Anaheim, or Bust #RWA12

Anaheim, or Bust #RWA12

Logo for RWA Conference 2012So, I’ve been packing since I got up this morning, around 6am. I’ve had 3 cups of coffee, wrapped a tote bag FULL of Los Angeles Romance Authors Books & Goodies, made a run to the store for apples and dinner rolls (to go with the salami and cheese previously purchased – there’s a fridge in the room), bought an apple fritter from the best donut shop for the hubby as a bribe and solace for taking me down to Anaheim, remembered ALL my hair thingies (curling iron, brush, comb, spray, etc), remembered the camera and the battery charger.

I think I’m ready.

Still flying high from  yesterday’s news which, yeah, haven’t shared here. But you know what I CAN tell you? Networking is important. Keeping a pleasant and positive public face online is important. Sometimes not doing something is just as important as doing something, and not doing it may get you to your bigger goal.

I know, cryptic, huh. Just know that good things are humming along, and at the perfect time for me. Talk about symmetry!

So I’ll try to blog this week, but I truly don’t know when I’ll get the time. I’ve managed to go digest on all my mail lists, and told my boss that he can call me all he wants, I’m not answering his calls or his emails, lol.

I’m off soon to live in a world of two thousand other romance writers for almost a week. Yes, you envy me!

Gearing Up – RWA 2012

Gearing Up – RWA 2012

This will be my first Romance Writers of America conference in four years, so I’m excited. There’s something about taking over a being in a hotel with 2,000 other romance writers that gets my blood flowing.

The energy is amazing, the nerves palpable. Every year there are a lot of people who are attending conference for the first time. They are usually fairly easy to spot – they keep to themselves and have a glazed look of panic in their eyes. By the end of the conference, the panic has ebbed but the glaze is looking rather permanent. It’s information overload.

I’m pitching at this conference, as I have at every conference I’ve ever gone to. I have always been confident at pitching – don’t know why. Lucky, I guess! I’m still trolling searching for the right agent, and I’m also taking a stab at Harlequin again. (I’ve been reading their books since I was 13; I really, really want to write for them.) I’m also pitching one of my older books that I’m inordinately fond of to Entangled Publishing. They’re holding pitches off-site, at their hotel across the street so yay!

But between now and checking in on Tuesday, I’ve got a lot to do. Like, um, formalize all my pitches, to start. I need to make sure my phone is internet-enabled, and not just when  the wireless is engaged. I need to pick up my jackets at the dry cleaners tomorrow, and finish all my work tasks. A big thing is to remember all the small things; tooth brush, toothpaste, makeup, curling iron, hairbrush – I always forget something, then have to buy something that doesn’t quite work. Can’t afford to do that this time, so I’ve got to get it right.

Then there’s the clothing issue. What with not being in my usual shape, due to the rocks in my belly, I’ll be doing a lot of camouflage dressing – jackets and jeans and boots, mostly. Dressy-casual, but not too dressy. Business-like, but not a suit&heels. When you’re spending your day rushing between workshops and lunch and appointments, the last thing you need to wear is a pair of high heels. (No new shoes for me this trip. I learned my lesson about that long ago.) So, laundry just got jacked up high on the list.

I’m lucky enough to room with three incredible women, all whom I’ve known and loved for a few years. We will totally rock our room with hilarity and wine and love and I just can’t wait. (Reminder – buy wine.)

My very first conference experience was rooming with the lovely and talented contemporary romance author Lynne Marshall, way back in 2002 – Denver. Every night after we collapsed in our rooms, we’d stay up, chattering about what we learned, and sharing our notes. It was like having a mini-conference within the conference, and remains one of the highlights of all of my conference-going experiences.

This is a decade later, and I find I’m still excited about learning, still excited about seeing old friends and meeting cyber-friends, and more than anything determined to reach out to people I haven’t yet met but want to meet. I plan to be ready with my business cards to hand out, and my logline (as to what I write) memorized. Bob Mayer says you should go to conferences with a plan – know what you’re going to do, who you’re going to talk with, and have concrete goals. Below are my goals, in no particular order:

1. Be upbeat, but not obnoxious.
2. Ask for business cards from people I connect with. Pass out business cards lavishly to the same.
3. Don’t fawn over Angela James. ESPECIALLY refrain from calling her “cute”. (Yeah. Don’t ask!) As a matter of fact, try to avoid Angela James entirely in any possible one on one situation. (It’s not her, trust me. It’s totally me.)
4. Rock my interviews. All three of them. Get requests for full submissions.
5. Spend some time at the bar, sticking to soda water with lime.
6. Soak up information like a sponge. Really consider taking as many of the self-publishing workshops as I can.
7. Find all of my friends and cyber friends at the book signing and say hi to each one.
8. Scrutinize all the agents that speak at the agent panel; see if maybe there’s one that meets my criteria, and do some research on him/her.
9. Don’t spend any time in my room unless I’m a) sleeping b)partying with the girls after everything is over or 3) taking a shower/doing my hair.
10. Be as much of a positive, welcoming influence as I possibly can to everyone I meet.

So there you go, my goals for RWA 2012. Not outside of my scope of reach, I think.

How about you? Are you going to RWA 2012? What are your goals? Oh, and by the way – I’m not signing at the Literacy Signing on Wednesday night, as I wasn’t sure if my second book would be out in time. But I’ll be hawking tickets and calling out the baskets at the signing – so if you see a crazy woman with electric red hair and a jacket and jeans, flinging business cards willy nilly,  it’s probably me. Come on over and say hi!


Thanks for visiting. I love hearing from you, so feel free to leave a comment!

I Heart Book Bloggers

I Heart Book Bloggers

There has been some kerfluffles between book bloggers and writers recently. I don’t know all the details (and I really don’t want to, either), but from what I could discover, errors happened on both sides. But I’m here to champion book bloggers.

cartoon photo of books

For me, I totally heart book bloggers. These people review books for readers, but they also do writers an incalculable service (whether or not that is their intent). Most of the book bloggers will put their reviews up on Amazon (I think – I could be wrong about that!), which gives a boost to the writer (no matter the rating). When you consider that the “magic number” of reviews on Amazon tends to be 50, those bloggers often make up the bulk of a writer’s reviews.

Whether it is a person who only reviews, or a blogger who tosses out an occasional review, it doesn’t matter to me. I have learned a very important lesson from a reviewer that I took to heart. See, she loved the first book in my Caine Brothers series, but she was pretty unhappy that the hero and heroine didn’t take down the villains together.

When I read that, I immediately understood her reasoning, and sympathized. But at the time, the ending kind of had to happen the way it did – the heroine had to win and win big, and then the hero also had to win and win big. They both had a lot to prove to themselves, so for that reason they couldn’t fight together.

But when I was writing book 2 in the series, I remembered this review and I knew, without a doubt, that my hero and heroine would have to take down the bad guy together. They were both strong people; their journey, though, meant they had to learn to let someone else in to help them. In fact, the only way this bad guy could be taken apart was by the two of them letting down their protective walls and working together.

Stack of booksWould I have come to that conclusion without that reviewer’s lament? Maybe. But I can tell you that bringing that up in the review made it impossible for me to forget; which ensured the outcome of book 2.

Reviewers are golden. Writers should, in my opinion, always thank the reviewer whenever practical (though I understand that some reviewers feel kind of creeped out when a writer thanks them for a bad review). Writers should also take bad reviews in stride, and not ever take them personally. In this market, to an extent, every review has value.

And then we get the other side of things: here’s an entertaining blog about the 5 meanest book reviews from the Huffington post. Now, I’m not encouraging book bloggers to write mean reviews, and neither is the HuffPost; as they say, sometimes any publicity is NOT good publicity.

But for the most part, book bloggers go into this game with a wide open heart and an insatiable love of reading. And because of that, I heart you all.


 Do you have a favorite Book Blogger? Enquiring Minds want to know!

DEMON SOUL, BLOOD DREAMS, and DEMON HUNT all available now!

DEMON HUNT Release Day!

DEMON HUNT Release Day!

It’s finally here – DEMON HUNT release day! The second full length novel in the Caine Brothers Series! I am incredibly proud of this book, as this is the one that I took from a 15K short story to a full length novel. I probably wrote this book – or at least the first five chapters of it – about six times. I couldn’t figure out how to expand the story into a full length novel!

Cover of Demon Hunt, with a full moon and a pair of hands reaching for the lightning.Then I just let go of what I had written, and wrote a new book with the same thread that had been in the short story. And it just took off.

I hope you enjoy the book. I’m working on Justin and Maggie’s story now, called DEMON’S RAGE – and there’s a teaser chapter for that at the back of HUNT!

Here’s the back-of-the-book blurb for Demon Hunt:

Tribred Gregor Caine decided long ago to deny his blood legacy, so he isn’t thrilled when paired with a full-blooded Fae to hunt the demons threatening to decimate Los Angeles. As they fight side by side, he finds she calls to both his Fae and his demon blood; a call he can’t resist.

Warrior Fae Serra Willows crossed into the Human Plane to help destroy the demons released from the Chaos Plane. Finding and shutting down the portal between worlds is more challenging than she expected…and Gregor and his world more seductive than she had ever imagined.

As the killings escalate, Gregor and Serra realize one of the most deadly demons from the Chaos Plane has marked Serra as his own. To save her, Gregor has to face his greatest fear—losing his humanity to the darkness in his blood. But in a race against time, that darkness could become his greatest strength. And he will kill to claim Serra’s love.

And here’s what Maggie Shayne said about DEMON HUNT:

“Demon Hunt sucked me in from the very first page.  A potent, exciting, Fae adventure that keeps you turning pages while you try to catch your breath.  Ashworth’s talent shines in this unique and original novel.  Do not miss it.”
~NY Times Bestselling Author Maggie Shayne

As a side note: The eBook isn’t up on Amazon yet, but the paperback is. Go figure!

UPDATE: My bad…I wasn’t looking in the Kindle Store for the book. It’s there! Squee!









White Wine Spritzers for Summer

White Wine Spritzers for Summer

It’s hot. Muggy. The humidity is rising faster than the heat, and the air conditioning can barely keep up. What’s a rational person to drink while barbecuing pizza at night, with the temps still in the upper 80s?

Try a white wine spritzer. Any white wine will do, actually, but I like going for the less expensive wines. Here’s the recipe:

One large glass – either a tumbler or a big wine glass.
Fill with ice
Fill half full with white wine
Squeeze half a small lemon or lime or – heck – an orange – into the wine (or get fancy, like the picture)
Add sparkling water (soda water) to the brim

(Contrariwise, you can always add some Sprite or 7-Up or other lemon-lime type soda instead of plain soda water. But beware; you add calories, too.)

Last night’s Spritzers were made with two different wines.

Side By Side 2010 California Chardonnay Alcohol 13.5% by volume; closeout sale at Vons, under $10.

On The Label: “Beyond the strategic relationship, so many of us from both nations have fought literally side by side, that this modern relationship between the US and UK military means a great deal to us. It has a depth and an emotion to it that is profound.”     –Major General Phil Jones

Proceeds to benefit Azalea Charities Aid for Wounded Warriors program at ”

My Take: This was an easy-drinking wine, and the soda water and lemon made it go down even easier. I tried and failed to find the wine on-line; the label is a beautiful painting of two soldiers, one wearing a US flag, one wearing a UK flag. I wish I knew more about the wine; and where to get it. As it was on close out sale, my guess is its gone from the places I usually get wine.

My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ Perfect for a Spritzer, but just as drinkable without the extras.

Discoveries Vineyards 2009 California Chardonnay Alcohol 13.5% by Volume Label of Discoveries Vineyards Chardonnay showing a pier stretching out to Anacapa Island, California$7.99 at Vons

On The Label: “It’s not always the journey that changes our lives. It’s often the discoveries we make along the way. Our first discovery shows the silhouette of Ventura Pier and Anacapa Island in the distance warmed by the setting sun. Our second discovery is this Chardonnay. Both are soft and tranquil. Only one has fresh fruit and toasted oak in the finish.”

My Take:  I sipped this wine straight out of the bottle after Tom made me a spritzer with it, just so I could get a sense of it. I went back to the spritzer. It turns out the lime/lemon added along with the soda water really made a difference in how the wine tasted, which made it perfect for a spritzer.

My Rating: ~ Perfect for a Spritzer ~ A new rating. I would otherwise rate it on the Barely Drinkable to Drinkable scale.

Two More Wines For Summer (that I would not use for Spritzers):

photo of the Cupcake Vineyards Angel Food wine bottleIf you haven’t yet tried Cupcake Vineyards 2011 Angel Food, do give it a try. At first taste it does remind me of angel food cake, which is my all-time favorite. It’s got a great vanilla flavor with a little more than a hint of sweetness, cut by some green apple. I was vastly surprised that I liked it. My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ Under $10 at Vons, on sale.

Also new to the stores is Be. Fresh Chardonnay 2011. Introductory price under $10; don’t know how long that will last. It’s a Beringer Vineyards wine, so the lineage is strong. I liked it; fresh, fruity, and when really cold, revitalizing. It was not in a typical Chardonnay-style bottle, but I got over it pretty quickly, lol. My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ (I couldn’t grab a picture of the bottle – but here’s the web page .)

As usual, this is just my honest opinion and depend upon my mood, the weather, how many political ads I’ve been bombarded with, and if Mercury is in Retrograde or not. Your taste buds will differ.

~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~

DEMON HUNT Arrives July 16, 2012!

My Rating System: Undrinkable, Perfect for a Spritzer, Barely Drinkable, Drinkable, Very Drinkable, and the ever popular Stay away! This is MY wine, you slut!