Updates from the RWA National Board

Last Saturday, RWA San Diego hosted its annual Post-Nationals Potluck, where we shared our experiences and stories from the July conference. We discussed our favorite workshops, including memorable quotes from instructors, tips and tidbits we learned along the way, and the lowdown on what editors are looking for. Additionally, we were briefed by local chapter member and national Director-at-Large, HelenKay Dimon, on some of the big changes that have occurred and are on the horizon for RWA.

The board met on July 10th and 11th in San Diego, during which several important decisions were made that affect the membership. Among others:

  • The “Mainstream Fiction with a Central Romance” category was added to the RITA and Golden Heart contests for 2017, with a provisional status.
  • In an effort to make the “Inspirational Romance” category more inclusive, the name and description were changed to “Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements.”
  • Qualifications for meeting the Honor Roll were modified.

For details on any of these highlights, please see the news posted on the RWA website.

If anyone attended the board meeting, or even just heard HelenKay talk about it at last week’s potluck, you know how hard our board works to make sure RWA respects and values the opinions and feedback of all of its members. Each board member receives hundreds of emails everyday – each of which is read and considered. They spend hours debating the details of amendments to ensure they best meet the needs of all our members, and they take their jobs very seriously, committing a significant amount of their time and effort to making RWA the best it can possibly be. We’d like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all the members of our national board for all the work you do for us!

For voting members: Elections are coming up in a few weeks! The voting period is from September 1st through the 15th, and there are a whopping six spaces up for grabs for Director-at-Large. With three times as many candidates as there are positions to fill, we as members need to do our best to research their platforms and make sure our elected board reflects our values. Please take some time to review their bios and put some thought into who you’re voting for.

There are also some proposed changes to the bylaws being put up to a vote. These changes would affect general membership and move certain items from the bylaws to the Policies and Procedures. Details of these proposals can be seen here; please review them so you know how you’re going to vote in September!

If you have specific questions, you can always reach out to the board members. Their contact information is available on the RWA website. This organization is only as strong as its members – do your part to participate in our election as an informed voter!

Check Out Our Awesome September Classes!

We have two fantastic online classes coming up for RWASD next month that you all should check out. You don’t have to even be a member to attend! But it does help because a membership to RWASD will get you a discount.

Check out these great courses!


Contraception, Pregnancy and Childbirth in History

Date: Sept. 12–25th, 2016

Cost: RWA San Diego Chapter members: $15 Non-members: $20
Pregnancy and childbirth are a natural part of life that women of the past looked on with both excitement and fear. They never knew if it would be the beginning of a new life with a baby or the end of theirs. For those wishing to prevent a pregnancy, contraception was available, a lady just needed to know where to find it.

During this two week class, participants will be taken through the ins and outs of the history of contraception, pregnancy and childbirth from medieval times up through the Victorian era, from a writer’s perspective. Lectures will cover the training and techniques of midwives and doctors, as well as the medicines, pain relief, complications and mortality rates surrounding childbirth. Period nomenclature, tools and other details necessary for writers looking to craft realistic scenes will be discussed, as well as methods of contraception available and how information about it was disseminated. Firsthand accounts from medical practitioners and their patients will help provide a full picture of pregnancy and childbirth in the time before antibiotics, epidurals and germ theory.

Instructor: Georgie Lee

Award winning author Georgie Lee was born and raised in San Diego where she also attended college, majoring in television and film production. She began her professional writing career at a local cable TV station writing marketing videos, promotional spots and public service announcements, some of which still haunt the airwaves.

Blinded by the dazzling lights of Hollywood, she headed north to Los Angeles where she earned her MA in Screenwriting, met her husband, and settled into a career in the interesting but strange world of the entertainment industry.

A lifelong history buff, Georgie hasn’t given up hope that she will one day inherit a title and a manor house. Until then, she fulfills her dreams of lords, ladies and a season in London through her stories. She writes Regency set historical romance for Harlequin Historical and Carina Press. When not writing, she can be found reading non-fiction history or watching any movie with a costume and an accent.

You can Register here.


What Reading Top-Selling Authors Can Teach You About Writing

Date: Sept. 1–28th, 2016

Cost: RWA San Diego Chapter members: $20 Non-members: $25

This is the course that was never offered in your English department! We will look at bestselling romance from a critical perspective and learn what these authors are doing right—and how we can do these things in our own books.

But the word “critical” sounds so negative, doesn’t it? The focus of this course will be on what is effective, not on what we do or do not like about the books. We will take apart the first chapters of four bestselling romances and learn about their approaches, figure out what make them work, and look at other readers’ responses. Then we’ll write our own versions of fan fiction, applying these writers’ strategies in short weekly writing assignments.

We’ll have fun with the process, and you’ll leave the class with the beginnings of four new stories of your own.

What people are saying about the class:

“ I learned more in this class than other more expensive ones offered online by junior colleges and writing sites” – Mary

“I had never thought to use the different lenses as a way to analyze what makes a romance work. The challenge of using bestsellers (especially not the best written ones) as models to explore how the lenses work was an eye opener.” – Zara
Note: Participants are responsible for finding and reading the first chapters of the four books on the syllabus, but I’ll give some budget tips at the beginning of the class. Participants can read these first chapters beforehand or read them as we work through the lesson.


Instructor: Rebecca Hunter

Rebecca is the author of the steamy contemporary romance series, Stockholm Diaries. She earned a Bachelor’s in English from the University of Michigan and a Master’s in English Education from New York University, and she had worked as an English teacher in a wide range of schools, from a community college outside of Stockholm to a New York City public high school.

Under various names, she had published in the Colombia Review, Vestkusten, The Lansing State Journal, and BonBon Break, and she was a regular contributor to The Local, Sweden’s News in English, when she lived in Stockholm. In addition to writing, Rebecca edits books and articles, mostly academic, and she has translated everything from magazine articles to memoirs.

Rebecca grew up in Michigan, but after college, she moved around quite a bit. After their most recent move back to the San Francisco Bay Area, she and her husband swore they’re never move again. Well, probably not.

You can Register here


Navigating the Twitterverse

Confession time: participating in social media does not come easily to me. For one thing, I’m sort of a private person, and uncomfortable with the idea of someone knowing my every move, or worse yet, my every feeling. I’m also not much of a photographer – I mean, have you seen my Instagram lately? The artistry of the snapshots leaves much to be desired. And when it comes to turning the camera on myself, I’d rather get a deep cleaning in the dentist’s chair than take a selfie.

But there’s one social media platform that I’ve become comfortable with, maybe even grown to love, and that’s Twitter. Designed for brevity, Twitter limits your updates to 140-character posts, or “tweets.” These bite-sized morsels of information allow you to compose quickly, peruse at a glance, and connect with everyone from Harlequin to the President.

It took me some time to figure out how best to use Twitter as an author. But with a few years of experience under my belt, I’ve come up with some tips and tricks worth sharing that can help you to use Twitter most effectively.

Kristin’s Totally Subjective Dos and Don’ts of the Twitterverse*

  • Do make connections. I’m not talking about getting as many people to follow you as possible. I’m talking about connecting with people on a very real, authentic level. If you’re having a hard time thinking about what to add to your Twitter feed, start with your writing: What are you working on? What are your challenges? Where are you going to set up your writing space today? Find other writers who are writing in your genre and tweet at them. Participate in hashtags like #1linewed and #amwriting, which implicitly invites other people to tweet at you. Take part in Twitter chats like #RWChat. By putting in the time and effort, you can build your community organically.
  • Don’t wallpaper your feed with promo. If all you do is show up on Twitter every once in a while to promote your book – or worse yet, schedule the same tweet over and over and over again – you’re not going to get a lot of people who really care about you or your books. When it comes to Twitter, canned promo is just another reason to scroll. However, once you make those authentic connections, you’ll have people who really care about you, are interested in what you have to say, and maybe, they might even want to buy your book! As long as there’s a high ratio of entertaining or educational tweets to promo or marketing, then when you do send out a promotional tweet, you run less of a risk of scaring off potential, or even existing, followers.
  • Do get educated. Opportunities for writing advice abound on Twitter. Some of my favorite accounts to follow are:
    • Jami Gold. A writer herself, she links to articles – some her own, some from others – on many different topics, ranging from setting career goals to editing your story. (Side note: If you’ve never checked out her worksheets, I highly recommend them.)
    • Naomi Hughes. A freelance editor, Naomi frequently posts tips on story structure, pacing, conflict, and much more. Many of her tweets are storified, as well. I’ve saved so many of her informative tweets, and reference them often.
    • Chuck Sambuchino. A contributor to Writer’s Digest, he posts a lot of information on how to query, how to find a literary agent, and perhaps most importantly, provides links to new agents who are actively looking to build their lists. His Twitter feed is an invaluable resource for someone who’s in the query trenches.
  • Don’t worry (too much) about followers. A lot of people seem to be concerned with hitting a certain number of followers – if I can just hit 100, 500, or 1000, then I’ll totally be dominating Twitter! But the truth is, having a lot of followers doesn’t necessarily mean a whole lot. There are even services out there that offer followers for pay, and people are catching on to that, rendering follower counts less significant. Of course, you do want to have an audience, though. So worry more about the content you’re creating – this will help you attract real followers who are actually paying attention to what you tweet.
  • Do seek out representation or publication – if that’s what you’re looking for. There’s no better way to connect with agents and editors than on Twitter. Many of them have a strong Twitter presence, and freely interact with other publishing professionals and aspiring authors. Many of them post their manuscript wishlist requests under the hashtag #MSWL. And several times a year, there are sponsored “pitch parties,” such as #PitMad and #DVPit, which agents and editors will scroll through and favorite – essentially, a request for a partial or full.
  • Don’t pitch your book. Unless you are participating in one of the pitch parties described above, agents and editors will bristle if you attempt to pitch them on Twitter with your book. Think of Twitter as a water cooler, where everyone from publishing gathers to take a five-minute break to chat. You can ask them questions – many of them will gladly clarify questions on their wishlists or submission requirements if it’s not already clear from their websites – but don’t expect to get a request for pages by tweeting them an unsolicited blurb of your book.

What about you? When using Twitter, what’s worked for you and what has been a total failure? Share your experiences in the comments!

* As always, YMMV.

Meet The Chapter Mates: Linda S. Rice

LindaSRiceLinda S. Rice is a lover and writer of time travel romances with a sprinkle of steamy erotica in the mix.  She also loves music and is a fan of doing pirouettes in her kitchen. Visit her at LindaSRice.com and learn more about her books. Right now, lets learn more about her!


Tell us a little about yourself! Who are you? What do you write?
I’m 64-years-old, married for 46 years, and live in the mountains east of San Diego with my husband and four cats. I’m semi-retired, which means that I can spend a lot of time writing but I also help my husband in his mortgage and real estate business. At one time I had dreams of becoming a ballerina, and I did dance semi-professionally for a few years when I was in my 20’s, but it’s a very difficult and physically-demanding career that I had to abandon when we started a family. When no one is looking, however, I still find myself spinning around the kitchen island or leaping down the hallway while humming a Tchaikovsky tune. I currently write time-travel romance with a bit of erotica sprinkled in.


When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I was 12-years-old. I was always a story-teller with an out-of-control imagination, which got me invited to a lot of slumber parties. We’d all get into our p.j’s and sit in a circle around a couple of candles and I’d make up spooky stories about haunted places.
One rainy day in gym class in 8th grade, when we all had to sit inside the locker room on benches, I started to write a story that grew into a 200-page, hand-written “book.” It was about 2 girls and their adventures with the Beatles. Today, it would be called fan fiction. As I finished each page, I passed it down the row. By the end of the school year, I had about a dozen or so followers who were anxiously awaiting the next page. I still have the hand-written version, but when I got a typewriter for my 13th birthday, I typed it up, for posterity, I guess.


What does RWASD mean to you?
It means encouragement, support, and a lot of love. I have learned so much at the monthly meetings and met so many wonderful people. The events and opportunities for members sometimes blows me away! Before joining RWA, I had a publicist, but I have to say that she did nothing for me compared to RWA…Book signing at the LA Festival of Books, reading and book signing at Love at the Library. Awesome speakers at the meetings. It’s been incredible!


What is the biggest challenge you have faced on your journey to becoming a writer?

Figuring out social media, websites and how to promote myself. I tend to stick my head in the sand when it comes to all those things I know I need to do it, but all I want to really do is write.


What attracted you to the genre you write? Why does it speak to you?
Linda at 17The concept of time-travel has always fascinated me. In my teens, I read a lot of historical fiction and romance and I always felt as if I were right there, back in the past with the characters in the books. I wondered what it would be like to live in Egypt at the time of Nefertiti or in England during the Regency era or in Russia when Anna Pavlova was the greatest ballerina in the world.


Where is the weirdest place or what is the weirdest thing that inspired an idea?
Okay, this is really weird, but right after I finished writing the 5th book in “The Necklace” series several weeks ago, I kept having a dissatisfied feeling about the ending. This book was meant to be the final book in the series, and I wrote a bittersweet, happy ending that felt just right, but for some reason, the last part of the book seemed “rushed,” as if I was trying to get it over with. I procrastinated submitting it to Create Space to get published, not really knowing why. But then, I went to see a psychic who I’ve been going to for the past couple of years. I saw her last in December, 2015, but something drew me to go see her again.
When I walked in and sat down, the first words out of her mouth were, “Oh! You’re the lady who writes time travel books that have something to do with music.” When I told her, yes, that was me and that I just finished the last book in the series, number 5, she shook her head at me and said, “No, no! You’re going to write a book 6 to finish the series.” Thinking to myself that there was no way I was going to write a book 6, I tried to brush it off, but she just wouldn’t let go of it, insisting there would be a book #6.
When I got home, I looked at the manuscript for book 5 and realized that the ending really was “rushed,” and that I could easily expand upon it for a 6th book. So, I removed it and am now getting ready to write book #6.

Who’s a writer you would do backflips to meet and why?
I would love to meet Amanda Quick, aka Judith Ann Krantz. I feel very in tune with her writing style and absolutely love her characters. Her females are always feisty and her males arrogant and very sexy.


If you could go back 20 years ago, what advice would you give yourself?
I would tell myself to quite putting off my dream of writing. Year after year I put it off, thinking, “next year, next year…” It wasn’t until 2 years ago when I lost my 3rd job in a 5-year period that I finally thought, “This makes no sense. I get zero satisfaction from what I’m doing. I’m just a wage slave and every new job I get is just a dead end.” I wish I would have followed my dream sooner.


Tell us about your latest novel!
CoversMy latest novel, “The Necklace V – Strawberries & Wine,” is the 5th in “The Necklace” series. I thought it was going to be the final book, but…well, read above about the weird thing that recently happened to me.
While the first four books in the series are time-travel journeys into the past for my main character, Susan, book #5 takes place in the future. In this book, Susan has finally learned that she can’t change history to be with James, the man of her dreams and a former member of “the most famous band of all time.” She might, however, be able to make a future with him.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?
“Do you know what this strawberry reminds me of, Susan?”
Suddenly she remembered the loaf of French bread he’d brought and that was sitting on the kitchen island. He’d also brought the strawberries. It didn’t take long for her mind to drift back into the past. Her voice was a mere whisper when she responded.
“French toast…with…with strawberries?”
It was what she’d made for him for breakfast out at Auntie Annabelle’s cottage, the day after their picnic and when she’d surrendered her virginity to him after almost falling into the pond. It was actually the first meal she’d ever cooked for him…all that time ago…in June, 1962…
“Well, yes…that…but it makes me think of something else as well.”
She searched her brain, but couldn’t think of anything else that would remind him of strawberries as they related to her other than he knew they were a favorite of hers.
She looked at him quizzically. “What else does it make you think of?”
He stared into the fire for a moment before looking back at her.
“The night I asked you to marry me for the first time.”
She bit her lip and looked down at her lap. It wasn’t a good memory for her. When he’d asked her to marry him in their hotel room in London, right after the band recorded what would become two of their most famous songs, she had panicked, not expecting his proposal. And, when he realized there was actually another man in her life, a red rage had taken over him and she was immediately returned to the future.
“I remember…”
‘When we were in the dining room, celebrating the recording of “Squeeze, Squeeze Me” and “From You to Me,” I asked the waiter to take a bottle of champagne and a bowl of strawberries up to our room…I knew strawberries were your favorite…”
He paused, watching her twist the chain of her ballerina necklace between her fingers, her face still focused on her lap.
“After you accepted my proposal…I had no doubts, you would, you know…I was going to open the champagne and toast to our future. And then I was going to feed you strawberries, and when you’d had enough, I was going to kiss the juice off your lips and face…”
He paused again when she looked up and into his eyes.
“Then I was going to take you to bed and make slow, sweet love to you all night long…”
She inhaled and held her breath as he moved his hand forward towards her mouth with the strawberry held between two fingers. Their eyes were locked together.
She took one bite, then another.


Before you go, any advice to give to the new writers out there?
Yes, decide what writing style works best for you then just go for it. Write when you feel inspired; take a break when you don’t. If you’re a person who likes to do outlines and make notes before you write, stick to that. If you’re a person who writes best from “the seat of your pants,” then just let it flow out of your head onto the page. If a combination is what makes you feel comfortable, then customize it for YOU. There is no right or wrong way to get your story out there. Forget the articles that tell you that you “must” do it this way or that way. You’re an individual with imagination and talent. Just let it flow.

#RWA16 Highlights from a First-Timer

Between Comic-Con and the RWA Conference, it’s been a busy few weeks here in San Diego. Now that we’ve all had some time to relax and recover from the madness, it’s time to get back to the business of the blog!

First, let’s talk about something we spent a long time getting pumped for: 2016 Nationals. As a first-timer, I found the whole experience extraordinary – and not a little bit overwhelming – but there was something particularly magical about seeing the rockstars of romance hanging out in our hometown. I loved running into authors in the elevator who would gush about how wonderful the weather was. My answer? “It’s like this all the time.”

But there were so many things to love about my first conference:

  • Rubbing elbows with the stars. Well, the stars of romance, at least. I attended workshops run by some of the most respected authors in the industry, and considered it a privilege to be able to learn from their experiences. There was also the Literacy Signing, which featured hundreds of romance authors who were more than willing to chat as they signed their books. But the best part was running into my favorite authors at random in the hallways. On the last day of the conference, I met Beverly Jenkins as she waited for a cab to take her to the airport. When I approached her, she jumped out of her seat to give me a hug! It’s a moment I’ll never forget.
  • Filling my creative and professional well. The conference offered a breadth of workshops, and I tried to take advantage of as many as I could without totally burning out. I came away from the weekend learning so much about myself as a writer, and armed with tools to take my career to the next level. Since then, I’ve drafted a business plan, identified my writing strengths and weaknesses, established best practices for social media and audience building, and figured out how to deepen the characters in my WIP.
  • Dressing up all fancy. I’ll admit, I was super excited to attend the RITA award ceremony, because I figured it was the closest to the Oscars I’d ever get. The event didn’t disappoint – the sequins, the trophies, the inspirational acceptance speeches. It gave a newbie author like me a new dream for my vision board.
  • Spending time with my tribe. It was energizing to be surrounded by people who understand the way my mind works, who have been where I am, who are going where I want to be, and are happy to share their stories. Everywhere I went, I met awesome authors and new friends: by the pool, at the breakfast table, or just sitting around the lobby waiting for the next workshop to start. It was an experience unlike any other.

Next year, the national conference will take place in Orlando, at the happiest place on earth: Walt Disney World! Will you be there? What were some of your favorite moments of RWA16?

June Meeting Round Up + Good News

We had a wonderful June meeting filled with fabulous news and inspiring talks!

Last month, Angie Fox spoke about How to Quietly Make Six Figures in Indie Publishing which brought out a ton of RWASD members, hungry for knowledge.

In her talk, Angie discussed how to make a good living and spend time doing what we love to do – writing.  Being a “slower writer” she gave the low down on how you can be successful even if you’re not releasing a new book every 90 days.

She discussed:

  • Writing Smart- Write what you love. Series books sell each other, and how novellas and boxed sets can drive up your sales.
  • Marketing Smart – You don’t have to be everywhere or spend every dime on marketing. All you need is 20 minutes a day on Facebook or Twitter. And Newsletters will help drive your sales
  • Career Structure – Decide who your are, don’t follow trends, and put a good team in place.
  • And Future Planning – Indie publishing is always changing. Even if you don’t follow trends, you can use them to get noticed.

Angie lives by the 80/20 Rule: you get eighty percent of your results from about twenty percent of your effort. Make every effort count! Be smart about your time and energy behind your management strategies.

Next up was Lori James and Cassi Carver from All Romance eBooks giving us Tips From a Booksellers Perspective and How to Make Your Listing Sparkle. These ladies discussed  ARe’s robust search engine and how important metadata is.

A few tips they left us with:

  • Think hard about your key words
  • Don’t undervalue your work. (an average 50k novel sells for about 4.99!)
  • Test your book covers
  • Think about the heat level of your story

Also instead of one, we named FOUR members of the month!

Tameri Etherton, Lisa Kessler, Cynthia Diamond, and Rick Ochocki were honored for all their hard work on May’s Love at the Library event.


Tameri Etherton, Lisa, Kessler, Rick Ochocki, and Cynthia Diamond with president Elect, Tami Vahalik

And the best part of the meeting, Good News!

  • Lisa Kessler’s Harvest Moon is a Finalist in the PRISM Dark Paranormal category. her new book Blue Moon came out on 6/27.
  • Aleigha Siron was in the top 100 of Kindle’s Time Travel romances for an entire month.
  • Rick Ochock won 4th place in WisRWA’s 25th annual FabFive’s contest with his book Out of the Fire.
  • Cynthia Diamond is releasing her 3rd book in the Wyrd Love Series, Dyrad’s Vine on 7/7.

Remember, our next RWA meeting won’t be until August where we will have our after nationals potluck. Until then, have a great RWA Nationals conference and a fantastic month!


Get Pumped for Nationals, Part 4: RITA and GH Awards

rwa_graphicWeek four of Get Pumped for Nationals! focuses on the most glamorous night in the world of romance: the RITA and Golden Heart Awards ceremony. These distinctive honors are bestowed upon members of RWA for excellence in romantic fiction. The RITA recognizes published novels, while the Golden Heart is awarded for unpublished manuscripts, and several are given away each year for outstanding efforts in various categories.

This year, one of RWASD’s very own members was honored with a prestigious RITA nomination: FACING FIRE, by HelenKay Dimon, has finaled in the Romantic Suspense category. HelenKay has graciously agreed to stop by the blog today, and answer some questions about her experience with the RITA, as well as her general writing practice.

1. Congrats on being a RITA finalist! Walk us through your experience with “the call.” Where were you when you found out about your nomination?

Thank you! I was actually parking my car and about to have lunch with fellow RWASD member and super agent, Laura Bradford, when the call came. Since I’m on the national RWA Board, I know that Board members who final get called early, the day before the finalists are announced. That happens because Board members are the ones who call the finalists with the good news in the morning, so we get a list by the night before so we can be ready. But when the call came it was noon and I didn’t think it was about the RITAs. I was worried something was wrong and there was some kind of emergency motion or something. Yes, I am a positive thinker. When RWA President, Diane Kelley, gave me the good news I screamed, likely said something profane that I’ll make G-rated here, like “get out!” and then rushed into the restaurant to tell Laura, who also happens to be my agent.

2. What (or who!) was your inspiration for your Bad Boys Undercover series, and in particular, FACING FIRE?

Inspiration comes from odd places. I loved this Cinemax show called Strike Back. It was about an undercover team, trying to stop international incidents. Every time I watched it I thought, this needs a real romance and bigger characterization and it would be perfect. So, I came up with Bad Boys Undercover about an undercover team called The Alliance, which is made up mostly of former MI6 and CIA officers. The team was founded by, and is run by, a woman. The settings are mostly international. The team is neither MI6 nor CIA, so I don’t have to abide by the real-life restraints on either. I think my agent pitched it like this: hot alpha guys who keep us safe and the woman who don’t take their crap. It must have worked because the first book sold in a five-way auction.

For FACING FIRE, I was intrigued by the idea of a hero, Josiah, who had lost so many people he cared about in terrible ways and the idea of him having this guilt from being one step too late. The book starts with a bang – literally. There’s an explosion and Josiah’s uncle is killed, and the wild ride starts. The heroine’s story merges with Josiah’s revenge because she is hunting the man who killed her mother years ago. Little do Sutton and Josiah know that their seemingly unrelated quests are linked. And then there’s the problem where Josiah isn’t sure which side Sutton is on…

3. Some of your stories take place in far-flung destinations that few of us will ever have the chance to visit, like the mountains of Pakistan or a resort in Fiji. How do you go about conducting your research for these remote settings?

I’ve actually been to Fiji! My husband and I honeymooned there. But, yes, I’ve never been to some of the places like Skardu, Pakistan or Ronda, Spain, or the Ural Mountains of Russia, where my newest release in this series, UNDER THE WIRE, is set. Sometimes the searches are easy. I can look up places. Find photos, read books and review first-hand accounts. Others, like Skardu, Pakistan and the information I needed about this specialized unit of the Pakistani Army that performs helicopter rescues on K2, the second highest mountain in the world, were harder. For the Pakistan information, I depended on the online journals and footage from Himalayan climbers. That was a huge help. For UNDER THE WIRE, I spent a lot of time researching the Ural Mountains, the geology of the region, the old labor camps there and talking to a geologist and a hiker with knowledge of the area. When people tell you contemporary romance is easier to write because you don’t need to research…yeah, give them my email.

4. You’re a prolific writer, with stories running the gamut from romantic suspense to steamy contemporary. Do you have one genre you prefer to write over all others? Any genre(s) you’re itching to try but just haven’t gotten around to yet?

A lot of my books have a bit of a suspense feel to them, even if they’re not traditionally what we think of as romantic suspense. I clearly have a love of thrillers and try to work that tone into a lot of the books I write, whether there are explosions or not. But despite the genre, I do think my books share the same basic principles: families are about more than blood, people can overcome their difficult pasts or at least learn how to survive them, trust is essential, and romance is about hope. As for what I’d like to write, I am dying to do a futuristic with thriller aspects, sexy times and a marriage of convenience trope (my favorite, but it’s hard to pull off in contemporary).

5. What’s your advice for romance writers who aspire to their own RITA nominations? (Hey, an author can dream!)

We need to dream. Man, do not stop. But I do have to admit that I’ve never written a book hoping or thinking it would be a RITA finalist. The RITA finalist part is just a huge, unexpected extra for which I am incredibly grateful. I think the key to surviving and thriving in this genre, and really, that should probably be the real goal, is to be willing to adapt, to keep writing in a way that feels authentic to you (i.e., don’t chase trends) and to aim for each book to be better than the one before it. It took me 30+ books to get the RITA finalist nod, so do not give up hope. Ever.

Thanks again for stopping by, HelenKay! We can’t wait to cheer you on during the awards ceremony. And for those of you won’t be able to make the ceremony in person, you can catch a live webcast at rwa.org! The ceremony will take place on Saturday, July 16th at 8:00PM PST.

That’s about it for Get Pumped for Nationals! We’ll see you all in San Diego, two weeks from today!

Meet the Chapter Mates: Kitty Bucholtz

Kitty Bucholtz Author Photo2 smallOur own Kitty Bucholtz is always full of smiles, laughter, and a joke for everyone at RWASD. She also is an accomplished writer and teaches some wonderful workshops on self-publishing as well.

You can find out even more about her at www.kittybucholtz.com.



Tell us a little about yourself! Who are you? What do you write?
I have a T-shirt that says, “I’m just a Michigan girl in a California world.” Sometimes I think that says everything about me – haha!! I’m partly practical and logical, partly whimsical and emotional, and I’m a lot about laughter and encouragement and Love. So I end up writing a very similar character most of the time – a woman who is faced with a situation she doesn’t want to or know how to deal with, but who finds it inside herself – often with a little divine inspiration – to find a way through it and learn that she’s stronger than she knew. I don’t know if I always write about her because I hope I’m her, or because I want to be her, or…I don’t know. But she’s my girl. I put her in romantic comedies, and superhero urban fantasies (with romance, of course), and supernatural suspense.


When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I remember writing stories on a chalkboard my mom leaned against the wall in the hallway at home when I was five or six. I wrote stories throughout school, but I grew up in a pragmatic, Puritan work ethic kind of culture, so artistic pursuits were considered nice hobbies. It wasn’t until I moved away from home that I first submitted my work for publication – and I was accepted my first time! I had a devotional published in 1996, and that was when it really became real to me. Once that happened, I couldn’t stop writing, couldn’t stop trying to get published!


What does RWASD mean to you?
My fabulous friend gave me a year’s membership into RWASD last year when times were tough in my life. Over time, I’ve found that she’s not the only wonderful and generous person in RWASD.🙂 I’ve so enjoyed the laughter and encouragement at the meetings, the amazing online encouragement to write more and make our deadlines, and the amazing speakers we’ve had since I’ve joined!



What is the biggest challenge you have faced on your journey to becoming a writer?
I think the hardest thing for me is that my personality and my upbringing have mostlyKitty at Carlsbad Beach Apr16 pushed me to accept what those in authority say to be true. So when editors said chick lit is dead, I believed them and tried to think of something else to write. When agents said, don’t write other books in your series if you haven’t sold book one yet, I agreed that that sounded logical and I wrote the first book of the next series and the next. When other professional writers told me, don’t worry about writing the full book, write great proposals until you get an agent who will tell you which book they can sell, I took their advice and wrote a dozen three-chapters-and-a-proposal.

Following all of that advice not only didn’t help me sell a book (although I did get an agent), but when I decided to self-publish, I didn’t have a dozen completed books like so many other writers who chose to self-publish had ready to go. So in some ways, my biggest challenge has been trying to learn how to make wiser decisions that work for me. The number of “experts” in publishing has only grown, so it will continue to be a challenge for me to find my own way, taking into consideration what works for other professional publishers, but making decisions that will hopefully work best for me.


What attracted you to the genre you write? Why does it speak to you?
I love “love”! I love happily ever afters and great endings and good winning over evil. I also love what happens after two people in love get married, so I had to write about newlyweds in my superhero series! I’ve been married to my college sweetheart for 26 years now, and there is so much laughter and good times to tell people about, I think I’m just compelled to write it down in fiction! But I also have to write about action sometimes, and spiritual goings on, and stuff that I can’t figure out.


Where is the weirdest place or what is the weirdest thing that inspired an idea?
LOL! My husband knows this story, so I don’t mind putting it in print again. I was mad at him one day because he spent all of his free time playing Xbox, reading comic books, playing D&D, and hanging out with people who did the same. I was bored and lonely and irritated (and probably wrong about how much time he actually spent doing those things!), and I came up with a story about a woman whose husband was doing all this and ignoring her, and she created her own superhero who would be there for her. Eventually it morphed into Unexpected Superhero, about a woman who not only marries a superhero (unbeknownst to her), but discovers she has a super power as well. So I guess the moral of the story is – sometimes being mad at your husband turns out well in the end. Haha!


Who’s a writer you would do backflips to meet and why?
Ooo, that’s a hard one because I’ve met three of my favorite writers already! I met Jennie Crusie at RWA in New York, and another fan took a terribly fuzzy picture of us that I still have. Haha! I met and was able to have a conversation with Jim Butcher twice in the last few years. And I met my all-time favorite graphic novel writer, Mark Waid, author of Kingdom Come, and had a terribly embarrassing fan girl moment that turned into a memorable, lovely conversation. I’d LOVE to spend more time with any of the three of them!


If you could go back 20 years ago, What advice would you give yourself?
Listen to others, weigh their advice, and trust yourself to make the decisions that work best for you. Then don’t stop writing!


Tell us about your latest novel!
COVER_FINALI’m so excited about this one! Love at the Fluff and Fold has been a long time coming. It’s book one of The Strays of Loon Lake romantic comedy series, and I expect to have it out in the fall (working on the edits now). The prequel short story, “Welcome to Loon Lake,” was formerly published as “Rescue at Loon Lake” in the anthology Moonlit Encounters, but I’ll be re-issuing it this month as a freebie to introduce the series. I’m also working on book two, Love at the Sea and Ski, right now. I hope to have that out by the end of the year.

The most fun part of this series is that I set it in the real location of the little lake community where I grew up, combined with some larger nearby towns. Then I added in all the fun things that make up quirky towns with funny characters, and I added some rather ridiculous plot twists. The point of this series is good, clean fun! I’ve had a blast writing it.


Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Here is the first meet between Danny and Cassie after a long time apart near the beginning of Love at the Fluff and Fold:

His steps slowed as he came around the corner of the building and looked up the stairwell. She’d heard him coming. Her feet flew down the steps and she jumped the last two to land in arms.
There wasn’t anything he could do but crush her to him, pulling her back into his heart where she belonged.
A voice in his head told him he was a dead man. No pun intended. If it wasn’t for Uncle Wille, this would be the Worst. Idea. Ever.
But for now…


Before you go, any advice to give to the new writers out there?
Keep writing. Enjoy yourself. Write what makes you happiest. You’ll do your best work that way, and other people will be most likely to enjoy it!

Get Pumped for Nationals, Part 3: Readers for Life!

rwa_graphicLet’s continue to Get Pumped for Nationals! by exploring the details behind the “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing. This fabulous reader-focused event provides authors with two hours of uninterrupted time to meet with fans and sign books, making it a great way to connect with old and new readers alike – all while raising money for a good cause.

Since 1990, RWA has raised close to a million dollars in charitable donations thanks to these literacy signings. This year, proceeds will be going to benefit ProLiteracy, an organization that promotes and champions adult literacy. Among other things, ProLiteracy supports hundreds of adult literacy programs around the world, develops teaching tools for tutors and students, and advocates for funding and awareness to create a more literate society. With over 36 million adults in the United States struggling with their reading and writing skills, these efforts are needed to “break the cycle of poverty” and improve overall quality of life.

Over 450 romance authors will be donating their time – and their books – to this year’s event. In addition to big names like Nora Roberts and Sylvia Day, they’ll be featuring several members of RWA San Diego, including:

  • Teresa Carpenter
  • C.J. Corbin
  • Melissa Cutler
  • Cynthia Diamond
  • HelenKay Dimon
  • Judy Duarte
  • Tameri Etherton
  • Georgie Lee
  • Tessa McFionn
  • Sorcha Mowbray
  • Linda Thomas-Sundstrom

“Readers for Life” takes place on July 13 at the San Diego Marriott from 5:30 to 7:30 PM. Even if you’re not scheduled to sign, swing by to show support for your fellow authors – and maybe buy a book or two (or ten) while you’re at it. It’s for a good cause.

Next week, we’ll be talking all about the most prestigious awards in the world of romance: RITA and Golden Heart awards. We’ll also be featuring an interview with RWASD’s own RITA nominee, HelenKay Dimon!

May Meeting Round Up + Good News

Wow! What a fantastic meeting!

In the morning we had a fascinating talk with forensic pathologist, Dr. Judy Melinek. She and her husband, writer T.J. Mitchell, told us all about the ins and outs of “Getting Your Murder Scene Right”. The two discussed the differences between coroners and medical examiners, what exactly Dr. Melinek’s job entails, and the details of what goes on during an autopsy.

Continuing on our crime themed meeting, Detective Tenaya Webb spoke on “How Police Solve Murders”. Ms. Webb filled us in on the ins and outs of police procedures, what really happens during a crime scene, and what TV and movies get wrong and what they get right.

Our Member of the Month was Eleanor Nystrom. Ellie has been working hard behind the scenes for quite some time, quietly making sure everything at out meetings run smooth without anyone even noticing she’s there. She is also one of our main forces behind our RWASD Sprinter’s group, and helps our writers put words down almost every.

Our Atta Girl/Guy went to Cynthia Diamond, who has kept writing during a very tough couple of months of life exploding.


Eleanor Nystrom with President-Elect Tami Vahalik.



Cynthia Diamond with President-Elect Tami Vahalik.

We also had Good News!

  • Linda Rice released Book #5 of “The Necklace” series on 5/20
  • Regan Walker release Rebel Warrior, Book three in her Medieval Warriors series
  • S.B.K Burns pitched her erotic romance, space opera, and steampunk books to the agents of Savvy Authors
  • Kitty Bucholtz entered 3 entries int the California Hooker Contest
  • Kristen Bentz received four requests for manuscripts from the SDSU Writers Conference
  • Shirley Wilder finished writing “Double Vision.”

Our June meeting will feature “How to Quietly Make Six Figures Self-Publishing” with NYT Bestselling Author Angie Fox  and “Best Practices for Self-Publishing from a Book Seller’s Standpoint” with Lori James.

You can sign up here! Hope to see you there!