Writing sexy books with your mom in mind

My mom is infinitely cooler than I am – always has been, always will be. I first started figuring this out when I was a pre-teen and my friends wanted to spend more time talking with my mom than with me because she gives such great advice and is a wonderful listener.

She’s the kind of open, honest person that every girl deserves to have as a parent. When I was young, she answered all of my questions about sex very frankly but also in a way that helped me understand that sex belonged between people who loved each other. It was a special act, but one that had appropriate words. Respectful words.

Me and Mom
Me and Mom

When I first told my mom I was writing a romance novel, she was thrilled. She’s not a romance reader, but she immediately asked if she could read my novel. For some reason, this weirded me out a little. It’s one thing to be seven and ask your mom where your baby cousin came from. It’s another to send her the sexy novel you wrote.

The first time she asked, I was totally unprepared for the question. I was just writing it to help me stay sane while a nasty hosebeast of a work project tried to drown me. Read my sexy story? No way – no one would ever! So I just cringed and said, “Maybe when it’s finished,” knowing full well that I would probably never finish it.

Then I finished the draft and she asked again. “Maybe after I’ve gotten feedback from a few other people. It’s really rough right now, Mom. I don’t want you to see it until it’s ready.”

After a while, she figured out I was just making excuses and she asked, “Do you feel awkward because it has sex in it?”

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Setting goals for 2013

Happy 2013 How was everyone’s New Year’s Eve? Did you spend it doing something exciting? I was in Cardiff, Wales, visiting friends but sadly Santa brought me a nasty cold for Christmas, so I spent NYE in our friends’ guest bed curled around my pillow as my body produced things I hope I never see again.

I don’t know about you, but I always find it a bit depressing when the holidays end. Colds don’t help.

One thing I love about this time of year, though, is thinking about the exciting things to come and writing down my goals for the year. “Resolution” sounds a bit too…um, resolved for me. The fact is, I do much better when I think of these as goals.

I managed to accomplish many of 2012’s writing goals:

  • I finished revising (and sold! Bonus!) Knowing the Score.
  • I judged the Golden Heart contest and entered a few others (and got an agent through one!).
  • I went to RWA Nationals and pitched to agents and editors – which led to a publication deal!
  • I built myself a website (you’re looking at it).
  • I continued growing my blog and social media conversations (thank you all for getting involved!).
  • I kept track of the books I read on Goodreads until summer, but then I got too busy and stopped. Whoops.

This year I’m going to keep my goals simple because I have two life-changing events coming up – having a baby and getting published – and I want to nurture both of these areas of my life without losing my mind in the process.

So here are my goals for 2013:

  • Have a baby and give her all the love and cuddles she can handle. Do it without turning into a crazy frantic woman.
  • Go through the publishing process with Carina Press for Knowing the Score and come up with a good marketing plan for it – again, minus the crazy frantic woman.
  • Write two more novels.

What are your goals or resolutions for 2013? How did you do with last year’s resolutions?

I hope you have all the success in the world in 2013!

Two dreams come true at once: I’m getting published…and I’m pregnant

Two and a half years ago, I embarked on two journeys that ended up being a hell of a lot harder to achieve than I initially thought.

The first – getting published – I’ve talked about a lot online.

The second – getting pregnant – I’ve only talked about to a few close friends.

Both have been stressful and heartbreaking in their own way. Both have taught me lessons in patience, perseverance and trust – not that I’m any better at those things than when I first started. If I’d had any doubts about which of these two challenges hurt me more, the day I got both a rejection letter and my period settled the question. I could face an agent’s rejection in a reasonable, professional manner. My body’s rejection, though…I still can’t think of words to describe that disappointment.

I’ve worked my fingers (and other bits – ha!) to the bone (ha! again), and suddenly in the last few months everything has changed.

I’m pregnant. And I’m getting published.

Yeeee haaawww!

Or, as they would say in Britain: I’m chuffed.

For your sake and mine, I’ll spare you the details of how I got pregnant (open a romance novel – it was just like that, I swear) and focus on the publication deets.

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The best thing to take away from a writing conference

Hands up—how many of you went to RWA’s National Conference in Anaheim last week?

*raises hand*

I heard there were about 1,700 romance writers gathered there, and I had a brilliant time meeting as many of them as I possibly could. What an incredible atmosphere!

It was only the second writing conference I’ve been to (the first being Nationals last year in New York), and this year I felt much better prepared and more confident. After four days of workshops, pitch sessions with agents and editors, and chatting with new friends, these are the biggest things I took away from the conference.

1. Craploads of free books!

Free romance novels from RWA NationalsSeriously, if ‘crapload’ were a unit of measurement, I’m sure I’d have at least two or three craploads in books. And guess what—I’m going to be giving lots of them away to my blog subscribers and Facebook fans. (Hint hint)

Last year I discovered several new-to-me authors, thanks to the free books given away at Nationals—including the very talented Jane Graves who was a double RITA finalist this year.

As wonderful as these books, they’re not the most important thing I took home from the conference. So what else did I get?

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Questions to ask yourself before entering a romance writing contest

The first year I started writing romance, I entered shed-loads of writing contests. The next year, I was more selective and had learned that not all writing contests are equal.

This weekend I spent some time looking through dozens of romance writing contests that have their deadlines over the next few months, and I found myself judging the contests themselves based on several criteria.

For those of you thinking about entering romance writing contests, my best advice would be this: First decide what you want out of the contest.

That will help you select the best contests for you.

Winner's Circle
The place to be

Here are some of the criteria I use to decide which contests to enter. I’ll also mention a couple of contests that I think are good examples of meeting these criteria, but please note that that doesn’t mean that I have personal experience of or endorse those particular contests. Also, some of these contest deadlines have passed for 2012, but you may want to know about them for the future.

You can find a really helpful list of upcoming romance writing contests on Stephie Smith’s website.

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