But you know how to write…

This weekend I’ll be attending a Master Class presented by New York literary agent Donald Maass called “Swept Away: Writing Enthralling Fiction.” This event is part of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Summer Conference, being held July 20-23, 2017, at the DoubleTree Hotel in Seattle.

I have nine books books published and am working on my tenth. I’ve been to a lot of conferences and workshops. Some people might wonder why I keep enrolling in classes when I have the basics down.

That’s a good question and hopefully I can provide a good answer.

Writing, like many skills, isn’t something you perfect overnight or by your tenth book. There are nuances to the craft that reveal themselves as writers gain experiences, learn from mistakes, tackle new writing challenges and venture into new genres.

Think of a classically trained chef. His education begins with the basics. As he refines those skills, he learns new techniques and adds those to his repertoire. Over time, after cooking thousands of dishes (some of which were total flops), the chef might rise to the top of his field. But even once this achievement has been reached, the chef will continue to experiment and study and create new ways to prepare food.

That’s what conferences and workshops do for writers. Even the bestselling authors go through this process. They may not sign up for classes, but many work and collaborate with trusted author friends or maybe an editor to keep improving their craft.

I’m excited about the knowledge I’ll gain at this weekend’s master class. One day you’ll get to enjoy the benefits of my continuing education.

Does your career require continuing education? What kinds of lessons or workshops to you enjoy most?

 

Win an audiobook for your next road trip

A friend of mine was moving from Virginia to Florida – a 13-hour trip in the minivan with two toddlers, a cat and a dog. She had originally planned to make the trip in two days, but ended up driving straight through. Why? Because she couldn’t turn off the Harry Potter audiobook she was listening to.

Audiobooks are a great way to make the most of long hours in the car. You can listen on your own device or plug into the car’s sound system so everyone can enjoy the story.  Add audiobooks to your next road trip with these easy tips:

  • Download the Audible or iTunes app to your cell phone or tablet before your trip and make sure it’s active.
  • Test drive your audiobook app and device in the car. Make sure you have necessary cords and connectors.
  • Select a few titles before you head out. Download them so you don’t need Wi-Fi to stream them.
  • Listen to the audio sample before selecting a new audiobook. Make sure you’ll enjoy the narrator’s performance to avoid being disappointed.
  • Take a group vote to decide on audiobooks everyone in the family will enjoy.
  • Choose books that are funny, entertaining and engaging.
  • Ask friends to recommend that favorite audiobook narrators and audiobooks.

For a chance to win one of my audiobooks, comment with your favorite audiobook or narrator.

 

 

Summer Safety Tips for Pets

Keep your Fourth festive (and your summer sunny) by implementing these strategies to keep pets safe and healthy. It is especially important to consider the welfare of your pets during Fourth of July celebrations because many are terrified of fireworks and loud noises.

  • Keep pets indoors.
  • Use only pet-specific products such as bug repellant and sunscreen.
  • Prevent pets from drinking alcohol, which can poison them.
  • Outfit pets with ID tags and/or microchip. Keep a clear, current picture of your pet in case they get lost.
  • Do not use fireworks around pets.
  • Keep harmful chemicals such as lighter fluid and citronella products away from pets.
  • Don’t give pets table food. Many human foods are hazardous to animals.
  • Supervise children around pets who may be agitated or frightened by loud noises. Additionally, make sure children do not inadvertently leave behind toys, such as glow sticks, which dogs may chew and ingest.
  • Secure your pet in a safe, quiet, comfortable area at home while you enjoy fireworks and celebrations.

  • If traveling with your pet, bring health/vaccination certificates. Check any requirements if you are traveling internationally or flying.
  • Plan ahead to find pet-friendly hotels.
  • Install pet restraints, pet barriers or use a travel crate in your vehicle to avoid your pet being injured in an accident or distracting the driver.
  • Pack pet gear for your road trip: water bowl, toys, dog food, leash, grooming supplies and pet first-aid kit.
  • Never leave pets alone in an unattended vehicle, especially in hot weather.

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  • Learn water safety tips to keep dogs safe around pools and at the beach.
  • Know the signs of heat stroke (rapid panting, bright red tongue, thick sticky saliva, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea) and proper treatment.

Share your pet safety tip!

How to start a summer book club

Welcome summer! The warm weather season is officially underway. For many people, summertime is an opportunity to slow down and enjoy life. If personal obligations like school, family, or work keep you too busy to participate with a book club during the rest of the year, consider setting up a summer book club. Not sure where to start? Here are some tips and suggestions.

Identify potential book club members. This can include friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, etc. Consider the tone and theme of the club to help determine the best fit of members. Do you want a casual girls’ night out or something for a range of ages?

Determine when your book club will meet. This will depend on members’ availability. Are most people available during the day or in the evening? How about weekends? Where will the group meet? Decide on frequency and how long meetings will be. Don’t be intimidated by logistical details. Book clubs don’t have to be hours and hours long. How about an hour meet-up at the local coffee shop? The goal is to merge your love of reading and time with special folks.

Decide what book(s) members will read. Your book club can be any format you choose. Instead of everyone reading the same book, maybe members share recommendations and brief critiques of books they are reading independently. If you prefer a more traditional approach, where everyone reads the same book and shares a discussion, check a best-seller list or accept suggestions from members. Put the list of titles to a vote and go from there. Here is an article with the year’s most anticipated book club reads.

Recruit volunteers. Invite members of the group to help organize the book club:

  • Someone to send out meeting reminders
  • Discussion moderators
  • Refreshments (if appropriate)
  • Research, such as author bio, book club discussion notes/questions

Decide on ground rules/meeting format. Will the conversation be casual or is each person expected to contribute to the dialogue? How will the moderator/group handle interruptions, keep the conversation on topic and make sure every person has a chance to be heard? Develop a list of questions to facilitate the discussion.

Read, relax and enjoy!

Do you have tips for setting up a book club or book recommendations? Post your comments here!

Meet Surf Dog Ricochet

I love dogs. They are noble and heroic and worthy of being included in my romantic suspense stories. For many years, Gus and Talley, my two Golden Labs, were my constant companions; they inspired me to include four-legged characters in my books because of the unique relationships people and animals share.

When I was researching topics for today’s blog, I came across a website for an impressive canine–Surf Dog Ricochet (or Ricki, as she is called). The achievements of this very special SURFice dog® highlight the endearing qualities of all service dogs: loyalty, personality, dedication, steadfastness, comfort and unconditional love.

After “flunking out” of training as a service animal, Ricki’s owner wasn’t sure what to do with the puppy.  She enjoyed surfing and, at fifteen months, took third place in the Purina Incredible Dog Challenge surf competition. Ricki’s knack for surfing created a unique opportunity for her to work with special needs kids and peoples with disabilities on the water.

One of Ricki’s other talents is her ability to detect stress and anxiety in people. This is one reason therapy dogs are being used to treat service members with PTSD and children with autism. Read more on this on Ricochet’s website.

Over the course of Ricki’s career as a therapy dog and philanthropist, she has raised almost $500,000 for various causes, won top dog awards and become a media star. You can read her story in Ricochet: Riding a Wave of Hope with the Dog Who Inspires Millions and catch her in Super Power Dogs, which comes out in 2018.

Part of what is most inspiring about Ricki’s story is that her “pawsome” success as a surf therapy dog was not intentional. That’s a wonderful reminder that when life doesn’t go as planned or we fall short of our goals, there is still the potential to become or experience or achieve something amazing.

See Ricki’s incredible photos and learn more at her website: www.surfdogricochet.com.

Photos of Ricochet used with permission.

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Readers & Writers in Seattle

Last weekend I attended the Readers & Writers Seattle event. As always, the best part of the event was meeting readers in person. Okay, I lied. The ripped cover models were the best part of the event. If you’ve ever attended a book signing or reader event featuring cover models, you’ll just nod and agree. If you haven’t….find one to attend ASAP!

Of course I was so busy enjoying the eye candy that I forgot to get photos with them. I did, however, get pictures with some of my reader and writer friends.

Readers Pamela, Tam and Kathy.

 

Seattle authors Jami Davenport, Darlene Panzera and me (Jacki Delecki).

 

Friend and reader, Cynthia

Some of the readers created “memory books” with a page dedicated to each author. They collect autographs and it was an honor to sign my page in this reader’s book.

Here’s a group photo taken at the event. FYI, tickets for 2018 are already on sale!

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Memorial Day Giveaway Winner

Thanks to everyone who sent me an email to share their plans for the Memorial Day weekend. Many people indicated they would be spending time with family, enjoying the warm weather, gardening, cooking out or simply enjoying the extra day off from work.

I was touched by several of the responses and wanted to share them with you. But first, congratulations to Mary Lou H., the randomly selected winner of a complete ebook collection of my Grayce Walters series, which features military heroes and heroines, plus a $10 gift card to the ebook retailer of her choice.

I am grateful to all those who serve and sacrifice, now and in the past.  Thank you.

All weekend, any of the family sees a vet eating out, we are going to pay for their tables’ meals.  It is our way to say Thank You for your service. – Vicki S.

We are going to have a BBQ, beer and lots of family and friends. This is a special day for us; my whole family served in the military most of us are Vietnam Veterans. – Dale W.

My husband and I will be spending the weekend with our son, who is in the service.  He is deploying out to the Middle East for a year. – Sonya B.

 

 

I will be spending Memorial Day with family, reflecting on the loss of my brother-in-law, who served in Vietnam. Also, planning with family on the proclamation for my nephew (Marine) who is retiring after 28 years, this June. – Deborah N.

I am planning to write some letters to thank the service members that are in my church for their service. – Holly F.

We travel to my husband’s family in Tennessee where this holiday is still referred to as Decoration Day (because each family buys tons of floral arrangements to decorate the tombstone markers for every deceased member of the family).- Peggy

I am a leader of a Boy Scout troop and we always participate in the placing of flags on veteran’s graves for Memorial Day, marching in the local parade and then the correct removal of the flags and disposal of those which are no longer suitable for use.  This day means a lot to me, since both parents and multiple relatives have served in the military. – Cathy B.

This Memorial Day, I will be at a memorial service that will honor those who have given their all for this country. I hope everyone will honor our military. It’s not just those who wear the uniform, it’s their family as well. They give just as much! – Marlene M.

For this Memorial Day I will be going to a family get-together. All the family shows up and that includes friends. Before eating we have a moment of prayer. We all have a good time catching up on all the family news. – Sharon E.

We will be having a special church service on Sunday honoring our fallen.  We have a number of active duty military.  Their squad recently had casualties on their last mission in the Middle East.  After our church service, we are having a church picnic and we’ll be playing cornhole and horseshoes.- Linda R.

My in-laws recently moved to Arizona so we will be having a small family barbecue.  I only wish that I could be near my father and step-mom in Illinois though.  My dad is a retired Marine of 20 years and we are extremely proud of him for that. – Cyndi J.

There will be a service in my hometown of Middleport, Pennsylvanian. This is done every year for Memorial Day. This year is a little sad. My father who was stationed in Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked passed away last December. He always honored Memorial Day. The flag over our Memorial Gardens is flying in his honor. – Pat H.

 

Win ebooks for your summer TBR pile

It’s time to start making plans for the summer. Are you traveling? Going on vacation? Visiting friends and family? Relaxing at home with a “staycation”? Boy, just talking about relaxing summer days makes me want to start a pitcher of sun tea, kick off my flip-flops, find a shady place to set up my hammock and read a good book.

If your To Be Read pile is getting low, check out these two giveaways. You could win a bundle of Regency romances, ebooks, gift cards or a Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet. Good luck and happy summertime reading!

Follow your favorite authors on Amazon and BookBub for a chance to win 80+ historical romance plus other prizes! To participate, click here: http://bit.ly/rmh-may17

180+ Author Giveaway! Win $1,000 in Books
One Grand Prize Winner – One of every book in the event!
Multiple Genre Grand Prize Winners – Get all the books in your favorite genre!
One Winner of Each Individual Book!
To participate, click here:  https://authorsxp.com/giveaway/mega-multi-genre-giveaway

Happy Mother’s Day to the Fur Baby Moms

I saw this adorable greeting card and it reminded me that Mother’s Day means different things to different people. The second Sunday in May has become a celebration of motherhood in many forms, an all-encompassing acknowledgement of the caring and nurturing contributions of all women in our society.

That includes all the fur baby moms.

Being a mother is all about dedication, unconditional love, teaching, tending, healing, inspiring and encouraging others. For all of those moms who love and adore their fur babies, have a wonderful Mother’s Day!

If you have a fur baby, share a photo and tell me how you’ll be celebrating your special day.

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Supporting Military Working Dogs

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a dog lover. Grayce Walters, the lead character in my contemporary romantic suspense series is also a dog lover, and I’ve included several canine characters in the Grayce Walters series.

I have a special place in my heart for military working dogs. These four-legged service members contribute so much to their units. If you’d like to learn more about military service dogs, check out these organizations dedicated to honoring and assisting active and retired military dogs.

 

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The United States War Dogs Association – features war dog history, information about the U.S. War Dogs Memorial, and how to participate with this organization.

Save a Vet – provides adoption and rescue support for military and law enforcement working dogs.

Operation Military Care K9 – collects and distributes care packages to military working dogs and their handlers.

Kevlar for K9s – works to provide bulletproof vests for working canines.

 

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If you would like more stories or information about military working dogs, check out these sites or click HERE for a full listing of military working dog organizations/resources.

Dogs of the Navy SEALs

The Dogs of War

Canines in Combat

10 Things You Might Not Know About Soldier Dogs

Dogs of War: 23 Facts You Never Knew About Military Working Dogs

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