’d have to be paired with, and it came to me. Lisa is an archaeologist. Who would she NEVER fall for? A treasure hunter! And better yet…let’s make him a thief to top it off! Rafe Sullivan was born. As I have a real love of Greek mythology, it became clear to me that whatever relic they were looking for had to be Greek. And from there the book was born and really took on a life of its own.

Do you have all the key suspense/mystery elements thought out before you begin writing?

Absolutely not. I consider myself a very organic writer. I let the story unfold as I write. Generally I know the inciting incident of a book, most of the major turning points (and often these are more emotional than plot-driven) and the resolution, but everything else is a mystery to me.

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book? What are your favorite research books or sites?

Yes. I spent hours searching for archaeological research. I could go on an on about cave formations, caving and cave diving. I also have several books on Greek mythology, which I enjoy reading for fun.

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

Well, obviously Lisa and Rafe – the main characters in STOLEN FURY. But the secondary characters really took on lives of their own. Lisa’s brother, Chicago Detective Shane Maxwell, plays a big roll in the book, as does Billy Sullivan, Rafe’s brother. I love both Shane and Billy for different reasons – Shane because he’s hard and sarcastic and Billy because he’s a real screw up. You can’t help wanting to read more about each one. Rafe’s ex-wife, Hailey Roarke, is also a big part of the book, as is his business partner at the Odyssey Gallery, Pete Kauffman. These characters all pop up in the next two books, and I got to know them very well. They’re like family to me now.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research affect your character development?

No character sheets, no interviews. I basically live with my characters in my head for months before I start writing. I spend hours thinking about them, their backstories, their lives, their challenges. Sometimes they surprise me during the writing process, but generally I know them well before I type the first chapter because I’ve been living with them for a good chunk of time already.

I have found that the more books I write in a series, the more I have to jot down notes to refer back to when writing, such as who went where and when. By book three I had to make sure I remembered what happened last Christmas when they were all together, and it was easier to look at my cheat sheet than wrack my brain over what they all had for dinner. ;)

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

I love Elizabeth Lowell’s early work, and her Donovan series is one of my all time favorites. I really wish she’d write more! I have also always loved Judith McNaught, and I think I’ve read Perfect at least 20 times. Even though it’s not an adventure novel, it’s the type of romance that holds on tight and doesn’t let the reader go until the very end. Those are the type of books I strive to write.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

I’m not sure yet! My book has only been out for just over a week, but I do know the contest I’m running on my website is getting a lot of attention, and Barbara Vey even blogged about it just before Christmas because she thought it was great fun.

Basically, it’s patterned after those old Madlibs we all used to do as kids. For those of you who are interested, simply go to my website at to play. Embark on your very own quest, partner up with a sexy treasure hunter, and enter to win $100 VISA gift card!

What do we have to look forward next?

STOLEN HEAT is the second book in the Stolen trilogy, and it releases in August 2009.

Antiquities dealer Peter Kauffman walked a fine line between clean and corrupt for years. And then he met the woman who changed his life—Egyptologist Katherine Meyer. Their love affair burned white-hot in Egypt, until the day Pete’s lies and half-truths caught up with him. After that, their relationship imploded, Kat walked out, and before Pete could find her to make things right, he heard she’d died in a car bomb.

Six years later, the woman Pete thought he’d lost for good is suddenly back. The lies this time aren’t just his, though. The only way he and Kat will find the truth and evade a killer out for revenge is to work together—as long as they don’t find themselves burned by the heat each thought was stolen long ago…

Thanks, Elisabeth!

Thanks so much to the gang here at Much Cheaper Than Therapy. It was great fun!
To celebrate her book release, Elisabeth Naughton is offering a free autographed copy of STOLEN FURY to one lucky commenter on today's blog. She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...(Please make sure we have away to contact you if you win)


A previous junior-high science teacher, Elisabeth Naughton now writes full time from her home in western Oregon where she lives with her husband and three children. Her debut release, Stolen Fury, won several awards and was a 2007 Golden Heart Finalist. She’s involved with several writers groups and devotes a large chunk of her time to Romance Writers of America, who she credits with helping to launch her career. 

Visit the author’s Web site at

Thursday, January 8, 2009

On Line Conference

I saw this through the loops and couldn't resist letting everyone know.
There's some really interesting classes offered.

***Permission to Forward***

Cobblestone Press is hosting the 2009 annual Words in Motion
Conference Jan 9-11 (Fri, Sat, and Sun) at in the Community Forums at
http://www.cobblest one-mainstreet. com
Theme: Sci-Fi, fantasy, and urban fantasy romance
Attendance and participation is free.

Presentation Schedule includes:

Friday, January 9th

-Character Development for Urban Fantasy by Yolanda Sfetsos
-Creating 3 Dimensional Characters for Paranormal Worlds by Patti
-Developing Believable Wolf-Shifting Heroes by Loribelle Hunt

Saturday, January 10th

-World Building for Paranormal Romance by L. Shannon
-Writing Science Fiction Romance by Kayelle Alan
-Your Underwear is Showing: How to Prepare for Online Events by
Alice Anderson

Sunday, January 11th

-Creating Super Hot Super Heroes by P. Andrews
-Top Mistakes that Authors Make When Writing Paranormal Romance by
Cobblestone Press Managing Editor Brandi Loyd
-Designing Covers for The Darker Side of Romance

Other Events during the 3-day conference is an Author Parade that
runs Friday-Sunday

Authors post their contests for readers to
enter. Also Publishers will have a Publisher Panel for Q&A
throughout the conference.

To attend, you need to register at the Mainstreet Forums and you
will be allowed access. Click

By the way, when they ask you what e-publisher is sponsoring this,
say "Cobblestone" rather than "Cobblestone Press." It'll take about
12 hours for all the processing to happen.

Once you're registered, here's the conference link:


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Goal Setting - By Tina Gerow

As we step firmly into 2009, it's a great time to reevaluate our goals and dreams and decide how we'd like to move forward. So, with that in mind, I have some steps for you, which may seem a little out of the box from the firm goal setting you’re used to :) Give it a try.

What the heck do I want?

That's the most important question you need to ask yourself when beginning this process. If you don't know what you want, you can't very well take steps toward getting there. So, the first step to making your dreams come true is to figure out what they are!

And remember, you can create anything you want in your life if you want it, you work at it and you never lose faith. So...decide what you want? Then YOU can make it happen. :)

“All of our dreams can come true as long as we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney

Start your process by allowing yourself to dream big and open yourself to all the possibilities. Remember the words of Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, either way you are right.” So don’t limit yourself!

But how the heck will I get there once I decide what I want?

Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul on the Secret talked about driving in the dark with your headlights only illuminating 200 feet ahead of you. And that you can go from NY to LA like that, trusting that the next 200 feet will unfold after that etc. This works in life too. Take a step toward your dream every day, even if it’s small, and you will eventually get there.

You can also use your brain to create your dream life:
It has been scientifically proven that Olympic athletes who run an event inside their mind – the same muscles inside the body fire as when they physically ran their event. The mind can’t tell the difference between visualization and reality! That probably explains the placebo effect of medicines.

Use this to your good! Visualize the end result of what you want every day until it is so real it’s jarring to open your eyes! What the brain accepts as true, it creates in reality!

Write down your goals:
Take a note card or journal and put your name on the top and the date and then as you think of large dreams you would like to accomplish – even dreams you think might be impossible, but you would like to have happen – WRITE THEM DOWN! Don’t judge, just write.

I’m nobody, so why would this dream come true for me?

Why Not You? You are definitely someone. And dreams come true for many people just like you each and every day. So why can’t it happen to you?

I’m not sure what to write down as goals!!

Reach for the stars and dream big. But don’t judge and write down anything you’d like—big or small. Things that will give you joy may not necessarily be huge. And after all, that’s why we’re doing this, to find joy – right?

How about some of these...

- Hit #1 NYT Best Seller’s List
- Hit #1 USA Today Best Seller’s List
- Be asked to be the Keynote speaker for an RWA National Convention
- Have one of my books made into a hit movie
- Have my books in every book store (especially airports)
- Be a sought after speaker
- Make a lasting positive difference in the writing industry.
- Meet Matthew MacFadyen
- Reach my ideal weight (for me!) and stay there.
- Go on a 21-day European cruise with unlimited funds!
- Start a garden
- Join a critique group
- Write for an hour every day. Butt in chair!
- Read one craft book a month
- Read one book in my genre a month
- Attend a writer’s conference
- Volunteer (don’t overlook karma!)
- Take a writing class
- Enter contests (for feedback or to target an agent/editor)

And remember, dreams that are written down are much more likely to come true. Visualize the end result of what you want to happen, and do it often. If you believe these are impossible, then you’re right.

Enough with all the touchy-feely, how do I take these baby steps toward my goals?

The best way is to make achievable stretch goals for the next five years, and update them yearly with what has been accomplished and what is outstanding. Five years is long enough to plan ahead and short enough to allow you to change and grow with your goals over time. Not to mention, it allows you to look back at your progress when you get discouraged. But if that feels like biting off more than you can chew, take a look at the next step :)

What can I accomplish every day to move me toward my goals?

Once you have your goals – both your “dream” goals and your five year goals written down, take a look at what you can do each day to move your career and your dreams forward. Even baby steps count! Trust in the universe, that a way will be found. Have faith and take the first step!

They can be as small as write two pages on my work in progress, buy a gardening book to learn how to set up my own, write a fan letter to Matthew MacFadyen asking him if I can interview him for my next book in progress since I’m basing my character off him, take the stairs instead of the elevator etc.

Post these somewhere you’ll see them each day, and try to at least do one, even when life is crazy. Those little efforts will add up :)

Safeguard Your Dream!!

Your achievement of your dream is your responsibility. Well meaning friends, relatives, coworkers or even complete strangers may try to talk you out of your dream to keep you from getting disappointed, disillusioned or hurt. I call this the pat you on the head syndrome. It is YOUR responsibility to safeguard your dream and stay true to your vision of what you want.

Don’t be ashamed of your dream! If you write – you ARE a writer! If you dance – you ARE a dancer!
If someone asks you what you do, tell them the truth proudly. For a lot of you reading this, You are a writer!! Sure, you may work full time as a dental hygienist, but you are a writer and Teeth R Us is your INVESTOR in your writing career, allowing you to pay your bills and support your family while you build up your writing career. Get the idea?

This is your reality you are creating!! Create it like you want it to be!!
Don’t let anyone inflict their reality on you!!

“You probably wouldn’t worry what people think about you if you knew how seldom they do.” - Olin Miller


Affirmations are great ways to keep your dreams at the forefront of your mind, and keep your focus on them! Put them on your bathroom mirror and every time you wash your hands or put makeup on or blow dry your hair – say them out loud and believe them and feel that they are true! Be excited :)

Some of my favorite Affirmations I like to say daily:

Mission Statement:
I am a world class, world-renowned writer. I have a world-wide career in every aspect of writing. I travel the world, teaching, speaking, mentoring, making unlimited amounts of money, having an abundance of time for my family and my career. I believe in myself, and claim my right to make my own destiny.

- Trust the Talent. No doubts. No fears. No limits. Enjoy the Ride.
- Book and plot ideas come to me easily.
- I make time to write daily and always have a productive writing session.
- I never ignore an opportunity to improve my craft.
- Mentoring is a big part of my writing career and I am always open to helping others, while still maintaining adequate time for my own career.
- Writing is my career, all other work is purely my investor, allowing me to pay the bills while I build my writing career.
- Agents want to represent me and editors want to buy my books.
- People enjoy reading my books and there is a building demand for my work.
- I am confident enough to promote my work in every day life.
- Jump and the net will appear.
- Dare to Live your dream, or you’re not living!

So now it’s time for you to find your own dreams and start taking steps to achieve them.

Remember: This is your life. Live it!

Happy New Year,


Monday, January 5, 2009

Writing the Book of Your Heart

The advice given most to aspiring writers is, “Write the book of your heart.”

Logically we know editors and agents want us to write a story we believe in, something we torture ourselves over for countless hours to get just right. On the other hand, we also know there are many famous authors who write one bestseller after another, so what makes the book of your heart any better than the next one? Or the one before it? Why is the book of your heart any better than one you plotted meticulously?

This past year I began to get a feel for the difference.

My latest manuscript, Desperate Homeowners, is a mystery where I managed to finally pull together my plotting and humor. I was having fun with this book and contest judges responded with more excitement than I had ever seen in the past six years. It reminded me of another time in my life when my primary goal was to simply have fun. I was a senior in college and decided to give up the stress of debate and write speeches that would allow me to, “Go out with a bang.” In my After Dinner Speech, I made fun of my college dating life, which was rather comical. I also gave a Persuasive Speech on circumcisions for the shock value alone – the priest who judged me was definitely shocked. (Okay. Most of you know I could never give that speech today without turning twelve shades of red.) In a final round, the grad student I once went out to lunch with laughed through the entire speech. I ended up laughing, too, but all three judges still gave me first place. What I discovered that year, was by having a great time and not caring about the outcome, my joy became contagious. People responded favorably and I won numerous trophies. An unusual topic helped, too.

This lesson hit home again when I watched the movie, Mama Mia. I had entered the theater not feeling quite myself, but when I left a few hours later, I was blissfully happy. In fact, I dragged several friends to see it. Joy was contagious again. Each friend told me about a character they could relate to. That got me thinking. I had seen feel-good movies before, but none of them had affected me quite like this one. Then, I remembered seeing an interview with Meryl Streep where she said their goal in making this film was to have a good time and that is what they did.

These examples are mostly about comedy because that is my focus right now and to tell you the truth, I’m not in the mood to search my brain for gut-wrenching examples of life-changing drama. I’m sure you can come up with those without my help.

When you write the book of your heart, the topic is usually something to which many people can relate. Also, your passion leaps off the page. It’s as if the story encapsulates your energy, your feelings, and releases it to the reader (or observer if it’s a movie). Don’t ask me how it’s possible. My logical, grounded, left-brain is always in conflict with my creative right brain, which is open to all possibilities. I just know it’s true. Perhaps it’s the turn of the phrase you select when in that frame of mind, or the depth to which you give your characters life, or the music you choose if it’s a movie/play. Whatever the reason, the end result is magical. It moves people.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Defeat Self-Defeating Behaviors On-Line Class

January 2-30, 2009
"Defeat Self-Defeating Behaviors: Allow Productivity & Creativity to Soar"
by Margie Lawson

Registration at
What's preventing your success? Thoughts? Behavior? Low energy? Procrastination? Perfectionism? Overdoing? Counter-productivity? Negative self-talk? Disorganization? Time mismanagement? Unrealistic expectations? Defeat your self-defeating behaviors with this one-month mental boot-camp. You'll explore the new topics, plus the list below, and more!

* Address the three fears that paralyze writers
* Analyze yourself: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats
* Challenge your internal dialogue
* Redirect resistance and manage your moods
* Duct-tape your Inner Critic
* Protect your priorities
* Practice Conscious Competence
* Apply Margie's DUH Plan

Margie Lawson’s resume includes counseling psychologist, college professor, hypnotherapist, and keynote speaker. Margie analyzes writing craft as well as the psyche of the writer. She presents 1) Empowering Characters’ Emotions, 2) Deep Editing: The EDITS System, Rhetorical Devices & More, and 3) Defeat Self-Defeating Behaviors in full-day master classes internationally. For more information, visit