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Romance Authors Support Literacy

Today is the final day of the 2017 Romance Writers of America (RWA) National Conference in Orlando, Florida. The closing event is the Readers for Life Literacy Autographing. This free book signing, which is open to the public and draws huge numbers of readers, features hundreds of romance writers. The Literacy Autographing is an opportunity for readers to meet their favorite authors and discover new ones.

Proceeds from book sales at this fundraiser benefit literacy programs and organizations. Since 1990, RWA has donated $1 million.

The Literacy Autographing is open from 3-5 p.m. today at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort , Pacific Hall.

Even if you cannot attend the RWA Readers for Life Literacy Autographing, there are many ways you can support literacy programs. Here are a few ideas:

Donate used books to libraries, schools, women’s shelters and refugee organizations.

Volunteer with your local literacy organization, school or community center to read aloud to children, provide one-on-one mentoring, etc.

Create a book-rich and reading-friendly environment in your home.

Donate to literacy organizations.


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.
  • 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!