Holiday Romances with Alanna Lucas & Rick Bitzelberger

Once-Upon-a-Montana-Christmas-cover-213x300In October, we’ll hear from Alanna Lucas and Rick Bitzelberger on Writing Holiday Romances That Sell!

Holiday romance novels and novellas are a perennial favorite among readers. Publishers often release holiday anthologies, which can be a great opportunity for writers to get known or increase their fan base.

Come and learn about how to break into this exciting market from our next guest speakers! Join us at 10am on Sunday, October 19th at Bridges Academy in Studio City.

author-alanna-lucasAlanna grew up in Southern California. From an early age, she took an interest in travel. Over the years, she’s incorporated those experiences into her writing. Alanna is a member of the Romance Writers of America, East Valley Authors, The Beau Monde and Celtic Hearts Romance Writers.

rick_bitzenbergerRick Bitzelberger is a film and television writer and producer, known for Embrace of the Vampire (1995), Crazy for Christmas (2005) and Eddie’s Million Dollar Cook-Off (2003). Rick has been working with Informant Media since their inception. He likes to think of himself as the most dangerous development executive there is: Not only does he cover scripts, he writes them, too.

Same Sex Romance with Tara Lain & Louisa Bacio

Tara LainLouisaBacioNext month, we’ll learn all about writing same sex romance novels. This is not your mother’s romance novel!

Same parts, different spots, right? What’s the difference between writing a male/female erotic romance, and a same sex one? Plenty.

Bestselling authors Tara Lain and Louisa Bacio will explore setting up the same-sex romance, and getting into those detailed sexy scenes. Learn how to keep the relationship complex, and not shy away from real-life complications. How to avoid the famous “chicks with dicks problem” while still creating a deep emotional connection.

And then there are areas some probably haven’t thought about, such as, is there a difference between writing f/f fiction for heterosexual, married readers? Oh, yes, there is.  If you’ve ever thought of writing for the growing same-sex erotic fiction genre, this class is a great way to start.

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Tara Lain, like so many novelists, wrote her first book at five. Writing ability got her through college when there wasn’t enough time in the day, and, shortly thereafter, it became a marketable skill. Very early in life, people started paying her to write — scripts for industrial films, brochures, magazine articles on semiconductors. She became a really successful non-fiction “ghost-writer.” When you’re being paid well to write non-fiction, it’s tough to spend time writing fiction that nobody pays you for for a long time. But then Tara found EROM (erotic romance). Always a lover of fantasy, she got hooked on the beauty, emotion, and happily-ever-after of these books (to say nothing of the great sex) and was finally inspired to write one of her own. But writing fiction is different than non-fiction. There was so much to learn, and after writing her first book she went back to school (via online workshops) and got down to learning the craft. A year later, she had rewritten that book, and created another one, and a very supportive publisher said yes! Today, she’s an established writer of romance fiction with over 20 books to her credit.

In addition to working as an editor for magazines and Keith Publications and writing, Louisa Bacio teaches college classes in writing and popular culture. Currently serving her second year as president of OCCRWA, she lives in Southern California with her adoring husband, two wonderful and challenging daughters and a houseful of pets.

Join on on Sunday, September 21st at Bridges Academy to learn more about the world of same sex romance novels!

Editing for Indie Authors with Julia Ganis

JuliaGanisColorAt next month’s meeting, Julia Ganis will speak about Editing for Indie Authors. She’ll address what to know, what to look for and what to avoid on your path to self-publishing. Plus, she will offer tips on self-editing for all authors, from absolute beginners to multi-published authors.

Join us at Bridges Academy in Studio City at 10am on Sunday, August 17th!

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Julia Ganis has always loved a great story. A child of Hollywood, she read her first screenplay at age ten, devoured Jane Austen at the dinner table and snuck Harlequin Presents under the covers.

After twenty years of guiding screenwriters, doing script analysis, working in feature films and children’s television, and even teaching science, she decided to return to her first love:  romance novels.  A behind-the-scenes romance copy editor for several years, in 2013 Julia launched JuliaEdits.com to offer her services to a wider sphere of indie writers.  Current JuliaEdits clients range from New York Times bestsellers with hybrid careers, to emerging self-pub authors and absolute beginners.

Julia graduated from the University of California at San Diego’s Muir College with a degree in Visual Arts/Media.  She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son and way too many cats. You can find her online at JuliaEdits.com.

Editing with Mallory Braus

MalloryBrausNext month’s featured speaker will be Mallory Braus.

The topic will be What to Expect When You’re Expecting…Edits. Just like every story is unique, the edits constructed for each story will vary. Editors must adapt to the story needs — craft, story, prose/narration,etc — but also to the author’s needs — varying from debut authors to multi-published authors. Mallory will discuss the basics of what every author should expect from the editorial process.

Mark your calendar and we’ll see you at Bridges Academy on Sunday, March 16th! Doors open at 10am, and the meeting runs from 10:30am-12pm.

Mallory Braus graduated from UCLA in 2009 with a BA in English. From there, she became a freelance editor for Carina Press. She works with the stories she loves, authors she adores, and consider herself a sort of Indiana Jones—searching for treasure in the book world, and in the comfort of her office, safe from actual snakes and plane crashes.

Mallory has always had a passion for reading. But she never considered that the books she loved could lead to a future career. Until one fateful day she was offered an internship with a fabulous literary agent. A position as  intern for editor Rose Hilliard at St. Martin’s Press soon followed. She graduated from UCLA in 2009 with a BA in English. After a brief stay in New York, in which she discovered that city life did not agree with her, she returned to California and accepted a position as freelance editor for Carina Press. She also works as an independent freelance content editor and consultant. She feels so blessed to have found a job that lets her work with her one true love — stories.

Mallory will read just about anything — except horror. She’s especially on the look out for historical romance, mystery, sci-fi, urban fantasy, speculative fiction, and dark paranormals. More than anything, she loves character driven stories. Make her believe in your characters — give them real depth and vulnerabilities and quirks — and she’ll be putty in your hands.

You can follow her on Twitter @MalloryBraus or visit her website at mallorybraus.com

Writing Short Stories with Jennifer Haymore

JenniferHaymore2Next month, our featured speaker will be LARA’s own Jennifer Haymore.

The topic will be Writing Short(er). Come learn the fine art of writing a short story.

Join us at Bridges Academy on Sunday, February 16th!

USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Haymore is the author of sexy historical and contemporary romance.

You can find Jennifer in Southern California trying to talk her husband into yet another trip to England, helping her three children with homework while brainstorming a new five-minute dinner menu, or crouched in a corner of the local bookstore writing her next novel.

Trick Your Brain with Susan & Harry Squires

At this month’s meeting, our featured speakers will be Susan and Harry Squires.

Did you ever wonder why one day you get stuck while on another day your writing flows easily? Does it sometimes seem like your brain is actually fighting you?  Well, maybe it is. Recent insights into the structure of the human brain and how the parts work together (or don’t) provide powerful techniques to free your creativity and jump-start your writing.

The Squires will help you learn how to use these techniques not only in your writing, but in the rest of your life as well. Bring your current work in progress, and they’ll show you how to solve problems (including writer’s block), make your characters and plots deeper and more resonant, and create a book that keeps your reader turning pages.

Join us on Sunday, January 19th!

SusanSquiresSusan Squires published seventeen books with Dorchester and St. Martin’s Press, and has self-published four. Her books have appeared on the NYT Bestseller list. Her first novel, Danegeld, was a Golden Heart winner. Body Electric was named by Publisher’s Weekly one of the most influential mass market books of 2002. No More Lies was a Rita finalist. Her books have frequently garnered 4 ½ star reviews and Top Pick from Romantic Times BookReview, and starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, which also named One With the Shadows a Best Book of the Year.

HarrySquiresHarry Squires published his first novel, What Rough Beast, as H. R. Knight with Leisure Books. A paranormal mystery with romantic elements, it garnered enthusiastic reviews not only from horror venues but also from romance reviewers. He also writes for Wine Adventure Magazine and Front and Finish. Harry was a corporate trainer with an insurance company for many years. He’s coached extensively on techniques of learning and unleashing the creativity of the brain.

Both Harry and Susan are members of Romance Writers of America.

Pimp Your Vocab by Beverly Diehl

Pimp Your Vocab with an Urban Dictionary

Stone TabletIs your dictionary chiseled into stone tablets? Is your vocabulary so ancient and dry that mummies are making fun of you? Are you puzzled that people snicker at the title of the Little Golden Book, shown here?Salad

If so, you’re a lot like me, which is why Urban Dictionary (www.urbandictionary.com) is one of:

My 26 Favorite Ways to Time Do Valuable Research on the Interwebs.

Sometimes I want to know what something is, and my cobweb-covered Webster’s has no clue. Like what “emo” is. Urban Dictionary will at least point me in the right direction. (There are 1000+ definitions of emo there, but they all seem to include guys in heavy black eyeliner, tight jeans, greasy hair, and melodramatic music.)

Or, perchance, I might want to write dialogue for a character who is not 9 billion years old. And avoid making people toss their cookies by making a dumb reference to tossing a salad.

Urban Dictionary is a living, breathing thing. People post their own made up words or phrases, and others vote on them (or make them popular, with or without thumbs up votes).

I grew up as the daughter of a Recyclopath, but I didn’t have a name for him at the time.
Recyclopath:  n. 1) A person who militantly engages in recycling and is so hostile to simply throwing away garbage, it borders on mental illness.
2) Pejorative for an extreme environmentalist

Leigh pees in a bucket and uses it to water and fertilize her garden–what a recyclopath!

My plan is to avoid nowhere stories, either telling or hearing ‘em, as much as possible.

nowhere story:  A tale or recount of an event or events that doesn’t ever reach a particular point or meaning.

Duder 1: “So the other day I went into Foot Locker and saw a girl working there so I thought it was Lady Foot Locker, but it turns out it wasn’t.”

Duder 2: “Wow dude, thanks for that nowhere story.”

Now see, I would totally have thought this was about the board game.

Trivial Pursuit:  A veiled invitation for sex.

“Do you want to come over and, uh, play Trivial Pursuit?”

I still have a few friends who do this (and not a one of them under 30 40 50). Bless them.

GrannyGranny spam:  Unwanted, non-personal email received from a family member, friend or colleague.

Granny spam has usually been forwarded several times and concerns such inane topics as childish jokes, dubious political propaganda, spurious computer security alerts or claims of monetary recompense in exchange for forwarding of said spam.

Subject lines are often of the form “FW: FW: FW: FW: bullshit”

I know peeps who play Words with Friends… If they play this version, I really don’t want to know.

Turds With Friends:  Playing the popular online game Words With Friends….while going to the bathroom.  Every time I go to the bathroom, I bring my cell phone so I can catch up on my Turds with Friends games.

Urban Dictionary also offers name fun. So like, if I ever get that name thing figured out with numerology, I can pick the best name.
Bev:  A wonderful quirky artsy girl. Shy on the outside, yet complex and misunderstood underneath that shell. Very sexy, big boobs, great curves and loves to give pleasure as much as recieving. [sic] Super intelligent and very loyal. A keeper, a BFF, a soulmate

Bev is a BFF that will always be there for you in good times and bad, one that will never let you down.  (Awww, isn’t that special?)

Then again, maybe I want this kind of vibe:

Beverly:  n. one who is bringing sexy back; one who is a mammajamma; one who is straight up gangsta; one who is a BFF; one who takes M-Diddy to prom; one who mingles with chemistry teachers; one who has hott buttery buns; one who is hillbilly Beverly is Jackocrackolyn, yo!

Beverly:  A girl who does not take shit from anybody, who is always ready to fight.She has a lot of friends but people tend to think she is annoying. Other then that she is very gorgeous, feisty, intelligent, and has a nice body. She is talented. She is unique and different.

Did you see Beverly today? she looked pretty but not her attitude. UGHHHH!!! she can be annoying sometimes.

Okay, I’m annoying and ready to fight- but I at least I have hott buttery buns. And Urban Dictionary to help me figure out what an epiphanot is.


BeverlyDiehlBeverly Diehl is a current member of RWA, LARA, SheWrites, SoCal Lady Bloggers and WriterUnboxed, and past president of the Glendale-based Alameda Writers Group (AWG).  She also moderates an invitation-only fiction critique group that meets monthly in Burbank.

Click here to connect with Beverly on Twitter (@writerbeverly) or FaceBook (Facebook.com/writerbeverly).

Dance Research by Lynne Marshall

What Leads to Research

EduardoVerasteguiWhat If…

Two young and awkward mid-teens were in cotillion class. What if this young couple, a rich girl and a boy whose mother works for the girl’s father, develop a tender crush, only to have that crush stomped on by big daddy? And big rich daddy goes even farther by humiliating the boy, accusing him of stealing in front of the girl and all his friends. He goes so far as to have the young man arrested.

Thirteen years later, the real story begins.

That idea grew into An Indiscretion my contemporary romance with medical elements e-book for The Wild Rose Press. Since the hero and heroine, Paul Valverde and Carrington Hanover’s relationship officially began while dancing, it needed to be part of the story, which meant, I’d assigned myself research.

What I Needed:
1. A dance that meant something to the hero
2. A dramatic dance with Spanish roots
3. A ballroom dance that pitted the partners against each other
4. A sexy dance

BallroomDanceExhibitionWhat I Found:
A gazillion videos on how to dance the Paso Doblé! Some were really hokey, some were very good. The one I’ve linked to breaks down the dance into count, steps, and sections and has two really good dancers showing each move.

Did You Know?

The Paso Doblé is modeled after the Spanish bullfighter and his cape? The male dancer is the bullfighter and the female takes the role of the cape, therefore, it is up to the male to take control of his partner. Though the music for this dance is a march beat, when done right it is powerful, sexy and riveting.

An Indiscretion by Lynne Marshall – Excerpt:

“Good. Pablo, take Carrington’s hand.” Estrella positioned Paul’s hand just under Carrington’s arm on her back, and Carrington’s hand rested lightly on his shoulder. Then they joined opposite hands, which were held high and stately. “This is the sur point. You will begin here,” Estrella said.

Wearing special dancing shoes, Carrington’s forehead came to Paul’s jaw. She tried to avoid his eyes by watching her feet, but Estrella snapped at her each time she looked down.

The woman led them through the basic steps and turns until they were both comfortable with the rhythm. Paul caught on much quicker.

“Good. Now with music,” Estrella said.

Paul’s narrow hips and tightly controlled posture looked magnificent yet graceful, and Carrington could no longer be satisfied by staring at his shoulder. She noticed the thick dark waves of his hair caressing the collar on his shirt. The heat from his body enhanced his subtle aftershave, that pine fragrance that drove her crazy with longing. With each breath she savored the scent. His warm hands, firmly in place where Estrella had put them, made her wish he would move them somewhere else, someplace closer and more intimate.

She made a ragged inhale and dared to glance into his eyes. He stared back. Determination flashed in his dark gaze. By controlling the dance, he controlled her.
And he had completely taken control.


lynne-marshallLynne Marshall is a multi-published author who writes contemporary and Medical Romance for Harlequin and contemporary romance for The Wild Rose Press. The first book in the Grady family trilogy, Courting His Favorite Nurse, is a March 2012 Harlequin Special Edition. Also in e-book only is, An Indiscretion, a contemporary romance with medical elements, from The Wild Rose Press.

You can connect with Lynne Marshall on the Web:
 Website Facebook RomanceWiki Author Page

Regency Research by Vivienne Westlake

Useful Resources for Writing About the Regency

DSC_8685This week, I have been doing research on the Regency period. Through the course of researching information about my hero and his profession, I also stumbled across various resources which contain excellent information for general knowledge of the period.

photo credit: chelsyegarrett

Two of the best resources that I have found for quick information is:

  • Jane Austen’s World – This blog page has detailed lists on all kinds of subjects from food, fashion, marriage, places in london, animals/pets, money, cooking, and country houses. It is an excellent starting point when looking for general information.
  • Nancy Mayer, Regency Researcher - Nancy is a member of RWA’s Beau Monde Chapter and gives workshops for Beau Monde and Hearts Through History. She is very knowledgeable about the Regency period and has many short articles on her site about things like food, dance, medicine, the peerage, fashion, royalty, titles and names. She also has a section where she answers reader questions and you can look at some of the popular questions readers have posed in the past.

Other resources I found were:

  • Gaelen Foley’s Website – Author Gaelen Foley has a historical resources page which lists wonderful books on the Regency period and links to different articles. She also gives a brief overview of the period. It is pretty thorough.
  • The National Archives – This is a database of all kinds of public records from the UK. I specifically searched for wills in the early 1800s, but you can also find information on the transfer of property and legal cases. It draws information from various libraries and county records.
  • Google Books – There are many primary sources you can find through Google Books. Travel guides, books on etiquette, memoirs of military men or noblemen, also books on particular professions (such as the book I found on the history of solicitors). This is a good resource for original documents from the 19th century.
  • BBC - Covers history from 1714-1837, including the Napoleonic War, the American Revolution, Britain’s relationship to India, slavery and it’s abolition, and the forming of “Great Britain”.

The Impulsive Hearts Blog also does a Regency Primer Series. You can find articles on how to tie a cravat, household servants, currency, Chrismtas in the Regency, carriages, divorce & annulments and much more.

There are more resources online, particularly the blogs of historical romance authors, but these are a good starting point for finding information about the Regency period. Happy Researching!


Vivienne Westlake has been reading and writing romance since the age of fifteen. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature and when she’s not plotting stories about sexy heroes and sassy heroines, she’s buying a book on British history, watching the latest teen vampire show, doing an art project or singing karaoke with friends. Vivienne is an active member of LARA, Romance Divas, and Indie Romance Ink.