Being True To Yourself as a Romance Writer

I just recently read a blog that made me reevaluate my writing or at least the way I look at it. Writing from a place of fear versus from a place of love by Chuck Wendig really hit a nerve with me. Like most writers I thrive on self-doubt and am never sure whether I’m writing the right thing; the thing that readers want, what the readers will devour and beg for more, ultimately the one thing that will sell my books.

I have been tempted to write what seems to sell. As a romance writer I am plenty aware of what romance readers in general are reading, the things that make them tick. But as much as I have wanted to write those books, I couldn’t. They were not me. So cue in another wave of self-loathing; why can’t I be more like others, why am I so weird and different from everybody else? Enter days and days of agonizing over a manuscript; is my publisher going to want it? Will it sell? Will reviewers even be interested in reviewing it?writing

I was recently at a book signing event and decided to attend one of the panels they were offering. As quickly as I went in, I turned around and left, not so much horrified and depressed by what was being discussed but by the fact that if that was what the readers wanted, I would never be able to give it to them. No judgement on the authors of such books but they are not me. I can’t write kinky stuff, just can’t. I love writing about everyday Joes who take great pleasure in making love to their mates in simple ways, men and women who don’t need the aid of tools or pain (or the suggestion of such) to reach an orgasm, couples who won’t allow a third wheel in their sexual life and don’t need to be dominated, women who are not sex goddesses who may in fact even be a little shy about it… in short, people who are so in love with each other that they don’t need anything else to turn them on, keep them on, and reach that apex of pleasure most of us look for.

The reverse of the medal is what it’s usually called clean or sweet romance where sex is either only implied or not mentioned at all. I can’t write these either because I enjoy reading about the characters being intimate and loving, their physical reaction to the love they have for each other. So I like to write spicy scenes. My kind of spice, the kind I keep thinking is not what today’s romance reader want.

Making love

And so the cycle of self-doubt goes on, possibly to never stop. But for now I will stick to what feels right to me at the risk of never selling enough books to keep me fed. I will keep writing from a place of love.

Have you ever been tempted or have in fact written from a place of fear? How did it make you feel?

Ten Tips For Rookies- Romance Writers of America Conference

I attended my first ever RWA conference in NYC this year. As a rookie I walked around in a bit of a daze for the duration of the event and missed some things I really wish I hadn’t, but that’s the nature of the beast.

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Picture by veerasak Piyawatanakul (Pexels)

The organizers have a first-timers orientation of sorts which was helpful but some very important points were neglected altogether. For all of you who are planning on going to one of these conferences in the future, here are some nuggets of wisdom that may help you get more of an amazing but slightly overwhelming event.

  1. Wear comfortable clothes and comfy shoes even if you look like a bag lady. Sitting for hours and walking from one workshop to another, often in different levels of the hotel can quickly get to you.
  2. Do bring a nice outfit for the awards ceremony or if you plan on attending any of the parties (I didn’t because I’m a terrible introvert who gets too stressed out in social situations involving lots of people).
  3. Bring a rather large empty suitcase or bag. You’ll need it (you’ll see why further down).
  4. Bring snacks that do not require refrigeration if you can. Snacks at these nice hotels will cost you an arm and a leg.
  5. If you’re an introvert like me, see if you can bring a writer friend. I always feel very lonely at events like this because I am a one-on-one socializer who gets totally lost in groups of people I barely know.
  6. Bring a fan and a sweater. Hotel air-conditioning is insane. One moment it feels like Hades, the next you’re in the South Pole.
  7. Don’t skip the Goody Room. There you can grab some free books and a lot of free swag. I use the swag for ideas to create my own swag and it doesn’t take much space in the suitcase.
  8. Don’t miss any of the signings (reason to follow) even if you have to miss a chunk of an awesome workshop. They record the workshops and you can buy them later for a song (if you don’t buy the whole thing that is).
  9. Take breaks. It is as exhausting as it is exhilarating and inspiring.
  10. The most important tip of all. The so called signings are not like the normal ones where the readers buy books and have them signed by the authors. In these signings you get the books for free AND you get them signed by the author. I was like a kid in a candy store. Refer back to #3 and #8. I missed quite a few of these because I didn’t know what they were. I talked to other rookies who did the same. I still came home with over fifty books. YOU DON”T WANT TO MISS THESE.
Book Loot

Picture by Natalina Reis

 

Books Sale and Giveaway

 

GIVEAWAY

NATALINA REIS - GIVEAWAY

In celebration of sales of two of my books, my publisher is running a rafflecopter for your chance at winning $100 Amazon GC. Whoever wins has to share it with me. Just kidding 😉

Rafflecopter Giveaway

LF99Cents2

LAVENDER FIELDS

Natalina Reis Author’s incredible M/M paranormal romance opens up the world of angels in a whole new light.

Amazon US
Wide Links

Sky Heavensent may be able to fly and guide the souls of the recently departed to the gates of Heaven, but he’s just as flawed as you or me. He loves with his whole being and doesn’t hesitate to break rules to defend the man he loves. And he’s fully prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice if that’s what it takes to save his love, Caleb.

With Lavender Fields’s mix of fantasy, humor, and drama, it’d take a miracle not to fall in love with Sky and Caleb’s sweet and spicy romance.

 99 cents

Only this week

 

February Grow Team Giveaway

Love reading & reviewing? Like finding new authors? Wanna join a review team/street team?

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We have romance authors of varying genres who would love to find new readers! Why join a team? (Or lots of teams?) There are so many perks…like FREE books, advanced notice of sales, giveaways, and new releases. Let’s not forget the swag and signed books so many authors give to their team as a reward for the support.

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Give it a try! Join some teams and be entered to win $50 in Amazon Gift Cards!

Participating Authors:
Amy B Wells | Anna Bloom | Anna Edwards | Ashlee Price | Darcy Delany | Eric Bolt | Gina Conkle | Grace Roberts | Heather Young-Nichols | Ja’Nese Dixon | K.L. Shandwick | Krissy V | Lilliana Rose | Lissa Lynn Thomas | Liz Gavin | Liza Street | M.C. Cerny | Monica Corwin | Natalina Reis | S.L. Sterling | Sissy Queen | Sydney Aaliyah Michelle | Tara L. Ames

Enter to win!

Holly Jolly Chick Lit Hop

The holidays are just around the corner, which means it’s time for Chick Lit Chat HQ’s annual Holly Jolly Chick Lit Hop and this year it’s bigger and better than ever! 63 bestselling and award-winning authors in the Chick Lit and Romantic Comedy genres are participating in this fun-filled event and each one is doing a fantastic giveaway. Books, author swag, gift cards, and other assorted holiday treats are all up for grabs.

But wait! There’s much, much more. On the hop’s Facebook group page, you can enter to win our Grand Prize—a large holiday gift box filled to the brim with a fabulous variety of holiday and winter-themed goodies (the darling, KitschNStyle gingerbread house apron, Snoozies! sherpa socks, Calvin Klein cashmere pom-pom beanie in petal pink, Too Faced sugar cookie eye shadow purse palette, Sally Snowflakes mug by Bella Pilar, Well Read Women: A Reader’s Journal, and handmade chocolate soaps shown in the graphic below are just a few of the items included in the box!).


We’ll also be handing out four Runner-Up Prizes. Each one is a pair of Fitz & Floyd holiday mugs that will be accompanied by a canister of Williams-Sonoma classic hot chocolate as well as a tin of The Republic of Tea’s Hallmark Channel Countdown to Christmas Tea. So, you’ll have delicious, warm beverages to keep you cozy all winter long!

The celebration runs from Monday, Dec. 3rd through Sunday, Dec. 9th, so head on over to the Holly Jolly Chick Lit Hop Facebook group for some lively conversation with both authors and readers, incredible prizes, and lots of holiday fun! You’ll find each day’s featured authors, along with the links to their pages/giveaways, in the pinned post at the top of the group. We look forward to seeing you there!

*The Grand Prize giveaway is open to US residents only. However, all of the individual author giveaways and the Runner-Up Prize giveaway are open
internationally.

Schedule and list of authors and their stops on the Hop

Monday, Dec. 4th

Tracie Banister https://www.facebook.com/tracie.banister

Beth Carter https://www.facebook.com/authorbethcarter

Whitney Dineen https://www.facebook.com/Whitney-Dineen-11687019412/

Karin Gillespie https://www.facebook.com/karingillespieauthor/

Kate O’Keeffe https://www.facebook.com/kateokeeffeauthor/

Tuesday, Dec. 5th

Annabelle Costa https://www.facebook.com/Annabelle-Costa-894496980704700/

Susan Hatler https://www.facebook.com/authorsusanhatler/

Kate Kisset https://www.facebook.com/KateKisset/

Kirsty McManus https://www.facebook.com/kirstymcmanusauthor

Robyn Neeley https://www.facebook.com/RobynNeeleyAuthor/

Wednesday, Dec. 6th

Sylvia Ashby https://www.facebook.com/sylviaashbywriter/

Hannah Ellis https://www.facebook.com/novelisthannahellis

Cat Lavoie https://www.facebook.com/CatLavoieBooks

Becky Monson https://www.facebook.com/AuthorBeckyMonson/

Jennifer Peel https://www.facebook.com/jenniferpeelauthor/

Thursday, Dec. 7th

Michele Brouder https://www.facebook.com/MicheleBrouder/

Melinda Curtis https://www.facebook.com/MelindaCurtisAuthor/

Liz Durano https://www.facebook.com/Lizduranobooks/

Diane Michaels https://www.facebook.com/dianemichaelsauthor/

Holly Tierney-Bedord https://www.facebook.com/HollyRecommends/

Friday, Dec. 8th

Hilary Grossman https://www.facebook.com/HilaryGrossmanAuthor/

Beth Labonte https://www.facebook.com/bethlabontebooks/

Nikki LeClair https://www.facebook.com/NikkiLeClairBooks/

Heidi Renee Mason https://www.facebook.com/HeidiReneeMason/

Susan Murphy https://www.facebook.com/susanmurphyauthor/

Natalina Reis https://www.facebook.com/authornatalinareis/

Saturday, Dec. 9th

Amy Avanzino https://www.facebook.com/AmyAvanzino/

Susannah Nix https://www.facebook.com/susannahnix

Cassandra O’Leary https://www.facebook.com/cassandraolearyauthor

Michelle Jo Quinn https://www.facebook.com/MichelleJoQuinnAuthor/

Nicole Waggoner https://www.facebook.com/NicoleWaggonerAuthorCircusofWomen/

Sunday, Dec. 10th

Mary Frame https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMaryFrame/

Sarah-Jane Fraser https://www.facebook.com/sjfraserauthor/

Amy Gettinger https://www.facebook.com/Amy-Gettinger-Author-1412625005719904/

Lizzie Lamb https://www.facebook.com/LizzieLambwriter/

Joslyn Westbrook https://www.facebook.com/JoslynWestbrookOfficial

Monday, Dec. 11th

Jayne Denker https://www.facebook.com/JayneDenkerAuthor/

Angie Ellington https://www.facebook.com/angienellingtonbooks

C.L. Ogilvie https://www.facebook.com/CLOgilvie/

Meredith Schorr https://www.facebook.com/MeredithSchorrAuthor/

Stacey Wiedower https://www.facebook.com/StaceyWiedower.author/

Tuesday, Dec. 12th

Glynis Astie https://www.facebook.com/glynisastieauthor

Renee Conoulty https://www.facebook.com/ReneeConoultyAuthor/

Jenny Gardiner https://www.facebook.com/jennygardinerbooks

Stacy Juba https://www.facebook.com/Stacy-Juba-100155471301/

Tracy Krimmer https://www.facebook.com/krimmerauthor/

Wednesday, Dec. 13th

Traci Andrighetti https://www.facebook.com/traciandrighettiauthor/

Kathryn Biel https://www.facebook.com/kathrynrbiel

Monique McDonell https://www.facebook.com/MoniqueMcDonellAuthor

Denise Stout https://www.facebook.com/DeniseStoutAuthor/

Melanie Summers https://www.facebook.com/MJSummersAuthorPage

Thursday, Dec. 14th

Anne John-Ligali https://www.facebook.com/annejohnligali/

Colette Kebell https://www.facebook.com/ColetteKebellAuthor/

Jennie Marts https://www.facebook.com/JennieMartsBooks/

Clodagh Murphy https://www.facebook.com/clodaghmurphyauthor

Tess Thompson https://www.facebook.com/AuthorTessThompson/

Friday, Dec. 15th

Melissa Baldwin https://www.facebook.com/authormelissabaldwin/

Aimee Brown https://www.facebook.com/authoraimeebrown

Karen M. Cox https://www.facebook.com/karenmcox1932/

Lindsay Detwiler https://www.facebook.com/lindsayanndetwiler

Barbara Valentin https://www.facebook.com/Platespinner/

Holly Jolly Chick Lit Hop 2017__ Ornaments

 

 

 

 

Ignoring the Impostor Syndrome

We all felt it one time or another, the insidious whisper inside our head that says, “You’re an impostor“. “How dare you stand among the great ones? What right do you have to be here? What makes you qualified to dish out advice?” You know the whispers–or sometimes loud screams in your mind.

Writers are particularly vulnerable to this. How many of us have been part of a book event where you have big names in your genre at a table five feet away from yours? It’s both exhilarating and depressing because on one hand you’re excited you’re breathing the same air as some of your literary idols while at the same time being depressed for feeling you don’t measure up to them.

Measuring up

Recently I was invited to co-present at a local, small writer’s conference. My first reaction was to say yes, but then that nagging feeling came whispering again–what can you possibly say about writing that others would think interesting or helpful? I said yes anyway because I’ve promised myself a long time ago I’d take on more challenges.

I had been part of panels before, but this was different; this was the two of us running an informative session about the writing business, From Spark to Finish (my co-presenter, talented YA author, PM Hernandez, came up with the catchy title). Between the two of us we have thirteen books published and we have both learned quite a lot in our journey through this business. And yet that doubt, that nettling feeling, was still gnawing at the back of my mind.

WBTR Fall Workshop5

Photo Credit: Jan Rayl

In the end it was a great experience. Turns out we both have quite a bit of helpful information to impart with beginning or aspiring authors, and this was the perfect venue to do so. Hernandez and I have different experiences and perspectives but because of that we were the perfect combination; she’s self-published, I’m a hybrid; she’s a semi-pantser, I’m an all-in pantser. I think I speak for both of us when I say, we had a blast as you can tell by this picture.

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PM Hernandez and me – Photo Credit: Jan Rayl

I’m sure that irksome voice will rise again, but for the moment I’m on Cloud 9, feeling accomplished and worthy. Moral of the story is we all need to ignore those whispers and take risks. When you hear that inner voice again, stick a cork in it and move on. You’ll be so glad you did it.

*Many thanks to Jan Rayl, Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt, and Becks Sousa of Write by the Rails for organizing such a great event. And everyone who attended. It was a lot of fun.*

Tales of an Introvert

This is the story of how I managed to sabotage myself thanks to my introvert anxieties.

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to attend SaSS18, a much anticipated and large romance authors’ signing in Norfolk, Virginia. It was a dream come true (I got in because someone had to cancel at the last minute) and I was determined to make this opportunity my foot-in into the circle of wonderful authors who always seemed to be invited for these events.

Frightened and stressed young business woman

Even before the day of the event arrived, my anxieties were already kicking in and by the time I checked in at the hotel I was not feeling so good. It only got worse. When the doors opened to the public I was totally overhwlemed. A nonstop stream of self-defeating mantras flashed in my head:

  • You suck as a writer.
  • Nobody reads your books.
  • People think you’re boring.
  • You’re too fat.
  • No one wants to talk to you.
  • They all think you’re an idiot.
  • You don’t belong here.

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No matter how much I fight these inner voices, they are often too strong for me. And this was the case that weekend. Afraid that I would be the one in a corner alone while everyone else was having fun, I ditched all the fun events, those where I could make an impression by talking and networking with other authors and readers.

Afterward came the self-loathing, anger at myself for once again making myself invisible. Apart from a couple of people, no one will remember that middle-aged woman who barely moved out of her table for the whole signing.

Lonely girl crying with a hand covering her face

Names have already began being picked for next year’s event, and I’m not holding my breath–why would they pick someone they can’t even remember? I’m in about three event pictures out of hundreds and I have no one else to blame but myself. Everyone was sweet and welcoming, but my anxieties did what I had promised myself I wouldn’t allow them to do; they ruined something I had looked forward to so much.

Have your anxieties ever done anything like that to you?

Standing Proud – Fighting Romance Novel Stigma

I’ve written about book signings before, mostly about how depressing these events can be for a writer who nobody really knows, especially one who writes romance–the most popular and yet, also most snubbed genre in literature.

I spent this weekend in a signing, except this time it was one exclusively for romance writers. What a difference that made. The fact that I’m not well-known didn’t change, but the attitude of the general public was definitely different.

Rebels Table

How refreshing to be addressed and asked questions about your books instead of avoided or ignored. I don’t pretend to write high-brow literature and do not aspire at winning a Pulitzer prize, but I’m a good writer who writes fun and somewhat insightful stories that both entertain and excite the reader’s emotions. Very few people have read my books (a fact painfully evidenced by depressingly low royalties) and I don’t expect a horde of fans to descend upon my table at such events like a crowd of shoppers at a Best Buy on Black Friday. But I love being asked about my stories (the introvert in me won’t volunteer the information), having smart conversations about books (even about other people’s books), and generally just being acknowledged as alive and breathing.

Kudos go out to romance readers. They are amazingly welcoming and easy to talk to. They are also so enthusiastic about meeting authors, they make you feel like celebrities. I’ve been to quite a few events mostly attended by people who–by their own admission–only read “good” literature, or nonfiction, or–my favorite–anything but romance. Generally speaking, those crowds make you feel as if writing romance is some heinous crime for which you must feel terribly ashamed. They also lump all romance novels into one giant bundle of 50 Shades of Grey type stories when in fact the romance genre is widely diverse, both in styles, sub-genres, and quality.

Standing Proud (1)

At one point I was embarrassed to admit I wrote romance, but no longer. I’ve “come out” of that closet and I now proudly stand as a romance writer. If you’ve never attempted at reading a romance, you should give it a try. It is not everybody’s cup of tea, I understand, but with the overwhelming number of authors and books out there, there is a very good chance you may find a new favorite.

 

Emotion in Writing

I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since I attended Donald Maas‘s workshop and I’m just now writing about it. I almost didn’t sign up for it. The workshop was being hosted by the Richmond branch of the Romance Writers of America (VRW) and held in Richmond, Virginia–an almost two hour drive from my house. Driving far from home and to places I’ve never been to stresses me out to panic levels and I normally avoid it like the plague. But I really wanted to go to this one, so I signed up. Luckily one of my local writer friends signed up too and I was able to drive with her. I’m a much better copilot than a pilot in situations like this.

This workshop was everything I expected it to be and so much more. A huge kudos for the Virginia Romance Writers  who set up an amazing event in a great venue and for providing us all with a magical supply of food (especially the donuts which seemed to be forever reproducing themselves in the kitchen) and the awesome speaker.

DMaas and me

I’ve been to many workshops. Some were writing-related and others not. Some were excellent, others left me regretting the money and time invested. This one was inspirational. I came out of the full-day event revitalized, inspired, and motivated to write more and better. I also left vindicated somehow.  I’m an emotional writer. I have a tendency to neglect certain details (which in my mind seem superfluous) and focus on feelings. I thought that maybe I was writing romance the wrong way, but after this workshop I feel I’ve been doing the right thing. But I need to get better at it.

During the session I wrote a couple of the best scenes in my current project, not to mention I came up with the missing pieces of my plot. Pretty wonderful, don’t you agree?

Mr. Maas was a pleasure to listen and talk to. Nothing like being able to immediately apply what you’re learning to give you a sense of accomplishment. He took us on a journey through his last writing book, The Emotional Craft of Fiction, and had us apply it directly to our current projects. It was truly magical.

I don’t normally recommend writing books, no matter how great they are, because we all write differently and what I’ve found is that one “technique” may be amazing for some and absolutely not work for others. However, this one is different. This one works with what you already have and helps you–through some pretty simple exercises–to make it better, to make it resonate in readers’ s minds and hearts. So I am totally recommending it. Further more I am suggesting that you buy it and read it as you edit your work. You’ll be amazed with the results.

Emotional

My only regret after such a great workshop is not having anything to send to Mr. Maas’ agency after he so kindly extended an invitation to all of the attendees to query him. Maybe one day, Mr.Maas, maybe one day…

Color of Love Blog Hop

 

****UPDATE****

A winner has been picked and contacted. Congrats Mary and thank you all who participated 🙂

Welcome to the 2017 edition of the COLOR OF LOVE Blog Hop co-hosted by Empi BaryehKiru TayeNana Prah, and Love Bites and Silk.This year’s hop is on from today 23 November to December, 2017.

We’re celebrating People of Color in romance and offering you a chance to discover new books and new authors, as well as giving you a chance to win prizes. We have 30 blogs participating this year, each featuring an interracial or multicultural romance book!

Color Of Love

This year, we’re doing things a little differently. We’ve separated the cash and book prizes so more people can win.
Here’s what’s up for grabs:

BOOK PRIZES

We’re introducing daily book prizes. Be sure to comment on blog posts and join the conversation on our FACEBOOK EVENT PAGE for a chance to win one of our 24 book prizes.

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CASH PRIZES

Enter the rafflecopter below for a chance to win:

  • 1st prize $50 GC
  • 2nd prize $25 GC
  • 3rd prize $15 GC
  • 4th prize $10 GC

For Rafflecopter  click here

MY BLOG PRIZE

To enter to win my blog prize please follow me on BookBub  and Amazon and leave a comment 🙂 A winner will be picked up at random at the end of the Hop. Good luck!

Color of Love Giveaway

Autographed Copy of Desert Jewel, Dragon Pen and Desert Jewel earrings.

FEATURED BOOK

 

She’s a princess. He’s an ex-slave. To survive, they must fight the all-powerful Elders, and Jaali’s demons.

MILENDA
She’s a princess in a world of lush jungles and hellish deserts where the modern mixes with centuries-old traditions and superstitions. Taking a husband at the age of eighteen goes against every fiber of her being, but as a future monarch, she must follow the rules, even if her heart already belongs to someone.

JAALI
He’s an ex-slave who wishes to be invisible in a world where he can’t hide. Loving the headstrong princess may prove to be his demise. To win her hand he must survive a grueling trek through the desert. Will her love make him strong enough?

Desert Jewel is the first book in The Jewel Chronicles. A unique interracial romance set against a breathtaking fantasy world with complex characters and twists at every turn. Let Desert Jeweltake you to another world.

“It had the perfect mix of adventure, love, hate and mystery to keep you hooked.”- Amazon Reviewer

“Desert Jewel by Natalina Reis is a great read full of love, hate, hope, joy, devastation, fantasy and magic all rolled into one wonderful story.” – Amazon Reviewer

“I am so happy I had an opportunity to read this book. It really is a hidden gem!” – Amazon Reviewer

COLOR OF LOVE 2017 FEATURED BOOKS

Now hop on to the next blog:

1. Author Kiru Taye (INT) 11. Georgia Lyn Hunter 21. Tasha L. Harrison
2. Author Nana Prah (INT) 12. Sharon C. Cooper 22. Kay Blake
3. Author Empi Baryeh (INT) 13. Reana Malori 23. J.L. Campbell
4. LBAS Book Blogs (INT) 14. Elle Wright 24. Sheena Binkley
5. RWOWA (INT) 15. Candace Shaw 25. Bex n Books (INT)
6. Sexy Romance Novels (INT) 16. Author/Blogger Shonda Brock 26. Natalina Reis
7. Felicia Denise, Author 17. L. Loren (INT) 27. Dahlia Donovan (Int)
8. Sharita Lira, Author 18. Koko Brown 28. Debra Elise
9. Freddy MacKay 19. Siren Allen 29. Kim Golden
10. Platypire Reviews 20. Amaka Azie 30. Kai Tyler (INT)

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