Welcome to the official blog of Maumee Valley Romance Writers of America! We're a local writers' group in the Toledo, Ohio area. Most of us write romance, but we also have members who write other genres too. New members are always welcome to visit or join the group. See the meetings page for details. We post every Monday and Friday about all things book-related. Whether you're a writer, reader, or both, we hope you'll stop by often and get to know our dozen contributors.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Daunting Task of Writing a Blog


As many of you know, I am a new writer and writing my first blog post.   Much consideration went into what I would write about today.  I started a deep meaningful soul searching blog, and I scrapped that.  Then, I started an insightful blog, but how much insight can a new writer provide.  So, I decided that I would just write about ice cream.

I was sitting yesterday in Mayberry at the ice cream parlor waiting for my daughter that was swimming with her friends at Centennial Quarry.  Did you ever notice how many flavors of ice cream there are? Just the selection process is overwhelming, so many varieties and you can select just one, sometimes two if you do a double scoop.  You could select more, but then the flavors will get all jumbled together and you won’t appreciate each for what they offer.

If you think about it, ice cream flavors can be likened to writing.  We have so many types of novels we can write, but we must pick just one or possibly two “flavors” for each book.  Do we write a Historical Suspense, a Futuristic Paranormal, etc… we are free to decide what we will flavor each book with, keeping in mind that we can’t combine too many flavors or the reader may get confused. 

Point of View is another “flavor” that needs to be selected.  With this, you need to be careful, selecting just one at a time, you can never have two mixed together.  A point of view can be likened to the single dip cone.  You can go back for another, but only one flavor at a time will suffice. 

Choices, choices, we are always afraid to make the wrong one.  After all these thoughts were racing through my head, I finally decided on my ice cream flavor….. Moose Tracks!

Friday, July 25, 2014

New homes inspire novel ideas

As writers we try to keep our senses open to ideas and events we can incorporate into our stories. 

One of those components includes setting up the location, the scene, the space – AKA, the stage. One of those stages might be a home, a room or backyard.

Last weekend I visited the BIA Parade of Homes in Columbus, Ohio. In this year’s annual event, presented by the Building Industry Association of Central Ohio, a dozen custom builders are showcasing their homes ranging from $679,000 to $1,195,000.

I hiked up stairs checking out bedrooms, baths, walk-in closets, laundry rooms and balconies. I hiked back down the stairs viewing master suites, kitchens, great rooms, dining rooms, libraries and study rooms, and toured further down into finished basements with media rooms, bar areas, rec rooms, workout rooms and covered patios.

Interior designers decorated the rooms and I oohed and aahed my way through these houses absorbing not only the latest styles, colors and finishes, but also the latest home products. It was a Sunday smorgasbord for the brain and senses.

I enjoyed listening to builders and designers talk about the exciting features in their houses. I listened to people reacting to different rooms and hooted, silently to myself, as husbands and wives passed by arguing about a space as they imagined themselves already living there.

I left that evening with information and details that I might use to help me better describe settings more vividly. My head spun with ideas and possibilities and my fingers itched to write them down.

So if you’re looking for inspiration and ideas about a room or a house, check and see if there is an upcoming home tour in your area. Not only do you meet wonderful and helpful people in the construction industry, you can also pick up terms and processes that can inspire greater interest and color to your scenes.

While I won’t be able to include the cappuccino/espresso bar in my historical highlander novel, I know the hidden compartment in the pantry might prove useful.


About the Author
Tanja Fazzari writes science fiction and paranormal romances, mostly, until some Viking or Highlander tramples incessantly through her head demanding she hurry it up and write their story about conquest and love. Fortunately she has an understanding, loving husband who mans the fort and can protect his own. At this time, Tanja’s working on her first contemporary suspense novel.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Balance and brain-freeze

Ever ingest too much cold (usually ice cream) too fast and end up with brain-freeze? Fortunately this type of brain-freeze doesn’t last long and may even be worth the delicious imbalance that causes it. However, you get brain-freeze of a different and debilitating variety when your life is out of balance. Whether the imbalance is due to stress, poor health, mental distress, you name it, the source of a life imbalance only matters when searching for a cure. The brain-freeze symptom—the inability to make decisions or progress toward your stated goals—can occur at the slightest imbalance. The cure is a willingness to take a hard look at where the imbalance is in your life and then take action. Preventive actions, which include meditation, exercise, healthy eating habits and supportive relationships, can minimize the effect of brain-freeze due to life imbalance. Having a plan for how to handle a life imbalance can help too—sort of like having a plan for escaping a fire in your home. Should preventive measures fail, your whole life can go up in smoke without an escape plan. Writing until I can locate the source of the imbalance and act on it is my plan for escaping brain-freeze. What’s your plan?

Friday, June 13, 2014

Elton John is Stalking Me









For the past two weeks when I drive my car, an Elton John song comes on the radio. I mainly listen to “easy listening” and “oldies” stations, but it happens no matter which station is tuned in, mostly his 70’s and 80’s hits.  I feel Like Elton is stalking me! I had a similar situation with Steve Nicks last fall, no matter the time of day or the station, one of her songs came on the radio. She stalked me for weeks!

Both of these singer/songwriters have had long pop music careers, and I’ve listened to pop music since I was young. Each might have forayed into another type of music for awhile, but they returned to pop. Yesterday I heard Steve Nicks was touring again with Fleetwood Mac, where she had her biggest success.

Like Elton and Stevie, author Debbie Macomber has spent more than 25 years in the business penning 100+ books. Her readers know what to expect from one of her books. You can name your favorite author and your expectations from him or her, the same as your favorite singer.

But musicians and writers are artists, and despite reader/listener expectations many artists experiment. Look at Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber this year throwing off their known personas to find an older audience. Artists’ fan bases may or may not follow them when they experiment. Or fans may follow and hate the new trend, and desert them. It’s a funny balance trying to please our muse, write what we want to write, and yet have readers trust us enough to follow what we do. 

And as writers searching for readership, we need to learn from Elton and Debbie: if we want to maintain our original fan base and grow it AND have a successful career spanning more than 20 years, we must be true to our fans. We must haunt them like a stalker. 


Shay Lacy writes erotic fantasy romance, romantic suspense and futuristic romance. Read more about her at www.shaylacy.com.

Monday, June 9, 2014

MINDING OUR BUSINESS

Are you a writer?
Me too.
And aren’t we writers always stressing…
About the stresses of writing?
But I believe our angst about being a writer…
Is more than just putting words down…
With pen or pixel…
I believe it’s because we…
Like the characters we create…
Are not one-dimensional…
There’s more to who we are…
Than being just a writer.
We're also storytellers…
Who think up plots and create worlds …
That never existed before.
And I can tell you that not everyone…
Was born with the gift of storytelling…
As I’ve had the unfortunate experience…
Of sitting next to many bores at a party.
And also within us…
Is another dimensional aspect…
That not everyone can claim…
It’s that illusive little muse…
Who lives in our thoughts…
And comes up with all our great ideas.
And makes an entrance at will…
Just never our will…
And we’re always left wondering…
When in the hell will he/she show up?
So to the writer dimension of you…
Let me now ask…
While there are books, workshops,
Conferences, critique groups, and editors…
For you to master your craft…
Who or what is there…
For you, the storyteller?
For your muse?
Where do you go…
Or what do you do…
To stoke those fires?
And I guess if I could put yet another spin…
On this topic…
I’d say that we, writers…
Have learned to integrate...
Our body, mind, and spirit…
That would make any new-ager envious.
The body being – the writer…
The mind being – the storyteller…
And the spirit being – the muse.
So tell me…
Do you see yourself as three-dimensional?
Or maybe even multi-dimensional?
And how do you honor…
Those other aspects of all that it takes…
To be a writer?  


Always, Em-Musing

Leigh Caron writes humorous women's fiction
from the jungle of Akumal, Mexico.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Does size matter?

Many of you have a stash of books fondly referred to as your to-be-read pile. 

Until recently, my pile would fluctuate and could grow to about 30 books, at any given time.
(I confess Highlander books always seem to move out of the pile the fastest). My system appeared easy enough -- when you were ready for a new book, you pulled one out of the pile. 

Then, I noticed my stack was becoming larger so I bought a fancy tote bag that sits on the floor with a metal bar around the rim that holds the mouth of the bag wide open and suddenly my pile surged to 50+. I was considering the purchase of another tote, when it dawned on me why the pile was becoming bigger and heavier to move though I continued to average 7-10 books a week.

Hello audio and e-books! 

My reading habit had undergone a shift to compensate for spending more time on the road or out of town. This didn't happen overnight, nor was it an easy transition for me.

I still love the paperback and my first instinct is to reach into the "to-be-read" tote bag and pull out books to take with me, but it's not always practical.

Now I realize e-books and audiobooks aren't a new format and that the market has continued to expand by leaps and bounds, but it wasn't until I realized I could not physically drag my pile through airports without incurring major fees and I was spending more time in a car, that I truly sought to adopt these other methods for reading novels and in particular romances.

I've had to retrain myself to listen to romance novels rather than using my eyes to read them. In the past, I used audiobooks mainly to listen to non-fiction, but thankfully today romance fiction in audio is a growing trend. Learning to listen to romantic scenes in a car or via earplugs on an airplane was a bit strange and took a while.

But it also took me a while, to get over how awkward it was for me to use the e-reader. It isn't complex, it just not as physically pliable as the paperback. While lying down, it has given me a black eye when it has slipped out of my hand. Otherwise, it is exceedingly addictive to know that I can lug hundreds of books in less than a one pound e-reader or tablet. 

And with some stories being published only in e-format, it's wonderful to know that great novels have expanded way beyond my tote bag and I love it! I'm also happy I didn't have to buy another tote.

So does size matter? Well lucky for us, it doesn't have to. Whatever time you have or circumstances you find yourself in, readers today have more options for finding and reading wonderful novels than before.

From a writer's viewpoint I can see where we wish readers would see the positive benefits sooner, but some readers will adopt it only when they see the need to adapt and I can't say I don't understand. For readers like me, it took a few bruises and sore muscles, first.

Today, what's your favorite format for reading books? How easy was it for you to adapt to a new format?

About the Author

Tanja Fazzari writes science fiction and paranormal romances, mostly, until some Viking or Highlander tramples incessantly through her head demanding she hurry it up and write their story about conquest and love. Fortunately she has an understanding, loving husband who mans the fort and can protect his own. At this time, Tanja's working on a contemporary suspense novel.

Monday, June 2, 2014

My London Trip: First Impressions

The first week of my month in England is nearly over, and it's been quite an enlightening week. I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying having this little flat all to myself and being able to choose where I want to go each day. It's the ultimate in independence! As much as I enjoyed the Rick Steves tours, I love having the mornings to myself for writing or blogs. It's nice having my own kitchen, although I'm not really doing any cooking, other than for making tea (currently cranberry and bloodred orange) and heating up soup in the microwave. Fruit, yogurt, cheese, and sandwiches from Tesco are in the fridge for breakfast and supper, and I usually find a nice restaurant for lunch. (Pizza Express seems to be the one of choice, mostly because they're on every corner, like Cracker Barrel!)



My cold is better, but I still have coughing spells in the most inconvenient places, like the Tube at rush hour. (By the way, do avoid the Tube at rush hour, even if you aren't bothered by claustrophobia. Unbelievable!)

Speaking of the Tube, it's great, but it's not always the best way to get around. I discovered the Wallace Collection, which I wrote about for today's post on Susana's Parlour, is actually only a few blocks away and much easier for walking. The shops on Oxford Street, including Selfridge's, are only a couple of blocks further. Love being so close to everything here!

Everyone reads here! Not only on the Tube—sitting down, standing up—but even on the escalators. Makes me nauseous just to see it. While plenty of people have books and newspapers, there are lot of e-readers out there too. And phones—people texting, playing games, checking social media. who knows? Many are also listening to music, judging by the wires hanging out of coats and jackets. I can understand that. The sounds of the train rattling around on the tracks and the voice telling you to “Mind the gap” must get pretty boring for commuters day after day.

While I don't see people smoking in restaurants or on the Tube or other public buildings, you can't avoid the smoke on the sidewalk—er, the pavement. Often there are large groups of them cluttering up the pavement so that you have to either walk around them (on the street) or through them (holding your breath).

People seem to notice me because of the hat I bought in New Orleans. I've had people in restaurants, in the Tube, on the street, on the train, just about everywhere—mention it. It's kind of a nice opening. I don't really mention that I'm an author unless they ask what I was doing in New Orleans or what I'm doing in London—and when they do, they also want a card so they can check out my books!

I haven't seen much of the sun this week, but I have no complaints. It's England. It rains. If it's not raining, I tie my hooded rain jacket around my waist. It's lighter than an umbrella, and leaves my hands free. When it does rain, it hasn't been more than a light sprinkle thus far. I figure whenever there is a really rainy day I can head for a museum somewhere. There are so many of them, and many are free of charge and worth visiting again and again.

I do hope it doesn't rain tomorrow when I head north for Chatsworth, though. I hear the grounds are nearly as wonderful as the house itself. But since I am spending the night, I'll have some time the next day too. Can't wait!



I'll be posting photos on Pinterest and also on Susana's Parlour and Facebook. Hope you are all having a great day!

About the Author

A former teacher, Susana is finally living her dream of being a full-time writer. She loves all genres of romance, but historical—Regency in particular—is her favorite. There’s just something about dashing heroes and spunky heroines waltzing in ballrooms and driving through Hyde Park that appeals to her imagination.

Susana is a resident of northwest Ohio and central Florida, although she has lived in Ecuador and studied in Spain, France and Mexico. More recently, she was able to travel around the UK and visit many of the places she’s read about for years, and it was awesome! She is a member of the Maumee Valley, Central Florida, and Beau Monde chapters of Romance Writers of America.

Her latest release is A Twelfth Night Tale, a sweet Regency Christmas novella in Ellora's Cave's Blush Cotillion Christmas series.