Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Writing Tip Wednesday--Writing Advice from Gina Drayer

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! Can you believe November is here already? I have lots of writing to do before year's end, and I think my guest Gina Drayer may be on to something. Her advice puts a new spin on how to accomplish a daily word count. Welcome, Gina!

The best advice I can give to new writers is: SCHEDULE TIME TO WRITE.

I’m not just talking about devoting time to your craft (which you should be doing). I mean, treat your writing like a job or a class. Have a set time every day that you write. It doesn’t have to be long. Even two hours once a day is enough to get started. But make that time and fiercely protect it. Let your family know. Tell your friends. Turn off the internet and silence your phone.

Why go through the bother of scheduling time? It’s a brain chemistry thing, kind of like having a set bedtime. When you have a ritual, something you do at a set time in a particular place, you mind gets ready.

By going through the motions, if you will, you are alerting your brain that “this is the time we get creative.” Instead of waiting for inspiration to strike, you can create a neurological trigger for “inspiration” with your own writing ritual.

And when you’re ready to write, magic happens.

It doesn’t happen overnight. You are effectively retraining your brain, so it takes time. But it’s worth it. So the best advice I can give to you is don’t just make time to write; schedule time to write. You’ll thank me later.

Gina Drayer is an avid reader, writer, and Ubergeek.

A proud Navy brat, Gina has lived all over the country, but now hangs her hat in Indiana with her family. Currently, she spends her days running the family's Home Health Agency and Women's Mastectomy Center and her nights creating fantastic characters and steamy contemporary romances.

The third book in her Modern Girl’s Guide series ( will be published in December.

Follow her on Facebook ( or sign up for her newsletter (

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Writing Tip Wednesday--Roxy Mews

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! Fall is in full swing here in Indiana, so grab a cup of something warm to drink and pull up a chair. Roxy Mews is visiting today with some excellent advice for all writers. Welcome, Roxy, and thanks for being here!

I took a while trying to think about what advice I’d like to pass on to other writers. I’ve been lucky in my career. I’ve been mentored by some truly remarkable women, and something on my “to accomplish” list is to return the favor in whatever way I can. That’s why I jumped at the chance to write a post for Writing Tip Wednesday.

I could tell you the usual tips such as to never run out of coffee, write as often as you can, and ALWAYS delete your browser history before handing your laptop to parents or children. There are some things your mom can live without knowing.

I could also tell you about how I keep a book bible with details about my characters nearby while I’m writing. I learned the hard way that finding a hair color through two books is not an easy task.

But for this article I’ll stick with something a bit more true to my heart. Well, not counting coffee of course, because seriously…coffee is really needed.

My writing tip for everyone is to be brave.

Write brave. Let your characters call the shots. Don’t dial them back. Let your imagination play out loud and on the page. A special person told me once that, “If you have a story inside you, there is someone out there who needs to read it.”

Act brave. Even when you feel anything but. Jump at opportunities. When I got my first acceptance email, my first thought was…well I can’t write that on a public space without getting in trouble. Let’s just say, I didn’t think I was ready. I took the chance anyway. In that moment I acted brave, and I have a career because I took that chance.

Be brave for others. I’ve only been published for two years now, but I’ve met so many wonderful people. And guess what? Every author I have talked to has doubts. They doubt they’ll be able to switch genres, even though their heart tells them it’s the right thing to do. They doubt their latest hero will be likable. They doubt anyone will bother buying their book. But if they are as lucky as I am, when they have those doubts, they have other authors who will smack them upside the head and tell them they’re being stupid. Their fellow authors will tell them to go for it, and pass them a glass of wine when they hit send. When you find your niche, and you find those authors who are your peers, your critique partners, and ultimately your friends, be brave for them too.

So that’s my advice. Be brave. Write brave, act brave, and be brave for others, while you put your dreams on paper. Be brave enough to show your words to other people, and be brave enough to grow. Big dreams are scary. I should know. Mine terrify me.

Roxy wrote her first story at age six on an electric typewriter. It was about a cat and a haunted house. Thankfully, her stories and technology have matured since then. Now Roxy spends her days fighting the evil day job in hopes of conquering the stories that run rampant in her head when she comes home at night. When she discovered Erotic Romance, Roxy fell in love. She can’t wait to share all her fun and sexy stories with everyone. To connect with Roxy Mews find her babbling on Twitter, friend her on Facebook, visit her Blog, or find all these links on

Facebook Author Page:
Group Blog:

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Release Day for Death Benefits!!!

Are you ready for a quick paranormal read to prepare for Halloween?

Death Benefits is now available from Amazon, ARe, B&N, GooglePlay, iBooks, and Kobo for only 99 cents!

Sometimes…you’re better off dead.

Even as a woman used to dealing with dead people, Genesis Blacke has met her match.

Widow Genesis Blacke spends her days with dead people and her nights wishing she could relive the last moments with her deceased husband, that she could somehow change the past and save him from death. Fate gives her a second chance at love, but it isn’t quite what she expects.


Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Writing Tip Wednesday--Writing Advice from Jeana Mann

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! In case you missed the announcement and cover reveal, I have a short story release on Friday, October 23. Death Benefits is perfect for Halloween lovers and will be available at Amazon, ARe, B&N, GooglePlay, iBooks, and Kobo for only 99 cents!

In the meantime, Jeana Mann is here to offer some great advice on writing exercise! Welcome, Jeana, and thanks for visiting!


Thank you so much for allowing me to be here this week! It’s exciting to see so many writers sharing their knowledge and to be a part of it.

I‘m often asked about my writing process and how I’ve managed to write six books in less than a year. I thought I would share my experience and what I’ve learned.

Let me start by saying my first book, Intoxicated, took five years to write. FIVE YEARS. That’s a long time, especially in a business where authors are constantly told the faster you can produce, the quicker you will see results and build a readership. If I had any hopes of meeting these criteria, I needed to streamline my writing process. After attending a few courses on maximizing time, I took a long hard look at my work ethic. I came up with two problems. First, I was wasting time on undeveloped plotlines and getting lost in social media. Second, I had no discipline—at all. I am the world’s greatest procrastinator.

If you want to write faster, here are a few suggestions. Let me preface these by saying, I think it‘s important to evaluate your personal lifestyle and find what works for you. Everyone is different. We each have different goals and needs to be met.

1. Maximize your time—don’t waste precious minutes on things that take you away from writing. It is so easy to get sucked into social media and promotion. Focus on the areas you do well in or enjoy and let the others go.

2. Make writing a priority—carve out time each day to write, even if it’s only for ten minutes. Some days I get up an hour earlier before my day job in order to meet my writing goal for the day. I keep a small notebook in my purse to jot down ideas about characters and plots so that I’m ready to roll when I sit down at my desk.

3. Write every day—set a daily word count and stick to it. This is easy to say, hard to do. Sometimes everything I write is crap, but I keep writing anyway until I hit my count. I believe that writing is like exercising a muscle. The more you use it, the more flexible and strong it will become. The more you write, the easier it will be to get the words onto paper.

4. Set goals—make a plan for the next year. Set deadlines and keep them. I made a goal to produce one book every two months while working sixty hours a week at my day job. I do whatever it takes to hit these dates. If you can only write one book a year, then set your deadlines accordingly, but make yourself accountable.

5. Use tools to make writing easier—don’t waste time going in circles like I did. I use Scrivener to keep track of my series data (ie: character names, eye color, ages). It also allows me to write in bits and pieces and move those bits around to suit my ever-changing plotlines. I also use Hootsuite to post to multiple social media sites in one fell swoop. Talk to other authors and ask what they use to organize their writing lives.

6. Find a balance—don’t spend all your time at the computer. Recharging your batteries is just as important as hitting the keyboard. Family, diet, exercise, shopping for shoes. Whatever your pleasure, make sure you allow time for it. My best ideas come when my mind is fresh. Getting away from your desk allows you to generate new ideas and spurs creativity.

I hope you find these tips useful. Stay diligent and remember to enjoy your life. Being an author is hard work, but it is also the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. Thank you for letting me visit with you today and happy writing!

Jeana E. Mann is the author of sizzling hot contemporary romance. She was born and raised in Indiana and lives in a tiny town with a saloon, no stoplights, and cows in the backyard. She graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Speech and Hearing, something totally unrelated to writing.
When she’s not busy dreaming up steamy bad boys for her Felony Romance Series, she loves to travel anywhere and everywhere. Over the years she has climbed the ruins of Chichen Iza in Mexico, snorkeled along the shores of Hawaii, driven the track at the Indy 500, sailed around Jamaica, ate gelato on the steps of the Pantheon in Rome, and explored the ancient city of Pompeii. More important than the places she’s been are the people she has met along the way.
Be sure to connect with Jeana on Facebook or follow along on Twitter for the latest news regarding her upcoming releases.


Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!
Death Benefits ~ Coming Friday, October 23!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Cover Reveal Day!!!

Back in February, I submitted a short story to RWA's Second Chances Anthology call. I wrote the 5500-word story on a whim, with the plot coming out of nowhere and the story telling itself. Even the title was easy. Don't you love when that happens?!

Well, I recently got a rejection email, so that means I have a new paranormal short story just in time for Halloween. And today is Cover Reveal Day! Do you see how I worked the situation to my advantage? The Big R equals Re-purpose in my book. :) Many thanks to Bethany at Dragonfly Press Design for the rush job on the cover! You're awesome!!!

Coming to an e-tailer near you on Friday, October 23!

Blurb: Even as a woman used to dealing with dead people, Genesis Blacke has met her match.

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Writing Tip Wednesday--Writing Advice from Susan Gee Heino

Welcome back to Writing Tip Wednesday! So many of my writer friends have been under deadline, dealing with health issues, and just plain buried under family and work responsibilities lately that it seems like we've all been playing catch-up. The wonderfully cheerful and sweet Susan Gee Heino is my guest this week and she's offering some great advice. Wecome, Susan, and thanks for being here!

Thanks for inviting me to your blog, Mellanie! I love what you're doing and I'm happy to add my little bit of knowledge to this project. So here is my piece of advice for new writers:

Writing a book is like parenting. It keeps us up at night, it fills us with pride, it makes our hearts dance, but it can also make us want to pull out our hair. Writing something with the goal of seeing it published is not for the faint of heart! Most of us don't write because it's a relaxing way to spend our free time, but because there is some deep, primal instinct that urges us onward. We can't not pour ourselves into our books.

Ask just about any novelist and she'll tell you that her book is her baby. Ask "which of your books is your favorite?" and you'll get a confused stare. The emotional investment in crafting a book is so huge, so personal, that there's really no way to disconnect ourselves from it. Even if we want to, and—as any parent will admit—sometimes we do.

But just as in real-life parenting, these babies that we love and hold close in our arms will someday grow up. They have a bright future ahead! Books aren't meant to be merely a document on our hard drive or just a pleasant hobby that we poke at from time to time. Books are meant to be read by others.

It's hard to let go sometimes, though. We want to keep our baby just the way it is, safe and chubby and cuddly and cute. We don't want to run the risk of exposing it to reviewers and sales reports and people who just don't get it. If your dream as a writer is to become published, though, this is exactly what you have to do. You have to be a good parent to that book-baby.

So don't think of your book as your baby; think of it as what it will become someday. Will it be the next big thriller? Will it be an implement of comfort and hope? Will it provide insight and amusement? Will it set the world on fire with heat and emotion? No baby can do all that, but a full grown book can.

All of your hard work now isn't just passing the time. You're not simply hitting your daily word-count goal or polishing pages. You are taking your wonderful idea—your brainchild—and nurturing it all the way from infancy to full adulthood. You are guiding your book through its long journey toward publication. You're teaching it to drink from the big-boy cup, you're taking off the training wheels, you're holding its hand when it gets stood up on prom night. Everything you do as writer is aiming toward that final product.

Your book has to be able to swim in the deep end. It has to hold its head up high when faced with a bully. It has to make people fall in love with it. It can't stay a baby forever and that's why you work so hard.

So my advice to new writers is to love their book, but don't treat it like a baby. Let it grow up. Learn your craft, set some goals, and take your efforts seriously. Find out what is happening in the market and use that knowledge to give your book what it will need to succeed. Nurture its unique personality and encourage it to reach beyond clichés and redundancies.

It's a scary world out there, but your book can make it. Have faith in it, and lean on all your writer-friends for support when junior seems to be throwing a tantrum or wandering off in the wrong direction. Put that baby on time-out and by all means, don't spare the delete key! Do whatever it takes to whip your book into shape. The extra effort will be worth it when the time comes for your precious darling to leave the nest and soar.

Susan Gee Heino is a former actress, playwright, and theatre director, so she's no stranger to the dramatic. In 2008 she won the RWA Golden Heart® Award for Best Regency Romance, and her first book was released by Berkley Publishing in 2009. Since then she has published nearly 20 books and novellas. Her most recent title is THE GHOSTLY GOAL OF SCARY LORD LARRY, a Regency ghost story.

Along with her lighthearted Regency Romance, she writes quirky small-town Contemporary Romance. Under her pen name, Serena Gilley, she writes The Forbidden Realm fantasy romance series. Ms. Heino lives in rural Ohio with her pastor husband, two very creative children, and an accidental collection of critters. She loves to get to know her readers and invites everyone to connect with her on social media or visit her websites at and

Facebook: www.

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!
Coming soon ~ Death Benefits, a paranormal short story

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Writing Tip Wednesday--Writing Advice from Leah Braemel

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! I've come to the conclusion that life is NOT going to slow down any time soon. I spent a fabulous weekend in Indianapolis with my IRWA chapter mates at our Liliana Hart Event. We had a great turnout (about 160 attendees) and the program was fantastic! If you ever have the opportunity to attend one of Liliana's presentations, don't miss it!

This week, my awesome Canadian friend Leah Braemel is here to offer her sage advice to new writers. I couldn't agree more with number one on her list! And number six. And number nine. Number two gives me warm fuzzies. :) The rest of her advice is right on the mark too! Welcome, Leah, and thanks for visiting!

Thanks to Mellanie for inviting me today – I’ve skimmed back over old posts, and there is a lot of great advice here, so I don’t think I’m telling you anything new, but these are the points that I have taught to my own classes. To be honest, these are pieces of advice I have stuck up on notes around my desk because even after fourteen or so published stories, and countless unpublished ones that will never see the light of day, I still need to remember these points.

Things to keep in mind when writing:

1. The BEST piece of advice I first heard from Margaret Moore, but I’ve heard other authors repeat it since: Treat all writing advice like a buffet. When an author stands up (or blogs) and says “this is how you should write” what you should hear is “this is what works for them, it may or may not work for you.” It took me a couple of years to realize how wise Margaret’s advice was.

2. Don’t overload yourself with how-to-write workshops or books. When I first joined a major writing organization almost ten years ago, they and their affiliates offered dozens of workshops a month. I would take at least one craft course a month for almost the whole year. By the end of that year I found myself writing a paragraph, or a sentence, and then thinking “Oh, but Jane said …” so I’d delete the sentence and re-write it using Jane’s suggestions, only to think “Oh, but Mary said…” and so I’d delete that sentence and try to write it the way both Jane AND Mary suggested, and so on I went. Needless to say, I didn’t get much writing done for almost a year.

Does that mean I’m saying you shouldn’t read any craft books and shouldn’t take any courses? Heck no. My shelf is filled with them – I highly recommend Mellanie’s books, or another favorite of mine - Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King. I also highly recommend Margie Lawson’s courses.

3. There are no “Rules of Writing.” Seriously. They’re more like pirates’ guidelines.

In fiction, you can use fragments. You can use one word sentences. You can end a sentence with a preposition. You can write first person point-of-view for two different characters in the same book. (Just not in the same scene please, that would be too confusing.) Yes, there are editors and agents who will not read a book that starts with a prologue, but that’s usually because most new authors don’t understand what a prologue is supposed to show. There are hundreds of new books published by New York every year that include prologues. You just have to know when a prologue is necessary and when it’s just an info-dump. So if someone tells you that you can never use the word “was” in your first paragraph/page/50 pages, etc., or that you absolutely must follow the (picture me dropping my voice into a horror movie announcer tone) *12 Rules of Writing*, feel free to thumb your nose at them and show them the door.

4. You write the book, not your computer software: Don’t get stuck in the loop that if you just find the perfect writing software you’ll be able to finish your book. Sorry to disappoint you but even if you have great programs such as Scrivener or WriteWay Pro (and hey, Word’s not so bad either), you still have to sit your butt in the chair and write the darn book. The software is simply a tool to help you achieve it – it’s up to you to actually put the words on the page.

5. It helps to have a good chef teach you to cook, but there can be too many cooks in a kitchen. There are those (and I used to be—and still am—one of the advocates) who insist you have to have a couple good critique partners go over your work before submitting it. It’s a good idea, especially for new writers. But you also need to be aware the wrong critique partners can destroy your self-confidence until you don’t trust yourself anymore, and worse, they can try to change your voice or teach you bad habits. The key is learning the difference between a good critique partner and a bad one—oh boy that’s a delicate balance because someone who is good for one author might be a bad critique partner for another. Finding a good critique partner is like dating—you have to try each other out, get to know each other’s styles, and it’s okay to say “no, this isn’t a good fit” and move on.

6. Be aware that what works for you now, may not work for you 2 years from now, or vice versa. If something’s not working for you, don’t be afraid to try something new.

7. If you’re struggling writing a scene in third person, try writing it in first person, and then if your genre or your readers insist they only read third person, when the scene is done, you can edit it back to third.

If you normally sit at your desk, try sitting at the dining room table, or at a coffee shop, or the side of a river. If you normally write on a laptop, try writing on your tablet, try dictating into a voice recorder, or go old-school and hand-write your scene. You’d be surprised how a simple change can unclog your creativity and get you back on track.

8. Edits—they hurt so good. I once heard an author say how whenever they got their edits back from their editor, they pushed their chair back from their keyboard as far as they could get, closed one eye, squinted with the other, and very gingerly pressed the key to open the doc. I find myself reacting the same way most times. (Although usually my editor will tell me in the accompany email whether she liked it or not.) But – and this is a key point new writers need to remember—as much as it hurts to read an editor’s notes that tell you your writing isn’t perfect, you need to learn to listen to what they’re saying. You need to be able to take a step back and say “why are they saying that?” As the author you know what you meant, but maybe you weren’t clear enough so the reader is left confused. The editor is telling you the readers’ side, and that’s something that should be very important to you. Yes, there are times the editor and you may disagree. It happens on occasion. But don’t automatically dismiss their comments either. Their name goes on that book (even for my self pubbed books, I include the name of the editor in the front pages) and they are being judged by your work too. So open that edited doc, read through their comments, then close the doc and walk away for a day. Or two. That space and time will give you a new perspective.

Oh and about those edits? Yes, you really do need to hire a professional editor – unless your mom or your sister is a professional editor, please don’t think them reading your work is a pass straight to self-publishing and rave reviews. Sure it might happen, but seriously, go out and find yourself a freelance editor to edit your work so it’s the best it can be. Read their comments and listen to them, (most authors I know let them sit for a day or two to allow them to digest) and then EDIT your work again, and then hire a proofreader, and turn out the best possible story you can.

9. Straight from Nora Roberts herself – “You can’t edit a blank page.” And added to by me, “you can’t publish a blank page. So if your goal is to be published, you’d better finish that book.”

Leah is the only woman in a houseful of males that includes her college-sweetheart husband, two sons, a Shih Tzu named Seamus, and Turtle the cat. She loves escaping the ever-multiplying dust bunnies by opening up her laptop to write about sexy heroes and the women who challenge them.

Reviewers have awarded Leah's books numerous Top Pick and Recommended Reads designations as well as nominated them as Best Contemporary Romance, Best Erotic Romance, and Best Ménage à Trois or More. Leah has also been nominated as Favorite Author and Best Erotic Romance Author.

Look for FEEDING THE FLAMES, book 1 in the Flirting with Fire series, along with the Grady Legacy series from Carina Press.

Follow Leah on Facebook, Tsu, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr and Goodreads. You can also follow Leah on her Amazon Author page or chat with her and other fans on her Facebook Reader group.


Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!