Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hot Summer Nights in New York City

As I’m scrambling with last minute packing for the RWA National convention in New York City from June 28-July 1, I’m also finishing a writing project to meet a deadline and deciding what to read for the Ravenous NightsRavenous Nights is a reading series celebrating erotic romance writers. It takes place the first Friday of every month in New York City and is sponsored by Ravenous Romance Publishing. Four erotic romance authors, including me, will be reading from our books. The reading will be on Friday July 1st from 8-10 p.m. at the Happy Ending Lounge, 302 Broome Street, New York, NY 10002 212-334-9676.

There's lots of buzz going on about this event in the city. Check these links out:

The authors reading are: Louisa Bacio, Gwen Masters, Daisy Harris and Kathy Kulig.
I know this is at the same time as the Rita/Golden Heart awards, but you can hear about the winners later if you’re interested in checking out some NYC nightlife in Chinatown. Door prizes will be given out too.

Louisa Bacio:  Louisa will be reading from her book: The Vampire, the Witch& the Werewolf: Threesome in New Orleans By Louisa Bacio

Blurb: Haunted by paranormal abilities that she can’t control, and plagued by nightmares about a demon that seeks her soul, Lily Anima travels to New Orleans in search of salvation.
In the French Quarter, Lily dives into the paranormal world and enlists the help of an unlikely couple: a vampire, Lawrence Justice, and a werewolf, Trevor Pack.
As the trio encounters ghosts, voodoo and unspeakable evil, will Trevor and Lawrence be able to help Lily turn her powers into a gift rather than a curse? And when Lily discovers that she needs to lose her virginity in order to embrace her powers and get the demon off her back, will the twosome be able to survive as a threesome?

Bio : Louisa Bacio enjoys soaking up the sun in Southern California, and spending time with her family. Sex University: All-Girls Academy also is available via Ravenous Romance.
For a short erotic paranormal tryst, “The Wait” can be found in Rekindled Fire: An Anthology of Reunited Lovers.

In addition to writing and editing, Bacio teaches college courses in English, journalism, film studies and popular culture. Drop in for a visit at

Gwen Masters:  Gwen wasn’t sure what she was going to read when I talked to her, but I’m sure it’ll be hot. She has several books out and one her readers love is One Breath at a Time. Her latest book, A Week in the Snow, (releases 6/27) at Total E-Bound.
A Week in the Snow
Bio: Gwen Masters has seen hundreds of her short stories published in print and online, and her erotic novels have been translated into half a dozen languages. When she's not writing smut, she is diving into research on interesting yet obscure topics, hopping a plane every few weeks, and masquerading as a serious news journalist. She splits her time between a home on the Georgia coast and a little place on the outskirts of Philadelphia. Check out Gwen at:

Daisy Harris: Daisy, too, will be making a last minute decision. When you have a number of awesome books, how do you choose? Her Ocean Shifter series is quite popular. She can’t go wrong with erotic paranormal—shapeshifters, deities, ménages, etc. (my favs). I’m sure we’ll be in for some great sexy scenes.

Mere Passion (Ocean Shifters #2)
Bio: Daisy wanted to be a fiction writer at 11, but first became a doctor and a medical writer then found fiction writing again. Currently, she writes for Siren, Ravenous and Ellora’s Cave. Visit her at:

Kathy Kulig: I’ll be reading from my latest release Emerald Dungeon, part of the 1-800-DOM-help author series.
Emerald Dungeon

See you in NYC!
And thank you to Lori Perkins and Debra Hyde for inviting me and hosting this event.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Ghost Hunting - Ready to be Scared?

This weekend Dh and I went to New Hope, Pennsylvania and decided to check out their famous Ghost Tour. New Hope is said to be the most haunted town in the United States. It’s a cool place along the Delaware River with historical buildings, eclectic shops, art studios, B&Bs, restaurants and pubs.

Many of the houses date back to the 1700s. Dh and I stayed in the 1870 Wedgwood Inn , named after the Englishman Josiah Wedgwood who invented the famous Wedgwood blue bone china. The inn has some interesting history which is connected to the Ghost Tour. I’ll explain more later.

We took the tour Saturday night and learned that the New Hope Ghost Tour is the longest running ghost tour in the US and possibly in the world. Adi-Kent Thomas Jeffrey began the tour in 1981. She’s an author and paranormal investigator. She’s known for several books including: Ghost in the Valley, Across the Land from Ghost to Ghost, and Bermuda Triangle.
I have to recommend the ghost tour. It was a lot of fun. The history was fascinating and the ghost stories creepy, and they gave me chills more than one time. Cameras were welcomed and encouraged. Sometimes people report sensing “things”. A tap on the shoulder, a scent, an image in a window. Others photographed orbs or images. A few people said they captured orbs on their camera. Orbs are thought to be spirit energy but can also be camera artifacts caused by raindroplets, dust and insects.
Logan Inn, New Hope
A couple stops we made on our tour: The Logan Inn. The oldest continuing running Inn in the US and probably the most haunted. During the Civil War, bodies of soldiers were stored in the basement of the Logan Inn in the winter time when the ground was too frozen to dig graves. When there were too many bodies, they began cremating them. A few woke up during the cremation. Today, soldiers are seen roaming the halls. Another ghost is said to be the daughter of the original owner who tucks guest in at night, opens drawers, moves furniture. People also report hearing voices.

One house we passed has an apartment upstairs. The woman living up there says many times she comes home and cabinets and drawers are open but the apartment is locked up tight. She closes everything and gets up the next morning and the cabinets and drawers are open again.

In one story, she tells about a pair of pearl earrings she received as a gift from her dad. And one time she was putting them on but dropped one, and it fell down between the boards in the floor. She didn’t want to pull up the board without asking her landlord’s permission, so she left it there expecting to check with the landlord the next day. When she woke up the next morning, the earring was on the pillow next to her. We have a picture of this house with a possible orb above the second window.  
 Possible Orb above middle window?

At the Wedgwood Inn where we stayed, the owner was planning an addition. As the contractor began excavation, he told the owner, “I think you need to see this.”
Trap door under table leading to secret tunnel

Under the ground between the gazebo and the house was a large tunnel. And beneath the floor of the gazebo was a trapdoor leading into the tunnel. The tunnel leads underneath the house.
Secret tunnel between gazebo and house

They determined it was part of the Underground Railroad. It was a vast network of people, secret routes, safe houses, tunnels and hidden rooms used to hide fugitive slaves during their escape to the north to freedom. People risked their lives to help these slaves. The owners of the Wedgwood Inn decided not to do the addition and preserve the tunnel as an historical site. In a room outside the dining room, there’s a viewing box that looks down into the tunnel. (see photo).
Viewing box that looks down into secret tunnel that hid fugitive slaves.

The Wedgwood Inn supposedly has two ghosts one of a 12 y/o slave girl who appears to tell her tale and an old waiter with a bloody shirt. I didn’t see either but took a picture in our room and perhaps photographed an orb? See the sphere over the fireplace.
Possible orb on fireplace?

There were many other stops but one particular story that gave me chills was called The Hitchhiker. Two couples were driving down a country road at night and saw a young man dressed in a brown jacket and brown pants, carrying a backpack. He had light blond hair and striking blue eyes.  They didn’t pick him up and continued for about five miles. Then they saw him again! They couldn’t believe it. There were no other side roads so it wasn’t possible for the guy to have gotten picked up and dropped off ahead of them and no car passed them. They again didn’t stop. Then, they entered New Hope and were crossing the particular bridge we were standing under in our tour. These couples saw the hitchhiker again. This time they stopped and asked if he’d like a ride. The guy didn’t say a word he just vanished. Other people in the area have reported seeing The Hitchhiker in the Bucks County area.
Happy ghost hunting. Have you been on a ghost tour? Where and what was your experience?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Networking Magic at Conferences

Marriott Marquee-Location for RWA National 2011

I can tell the RWA National Conference is coming up (June 28-July 1) by looking around my office. I've begun sorting clothes for the trip. I hate waiting until the last minute. I'm also going out of town before the conference, so I'm packing for two trips. Anyone else started packing yet? Or am I the only crazy one?

If you have started packing, have you also thought about how you plan to network? Are you pitching your manuscript to an editor/agent? Do you have your pitch down? How about an elevator pitch so it'll roll off the tongue? How are your social skills? Most writers are introverts, including me, but I'm getting better. I even took a class recently with Jonathan Maberry and Keith Strunk called Act Like a Writer which used acting techniques to improve communication skills. It was tough and painful at times but well worth it.

A writing conference offers one of the best places for networking with business professionals, colleagues and friends. But have you found yourself tongue tied at an editor/agent pitch, or trying to speak to a group of people only to find your witty humor has missed the connecting flight?

To be most effective, you must sharpen those communication skills and avoid a few bad habits. People form impressions within the first 10 minutes, or less, of speaking with you. How do you gracefully start up a conversation with a stranger? When there are hundreds of attendees at the larger conferences like RWA National and Romantic Times, the eyes can glaze over and the urge to go find a corner to hide in is overwhelming.

First of all, take a breath. Don’t overload your brain with everything that’s happening in the room. Focus on the immediate six–foot circle around you. Think before you speak and always remind yourself, “Am I behaving in a manner that will make a good impression?”

3 Rules for Successful Communication:

  1. Listen – without interrupting the other person.
  2. Question– the person for more information on the topic.
  3. Encourage– more discussion including other ideas, future plans or goals.
Ways to Improve Communication:

Reveal some confession. “This is my first national conference and I feel overwhelmed.” “In my pitch session, I was so nervous I couldn’t remember the names of my characters.” A good icebreaker.

 Weave pauses into your speech. Don’t try to convey all the information on your topic in one breath. Give the other person an opportunity to absorb and interject comments.

Smile! You’ll be more approachable. Other body language applies here–stand tall, dress professionally and make eye contact with people you are speaking to.

Compliment people, but be sincere. Introduce yourself to others. If someone pays you a compliment use that as an opening for a conversation starter.


 Be warm and considerate. Respect people’s privacy and opinions. Gossiping about and badmouthing other people can too easily be overheard, even in your room, on an elevator. DON’T DO IT!

 Be Positive. To give a positive impression, speak and act positive.

 Be empathetic. If you spend your time trying to understand someone’s point of view rather than convincing her of yours, you’ll build your image.

Behavior to Avoid:

Sarcasm. Making spontaneous sarcastic remarks even if you don’t intend to hurt anyone has a negative impact on people’s impression of you.

Interrupting. Interrupting a speaker can create a less than favorable impression for you, if not cause tension and anger. If you catch yourself doing it, stop and apologize. If you’re not sure if the person is finished, politely ask, “Are you finished?”

Ignoring people. If you don’t take time to say hello, or stop to listen to another’s ideas or good news, others will not want to deal with you in the future. Our lives are so busy and rushed and it’s easy to forget to pay attention to our actions. But people remember rude–and courteous–behavior.  

Being halfway there. When you are speaking to someone, don’t scan the hundreds of conference attendees behind her looking for other friends or favorite authors. (See ignoring people). Or explain by saying, “I’m trying to find so and so, please excuse my rudeness.”

Hogging the conversation. It’s not all about you. Even if you think it is. Give others a chance to talk. (See Interrupting.)

Offering unsolicited Advice. Don’t do it. Try this on a friend: “Hi Jane, want some advice?” Watch her face tighten.

Giving insincere compliments. Politeness and courtesy can be overdone especially in insincere compliments. On the other hand, don’t criticize people in public.

10 Ways to Start a Conversation with Strangers at Conferences:

 Starting a conversation with strangers is difficult because you don’t know their interests. At conferences, you have a common point of interest—books.

  1. Comment about the conference, keynote speaker, awards ceremony, etc.
  2. Ask where the other person is from, or other background information.
  3. Pay a compliment, a sincere and honest one, of course.
  4. Ask if he or she is a writer, and if so, what does he or she write.
  5. Ask for advice. “Should I wear the jacket or not?” “Is this pitch line better than that one?”
  6. Ask for help. “Where’s the goodie room?”
  7. Ask for an opinion. People love to give their opinion.
  8. Ask, “Have you attended any good workshops so far?”
  9. Ask for the best way to get around town, points of interest, local restaurants, etc.
  10. Recommend any good craft books? Workshops? Read a great book lately?
There really are no magic tricks to successful networking, maybe a little luck. If you want to leave a positive lasting impression and make the most of your time at a writers conference, develop good conversational skills.

What do you hope to accomplish at your next conference and please share any tips, experiences or horror stories. We all can learn from good and bad experiences.