Monday, July 27, 2015

Foodie Romance

I used to watch the Food Network Channel all the time. Cupcake Wars, Rachel Ray’s 30 Minute Meals, Barefoot Contessa, Bobby Flay, The Next Food Network Star. And I loved Iron Chef. So I was really excited when I recently met one of my favorite chefs, Michael Symon. (He bought a home in my neck of the woods this year. Super nice guy!)

On top of that, this week was Grill Hampton, a local event that pits NY City chefs against Hampton chefs in a Summer BBQ contest.

Suddenly food is everywhere on my mind.

But, if you know me, Romance is never far behind. I started to remember all the great romances that I’ve read that revolved around food, the deliciously playful to the truly bizarre. Here is a list from Goodreads

I'm intrigued by Fifty Shades of Chicken by Fowler. I never read that one. 

I would love to hear your favorite foodie romances of all time. 

Happy Writing!


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Big City Conference

Akin to the swallows returning to Capistrano, RWA has returned to New York City as it does every four years.

 Dianna Love, Sherrilyn Kenyon, and me at the 2011 RWA conference

I had attended the last one in 2011. It was my second conference.  The excitement and anticipation of going to such a big event can be mind blowing.  Expectations run high.  Did I have a good time. Yep! Would I do it again?  Not sure.  It was a bit overwhelming for me. 

I know some members of our group had made contacts with agents and published authors but I'm a bit shy and networking is definitely not a strong point of mine. Also, for some reason, I didn't know where the bar was, which was where some of those contacts were made.  I remember how some people gushed over talks they attended. I went to a few good talks and learned new things. Even pitched my story.  

 But conferences are not for everyone.  One of our members returned kind of depressed, feeling inadequate in her ability, doubting her craft and worth.

With these things in my mind, some questions surfaced that I'd like to ask you.

Have you ever been to a conference?  
How was your experience?  Did you return rejuvenated or thwarted?  Why?
Was it more or less than what you expected?
How can one get more out of a conference experience?

I hope you'll comment, your answers might just help someone out.  Thanks.

Monday, July 13, 2015

A little knowledge

Alexander Pope (1688-1744) is said to have coined the phrase, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing." I venture to add, in my case, a *lot* of knowledge can be both paralyzing and inhibiting.

Photo credit: Me! [just the tip of the iceberg in my den, of all the materials from 
writing classes I've taken over the years.]

I am very blessed to live in a part of the USA where local writing resources and conferences abound, with innumerable workshops taught by the best fiction writers in the business. 

My local RWA Chapter, Long Island Romance Writers, has a strong reputation for moving unpublished authors to published status, with several RITA and Golden Heart nominations in the mix.

Online classes occur nearly 24/7 and 365 days a year and hardly a few months go by where I don't sign up for yet another synopsis class or a course in writing compelling characters. I've downloaded and paid for Scrivener, The Snowflake Method, the Marshall Plan, not to mention the expensive version of Dragon, to dictate my words into Word when illness prevented me from typing.

I've traveled to frigid Minnesota in winter to participate in a small group writing weekend teaching the "My Book Therapy" method of writing.

Nobody has a love for the written word like I do; and I believe in my talent.

I've moved from being a pantser to a semi-plotter, with several versions of multiple manuscripts of multiple stories, all unfinished.

Yes - you read correctly. All unfinished.

I've had articles published, including a confession magazine story...and won press association awards. I've placed in several writing competitions...but when it comes to sending in a full manuscript I freeze.

To be honest, I'm buried under an avelanche of methods and processes and writing STUFF, and I don't know how to get out from uderneath and move forward. 

I am paralyzed.

This is a brazen request for help!

I'd love for you to give some suggestions in comments below, on how to have me finally type "the end."

How did you do it?

Monday, July 6, 2015

Writing Challenge

Writer's Digest has a writing prompt feature call Your Story. I always look forward to reading it so  I thought I'd borrow the idea for this post.

Here's what I'd like to put out before you. Using one of the pictures, or you could try to do all three, write an opening sentence to a story based on that picture.  Please put the number of that picture at the beginning of your comment so we know which one you chose.

Hope you enjoy this.  I'm excited to see what you come up with.




All pictures were taken from which supplies public domain images.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Father's Gift

I read an interesting article today in The Thread Newsletter entitled, "Literary Father's Day: Authors who followed in their father's footsteps." 

Author, Tracy Mumford, listed 6 authors and their children.

1. Charles Dickens and Charles Dickens
2. H.G. Wells and Anthony West
3. Kingsley Amis and Martin Amis
4. Stephen King and Joseph Hillman King
5.The Waugh Family
6. Rald Dahl and Tessa Dahl

The article made me wonder if there were any romance authors' children who followed in their footsteps. I didn't find too many fathers writing romance, but I did come up with a short list of mothers and daughters.

1. Phyllis Cast and Kristin Cast.

This romance/fantasy team have written together and individually for Berkley and St. Martin's Press. See: House of Night series, Goddess Summoning series, Divine series and more.

2. Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer.

See: House Rules, Handle with Care, My Sister's Keeper, Lone Wolf, Between the Lines and more.

3. Suz and Melanie Brockman.

Suzzane Brockman is a multi-published NY Times bestselling author. See daughter, Melanie's, Night Sky series.

4. Christine Feehan and daughters.

Author of over 40 paranormal romances, Christine Feehan's daughters help her read and edit her books.
See: The Carpathian Novels, Drake Sisters Novels, Ghostwalker Novels and more.  

 I'm sure there are more authors we could add. But, in the meantime.....

~To all the fathers, who passed on their love and passion for writing to their children, and all the mothers and care-givers who play the role of both parents, I wish you a Happy Father's Day!

Writing is the gift that keeps on giving. Thank you for sharing your gift.~

Monday, June 15, 2015

Walking and Writing

Last week we asked the question about writing at the beach, and I'll admit that writing with nothing but the solitude of running water holds a special allure to many of us creative types.

This week I'd like to expand on the thought of gathering your ideas, letting the ideas perk, or simply hoping to let the creative magic filter through the stress of our everyday lives by taking a walk.

All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking. -Friedrich Nietzsche

Fast or slow, there is just something about being alone and under your own foot power. With each step the mind wanders along pathways we might not have explored sitting at our computer. Along the journey we might stop and talk to others, we might notice the sunshine or the rain, a seasonal scent might have us recalling a fond memory, all rich components that could add just the right description for a scene.

When I’m in turmoil, when I can’t think, when I’m exhausted and afraid and feeling very, very alone, I go for walks. It’s just one of those things I do. I walk and I walk and sooner or later something comes to me, something to make me feel less like jumping off a building. -Jim Butcher

Ah yes, Jim Butcher has an excellent point...walking helps push the cobwebs and the stress out in the open, gives us the ability to possibly come at a problem from a new angle. Yes, something sooner or later breaks on those long, solitary walks.

Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow. -Henry David Thoreau

The beauty of the walk is not in the destination, it's the journey. In fact, you could walk the same beaten path every day and still reap the benefit of giving your mind the space it needs to open up the flood gates of creativity. The same path is really never the same, after all, the leaves sway differently with the wind or lack thereof, the birds sing or squirrels race through yards gathering nuts, your thoughts color your perspective on a daily basis...make use of them!

Long or short, makes not difference either. Simply the act of leaving your chair behind, stretching your legs and walking out the front door is a start.

So go ahead, take a walk. Listen to your thoughts and feel that rush of something new.


Debora Dennis is a native New Yorker and has been an avid romance reader since she first discovered Barbara Cartland on the shelves of her middle school library. A true believer in second chances and it's always the right time to fall in love; she writes spicy time travel romances and lighthearted contemporaries.  Visit her online:

Monday, June 8, 2015

Beach Writing

Beach Writing

Do you live near a beach? Those of us who do often look forward to summer, when we can sit on recliners or on a blanket spread  over the sand and write our hearts out. Other authors are fortunate to live in seasonable climates where beach writing can be done daily/365-days-a-year. Sadly others only experience the call of the sand and sea and pen and paper while on their annual vacation.

What is that call, exactly? Ernest Hemingway heard it; he kept homes on Key West and in Cuba, near Playa Pilar (Pilar Beach), so named after his yacht. He was prolific with words in Cuba, writing The Old Man and the Sea, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and a host of other works.

Jack London (The Call of the Wild, White Fang) visited Waikiki in 1907, staying with his wife at a hotel on the beach. While there, he was introduced to surfing and took to it well, like a duck to water. His 1911 account of his surfing experiences in The Cruise of the Snark was widely read and contributed greatly towards the popularity of the sport on the west coast.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote of driftwood fires and beach themes. Lord Byron wrote The Dark, Blue Sea, and many poems relating to oceans and shorelines. Anne Morrow Lindbergh was inspired to write Gift From the Sea, after vacationing on Florida's Captiva Island.

John Steinbeck and Robert Louis Stevenson lived for a time in Monterey, on California's coast.  Some say local Point Lobos beach was the inspiration for Stevenson's Treasure Island. Stuart Woods and Judy Blume spend the winters in Key West.

Poets also wax lyrical about the beach:“From the Shore” (Carl Sandburg), “Seal Lullaby” (Rudyard Kipling), “Song of a Shell” (Violet L. Cuslidge), and “The Barracuda” (John Gardner) all  use this as a common theme. Even Albert Einstein went for long walks on the beach and spent several summers in the Hamptons and on Long Island Sound.

Did they feel, as Wyland, a marine life artist, does in this quote?  “The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination, and brings eternal joy to the soul.”

As writers, what is the call of the beach for you?

For me, it's the ability to feel solitude in a crowd on the sand. The bone-warming heat of the sun shimmering across the water. It's in the hypnotic rhythm of the waves as they chase the shore. It is the crisp, bracing  sea air, the tang of salt on my lips. I am energized and also, strangely, at peace. My words will start out slowly as I maneuver my lined pad and pen on the arm of my beach chair, then gain traction. I will look up at the golden sun and smile, content and productive in my seafaring literary element.

For several years now, LIRW members have attended an annual writing retreat overlooking the Long Island Sound. Many of us came away with a new plot idea, or were able to finally complete that especially sticky chapter.

Do the ocean and the beach speak creatively to you? Or is visiting the beach more of a spiritual journey?

In his poem, "maggie and milly and molly and may," describing a trip to the seaside, e.e. cummings wrote: "for whatever we lose (like a you or a me), it’s always our self we find in the sea." He might not use capitals, but I think Edward Estlin Cummings is onto something.

Just for fun I've added below some beach-writing-themed sites. Check some of them out!


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