Unsolicited Advice: Attending Conferences

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Last week, I had an amazing opportunity to attend the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Conference. I had gone before, but not for about three years. Coming back was like coming home, in a writers-bonding-with-writers kind of way. It’s a community like no other, and there’s nothing quite like talking about writerly things with people who have been there, who understand the struggles and the wins just as you do. I thought of a few things that I learned, and whether you’re a writer or not, they should apply to situations related to your own career in which you might find yourself:
1) Follow Directions/Read your handouts: It may sound like a no-brainer, but be prepared. Know where your classes are, and how to get there. Bring the materials that the instructors want you to bring, and in the manner that they told you to bring them. There’s nothing quite like missing out on some valuable information that could change your career because you didn’t double space your sample pages (which I’m certainly glad I did!)
2) Don’t be an A-hole: A good life rule in general, but definitely applies to the conference scene. The last thing you want to do is sit down to a pitch session and stare wide-mouthed at the person in front of you, thinking to yourself, “Oh (insert expletive here), this is the woman who I couldn’t be bothered to hold the elevator for this morning.” Remember, no matter how brilliant your work is, nobody likes a jerk, and more importantly, nobody wants to WORK with a jerk. Would you?
3) Read, Read, Read: Would it kill you to read a book about your craft? Nope. I admit, this is a rule that I’m trying to get better about following. Hence why I bought books by all the master class speakers whose workshops I attended. Which brings me to the next rule…
4) ATTEND THE MASTER CLASSES: Yes they cost more money. There’s a reason for that. I learned more in those half day sessions than I learned in the vast majority of my college classes. GO! You’ll be glad you did.
For more information, email me at authorreneenmeland@gmail.com. Happy reading! 

Confession Time

Confession time. Everybody ready? Can I get a drum roll from someone? No? Ok…

I am not sure I’m writing for the “right” reasons. I’m told you’re supposed to do it for the joy of doing it, for the love of your readers, etc. This all may be true, and those things are very important to me, but…

I like to win.

I have a closet competitive streak. I don’t show it much, but several times a day, you’ll see me checking my best seller ranking on Amazon.

Because that, my friends, is the only scorecard I have for this writing thing.

Yes, I love getting a great review. Those keep me going when sales aren’t where I would like them to be. But I’d be lying if I said I would be ok with staying exactly where I am as a writer. The joy of doing it isn’t enough. I’m grateful to anyone who has ever bought my book, I truly am, but I look at that rank to get the next high, the next feeling of victory. That sale is my scorecard.

I want to win.

I realize that everyone dreams of being on the New York Times Best Seller List. But that’s truly the mark of where I would feel like I won. My dad taught me that I can do anything I set my mind to, and I can’t help but hope that maybe, just maybe, he’s right. I know that’s a long ways away, if ever, and I don’t know what to do in the meantime, because I need those highs, I need those wins. So my quest now is to find those little victories: the new Twitter follower, the new “like” for my blog…something to sustain me. Because we all need to feel like we crossed a finish line before everyone else, to feel like we got first place in something. If you don’t, bottle it up and send me some. Until then, I’m going to continue the hunt.

Guest Post with Cynthia Sax, USA Today Bestselling Author

So excited to have Cynthia Sax, author of Releasing Rage, stop by for a guest post today! Read her take on killer heroes, and learn more about her exciting book!

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Killer Heroes With Cynthia Sax

We, romance readers, love the bad boys, don’t we? (grins) There’s something about heroes who have their own sets of rules and don’t follow anyone else’s. They’re willing to do anything for their heroines.

But what about REALLY bad boys? Could a hero be a killer and still be a hero?

In Renee’s The Extraction List, Cain is a cold-blooded killer. He wouldn’t hesitate to end a life to save Riley’s. In Releasing Rage, my most recent release, Rage is a cyborg warrior. He was designed to kill and he enjoys it. Killing is part of who he is.

But like any bad boy hero, these killers have their own set of rules. Rage prefers that his opponents be armed. He gives his enemy a dagger so he has the ability to defend himself, so he can have some dignity at the end, die fighting, with honor. If his opponents are honorable warriors, he kills them as quickly and as painlessly as possible.

Rage’s ability to kill comforts Joan, his human heroine. They’re living in a violent world and she likes having a violent male to protect her. She’s not a killer herself. Her skills lie in other areas. But she knows Rage and his cyborg brethren will safeguard her.

Because when a bad boy, especially a killer, falls, he falls REALLY hard. Rage shows a vulnerability, a softness to Joan that he doesn’t show to anyone else. He’s still a killer. That won’t ever change. But he’s more than that with her. We see his human side.

He trusts her, a rare thing for any killer. He might be her sword but she is his heart, his conscience. There are no limits to what he would do, what he would sacrifice to shield her from harm. And that’s very romantic.

What do you love about bad boy heroes?

***

Blurb

Releasing Rage

Half Man. Half Machine. All Hers. Rage, the Humanoid Alliance’s most primitive cyborg, has two goals–kill all of the humans on his battle station and escape to the Homeland. The warrior has seen the darkness in others and in himself. He believes that’s all he’s been programmed to experience. Until he meets Joan. Joan, the battle station’s first female engineer, has one goal–survive long enough to help the big sexy cyborg plotting to kill her. Rage might not trust her but he wants her. She sees the passion in his eyes, the caring in his battle-worn hands, the gruff emotion in his voice. When Joan survives the unthinkable, Rage’s priorities are tested. Is there enough room in this cyborg’s heart for both love and revenge?

Buy Now (Note: This story is meant for adult readers only. If you are under the age of 18, please do not buy Releasing Rage):

On Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Releasing-Rage-Cyborg-Sizzle-Book-ebook/dp/B00ZOL1DRO

On Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00ZOL1DRO/

On ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-releasingrage-1850041-340.html

On B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/releasing-rage-cynthia-sax/1122455646

Bio

About Cynthia Sax

USA Today bestselling author Cynthia Sax writes contemporary, SciFi and paranormal erotic romances. Her stories have been featured in Star Magazine, Real Time With Bill Maher, and numerous best of erotic romance top ten lists.

Sign up for her dirty-joke-filled release day newsletter and visit her on the web at www.CynthiaSax.com

Website:  http://cynthiasax.com/

Newsletter:   http://tasteofcyn.com/2014/05/28/newsletter/

Facebook:  facebook.com/cynthia.sax

Twitter:  @CynthiaSax

Blog:  http://tasteofcyn.com/

Author Interview: Iris Blobel

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1) Tell us a little about your book. “Let Me Love You” is the second book in the Australian Sports Stars series. It’s about Oliver, a baseball player from Melbourne who falls in love with his coach’s niece. Tamara, however, has just lost her husband in a burglary gone wrong and is hesitant to succumb Oliver’s charm.

2) What is your favorite part about writing? Least favorite? My favourite part about writing is, to create a story, to create something –hopefully- wonderful other people enjoy. The least favourite part … is the promoting 

3) A director tells you that you have complete control over casting the movie version of your book. Who plays who? When I wrote the story, I had a baseball player called Brian Pruett in mind – but an actor? Alex O’Loughlin comes to mind and Rose Byrne as Tamara.

4) If your house was burning down and you could only save one inanimate object, what would it be (don’t say photo albums, everyone says photo albums)?
My laptop and wallet.

5) If you could choose what one message that a reader takes away from reading your book, what would it be? I’d like readers to finish my books, take a big sigh, not wanting to return to reality and say, “Wow, I’ll miss my friends.”

6) Imagine a world where everyone wears a t-shirt that says something about who they are as a human being, i.e. “Doesn’t play well with others” or “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had coffee.” What would yours say? Hahaha … exactly that … “don’t speak to me before breakfast” …. Or “Alert: humour level is low”

7) Who has been your biggest supporter in your writing? Oh, definitely my family. My husband encouraged me from the very first moment I decided to give it a try and my girls always get excited about another cover … except when I have days when I’m swamped with deadlines (edits or galleys). I have a feeling they curse the writing during those moments.

8) What song is the soundtrack to your life?
“Fragezeichen” (Question mark) by Nena

9) If you had only one book to read for the rest of your life what would it be? “If you could see me now” by Cecelia Ahern

10) Favorite quote about writing, life or otherwise:
If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.

Iris Blobel 2013
INFO:
Book title: LET ME LOVE YOU
Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/Love-Australian-Sports-Star-Book-ebook/dp/B00RQRKAXM/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/irisblobel
Twitter: @_iris_b
Website: http://www.iris-b.blogspot.com
Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4067254.Iris_Blobel
Please attach author photo and book cover when you send back your answers. Thanks!

Author Interview: S. Brione Lim

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Welcome to S. Brione Lim! Read on to learn more about this awesome author, and see how her favorite quote can be applied to the writing life, as well as life in general:


1) Tell us a little about your book.

a. Two Outta Three is a fun take on unrequited love and is not your typical friends-to-lovers novel. It follows best friends, Raquel (Rocky) Rossi and her best friend Jesse Tyler as they dance the awkward waltz of reconnecting after many years apart.
2) What is your favorite part about writing? Least favorite?
a. My favorite part of writing is allowing myself to get lost in a daydream. I get to create different worlds and join my characters on their crazy adventures. I love coming up with new ideas and honestly, as a control freak, I love planning the fates of my characters *insert maniacal laughter*

My least favorite part of writing has to be revisions and edits. I never know when to stop!
3) A director tells you that you have complete control over casting the movie version of your book. Who plays who?
a. That is a really great question! I’d have to say Nick Bateman would be the perfect actor for the role of Jesse and Katie Stevens would be a perfect Rocky. The secondary characters are a tossup though, but I’d love to see what my readers think!
4) If your house was burning down and you could save one thing, what would it be (don’t say photo albums, everyone says photo albums)?a. My dog, Roscoe 🙂 He’s not a “thing” to me, but he’s definitely my first priority.
5) If you could choose what one message that a reader takes away from reading your book, what would it be? a. I’d have to say “True friends are very hard to find and even harder to keep, however those that stay are in your life should be cherished.” The same goes for love as well 🙂
6) Imagine a world where everyone wears a t-shirt that says something about who they are as a human being, i.e. “Doesn’t play well with others” or “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had coffee.” What would yours say? a. Definitely “Introvert—Give me some time to warm up”
7) Who has been your biggest supporter in your writing? a. My family has been my number one supporter in this crazy life of writing. They are always the first ones to read my books and encourage me whenever I feel down.
8) What writer do you admire the most and why?
a. I admire so many writers that it’s hard to pick just one. Of course I admire my fellow Limitless Publishing brother and sisters. They are all such a talented bunch and some of the nicest and most helpful people I’ve ever met.
9) If you had only one book to read for the rest of your life what would it be? a. That’s a hard one and I honestly have no idea…if I say “kindle” would that be cheating?
10) Favorite quote about writing, life or otherwise:
a. “Patience is trusting in God’s timing.” It is definitely a quote that resonates with me and has proved true to my life.

S. Briones Lim
INFO:
Book title: Two Outta Three
Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00Y2E0VI6/
Facebook: facebook.com/sbrioneslim and facebook.com/authorsbrioneslim
Twitter: @sbrioneslim
Website: sbrioneslimauthor.wordpress.com
Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7155647.S_Briones_Lim

Author Interview: Christa Cervone

I adore this woman for being as big of a fan of the f-word as I am. It makes my heart smile :). AND she appreciates the genius that is Kurt Sutter?! Super excited to introduce you to her. Christa Cervone is the author of the Down for the Count Series. Romantic and exciting… I’m in! What about you dear readers? Read on!

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1) Tell us a little about your book. The Down for the Count Series features Gabriel “The Saint” Vega. He’s a boxer from the streets. He’s on the fast track to stardom, when a woman, Salem Harris, turns his world upside down. She stirs up feelings he’s never felt before. Will Salem give him the one thing he’s never known—love? Or will she end up breaking his heart?

2) What is your favorite part about writing? When I can actually make sense of all the nonsense jumbled in my brain. Least favorite? It seems when I’m actively writing a story another one pops into my head. Then it becomes the battle of the two stories.
3) A director tells you that you have complete control over casting the movie version of your book. Who plays who? Jenny McCarthy or Chelsea Handler
4) If your house was burning down and you could save one thing, what would it be (don’t say photo albums, everyone says photo albums)? Well, first of all who even has photo albums anymore? Second, my pets no questions asked.
5) If you could choose what one message that a reader takes away from reading your book, what would it be? I write about the struggles of real life. You’re not going to get a rich handsome man who swoops in a saves the day of a damsel in distress. You’re going to get real life struggles, difficult choices, tears, heartbreak, laughter, hot sex, and WTF moments. My stories are about second chances and I firmly believe everyone deserves a happily ever after.
6) Imagine a world where everyone wears a t-shirt that says something about who they are as a human being, i.e. “Doesn’t play well with others” or “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had coffee.” What would yours say? “Fuck off and die” or “I’m surrounded by idiots” or “You’re the sperm that won out. Oh, I’m so sorry” and “It ain’t going to lick itself” (I actually own that shirt)
7) Who has been your biggest supporter in your writing? My husband. He’s my driving force in this insane world. He doesn’t let me quit even when I want to. He keeps me grounded and reminds me everyday how lucky I am to have him.
8) What writer do you admire the most and why? I like to refer to him as my soul mate, my future husband, and my spirit animal. He’s a brilliant writer, an evil genius and the creator of Sons of Anarchy and Bastard Executioner. Mr. Kurt Sutter.
9) If you had only one book to read for the rest of your life what would it be? Oddly enough, I never re-read books.
10) Favorite quote about writing, life or otherwise: I like to sum up my life in movie quotes. Some of my favorites: “Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker” John McClane – Die Hard “Oh, God, the pressure of a name… Cinde-fucking-rella!” Kit Deluca – Pretty Woman And as you can see there’s a theme here. I’m a fan of the “F” word.

christa cervone

INFO:
Book title: On the Ropes
Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/Christa-Cervone/e/B00BM6Y4LC/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1433875305&sr=8-1
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorchristacervone
Twitter: @christacervone
Website: http://www.christacervone.com
Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6590569.Christa_Cervone
Please attach author photo and book cover when you send back your answers. Thanks!

Author Interview: Sara Schoen and Taylor Henderson

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Next up in the interview series are Sara Schoen and Taylor Henderson, authors of Bad Publicity. Sounds like an exciting read from their tantalizing description. Read on!

1. Tell us a little about your book.
Bad Publicity is about a rebellious teenage girl who has just lost her mother due to cancer, and now is forced to standby while her father gets remarried to a woman who cannot have any bad publicity ruining her prestigious reputation. Needless to say that cuts into Jade’s fun, and she’s not going to stand by and let life slip away even if it means a little bad publicity for everyone involved.
2. Who is your favorite part about writing? Least favorite?
Sara: My favorite part is to tell a story. I’m not only creating an escape for someone else, but I’m telling them a story with characters that hopefully feel like their best friends, because they are my friends and I. I can also point out a lot that’s happening to teens/in the world and have people relate to it or even change their mind on the topic. It’s like they get to know me through my work. My least favorite part, is that I think about how many chapters my stories will have and I get discouraged. It’s a lot of time that may mean nothing in the long run.
Taylor: My absolute favorite part about writing is the fact that I get to create a whole new world and story. My characters can be whoever I want them to be, with talents that I’ve never had. I can create a character who is good at Math, not that I would, but I can! My least favorite part about writing is that it takes time to do. You actually have to dedicate time to writing. It doesn’t take a month to write an award-winning novel, despite how awesome that might be. Even with nanowrimo, after the book is written you still have to go back at the end of the month to edit and make the book how you want it to be. Editing can be kind of boring at times too, but it’s also fun to see where your thought process went when you were initially writing the book.
3. A director tells you that you have complete control over casting the movie version of your book. Who plays who?
Our dream cast would be as goes:
Jade: Vika Levina
Damien: young Ian Somerhalder
Brooke: Taylor Momsen before the drastic dark change
Alyssa: Emily Rudd
Austin: Adam Gregory
Matt: Chace Crawford
Chase: Matt Lanter with darker hair

4. If your house was burning down and you could save one thing, what would it be (don’t say photo albums, everyone says photo albums)?
Sara: I’d save my dog, and my family. No competition. I can replace everything else, I can’t replace their lives. Other than that I would grab my laptop and the small stash of cash I have saved so that we could buy food and other supplies if the fire destroyed the house.
Taylor: I would save my family first and foremost. Other than family, the only other thing that I would think to save is my laptop, because I don’t have any of my files backed up. (I should get on that.)

5. If you could choose what one message that a reader takes away from reading your book, what would it be?
We would want them to take away that your actions have consequences, it’s not always about what you want, and eventually you will have to think of others. Just be sure that you put yourself before others, because you’re looking out for yourself because you know what’s best for you.
6. Imagine a world where everyone wears a t-shirt that says something about who they are as a human being, i.e. “Doesn’t play well with others” or “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had coffee.” What would yours say?
Sara: “I don’t give a f*ck. I’m going to be me and say what’s on my mind.”
Taylor: “I can be ditzy, and slow at moments, but don’t underestimate my intelligence.”
7. Who has been your biggest supporter in your writing?
Sara: My biggest support has been Taylor and our friend, Avery. She was the one that encouraged me to write, then when the books got popular online to publish it. Avery is the biggest cheerleader, she encourages me and inspires me. They tell everyone about my books, and thunderclaps, they’re amazing. My family supports me by buying books and reading them, I think my sister has read more this year than ever in her life. She’s read the entire Amber Alert series, Bad Publicity, The Dying Game, Waking up blank and everyone in my family is excited for the Guarded Secret series.
Taylor: My biggest supporters in my writing has been Sara and my Grandma Marianne. Sara always pushes me to write, even when I am uninspired, and she encourages me with constructive criticism. It’s amazing to have such a great friend, who loves and cares for me and shares my passion for writing. She is definitely the Jade to my Brooke. My Grandma has been my biggest supporter since I was younger. She helped teach me how to read, and even got me into writing. She always has new books for me to read, and is always the first to purchase my books. When Better Than Revenge released (June 9th) she had 20 copies that she had ordered, that arrived on my doorstep. I couldn’t be more thankful.
8. What writer do you admire the most and why?
Sara: I admire JK Rowling, she made a world for her readers. Everyone that read the books or watched the movies knew and went to Hogwarts with the characters. That’s just amazing to me! To touch the lives of literally thousands and thousands of people, and for her to do that is mind blowing and utterly amazing!
Taylor: I admire Stephen King, JK Rowling, Anne Rice , James Patterson, and any other author who has a name that even people who don’t read/write recognize. I would love to go so far in the writing world that when people hear Taylor Henderson they instantly can put my name to a series or book that I’ve written.
9. If you had only one book to read for the rest of your life what would it be?
Sara: I’d read a book on developing character traits and characters so I could continue to improve my writing as I do now with reading other published books. If I couldn’t do that I’d read the Sweet Secrets series and have two books in one. (HA Loophole!)
Taylor: I would read Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead over and over again. The characters that she created were realistic, and relatable, and she was so creative with her take on vampires that it got me interested in other genres of books than just romantic fiction. If I couldn’t read that book, then I would read the Guarded Secrets series because I love mystery/suspense novels. (Wink wink.)
10. Favorite quote about writing, life or otherwise:
Sara: “I made the decision to not listen to the small mean voice that was telling me I wasn’t good enough. I decided to keep believing in myself no matter what.” Rachel Platten
Taylor: “I read like the ink from the book is oxygen, and I’m gasping for breath.” -Unknown

sara shoen and taylor henderson
INFO:

Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/Bad-Publicity-Sara-Schoen/dp/1680581023/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1433716939&sr=8-3&keywords=bad+publicity
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SaraNSchoen
https://www.facebook.com/TayMHenderson

Twitter: @SaraNSchoen and @TayMHenderson
Website: N/A
Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9790618.Sara_Schoen
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9885214.Taylor_Henderson