Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Writing Tip Wednesday--Writing Advice from Tatum Throne

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! My Cincinnati buddy, Tatum Throne, is joining me today to share her writing advice. As usual, she made me smile and laugh. And her tips are right on the money too!

Take it away, Tatum!

The best advice I can give to writers who want to publish was given to me by my freshman English teacher, Mr. K. I was slouched in the back of the room against the wall—one of the most coveted seats in the room. He was in the middle of teaching and walking the room to catch us doing things we shouldn’t be doing.

He paused next to me, leans in and whispers. “You need to find your voice.”

I looked up and our eyes locked. Did he see shock and dismay in mine? Cold-blooded fear of being found out? I was startled—my heart racing. He was right. He went on teaching as though nothing had happened, but he just lit the fuse of a bomb that I’d been carrying around. I spent years trying to be invisible and he caught me in the act.

Voice is one of the most important aspects for me as a romance author. I understand how I convey things and what I would say in a situation my character is in…but how would they say it? Is it true to their voice? Is it authentic to the regional area or are they a transplant from Boston to the south?

So, how do you set about finding your voice? You can go read everything out there to see what everyone else’s voice sounds like. I did that. Did it help me? To a degree, but I didn’t get comfortable with my voice and writing style until I dug deep and wrote stories that interested me. I found my voice by unleashing what had always been lurking deep inside of me and begging to come out. Not only did I find my voice, but I found my muse.

Wait…what’s a muse?

A muse is your well for finding inspiration. Only you can define what your muse is and is not. Mine is a foulmouthed, smoking, thirty-something troublemaker who loves me and all of my flaws. He just shot me a look when I called him foulmouthed and grinned at the troublemaker. My muse will tap me on the shoulder and remind me to get writing. I’ll be working on dishes or laundry and he’ll be sitting on top of the dryer, blowing smoke in my face from his cigarette. You will find your muse too. You’ll also discover that they like to take vacations and not bother to tell you where they were going.

Just wait for your muse to return from their adventure. Your muse needs to be supported and comforted. They’ll often take your book into a direction you never imagined. Follow them! Don’t badger them about deadlines and huff about needing to get to work. Muses don’t like that. They want you to invite them in and offer them a drink. They want to hang out for a long time and catch up like an old friend. Trust your voice, trust your muse, and never give up.

He’s here. Gotta go.

Thanks for visiting today, Tatum. Your muse sounds like a bad boy who refuses to be tamed! Mine is an invisible sprite who likes to wander off a little too often. Maybe we need to play matchmaker to keep them closer to home! LOL

Tatum Throne lives in Cincinnati with her real life hero, Mr. Throne.

She has a master’s degree in social work that she received from the University of Cincinnati. She left the field of medical social work in 2007 to be a stay-at-home mom of three rowdy boys, and to pursue her dreams of writing romance.

When not indulging her fantasies or writing, Tatum enjoys heading to the beach to build sandcastles with her boys, hiking in Red River Gorge, and spreading awareness of eosinophilic disorders.


Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Author Spotlight + Giveaway--Linda Morris

Welcome to Author Spotlights on Mondays! Just in time for summer, Linda Morris to tell us about her new baseball romance! Be sure to comment for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card!

Welcome, Linda!

Thanks for having me today, Mellanie! Today I'm spotlighting my brand-new sports romance on Berkley, High Heat. It's the first book in the Hard Hitters series.

The author of Melting the Millionaire’s Heart gives readers a front-row seat to her new Hard Hitters baseball series. First up at bat: a hotshot pitcher and a PR pro battle it out on and off the field…

Small-town Indiana tomboy Sarah Dudley grew up living and breathing baseball, since her father owned the minor league Plainview Thrashers. A talented player herself, she idolized her brother’s best friend: Tom Cord, a pitcher with a wicked fastball and an even more wicked reputation.

Now, Sarah is the Thrashers’ VP of public relations, and Tom—a star in the major leagues—has been assigned to the club while rehabbing from surgery. It’s Sarah’s job to keep the hard-throwing, hard-living star out of trouble. But when she gets a glimpse of the man behind the bad-boy image, they start to generate more heat than an inside fastball…

This is an excerpt from the very first meeting between the hero and heroine. She had a crush on him years ago when she was a kid, but this is the first time they've met as adults. She's the VP of the minor league baseball team he's playing for while he recovers from an injury he sustained pitching in the big leagues.

He stopped an arm’s length away, but she swore she could still feel the heat radiating from him. She wasn’t petite, but his height made her feel tiny. He’d gotten even taller since college. He must be six foot three at least.

“What’s up?” Cord braced his glove on his hip. The move pulled his jersey tight across his chest and Sarah chided herself for noticing it.

Don’t go mushy-headed over the players. Rule number one for a woman in baseball.

“That’s enough for now,” Reedy said. “I don’t want you going all out on your first day back.”

Cord pulled off his cap and wiped sweat from his brow, then replaced the hat. “It’s fine. I feel good. I always throw all out the afternoon before a start. It’s part of my routine.”

“Maybe so, but I think you’d better give it a rest. You haven’t put that arm through game conditions yet.”

Tom shook his head. “I don’t want to mess with my mojo. I have to be consistent. Hard throwing on the day of a start is routine for me. I always do it.”

“But you’re not always recovering from surgery, are you?” Sarah said.

That pulled his gaze to hers in a hurry. His hard stare went straight through her. “I’m recovered from surgery, not recovering. I’m completely back to normal.”

“Maybe so,” she said, although she had her doubts. No one would know if he had completely recovered until he’d pitched in real game conditions, which is what this foray into the minors was all about. No point in arguing that yet, though. “Throwing hard on the day of a start is risky for anyone, even someone who isn’t recovering—I mean recovered,” she said, correcting herself at his scowl, “from major surgery.”

“It’s normal for me.” He looked at her hard. “Who the hell are you, anyway?”

She extended her hand, ignoring the hollow feeling in her chest. Surprise, surprise. He didn’t remember her. “Sarah Dudley, VP of marketing and public relations.”

He shook her hand, his skin rough with calluses and blisters, trademarks of his profession. “Marketing? What the hell are you doing down here?” His face cleared. “Ah, Paul’s sister. That explains it.”

She raised a brow. “Excuse me?”

“Your dad owns the team. Your brother’s team president. No wonder you feel like you can come down here and tell me what do to.”

Reedy sucked in a breath.

“If I think I can tell you what to do, it’s because I can,” she said, keeping her voice level with effort. Never let them see they’ve gotten to you. Rule number two for a woman in baseball. “My department is going to spend money advertising your stint down here. I don’t want you blowing out the ligaments in your elbow again. As VP of public relations, that gives me a stake in whether you actually play while you’re in town.” She made herself look him right in the eye, ignoring the pounding of her heart. She wasn’t another batter he could stare down and fake out into a swing and a miss.

He laughed, blue eyes sparking against his tanned skin. His anger had blown away like clouds in front of a stiff breeze. “Lady, I have about a million reasons for not wanting to blow out my arm again, and your PR budget isn’t one of them. Why don’t you let me worry about my arm and you go worry about the bobbleheads you’re going to give out to the first five hundred fans tonight?”

Heat erupted in her cheeks. Oh, this guy thinks he is so big-time. Several players had found an excuse to wander within earshot. Don’t let the guys get away with disrespecting you. Rule number three for a woman in baseball.
“Look, you’ve spouted off and done what you pleased everywhere you’ve played. You may have some people so buffaloed that they’re afraid of you, but not me.”

“Last I heard, you weren’t part of the coaching staff. Why the hell should I listen to you, anyway?” He glared at her, his blue eyes turning sapphire.

“Not that you listen to them, either, from what I hear.”

Buy links:
Barnes & Noble:


Linda Morris is a writer of contemporary romance, including Melting the Millionaire’s Heart, The Mason Dixon Line, and Nice Work If You Can Get It. She writes stories with heart and heat, along with a joke or two thrown in. Her years of Cubs fandom prove she has a soft spot for a lost cause.

Twitter: @LDMorrisWriter

Thanks for sharing a preview of High Heat with us, Linda! Readers, remember to comment by Friday, June 26, for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Friday, June 19, 2015


Sorry for skipping this week's Writing Tip Wednesday post! It'll be back next week with writing advice from Tatum Throne. I'm finally recovering from last week's sinus infection, I got new cover art (a peek at the cover is coming soon!), and Iced Latte is almost for the Publish button! Today I'm over at the Contemporary Romance Writers blog with a guest article on Choosing the Right Publishing Path, the roundtable discussion I led at this month's IRWA meeting. Check it out!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Writing Tip Wednesday--Writing Advice from Tara Rose

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! The fabulous Tara Rose is here this week with some equally fabulous writing advice. She's always been a huge supporter of my Writing Tip Wednesday series, so show her lots of love!

Thanks for visiting, Tara!

From Idea to Publication

One of the most frequent questions I’m asked is how does an author go from an idea to a published book? There are probably as many answers as people you can ask it of. However, since I’m asked it so often, I thought I’d use the opportunity Mellanie Szereto has given me today to share my process with you, in the hopes you recognize something in it that can assist you on your path to publication.

I write erotic romance for Siren-BookStrand as Tara Rose, and for Evernight Publishing as Ravenna Tate. I’m also published at both Siren and Evernight as Carolyn Rosewood, although I no longer write under that pen name. I’ve been published since the spring of 2011, and in that time I’ve had to develop a streamlined process because I also still work a full time job.

Now when I tell you I rise at 4:00 AM on weekdays, please do not think you have to do such a thing. Everyone has to find what works for them, their schedule, and their personal situation. One size does not fit all. But for me, this is what finally made the difference between treating my writing as a hobby and becoming serious about it.

I do my promotion and social media posting mostly in the early mornings, never forgetting to give a shout-out to fellow authors’ releases and to celebrate their good news with them. This is just as important as tooting your own horn for several reasons. One, we are each others’ readers, and two, I consider these people my friends. Many I’ve met in real life and have built lasting relationships with. We are, after all, still people behind the books. And readers do notice this.

Sometimes I’m able to sneak in writing or editing before I need to get ready for my day job, but usually that early morning ninety minutes is devoted to promo, pimping others, catching up on who is doing what, and writing blog posts.

During my day, I often have small amounts of down time where I can write, but usually that’s reserved for my scheduled breaks at my job. I then finish my word count goal when I get home. On days when I’m not working, I write and/or edit, depending on deadlines, for as long as it takes to catch up.

Yes, I mentioned a daily word count goal. That’s the second thing that made the difference for me between submitting one book a quarter and submitting one to two books a month.

Again, this worked for me. I know plenty of authors who can’t write this way, so you need to find what works for you. I have a daily word count goal of 4,000 to 5,000 words, and I stick to it. Even if that means catching up on weekends, when I don’t work at my day job.

Edits take priority as they have deadlines attached. I either break them down into parts that I tack onto the word count each day, or I do them in one or two days, depending on what else is gong on, and how long the manuscript is. And I don’t only address the comments and make needed changes. I read every single word again. Mistakes happen. We’re only human. I want my work to be as error free as possible, so with each edit I read the book over again.

So what do I do with new ideas? They go onto a Word doc that is labeled with the tentative series name. I just free flow and let the possible titles and ideas for the series and individual books get on paper. Then I place that Word doc in a folder on my desktop labeled with the pen name I’m thinking of writing it under.

Each publisher has certain sub-genres that sell better than others, and I’m now familiar enough with them that once I get an idea, I also know which publisher the series might do better with. When I’m ready to write that series, I pitch the idea to the publisher, just to make sure. If there are no objections to it outright, I schedule the first book and begin work on the main characters.

I do them first for a reason. If I know them, I can write them. I can anticipate their reactions to each other and to external influences, and I understand their goals, motivation, and conflicts. Without those, I don’t have a story.

Once I begin book one, I commit to a certain number of books in the series and try to write them in order. I’ve alternated series before, but I’ve found I do a better job of maintaining flow and momentum if I write them all at once before beginning a new series. Again, this might not work for everyone. I know plenty of authors who write what their muse tells them to write, even if that means jumping around from series to series.

Any new series gets some extra attention in terms of blog posts I do for promo purposes. I want my readers to be as excited about it as I am, but I don’t have standard promo I do for each one. I like to wait and see how the first few books do before deciding how much time and effort I want to invest into promo, and into future books in the series.

I hope these tips have helped. I think the most important thing to remember is that any advice is only as helpful as how it might or might not fit into your unique situation. But one thing is constant, in my humble opinion. If you want people to take you seriously, you need to take your writing career seriously.

If this is only a hobby for you, that’s fine to treat it as such. But if you’re looking to make it a business, you need to treat it that way.

Tara Rose loves to write about small towns and the quirky people that inhabit them. You’ll find engaging characters, budding romance, intrigue, and plenty of hot steamy ménage sex within the pages of her books. You never really know what goes on behind closed doors, but her books will take you there, and leave you panting for more.

When she isn’t writing, Tara spends time with her husband—her real-life hero. She loves to cook, collect antique pottery, and she will read just about anything. Tara also plays the cello, and loves decorating her house for Christmas.

Bookstrand Author Page:
Amazon Author Page:
Manic Readers Author Page:
The Romance Reviews Author Page:
Facebook Profile:
Facebook Page:

I've been trying to dispel the one-size-fits-all myth since I started sharing writing tips. Thanks for summing it up so well, Tara!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Writing Tip Wednesday--Writing Advice from Jillian Jacobs

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! Another of my IRWA friends is here with more great advice, and not just for new writers, either. Please welcome the green moose lady, Jillian Jacobs!

Take it away, Jillian!

My 2015 “Moose” Mantra--Author Collaboration

As a relatively new writer, I’ve relied on more seasoned authors to direct me down the right and WRITE road. To aid with this, I co-developed a local author sub-group called the Juicebox Dialogues. This group was created in order to share and promote author news. I would encourage every author to surround themselves with a crew of like-minded people. You’ll be amazed at free flow of information. Sometimes you just have questions, and knowing there are others who are willing to answer relieves a lot of strain in an already overwhelming writer world.

With that in mind, here are some of the focal points of our group that I feel can be of benefit.
•Share news on all social media outlets. By SHARE, I mean, click that button. It’s very easy to do.
•Like each others' posts. Sometimes it’s the little things.
•Read each others' books. Sometimes it’s the big things. I get a thrill out of just knowing someone is reading my book. Like the content or not, at least they put forth the effort.
•Post reviews. This should actually be Number #1.
•Include excerpts by other authors at the back of your books. I recently did this with an author friend, since we both write romantic suspense.
•Attend local author events even if you’re not signing. For example, book signings, writer conferences, and library events. BE PRESENT!
•Beta read.
•At book signings, with each book purchase, give the buyer additional swag from your author friends.
•Combine advertising dollars, nationally and/or locally for traditional advertising, like Romantic Times or a local publication.
•For more expensive swag items, split the cost with various authors, like mugs or cloth bags.
•Host authors on your blog.
•Host brainstorming sessions.
•Volunteer within your RWA chapter.
•Like author pages on Amazon, Facebook, Goodreads, etc…
•Write novellas together and/or package books together.
•Visit and comment on blog posts.
•Share your experiences when you try something new, like a Bookbub ad or a new blogger.
•Develop and submit RWA Conference workshops together.
•Post photos from author events. Show readers your camaraderie.
•Video blog.
•Share editor and agent information. Do mock “pitches” with each other.

What kinds of author collaborations have you done? Were they successful? What ways can we help each other as we move forward in this ever-changing world of romance writing? Do you already have a group of author friends? If so, what fun things do you do to support each other?

If you’d like, please visit YouTube for some fun videos with my Juicebox Dialogues pals.

In 2015, my wish is that you’ll find a group of writers who share the same positive spirit. Collaborate today!

In the spring of 2013, Jillian Jacobs changed her career path and became a romance writer. After reading for years, she figured writing a romance would be quick and easy. Nope! With the guidance of the Indiana Romance Writers of America chapter, she’s learned there are many "rules" to writing a proper romance. Being re-schooled has been an interesting journey, and she hopes the best trails are yet to be traveled.

Water’s Threshold, the first in Jillian’s Elementals series, was a finalist in Chicago-North’s 2014 Fire and Ice contest in the Women’s Fiction category, and is now available for purchase.

Jillian is a: Tea Guzzler, Polish Pottery Hoarder, and lover of all things Moose.
The genres she writes under are: Paranormal and Contemporary.

Amazon Author Page:

Thanks so much for sharing these great ideas for collaboration, Jillian! Having a supportive group of authors around you is so important!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Author Spotlight--Anya Breton

Welcome to Author Spotlights on Mondays! Yes, it's been a while, but life gets crazy sometimes!

My IRWA buddy Anya Breton is visiting and showing off her latest release, so check it out!!!

Jenny Reese has been crushing on her older brother’s best friend for years. Spencer has barely noticed her. And why would he? Hot guys never look at curvy girls as anything but friends. They’d never been even that. But when he discovers her working as a waitress at Randy’s Diner, Jenny fears the news of her questionable employment will reach her conservative family’s ears before she’s had time to pay off her tuition.

Life is finally catching up with Spencer Atkinson. His lack of a career, steady girlfriend, and future prospects has worried everyone but him until his younger brother marries first. Discovering his best friend’s little sister working the bachelor party rocks Spencer’s world in more ways than one. Now the one girl he should never lust after is the only thing he can think about.

Adult Excerpt:
Spencer was all thumbs as his fingers worked at the plastic buttons holding Jenny’s shirt around her torso. He’d only meant to unfasten her but not look. She’d been right about his brother’s friends thinking something was up. They would have to appear as if they were having fun or one of them would threaten to take her from him.

He’d not counted on how tight the damn garment had been. Each disc he unfastened sent the cotton gaping wider than the last until he couldn’t see much beyond the creamy skin he’d revealed.

His eyes slipped closed to avoid looking. Sightlessness lasted until she spoke.

“You have to do more than that if you’re going to quiet suspicion,” Jenny whispered into his ear. The puff of hot air whizzed through his ear canal, drawing his balls tight.

He wanted to do much more and none of it to quiet suspicion. That was why he wasn’t going to do anything at all.

But he couldn’t resist just one touch while he had her here. Spencer nudged the fabric aside until he could see her waist. He slipped his fingers within, caressing the puckered white scar where she’d fallen off her bike into a broken fence when she was nine. He’d found her that day bleeding and trying not to cry even as she feared moving.

How could he have forgotten he’d met her first?

Jenny shifted atop him, twisting until she faced him head on. His gaze met hers even as he attempted to ignore her hips straddling his and the sudden jerking of his erection within his jeans. What stared back at him was not Jenny Rees. He’d never seen this woman. This was J—Randy’s waitress. He could easily imagine how she’d made four hundred dollars in an hour. If he’d had that kind of cash lying around, he’d have given it to her simply to keep her where she was for the rest of the night.


“There’s three more buttons,” she said at full volume. “Let me help you with them.”

No. He wanted to do it.

Spencer caught her hands in midair.

No! He didn’t want it done at all!

This shouldn’t be happening. This was Michael’s little sister.

Michael’s little sister lifted her hand until his knuckles reached her lips. She pressed a small kiss to the one above his index finger. That same worldly expression he’d seen a glimpse of a moment ago filled her eyes.

Something had happened to Jenny since she left the homestead.

She lifted her hand and deposited his palm on her shoulder. Caught between her sensual web and his own musings, Spencer let her disengage his grip. He didn’t stop her when she circled the third button from the top.

Mute with need, Spencer said nothing while she worked the plastic through the hole. His silence continued on to the second button from the top. But it didn’t last.

“Christ,” he hissed. His hands once again caught hers. “You’re not wearing a bra!”

Emotion flared in her eyes, anger perhaps. Spencer might have known what it was if she hadn’t shocked him with her next motion. Jenny set one hand above his so she could peel his fingers up, and then when she had control, she shoved it under her shirt. Her digits forced his palm over one generous bare breast. He sat stunned and unable to move—unable to do anything but experience the perfect warmth of her.

Proving once again she wasn’t the girl he’d thought her to be, J pressed her chest against his grip. A quiet gasp emitted from her gently parted lips that woke every primal urge within him.

Spencer struggled not to rip her panties from her to see if he could draw that noise from her again. Instead he tried to pull back. This time her grip remained steady on his.

Pink lips formed words he worked hard to hear. “Just pretend I’m someone else.”

That would be impossible. Even with a worldly alter ego staring at him from familiar eyes, Spencer could never imagine this female was anyone other than who she was.

She stretched forward, pushing herself further into his palm. Spencer tried not to memorize the weight of her breast, the silky texture, the perfect temperature. He shouldn’t be doing this. He should have set her on her feet minutes ago.

But then Larry would have been all over her. His teeth ached simply thinking of that pairing.

“And I’ll pretend you’re someone else too.”

Spencer tightened his grip on the hand he still held. “Why? Am I so old you have to pretend I’m someone hotter?”

She released a shaky, bell-like laugh that was so spectacularly Jenny that his cock strained toward her.

Despite his grip on her hand, Jenny pushed the final button through its hole. The cotton spread wide. Though he’d been awaiting her answer, he couldn’t resist looking down.

Spencer’s mouth went dry at the rosy little nipple perked up at attention atop the full creamy breast. He’d known she’d grown into a beautiful woman but his imagination hadn’t done her justice. He licked his lips without realizing it.

Buy links:
Siren Bookstrand:

Anya Breton is a web monkey with an obsession for nail polish and rubber chickens. Her fears include Peeps and people who hate clowns. She lives in the Midwest with her significant other.


Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!