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, September 14, 2014

Of Marketing and Messages

Here’s the thing about being a published author. You can write the greatest story ever told (yes, I know that one’s been done already but just go with me on this for a minute). However, if no one knows about the story, you’ve wasted all your time and effort. A decade or so ago, the publishing industry was a well oiled, if somewhat cranky, machine. An author wrote a book. The book was submitted to a publisher for consideration. With luck and the right alignment of the planets, the publisher made an offer to publish the author’s book. Frequently that offer included significant marketing efforts to let readers know about this newest great read.

All of that has changed (for most authors). The chance is minuscule that a publisher will spend money and resources to market any single author’s book. E-publishing and the much wider acceptance of e-reading has produced a glut in the market. At .99 cents (or less) per item, books are some of the cheapest entertainment available. You might say this is great. Readers have more choices, and reading dollars have greater purchasing power. Hooray! I’m a reader. I love getting inexpensive books. What I don’t love is spending even .99 cents for drek.

How do I, as a reader, decide which of the millions of available books will give me a satisfying read? The avenues I once used have dwindled. Book stores no longer have friendly sales associates who’ve actually read the books and can hand sell them to me. Heck, brick and mortar book stores are disappearing faster than water in a desert. On the up side, book reviews have increased in number, but even the best reviewers cannot keep up with the thousands of books being published every week. In addition, reviewers are not without bias, so taking a recommendation from a reviewer involves some risk. Nor can I count on the reputation of a publishing house. I’m absolutely certain that every publisher believes the books they publish are the best books out there. Sometimes the publishers are right. Just as often they fail to meet the entertainment mark.

At one time in my life, the most reliable measure of book quality was an author’s name. Almost every reader has at least one ‘favorite’ author. A 'favorite' author represents consistent entertainment quality, and readers purchase that author’s books simply because of the author’s name. I must have a dozen or more ‘favorite’ authors. Sadly, I found those authors years ago, before the market glut and dwindling referral resources. Now days, some of my favorites rarely publish more than once a year. I can’t wait a year between books. I need more quality authors, and I’m not finding them.

Guess what? Other readers are also not finding new ‘favorite’ authors. I know. I’m one of those authors whose books languish for lack of a reliable conduit to readers who would love my stories, if only the readers knew the tales existed. I, like most of my fellow authors, spend time, effort, and money (which I’d rather spend on books) with social media, public appearances, building websites, running drawings, and announcing all these marketing efforts with little or no return on my investment.

I’ve taken countless marketing classes, attended numberless chats about how to reach readers, and exhausted myself both physically and mentally. I’ve worried myself into writer’s block. What I worry about most is the message sent by all the marketing and announcing followed by a close to deafening silence when I reach the point of exhaustion. In the end, this author is left with more questions than answers. What impression am I really leaving on the audience I hope to reach? Do readers know how much I care that I give them the best possible book? Do they have as much trouble as I have, finding new favorite authors? What’s the best way to increase my readership without being annoying and/or hopelessly whiny?

In an ideal world, I would do no marketing. I would write and spend time interacting with readers who love my books enough to let me know I’m one of their ‘favorite’ authors. The world is far from ideal, but if I could give readers one message it would be this. I write because I want to entertain you each and every time you open one of my books.

Please leave a comment. Let me know how you’re dealing with the market glut and the search for new 'favorite’ authors.

Rue Allyn is the author of heart melting historical, contemporary, and erotic romance novels. You may find more information about Rue and her books via the following links:  Rue's E-mail  Rue's Website  Rue on Facebook  Rue on Twitter  Rue on Goodreads Rue on Amazon

Monday, September 8, 2014


I have a little thought…
That goes on inside of me…
And what can be the use of it…
Is more than I can see.
OK, yes…
This is a rip off…
Of Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem…
“My Shadow” from A Child’s Garden of Verses
But it works…
With what I’ve been thinking about lately…
 “a little thought”
(actually, lots of little thoughts)
And if we believe Albert Einstein…
That everything is energy…
And nothing ever really goes away…
It just changes…
Into another form of energy…
Then what happens to all my little thoughts?
Where do they go?
What do they turn into?
Or do some thoughts…
Just go out into the ether…
Drifting along some quantum field…
Where someone else can connect with them…
And then to pick them…
Like juicy cherries…
And make something out of them…
Like pies…
Or Jams…
Or a book...
And then this someone…
Can claim it as their own original thought.
I can’t even guess…
How many little thoughts I’ve had…
That I have now forgotten.
Poor little thoughts…
I didn’t mean to let you go…
But alas, I did.
But you too, no?
You've had thoughts you've forgotten, yes?
Where do you think your thoughts go?
Or does energy only have to do with matter?
And really…
In the whole scheme of the universe…
Do forgotten thoughts really matter?
Your thoughts, please.


Leigh lives on the Riviera Maya in Mexico. 
She writes humorous women's fiction

and is putting together a writer's retreat 
for next spring.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Happy Birthday To Me!

Today marks a couple of big days in our family:

First, it's the beginning of First Grade for bebe (as I write this she's somewhere between art and music and I'm incredibly thankful that her school still supports art programs). School actually started last Monday, so this is the end of the second week, which means I'm finding my footing again. I'm lucky to be a full time writer, but when bebe's home, my schedule gets a little nutty. And she's only six. During the summer there are extra gymnastics classes and swimming and playdates and Daddy Dates and Mommy Dates (in which either RadioMan or myself take her somewhere for an afternoon of 1-on-1 stuff). Last week my schedule mostly consisted of staring at my current WIP and then staring out the window, waiting for her to come home.

This week has been better. I'm not just staring at the WIP, I'm writing. And when the bus brakes squeal in the later afternoon, I'm surprised that a whole day has already passed.

Second, it's my birthday. Yay, me! I love birthdays. RadioMan's birthdays, bebe's birthdays, extended family birthdays. I like finding the perfect card or a silly knick-knacky gift. And I love cake, probably a little too much.

This is also release week for me; I have 2 books out from Harlequin E, both are part of my Rocker's trilogy - book 1 (Light My Fire) is out solo and book 2 is part of the Harlequin E Contemporary Box Set: Volume 3 (Start Me Up). Here's a little taste of Light My Fire, in which Lily is hoping Nate gets the message that she's done being 'just friends':

“Don’t.” Her words were a whisper, but still loud in the back of the limo.
 “Don’t, what?”
 Finally she looked at him, her deep brown eyes molten in the darkness. “Don’t be my brother’s best friend tonight. Don’t be my cheerleader. Just…” Her hand trembled against his on the cool leather seat. “I’m not America’s favorite sixteen-year-old any longer. I don’t need to pretend I’m still sixteen, and the magazines are already burning me at Trey’s sacrificial altar, so why not send that old image up in flames all the way?”
 She leaned across the seat, brushed her sweet lips across his cheek, and Nate nearly lost it. He was holding on by a thread. This was Lily.
 The same girl he’d grown up with. The Lily who’d brought him home after school because she noticed he hadn’t eaten lunch for three days. The Lily who cheered for him at the high school talent show. The Lily who couldn’t really want him, because if she did…he would ruin her.

Buy Links for Light My Fire: Amazon     Barnes & Noble    iBooks

Buy Links for Start Me Up: Amazon     Barnes & Noble    iBooks

And because it's my birthday, I'm looking back at other birthdays and I realized that this birthday, 2 years after my first book was published, will see 7 of my books out in the world. I've turned in 2 more (the final installment of my Rocker Trilogy, Call Me, and my first Harlequin SuperRomance, The Daughter He Wanted) coming out in the next 3ish months. And 2 more under contract. And another series that I've just started writing. So, my first two years will see 11 books published...and more on the way. I think that is definitely a call for celebration...so lift your cake (I mean, coffee) and lets celebrate!

Once upon a time, Kristina Knight spent her days running from car crash to fire to meetings with local police--no, she wasn't a troublemaker, she was a journalist. Her career took her all over the United States, writing about everything from a serial killer's capture to the National Finals Rodeo. Along the way she found her very own Knight in Shining Cowboy Boots and an abiding love for romance novels. And just like the characters from her favorite books, she's living her own happily ever after.

Friday, August 29, 2014

On Making Yourself Happy and Remarkably Less Disturbable

Click to purchase at Amazon
Click to purchase at Amazon

When I first went to visit my counselor (Jennifer), I related a long list of all my problems and failings and when I was finished, she looked at me and said, “You're your own worst enemy, aren't you?”

And I suddenly realized she was right.

I had spent practically my entire life feeling a failure, despite being a successful person. I graduated sixth in my class, but I got a D in trigonometry. I worked hard at my job, but somehow never felt good enough. Every time I made a mistake, I saw it as proof that I was a failure, and that led to hopelessness, misery and depression. I took refuge in food, television and obsessive reading. Anything that would help me forget—at least temporarily—how unhappy I felt deep inside.

Just prior to my first appointment with Jennifer, my hairdresser (Ellen) told me about a book called How to Make Yourself Happy and Remarkably Less Disturbable, by Albert Ellis, Ph.D (no relation). I started reading the book and began to realize that it was my negative thinking that was to blame. My personality is what it is. If I work really hard, I can change some of my negative tendencies, but for the most part, I'd just better learn to live with it. What I can do is learn to recognize my self-defeating thoughts and replace them with healthy ones.

I'm a Procrastinator

Perfectionists demand perfection. But fear of submitting work that is less than perfect can make me fearful of even getting started. Maybe it will turn out better if I think about it awhile. I'll get started tomorrow. So I keep delaying the project and feeling more anxious as each day passes. Giving myself another day “to think about it” temporarily releases the tension—much like eating a banana split the night before starting a diet—but the end result is more anxiety and guilt.

Human beings have innate, self-destructive tendencies, so simply pretending they don't exist doesn't work. Simply trying to be positive won't do it. The first thing you have to do is accept that you are who you are, that you have these tendencies, but that you can learn to recognize them and reject them for more constructive, healthy ones.

Realistically, the harmful thinking will never completely go away. You will still mess up and sabotage yourself and that is why the title of this book isn't How to Make Yourself Happy and Completely Eliminate Disturbable Thinking, but How to Make Yourself Happy and Remarkably Less Disturbable.

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (or Cognitive Behavior Therapy)

The next step is to recognize your disturbing thoughts and realize they are wrong. For example: 

I'll never be a successful author so why bother trying? 

Now think about it. Is it really true that you'll for sure never be a successful author? Do you have a crystal ball telling you that? If you work as hard as you can, isn't there at least a chance that you'll be successful? If you never even try—or give up too soon—then you know for sure you'll never be successful! 

And if you don't try, and never reach your goal, will it make you feel better to know that you never wasted any time trying? Not likely. If you're anything like me, you'd forever regret that you never tried and thus are doomed to wonder what could have happened.

There are some things you can control and some things you have no control over. You can't control the book market. Publishers. Trends. Readers. Opinions. Weather. The Stock Market. Anything that happened yesterday.

What you can control are your own thoughts. It makes no sense to give up before I've even started. While I can't possibly know the end result—so what is the point of worrying about it?—I do know that this is what I've wanted to do for a long time and I owe it to myself to make the effort. The worst that could happen is that I never make the best-sellers' list and nobody likes my writing, but at least I've made myself happy by daring to make the attempt. It wouldn't have made me feel better if I'd spent the time watching television or keeping my house spotless or reading some other author's books and wondering whether I could write better ones. Would it?

REBT is more than just recognizing and disputing destructive thoughts, though. You have to teach yourself to utterly destroy them. This takes a great deal of effort and time, and while you won't completely conquer it, you can make your life ever so much more pleasant by becoming proficient at this remarkable cognitive technique. When I find myself backsliding, I take out one of my Ellis books and start re-reading it for a few minutes every day to remind me that in this uncertain world where so much going on is out of my control, I do have the power to control my own thinking. And the harder I work, the less disturbable my life becomes.

Try it: it works!

Albert Ellis, Ph.D., (1913-2007) was a psychologist and founder of the Albert Ellis Institute for Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy in New York City, with affiliated centers throughout the world. His popular books include How to Keep People from Pushing Your Buttons, Sex Without Guilt, Anger: How to Live With and Without It, and A New Guide to Rational Living. He was perhaps the best-known and most honored psychologist of our time.

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.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Friends for Lunch

I met up with writer friends for lunch recently. Our schedules, like most, are full and when we get together topics bounce around swiftly from fictional characters and topics, to real people and events.

“But, I’m stuck on how am I going to kill the ex?” mingles with the “Get the dressing on the side or else your salad will be drowning in it.”
“Did you say drown him?”
“Huh? I guess you could drown him in your backyard pool.”
“I don’t have one.”
“Start digging.” Chuckles.
“Pass the sugar, please.”
“Are you going to be at that meeting next month?” Some heads shake, some nod.
“How much do you hate the ex?”
“Can’t be a pool, I don’t want him found right away.”
“Take good notes for me, will you?”
“I hate this hot, humid weather.”

Topics continued to shift. Overall, our gardens haven’t done as well this season as last year. We seem to be eating more fast food lately and diets start next week. Workouts have been sporadic mainly interrupted by scheduling conflicts and health issues. One of the kids broke an arm right before school restarts. In addition to our own difficulties, however, we talked about recent sad and bad news we either saw on television or heard on the radio.

It became apparent as we finished our meals, that we didn’t wish to end our luncheon on a sorrowful note, but we struggled. We support each other on all sorts of topics and writing dilemmas, but this rough patch of recent events has affected us all.

“Well, I rarely have room, but I’m ordering dessert!”
Everyone stayed. Everyone ordered a dessert.

I couldn’t quite shake off the gloom, and doubt anyone else could either, but we did attempt to place the sad subjects behind us.

But it was the extra time we took, seated together shoulder to shoulder for a little while longer, that made a big difference.

In this small shared act we silently screamed our support and care of one another and it helped buoy our spirits. Or maybe it was the sugar.

“Hey! It’s football season!”
There were a few groans, a few smirks. Comments about rival teams were made as we left the restaurant feeling better.

Sometimes writers need hugs, a big dose of sugar and a little extra time with other people.

 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.

Friday, August 8, 2014


Can you imagine where you’ll be…
In three years?
I’ve asked many friends to visualize…
Where they’ll be in three years.
Most cannot see it or feel it.
But as a writer…
Can you?
I mean…
You always create worlds…
a.k.a. world-building…
For your readers, don’t you?
Always imagining people, places, and things…
That have never existed before…
Until it was up in your head.
But do or can you…
World-build your own real world?
Because until your future arrives…
It has never existed before…
Just like your stories.
And just like the storyteller for your readers…
What stories are you creating…
For youself?
And if you have done this for yourself…
How did you do it?
Where will you be in three years?



Leigh lives on the Riviera Maya in Mexico. She writes humorous women's fiction
and is putting together a writer's retreat for next spring.

Friday, August 1, 2014

My New Project: An Anthology

I've thought about doing an anthology project for some time, but it was only after Kim Jacobs' presentation at the MVRWA July meeting that I seriously considered organizing one for Regency authors. Why? It sounded like fun, for one thing, but as Kim mentioned, with several authors all promoting the book at the same time, it would likely bring us all to the attention of new readers who might well decide to check out our older titles.

As to the theme, it didn't take long to come up with Waterloo. The Napoleonic War is an important reality during the Regency period, and 2015 is the bicentenary of the victory at Waterloo, which was June 18, 1815. If we could release our volume by April 1, it might capture the interest of Regency readers interested in commemorating the battle that defeated Napoleon once and for all.

Apparently a number of authors thought this project of merit, because almost immediately I had 22 authors interested in joining our group. My research advised starting out with at least three times the optimal number, which has proved to be good advice, as there were several dropouts as specific decisions were made regarding heat level, deadline, etc. Since I write sweet and my readers expect sweet romance from me, it didn't seem advisable to include steamy stories in the same volume, although there's no reason the others couldn't do their own steamier volume. The other factor was deadline, and several authors were already so busy with current projects that they didn't want to commit to a January 1, 2015 deadline.

Other issues to consider were goals—with half a dozen people to split royalties with, it seems unlikely to generate a huge profit, but it could stimulate interest in our other work. And while these projects can be done almost entirely in-house with very little investment required, I'm inclined to hire a professional editor and have an experienced literary attorney draw up the contract. And there may be promotional expenses as well. It seems to me that if we're going to do it, we should make sure it's done well.

Although I'm willing to handle the finances and a share of the copy editing, the other authors will have to lend a hand to things like the cover, formatting, marketing plan, etc. I have my own writing to consider, and it won't get done if I'm spending all my time on this project.

I'm excited about all we've accomplished in less than two weeks. Kim Jacobs' presentation was apropos, occurring only days before the beginning of the RWA conference, and I was able to attend presentations on this topic as well as network with other authors. I think we have a plan that will work.

What do you think? Have you ever been a part of a similar anthology project?

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.