Friday, November 9, 2018

Pantser + Plotter = Plantser >>> Thank you, Ms. Higgins

On November 3, 2018 I attended RWA/NYCs romance conference at the Fordham University campus in The Bronx. The conference was informational as it was fun and we were fortunate to have had on hand several best-selling authors, icons really, and for that I’m eternally blessed. 

Recently, I got to thinking about a comment Kristan Higgins said during one of the workshops: Not a ‘pantser’, not a ‘plotter’, but a ‘plantser’. Several of us laughed out loud, “Yeah, that, that’s me!”

By design I am a pantser and enjoy making up stories as I ‘go’ rather than creating outlines as do my plotter counterparts. As you might imagine, the first draft of my novellas are quite messy as scenes are often deleted/added along the way. Second and third drafts are marginally better.

I think many pantsers will tell you that allowing our imaginary friends to direct the course of a book is the most exciting aspect of the writing process. Pantsers might also tell you that this technique is equally frustrating.

I have tried plotting and using character sheets in the past, but the process didn’t feel natural, so I reverted back to my pantser ways. However, since my goal for 2019 is to have a much more structured writing process I decided to go all in on this plotting thing for NaNoWriMo.

Yes, planning and outlining is a departure from the spontaneity of pantsing, but guess what? It’s okay; as a plantser I can now identify with both worlds. Thank you Kristan!

Happy writing,


Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Author Spotlight >>> JL Regen

JL Regen is a published photojournalist and has taught special education and English as a Second Language to students around the globe.

How long have you been writing?

I've been writing since I was old enough to hold a pencil. I knew at ten that I wanted to be a novelist. I started out as a journalist and am proud to say that I've taught many students the nuances of creative writing—here in the States and overseas.

Who’s your favorite author?

One of my favorite authors is Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I've read all of his books. Dostoyevsky was a master at combining drama, suspense, and heart-stopping action. I started reading Dostoyevsky when I was nine years old; I was riveted to the page, still am, especially The Brothers Karamozov.

What are you working on currently?

Right now, I'm editing my WWII historical suspense (with a romantic element). This is a labor of love and a tribute to my beloved uncle, who served in WWII as a medic and earned a Purple Heart.

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

As to the process with my writing, I used to do everything from memory but with a teaching job, it's a lot to keep in my head so I now do extensive outlines, I need that roadmap to keep me on track as I write my chapters and scenes. I did tons of research for my historical. My uncle left me so much material that it took me months just to review it. Fascinatingly, this research gave me a different perspective on him as before I only knew him as a brilliant pharmacist and loving uncle. The information my uncle provided has paved the way for my novel.

What is your favorite genre?

I enjoy suspense with a romantic element.

JL Regen is the author of Secret Desires which is now available in e-book, paperback, and audio book format. JL can be reached at

Monday, October 29, 2018

NaNoWriMo is almost here...who's in?

Hello friends,

As an unofficial kickoff to NaNoWriMo, I want to share with you where I’ll be spending a lot of time in November.

This space is my writing sanctuary, it is the place where I escape from the ‘real’ world and my mind is free to wander and create.

I look forward to writing my next book during the month of November. I also look forward to 2019 when I’ll embark on the next stage in my writing career: finding an agent.

Please follow this blog or follow me on Twitter. Thank you.

Happy writing,


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Why write? It's cheap therapy!

I write to stay grounded.

I write to say what others can’t or won’t.

I write because it is my passion and it is also my therapy.

Happy writing,


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Author Spotlight >>> JN Welsh

JN Welsh is a native New Yorker. She writes entertaining, often humorous, and provocative tales about strong, career-driven, multicultural heroines who are looking for love. Her punchy, flowing dialogue and big city stories are heartwarming and stick to your ribs. When she's not writing she can be found dancing, wine-ing, rooting for her favorite baseball team, and/or indulging in countless guilty pleasures.

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

I really think a lot about a story before I write. I don’t necessarily write everything down but sometimes I write down lines or scenarios and then just write from that. I have learned over the years to really think about my characters in deeper point of view, which has helped my storytelling tremendously. Additionally, I always have to have music. Nowadays, I create a playlist for my manuscripts; music helps me get 'a feel' for scenes.

What are your favorite genres? Why?

I like coming of age stories as well as pretty much anything recommended by my friends. I also like fantasy and I read a lot of romance. I also appreciate non-fiction. I'm a big personal development reader.

What are you currently reading?

Friends Without Benefits by Penny Reid, Stripped by Zoe Castille and For Girls Like Me by St. Vil.

What is the most frustrating aspect of the writing process?

Making the middle exciting. Many writers know this part of their manuscript as the “saggy middle.” If I find myself yawning, I have to go back and see what's underdeveloped and change it. That's always the challenging part. I want the answers to come fast but they don’t. That can be very frustrating because normally I have to let the ideas marinate.

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

I say the same thing over and over. Don't give up. We all have wanted to at one point, but if you don't give up you get better, you make more connections, and eventually, you will have success.

What are you working on currently?

I am polishing up Bittersweet (Book 2 in my Sea Breeze Seduction Series) for readers. I'm also writing the third book in that series, which will be a Christmas novella; both (and more) will be out in 2019!

JN Welsh's latest novel In Tune is out now! 

A tour manager determined to revitalize her career.

The client she can’t stop thinking about.

Workplace romance hits the road in this enemies-to-lovers romance.

Buy links:

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Author Spotlight - open!

Regardless of the industry, I think we can all agree that helping our fellow colleagues is an act of kindness that has far reaching effects.

In my line of business (writing) we definitely depend on each other for more than just a pat in the back, we need each other to grow. Not only does the initial draft of a book take blood, sweat and tears but the revision process is grueling; it is madness, but I could not imagine a life without writing.

Recently, I wrote an article titled It Takes a Village to be a Writer, something I discovered to be a universal truth years ago.

In the spirit of camaraderie, I’d like to introduce a monthly Author Spotlight segment. If you’re interested in being featured on this blog, please contact me via email at

Genres I’m accepting.:

  • Contemporary Romance 

  • Erotic Romance 

  • Romantic Suspense 

  • Women's Fiction 

Look forward to hearing from you!


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Author Spotlight >>> Gemma Snow

Gemma Snow is an erotic romance writer, traveler, journalist, and reader.

How long have you been writing?

I’m really lucky. I grew up in an artistic family, so I actually started writing when I was around eight years old. My mom taught poetry and creative writing classes for kids and teens and I essentially studied with her until I outgrew it.

My folks were great about pushing me to follow writing, but to be smart and make a career out of it so I studied journalism and publishing in college. I absolutely love writing romance and would likely do it anyway, but it really helps that it’s a commercial genre with potential for success. I officially started writing romance professionally in college, so it’s been about four and a half years.

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

Honestly, it depends on the book. I’m usually thinking of a story three or four books ahead of actually writing it, so I’ll have a general vibe by the time I get there. It’s part of the reason I really like working in series and establishing characters and worlds that will last me for longer than a single book.

I tend to be a quick writer and then I’ll dive more thoroughly into developmental and structural edits. National Novel Writing Month is a great tool for my style and I like writing sprints and daily word count goals. That being said, I’ve rewritten entire books from the inside out, so it’s really case by case.

Who’s your favorite author?

I honestly can’t pick when it comes to romance novels. Suzanne Brockmann is one of my all-time favorite authors and only more so now that she’s holding romance to a high standard. I love Laura Kaye, Eloisa James, Lisa Kleypas, Annabeth Albert, Joanna Shupe, Alyssa Cole.

Outside of romance, my top author is Juliet Marillier. She’s the queen of writing amazing heroes. I’m also a huge Leigh Bardugo and Victoria Aveyard fan.

What is the most frustrating aspect of the writing process?

Writing the book. No, I jest. I think the most frustrating part is when you know there’s a major change you need to make to the book. It’s going to make it a better book or make it easier to finish writing and there’s every reason to do it, it’s just a lot of work. For instance, my current work in progress had a hidden identity as part of the plot and about two-thirds of the way through I realized how creepy that element was. So I pulled up my pants and got into the mud and fixed it. It’s a better book for it, but it’s a lot of work.

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

It’s two-fold. The obvious one is write. That’s the one you’ll hear a lot when you first get started and for good reason. It’s easy to imagine being a fancy writer in her gilded castle, but in order to do that you have to write, often, well and again. Writing is like, the whole thing of being a writer.

But beyond that and more in line with things I wish someone had told me, treat writing like a business. Yes, it’s your artistic passion. Yes, you get to create worlds and tell stories and people will love you for it. But treat it like work. Go to work, whether it’s full-time or first thing in the morning or late at night. Save all your receipts. Make yourself a brand. The earlier on you treat writing like a business, the more successful your business will be.

                                        ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Gemma Snow loves high heat, high adventures and high expectations for her heroes! Her stories are set in the past and present, from the glittering streets of Paris to cowboy-rich Triple Diamond Ranch in Wolf Creek, Montana.

In her free time, she loves to travel, and spent several months living in a 14th-century castle in the Netherlands. When not exploring the world, she likes dreaming up stories, eating spicy food, driving fast cars, and talking to strangers. She recently moved to Nashville with a cute redheaded cat and a cute redheaded boy.

Follow Gemma:

Facebook Page

Facebook Group




Wild Flowers – out today!

Totally Bound



Wednesday, August 22, 2018

End of summer blues...or not

Each season brings forth its own charm. As autumn draws near and leaves turn a shade of copper thoughts of cooler nights and pumpkin-spiced everything emerge. 

Personally, I'm excited for this end of year as I will be attending the New Jersey RWA conference in October and in November I will join fellow writers for NaNoWriMo. Also, as 2018 winds down I'm equally as excited to take stock of my writing goals and this year I’ve reached a few milestones. 

In January when I formed an Accountability Partner (AP) relationship with author JN Welsh we were both seeking a ‘partner’ to keep us honest and on track. 

I’ll say that this AP relationship worked out very well for us as we were both deadest on attaining several important goals. So we both made a commitment to be each other; and by commit, I mean we made it a point to meet on a regular basis, weekly, monthly, whatever time we managed to carve out of our hectic schedules. The point of an AP is for that person to be a soundboard and a cheerleader all in the same. 

I hope your year as been just as awesome; if not, you still have four months, so get on it!

Happy writing,


Thursday, June 14, 2018

What I learned from the NPR Raccoon

Move over soaps; forget daytime television shows, here comes the newest hit sensation: NPR Raccoon!

When I got wind that a raccoon was climbing the UBS building in St. Paul, Minnesota, I turned to the Internet just like thousands of other people.

At first, the raccoon’s notoriety was limited to ogling bystanders, but within a couple of hours cameras were positioned at every angle.  CNN and Fox News and all major networks were covering the mammal’s every move, the hashtag #nprraccoon started trending getting thousands of hits, and then we all held our breaths. 

Not knowing much about raccoons, I did a search online to find out what might have driven this furry little creature to act in such a way. One researcher stated, “…not sure if raccoons possess intelligence in a critical thinking way so much as an “insatiable curiosity” which leads them often enough to success.” Very interesting.

I’m currently in the throes of writing my next romance book and I need to take pointers from this little guy: don’t dwell too much on the critical thinking, just let my ‘insatiable curiosity’ be my drive. I need to write with reckless abandon.

Thank you NPR Raccoon for your inspiration!

Follow me here.

Here’s my site.


Thursday, May 24, 2018

Why Writers Write

Recently, while doing research I found several excellent articles about women and writing. I also found a set of TedTalk podcasts from two well-known women writers, Isabel Allende and Amy Tan.
It was Ms. Tan’s account of childhood experiences and Ms. Allende’s Tales of Passion that got me thinking about how our experiences shape us and how they bleed into our own unique creative realm. As such, each story we weave has the potential to invoke a wide range of emotions in our readers.
As one would imagine writers from all walks of life have very different reasons for writing. Below is a common thread among modern day writers:

Leave a legacy
If you write a book well and publish it, you may actually leave something behind that can last forever.

Writers write what the world is like as they see it. Writers ask the difficult questions. And, this boundless curiosity is the foundation that opens the doors to discussing difficult topics.

To stay sane
To write the endings we wish to see in the world. To make peace with the things we cannot control.

Why do you write? 

Maria Cox

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Galentine’s Day

For several weeks whenever I walk into a drugstore in Queens I'm subjected to an explosion of everything pink and red, this could only mean one thing: Valentine’s Day is around the corner.
The funny thing about Valentine's Day is that most of my adult life I have recognized the holiday as romantic in nature, but in recent years with the inclusion of friendship, I’ve come to appreciate Valentine’s Day as a general day of Love. In fact, I send Valentine’s Day cards to close family and friends (yes, I do!). 
Recently I got to thinking, how many women and men go out of their way to celebrate special people on this day. A lot, it would seem from an online search. One celebration which resonated with me the most was: Galentine’s Day.
What is Galentine’s Day, you ask? This term was coined a few years back by Leslie Knope - a fictional character from the popular sitcom Parks and Recreation. Leslie declared, “Every February 13th, my lady friends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home, and we come and kick it, breakfast-style. Ladies celebrating ladies.” What a great concept.
In the spirit of Galentine’s Day I’m channeling Leslie Knope and suggest ways to celebrate:

* Brunch date with gal pals – send Evite
* Eat waffles – a Leslie Knope must!
* Exchange gifts – who doesn’t want gifts?
*Consume fizzy drinks – ok, so I’m partial to Merlot, but even I’ll drink a sugar-laden frou-frou drink for my lady friends

Whether you are taken, or happily detached, I’m sure you too can appreciate a different type of celebration. In fact, how about we declare February 15th Bromance Day?

Maria Cox


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Writing Takes Center Stage

It's a brand new year...ah the possibilities!

I am thrilled to start this year with a renewed sense of purpose. Already, I started the road back to writing every day, I'm also committed to: journaling, blogging, writing articles and book reviews; all this is sure to keep the creative juices flowing.

As an author I've set daily and weekly writing goals. Below is my Done list:

  • Pulled out the Idea Board
  • Developed a writer's schedule
  • Enlisted an Accountability Partner (AP)
  • Signed up for the 2018 Goodreads Book Challenge

Whatever your goals, set a plan in motion today. Write your plan down then tell your family, your friends, even co-workers. "Why?" you ask. A month from now when life settles back into a routine and the well-intentioned resolutions fall by the wayside, you'll need the accountability factor. So when your neighbor asks "How's the writing coming along?" you'll proudly say, "It's going great!"

Happy Writing!