Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Writing Tip Wednesday--Conferences

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! A writing career consists of much more than writing stories. Be prepared. Be educated. Make well-informed decisions. For writing craft topics, see the Labels list in the left sidebar as you scroll down the page or check out my handbook in e-book or print.

Ideally, as a writer’s career develops, her skills improve and her knowledge about writing and publishing grows. Attending Conferences offers a hands-on approach to learning, with information on a wide variety of topics, and the opportunity to network with publisher industry professionals, editors, agents, and other authors.

Many conferences are sponsored by writing organizations and have presentations/workshops covering topics considered most beneficial to its members—the more diverse the membership, the more diverse the workshops. For example: RWA’s membership includes all levels of writers, from beginners to multi-published bestselling romance authors. Their national conference reflects that diversity, with tracks on writing craft, self-publishing, research, publishing industry, career, etc.—topics designed to meet the needs of all attendees. Organizations who cater to only published authors focus on areas of interest to their members, such as the publishing industry and networking. To find out which organizations hold conferences, see the post on Writing Organizations for links to their websites.

Local or regional chapters may host smaller scale conferences. Some are one-day events with a single theme and one or more speakers. Others last two or three days and offer multiple topics and speakers. Agent and editor pitches are common at longer full-weekend conferences, and some have award ceremonies for their chapter contests as part of their festivities.

Cost can be a major factor in deciding which conferences to attend. National conference registration fees are typically at least double, and usually triple or quadruple, the cost of regional or local chapter conference fees. A conference with many workshops, speakers, and events will demand a higher fee. Add in the cost of hotel, meals, travel, baggage fees, parking (airport or hotel), and any extras to formulate a budget. Plan on book costs and shipping expense when a signing is part of the event. Sharing a room and travel expenses with a friend (whether driving to the conference or hiring a car service for hotel/airport transportation) are effective ways to cut costs. Check out local restaurants’ online menus prior to the trip for pricing and food options if meals aren’t part of the registration fee. Save receipts and record these expenses for tax purposes!

While wardrobe purchases aren’t tax-deductible, they can put a dent in the budget. A conference is a professional function and authors should dress with that in mind. Business professional to business casual makes the best impression. Plan on lots of walking and standing, so comfortable shoes are a must. Dress up a casual outfit with a scarf or jewelry. Awards ceremonies are often dress-up occasions, but that doesn’t necessarily mean buying a full-length gown. Do a little research to find out what appropriate dress is for the event. A simple little black dress may work well, without breaking the bank. Also, plan to be “on” at all times. Industry professionals will be in the restaurants and bars and at parties and other functions in the hotel. Sweats and ratty jeans are not a good choice if you’re in the conference area.

Safety is the usually most overlooked aspect of attending conferences. Although the event hotel may seem filled with only attendees, other non-conference guests could be staying there as well. Avoid announcing room numbers in crowded areas. Discard the key card envelope in the room in case keys are lost. Use the safety latch when in the room to prevent hotel employees or other hotel guests from entering the room without knocking. Locate the nearest emergency exit. Remove nametags when leaving the conference hotel. Use the designated driver rule to ensure everyone in the group arrives back at the hotel or their rooms safely. Only accept drinks from the bartender and never leave drinks unattended. Most of all, use common sense.

Conferences are a great way for authors to improve their writing skills, learn about the publishing industry, and network with others in their field. They can also be overwhelming for a first-timer, so take a deep breath and focus on achieving a well-rounded career!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Author Spotlight + Giveaway--Mardi Maxwell

Welcome to Author Spotlights on Mondays! Mardi Maxwell is my guest this week and she's giving away lots of goodies, so be sure to comment! She has 3 copies of her latest book, Their Temporary Sub, and 5 prize packages containing a "Do You Rendezvous?" wrist band, a deck of heart-shaped cards with holder, and your choice of red or blue ATM holder/register up for grabs!

Here's a peek at her latest release:

Twins, Luc and Logan Ramsey, agreed to remain single until their thirty-second birthday. When they meet Cassie Edwards, Logan decides she’s the woman for them. Luc insists they stick to their plan and refuses to get involved with her. Cassie is being hunted by the men who killed her father eight years ago. She’s tempted by Logan, who pursues her at every turn, and intrigued by Luc who wants her but keeps his distance. When Luc and Logan discover she’s in danger, they decide to protect her. She wants them but can she be their temporary sub without endangering them?

Logan sorted through the weapons in the tote then read the labels on the two pill bottles he found and held them up. “Sleep medication and something for anxiety,” he said as he opened Cassie’s wallet and rifled through it then held up a card. “The doctor who prescribed the medication.”

“You take her. I’ll make the call,” Luc said.

“No. You suck at talking to people.” Logan pulled his cell phone from his wet jean pocket, frowned at it when he realized it was out of commission, then left the room.

Luc tightened his arms around Cassie and rocked her, all the while wondering how he had ended up with her, in tears and on his lap. He didn’t do this kind of thing and he was completely out of his element. Wishing Logan would hurry up and return, he nuzzled his chin against the top of her head. “It’s okay, pet. Logan will take care of you.”

He didn’t know if she heard him or not, but the crying seemed to be easing off. A few minutes later, after a couple sniffles and a few hiccups, he felt her body softening until she lay quietly in his arms, asleep. Feeling her shiver, he carefully laid her down and removed her wet clothes. Her feet had several small cuts and scrapes on them and he made a note to clean them and have the doctor check them out. Picking her up, he carried her to his room and gently laid her on his bed. He changed into dry clothes then decided Cassie would be scared if she woke up naked. He dressed her in one of his T-shirts, then smiled when he saw how it covered her to her knees. Standing by the bed, looking down at her, he thought, what the hell, and slid onto the bed and pulled her into his arms. He justified his actions to himself by deciding Logan would expect him to take care of her while he was busy calling her therapist.

A few minutes later Logan walked into the room, followed by Doc Roberts.

“How’s she doing?” Logan asked.

“Sleeping.” Luc stood up. “Wore herself out crying.”

Doc Roberts moved to the side of the bed. After checking Cassie’s pulse and heart rate, he used a small flashlight to examine her eyes then stepped back, rubbed his chin, and said, “Tell me again what the therapist said.”

“I told her what had happened, and all she said was she couldn’t discuss Cassie with me but that she needed to see her as soon as possible.”

“I’ll call her,” Doc Roberts said. “From what you’ve told me, it sounds like something you did triggered a panic attack. It’s best to let her sleep for a while.”

“Her feet have some cuts and scrapes on them,” Luc said.

Doc looked at Cassie’s feet while Logan got a tub of water and several washcloths and a towel. After Doc cleaned the shallow cuts and put ointment on them. “They’ll be okay.” He walked toward the door to the hallway. “I’ll be right back. I’m going to call Cassie’s therapist.”

Logan moved to the side of the bed, sat down, and held Cassie’s hand. “What the hell happened?”

Luc shook out the cashmere throw that he kept at the end of his bed and covered Cassie with it before sitting down on her other side. He picked up Cassie’s hand and ran his fingers over her wrist. “Limits. No restraints. I was holding her wrists.”

“I put the towel over her head to dry her hair.” Logan frowned. “She only plays in a club. Clubs have monitors. She feels safer there.”

“No. She doesn’t play there either.”

“She played with Thompson.”

Luc handed Logan his waterproof phone. “Call him.”

After a short conversation, Logan handed the phone back to Luc. “Thompson said as soon as he put a cuff on her she freaked out on him. He calmed her down then talked to her about getting some counseling with a friend of his.”

“Doctor Carson,” Luc said, saying the name on the pill bottles and business card.

“Yes.” Before Logan could say what was on his mind, Doc Roberts came back in the room.

“I can’t disclose what Cassie told Doctor Carson other than that Cassie hasn’t made any progress in her therapy sessions.”

Buy links:

I’m a dreamer and a romantic. Like most writers I’m an avid reader, mostly erotic romance and zombie / end of world novels (love those zombies and EMPs). I began writing short stories in high school and then continued to write in university when I took several creative writing classes. It was then that I discovered how my love of research and writing meshed. I was born curious and writing gives me an excellent excuse to be a life time learner. I really enjoy researching an idea, creating an imaginary setting, populating it with wonderful characters and then telling their story.
Like most people, life keeps me busy with family and friends but I rarely go a day without writing, and I try to schedule an hour to read. In those rare moments when I’m not writing, like when I’m gardening, I’m thinking about the next scene in the book I’m currently working on or I’m plotting the next series I want to write.
The romances I enjoy the most have laughter, tears, hot lovers who overcome obstacles to be together, scorching hot sex scenes, and happy endings. And, of course, the only book I’ll read where one of the main characters dies is a vampire novel (where they get to come back for an eternal happy ending).
I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, gardening, traveling, and dreaming about my next book. I’m also hooked on several television shows and I love old black and white movies.


Mardi's offering some great prizes, so be sure to comment by midnight (EDT) on Wednesday for a chance to win!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Writing Tip Wednesday--Writing Organizations

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! A writing career consists of much more than writing stories. Be prepared. Be educated. Make well-informed decisions. For writing craft topics, see the Labels list in the left sidebar as you scroll down the page or check out my handbook in e-book or print.

A great way to become an educated author is to join a professional Writing Organization (or two or three, if writing across multiple genres). While some limit membership to published or multi-published authors, some focus on educating new, unpublished writers as well as published ones. Many organizations offer discussion forums, workshops, conferences, critique groups, and other benefits.

The writers’ groups in the list below are either national or international organizations. Several have regional, local, and/or online chapters, which may require an additional membership fee. The majority are genre specific, as fiction writing differs slightly from one genre to another. This is by no means a complete list. A Google search of “writing organizations” and the genre will yield more results. I’ve also included a regional writing organization that focuses on education, offering workshops and conferences around the country and online. Please note that dues and membership requirements are subject to change. Refer to the organizations’ websites for the most up-to-date information.

1) RWA (Romance Writers of America) – Members must be 18 years of age or older. Membership consists of three levels – General (for published and unpublished writers actively pursuing a career in the romance fiction genre) $95/year plus a $25 processing fee for new and reinstated members; Associate (for writers of other genres, those who write as a hobby, and acquiring editors, agents, and publishers) 95/year plus a $25 processing fee for new and reinstated members; Affiliate (for librarians and booksellers) $10/year plus a $25 processing fee for new and reinstated members. In addition to national membership, RWA has more than 145 international, local, and online chapters. RWA offers free and/or paid online workshops and a monthly magazine to members as well as its annual national conference to members and non-members. The organization also sponsors the Golden Heart and RITA Awards for unpublished and published romance authors.

2) NINC (Novelists, Inc.) – International membership consists of a single level. NINC accepts multi-published authors only and has specific income requirements. Click the website link below for more information. Dues are $65/year plus a $15 application fee. The application process can take up to two months with the verification of publication and income information. Its focus is on the needs of career novelists in all fiction genres, and only members and industry professionals may attend the annual conference. NINC produces a monthly newsletter for its members.

3) SinC (Sisters in Crime) – SinC is an organization for the mystery genre. National membership consists of two levels of membership – Professional (published and unpublished authors pursuing a career in mystery writing and booksellers, publishers, librarians, editors, or one who has a business interest in promoting Sisters in Crime) $40/year, $80/2 years, $400/lifetime; Active (those who do not have a business interest in Sisters in Crime, including but not limited to fans and readers) $35/year, $70/2 years, $350/lifetime. In addition to national membership, SinC has nearly 50 chapter in the US and Canada. Members receive a quarterly newsletter and can participate in an organization-wide critique group.

4) HWA (Horror Writers Association) – HWA is for published authors in dark literature. Active members are published professional writers of horror (required minimum number of publications, word counts, and income). Affiliate members must be minimally published (example: receive $25 or more for a 500-word story in the genre). Non-writing professional (publishers, booksellers, librarians, agents, etc.) may join at the Associate level. Annual membership dues for Active, Affiliate, Associate, and Non-writing Professional levels are $69/year. Supporting members are non-professionals who would like to explore and share their interest in horror. Dues for this level are $48/year. HWA currently offers six regional chapters, a mentoring program, and networking through several events held each year.

5) SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) – SFWA represents the science fiction, fantasy, or horror and has five levels of memberships. Active membership is based on a minimum number of paid sales for a minimum income to an eligible publisher. ($90/year dues) Associate membership also requires a paid sale to a qualifying market, but at lesser scale than the Active membership. ($80/year dues) Affiliate membership is open to those with professional involvement in the science fiction or fantasy genres and are not eligible to become Active or Associate members. ($70/year dues) Institutional membership is for schools, universities, libraries, etc. and must present credentials and provide references from three Active members. ($110/year dues) Those representing the estate of an Active member may apply for Estate membership. ($80/year dues) SFWA is also the creator and sponsor of Writer Beware, an excellent resource for those researching the publishing industry, publishers, agents, and contracts.

6) MWA (Mystery Writers of America) – MWA focuses on crime fiction and non-fiction writing. The organization has four categories of membership, all of which cost $95/year for dues. Active membership is open to professional writers in the US who are published in the crime, mystery, or suspense genres by approved publishers. Associate membership is open to professionals in the US who work as publishers, editors, agents, booksellers, librarians, etc. Affiliate membership is open to crime/mystery/suspense writers who are not yet professionally published, unapproved publishers, unpaid reviewers, and fans. Corresponding members are those who qualify for any of the above classification, but live outside the US. MWA has regional chapters for no additional cost to members.

7) HNS (Historical Novel Society) – HNS promotes historical fiction and membership is open internationally to all readers and writers. Dues are $50/year. Published members receive free promotion of their historical fiction books. Reader members are encouraged to write reviews and most feature articles published by HNS on the website and in their magazine are written by members. The organization offers critique groups, conferences, and thirteen local chapters in the US and UK.

8) WWA (Western Writers of America) – WWA is open to published authors whose subject matter deals with the American West. Active membership is granted to multi-published authors in the genre. ($75/year dues) Associate membership requires publishing credits on a smaller scale and is also open to publishers, agents, booksellers, librarians, etc. ($75/year dues) Sustaining membership is granted to Active and Associate members who wish to further contribute to WWA. ($150/year dues) Patron membership is for companies, corporations, organizations, and individuals with a vested interest in the literature and heritage of the American West. ($250/year dues) WWA offers a national convention and regional, state, and local seminars.

9) SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) – SCBWI is the only international professional organization for writers and illustrators of children’s literature. Full membership is open to those whose books, poems, stories, illustrations, photos, etc. have been published or produced. ($95 dues for the first year and $80/year thereafter) Associate membership is open to unpublished authors and illustrators in children’s literature and media. Journalists, bloggers, teachers, librarians, and those with an interest in children’s literature may also join at the Associate level. ($95 dues for the first year and $80/year thereafter) SCBWI offers networking, an annual conference, informational podcasts, an online bookstore for its published members, over 80 local and regional chapters, and a speakers bureau.

10) ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) – ACFW is an international organization for those in the Christian fiction genre. Membership is open to published and unpublished authors, editors, agents, and librarians. ($65 for first year dues and $45/year thereafter) ACFW offers writing courses, critique groups, an annual conference, and local and regional chapters.

11) Authors Guild – The Authors Guild is and advocate for published writers’ interests. It provides legal assistance and web services to its members. General membership requires a minimum number of approved publications with a minimum income. Associate membership also requires publication, but includes self-publishing and the minimum income is reduced. Membership-at-large is open to literary agents, attorneys and accountants who represent authors, and heirs, trustees, and executors of deceased authors who would qualify for General membership. Dues are $90/year.

12) MWW (Midwest Writers Workshop) – This regional organization focuses on writing craft and networking. It offers intensive writing craft courses, agent and editor pitch sessions, and critiques at its annual conference. No membership is required. See MWW’s website to sign up for the newsletter.

Writing is often a solitary career, and joining a writing organization can provide interaction, education, and networking opportunities. If finances prohibit joining one of these groups, the local library or university may be able to provide information on private writing groups in the area. Online groups through Yahoo, Google+, and Facebook are another option, and many publishers have forums for their authors to communicate with each other. Take advantage of these options to support and be supported in the writing community!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Author Spotlight + Giveaway--Caitlyn O'Leary

Welcome to Author Spotlights on Mondays! This week's guest is Caitlyn O'Leary. Check out her newest release, Trusting Chance, and leave a comment for a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card!!!

Here's a peek:
Josie Decker and Chance Reynolds knew each other years ago when they were in the same foster home, before Josie’s birth mother reclaimed her. Now, Chance and his best friend, Sam Booth an Afghan war veteran are living in Fate Harbor, Washington, when Josie reestablishes ties with her foster parents and opens a bakery in the quaint town.
Chance realizes that growing up with her birth mother has left Josie with physical and emotional scars and a deep belief that she is unworthy of love. Fate Harbor is very accepting of triad alliances, and Chance believes that the relationship that will ultimately heal Josie is one that includes both he and Sam. Sam’s recent trauma, fighting for his country, has left him beyond hurt.
Chance has despaired of saving the brother of his heart, but finding Josie again has given him hope, and a plan. Can the three of them make the perfect future together?

Sam walked Josie up the steps, carefully staying close behind her. She had had two glasses of red wine at dinner, and he didn’t know if she had taken pain medication that day. She glanced back at him. “I know what you’re doing Sam, and you don’t need to. I’m perfectly able to navigate my own staircase.”

“You had two glasses of wine.”

“So you were counting!” He took the keys from her hand, and unlocked the door.

“Did you take medication today?”

“I took some this morning, not this afternoon,” Josie huffed. “If I had, I wouldn’t have had wine with dinner.” Josie pushed open her door, walked inside, and turned to face him, holding out her hand for her keys. Sam walked past her, ignoring her outstretched hand, realizing he had offended her. She was a touchy little thing.

“I don’t require a keeper, Sam. I’d like you to leave.” He turned to her.

“I think you need someone to watch out for you, someone who cares about you. When was the last time you had someone you could lean on?” When he saw her confused expression, he had his answer.

“How many people have you taken care of over the years?” he asked quietly.

Josie bit her lip, and he just couldn’t help himself, he brushed his fingers over her mouth, rescuing that bit of flesh. “I would love it if you would let me take care of you. Just a little bit…is that so wrong?” He cupped her face, and bent for a slow taste of those luscious lips.

Josie couldn’t stop her response. His words had unlocked something deep within her. She couldn’t remember a time when she could literally lean into someone, and she reveled in it. Her arms lifted to encompass his broad shoulders. God, he felt so hard, so good and strong. Trying to get even closer, she lifted up on her toes, and gasped in pain. He felt it in their kiss, and correctly interpreted it. He broke away and looked at her. In one quick moment, she was lifted in his arms and then found herself settled on his lap on her sofa. She looked up at him in wonder. “You’ll hurt yourself doing that,” she admonished.

“Baby, you’re just a little thing,” Sam said.

Josie snorted in disbelief.

“Okay, you’re lush and curvy, just the way I love women. I can’t stand a woman who’s going to blow away at the first strong wind. But, Josie, compared to me, you are a little thing, and you’re the perfect size, with the absolute perfect body. Do you understand me? Are you finally hearing me?” Josie looked up at him, and saw the absolute truth on his face. She turned away, and nuzzled his neck, not wanting him to see the sheen of tears in her eyes. This man, who made her blood sizzle, was turning her self-image upside down. She felt like a huge weight had been lifted from her heart.

“I know we’re going to talk about our injuries, but can you please tell me how such a beautiful woman could think she needed to hide in clothes four times her size? How she could think that she wouldn’t have men falling at her feet?” Josie couldn’t help giggling at the outrageous statement.

“I’m serious, baby. At least a quarter of your male customers are coming into Sweet Dream Desserts to see the sights, not for the pastries.” Sam tilted her head so she was forced to look at him. “Let me guess, it was some guy who convinced you that you, you were less than perfect.”

“Actually, it started way earlier than that. My mom was one of those women who would blow away in the wind, and she was constantly harping on my weight. So, it’s pretty much ingrained that I’m fat. And, yeah, I got pretty serious about a guy, and when I finally agreed to sleep with him, well, he wasn’t all that impressed with my body. He insisted the lights be turned off.” Josie had to turn away from Sam. She couldn’t stand to see pity in his eyes.

Once again he turned her face, and she ended up looking up at him, and what she saw was anger. “Baby, that should never have happened. I understand a parent belittling you, boy do I understand that, but I can’t understand the asshole issues. If I was lucky enough to get a chance to make love to you, I would want all the lights on. I wouldn’t want to miss a thing.”

Buy link:

Author Bio:
Caitlyn O’Leary was born and raised in a small town in the Pacific Northwest. She’s been an avid reader all her life. Her earliest creative writing endeavors consisted of “ghost writing” exercises in which she pretended to be her younger brothers and sisters when she did their homework assignments, before they turned them in as their own. Years in corporate America honed her ability to manipulate words by day, while at night she continued to read everything she could get her hands on, including many, many steamy romances!
Now, happily married to her long, tall Texan and living in Southern California, Caitlyn has finally found the time to write erotic Happily Ever Afters for Siren. She enjoys swimming, travelling, writing, babysitting her nieces and nephews, spending time with friends and family and doing lots of “research” for her upcoming novels with her husband.


Remember to comment by midnight (EDT) on Wednesday for a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Couple Announcements!

Indiana RWA's IGO Contest for unpublished writers opens May 1! Get detailed feedback on up to 55 pages of your manuscript (opening + up to 10 page synopsis). We have trained first-round judges and TWO second-round editor judges in each category! Ten of the twenty-one 2013 IGO finalists received requests for full manuscripts from our editor judges and four are finalists in the 2014 Golden Heart Contest!

Brenda Novak's Diabetes Auction also opens May 1! I have two items up for bidding this year--one for readers and one for writers. Reader item is a signed print copy of Love Served Hot, a "Kiss the Cook" apron, and a pair of oven mitts. Writer item is a signed print copy of WTW: The Writing Craft Handbook, a first-chapter critique, and meet-up at the RWA National Conference in San Antonio.

Enter and bid!!!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Writing Tip Wednesday--Business & Taxes

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! A writing career consists of much more than writing stories. Be prepared. Be educated. Make well-informed decisions. For writing craft topics, see the Labels list in the left sidebar as you scroll down the page or check out my handbook in e-book at Amazon or B&N and in print.

Writing is a Business and writers have to pay Taxes, like any other business. The type of business depends on the author’s preference. Several factors can influence which type of business will work best for each individual, including but not limited to amount of income and expenses and use of paid assistants or other employees.

In some cases, writers choose to be self-employed (sole proprietorship)—which means filing a schedule C at tax time and possibly paying quarterly self-employment taxes to avoid penalties for underpayment. Since an employer isn’t contributing half the tax to social security and Medicare like a typical job, the self-employed taxpayer pays the full amount, based on net earnings (profits). All expenses and income are used to figure a profit or loss for the year. This amount is used to calculate the self-employment tax and is also included in the individual’s tax return to help calculate the amount of income tax owed or refund due.

Rather than being a sole proprietorship business, some authors choose to become an LLC—limited liability company. Business and personal finances are separate to add protection from liability, meaning the owners of the company usually aren’t liable for the company’s debts. All states charge an annual fee to maintain an LLC business and many require an annual report or statement of information. Some also have state taxes. is a good resource for information on business types.

Another option for authors is incorporation, with either a C or S corporation. Like the LLC, business and personal finances are managed separately, and the owner(s) aren’t usually liable for the company’s debts. Articles of incorporation must be filed with the company’s home state. Even if the corporation has only a single shareholder, it must hold an annual meeting and important corporate decisions should be recorded in meeting minutes. Some states may charge an annual filing fee for corporation status. A “C” corporation is taxed on net earnings and the shareholders are taxed on distributions, meaning the author is taxed twice if she’s a shareholder in the corporation. Income of “S” corporations is taxed at the shareholder level only, making this type the better choice in most cases.

If the business has employees, including the author, an Employer Identification Number (EIN) is required and can be obtained from the IRS. Most states also require tax identification numbers issued by their revenue departments when a business sells goods and/or hires employees.

Since rules vary from state to state, options should be thoroughly researched. The IRS and each state’s department of revenue website contains information on each business type and its filing requirements. A tax professional or business law expert can also help determine the most beneficial choice, based on the individual’s needs. These links also provide easy-to-understand explanations about the business types and their advantages and disadvantages:

Remember to include consultation, setup, and filing fees in an itemized recordkeeping spreadsheet, along with all other writing-related expenses. Record mileage for writing-related trips, national and local dues for writing organization memberships, travel expenses for research/writing-related meetings/conferences/conventions, meals, office expenses, promotion/advertising expenses, contest entry fees, research/resource books, subscriptions, self-publishing expenses, etc. All expenses related to writing should be recorded for the business, whether the author chooses sole proprietorship, LLC, or incorporation.

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Author Spotlight + Giveaway--Lori King

Welcome to Author Spotlights on Mondays! Today's guest is Lori King and her wolf shifters! She's sharing an excerpt form her latest book, Caress of the Wolf, and some insight into her writing process. Leave a comment for a chance to win your choice of one of The Gray Pack series titles!!!

Me: Great to have you visit, Lori! Tell us a little about your writing process. Do you prefer writing single title or series?
Lori: I’m a series girl for sure! I don’t have any single title stories, all of my books are part of series. For me one of the best parts of writing is following a group of characters up the mountains and through the valleys of life, it’s difficult to see the scope of tragedies and triumphs in just one book.

Me: I love a good conflict. What draws your main characters to each other and keeps them apart?
Lori: In Caress of the Wolf the three main characters are truly drawn together by biology. Each werewolf has a true mate, or in some cases more than one. They know when they’ve found their mate by instinct, all five senses go on high alert and their wolf goes nuts. Unfortunately for these three characters while their biology is pushing them together, their two different worlds are keeping them apart. Cadence and Mateo Diego are from a different pack, and they carry a lot of pain and heartache with them when they travel to the Gray Pack den. Whitney Gray has grown up surrounded by her family. They are the most important thing in her life. So when she finds her mates it’s a huge blow to realize that in order to be with them, they must survive a fight to the death for power, and then she has to move away from everything she knows.

Me: What’s your favorite sub-genre to write? To read?
Lori: Ménage. I know that’s not the kind of sub-genre you meant, but I truly don’t care if it’s Sci-fi, Contemporary, Paranormal, Fantasy or BDSM. I love them all. I just happen to have a particular love of polyamorous lifestyles, and so I find myself writing and reading those most often. If I had to go deeper, I would say Paranormal and Fantasy are my favorites to write, because I can create my own laws of physics and rules of society.

Me: I usually get plot ideas in the shower and while driving. When/where does inspiration strike you?
Lori: The shower is absolutely my favorite thinking spot. I have three kids, so the only quiet time I get is when I’m locked in the bathroom.

Me: What new stories are you working on?
Lori: I have more projects in the works than I should. LOL Right now I have partials on The Gray Pack 6, Apache Crossing II, and two new series: Fetish and Fantasy, and Twisted Ape. I have around 80 books plotted, so I have to keep my nose to the grindstone.
Me: Hmm... Your muse likes to go off in a hundred different directions at once, like mine!

Here's a peek at Lori's latest release, Caress of the Wolf: The Gray Pack Book 5.
In a time of transition, only the strongest will thrive…
Whitney Gray is less than thrilled that her werewolf pack is hosting another packs Alpha battle. She figures the Diego wolves have done enough damage to the Gray wolves to last a lifetime, but when cousins Cadence and Mateo Diego step into her life she finds herself on a new and dangerous path.
Cadence and Mateo are determined to protect their birthright, and secure their place as the leaders of the Diego Pack. They didn’t anticipate finding their mate, and now they are protecting her and her family from a threat that ends up being way to close for comfort.
The newly mated trio begin planning for a life or death battle, and end up on a journey from betrayal to forgiveness, but when you’re battling the past, someone’s bound to get hurt.

Whitney was in the middle of describing her new contract with a local wildlife magazine when the fragrance hit her straight in the gut. It swamped her senses so fully that she moaned out loud, drawing confused looks from her friends. She couldn’t help it. The sharp scent of sandalwood filled her nostrils, fogging her brain. Her breath was trapped in her lungs, and her heart was racing. She could feel her wolf butting against her, trying desperately to get out, to find the origins of the deliciously enticing aroma. Her skin tingled all over, and even the tiny hairs on her neck stood up as it became stronger.

Twisting her head, she heard the crunch of feet on the grassy front lawn, followed by the rumble of male voices. Her body started trembling with anticipation, and it all clicked in her head in an instant. Her mate.


Her heart pounded at the one word growled by her wolf, and she gasped as it bounced in her brain like a ping pong ball. Her mate was headed this way, and her wolf wanted him desperately. No, not wanted, that wasn’t a strong enough word. She needed him. Her body ached with the need. She could feel the points of her canine teeth as they lowered, and her bones screamed out to shift and run toward the scent of her soul’s other half.

The door pushed open and she heard a sharp male voice snarl, “Move, now.” Devin and Damon came through it first as a growl escaped her throat that was matched by someone on the other side of the door.

Wait…was that two growls? What the hell was happening?

Before she could question it further, she was on her feet, moving toward the front door. Devin and Damon were forcibly pushed out of the doorway, and a pair of the sexiest and scariest looking men she had ever seen filled her vision.

Her pussy wept into her panties, and her nipples stood up hard as diamonds, begging to be touched. Her wolf whined with pleasure at being this close to its mate, but the human side of her brain was struggling and her hands were trembling. Confusion hummed through her as her eyes darted back and forth between the two. They were the epitome of tall, dark, and handsome, but they both carried an aura of bad boy, too. Who was her mate? Shouldn’t she just know?

Instead of moving closer, she took a step backward, away from the unknown. The two men growled simultaneously, and the slightly shorter of the two stalked toward her first, with the taller one right in his shadow.

In that moment, the fear of the unknown was overcome by an animalistic desire to be in her mate’s arms, and she moved forward, meeting the first man in only a couple of steps. He wrapped one arm around her waist and used the other hand to grip the nape of her neck, tilting her head backward. She felt her lips part as he dropped his head down. When their mouths met, she whimpered loudly in her throat, and her body caught fire. It raced through her system, lighting her soul up from the inside out, and she very nearly came in front of everyone.

His mouth was hard and forceful, but his tongue swept leisurely over hers in a sensual dance. Tempting and teasing while demanding and devouring. It was everything she had hoped to feel when she met her mate. She felt their souls touch as he held her, and she wanted to laugh, cry, and eat him alive all at the same time.

A second pair of hands touched her shoulders, and her wolf relaxed even further at this new touch. Her body responded by pressing back against his hardness. It was several moments before she grasped the fact that she was being held by two different men, and her wolf was ecstatic about both of them.

Roughly jerking her mouth free from the stranger’s passionate onslaught, she panted, trying to recover her breath and her brain function. Two men meant two mates. Fuck no, her brain screamed at her, while her wolf rolled around inside of her like a happy puppy.

Buy link:
The Gray Pack Reading Order:
Fire of the Wolf
Reflections of the Wolf
Legacy of the Wolf
Dreams of the Wolf
Caress of the Wolf

Author Bio:
As a full-time wife and mother of three boys Lori King rarely has time to just enjoy feminine pursuits, but at heart she is a hopeless romantic. So she spends her days dreaming up Alpha men, and her nights telling their stories. She currently has books available in the following series: The Gray Pack, Apache Crossing, Sunset Point, and The Surrender Trilogy. Find out more about her current projects at

Social Media Links:
Fan Page:
Youtube Channel:
Siren-Bookstrand Page:
Amazon Author Page:
Barnes & Noble:

Thanks for stopping by, and remember to comment for a chance to win your choice of one of The Gray Pack books!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Now on Nook!

Writing Tip Wednesday: The Writing Craft Handbook is now available from Barnes & Noble! Still only 99 cents for the ebook!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Writing Tip Wednesday--Recordkeeping

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! I’ll be discussing career topics for the next several months. For writing craft topics, see the Labels list in the left sidebar as you scroll down the page or check out my handbook in e-book or print.

Because writers often lean more toward creative thought, the mention of expenses, receipts, and mileage records makes many authors cringe. However, Recordkeeping is a necessary task. Not only does it aid in preparing tax returns, it helps writers budget for conferences, conventions, and other promotional opportunities.

Choosing a method is often the hardest decision. An envelope or a shoebox full of receipts to tally at year’s end? An Excel spreadsheet with weekly or monthly entries and columns for every category of expense? A notebook with a listing of dates and their accompanying expenditures and mileage? And what about recording royalties?


The shoebox/envelope choice doesn’t really lend itself to budgeting, but that’s the method some authors prefer. To aid in tallying for tax time, consider writing a short explanation on each receipt (dinner meeting with editor; toll fees for RT trip; research books). Whether using self or professional preparation for tax returns, expenses should be categorized.

Spreadsheets and notebooks with timely entries both offer better opportunities to budget for future expenses. Expenses are recorded as they occur, leaving little chance of forgetting the reason for each receipt. Receipts can be scanned and stored in a recordkeeping folder in case the originals are misplaced or destroyed. Expense categories can be broad (Advertising & Promotion) or specific (Booksignings; Blog Giveaways; Website Expense; BookBub Ads). Adjustments can be made to the recordkeeping system as needed by adding additional categories/columns. Meals should be totaled separately from other expenses since they have a different rate at which they’re tax deductible. Auto expenses and mileage should also be recorded in their own categories for the same reason.

Detailed records can often mean the difference between a quick, uneventful audit and a long, painful one. Inadequate records may result in some expenses being disallowed, changing the end result of a tax return. Choose a method and start now!


Royalty statements record income from the sale of books. All publishers, including KDP, Nook Press, and other self-publishing platforms, should issue royalty statements with payments or make them available to download. How often—monthly, quarterly, biannually, annually—depends on the company and the contract. While the statements may contain a breakdown of which books sold how many copies, they may or may not list the sources of those sales. For example, one publisher’s quarterly royalty statements might itemize the number of copies sold and royalty amounts for each retail outlet (the publisher website, Amazon, B&N, etc.). Other publishers may only list book titles and each title’s total royalty amounts from all outlets. Some monthly statements list each country where the book is available for sale, the number sold and returned, royalty amounts, and conversion to the author’s chosen currency. Information included on royalty statements is by no means universal.

Authors may elect to hand sell their books as well. These sales should also be recorded and reported, depending on the source of the books. The royalties from hand-sold books equals the amount the author paid for the book plus any shipping/handling fees minus the selling price. If the author purchased ten copies of her self-published print book from Createspace at $3.00 each and paid an additional $8.00 for shipping, her total cost would be $38.00. Her cost per book is $3.80. If she hand sells those copies for $5.00, her profit (royalty amount) is $1.20 per book or $12.00 for all ten books. Some publishers offer their authors discounted copies on which no royalties are paid. If the author hand sells the books at cover price, her royalties are figured the same as above—[(total book cost plus shipping) divided by number of books purchased] equals cost per book—and should be reported as such. When an author buys copies to sell from a retailer without an author discount, royalties have already been paid to the author on the book, so reselling under these circumstances doesn’t require recording and reporting of additional royalties. Free ARCs from the publisher that are sold by the author should usually include the full sale price as royalties since royalties often haven’t been paid on those books and the books were provided at no cost to the author. Books purchased by the author and given away are considered a promotional expense.

To aid in recordkeeping of hand sales, I created a receipt record to email to purchasers, in addition to recording hand sales on a spreadsheet. Many authors claim book purchases as business expenses, so this method allows for a printable or email-able receipt for buyers’ tax returns—a must in case of an audit. For emailed receipts, Microsoft Word has several receipt templates that can be customized to meet the needs of authors hand-selling books. To provide a paper receipt, check with local office supply stores for two-part receipt books—one copy for the buyer and one copy for the seller. The purchase of receipts books is an expense!

Keep a record of all writing-related expenses and their paper or online receipts. Check with a tax professional when unsure if an expense is allowable. Keep a record of all sales, whether from royalty statements or hand sales. Whether an author completes her own tax return or hires a professional tax preparer, good records are a must.

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Author Spotlight + Giveaway--Rhea Regale

Welcome to Author Spotlights on Mondays! Rhea Regale is my guest this week. Check out her interview and an excerpt from her latest cowboy erotic romance! She's also giving away an e-book copy of Brianna's Sinful Cowboys to one lucky commenter!!!

Author Bio:
Growing up, I was always the quiet girl who knew everyone but never quite fit in. I kept busy with dance, cheerleading, and numerous other activities. I was an overachiever, a hard worker, and very dedicated to anything I pursued. When I decided that I loved writing enough to follow along the writer’s career path, nothing deterred me from reaching my goals. I didn’t go to college straight out of high school, but rather focused all my free time and energy into my stories. Negativity could not steer me off the path of my dreams. It only made me more determined to succeed as a writer. Now, with a loving family, I continue to do what I love most: write from my heart and share my stories with the world.

Siren Author Page:

Me: Do you prefer to write single title or series? Why?
Rhea: I love series. I love the idea of incorporating characters from earlier stories and future stories into each book. The break-up at the end of a book isn’t so bad when you know you’ll be seeing those characters again.

Me: I love a good conflict. What draws your main characters to each other and keeps them apart?
Rhea: Conflict. Oh my. Conflict can be anything with my characters, from something external, such as my heroine trying to hide from a murderous ex, to something buried deep inside that a character struggles to overcome or at least deal with, like Carter suffering from PTSD or Rylan suffering the loss of his girlfriend in a car wreck. There is always combination of internal and external conflict in my stories, but I tend to focus more heavily on one over the other. Brianna’s Sinful Cowboys is a good example of how I focus on Rylan's internal conflict, the driving force through this book, and his journey to a happily ever after with Brianna and Jackson. Of course, I have to throw a little bit of external danger into the mix. I do enjoy a good external conflict to turn up the suspense :)

Me: What’s your favorite sub-genre (contemporary, sci-fi, etc.) to write? To read?
Rhea: My favorite sub-genre to write has always been paranormal/fantasy, but I have developed a deep enjoyment of writing contemporary with my Casanova Cowboys series. Believe it or not, next to reading paranormal/fantasy, my favorite sub-genre is historical.

Me: I usually get plot ideas in the shower and while driving. When/where does inspiration strike you?
Rhea: Inspiration is a wonderful, and spontaneous, thing. I honestly get ideas from everywhere, whether it’s a verse in a song that is matched perfectly to the tune (this happens quite often), to driving down the road and an idea sparks out of nowhere. I developed a story idea after admiring a ruby in a necklace. My latest run-in with inspiration happened a few days ago while I was trying to sleep. I pictured an encounter between two characters, heard them speaking these strange names, and a book idea flourished. After a few minutes of fighting the idea, I finally resorted to curling up in my closet and jotting down notes for the next hour while the family slept! My emotions tend to be a driving force for inspiration too.

Me: What new stories are you working on?
Rhea: Ah, currently I am working on a new contemporary series that will hopefully be coming out by the middle of this year. I have the last two books in the Casanova Cowboys series in progress. In addition, I’ve been plagued with the insistent idea of that book that drove me to my closet a few nights ago. I have a feeling it’s headed down the Urban Fantasy road, but it’ll have a ton of romance in it :-D. I do have a couple other series ideas, but right now, they’re hanging out on back burners.

Brianna Cabot has one goal coming to Ryder, Kansas, with coworker and boyfriend, Jackson Morrell. Contract land for their boss’s new luxury resort to lock in a golden promotion. A brutal car accident puts a dent in her plans. So does Ryder’s handsome sheriff and partial owner of the prime property, Rylan Ryder.
Nine months ago, Rylan lost his girlfriend to Crosslane. Rescuing Brianna draws on painful memories of having been helpless to save the woman he had loved, but stirs awake long forgotten desires. Their ongoing feud over her boss’s proposal fuels the escalating attraction between them. Unfortunately, the woman is his closest pal’s girlfriend, and therefore off-limits. Little does he know, Jackson has a plan of his own to lure Rylan into their relationship and share a woman neither man can do without.
Even the most carefully laid plans are threatened when someone from Brianna’s past arrives, who has no intention of leaving without his prize.

“Rylan, I’m not askin’ you, or your family, to abandon your town,” Brianna started.

“Listen to me, Miss Cabot—”

“Brianna, please.”

Rylan held her gaze steady for a long, heart-pounding moment. Time might’ve slowed, she couldn’t be sure, but her thoughts came to a halt. Rylan became the only being of her focused attention, as did his encouraging words in those moments she thought she was dying. Jackson opened a door last night, one she was scared to death to cross. He read her as clear as crystal, knew she held something for the sheriff, and offered them a chance to invite Rylan into their relationship.

“You okay?”

Brianna blinked the haze from her eyes. Rylan’s arm stretched toward her, and when she looked down, he was holding her coffee cup upright. Occasional ripples swept along the top of the drink, a giveaway to her trembling fingers.

Oh. My. God.

Her name rolled off his tongue smooth, silky, filled with a raw edge of command. This man had a voice that raked down her body like the teasing scrape of teeth and nails in the throes of foreplay. Each letter of her name spoken in his deep, sexual husk flicked along her pussy, a phantom tongue playing across her clit.

Miss Cabot. Call me Miss Cabot again.

Brianna carefully placed her cup on an empty section of his desk and loosened the scarf around her neck. She worked up a forced smile, cleared her throat, and nodded.

“I’m fine. Probably just some aftereffects of medication and the surgery and whatnot.” She flicked her hand in a nonchalant fashion and unbuttoned her coat. She laughed, shrugging out of the insulating item. “As we were sayin’.”
Rylan’s penetrating gaze didn’t lighten up, even as he eased back into his chair, perched his elbows on the arms, and folded his hands below his chin. His index fingers tapped together, a subtle furrow creasing his left brow. No matter what, this man knew how to wear every expression in the sexiest way.

“You’re still pressin’ the topic, are you? As I was about to say, there will be no further discussion. Colt and I own that property jointly. If I am not willin’ to sell, it won’t be sold. And I’ll tell you this much. You think I’m bein’ stubborn, wait ’til you confront Colt. This is a dead end for you. I’m sorry about your promotion, but your motivations do not align with mine. Ryder is a town rooted in our ancestry. We’re country folk. Farmers, ranchers, rodeo competitors, cattle herders. We have absolutely no interest in promoting a five-star resort and spa in conjunction with the ranch. That is not what this town represents.”

Balling up her courage, she placed together her business ego and took to a dangerous tactic. “I understand Colt might be facin’ civil charges in the murder—”

“I’m sorry, I’m not discussin’ that with you.” Hot to cold, like a damn switch. Rylan rolled his chair to her with a single, strong kick against the floor. One fluid twist, he had his legs on either side of hers, hands wrapped tightly around the metal arms of her chair, and he leaned closer to her. Brianna kept her shoulders straight, but her blood was threatening to melt through her veins and leak into her body. Nothing about Rylan offered comfort or kindness as he hovered close. Everything about him was wild, raw, a predator with his eyes on his prey. The fine line of threat and passion blended.

Jackson said he was a passionate man. If this is what he brings to bed, god help me.

“You have no business castin’ assumptions about my cousin’s predicament when you can’t even get the facts about your promotion-promisin’ deal right. You toss another sucker punch like that, Miss Cabot, and I will chase you out of this town faster than a bull in an arena ever could. Do I make myself clear?”

Oh he did, except for the slip of his gaze lowering to her mouth that turned up the heat between them to an explosive degree. She fought to keep each breath steady and even, praying he didn’t notice the frantic thumping of her heart that filled her own ears and hit her chest wall so viciously she thought her sweater was thumping in time. She held her ground, challenging him as he held tight to the chair. Slowly, she leaned into him, bringing her face dangerously close to his. Her knees fell open, resting against the insides of his powerful thighs. She watched his pupils expand, swallowing the amber-brown of his eyes. His nostrils flared and his breath hitched.

Brianna folded her hands around the arms of her chair, her fingers reinforcing Rylan’s grip. “You’re threatenin’ me, Sheriff. I don’t take lightly to bein’ threatened.” She gave his fingers a gentle squeeze. “Would this be considered a form of restraint? I thought restrainin’ a person without probable cause was illegal.”

“This is nothin’, Brianna.”


I sense some conflict and just a bit of sexual tension. How about you??? :D Remember to comment before midnight (EDT) on Wednesday, April 9, for a chance to win an ebook copy of this hot cowboy ménage!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Writing Tip Wednesday--Professional Behavior

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! I’ll be discussing career topics for the next several months. For writing craft topics, see the Labels list in the left sidebar as you scroll down the page or check out my handbook in e-book or print.

The topics of edits, author branding, websites, social media, marketing and promotion, and blogging all lead to one very important aspect of being an author—Professional Behavior. Any and all missteps can have significant consequences.

The worst possible indiscretion is plagiarism. Three words… DON’T DO IT. Copying an author’s work does not make a person a writer. It makes her a thief. It’s illegal and on the same level with piracy. In the age of the internet, plagiarism is very easy to detect and could land the accused in a lawsuit.

The next author-behaving-badly misdeed involves reviews. Authors should never, ever, ever rate or review a book poorly with the intent to increase her own sales or rankings. Yes, writers are readers and they have opinions about the books they read. However, trashing someone’s book without reading it or with the sole purpose of making it less appealing to buyers will likely cause a backlash from the author’s loyal readers and writer friends. If an author reads a book and is compelled to write an unfavorable review, she should include constructive comments and accurate examples of the book’s problems. Think twice about leaving a less-than-glowing review under a pen name. Whether honest or not, the review reflects on the reviewer-author. If an author is on the receiving end of a poor review, her best course of action is to ignore it. Refrain from engaging or responding to the reviewer, even if the review makes mistakes about plot problems, character names, etc. Some people live for putting down others. Don’t sink to that level.

Everyone has his/her own political, religious, economic, etc. views, but arguing about them on Facebook and Twitter—where editors, agents, readers, and fellow authors may see—probably isn’t a wise choice. Don’t bait others into commenting and don’t succumb to baiting unless you’re willing to deal with the fallout. Loss of readers, loss of book sales, etc. First impressions are difficult to change.

Although unauthorized use of images got several mentions in previous topic posts, it bears mentioning again. Purchase or use free images from reputable stock image sites or get permission from the photographer or artist for original artwork. Piracy is stealing, whether the commodity is books or art. Respect the artist and her right to make a living from her hard work.

Facebook etiquette can’t be repeated enough. Do not friend people and immediately spam them with private messages or posts on their walls about your books, blogs, websites, publishing services. More often than not, that kind of behavior earns an “unfriending” and a block. Social media is social first. Marketing and promotion posts belong on the author’s own timeline. “Be sure to like my author page to see all my updates!” with a link in a status post provides an opportunity for others to like the page if they wish to—without being spammed.

Return edits on time. Part of being a published author is behaving like a professional one and that includes prompt attention to time-sensitive responses, like edits, cover art questionnaires, and contracts.

Blog posts should refrain from insulting authors, readers, publishers, editors, agents, etc. Informational and educational articles can make others aware of unethical practices, but the advice must be based on actual evidence, not hearsay. He told her and she told me his second cousin twice removed heard that No-name Publishing is underpaying royalties could easily turn into slander. A warning can be issued without finger-pointing when carefully worded. Bad-mouthing others can result in retaliation.

An author can brand herself a diva by her treatment—or mistreatment—of fans or other authors. Without readers, an author has no audience. Treat them with respect and appreciation. Author A may have hit the New York Times Bestseller List, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she’s a better writer than Author B. It simply means she sold more books. A lot more than writing ability influences the publishing industry and sales. Keep the ego in check.

Today’s publishing world is small. Word of an author’s behavior can quickly spread between publishers, editors, agents, authors, and readers. Writing is a job/career like any other. Do your best to create and maintain a professional reputation.

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!