Monday, November 4, 2019

Confidence, done right!

Confidence is the new sexy.

In the last couple of weeks I spent time doing research for a new project geared toward women and happen to come across a few interesting articles on the topic of aging and self-esteem.

Interesting fact: national polls indicate that people over 50 make up 34% (2014 data) of the U.S. population, and numbers are expected to rise significantly over the next ten to fifteen years.

In reading several articles, a theme emerged, a theme that resonated with me as a mature woman (and I’m certain it does with women of all ages as well): confidence. What does confidence mean for women of a certain age? Here are a few points to consider:
  • Confidence is sexy
  • Confidence isn’t restricted to a specific age group
  • Confidence is not a trend, so it will never go out of style.
I want us to keep in mind that confidence exudes a type of sexy that speaks for itself. Remember, confidence is the sexiest accessory you can ever have no matter what age, and guess what, it’s free! 

Cheers,
Maria


Saturday, October 19, 2019

Hispanic Heritage Month


Hispanic Heritage Month


In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month I present to you five world renowned Hispanic authors you should get to know. Please see below in alphabetical order:

Isabel Allende is a Chilean writer who also pens in the “magic realist” tradition.. In 2004, Allende was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and she received Chile’s National Literature Prize in 2010.

Jorge Luis Borges was an Argentine short-story writer, essayist, poet and translator. But he was much more than that. Borges contributed to the so-called philosophical literature movement, and he became a literary icon beyond frontiers, though never recognized with a Nobel Prize.

Carlos Fuentes was a Mexican novelist and essayist. This great author was honored with the Miguel de Cervantes Prize as well as Mexico’s highest award, the Belisario Dominguez Medal of Honor. Fuentes, like Borges, never won the Nobel Prize.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez also known as ‘Gabo’, was a Colombian novelist, short-story writer and journalist. He was one of the most significant Latino writers of the 20th century known for popularizing a literary style labeled as ‘magic realism’. Garcia Marquez was awarded with the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982.

Mario Vargas Llosa is a Peruvian-Spanish writer, a politician, a journalist, and essayist. He won the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature and is one of Latin America’s most significant writers.

Hispanics have had a profound positive influence on our country through a strong commitment to family, faith, and hard work. If you would like to learn about our unique culture and about prominent Hispanic Americans who have helped to shape our nation, please visit http://hispanicheritagemonth.gov/.


Maria

Friday, August 30, 2019

End of summer reading :)


Read, read, read!

Writers hear this all the time, “If you want to be a better writer, you need to be a better reader.” This is very true, but, what is also true is that we need to read effectively. See, reading effectively can help make a huge difference in the quality of work we produce.

Below are simple tips to ensure you’re getting the most out of your reading experience this year:

1) Be sure to read books you enjoy.

This may seem logical, but many a time we may feel as if we have to read ‘certain types’ of books because it is expected of us as writers. But, really, reading should be fun so reading mandatory books (e.g. poetry, Shakespeare, etc.) is counter-intuitive. Read what you enjoy and you’re likely to read more, simple.

2) Read the type of material you aspire to produce.

If you wish to be a best-selling author, you should be reading books written by best-selling authors. So, find an author you admire and read as much of his/her work as possible.

3) Keep a log of the books you’ve read.

Keep an online journal for reference. Sites such as Goodreads are fantastic for record-keeping. If you’re ‘old school’, however, keeping a paper journal works just as well.

In case you're interested, below are the last three books I've rated 5 / 4.5 on Goodreads:

5.0 stars >>> Hidden by Rebecca Zanetti

4.5 stars >>>The Marriage Clock by Zara Raheem

4.5 stars >>>The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang


Happy reading!

Maria

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Romance Writers of America - Nationals is almost here!


Friends,

The Romance Writers of America (RWA) National Conference is just a few days away and this year the conference will be held right here in NYC! Now, I have been reviewing this year’s line-up, and it promises to be a star-studded event with best-selling authors facilitating many of the sessions. In fact, I’m all booked with back-to-back workshops from Wednesday thru Saturday.

Hope to see many of my fellow romance writers at the event.

Happy summer folks!

Maria

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Author Spotlight >>> Michael J. Molloy

Michael J. Molloy is big fan of such authors as: Stephen King, Frederick Forysth, Nicholas Sparks, too. A former graduate of Stuyvesant High School, Michael has read all of Frank McCourt books which is what inspired him to pick up a pen and pad in the first place.

An enthusiast of the romance and suspense genre Michael has traditionally published two books through Gypsy Shadow Publishing, a contemporary romance and a suspense novel.

Michael has three adult children; he currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.

What is your genre?

I have two: Contemporary Romance and Suspense.

What books/stories have you written? Published?

I have two books published: “The Diamond Man” and “Sadistic Pattern”

Who’s your favorite author?

Stephen King

What is the one piece of advice you’d give new writers?

Be true to yourself; without that you have no commitment.

What are you working on currently?

"Sweet Greetings from Carthage". Also, I just started a new contemporary romance called "A Line Allure".

To learn more about Michael and his upcoming projects, please visit www.molloyauthor.com, or Like his Facebook page www.facebook.com/molloyauthor, or follow him on Twitter www.twitter.com/AuthorMJM.


Maria

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Author Spotlight >>> Melissa Stone

Melissa began performing in musical theater at the age of twelve. Melissa performed in over thirteen plays before she even turned fifteen years old. With a love of the arts, Melissa played the piano and violin and developed a love of reading and writing. Currently, Melissa is working on her first novel.

Tell us a little bit about your writing, what is the process like?

I usually get a picture, a small grain of an idea. And, if this idea persists over time, I then explore how to build story.

Who’s your favorite author?

Louisa May Alcott

What are you currently reading?

I tend to read a few books at once so currently, I'm reading: The Kid Stays In The Picture by Robert Evans and The Invited Jennifer McMahon.

What is the one piece of advice you’d give new writers?

Read, read, read!

What are you working on currently?

A suspense novel, something I’m really excited about!


To learn more about Melissa and her upcoming projects, please follow her on Twitter.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Battle of Puebla Day = Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo, (Spanish for “Fifth of May”), also called Anniversary of the Battle of Puebla, is a holiday celebrated in parts of Mexico. This particular holiday celebrates the date of the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. While it is a relatively minor holiday in Mexico, in the United States, Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a commemoration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations.

In the state of Puebla in Mexico, the day is celebrated with parades, speeches, and reenactments of the 1862 battle, though it is not much noticed in most of the rest of the country.

In the mid-20th-century in the United States, the celebration of Cinco de Mayo became among Mexican immigrants a way of encouraging pride in their Mexican heritage.

Click here to learn more about the Battle of Puebla.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!


Maria

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Author Spotlight >>>Shari Broyer

Shari Broyer writes in many genres and indie-publishes her works via Amazon KDP. Her short Inspirational Christmas story—Jesus on a Park Bench—published 12-24-12, is a long-running Amazon Inspirational bestseller. Besides authoring her own works; Shari is a professional manuscript editor who also helps others publish their works via Amazon KDP. Shari does it all: editing, formatting, and cover art. She is constantly honing her craft/s as an author, editor, producer and even cover designer.

In 2017, an email from a friend in California led Shari to the small, but artsy town of Ajo, Arizona, where she bought a cute little house, one that she shares with “Baby”, her adopted ten-year-old cat. Shari loves Ajo. For such a tiny, seemingly “nowhere and nothing” place, Ajo is happening! Art shows, music concerts, fabulous food, fun and friends!

How long have you been writing?

More years than I want to admit! But really, ever since I could hold a pencil. I wrote a “Goodby krewel world!” note to my mom when I was upset at her, I was five years old. Very dramatic. I guess you could say that was the start of my writing career.

What is your genre?

I have written in several genres but got “stuck” with Inspirational when I wrote a short Christmas story that remained in the top 100 in its category five years running. It was then that felt compelled to write more inspirational stories.

What books/stories have you written? Published?

The only ones I want to mention here are Ether Man, a “paranormal” mystery/comedy/romance, available in print and eBook on Amazon, and the new novelette I completed (see a bit more about it below).

What is the most frustrating aspect of the writing process?

For me, it’s not having/making the time to write as much as I desire. I have literally hundreds of scraps of paper with ideas and yet, I haven’t done anything with most of them. I also have about 15-20 Work in Progress (WIPs).

I, myself, have counseled fellow writers to get at least 100 words per day, but because I’m an editor-for-hire as well as a full-time employee and a single homeowner, I’m guilty of not following my own advice.

What is the one piece of advice you’d give new writers?

Listen when they tell you to use pseudonyms for different genres. I wrote and self-published Ether Man under my own name before I wrote my Inspirational bestseller. Ether Man did well until I published the Inspirational piece, then Ether Man pretty much tanked. This is because readers do expect the same stuff from authors they like. Now, the inspirational piece had only a few “sexy” scenes, but I’m sure they were enough to offend my readers. Likewise, readers who enjoy “sexy” romance might be turned off by “goody-goody” stuff (or what they think will be “goody-goody”- I happen to believe my short Inspirational is a bestseller precisely because it is not “good-goody”).

I’m a spiritual person, but that doesn’t preclude my having a “carnal” nature, or wanting to write whatever flows from Spirit, and that can be literally anything!

What are you working on currently?

As I said, I have lots of WIPs, but the one I recently finished is the tale of a woman who meets a man while out on the town with a female friend. The story centers around their time at the restaurant, and what happens after the three new friends conclude dinner. I plan to release this story under a pseudonym this summer.

You can learn more about Shari Broyer and her books by visiting her website  https://sharibroyerbooks.weebly.com/

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Author Spotlight >>> Antonia Aquilante

Antonia Aquilante has been making up stories for as long as she can remember. At the age of twelve she decided she would be a writer when she grew up. After many years and a few career detours, she has returned to that original plan. Her stories have changed over the years, but one thing has remained consistent—they all end in happily ever after.

Born and raised in New Jersey, Antonia is living there again after years in Washington, DC and North Carolina for school and work. She enjoys being back in the Garden State but admits to being tempted every so often to run away from home and live in Italy.

How long have you been writing?

Forever! When I was a kid, I was always coming up with stories and imagining characters. When I was about 12, I decided I would be a published author when I grew up. I kept writing, but college, law school, and work—and a good dose of fear—kept me from pursuing my dream for a long time. Finally, I got serious and began writing to get published. It took a few years, but I was published in 2014. My eighth book was published recently.

Tell us a little bit about your writing, what is the process like?

I’m mostly a pantser, I guess. When I start a new project, I pull out a fresh journal (and it has to be the right journal...I have a pretty big collection waiting for the right story and characters) and scribble everything I know about the story, which isn’t always a lot. Mostly, I try to get to know my characters. If I know who they are, I can get started writing and figure the rest out as I go.

I’ve never written a book in order, I’m always skipping around and going back to fill in the gaps. And I don’t edit as I write I just keep moving and when I’m finished, I go back and revise. Sometimes I wish I could plan a little more, it seems like it would be less stressful but I’m going with what works for me.

What are your favorite genres? Why?

As a reader, I read most subgenres of romance, but fantasy romance, paranormal, and historical are probably my favorites. As a writer, however, I love writing fantasy romance. Letting my imagination run wild and creating my own worlds is so much fun.

I have been reading romance since I was about 12 and really loving all the happily ever afters in fairy tales. I love writing about relationships, writing more joy and hope and HEA into the world.

What are you currently reading?

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee in hardcover, A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole in ebook, and Flight of Magpies by KJ Charles in audio (a favorite that I’ve read a bunch of times). I’m always reading more than one book at a time.

What are you working on currently?

I’m working on two manuscripts, which is unusual for me. I normally work on one manuscript at a time, so we’ll see how this adventure goes.

The first project I’m working on is a contemporary royalty romance, which is a departure for me since I’ve written exclusively fantasy romance for years. I’m also writing the next book in my Chronicles of Tournai series, which allows me to give Griffen – a character who has been in a few previous books – his own HEA. Also, I just love writing about dragons because dragons are fantastic!


Antonia Aquilante's newest release A Harmony of Fire and Earth released March 8, 2019!

Buy Links

Goodreads

NineStar Press

Amazon

Apple

Barnes & Noble

Smashwords

Kobo

Monday, February 25, 2019

Author Spotlight >>> Tee O'Fallon

Tee O'Fallon is the author of the Federal K-9 Series and the NYPD Blue & Gold Series. Tee has been a federal agent for twenty-three years, and is now a police investigator, giving her hands-on experience in the field of law enforcement that she combines with her love of romantic suspense. Tee's job affords her the unique opportunity to work with the heroic men and women in law enforcement on a daily basis. When not writing, Tee enjoys cooking, gardening, chocolate, lychee martinis, and all creatures canine. Tee enjoys hearing from readers and can be contacted via her website http://teeofallon.com where you can also Sign up for Tee's newsletters and contests!

What books/stories have you written? Published?

I have two romantic suspense series, the first of which is the NYPD Blue & Gold Series: BURNOUT, BLOOD MONEY, and DISAVOWED. This series follows a heroic and hunky team of NYPD detectives as they fight to protect the public and those they love most. BURNOUT was my first published novel, and is still one of my favorites.

Due to my love of dogs, it was impossible not to include canines as peripheral characters in my NYPD Blue & Gold stories. Then, in late 2016 I lost my beloved Belgian sheepdog, Jet. After I started posting pics of Jet on social media to honor and remember his beautiful soul, my editor suggested I write a K-9 series. I jumped at the opportunity and voila, my Federal K-9 Series was born.

My Federal K-9 Series, beginning with LOCK ’N’ LOAD and ARMED ’N’ READY, follows a group of six federal K-9 officers, each of whom work for a different agency. I’ve worked really hard to integrate my personal experience as a federal agent and dog lover into these novels, the results of which I hope are unique, with attention-grabbing plots, real-life investigative elements, and deep, meaningful conflicts that will resonate with readers and pull at their heartstrings. I also interviewed K-9 officers (and their dogs!) to help me create loyal and loving canine characters that play integral parts not only in the plots, but in bringing my human characters closer.

Tell us a little bit about your writing, what is the process like?

I’m what I call a “combo plotter-pantser,” meaning that half the time, I utilize a fairly detailed plot outline to work from, but the other half of the time I wing it, and wind up writing by the seat of my pants. I start by creating a chapter/scene outline that is around 50 pages, which includes the deets of my hero, heroine, and now, K-9. As I begin writing, however, plot elements and characters always wind up morphing into something better, which is when I write on the fly. The only constant with every story I write is that I always know how the book begins and how it ends.

What is the one piece of advice you’d give new writers?

There are actually two pieces of advice I’d give new writers. The first, is that no matter how demoralized you are by the number of rejections in your inbox, don’t ever give up. By that I mean, don’t ever stop writing and don’t ever stop pitching your stories to agents and editors. You never know when that first contract is right around the corner. I didn’t. Nobody does. For an agent or editor, taking on a new client is subjective. They have to love-love-love your book. You may have gotten 100 rejections, but all it takes is that 101st agent or editor to offer you a contract. With that in mind, here’s my second piece of advice. Try pitching to a newer agent/editor, or try to find one who is actively building their clientele. Agents and editors who are actively building a list are often outlined in the “About Us” or the “Our Team” pages of a publisher’s site.

What are you working on currently?

I’m currently finishing a first draft of the third installation of my Federal K-9 Series, still unnamed as of yet. The hero of this story is Eric Miller, a Special Agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Years ago, Eric’s best friends were murdered, and he’s been seeking revenge ever since. The heroine, Tess McTavish, has been running from her past, searching for her place in life, and a place to call home. Tess and Eric are opposites in every way. It will be an uphill battle for them to discover that despite their differences they’re truly soul mates.

What is the most frustrating aspect of the writing process?

For me, it’s not having enough time. I’m somewhat of a perfectionist, although I rarely meet my own goals. It’s important to me that I put out the best possible book that I can, yet even after a book is released, I always wish I’d had another opportunity to review that manuscript one last time and keep tweaking it until I’m satisfied. As long as I keep working full time as a law enforcement officer, I’ll always have great fodder from which to create new romantic suspense stories, but time will never be on my side. Perhaps one day…

Tee O’Fallon's newest release Armed ’N’ Ready, Federal K-9 Series #2  releases February 25, 2019!



Risking his life for her is the easy part. Risking his heart is the toughest assignment he'll face.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Author Spotlight >>> Katrina Shawver

Katrina Shawver is an experienced writer, blogger, speaker, and author of the award-winning HENRY: A Polish Swimmer’s True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to America. She spent fifteen years researching WWII, Poland, Auschwitz, and the Holocaust and is the recipient of the 2018 Polish Heritage Award from the Polish American Congress of Arizona. A reader at heart, she loves curling up with a good book and a glass of Merlot by her side. For more information, visit katrinashawver.com.





How long have you been writing? 

My accidental writing career began in 1996. I penned a letter to the editor of the Arizona Republic newspaper in Phoenix, Arizona, and in it I complained about their coverage of schools. Six months later they called me up and asked me to write a regular column in a new community section. I did that for eleven years until the paper downsized. I met a lot of interesting people along the way. A chance meeting in 2002 changed the direction of my life. I met an eighty-five-year-old Polish gentleman who had survived Auschwitz and Buchenwald during World War II. In an impulsive move, I offered to write his story. We became good friends, even though he died a year later. In November 2017, the adult nonfiction biography, HENRY: A Polish Swimmer’s True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to America was published through Koehler Books.


What is your genre?

As a reader, I have always been drawn to nonfiction or historical novels based on true events. That interest also transfers to my writing. I have always been a history geek, lover of biographies and believer in happily ever after. For me, history is about people–what they experienced, how they survived, and what they endured. I got my writing chops penning newspaper columns about real people, events, and organizations. I think real life is far more interesting than anything I could make up. Documenting someone’s life story, especially when it is representative of a larger group of people and important era in history, is valuable. It has been incredibly validating to hear from many readers that HENRY resonated with them and had positive impact on them. I included this quote in the front of my book: The past actually happened but history is only what was written down.

What are you currently reading?

In the last three weeks I finished Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life...And Maybe the World, by William H. McRaven, The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware, and Educated, by Tara Westover. I just began The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick. I never read science fiction, but this is in the spirit of “the book is always better.” This 1962 book is the basis for the popular television series of the same name on Amazon Prime, and has a lot of World War II history written in. The premise is more of an “alternative history:” what if Germany and Japan won World War II and the US lost. I have watched the first three episodes.

For many years I had little time to read, even though the mantra is “writers should be constantly reading.” For the last two years, I have set a personal reading challenge to read a set number of books in a year. In 2018 I managed to read twenty-nine books. My goal was thirty. I use Goodreads to track the books I have read and want to read. I also accomplished a bucket list item – I began a book club to have some semblance of a social life and read a more diverse selection of books than my usual nonfiction. The Woman in Cabin 10 is the book club selection for January.

What is the hardest aspect of the writing process?

The hardest part of writing for me is distraction and isolation. It takes a solid discipline to regularly write and churn out words, especially on a long-term project, or if I am trying to think of a new project. Writing is a personal and private venture, done alone, usually deep in thought. I am good at short projects such as blogs, newsletters, and columns. The internet is necessary, but it can consume a great deal of time unless you can physically and mentally turn it off. There is a balance between being proactive on social media to connect with others, market your book, and stay up to date on trends and news, versus having the discipline to turn it off to write and create new content. Both are necessary in the life of a writer. There is so much good information out there, like TED talks, YouTube tutorials, following other authors, and literally connecting with people around the world through LinkedIn and Facebook, I can find myself online for hours if I am not careful. YouTube is a huge distraction for me. Once I watch one video it has this way of always recommending more videos to watch.

What is the one piece of advice you’d give new writers?

It’s hard to name just one thing. Believe in yourself, invest in yourself, and WRITE. You can’t be a writer unless you are putting words on paper. Then, commit to perpetual learning and networking. Improve your craft by attending workshops and writing events to meet other authors, or at least enroll in a few online seminars. Find a critique group. Be a sponge for information. Become tech savvy with social media and graphics programs like Canva, PicMonkey, and Animoto for Instagram, to name just a few. We live in a visual world.

Ultimately, success is based on one thing–a really good book. It is the quality of the craft, and professionalism invested in editing and formatting, that will convey a polished message with the best chance to resonate with readers. Write for yourself, publish for others.

Katrina's award-winning book:

HENRY: A Polish Swimmer’s True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to America.

This incredible true story is both a witness to the Holocaust through Polish eyes and the story of how Henry Zguda, a Polish (Catholic) competitive swimmer, survives Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps by his wits, humor, luck, and friends. At times humorous, always gut-honest, this account fills a huge gap in historical accounts of Poles during World War II. Henry’s story is backed by authentic documents and photos reprinted throughout the book and meticulous research, that include travel to Poland and Germany.

Author website: katrinashawver.com

Facebook: Read Katrina Shawver

HENRY on Amazon

HENRY on Barnes & Noble