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!


Monday, June 1, 2015

To Cut or Not to Cut

                       File:Bibliothek St. Florian.jpg
original uploader was Stephan Brunker at German Wikipedia 

In my last post on altered books (, I asked what is a book? Yes, it is a compilation of pages but it's so much more. It's the sharing of feelings and knowledge. A Fantasy. It's the concepts of things not yet rendered physically. History.  It's a silent teacher. A connection of minds.  It's freedom.

Could I, like the those artists I previously posted about, take a blade to even one page.  I don't know.

I was brought up to respect books. You didn't drop them, you placed them down.  You kept them clean and safe on a shelf or table. I was taught and read of the horrors of book burnings.  Why is that such a sinister act? Because of what a book - the written word represents.  It's almost a sin to do such a thing. Perhaps I give them too much reverence.

And yet, when I look at the art that is created, I'm in awe at the skill and imagination needed to produce such beauty. My creative side gets itchy to try it. So I'm back to my original question: could I cut up a book?  Well, maybe . . .maybe I could to a stained, yellowed paged, ripped cover paperback.  What about you?

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day

As writers, we research histories, even if what we are writing is fiction, or fictionalized versions of actual events. So it was that I recently attended two paper and ephemera shows -- rooms full of postcards, posters, photographs... Thousands and thousands of bits of history.

My interest was in two of the wars America participated in: World War I and the Vietnam War. I have a group of characters who are Vietnam veterans and I've been working on an idea set during the earlier war, and I'd been told I could find interesting imagery and first person correspondence if I was just willing to invest some time going through myriad boxes of paraphernalia. I got more than I bargained for.

My father's family is full of veterans. My grandfather and his four brothers all served in World War II, split up and sent to various parts of the world. My father and two of his three brothers, as well as nearly all of his cousins, served in the military during the Korean War, Vietnam, and most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as during peacetime. Some have been willing to talk about their experiences but others have kept their stories held tightly within. Some stories only come out in short snippets -- terrible or funny or sad -- like the message you might find on the back of a postcard.

These following messages were on cards I discovered. 

From Vietnam, 1966:

"Hi Mike: Here's another stamp for whoever collects them. Been at Saigon for the past 9 days and now waiting at anchor to go upriver to Bangkok. No available berth for us yet. This is the end of the line and should go home from here, we all hope. C U soon. Cookson."


"Hi Teresa, It doesn't really look like this to me. I sure wish that it did. Tell everybody at Evans I say hello and Merry Christmas to all. Roy"


"Hi Fellows [of the NYC Traffic Dept]: Received your letter & was happy to hear from all of you. I like the job order you sent. We use drive nails here. Hope everything is allright there. Tell Joe that he won't have to worry about parking signs here. We park anyplace...regards to the girls. Jon"


"Eddie -- Here's my home in the West just the spot for years of retirement. Come on out to visit. You can fish down in the river or somewhere. greetings Andy, Saigon Sept 28"

And from earlier, World War I:


"Dear Uncle Har: How are things coming these days? I can imagine you working in the garden every day. Wish I was there to do the heavy looking on. Love Mathias"


"Roy: We nearly froze one night in Lille--"


"My dear Sir: Have you wholly and entirely outgrown all desire to shoulder your gun and (off to the war.) Poor fellows, tis very sad to have them go. I hope will soon be settled but fear the trouble is only just commenced. What do you think. Love to all your household. A."


"tell papa I was asking about him I am so sorry"


"Dear Nell just a few lines to let you know I am in the best of health and hope you all are well...we shall be on the move this weekend so if you don't receive any letters don't begin worrying. I sent the checque which I hope you received I will let you have a word or two as I don't expect I will have time for letters for a day or two. From your ever loving and true husband."

And finally, January 1919:

"Mrs. Walker, These & more like them are what made the dirty hun turn about & start for home. GMB"

On their surfaces, small communications -- everything they wanted to say had to fit into a space about the size of a post-it. And there's no way to know who of these servicemen came home and who never saw the loved ones they wrote again. But what I found in each was an uncommon strength of character, and generally they conveyed in a few short lines the depth of their commitment, humor, and love.

This day is about servicemen and women and the sacrifices they made for their country -- to honor them for what they gave up to participate in conflicts far from all they knew and loved -- to reflect upon their lives and what they meant to us -- not just as soldiers, but as friends and siblings, parents and co-workers and spouses, and even as our children.

Let us all remember, and honor, their lives and their stories.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Query Letters--Do or Don't?

A query letter is a formal way of introducing yourself and asking an editor or agent to see your work. Sometimes it is the only way for an author to reach out to an industry professional.

There are lots of great resources on how to write a query letter.

Helpful Links for Query Letters:

But are they always necessary? If an agent or editor has requested material, must you send a query letter?

Some agents and editors say that the answer is no. If you have had the opportunity to discuss your manuscript with an editor or agent for an extended period of time, and they have requested a full or partial manuscript, then generally a cover letter reminding them of who you are, where you met, and some key elements of your story are fine, along with any other requested materials, like a synopsis or outline.

The query is an introduction to an editor or agent. If you have met them in person and shared conversation, then chances are they will remember you if you send the requested material within a short period of time, then again, maybe they won't. The degree of formality you use depends a great deal on the individual and the relationships you build.

Some say not to send query letters at all. See the video below in which Michael Levin discusses how query letters are "invitations to rejections." He gives advice on what you should send instead.

Researching the editor and agent, asking questions, and getting to know them personally, will help you decide how best to present and sell your work.

Happy Writing!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

LIRW's 2015 "Shining the Light on Romance" Luncheon

                    Long Island Romance Writers
                      proudly present the 18th Annual 

                  "Shining the Light on Romance"
                          Agent/Editor Luncheon
Spring was in the air and so was the excitement at the Long Island Romance Writers' 18th annual Agent/Editor Luncheon held on May 8th at the beautiful Fox Hollow in Woodbury, N.Y.

Keynote speaker, Jim McCarthy, gave a humorous and insightful speech about his journey on becoming an agent, the perseverance of a couple of his clients, and the value of never giving up.  It was a wonderful, inspiring talk that had the group laughing and nodding their heads.

LIRW President, Myra Platt, welcomed all to our event and informed the attendees of the accomplishments of LIRW members, many who had  made that special contact at previous luncheons. 

 Jim McCarthy,
 vice-president of  Dystel & Goderich Literary Management

LIRW President and published author Myra Platt 


Melissa Edwards - The Aaron M. Priest Literary Agency
Samantha Bremekamp -- Corvisiero Agency
Marisa Corvisiero -- Corvisiero Agency
Rebecca Strauss -- DeFiore and Company, LLC
Stephany Evans -- President, FinePrint Literary Management
Kate McKean -- VP & Literary Agent, Howard Morhaim Literary Agency, Inc.
Jill Grosjean -- Jill Grosjean Literary Agency
Kathy Green -- Kathryn Green Literary Agency, LLC
Leon Husock -- L. Perkins Agency
Sandy Lu -- L. Perkins Agency
Lori Perkins -- Founder, L. Perkins Agency
Elizabeth Copps -- Maria Carvainis Agency, Inc.
Shira Hoffman -- McIntosh and Otis
Eric Ruben -- Ruben Law
Cassie Hanjian -- Waxman Leavell Literary Agency


Elle Keck --Editorial Assistant, Avon Romance

Megha Parekh -- Associate Editor, Grand Central Publishing

Lauren Plude -- Associate Editor, Grand Central Publishing
Shannon Barr -- Ed Asst HQN Intrigue + Nocturne
Allison Carroll -- Ed. Assistant HQN Desire/Rom Suspense
Carly Silver -- Ed. Assistant HQN Special Edition
Esi Sogah -- Kensington Publishing Corp.
Bette-Lee Fox -- Managing Editor, Library Journal
Jenn Fisher -- Assistant Editor, NAL
Marla Daniels -- Assistant Editor,Gallery Books|Pocket Books|Pocket Star Books
Cat Clyne -- Assistant Editor, Sourcebooks Casablanca
Aubrey Poole -- Associate Editor, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky /Fire
Amy Stapp -- Editorial Assistant, Tor
Bess Cozby -- Editorial Assistant, Tor
Lindsey Stover -- Tule Publishing Group
Rhonda Penders -- Editor-in-Chief, The Wild Rose Press

We want to give a special "thank you" to our luncheon chairperson, Beth Ellen and vice chairperson, Pamela Burford,  the LIRW board, the Luncheon Committee, our drivers, volunteers, and all the guest agents and editors who made our event special this year. 

It was such a fun afternoon, and I made so many great connections with agents, editors and fellow writers!I feel so lucky to be a part of this community! ~ Ruth  Vincent

table 1
Beth Ellen, Nike Chillemi, Melissa Sasser, Judy Fischer, 
Harris Fischer, Michele Lang, Linda Cook, Penny Moore

table 4
Sam Bremekamp, Elizabeth D.Spencer, Lindsey Stover, Samantha Williams, 
Ally Bishop, Maggie Van Well, Karen Friedrich, Megan Kastner

table 6
Catherine Woinich, Beth Iorio. Georfrey Wells, Riley Mackenzie, 
Lynn Marie Hulsman, Lillian Marek, Carly, Silver, Melissa Edwards, Leon Husock

table 7
Jolyse Barnett, Elizabeth Copps

table 8
Dawn Berkoski, Effie Speyer, Cat Clyne, Catherine Moore, Lyla Bellatas,
Damon Suede, Elaine Violette, Jill Sooley, Shira Hoffman

table 9
Donna Coe-Velleman, Mecca Cerny, Bess Cozby, 
Margie Malone, Jolie Mohn, Patricia Mohn, Eric Ruben

table 11
Lori Perkins, Annav Taylor Sweringen, Lauren Watson, Rhonda Penders, 
Stephanie Kepke, Debra Druzy, Candy Caine

table 12
Mary Tuohy, Ann Lettal, Mona Sedeak, Voule Walker, 
Kimberly Rocha, Lauren Plude, Deborah Ann Dana

table 13
Lynne Cannon, Elle Keck, Jennifer Welsh,
 Sandy Lu, Theresa Schevis, Linda Ingmanson, Karen Smith

"The luncheon was a beautiful affair again - delicious food, gorgeous setting and a fabulous mix of guests. Most importantly, it was inspiring - from Jim McCarthy's funny and wise keynote address to networking with agents, editors and other authors, I left ready to get to work!" ~ Stephanie Kepke

We hope to see you again next year! 

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