Holiday Gift Guide for Romance Writers

The holidays are fast approaching, which means it’s time to start thinking of great ideas to give that special romance novelist in your life. Instead of gifting them yet another mug printed with a clever writing-related quip, or a stack of blank notebooks (although, frankly, we can never get enough blank notebooks), try thinking outside the box this year. Here are a few fun, novel ideas to get you started.

  • Subscription to Focus@Will. When we’re churning away at our novels, we need to block out the rest of the world and focus on nothing else but our words. Sometimes this can be hard to do, especially for those of us who fit our writing in among the chaos of day jobs and families. Something I’ve personally found helpful is Focus@Will, a music service that is specifically designed – and scientifically proven – to help improve concentration. You can give gift accounts in 3-month, 12-month, and lifetime intervals.
  • Aqua Notes. Ask any author: the best ideas always come to us while we’re showering. Half the time, we’re running out of the bathroom, naked and covered in suds, eager to jot that brilliant plot point down on a soggy piece of paper before we lose it forever. With a pad of waterproof paper suction-cupped to the shower wall, though, we can capture our ideas while we’re still in the middle of shampooing our hair.
  • 642 Things to Write About. We all have those days when the words just don’t flow as fluidly as we want (or need) them to. Sometimes, the best way to combat writer’s block is to write about something totally random and off-the-wall. Writing prompts are notorious for helping us out from our ruts, and a book with 642 of them provides almost two years’ worth of ideas – whether it’s brainstorming a new story or getting unstuck from a tricky plot point.
  • Plot Your Work Planner. This is a new one, and still in a beta-testing round, but doesn’t it sound cool? Well, to the novelist in your life it might sound cool, even if it doesn’t to you. For authors who are juggling multiple projects at once, this planner helps them break down their massive monoliths into manageable chunks of work, scheduling their entire year with goals, focus items, and mind maps. As of this publication, they should be available for order during the first week of December, with plenty of time to ship before the holidays.
  • Gift Certificate to The Ripped Bodice. We all need to refill our creative wells from time to time, and the best way for a romance novelist to do that is to read more romance novels! Give the writer in your life a gift to The Ripped Bodice, the only bookstore in the United States to focus exclusively on romance. They offer online-only gift codes, so even if you can’t make it to their brick-and-mortar storefront in LA, you can still indulge in the romance-y goodness available online.

These are just a few creative ideas to help inspire your favorite romance novelists to write more and write better in 2017. Any ideas I left off? Feel free to leave them in the comments!


Literacy Event Round Up + Good News

Its the most wonderful time of the year!

Time for RWASD’s Literacy Event!

Our November meeting was full of good cheer as we raised money for several San Diego literacy charities, enjoyed big name speakers, and handed out awards to some well deserving members.

Our speakers this month were New York Times best selling author Julie Kagawa and agent and founder of Fuse Literary, Laurie McLean.


Julie Kagawa and Laurie McLean

During our morning session, Julie and Laurie talked about Making a Million Dollar Deal. Together they spoke of Julie’s journey from novice writer to bestseller, sharing hilarious and enlightening stories. Laurie pointed out that you can meet an agent anywhere and that it doesn’t have to happen in New York. Take advantage of your opportunities in San Diego. Also, don’t be disheartened if your first book doesn’t sell. Julie didn’t get her first deal until her second book.

In the afternoon, we had a special Q&A session with Julie. (While Laurie took pitches from our authors!) Before she was a writer, Julie was a dog trainer, a vet tech, and a pet seller. She loves writing YA mainly because “I don’t like writing adults”and is lucky to have a very supportive family. She’s a pantser and finds her inspiration in The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, and Terry Brooks. Her tips for writer’s block? 1. Power through and write crap. 2. Take a break and talk it through. And 3. Skip the hard part and write where you’re not stuck.

And then there were awards!

Our Barbara Faith award went to Lisa Kessler. Her smiling dedication to RWASD and all the wonderful workshops she has taught has made this chapter a better place to learn.

And our Member of The Year award went to our current chapter President, Tameri Etherton. Tameri has helped our chapter thrive with millions sparkles and a can do attitude, no matter what the adversity.

Thank you both for you hard work and constant inspiration!


Lisa Kessler and Tameri Etherton. (Photobomb provided by Julie Kagawa)

And of course, our opportunity drawing was overflowing with goodies such as wine and chocolate baskets, Kindle Fires, and even full paid registration to the California Dreamin’ conference in 2017!  Many thanks go to our fabulous event chairs, C.J. Corbin and Demi Hungerford who worked hard to make this event something special.


They also made the beautiful themed center pieces for our tables!

And what better way to end this recap than with some Good News!

  • Carmen Paul submitted first three pages of her Sci-Fi to Hudson Valley RWA’s “Hook Line and Sinker” Contest
  • Tessa McFionn finaled in the 2016 Best Book contest in Romantic Fiction with her book Spirit Bound
  • Lisa Kessler’s Ice Moon won the International Digital Award for best Paranormal Romance
  • Marie Andreas Got a Top Pick review from RT Reviews
  • Aleigha Siron’s book comes out in print on November 4th
  • Kristin Koster signed with Melissa Jeglinski and The Knight Agency
  • Kathy Kravat’s new series Gormet Cat Mystery Series with Kensington
  • Donnamaie White has nine books back on Amazon with a 10th on the way
  • Jackie Leigh Allen sold Behind the Red Door to Desert Breeze
  • Demi Hungerford as four anthologies re-edited and re-published. Also all four in a yearbook.

As usual, the Literacy Event was a highlight of our chapter year. Thank you for joining us and we hope to see you in December for our Holiday Potluck!

PAN & PRO: What You Need to Know

Our chapter has grown quite a bit over the past couple of years. We love seeing new faces at our monthly meetings and getting to know new romance writers. And as our membership increases, the board wants to make sure that everyone is aware of the different levels of membership available, how to qualify for different communities of practice, and how you can benefit from the different networks offered by RWA.

Associate vs General Membership

First, it’s important to understand that there are two levels of membership within RWA at the national level. General membership is open to all people who are involved in the serious pursuit of a career in romance writing. (We’ll get to the definition of “serious pursuit” in a minute.) General members reap all the benefits of an RWA membership, including the right to vote in our elections, and the ability to run for a position on the board.

Everyone else falls into the Associate membership category. This includes writers who cannot prove the serious pursuit of a romance writing career, as well as other industry professionals, such as acquiring editors, publishers, or agents. Associate members enjoy most of the benefits that General members do, but they aren’t allowed to vote or run for office.

What is Serious Pursuit?

So what does this “serious pursuit” thing mean, anyway? In simple terms, it means you have to show RWA that you’ve got some finished projects. After applying for membership, you will have to submit to the national office either:

  • One complete original work of romance fiction of at least 20,000 words, or
  • Multiple complete original works of romance fiction which combine for a total of at least 20,000 words.

A few short stories or a novella should suffice. When you’re ready, you can upload your manuscript at the Proof of Serious Pursuit page on National’s website. This will be enough to qualify you for General membership. It will probably also be enough to qualify you for PRO, or maybe even PAN.


PRO and PAN are communities of practice within the organization who “come together with a common interest to share ideas, find solutions, and build innovations.”

By uploading your finished manuscript to the RWA national office, you’ve qualified for PRO. PRO is for “almost published” members – those who have a finished manuscript and are ready to take the next step toward pursuing publication, be that indie or traditional. There is an active online community at the national website for members of PRO to discuss queries, edits, and other pre-publication topics. We also have a PRO community within our local RWA San Diego chapter. Historically, we’ve hosted the PRO Breakfast prior to our monthly meetings, where members get together to discuss relevant issues and listen to speakers discuss their experiences on the path toward publication. Starting in 2017, the PRO Breakfast will no longer be taking place, because we no longer have a PRO Liaison. (If you’re a PRO member and are interested in taking over this position to keep the PRO Breakfast alive, please let us know!)

For those members who are already published, the Published Authors Network, or PAN, is right for you. PAN functions as a way for published authors to protect their common interests, to keep communication open between writers and publishing professionals, and to help build relationships and spread knowledge as we navigate our romance writing careers. There are also two levels of PAN Membership:

  • Provisional: This is for RWA members who are contracted for an as-yet-unreleased romance novel or novella with an advance of at least $1000, or published authors who have not yet earned $1000 on a single title.
  • General: This is for RWA members who have a published, commercially available romance novel or novella for which they have earned at least $1000.

The only difference between these two levels is that Provisional PAN members may not participate in the RWA trade-show booth, vote in the PAN elections, or run for PAN office.

RWA San Diego has a vibrant published authors community called PALS. Our current PALS Liaison is Jillian Stone, and she organizes fun and informative get-togethers for our published authors.

So if you’re an Associate RWA member who qualifies for PAN or PRO, what are you waiting for? Get those applications going and take advantage of all the wonderful opportunities available to you through RWA – both on the national and local levels.

Get Pumped for the Literacy Bash!

It’s that time again! RWA San Diego will be hosting its annual Literacy Bash on Saturday, November 19th. For those who’ve never attended, it’s a fabulous, fun-filled day filled with big names in the romance industry and a number of opportunity drawings. The proceeds from the event go to supporting some important local literacy nonprofits, such as READ San Diego and the CCA Writers Conference, supporting high school students across the county in their efforts to learn more about creative writing.

This year, we’re proud to announce our very special guests for the Literacy Bash: New York Times bestselling author, Julie Kagawa, and her agent, Laurie McLean, founder of Fuse Literary. They’ll be talking about the making of a million-dollar deal, specifically, how they worked together to craft their own million-dollar deal! The big bucks are still out there, and they’re going to give you some insight on how you and your agent can work together to get your own!

Laurie represents RWA San Diego’s own Lisa Kessler and Linda Wisdom. In the afternoon, while Julie discusses the ins and outs of writing YA romance, Laurie will be taking pitches. If you’re interested in showing her what you’ve got, be sure to perfect your pitch and sign up for some of the limited spots right away. Laurie is currently closed to unsolicited queries, so this is a fantastic opportunity to get your work in front of her.

This is always a popular event, and every year it reliably sells out. Don’t miss out – register today! The first fifty registrants receive a free Julie Kagawa book.

See you then!