Sunday, October 30, 2011


The candlelight flickered. The dancing flame threw eerie shadows on the wall. Cinnamon and pine fill the air with the aroma of autumn. The last of the residual heat is only a warm memory. I wrap the blanket around me a little tighter to stay the cold as best I can.
The storm that started in the morning still rages. The wind whips around the house, tossing the branches overloaded with heavy wet snow. Every now and then a sharp snap interrupts the quiet. A tree limb drops landing with a dull thud setting the loose snow flying.
For now the beauty and simplicity of the night are enough. I’ll catch up with things tomorrow when I have power and can boot up my computer. I’ve written today’s blog on my cell phone. I’ll go find Paul. He’s gone off into the other room.
Jeez, what will we do all night? Any auggestions?

Monday, October 24, 2011

NJRW 2011 Put Your Heart In a Book Conference - Empower Your Muse

After months of planning, the 28th annual NJRW conference came to a close on Saturday night. As this year’s assistant conference chair I may be biased but the event was really flawless, well the fire alarm during Friday’s cocktail party wasn’t planned but certainly added to the excitement.
Suzanne Brockmann
Over 310 people attended the two day conference. Lori LaSpada and Jennifer Sampson did a great job with registration. There were over 40 workshops covering craft, industry and writer wellness topics. Marlo Berliner, the conference chair and I did a pitching workshop to a packed room. Thanks to the hard work of Terri Brisbin and Kathleen Long there were over 30 editors and agents taking pitches and participating in the editor and agent panel discussions. Phyllis Nugent and Lita Harris managed the Book Fair and Signing with over 50 authors. Donations were given to Literacy Volunteers of America.
Julie Schroeder did an awesome job with the materials, sometimes with very quick turn arounds. Maureen Boylan kept us on budget and yet found the greatest give aways, Kat Attalia spruced up our surroundings with balloons and muses. Lena Pinto and Janet Pepsin rounded up the volunteers that helped out with everything. Val Luna and her team put together about 70 baskets that were raffled off throughout the weekend. BethAnn Kerber had oversight of the Goodie Room. The half day retreat for published authors was led by Nancy Herkness and Roni Denholtz. Joe Nasta saw to the transportation needs of our big four speakers as well as the agents and editors.

Victoria Alexander
Our Put Your Heart in a Book contest for unpublished authors was chaired by Maureen Boylan and Shirley Hailstock. The Golden Leaf contest for published authors was chaired by Maria Ketterer, Jodi Rotondo, and Michele Mahon. Anne Walradt made the entries come alive when she read excerpts from each of the Golden Heart finalists. 
Marissa O’Neill from B&N Book Club wrote a great article about the conference. She interviewed our speakers and many of our authors and attendees.
I have to admit, I had some GREAT fan-girl moments with Suzanne Brockmann, Victoria Alexander, Rachel Gibson, Brenda Novak, and Elosia James. I nearly jumped out of my seat when my good friend Lisa Verge Higgins won Golden Leaf Award.
There are some great pictures on the New Jersey Romance Writers FaceBook page. Stop by and take a peek.
It was wonderful to spend time with friends I only speak to on the loops and via email. I enjoyed dancing with close friends and making new ones. We kept the dance floor hopping at the after party.
I’m tired, achy but still smiling, for a little while. We start again right after Thanksgiving planning the next one. To whet your appetite, next year’s featured speakers include:
Susan Wiggs our pre-conference speaker
Jim and Nikko Goldrick who will do a special presentation
Heather Graham our luncheon speaker
Sabrina Jefferies our keynote speaker 
I hope to see you there!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Writer's Retreat

Writing is a solitary thing. You sit at your desk and scribble with a pen/pencil or you type on your computer. It’s just you and the page. Personally, I love to brainstorm. I find it ‘feeds’ my mind, gets my creative juices going. So when the vice president of NYRWA suggested a writer’s retreat I jumped at the chance.
Friday, eleven of us traipsed to Ocean Grove, New Jersey just the other side of Asbury Park on the Jersey shore and are at the Ocean Grove Inn. The weather is temperate, bright, and sunny. There are no plans for a speaker or presentations. Our plan is to write and share.
I’m getting a head start on this post. It’s Saturday morning and we’re all scattered around. Some have gone for a walk at the beach to catch some inspiration (and walk off breakfast). Some of us are in the comfortable living room, heads how and writing. Others are out on the deck doing pretty much the same thing, writing. We’ve decided to all meet back here to walk over to another inn noted for their wonderful tea and catch up on our day of writing. Later we’ll take a peek at another great sunset and, apropos, we’ll tour the paranormal museum after dinner.
Then it’s back to the inn to fill up more pages. Writing may be singular, but it doesn’t have to be solitary. Do you like to write alone or with company? Do you need inspiration?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Romance novels rock. Romance readers rock. Romance writers rock.

Look through The New York Times and USA Today best-sellers lists. Do you see a disproportion of genres? I thought there would be a stronger representation of romance books on the weekly lists considering the number of romance books sold.  Statistics, available on the RWA website clearly indicate romance fiction is popular has the largest market share of all genres (in the US consumer market), and when compared to other genres makes twice as much as the next genre (religion/inspirational).
I thought I would see a different mix of genres when The New York Times added a separate ebook listing. Everything I’ve read said ereaders were a boon to romance readers who no longer had to hid their lusty covers from on-lookers. Sales of romance ebooks were going taking off and even non-romance proponents, Barnes & Noble, were embracing (every pun intended) the genre.  Julie Bosman had a great article in the December  9th New York Times.
This past Tuesday, I read an article in USA Today that gave me hope for our genre. Joyce Lamb, a copy editor for the news service as well as a well published romance writer, convinced the powers that be to begin a new column, Happy Ever After. You got it, a romance book column. Here is a link to her first blog. I have it from a very reliable source that USA Today will officially announce HEA this Thursday.
According to Ms. Lamb,  the blog will “shower” us with book reviews and author interviews to help us get to know the authors better and isn’t that what we really want.
Here is an excerpt from Joyce’s post:
Joyce Lamb
To kick things off, I thought I'd share with readers some things you might not know about romance writers:
Romance writers come in all shapes, sizes and flavors, and here at Happy Ever After we're going to meet as many as we can, even the ones who write really hot erotica. (Wait, is that redundant?) In other words, HEA is an equal opportunity blog.
Romance writers are incredibly supportive of each other. Seriously. We do virtual high-fives daily as one of us finishes her first book, lands the literary agent of her dreams, makes her first sale (also known as "getting The Call"), holds her book for the first time, buys her first Italian villa, and so on. We just can't get enough of encouraging each other.
Romance writers are fun. If you don't believe me, then take one, or several, out for drinks.
Romance writers, many of us anyway, have a deep and abiding love for Joss Whedon. The TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer embodies everything that romance novels aspire to be. If you're sneering again, get lost. We'll wait while you gather your things. Don't forget to take that judgmental look on your face. (Hums Jeopardy theme song.) OK, now that the unenlightened are gone, where were we? Oh, yeah, why Buffy is so great: Vampire slayer in love with a vampire. Best. Romantic. Conflict. EVER. I love me some Bella and Edward, but Buffy and Angel won my heart first.
Romance writers, some of us anyway, are at least somewhat like the characters in our books (not the villains, of course. Well, OK, maybe just a teeny weeny bit). You know how funny Susan Elizabeth Phillips' books are? She's just as funny in person. You know how Nora Roberts' heroines are kind and passionate and wield a wicked sense of humor? That's her, too. I could go on, but you'll see what I mean as HEA gets going and you get to meet authors you might not have met before.
Romance writers don't sleep much. Many have full-time jobs and families on top of their writing careers. That makes for some late … (soft snoring sounds) … wha? Oh, hello. I think you get the picture.
Romance writers are Smart, with a capital S. And I'm not just saying that because I want you to THINK we're smart. Writing a novel, any kind of novel, is HARD. (I'm not yelling, I'm just emphasizing.) Writing a romance novel isn't any easier just because it's a romance. You know how hard it is in real life to have a balanced, loving relationship while dealing with all the chaos of life? It's no easier in a romance novel. In fact, it's WAY harder, cuz our characters often are totally messed up, in life and in love. At least in the beginning. Another reason we're really smart: We have to know stuff. For example, Suzanne Brockmann could probably, in one glance, identify the make and model of the assault rifle hidden in the back of my closet, just waiting for the apocalypse. (Kidding.) Lisa Gardner could probably profile a serial killer. Jane Graves could probably bake the perfect cupcake. Linda Howard could probably lead you out of the wilderness alive. See? Smart. And if you don't believe me, go visit the awesome Smart Bitches, Trashy Books blog, run by the awesome Sarah Wendell. I'll wait. (Hums theme of I Dream of Jeannie. I don't know why.) Back already? I hope you remembered to bookmark, though I'm sure many of you have already spent many hours there. And, heck, while we're pimping out SBTB, for no other reason than I'm a fan, you might want to check out Sarah's upcoming Everything I Know About Love I Learned from Romance Novels. VERY smart. (Sarah, you're my snark idol.)
Romance writers almost always will tell you the same thing when you ask this question: Why do you write romance? Answer: Because we live for the happily ever after. Life is often hard and sad and depressing, and romances are the great escape. That's why romances are the best-selling novels on the planet. No, make that "in the universe." Why try to spare the literary writers' feelings? They need to accept the fact that without romance writers to support the bottom line, literary writers wouldn't be basking in the glow of their New York Times book reviews. Is that 'tude you detect in my tone? (Shrugs slightly.) Maybe. Earned it, though. And that's why we're here.
Here's some of what HEA has coming up in the next few weeks:
Interviews with Lavinia Kent (Regency author), Jane Graves (contemporary), Virna DePaul (paranormal and contemporary), Jill Shalvis (contemporary), Erin Quinn (paranormal), Shawn Lane (gay erotic romance), Christy Reece (romantic suspense), Desiree Holt (erotica), Keri Arthur (paranormal), Ann Christopher (African-American romance) and Mariah Stewart (contemporary) — and that's just in the next few weeks.
HEA will also have reviews of the latest releases by all the authors above, as well as lots of other reviews and features, including introductions to debut authors you might not know yet and sneak peeks at upcoming new releases.
Let the romance novel love begin.
Great, right? Leave a comment here and please, if you can, leave a comment on Joyce’s blog, Happy Ever After and tell her Ruth A. Casie sent you!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Getting People to Buy Your Book

Not too long ago I was researching ways to promote Knight of Runes. Many of my author friends have been helpful in giving me ideas (thanks to all of you) and pointed me to wonderful sources. I don’t want to leave any stone unturned in this quest, a personality trait that makes my kid’s eyes roll, but that’s a story for another time. My search led me to the March 2010 post by author Derek Haines.
I knew my search was a success when I read the blog title, Ten Golden Rules For Successful Writing And Getting People To Buy Your Books. Now I either had the answer to my search or a clever hook to entice me to buy someone else’s book. I knew a little bit about Mr. Haines but not much. I read on and wasn’t disappointed. I’ve included his post below. If you’d like to read his other words of wisdom for authors, here is Derek’s original post.
For those of you who are either contemplating becoming an author, or those writers who want to get to the bestseller status fast, I thought I would share what I believe to be the ten prime factors for success. Some are highly technical while others require hours and hours of practice and perfection, but I am sure you will see the benefits very quickly from following my Ten Golden Rules For Successful Writing And Getting People To Buy Your Books.
1. Always include blank pages at the back of the book. This makes the book thicker, so looks like better value.
2. Be consistent with spelling mistakes. The reader’s brain will adjust.
3. Always dedicate your book to your mother. This increases the ‘Awwww’ factor, and also gives you an opportunity to include another blank pager after it.
4. If you have a long name, change it. Bestselling authors must restrict both their names to five letters or less.
5. If you are under fifty, do not put a photo of yourself on the back cover. Writers must look mature.
6. Use a lot of dialogue. It takes up more page space. (Helps point one) Narrative tends to be in good solid paragraphs, so stay clear on neat economical space saving paragraphs as much as possible.
7. Get your very best friend, wife or sibling to write the blurb for the back of your book.
8. Use short and simple words. Long words reduce your market potential to only those readers with high IQs.
9. Always start a sentence with a Capital Letter, and try to remember the full stop at the end. It helps readers navigate better.
10. Make sure you have some sort of story to tell. Three hundred pages of:
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, sapien platea morbi dolor lacus nunc, nunc ullamcorper. Felis aliquet egestas vitae, nibh ante quis quis dolor sed mauris. Erat lectus sem ut lobortis, adipiscing ligula eleifend, sodales fringilla mattis dui nullam. Ac massa aliquet Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, sapien platea morbi dolor lacus nunc, nunc ullamcorper. Felis aliquet egestas vitae, nibh ante quis quis dolor sed mauris. Erat lectus sem ut lobortis, adipiscing ligula eleifend, sodales fringilla mattis dui nullam. Ac massa aliquet
has proven not to sell very well, even though it does speed up writing a lot.

Bonus Rule: Always include a 404 page not found link to help readers get back to where they were.

*** End of Post ***
Speaking of buying your books, Knight of Runes is now available for Pre-Order at Barnes & Noble.
What are some of your golden rules for writing and getting people to buy your book? I would really love to know.