Signing Books!

Had a great few days singing books!  First stop was Hooray for Books! in Old Town Alexandria and then it was off to Boonsboro, Maryland to sign at Turn the Page bookstore.

First stop Hooray for Books!

Old Town Alexandria just after the sun set. Beautiful city!

Loved signing at Hooray for Books!

Signing at Turn the Page….

Signing at Turn the Page. I’m pictured here with Robin Kaye and Laura Florand.

Author Alyson Richman author of ‘The Lost Wife.’

A great crowd turned out for the signing despite the rain.

Left to Right: Robin Kaye, Mary Burton/Mary Ellen Taylor, Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb, Alyson Richman and Laura Florand.

Sunday Supper

One of my favorite go-to meals is a roast chicken.  I season with salt, pepper, dried dill and garlic powder before roasting in a 375 degree oven.  I cook until the juices run clear, which is about an hour.

And the best part of a roasted chicken is that you can not only make stock, but can use the bits of extra chicken in soups, enchiladas or as salad toppers.

Tip:  to make the perfect stock, I put the discarded bones in a pot of cold water along with a few sliced onions and carrots.  I turn the stovetop onto simmer and let the stock cook very slowly.  I never let it reach a boil because this will make the stock cloudy.  Slow and steady wins the race with a great stock.

After the stock has simmered for several hours, drain and then let the stock stand in cool place so that the fat rises to the top.  Once you’ve skimmed the fat off the top, the stock is ready to use!




Writing One Draft At A Time

Thought I’d share my process of writing.  I made a quick video and posted it.  I’ve also written out the steps I outlined in the video.  (In the video, I managed to reference two draft 3s but I mean drafts 3 and 4.)


Writing or editing a novel can be overwhelming. However, breaking down the process into steps or drafts not only cuts down on stress, but also produces a better product.

The First Draft/The Sloppy Copy:  Armed with a synopsis, set a daily page goal and start writing.  At this stage, no editing allowed.  If a scene comes to you out of order, write it.  The First Draft is all about getting the story down.

The Second Draft/A Sound Structure:  Start smoothing the story’s structure.  Make sure the scenes flow and are in order.  Don’t bother with real word crafting at this stage.  Start a running list of characters, time stamp each scene and record number of pages per chapter.

Third Draft/Fine-Tuning:  Focus not only what is said, but also how it is said.   Identify and clearly define story themes and character motivations.   Does each scene and chapter end with a page-turner? 

Fourth Draft/Polishing:  Really perfect sentences.  Weed out weak words, eliminate passive voice, use literary devices, and search for clichés.  See back for detailed tips.

Fifth Draft/THE BIG READ:  Print the book out, put it in a binder and read it.  You’ll be amazed what you notice on the printed page versus the computer scene.

Sixth Draft/Proof Read: Read the book out loud, have your computer read the book back to you, or reprint the book and give it to another reader.

 Perfecting Your Sentences Checklist

 1.  Weed out weak words such as:


















‘ly’ words

2.  Rework passive verbs such as:








To Be

3.  Dust off those literary devices and see if add a few alliterations or simile

4.  Search for clichés

5.  Make sure not only the first word of a sentence is strong but also the last word.

READ Center Volunteer

I joined READ Center Volunteers (l-r:  MB, Martha Pulley, Jann Malone, Harriet Scruggs, Jane Henderson, Anne Napps) to staff a book sale  for Richmond Times-Dispatch employees.  All proceeds from the event went to the READ Center, a non-profit group serving Richmond Metro area residents struggling with illiteracy.

(l-r) Mary Burton, Martha Pulley, Jann Malone, Harriet Scruggs, Jane Henderson, Anne Napps

Apple Picking

Went up to Carter’s Mountain, VA this past weekend and picked apples.  Got a little carried away and picked about twenty pounds worth but I’m looking forward to all the apple pies I’m going to make!


Picked Fugi and Pink Lady apples. So good!Picking Fugi apples at the top of the mountain.A view from the top of the mountain!It was as easy as following the signs.Twenty pounds of apples and a couple of pumpkins.

New Jersey Romance Writers 2011 Conference

I had a real blast at the New Jersey Romance Writers Put Your Heart in A Book conference held in Iselin, NJ this past weekend.  Not only did I get a chance to present my talk “Unraveling Romantic Suspense” but I was able to sign SENSELESS and MERCILESS at the book fair and attend Sunday’s booksellers luncheon.  Talks by Eloisa James, Suzanne Brockmann and Rachel Gibson were wonderful.

Eloisa James was the keynote speaker at the Published Author Retreat.

Sally MacKenzie led the 'Agents and Editors' roundtable discussion at the Published Author Retreat, which also featured wine and chocolate.

Giveaways at Saturday's breakfast included books from Brenda Novak and Suzanne Brockmann.

Here I am at Saturday's booksigning with copies of SENSELESS, MERCILESS and cover art for BEFORE SHE DIES (Feb. 2012).

I dontated a first chapter critique for a budding romantic suspense writer.

Writers Mary Burton, Shirley Hailstock and Terri Brisbin join booksellers at the NJ luncheon.

Victoria Alexander (right) and bookseller.