I recently took a gander at my to-read shelf and found it loaded down with quite a few Holiday related novels. Generally, I don’t start my holiday reading until after Thanksgiving, but this year I think I’ll start a little earlier. To see how far through my list I can get, I decided to post all the titles here and then a short review once I’ve finish each one.



Don’t you just LOVE the covers of Holiday novels? I do. Can’t wait to get started!!


This month I’ll be presenting at my first writer’s conference! And have to admit, I’m a bit nervous.



I’m teaching a breakout season on plotting, which is definitely my favorite part of the writing process.

Below is the outline and talking notes for my class.

Click here for the PowerPoint Plotting Is Fun!

Syllabus: Plotting is Fun! How to keep your story from getting hung up somewhere between 300 pages of eloquently worded sentences and what might very well be the next Great American novel.

Plotting is fun! In fact, I think plotting so much fun, if there were a Chinese character for it, I would have it tattooed on my body somewhere. Except that I hate needles and anything that’s permanent, so . . . And because I think plotting is so much fun, I often have other writers come to me with plot dilemmas to which I find myself offering the very same advice, over and over again.

You’re making it too hard. Too complicated.

Obviously, we want our stories to have twists and turns, to make our readers ooh and ahh over the genius of what they never saw coming. But the genius doesn’t come in the intricacy of how we get from one twist to the next turn. That part, we need to make simple. When we ask ourselves, what is the easiest way to get from this twist to that turn? Miraculously, all our troubles just drift away.

Let’s give it a try. Do it right now. Think about a place in your story where the plot is hanging up (better known as the dreaded “writer’s block”). Now think about the simplest way you can get your character from where he or she is right now to where you want them to be.

Too simple, you say. My readers will get bored, you say. Not true. Isn’t it true that we can be doing the most fun thing in the world (a wedding, a trip to the beach, a party, Disney) but the minute we make it complicated, the less fun it becomes?

It’s the same with writing.

The wow factor for our readers comes in our delightfully quirky characters, our snappy dialogue and our concise but eloquent descriptions.

That’s what we are going to focus on today. Keeping it simple so it can be fun.

Discovery Writer or Meticulous Outliner. Every writer must plot.

Meticulous Outliner: The Meticulous Outliner lays their entire story out ahead of time. They plan all the pitfalls their characters will fall into and determine which chapter that will best happen in. They research and know all the intricate details of whatever it is they need to know intricate details on.

Discovery Writer: Takes a fly-by-night approach to writing. Sit down in front of the keyboard, set your fingers on the keys, close your eyes and just let the story flow down from your brain, out your fingers and on into the computer.

I like to think of myself as more of a hybrid. I outline in order to have an idea of where my story is going so I’ll have an idea of how long it will take me to get there. If the book has a time line—say I want to story to wrap up by Christmas—I need to plan so I know what month I’m in. Are there leaves falling? Is it cold? Etc. But not much more than that. Then I like to just let it flow. Sometimes the story takes me in a direction I hadn’t anticipated and I have to go back and re-outline, which is no big deal. Allowing the creativity to flow is more fun and more important than being bothered by occasionally having to re-plot.

First: Every great story is made up of a set of compelling chapters.

Four basics that every chapter needs:


Top Ten Signs You Might be Watching Too Much HGTV

To go along with my contribution to the Ripple Effect Romance Series, I came up with a Tens List:

1. You start having dreams involving twins, Jonathan and Drew, from the Property Brothers that you can’t tell your husband and/or mother about.EbookHomeMatters

2. When your kids want to know why they have to wear sunblock at the pool, you tell them it’s because ‘natural light’ is damaging to the skin.

3. In the spring when all your neighbors are having yard sales, you’re having an “outdoor living space” sale.

4. You come home from the mall, and when your husband asks where you’ve been all day, you say, “Out ‘sourcing’ about a half-dozen pair of shoes,” to which he responds, “That’s nice Honey. Glad you didn’t spend any money,” to which you don’t say, “Who said anything about not spending any money?”

5. You’ve begun to truly believe that everything you see on HGTV is as easy as it looks, and thus have cancelled your yearly vacation to Club Med so you can stay home to “reimagine” your master bath into a “spa retreat” you can enjoy year round instead.

6. When your DIY project lands you in the ER with injuries to body parts that are a little awkward to explain, and the doctor asks, “What were you thinking, operating a power tool while wearing only a tank top and shorts?” You say, “Well, I suppose I was thinking that if Nicole Curtis can renovate, and look sexy at the same time, why can’t I?”

7. You begin to seriously consider that quitting your job and selling your home so you can move to a tropical, third-world country where you know no one, and can’t speak the language, in order to open a surf shop, slash, yoga studio, slash, hookah bar is the most brilliant idea you’ve ever come up with.

8. You understand that in order to secure a guest spot on most any HGTV show, you “must have” a love of both “entertaining” and “enjoying a glass of wine,” a desire to live close to “restaurants, bars and shops,” and have at least one dog and/or a variety of other random pets. Children, however, are more or less optional.

9. You’re life has begun to resemble the last five episodes of Renovation Realities and thus you are no longer able to either “entertain” or “enjoy a glass of wine” because you have a house full of DIY projects you’ve started but can’t seem to get finished.

10. You’re constantly looking for ways to work Piėce de rėsistance into regular everyday conversations.

If you are experiencing six or more of these signs and/or have even an inkling of what the aforementioned is even talking about, you might want to delete any and all DIY shows from your DVR, turn off the TV, and pick up a book, or six. 5 out of 5 therapists recommended The Ripple Effects Romance series as a good place to start.

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Every now and then I’ll hear a writer—generally an unpublished author—say that plotting is his/her least favorite part about writing a novel. Okay first of all, “novel” and “plot” are nearly synonymous. Without a plot, there is no novel, no story. So technically, if a writer doesn’t like to “plot,” said writer probably shouldn’t be wasting his/her time writing a novel. In my opinion, just because a person enjoys writing doesn’t mean he/she must become a novelist. There are so many other ways one can express his/her self through the written word—columns, editorials, poetry, blogging, etc.

And second, maybe the reason so many writers have a hard time plotting is because we as a society have become too dependent on technology doing our thinking for us. We don’t memorize phone numbers any more because all of our contacts are stored in our cell phones. We don’t have to think about how to spell because Word and even our phones do that for us as well. I’m showing my age here but I remember when telephones still had party-lines and TVs were black and white. *Gasp* Viewers had to actually get up and turn a knob to change channels. (Currently, I don’t even know where the on and off switch is on my TV much less how to change channels without the remote.) And when I started college, students were still using typewriters for term papers and libraries to do research. Ah, I do miss the days of riffling through the card catalog . . .


I’m very excited to announce that Count Down to Love was chosen as a Whitney Award Finalist!

Click here to view all of the Whitney Award Finalist.

Count Down to Love was also mentioned in an article at Dawning of a Brighter Day.

Check back in May for a list of the winners. Fingers crossed Count Down to Love is among them.



Recently, I received some feedback on my latest novel (Count Down to Love). First, the editor complemented me on my characters and dialogue, which was nice, but then she went on to categorizing me as the kind of author who tends to “tell” instead of “show.” Now I will admit that I did incorporate the occasional flashback and introspective, some of which I agree needs to be reworked, but when did it become a crime to write a novel with a nice balance of dialogue and narration. And it wasn’t as if I didn’t know what I was doing when I wrote the offensive telling. If my dialogue was “enjoyable” and my characters “interesting” then obviously I know how to “show.” I wasn’t suffering from some sort of multiple personality writing disorder that caused my writing style to shift from showing to telling and then back again without my knowledge.

But then if such a disorder did exist maybe psychotherapists could come up with a Cognitive Therapy to treat it? Something like an annoying alarm that sounds whenever an author writes a paragraph containing more than four sentences, followed by a voice reminding the writer that it’s best to dial-down the narration—more people will read the book if the author uses fewer words. The goal of the therapy being that, over time, the author is able to move past the “irrational” idea that good literature is about plot and characterization. And instead, adopt the “rational” idea that the pace in which a reader can sprint to the last page determines the value of the work.