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!



The Circle of Support

I have my first solo book signing coming up.

Solo as in all by my lonesome.

In the past I’ve always piggybacked with others at various  at conventions or big meet and greet events. But nope, this one is a real event. With real tables, books, pens, and especially readers.

Needless to say I’ve been a flailing wreck for the last few weeks as this date creeps closer and closer.  But as I bury my anxiety in two gallons of mudslide ice cream (With the chocolate chunks. I spare no expense with my therapy), I am comforted not only by the chocolate, but knowing my that RWASD friends are only a text or phone call away during this.

Just last week as I scrambled to pull together swag I had the horrifying revelation of “I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.” All my productivity came to a screeching halt as I stared at my scattered piles of buttons and postcards. “I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.” It just kept echoing in my head like a Gregorian chant.

“I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.”

Maybe I should have just stuck with receptionist work.

After the paralysis passed, I posted on Facebook in a tizzy. I’m pretty sure I didn’t even use punctuation as I blubbered out how I had no clue what to do, that the sky was falling, and OH MY GOD WHY AM I DOING THIS SIGNING I’M A FRAUD! AAAHHH!

Alright so maybe isn’t wasn’t that bad.

After I vented, I already had a ton of comments from my fellow writers in RWASD. Good comments. Encouraging comments. Writers telling me that I had this, that they were going through the exact same crisis, or tips on what to do. Writers telling me to email them and they’ll give me a check list, telling me what to expect, or to take a deep breath because it was all going to be alright.

Writers telling me that yes, you are a writer and yes, you were going to succeed.

I had found my tribe. And they want me to succeed.

I started to breathe again.

That support is what I love about RWASD. Yes, my dues pay for great classes, meetings, and other perks but its the support that overwhelms me. I always thought I’d be an outsider when I joined, but right out the gate these wonderful writers have been cheering me on. Having that circle of support has kept me pushing forward. Not just pushing forward, it makes me want to pay it forward too. Nothing feels more awesome then seeing someone in our group succeed. RWASD has become a bit of a secondary family; a group of like minded writers who I can go to for help or to help. Knowing they are there for me has made my venture into writing a lot less terrifying and a lot more hopeful.

RWASD is my circle of support  and I am extremely grateful to have every single one of them.

Meet the Chapter Mates: Joel Dorr


Joel white shirtJoel Dorr is a born storyteller, athlete, and a complete delight to talk to. He has a deep love of the craft and is always eager to share a story or two.  You can find more information about his work at www.JoelDorr.com


Tell us a little about yourself! Who are you? What do you write?

I grew up in Montana and Wyoming, where as a young boy, my brothers and I raced by horseback across the grass pastures of my grandfather’s ranch. There is no video game that can match the exhilaration of riding full speed on the back of a galloping horse. With a full access nature pass, I swam, rafted and fished many of the lakes and rivers of Wyoming. Early inspiration hit when I located and walked down the same dirt path Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid used to hunker down in their Hole in the Wall hideout. My brothers and I carried fishing poles, instead of guns, that is when we didn’t have a pretend posse chasing us. I was able to put myself through college playing basketball, getting degrees in Theatre and Broadcasting. Later I began writing and developing stories for film and television, until 2006 when I became the Editor of Dramabiz Magazine, a theatre business management monthly.

How does a writer describe himself–with a story, of course? About 20 years ago, I flew to Wyoming to visit my family. Seated next to me on the airplane, was a gentleman with long, white hair, pulled back in a ponytail wrapped in leather ties with beautiful beads. We fell into an easy conversation telling each other our “stories”. He spoke of his tribe, their history and traditions. I countered with my clan, cowboys and Irish and German ancestors. In true “cowboys and Indians” fashion, the conversation turned to the Battle of the Little Big Horn and “Yellow Hair”. Generations of Dorrs living in Wyoming and Montana heard the stories—and not the kind you read in history books. We had much disdain for George Armstrong Custer, the great injustice the U.S. Government put on the native Indians and the fiction portrayed as historical fact. Finding common historical ground, the gray haired man shared how this too is a story passed down through the generations in his family, in fact some of his relatives died as they fought the American encroachment led by “Yellow Hair.” At the end of our trip, my new friend revealed that he was the official storyteller for the Oglala Sioux Nation. He expressed honor in meeting another tribe’s storyteller, which struck me. He said that I, just like him, was destined to be a storyteller, and that it was my responsibility to pass down my tribe’s history. Years later, I have come to realize what he meant. I have always felt a need to tell stories, as did my father and his father. Ironically, as I reflect back, I remember that I wrote my first play after my father took me to the battlefield at Little Big Horn and explained the truth behind the Indian Nations last great victory. I was in third grade. Who am I? I’m a storyteller from Wyoming.

I just completed my first novel, Those Crazy Notions of Otherwise Intelligent People, a contemporary romantic (dramedy) comedy about making bad choices good again. As a writer in film and television, I never thought of myself as a writer in any one genre because I wrote action, adventure, children, comedy and drama. One day, a friend that I trusted to read my work, asked me if I realized that everything I wrote had a touch of romance in it? When I went back and looked, he was right. Love is powerful. I write about it and all the aspects associated with the feeling. Through my writing, I get to experience it all over again and creating that emotion can be exhilarating or devastating. Many wonderful conflicts arise from being in love and lend themselves to all genres. The most heart wrenching stories of all time, like Doctor Zhivago, use love as the catalyst to propel the story forward.


When did you first consider yourself a writer?

JD BeachI think it was the day I was going down an elevator from a meeting with a management company in Century City (in L.A.). Minutes earlier, my pilot for a television series, called WITNESSED, was optioned. I looked at my producing partner, trying my best to control my emotions as I’m sure they would be captured on the security camera, and asked, “Did what I think just happened, really happen?” When he smiled and shook his head yes, I was convinced that I could truly write, well, a TV script anyway. As the editor of Dramabiz Magazine, I had to interview, write and edit a monthly magazine, which taught me discipline and what to look for in quality writing. Those two experiences gave me the courage to write my first novel.


What does RWASD mean to you?

Always feeling a bit out of place, I would say RWASD feels like “being home.” I’ve never fit in with any one group. I was a basketball player who studied theatre in college. Theatre students disliked athletes and jocks didn’t understand the arts, so I was in the middle somewhere. As a writer, I sort of white knuckled my way along learning what I could from where I could find it through sheer determination. I’ve never established good working relationships with agents because I didn’t want to high concept a package of my work. I chose to work in the background, finding producers who preferred working directly with writers (through layers) to get the project done. But that is a lonely way to go about things. Film and television writer groups were not open or friendly, but rather competitive and secretive. For someone to help you in L.A., they wanted something in return. It was true quid pro quo that usually meant a part or a percentage of your good idea or project. And sometimes, they just took. It wore you down.

RWASD was like walking into a meeting of old friends who insisted you let them into your life, to help YOU make your writing better and the process of self-publishing easier. Everyone is caring, positive and nurturing–sincerely asking what you are working on and sharing information to help. Even from a personal perspective, I felt supported after sharing the ups and downs of my wife’s battle with breast cancer. They supported me while I was tired and struggling to find focus and strength. Finding this group was the best thing I’ve done for myself in many years. I can’t thank everyone enough for their help in my writing and personally.


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

The biggest challenge for me is to remember to make writing daily a priority. It’s a gift to have the ability to create a story in your mind and then translate an idea into words so that others can enjoy your thoughts. Sometimes, I get so wrapped up in life that I miss a day or two of writing. I loose touch with that joy of pushing a story along. It is an adrenaline rush to read what I have written after toiling late into the night. Never knowing if it is reader-ready as I boot up the computer, I oftentimes get excited at reading something special that I don’t remember writing (and no I don’t late night binge drink). On my list of loves, writing has surpassed basketball and sits right below family.


What attracted you to romance? Why does it speak to you?

I can tell you exactly what attracted me to romance and when. I was in the eighth grade and had my first crush. She was sitting next to me, both of our hands resting alongside our legs, fingers barely touching watching a film with really strange dialogue. I was totally caught off-guard and sucked in by the infatuation of Romeo for Juliet. I had never seen the brilliance of ingénue love and replicating it became engrained in my writing DNA. Can you think of a story line without love or romance at the core? Well, a story or movie worthy of your time anyway. It drives motives, good and bad, and intensifies the conflict due to the heightened sense of desire. Plus, sex drives people crazy.


Where is the weirdest place or what is the weirdest thing that inspired an idea?

I once met a stuntman who was missing his arm below the elbow.One Hour Warriors Among his many jobs, he was a stuntman for the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, Predator, in a scene where they blew the Predator’s arm off. Anyway, I shook the man’s hand and suddenly I got this idea for a children’s action film featuring broken toys that come to life as imperfect super heroes. The toy’s broken body parts were remade with non-lethal weapons, like goo guns, which shot sticky stuff instead of bullets. They only came to life for one hour. The idea developed into a script called One Hour Warriors and was optioned but never made into a movie.


Love Scenes. Steamy or sweet? Why?

C’mon, I’m a guy. Do I need to answer this question? Bring on the heat! Well…after thinking about this a little more, I’m not into hot sex just for the sake of hot sex–I would be too exhausted. But when writing a story, it really depends on the story itself and what feels right. In Those Crazy Notions of Otherwise Intelligent People, I developed each love scene so there is an emotional response true to the characters and that escalates the intensity. Sometimes that intensity isn’t always a good thing. In one love scene, the reader learns the honest feelings of one of the characters, but I find it sexy that sex isn’t good when you can’t connect. I like unexpected love scenes at the point where the character leads can’t take it any more and they must have each other in a vivid and high-voltage experience leaving the reader in need of change of underwear or finding someone to help them with their pent-up needs.


Who’s a writer you would do backflips to meet and why?

I would have liked to have met Michael Chrichton before he passed away. He was a brilliant man (he wrote a novel to pay for medical school for crying out loud) and was able to write novels for all ages with storylines that pushed the envelope of controversy while being entertaining. I miss him and his books.


If you could go back 20 years ago, What advice would you give yourself?

You’ve got potential, kid. Don’t let anyone steal that from you. Stay focused and work harder. Then get some humility.


Tell us about your latest novel!

Those Crazy Notions working Master 120115 copy copyThose Crazy Notions of Otherwise Intelligent People

Ilena Doran is a dedicated therapist with a serious problem, and not the lousy haircut or closet-full of outdated clothing kind. Ilena’s big challenge comes in the small, 7 year-old package of her son, Sammy, traumatized by his father’s death.
Percy Powers is a psychiatrist’s wet dream; a wayward rocket fueled by tequila and hard-wired to locate any party starring scantily-clad women in need of his company. Following a chance meeting with Ilena and Sammy, the morning radio star offers to help the little fella, hoping Ilena might entertain a subtle invitation to have a little adult fun along the way.

From what Ilena has seen and heard from the media, she doesn’t like or trust Percy. She knows the type all too well and her professional instincts scream ‘all Mr. Party Pants really wants is inside her lace panties’.

The story is about two people who have ridiculous notions about themselves and others when the truth contradicts what is right in front of them. Sometimes you have to learn to accept help even it if comes from the unlikeliest of places.

I think readers of romance will find the complicated male lead, Percy, to be fascinating and might just break down their stereotypical assumptions of how men think and act when it comes to women, love and relationships. This story is rich with eclectic characters including several strong women, who match wit for wit with the egotistical Percy. The best wit-matcher is Ilena, a warm, loving mom and therapist, who tries to dodge the Percy curveball that is on target to destroy her perfectly, organized imperfect life.


Before you go, any advice to give to the new writers out there?

Don’t write what you think will sell–write what you love to write. I’m finding the preconceived notion of a man writing romance to be a challenge, but with the support of RWASD (which all new writers should join), I’m learning my way.

Then read everything you can get your eyes on. Write every day.

Meet the Chapter Mates: Phyllis Humphrey

Phyl for PR

Phyllis Humphrey is a longtime writer of romance, romantic suspense, and cozy mysteries. You can find more of her work at her website PhyllisHumphrey.com. Lets learn a little more about her today!

1. Who are you? What do you write?

I’m Phyllis A. Humphrey. The A stands for Ashworth, my maiden name. Because I was called “Phyll” in high school, I used the name “Phyll Ashworth” on a few of my early books. My husband, Curt Humphrey, and I have been married a long time, so I use his name on my books. “P.J. Humphrey” (The J stands for Jean, my middle name) is on my novellas about Sheridan Holmes, who partners with the ghost of Sherlock Holmes when he appears in her apartment in San Francisco in the 21st century.

I started writing short stories many years ago (everyone did in those days) and my first book was a mainstream novel which I couldn’t get published via the “agent-publisher” system which was the only game in town until about 2001 when “POD” (Print on Demand) turned amateurs with a computer into vanity publishers such as iUniverse, Xlibris and others. All my writer friends were doing that, so I did it for one book.

By that time, all my friends were writing romance and I learned that, unlike other publishers, romance editors would read everything – no agents required – and I found small houses that didn’t charge and published my books. Then my husband was asked to publish a business book for his friend, so I asked him to do mine too. And he still self-publishes some of my books through the company he started in 2002. Amazon came along in 2005 and we all know what happened after that.

Personally, I gradually moved from straight romance to romantic-suspense and lately I’m writing mysteries, Which have always been my reading choice. This year, the two publishers who accepted Dead In The Water (a cozy mystery with humor which I’d written many years before) and Eyewitness (a woman-in-jeopardy mystery written with my friend Carole, also many years before) were both released the same month, October.

2. When did you first consider yourself a writer?eyewitness_300
In 1976

3. What does RWASD mean to you?
It’s RWA San Diego, my home.

4. What is the biggest challenge your name faced in becoming a writer?
I didn’t think about it – I just wrote and submitted.

5. What attracted you to romance? Why does it speak to you?
Everyone needs romance. It’s who we are.

6. Where is the weirdest place or thing that inspired an idea to write?
Everyone has a weird place or thing that inspires writing, but mine was the train trip to Washington D.C.

7. Love scenes. Steamy or sweet? Why?
Mine are usually sweet, not steamy, because they’re easier. I don’t like writing steamy love scenes.

8. Who’s a writer you’d do back flips to meet and why?
Elizabeth George and I’d ask her why she moved from CA.

9. If you could go back twenty years, what advice would you give yourself?
I’d say, “Hurry up.”

10. Tell us about your latest novel?
It’s about a time fifty years ago and the world was simpler.

11. Before you go, any advice to give new writers?
Yes. “Hurry up. The world is changing so quickly.”

Meet The Chapter Mates: Regan Walker

Regan Walker profile pic 2014This month we feature Regan Walker. She has a passion for history and writes sweeping romance stories in several different time periods.

Her latest novel, To Tame the Wind is out now.

You can find out more about her work at her website: ReganWalkerAuthor.com


Tell us a little about yourself! Who are you? What do you write?

I am a lawyer turned romance writer as of 2011. I write historical romance with real history and real historic figures as some of my characters. I like adventure along with love and so I have a fair amount of action in my stories. Thus far, I have published 5 novels and 3 novellas. A few of my stories are in anthologies, too. My stories span the eras from Medieval to Georgian (18th century) to the Regency era. Last year two of my books hit the #1 spot on Amazon’s lists of the Top 100 for their categories.


When did you first consider yourself a writer

2012 with the publication of my first novel, Racing with the Wind, book 1 in the Agents of the Crown series.


What does RWASD mean to you?

Lunch with my romance author friends in San Diego and speakers from whom I can learn something.


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

Finding the right path for me as an author. Initially I went with a small publisher but once the self-publishing path opened up, I quickly found it was the right one for me. I have never had an agent and I suspect unless I end up wanting a NY publisher, I may not have an agent.


What draws you to historical romance?

I love diving into the past, researching the tidbits that make my stories seem more real, more believable, and building a world that might have actually been. For each of my novels I’ve done hundreds of hours of research.


What do you look for in a historical hero?

I like a hero who is smart and knows what he wants and doesn’t mind bending the rules to get it. Typically that would be the heroine, but it could also be a secret document, a pirate’s treasure, a ship, a horse or any number of things. Preferably, he will be tall, dark and handsome, but my latest hero, Capt. Simon Powell, is a blond.


Where is the weirdest place or what is the weirdest thing that inspired an idea?

Probably it would be the Ursuline convent in Saint-Denis in Paris. That is where To Tame the Wind begins.


If you could travel to a specific time period and place in one of your books, what and where would it be?

It would probably be Scotland in the deep past. I’m going there in some future books I have planned. It was the reason I traveled to the Western Highlands in September of last year.


If you could go back 20 years ago, what advice would you give yourself?

Though I had a great career in law, I would advise myself not to go that route again. Instead, I would have gotten a PhD in history, probably the history of Scotland, Ireland and England, taught at the university level and written romance on the side—much earlier in my life.


Tell us about your latest novel! ReganWalker_ToTametheWind - 800px

After writing my Agents of the Crown trilogy and some Regencies that go with it, I decided a prequel was in order. The result was a seafaring romance set in London, Paris and the waters of the English Channel in the last year of the American Revolution. Spies, privateers and politicians abound. The “blurb” kinda says it all:



All Claire Donet knew was the world inside the convent walls in Saint-Denis. She had no idea her beloved papa was a pirate. But when he seized Simon Powell’s schooner, the English privateer decided to take the one thing his enemy held most dear… her.

A BATTLE IS JOINED The waters between France and England roil with the clashes of Claire’s father and her captor as the last year of the American Revolution rages on the sea, spies lurk in Paris and Claire’s passion for the English captain rises.

NY Times Bestselling author Shirlee Busbee described it as “A sea adventure like no other, a riveting romance!”


Before you go, any advice to give to the new writers out there?

Just finish the book. Then get some eyes on it—people who are not your best friends but who know good romance and can give you some good advice. Not just a critique (though that is helpful), but the “big picture” advice about the story itself. Also, I’d plan ahead and keep a list of characters, etc. I wrote my first novel without doing any of that and now I must rely on my memory for a lot of it. Of course, I could go back and do all that but I’m not that compulsive. I am not a plotter either. But at least I now keep track of my characters and research as I go, keeping a record of it all.

R. Ann Siracusa talks Cliches

Hi everyone – 

We’re very excited that our chapter mate, Ann Siracusa, has volunteered for a monthly guest blog spot on our RWASD Blog!

If any other chapter members are interested in a monthly spot, please email Lisa Kessler at LdyDisney at aol.com


A Personal Opinion Regarding The Use Of Clichés

By R. Ann Siracusa

That’s a phrase authors hear many times, particularly at the beginning of their writing careers.  Editors, agents and successful authors insist there are no rules.  You have to do what is right for you.  Whatever works.  You can do anything if you do it right.

Maybe yes, maybe no.  But if there is one rule, it is “Don’t Use Clichés!”

Since Cliché happens to be one of my best and favorite languages, let’s take another look.  The Random House Webster’s College Dictionary published in 2000 defines a cliché (with or without the accent, by the way) as “a trite stereotyped expression” or “anything that has become commonplace through overuse.”

Okay, we’ve got that.

Even recognizing that fiction is not real life, and dialogue in books is not just everyday conversation, clichés are a legitimate part of the English language.  All you have to do is listen to the people around you and how they speak.  Listen to the television or the radio.  Go to movies.

We all use clichés in our speech at some time or another.  And the reason is because the expressions are trite and commonplace from overuse.  That’s why most people know what they mean.  Often, the listener has had the same experience or heard the manner of speech so usually there is no question what it is intended to mean.

They work!

The operative words are intended to mean.  Many people who recognize the intent may have no idea what the original and/or real meaning is, only the situation or action the words represent at this point in time.  Unless you are a gardener, you may not know that “nipping (something) in the bud” actually means pinching off the bud or new growth of a plant so that more new growth will emerge on either side and make the plant fuller, or have more blooms.

Human beings—and apparently the writers of dictionaries fall into this category—are perverse animals rife with the tendency to be inconsistent.  It’s interesting to note that while my handy, dandy, and outdated Random House Webster’s College Dictionary defines a cliché as a word or expression that is overused and trite, those are precisely the requirements for adding new words to the dictionary.

“To be included in a Merriam-Webster dictionary, a word must be used in a substantial number of citations that come from a wide range of publications over a considerable period of time. Specifically, the word must have enough citations to allow accurate judgments about its establishment, currency, and meaning.” http://www.merriam-webster.com/help/faq/words_in.htm

Go figure.

As writers, words are the tools of our trade, but how many of us actually study Etymology, the origins and development of words?  (No, not Entomology—that’s bugs.)  And we may not pay a lot of attention to words that slip into the English language (or out of it, sometimes, by redefinition or disuse).

Science, technology, and new products account for a large number of new words.  Foreign words, combinations of existing words to form new ideas, slang, idioms, common expressions, redefinitions, and offensive words by the thousands find their way into the English language each year.

They have made it when they are used frequently and consistently enough throughout English speaking countries that NCD (New College Dictionary) adds them to the next edition of their publication.

To give you the flavor, take a look at very short list of words, by decade, added to the English dictionary (and no, I didn’t bother to alphabetize them).  I would be surprised if there isn’t at least one of the words on the list that you consider a cliché, while some of them may be so new you don’t know what they mean.  I certainly didn’t and your spell check won’t, either.

1940’s : A-bomb, aromatherapy, baby-sit, barf, bikini, eager beaver, carhop, gobbledygook, goof ball, name dropping, quisling, yada-yada-yada, zonk.

1950’s: acrylic fiber, aerospace, beatnik, biathlon, discotheque, do-it-yourself, hang-up, pay television, karate, Rastafarian, real-time, TV dinner, UFO, theme park, zinger, weirdo.

1960’s: aerobics, database, pantyhose, nose job, soft lens, gentrify, third world, Op-Ed, space shuttle, time frame, security blanket, zilch, zit, love-in, jet lag, quark, quick fix.

1970’s: acquaintance rape, CAT scan, 800 number, gridlock, gigabyte, gazillion, diskette, downsize, double-dipping, pig-out, reality check, VCR, wish list, wacko, jump-start, housesit, pooper-scooper

1980s: abs, designer drug, ozone hole, dis, slippery slope, snowboard, telemarketing, rollerblade, skank, wuss, yuppie, CD-ROM, buffalo wing, cyberpunk, gelati, safe-sex.

1990’s: anatomically-correct, arm candy, McJob, senior moment, phone tag, Web site, strip mall, fashionista, lapdancer, bad hair day, call waiting. scrunchy, take-no-prisoners, PCS, soccer mom.

2008 Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate® Dictionary: air quotes, dark energy, dirty bomb, dwarf planet, edamame, fanboy, infinity pool, jukebox musical, kiteboarding, malware, mental health day, mondegreen,. Netroots, norovirus, pescatarian, phytonutrient, pretexting, prosecco, racino, soju, subprime, supercross, Texas Hold ’em, webinar, wing nut.

2011 The Oxford-English Dictionary just added 45,436 new phrases as words, and among them is the first symbol to ever grace the volume, ‘♥’ and phrases like FYI, OMG, and LOL.

2011 Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate® Dictionary: Americana (a genre of music), boomerang child, bromance, continuous positive airway pressure, cougar, crowdsourcing, duathlon, fist bump, helicopter parent, m-commerce, parkour, robocall, social media, tweet, walk-off.

I would never presume to put my opinions above the advice from the likes of Catherine Coulter, Jennifer Cruise, and the other published, and unpublished, authors you’ve heard speak on writing.  They know—I don’t.  But I do know that English is a rich language.

In 1947, American College Dictionary, one of first to include new words, boasted 132,000 words, one of the largest of its time.  Today, the Oxford English Dictionary has 500,000 words, 616,500 words forms, and another 500,000 technical terms (one million words).  Webster’s Third New International Dictionary has 450,000 words.

We are writers, my friends.  People learn from us.  We learn from each other.  We should be skilled enough at our craft to command the use of as many of those half a million plus English words as possible.  I can assure you that every book I read by one of the authors I’ve heard speak to our chapter or at a conference, includes at least one new word I have to look up and uses at least one cliché.  Don’t let them fool you.  They don’t want any competition.

Okay, okay.  You have my permission to combine words in new and fresh ways—I can live with that.  And you have my encouragement to use clichés sparingly or not at all, as you see fit.  (Oops! Another cliché).  But know your language.  Know the words, what they mean, and how to use them—then, make the choice of which ones best suit the story you are telling and the way and to whom you are telling it.

Wield the words of your language with skill and assurance, and make every one of them count.  (And never, never trust your computer’s spell check.)







We’re also celebrating with Ann on her new release!!!

Release Day – September 28, 2012

Book 2 in theTour Director Extraordinaire Series


By R. Ann Siracusa

A young tour director and a handsome spy take a fast-paced romantic romp through Italy in pursuit of a lost grave, an assassin, and a once-in-a-lifetime love.

Breathless Press Buy Link
E-book format only – 97K
ISBN 978-1-77101-827-2


I’m Harriet Ruby: Tour Director Extraordinaire. At least, I thought I was worthy of that title, until…

My first mistake: Agreeing to conduct a private tour of Italy. Fourteen Italian-Americans from New Jersey? All family, for three weeks, with four teenagers? What was I thinking? Fate responds to my engraved invitation by placing one of the family members under surveillance as a suspect in an assassination plot. And who is assigned to the case? None other than my favorite drop-dead-gorgeous spy, Will Talbot.

My second mistake: Allowing Will to coax an invitation from the family matriarch to join the tour.

And that was just the beginning. The matriarch, searching for the unknown location of her mother’s grave so she can bury her brother’s cremated ashes (which have been smuggled into Italy wrapped in Cuban cigars), and her quirky family members sweep through Italy leaving chaos, hilarity, and danger in their wake.



The next morning before breakfast, I met with Vita Spinella, the family matriarch of my tour group, and explained my request to take Will with us.  She listened as she sipped her room service coffee.  When I finished, she put down her cup, picked up her cane, and set it across her lap.


“So, you want my approval to bring this young man―what’s his name―on our trip.”  She wasn’t asking, merely confirming her understanding.

“His name is Will Talbot.”

My gaze fixed nervously on her instrument of torture, trying not to cringe.  The old gal wielded that thing with lightning speed and enjoyed doing a little damage if, in her opinion, the circumstances warranted.  With what I’d seen of her family, the cane wasn’t a bad thing, but she was pretty scary.  No wonder her grandson Eric didn’t want her to find out about the snake he’d brought with him on the trip.

Lifting my shoulders in a shrug, I attempted nonchalance, hoping I wouldn’t break out in a cold sweat or pass out.  “It’s just a thought.  He seemed at a loss since his friends had to go back home.  And we have plenty of room in the van.”

I couldn’t read her expression.  She hid her reactions well.  In fact, the possibility of Will and Vita playing off each other sparked my interest.  Would they be allies or competitors?  The thought of watching them try to outwit each other delighted me.  Sparks might fly, and she wouldn’t believe for a second he was at a loss about anything, but I would bet they’d hit it off big time.

“But if it’s not convenient for you or your family objects, I have no commitment to him.  He’s only a friend of my brother’s.  I’ll simply tell him no.”

Oh, please, say yes.  Crossing my fingers, even behind my back, was out of the question. The old lady might have the sight, like one of my aunts.  Another of my Italian cousins claimed she had the evil eye.  I don’t believe in either one―exactly―but since my karma took a nose dive into the crapper, I hadn’t been taking any chances.

Vita studied me for a long time, her stare blatant and unblinking, her dark eyes as deep as the universe.  As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t look away.  My palms grew damp.  Nervous, I clasped my hands in my lap to avoid rubbing them together.  She let me stew until I ached to run screaming from the room, then leaned forward.

“You seem like a nice wholesome young lady.  Immature, headstrong, unfocused, but honest and caring.  You’re a good person.”

Well, that really inspires confidence.  Thanks…I think.  By now, my blood pressure had shot through the roof.  I was perspiring by the bucket load.  My tongue thickened and stuck to the roof of my mouth, disabling any ability to speak.

Her eyes narrowed to a squint.  “You like this man, don’t you?”

“Will?”  My voice squeaked like bad brakes on a cold morning.  I lowered my gaze and studied my clenched hands twisting in my lap.  My cheeks burned.  “Well, yes, I do like him, although I don’t really know him.  He seems very nice.”

The truth, as far as it went.  I didn’t dare attempt anything else.  My guts quivered with trepidation for fear she would intuit the part I’d left out.  I doubted there were many people on this earth who could lie to Vita Spinella, and I felt sure those who did would regret it sooner rather than later.

“Forget about like and nice.  That’s wishy-washy.  Do you know him in the Biblical sense?  Are you intimate?”

So much for wishy-washy.

My jaw dropped, and I thought my eyeballs were going to pop out of their sockets and fall into her coffee.  Well, poop.  She had me by the short hairs on that one.

Pleased with the shock value, she sat back and relaxed.  “Forgive an old woman for asking.”  Her self-satisfied smile warned me not to perjure myself by fibbing.  “Anyway, you’ve already told me what I wanted to know.”

Me?  Transparent?  I suppose I provided her morning entertainment before she got a shot at the rest of her relatives.

“One of the few advantages of being old is that I can say all kinds of outrageous things, and no one can do anything about it.”  She emitted a gleeful cackle.  “You realize some of my grandchildren are on this trip.  I brought them here to expose them to their roots.  Not that any of them are interested.”  She rolled her eyes and shook her head with a resigned sigh.  “These younger generations worry me sometimes.”

By then I’d recovered a small amount of my composure.

Signora Spinella, I would never allow anything personal to become a bad influence on your grandchildren.”

Vita lifted her chin and clicked her tongue.  “I know that, young lady, but didn’t mean you and this Will Talbot of yours.  You could do the deed in the aisle of the bus, and I doubt my grandchildren would even notice.”  She paused and looked thoughtful before she went on.

“In fact, it might be good for them to be exposed to a healthy sexual relationship for a change.  There certainly aren’t any in this family.  They’re all too busy cheating on spouses and practicing one-upmanship to work at a relationship.  And some of them are perverts, plain and simple.”

Well, that didn’t leave a lot for me to say, did it?

Don’t miss the free read short story – FIRST DATE
First Date – Download Link

Celebrating Fairy Dusted with chaptermate Toni Noel

Toni Noel is a long-time member of RWASD, and her story behind her latest release is a testament to how our chapter members reach out to help one another…

I couldn’t have picked a more difficult manuscript to write than Fairy Dusted.

This novel was:

  • Set in Ireland. I’ve never been to Ireland
  • About a married couple going through rocky times. No romance there.
  • About infertility.

I realized right off it would be nearly impossible to make a couple who disagreed about nearly everything likeable, so I made the heroine a volunteer in the neonatal ICU unit where infants born with drug addiction are treated. I made the hero a respected marriage counselor trying really hard to solve his own marital problems.

Conquering the problem of never having traveled to Ireland was easier to solve. I’d traveled. I’d read all the Nora Roberts novels set in Ireland.  And I had a wireless connection to the Internet.

My first search was for Ringaskiddy, the once sleepy seaport town where the newscaster who inspired this story set in Ireland reported elected officials there were scratching their heads over the sudden increase in the birthrate among older women. Could the Pfizer plant producing one of the chemicals used in Viagra really be the cause? Were the residents really being fairy dusted as some claimed?

With the help of Google I found street maps, the names of restaurants and pubs, even the names of schools, and of course, the location of the Pfizer plant.

I like to photograph the headstones in old cemeteries, so writing about them came easy. I’ve had no actual experience with a playful ghost, so those scenes are pure fiction, but I do believe in them and hoped the red headed ghost wearing a 49er’s cap in my novel would find and read the heroine’s note intended to set her mind to rest.

I consulted authors Jeanne Dickson and Judy Duarte for help with writing Irish dialect. Each had a different take, so my Irish dialogue is a melding of their suggestions and what Nora Robert does. 

See for yourself: http://www.amazon.com/Fairy-Dusted-ebook/dp/B0094I78YA/


When fertility issues strain their marriage a childless couple travels to Ringaskiddy, Ireland for a stress-relieving visit with his family, where they rekindle their love and enjoy a second honeymoon. Their vacation brings back ghosts from the hero’s past and his childhood nightmares return, adding additional stress for the heroine until the near-drowning of his nephew forces the hero to come clean about his past. Not until they return home to San Francisco do they discover while in Ringaskiddy they were fairy dusted by the chemical used in Viagra.


If only Jill didn’t want a baby so badly.

Better still, if only he wanted a child. Things might work out for them if he did, but he wouldn’t change his mind about this. Not when another young life would hang in the balance.

Drew’s gut clenched. Sure as day followed night Jill would never forgive him for not coming clean with her on this.

The sudden clang of a pot lid and footsteps moving about in the kitchen ended Drew’s reverie.

Exhausted from trying to solve his clients’ marital problems, he was more than ready to seek refuge inside. Enjoy a tasty meal seated across from his beautiful wife in their well-appointed dining room.

As if he would.

Dread kept Drew glued to the spot, afraid to open the back door, hesitant to face his one-hundred-ten-pound wife.

The pot lid clanged again. Drew yanked open the door and strode in.

Jill stood at the stove, stirring something in an iron pot, her dark auburn hair pulled back from her face with a silver clamp.

“Gosh that smells good.” He grabbed a long-handled spoon and sampled the bubbling stew. “How soon do we eat?”

She glanced at him and smiled, a good sign. Lately, he never knew what to expect when he came home. Fertility drugs played havoc with Jill’s hormones. With their relationship, too.

He constantly worried about their marriage. He’d be satisfied if they never had a child, overjoyed, actually. He and Jill growing old together, walking through life hand in hand.

Just because we’re married doesn’t mean we have to have a child.

To Jill, it does.

She’d make too much of his action if he patted her softly yielding butt. Before his next breath she’d have him stripped and stretched out on the bed.

Fertility drugs changed Jill. Gave her the upper hand in their sex life. Made her lust for him, and had gradually eroded their love for each other in her determined rush to give him a child. A child he was afraid to father.

So far, his prayers had been answered and Jill hadn’t conceived, but how long could he depend on his luck lasting?

“How was your day?” he asked, giving her a tight hug, his hands firmly planted at her waist.


Celebrating Love and Romance in February

Hi everyone –

Welcome to February aka the month of LOVE!!!

What better time to talk romance, right?

Our San Diego Romance Writer’s Chapter is talking up the genre in a big way this month with a few events and book signings, so grab your calendars…

Ready? 🙂

First up, we have romance author panels speaking at three different San Diego County Library branches, starting this Friday at 11am at the Rancho San Diego Branch!

You can find out more here:


The panels were also in the Union Tribune newspaper this week…


We’re very excited to be teaming up with the San Diego County Libraries to reach out to the community and let them know about local authors, as well as meet new writers who are interested in publishing…

If you’re not friends with the San Diego County Library yet, you should check out their facebook page.  They offer great events to bring people together with books!


The romance genre and our local San Diego Chapter of RWA was also featured in the February issue of Pacific San Diego Magazine!!!  Grab a copy while you can…  (We’re in the Valentine’s Play section, page 54)

Wow!  So much love for Romance this month!

But wait…  There’s more!!!

The fabulous Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore is hosting a Passion & Prose romance reader’s day in Long Beach on Saturday, February 25th.

Over 50 romance authors will be in attendance to chat and sign books, and the Keynote speakers are New York Times bestselling authors Meg Cabot, Christina Dodd, Gail Carriger

Also featuring young adult authors:  Marie Lu, Beth Revis, Andrea Cremer, Jessica Spotswood, Sara Wilson Etienne

Until Valentine’s day you can even get a special price!

Special Promotion:   From January 1-February 14, Passion & Prose is offering a special discounted Mother-Daughter registration promotion ($200 per couple).

Tickets are Limited so don’t miss out…  http://passionandprose.org/

Many of our San Diego authors will be there, and we’d love to see some familiar faces…

So I think that’s all the news for now…  Shew!

Happy Valentine’s Day from RWASD!!!  😀