Help! I’m on Overload! by Rebecca Heflin

Well, I’m getting this blog post in by the skin of my teeth. Ever had so much going on in your life all at once that you can’t keep up with everything? In my case, it’s all good, but stressful just the same.

Case in point, my schedule for March and April. First, I should point out that I have a full-time day-job, my husband and I have a non-profit foundation, and, oh yeah, I also write books. ☺ I maintain my author website and social media, as well as the foundation’s website and social media.

  • March 4th – Sports camp for kids with cancer
  • March 7th – Book release
  • March 8th – My birthday
  • March 12th – Speaking to the Gainesville Writers Alliance
  • March 26th – Six-author book signing
  • March 29th – 30th – The Amazing Give
  • April 1st – Fundraising event
  • April 4th – Kick-off event for another fundraiser
  • April 8th – Foundation retreat
  • April 22nd – Fundraising event

Somewhere in there I have to edit my next book, write the new one, promote past and current books, update both websites, and promote the fundraising events. And did I mention I have a husband, who, believe it or not, likes to spend time with his wife. Sigh. What’s an overloaded person to do? No, seriously, what am I to do? Clone myself? Hire assistants (yeah, that’s plural)?

Tell me I’m not alone. Make me feel better — share your overloaded calendars.

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Mardi Gras and…Coping

It’s the height of Mardi Gras season. Endless parties and parades. Paczki and king cakes. Decorations and costumes, drinking and eating in excess, all in the name of a six-week long holiday. The one time of year when purple, green, and gold not only are acceptable to wear together, it actually looks good.

I lived in Louisiana for eleven years, so I get Mardi Gras. My life once revolved around this flamboyant, crazy holiday, too. Even after we moved to Michigan, my husband and I, and eventually, the kids, would travel back to Louisiana each year for Mardi Gras. We even tried to time it so we could join in two full weekends of fun instead of just one. We didn’t party like it was 1999; we partied like it was Mardi Gras.

And then the kids grew old enough that it wasn’t feasible to take them out of school for a week to head down to Mardi Gras, so we started throwing our own Mardi Gras parties here in Michigan. And yes, we still had king cake, rather than the far-more-popular-here paczki.

Never heard of a paczki? Well, check out this BLOG for a beginner’s guide understanding, as well as a couple key places where you can snag one of your own.

Anyway, back to me. So yeah, we’re big Mardi Gras fans. Rather, we were. Until last year. You see, last spring, my son died. Right smack dab in the middle of that next season following Mardi Gras: Lent. Yeah, you know the one, where Catholics across the world quit everything in excess and give up such things as Facebook or Coke or candy or beer for six weeks, as a way to show God that they really are good people despite the almost nonstop partying of the six weeks previous.

This year during Mardi Gras, instead of reveling in the fun and excess, I spent the entire time dreading Lent, more than your typical Catholic might. Because now I get to spend the next six weeks hearing about sacrificing my only begotten son. Yeah, I know it’s not remotely about me—or my son—but when something like that happens to you, messages tend to get skewed. You’d be amazed at the things that strike me and make me think about my horrific loss. Songs on the radio. Television shows. Books. Commercials. Seeing a blond headed teenage boy walking down the street. The reminders are everywhere—everywhere—and yet none are quite so poignant as the Lenten season.

This is probably going to sound weird, but the dread caused me to pick up one of my own books. It’s called PRIM AND PROPER FATE, and it occurs during Mardi Gras. In fact, the key characters end up partying during the final weekend of the six-week revel in an apartment located right there on Bourbon Street. And it’s really fun because some of them have never been to Mardi Gras before, while others had been, but it was a long time ago, like centuries, back when it was called Carnival, but that’s because they’re immortal.

I admit, rereading it was a nice escape from reality. Which is exactly what romance books are supposed to be, in my humble opinion. So I think, to get me through this next six weeks, instead of giving something up for Lent, I’ll commit to reading more.

Posted in Motivation, Paranormal Romance, Soul Mate Publishing, Tami's Telling You!, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Besieging the Boundaries


Can you define the difference between between genre and literary fiction? I can’t believe I spent over $50,000 on an MFA in Creative Writing and found I could not.

I was recently invited to sit on a Revision Panel by a Novel Workshop group in the Boston area. It was not until I had arrived and met the other panelists that I realized I was the “odd man out.” Unlike my panelist colleagues, I did not write “literary fiction.”

Romance, it seems, falls into another category altogether. One, I also soon realized, not widely revered by fans of the literary brand of fiction. What, I wondered, was the huge distinction? Researcher as I am by nature, I embarked on a mission to find out.

In 2014, a writer from the Huffington Post wrote, “There are certainly highbrow literary readers who believe that genre fiction does not deserve any merit.”

“Genre fiction” is the category in which most sources place romance novels.

amusement-park-237200_640The same journalist states, “The main reason for a person to read Genre Fiction is for entertainment, for a riveting story, an escape from reality. Literary Fiction separates itself from Genre because it is not about escaping from reality, instead, it provides a means to better understand the world and delivers real emotional responses.”

Other sources draw the line between the types of fiction in other ways:

  • Literary fiction typically places more emphasis on description rather than dialogue or action.
  • Genre fiction tends to progress at a much quicker pace than literary fiction.
  • In literary fiction, “nothing much happens.”

Now, I can only speak from personal reading experience. I am presently reading a ghost story by one of my favorite authors, Susanna Kearsley. This author’s works fall into the category of “literary fiction.” And yes, I admit, the pace is much slower. Much time and effort is taken in descriptive detail, of setting in particular. And at times, for pages and pages, “nothing much happens.” That doesn’t change my enjoyment of this author’s books.yawning-349753_640

But let’s get real here. It’s a freaking ghost story! Just exactly how “literary” can one get when crafting a tale about the supernatural?

True, it’s a different experience than those by “genre fiction” writers, such as Charlaine Harris and Laura Spinella. These are, at least as far as Amazon categories, romance writers. What makes their brand of fiction supposedly inferior to the literary variety?

I’m looking for a riveting story, an escape from reality. But tell me: don’t books by these “genre fiction” authors also deliver “real emotional responses”? At least for me, they do.

I believe it’s about time the world of publishing realizes that the gates to success are no longer governed by editors and agents sitting behind big, shiny expanses of mahogany, but by readers. Just as in all other aspects of our world, we, the people, are tired of labels. We are not willing to be judged by race or sexual orientation or social class or nationality. The books we write need to be judged within their own context. Not according to some standard set by a precedent that no longer applies in a modern, progressively thinking age.

So, as romance writers, what do we write? Genre fiction, i.e., throwaway, cheap-thrill entertainment? Or something “worthy of more merit,” filled with rich descriptive details and deeper insights into relationships? Books that provide “a means to better understand the world”, those that “deliver real emotional responses”?


You already know what my opinion is—and the kind of books I endeavor to write.

Fellow Soulies, we are romance authors. Proud romance authors. We love our genre, our stories, our niche in the publishing market. Embrace your label, Soulies, and soldier on, continuing to write the best love stories you can write.

Because in the end, no matter what anyone says, love always wins.

heart of fire background for design


Claire Gem writes intensely emotional contemporary romance & supernatural suspense. You can find her at her website or her Amazon author page.





Posted in Contemporary Romance, Romance, Soul Mate Publishing, Writing, Writing career | 6 Comments

Vampire Princess of New York in Top 10 for Best Romance Novel

top10novelrA readers’ poll that is very close to my heart is the Preditors and Editors Readers’ Poll. For 2016, Vampire Princess of New York finished in the Top 10 for Best Romance Novel.

Why do I hold this poll in such high regard? For several reasons:
1. It’s hosted on the site, where I started as an author studying science fiction and fantasy years ago. It is a wonderful educational site and members engage in critiquing. I always say if you can survive the critiquing at Critters, you must be an author. It’s going to make you a better writer by leaps and bounds. This site where science fiction, fantasy, and horror authors train via workshops was founded and is operated by former Vice President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc., Dr. Andrew Burt.

vampireprincessofnewyork12. There is no entry fee, so all authors start out on equal footing. I know many authors who don’t enter contests simply because they cannot afford the fees.

3.  It’s a readers’ poll. The readers decide and that’s so exciting!

Thank you if you voted for Vampire Princess of New York. I’m so thrilled and typing passionately on the next book in the Arnhem Knights of New York series.

All the best in the adventure of love and life,

Susan Hanniford Crowley, Amazon Kindle Bestselling Author of Vampire Romance
Vampire King of New York is available in Amazon Kindle and Print and Barnes and Noble Print
Vampire Princess of New York is available in Amazon Kindle






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Marisa Makes Memories

By Marisa Dillon, author



Of course, you’ve heard of Pinterest, the social media platform that calls itself  “the world’s catalog of ideas.” Think digital cork boards where you virtually pin your favorite on-line photos, then save, share or make secret.


Do you Pinterest?  Some bloggers admit they are obsessed with pinning. Any activity can become addicting. If you spend more time pinning than sleeping, you may have a problem.

pinoholicHowever, for those of us who may be more fanatic than addict, Pinterest is a great way to get inspired. And when writer’s block strikes, and it will, this social media idea board can help you overcome it.

Yes, Pinterest is a great resource for writers. I’m not a pinaholic, but I have been creating boards, some secret, for a few years. As an author, I have fond memories of using Pinterest boards to visualize my characters and settings.

pintrest-logo    secret-board-for-wip

I’ve also used Pinterest to help me set a creative direction for my book covers.


Thanks to technology, Pinterest gathers data about my habits and interests from online searches and engagement, then puts it into an algorithmic formula. When I log into Pinterest’s main feed, the social media app serves me suggested pins selected just for me. Here are a few samples from my search for this blog post:                          pintrest-for-romance-writers-ii        pintrest-for-romance-writers        pintrest-for-romance-writers-iii

I bet you’ll find this Pinteresting…

Valued at $11 billion, Pinterest announced last week on their company blog a new feature called Lens. What Shazam is to music, Lens will be for objects. Inside the app, users will be able to snap a picture of an item and the app will then suggest objects it thinks are related. Pinterest said its technology can recognize over 1 billion objects, which in some cases even includes specific brands. “The new technology,” said co-founder Evan Sharp, “is capable of seeing the world the way you do.”

Last Wednesday, the company also announced two other new features: Shop the Look, a way to shop and buy products inside its fashion and home-themed pins, and Instant Ideas, which surfaces related ideas, like a new recipe using similar ingredients.

Like any social media, Pinterest must evolve on the user experience side too. You may notice your Pinterest profile also looks a little different lately. Here’s what’s changed:

  • Now everything looks consistent, whether you’re viewing your profile on the web or your Pinterest App.
  • Your boards and the Pins you saved, tried, and liked, all live under different tabs. You can see the total number of each of these when you visit each tab.
  • Now you can edit your board covers on both your phone and on the web. Just open up your board and tap or click on the pencil button.
  • If you’re on the web, you can drag and drop your boards into a different order. On your phone, go to your profile settings to view your boards by most recent, A to Z, or same as web.

Here are some PINTERESTING STATISTICS from 2016:

  • 31 percent of Internet users (26 percent of all U.S. adults) use Pinterest
  • There are about 150 million useres on the Pinterest platform globally
  • Average number of monthy searches on Pinterest: 2 billion
  • Number of pins created: 100 billion

I’d love to hear from you Pinterest fans and Pinaholics. How do you Pinterest?




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A Valentine’s Day Sonnet by Catherine Castle


While searching for a quote about love to jumpstart my Valentine’s Day blog post, I came across this saying by Aristotle:

Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies. – Aristotle

It prompted a poem, a sonnet to be precise, and I thought I would share it. Sonnets can be tricky to write because they require a meter and a rhyme pattern. I’m particularly fond of Shakespeare’s sonnets which are written in iambic pentameter, or 10 syllables to a line, with every other syllable accented and a rhyme pattern of abab cdcd efef gg. The rhyme is the easy part, defining iambic pentameter, quite another, but I try my best to conquer it. I always had trouble with that part of poetry.

Why am I talking about poetry, you ask, when I’m a writer of romance? Aside from the fact the poem is about love, I think writing poetry is a great exercise to create lyric and precise language. All writers, in my opinion, should practice writing poetry to help hone their skills.

Besides, it’s Valentine’s Day, and I need something to write on the inside of my hubby’s handcrafted Valentine’s Day card.

I hope you enjoy my Valentine’s Day Sonnet based on Aristotle’s quote.



Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies. – Aristotle

A Valentine’s Day Sonnet ©

By Catherine Castle


Love is two hearts snared in a solitary soul

who sings harmonic duets that ring

a solo tone. One voice. One mind, who knows

the other’s hopes, sees hidden needs and things

kept deep inside. A cloistered, sheltered soul

bound to another’s frailties. A keeper

of all secrets both shared and those untold,

whose vow of silence binds forever,

detained with silken cords of passion’s flame.

A single soul with deep desire to love

and cherish, hold from harm, swear truelove’s name

is but their own—an oath blessed from above.

A lone soul is Love, bound in two frail shells.

Soul mates now and till comes heaven and hell.



How are you expressing love to  your Valentine ?



Catherine CastleCatherine Castle is a multi-award-winning author and the author the The Nun and the Narc. When she isn’t writing she loves to garden, sing, and quilt. You can visit her at her blog Romance For the Ages
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After four desperate tries for my latest writings, a sequel to my Indigo Sky, I finally nailed down ideas in the form of a synopsis. I know, I know, a synopsis is supposed to be, well, sort of like a short story–beginning, middle and end. How do you write this thing without the story? Created as the preliminary to an outline, I left out the unnecessary, and kept in the necessary. In other words, my synopsis left out the B-ST.

Stephen King

Maybe what Stephen King says in his book,”On Writing” in his Second Foreword, is true, This is a short book because most books about writing are filled with B-ST. Fiction writers, present company included, don’t understand very much about what they do–not why it works when it’s good, not why it doesn’t when it’s bad. I figured the shorter the book, the less the B-ST. King suggests that every aspiring writer should read The Elements of Style. Rule 17 in the chapter titled “Principles of Composition” is “Omit needless words.” I tried to do that in my short synopsis, maybe three pages double spaced, based on someone’s probable expectation. Enough of this, I can see your eyes rolling from here.

So now how to create that outline? I am about to–finally–learn how to use Scrivener, created for us (writers) to outline. Wish me God’s speed . . . (Audio) (Trailer)

indigo sky cover6x9 72res.jpg (buy link)

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