Being Bonnie Vanak

A journey inside the mind of a quirky romance author who travels in the Third World

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Anthology raises money for author stricken with breast cancer

Ten authors have donated their work to a box set of novels and novellas to raise money for the medical expenses of a colleague stricken with breast cancer. The LAST HERO STANDING box set, which is set to release on Oct. 28, features 11 novels and novellas for only 99 cents, including a novella and a bonus short story from New York Times bestseller Dianna Love. All the proceeds from sales of the box set will go toward the medical expenses of USA Today bestselling author Pamela Clare, who was diagnosed with breast cancer this past April and has been unable to work since then.

“Writers love to write, and we try to do it around every obstacle in life, because we have stories to tell and we love our readers who are eager to read those stories,” Love says.  “But the life of a full-time writer is tough for those who wake up one day to find they’re facing a demanding disease such as cancer.  Pamela Clare is in a battle with breast cancer, which means her writing takes a back seat while struggling through chemo treatments and other unexpected health issues that have popped up as well.  

“For that reason, Norah Wilson and I brainstormed an idea that has turned into reality.  I have the honor of being part of an incredible group of authors who jumped up to donate books for the LAST HERO STANDING box set that will be available only during the month of November, and we’re giving all proceeds to Pamela,” Love says.

In addition to two stories from Love and a novella from Clare, the set features the work of New York Times bestsellers Cynthia Eden, Elisabeth Naughton, Joan Swan and Bonnie Vanak; USA Today bestsellers Mary Buckham, Adrian Giordano and Norah Wilson; and award-winners Stephanie Rowe and Tracy Devlyn. The stories span the sub-genres of romantic fiction from contemporary to suspense to paranormal.

“When my friend and fellow author Pamela Clare received her breast cancer diagnosis, it quickly became obvious that she would need to take a hiatus from writing to devote herself to the battle,” Wilson says. “I wanted to help her, but was at a loss about how best to do that. The answer came in a conversation with Dianna Love, who volunteered to publish a benefit box set with a limited one-month run if I could wrangle willing authors. Let me tell you, that was the easiest job I’ve ever been given! The authors I approached were eager to lend their books to the cause. I am so proud of the lineup we were able to put together on very short notice.”

Everyone involved in the project donated 100 percent of their time, including the photographer and designer. The authors approached Jenn LeBlanc of Studio Smexy™, who is a personal friend of Clare’s, and asked her to donate the art. Brandy Walker of TEZ Graphics designed the cover, while IRONHORSE Formatting provided formatting services.

“There was no hesitation when Norah messaged me about the cover for this very special anthology,” LeBlanc says. “I told her they could have any image from my site as an exclusive for this cover. It means a great deal to me because Pamela is one of my dearest friends, and I was happy to be able to help however I was able.”

Clare wasn’t made aware of the project until many of the pieces were already in place.

“When they told me what they wanted to do, I burst into tears,” Clare says. “It’s easy to feel alone when you’re going through chemo and miserable and bald. More than anything, this made me realize how many people in the romance community care.”

Clare was diagnosed with stage 1C breast cancer in April after a routine mammogram showed small calcifications in her left breast. She underwent a bilateral mastectomy in June, which revealed that the cancer had already spread to a single lymph node. She has almost completed chemotherapy and will be starting radiation treatments in November.

Although Clare has insurance, she is still required to pay co-pays and co-insurance, which add up quickly with multiple surgeries and drugs that cost more than $1,000 per injection. But the real struggle is paying for medical bills while not working. A full-time author, Clare hasn’t been able to write since she was diagnosed.

“The six weeks before surgery were like a waking nightmare,” she says. “I had no idea what I was facing, and the stress was overwhelming. I had three surgeries in the two months that followed, and then started chemo. I haven’t felt well enough to read, let alone write.”

New York Times best-seller Elisabeth Naughton knows from personal experience how devastating a major medical crisis can be to the life and livelihood of an author.

“Five years ago, I wound up in ICU with septic shock after a routine medical procedure,” Naughton says. “Thankfully, I survived the ordeal, but for at least six months after, while my body was busy healing, I was unable to write a single word. When the body is working so hard to repair itself, creativity takes a serious hit. I know what it’s like to be unable to write, so I’m happy to help Pamela in any way I can. This box set is just one way to show my support.”

The other authors in the box set understand this dilemma.

“As a full time writer, you’re kind of out there without a safety net,” Wilson says. “As long as you can write and publish new books regularly, all is right with the world. If you’re lucky. But when serious illness strikes and you can’t write or even promote for months at a stretch, your income dwindles pretty quickly. And that income shrinks at exactly the time you need it most.”

The box set is available for pre-order on Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Kobo. It will be available through November 30.

“The romance community is made up of some of the most generous and caring people on earth, both readers and writers,” Clare says. “And the thing that choked me up the most about this box set? The fact that they made my name pink and put me in the middle of what they called a ‘group hug.’ I’ll take all the hugs I can get.”

To read Clare’s breast cancer story, visit her blog at

Says Love: “I’m proud to know so many authors with generous hearts.”

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Excerpt from Seduction

Happy October! I am anticipating a release date of my next Werewolves of Montana book later this month. Enjoy! 

copyright 2014 by Bonnie Vanak

 A planter filled with bright red geraniums sat on the deck. The cool river breeze teased her hair. It was lovely here and she’d have enjoyed the peace and quiet, and the luxury of her own room, if it were not for the gloomy fate awaiting her in Jeremiah Jackson Taylor’s bed.

A delicate shiver raced down her spine as she imagined Taylor’s rough hands upon her, his body rudely penetrating hers without gentleness or consideration. Certainly not love.

J.J. clinked glasses with her. “To your future.”         

The delicious wine turned sour in her mouth. “I’d rather drink to something more positive. Like nuclear war.”

He considered. “How about drinking to good times?”

Much better. She clinked glasses with him again.

“And great sex.”

Alexa nearly choked on her sip of wine. She recovered, saw him watching her with his hooded gaze.

“That’s an odd toast.”

He shrugged. “Why? I’m a guy. I think of sex all the time. You’re a young, healthy Lupine. We’re a sensual people. Haven’t you ever wondered what great sex would be like?”

“I don’t have a good imagination.”

But that was a lie, for she had wondered, and felt wistful her body would be turned over to an uncaring, arrogant alpha who only wanted her for his own pleasure, not hers.

“Would you like me to illustrate for you?”

A teasing look entered his gaze. Despite the chilly river breeze, Alexa felt hot all over. “Only if you use markers. And my body as your canvas.”

Holy wolfsbane, did she actually say that? A furious blush heated her face, but J.J. only threw back his head and laughed. He had a wonderful laugh, all deep and relaxed.

“Might be better to tell you in Spanish.”

“Why not English?”

Swirling the wine in his glass, he considered. “Sounds more romantic in Spanish.”

“I could do with a little romance." She sighed deeply. "Instead I'll be handed over to an arrogant male who will climb on top of me, do the deed and think only of himself. Not exactly how I wanted to lose my virginity.”

Oops. The wine made her careless. But he only regarded her with his steady gaze. “The first time a woman makes love can be painful, but also filled with pleasure if you have the right partner,” he said softly.

Such intensity in his eyes, as if he wanted to be that special someone who made love to her for the very first time. Alexa envisioned J.J. naked, all those wiry muscles, mounting her as she lay naked in bed. His hard male body covering her as he looked down with passion blazing in his intense gaze….

She felt so warm and relaxed. No, hot and wet. Wet between the legs. Oh, she’d had those feelings before, but not cranked up like this, as if someone jerked up her internal thermostat to flaming hot.

Alexa stole glances at J.J., who stretched out his long legs. Tight jeans hugged his lean, muscular thighs. And that ass, very fine indeed.

“Eres muy simpatico. Que lindo culo tienes,” she murmured.

He raised a dark brow. “Thanks for the compliment. I’ve never thought of myself as cute, or possessing a nice ass, but I appreciate your assessment.”

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Please don't buy my Ellora's Cave books

History, like bad sausage, repeats itself. 

Once more I am finding myself in the midst of another publishing nightmare; watching one of my publishers slowly spiral downward. Back in 2011, it was Dorchester. I had written a series of 7 historical romances set in Egypt. They owed me money, not a lot, but enough. They had sold the rights to one of my books to another country and I never saw a nickel. My wonderful agent finally did get my rights back and I published those books myself.

And then I cautioned myself to be careful when signing future publishing contracts.

I have books with Ellora's Cave. I'm not going to get into the lawsuit EC filed against Dear Author, and the chilling effect it has. You can read about the lawsuit here and here.

There have been rumors flying around like snow in Colorado on a winter's day. One says that EC may out all authors who write under a pseudonym. That could jeopardize their day jobs.

I have a day job in addition to writing books. I work for a large charity. I'll out myself here before anyone else can.

My pseudonym is Blair Valentine. 

I won't live in fear anymore. But I imagine for some authors, the thought of being exposed can be hellish, especially if they hold jobs in the public sector, such as teaching.

The irony of the EC mess is that I don't want my rights back because I have not been paid, like author Avril Ashton. Avril relies upon her writing income to pay the rent. 

I bought Avril's new indie book to support her. I will do what I can to support my fellow authors who are in a bind. I know the fear of having the bills come due and being jobless. 

I am not like other EC authors. I have been paid regular royalty checks. Most of my checks amount to around, oh, $6. 

$6. Just enough to buy two cans of dog food for my sick Shih Tzu, Holly (pictured here). Definitely not enough to help pay for the $5,000 in chemo treatments to treat her breast cancer. 

I want my EC books back because I want to rewrite them to make them stronger. Better. As an author, I am constantly evolving in my writing. 

My first EC book was published in 2005. It was fun and exciting to write for EC. They were an erotica publisher who made tremendous strides in the industry, long before Fifty Shades of Whatever Color. I had an editor, and when the book was released, EC did a terrific job promoting it. I didn't have to do much to promote the book. My first royalty check, paid monthly!!! was a healthy four figures.  I was blissful, especially since my "regular" publisher at the time was Dorchester, who paid when the moon was turning into green cheese.

I wrote more stories for them as Blair Valentine. They were different, and had humor. Because I was worried about publishing erotic romance under my real name, I chose a pseudonym. These books were sexier than anything I'd ever written. I did NOT want anyone to find out Bonnie Vanak was writing books where the heroine had sex with ten guys. 

And then a couple of years later, I sold EC another book in that series. When I looked at how much that book was priced on Amazon, I scratched my head. Huh? 

Those royalty checks began dwindling. No matter. By now I was writing for Harlequin, who did pay twice a year, and paid on time. 

In 2013, I started self-publishing a series called the Werewolves of Montana. Those books were fun to write, and sexy as my EC books. 

I didn't pay much attention to my EC books, but did ask for my rights back last year. 


I removed the books from my website and started to divorce myself from Blair Valentine. 

About 10 days ago, I asked again to get the rights back to my EC books. I got a standard reply. I doubt I will ever see those books again, which truly sucks big donkey donuts because I could take those books, rework them, and release them myself.

Watching this whole EC mess unfold is like watching a train speeding toward a wreck, knowing you have a good friend on board, but you are helpless to stop the wreck. All you can do is step away from the tracks and try to move on.  I did this before with Dorchester, and now I'm doing it again with EC.

I don't want readers to buy any books written by Blair Valentine. It's my small way of protesting what's been going on. If you really want to support my writing, buy a book for which I have contributed a story. LAST HERO STANDING features 11 sexy, heroic stories by bestselling authors. We got together to publish this book to raise money for my dear friend Pamela Clare, who is fighting breast cancer. The book is available for pre-order October 1. 

I work a demanding day job five days a week. I travel to developing countries to help poor families who can't even scrape together money to buy a meal, let alone an EC book. And I write romance. My focus has been producing stories in my Werewolves of Montana series that my readers will enjoy. Lately it's been tough, between the day job and Holly's cancer treatments, to write. I finally DID finish Seduction, a new book in the series, and hope to have it available in a few weeks.

And as a gift to readers, I'm working on a new special Members Only webpage that will feature two free short stories. One is an original in my Werewolves of Montana series. It's about Tristan, the Silver Wizard. I wanted to gift my readers with a free read because they have been so supportive and patient while waiting for the next story. 

Readers are amazing. And so are bloggers. Some I don't care for, but they have the right to voice their opinion. I just ignore them, because I'm too busy trying to WRITE books. I think it is cool that the internet gives readers a forum in which to express their opinions of books. 

What's not cool is what's going on. So not cool.

If you are an author and you are considering a publishing contract, take a deep breath and slow down. Like they say in the business, no agent is better than a bad agent and the same goes for publishing contracts. No contract is better than one that ties up your rights until the moon turns into green cheese.

Read Carolyn Jewel's excellent post here on getting your rights back and what to do before you sign that publishing contract. 

And look before you leap before giving your book to a publisher. Read that contract carefully. Hire a literary attorney if you do not have an agent. Protect your rights... because you might just be leaping into the path of an oncoming train. 

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Werewolves of Montana and thank you readers!

I wanted to list all my books in the Werewolves of Montana series, including the new miniseries I'm writing set within that world. The first six books that are already published are available in a boxed set.

The Mating Heat

The Mating Chase (short story, free on Kindle, Nook, etc)
The Mating Hunt
The Mating Seduction
The Mating Rite
The Mating Intent

Books NOT released yet, but planned:

The Mating Challenge (Aiden's book, release date TBA)
The Mating Season (Tristan's book, release date TBA)
The Mating Game (Gideon's book, release date TBA)

Novellas that will be a miniseries within my Werewolves of Montana world. As a special thank you to readers, I am releasing these at the introductory price of $1.

Seduction (What I am writing now and hope to have available soon)

Seduction is a novella about a shy, but brilliant Lupine billionaire who purchases the virginity of the woman he's secretly in love with, and hopes to make his mate. Aiden and Nikita have a special scene in this book.

A special thank you to all the readers who took a chance on my wolf books. I am grateful to each and every one of you and I hope my books provide you with a good reading experience. 

I am trying to write as fast as I can, but had to put projects on hold due to my personal life. 

It's been a little frustrating and stressful, trying to juggle many balls in the air. The day job takes up much of my time and energy, and having a sick dog and trying to treat her cancer has taken priority. Little time is left for writing. But I am determined to finish Seduction and get it ready for publication.

I had thought about putting that novella on hold and releasing it only when the other three are ready.  

But reality check: Reality is a demanding day job and traveling out of the country. I have only the weekends to write. And truth is, I don't want to write all three novellas at once and release them back to back for one reason - I hate disappointing my readers.

My readers have been so wonderful to me, and so patient. Making them wait to read Seduction until the third novella is ready is not fair to them. So as soon as Seduction is edited and ready for publication, it's going live. I don't know when that will be. I am going to try hard to finish this novella by month's end. 

So if you are a reader who has been patiently waiting for another Werewolves of Montana book, thank you. Thank you, thank you. I promise I will do my best to give you the best book I can write, and in the timeliest manner I can deliver it.

Happy reading. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Werewolves of Montana boxed set!

Hi everyone. At last I have bundled together all six of the first Werewolves of Montana books. All six of my very sexy books are available for purchase in a single boxed set! 

Volume 1 is now available for purchase on Amazon and iTunes. It will be available later on Nook and Kobo. The set sells for $9.99, which means you save about $5 on all six books. 

Click here to order on Amazon.

I am working hard on the next story, Seduction, which is the first novella in a mini series within my Werewolves of Montana series. In Seduction, Aiden plays matchmaker for his good friend J.J.

Have a great week! I will post more updates as they become available. 

Friday, August 01, 2014

RWA 2014

RWA’s national conference last week was like most conferences for me. When you’re in the moment, everything is exciting and fun and refreshing. Meeting longtime friends and spending quality time, gossiping and finding out who is who and what is what, and taking in the workshops.

And then you come home to reality; a suitcase stuffed with dirty laundry, and an exhaustion that takes several days to banish.

I flew Tuesday to Houston. The plane was late. Very late. By the time I got to Houston, I felt agitated because I had planned to arrive around 2, settle into my room, walk on the Riverwalk and get my bearings. Maybe even write. Ha!

But in Houston, while spending 2 hours waiting for the connecting flight to San Antonio, I ran into Barbara Hancock. Barbara is a former Nocturne Bites author. She recognized me and yelled, “Bonnie!” As she charged her phone, we sat and chatted. Turns out her flight had been cancelled and she was supposed to arrive in San Antonio at 11 a.m. and have lunch with friends. Our flight didn’t get into San Antonio until 6 p.m.

Ah yes, the thrills of air travel.

When I got to the airport I saw Vicki Pinder, who was waiting on Allison McMahon. Both are from my chapter, Florida Romance Writers. We split a cab and they dropped me off at the River Center.

I checked into my room, unpacked my zillions of outfits and then decided I needed substance. Food and alcohol. Not necessarily in that order. I hadn’t made plans, didn’t see anyone I
knew and just wanted a quiet dinner alone, so I went to the Mexican restaurant right on the Riverwalk outside the hotel.

There was some guy playing a weird pan flute in the courtyard outside the mall and I instantly transported back to a 1970’s Muzak informercial.

After dinner I walked the Riverwalk to see the sights, then went to the bar. Caroline Fyffe was there having drinks with Kate Douglas and Ann Roth. We had some drinks and chatted and then I decided I needed sleep.

Wednesday was a free day. I had a meeting that morning with my agent, but wanted to explore the city, so I walked along the Riverwalk, did a little shopping and then came back to meet with my agent. After, I met my good friend Jennifer Ashley and her delightful husband Forrest for lunch. More Mexican! A beef burrito with refried beans, sour cream and cheese. Mmmmm. No margarita. I can’t handle Tequila. It turns me into Bonnie the Crazy Person who likes to dance on table tops and sing bawdy songs in broken Spanish.

Then I had a little time before the Giant Booksigning so I walked to the Alamo, going the long route along the Riverwalk, meandering alongside the canal, watching the boats of wide-eyed tourists and their guides, thinking about standing still like a statue like the guy does in Key West at sunset, but did not. I had history to visit.
Made it to the Alamo, not the rental car place, and it was very crowded. Inside no photo taking was allowed, but despite the crowds, it was quite solemn, especially as I visited the chapel where the women and children hid while the fighting raged on.

On the walk back, I stopped at a store and bought a very cute cowboy hat with a denim band with rhinestone guns. Yee Haw. The heroine in my current WIP wears rhinestones, so I thought it was fitting. Returned to the hotel, showered, dressed for the booksigning and added the hat.  Made it to the ballroom with 10 minutes to spare. It’s always a cool feeling to be an author at the literacy signing because you are let in early, and pass this long line of people waiting to get in to buy books from their favorite authors.

Found my table and copies of DEMON WOLF, my newest Nocturne. I was sitting next to the adorable Rachel Vincent, who writes the Soul Screamer series. We chatted and compared earthquakes she endures in Oklahoma to the hurricanes we have in Florida.
I was pleasantly surprised to meet a few readers who like my indie Werewolves of Montana series. Alison McMahon (pictured her with me) stopped by and we snapped a photo together. She had won an award (I forget which one) and sported a pretty pink flower on her badge.  Then Leah Hultenschmidt with Grand Central Publishing stopped by (she is a former editor from my Dorchester days) and she coaxed me into joining her at my chapter’s cruise next year with promises of lots of fun and drinks. I saw Jenn LeBlanc and got all emotional, thinking of Pamela Clare. Last year’s RWA it was Pam, Norah Wilson and myself as Pam tried on dresses for the Rita awards and asked our opinions. Pam lives in Colorado, Norah lives in Canada and I live in Florida so we seldom see each other. I hugged Jenn, who must have thought I was a drunk psycho, and told her I needed to hug her because I could not hug Pam. Then I called Pam and passed the phone to Jenn and the three of us talked. Pam had just cut her hair and sent us a text photo, and she looks fabulous.

After the booksigning, I met Erin Quinn, my fellow Dark and Deadly author, at the bar. We were going to hook up with authors from Marie Force’s self pub loop, but the bar was so very crowded I could not figure out who was who. So Erin and I chatted and drank.

Thursday was Get To Business Day. It was my only full day of workshops I could attend, so I did several.  After gulping down a quick breakfast downstairs at the mall’s food court, and meeting a delightful writer who told me her very solid business plan for getting published, I went to workshops and then the luncheon. My friend Renee was getting a service award. Yay! Sylvia Day was the speaker and she talked about the changes in publishing since she first got published and how we authors should dream big and plan smart and you can always remake yourself. Good advice.

More workshops in the afternoon, then upstairs to change and meet Renee for dinner. Renee Ryan, who writes emotional Christian romances, is a dear friend from years ago. We walked on the Riverwalk to find a restaurant, and decided No More Mexican. We found a fun Texas steakhouse, ordered steak and mashed potatoes and salad, with glasses of chilled Chardonnay and then asked the waiter to take our photo. The table in back of us photobombed our photo, which was very funny.

We had a delightful time catching up, and then we decided to drop by the Harlequin PJ party. They had an open bar (more wine!) and we saw Winnie Griggs, dressed in very cute pajamas, and Laura Altom, and I met Gwen Knight, a new Nocturne author. Also saw the very cute Farrah Rochon, whom I always enjoying saying hello with at conferences. The PJ party had great swag, notebooks featuring the vintage Harlequin covers. “The Widow Gay.” Fascinating.

Next morning bright and early my darling husband texts me a photo of our elderly dog looking for me. Guaranteed to spike the guilt. We had a texting session and then I grabbed eggs and bacon and coffee, much needed, and sat down to the listen to the breakfast speaker. She was very good. I sat next to Kristin Wallace, our chapter president, but had to leave because I had a workshop.

Jennifer Ashley and I gave our workshop on writing the successful series. I was kinda nervous and told Jenn I wanted to hide under the table. But I did okay. After, I rushed upstairs with Cindy Thomason, and we changed into shorts and then grabbed a cab to rent a car. We were going to Bandera Texas, the OFFICIAL COWBOY CAPITAL OF THE WORLD!!!!!!!!!!!

We promptly got on the wrong freeway and I told Cindy she was fired as navigator. Ha! But we made it there to Bandera, population around 902. Or 903. Guess it depends who died or if someone had a baby. We had lunch at a very cool restaurant called Old Spanish Trail that had an entire wall of John Wayne photos, and a wagon as a salad bar. Best was the polished, scarred wood bar that had saddles as stools! Then the deer head that overlooked the bar rather sternly.  I had Mexican food! A great burrito and iced tea and Cindy was dying for a hamburger.

We went shopping for gifts. No cowboys. Boo hoo. No werewolves, either. But I imagined seeing Aiden or Darius or Kyle riding into town, growling at all. Fun.

Then we went to one last shop before leaving and I fell in love… with the cutest pair of cowboy boots. Soft brown suede with FRINGE! I tried them on and told Cindy, “Tell me not to buy these.”

She said, “You must buy them! They are too cute!”

So I caved and bought my boots. I told her I was wearing them to the Harlequin party that night. With my cowboy hat.

We drove back to the rental car place, then made it back to the hotel. I had a dinner with my Harlequin editor, so I dressed for the HQ party as well. Cowboy hat? Check. Black dress with elegant silver and black jacket? Check. Hose? Check. Cowboy boots. Check.

I met my editor and a very nice author named Cara Lockwood, who writes for Cosmo Red Hot Reads. We went to a terrific little place… MEXICAN! But yum…I seldom eat Mexican food at home so I indulged. After a few minutes, Julia London joined us. She was nominated for about a gadzillion Rita awards. She’s warm, witty and very personable and told a hilarious story about jogging in a new pink sports bra that turned her body bright pink.

They had margaritas with their homemade Tequila, but I stuck to wine. No table top dancing.

Then it was off to the Harlequin party at the Westin! I saw the very elegant Olivia Gates pretty in a long pink dress and we chatted a bit, then Loreth Ann White and the three of us got our photo taken.

I sat with some friends and more wine! Bring on the alcohol! And the chocolate, yum! Tiny brownie
squares, chocolate mousse, so much chocolate! And the dancing. I actually danced. Not on a tabletop, either. I didn’t fall down or trip and Sylvia Day remarked I had a cute cowboy hat.

I was soooo tired and ready to retire, but Renee said we should shut the party down and Winnie said, “I always shut the party down.” So I stayed. Then Renee and I got a cab back to the RiverCenter, and talked a while in the bar.

Saturday, I was feeling it. No energy. Exhausted. Headache. Hey, I have a hangover! Oh joy! I lazed in bed and realized, “breakfast ends at 8:30 a.m. I need eggs. I need protein. I need COFFEE!”  So I took a quick shower, climbed into jeans and a T shirt, NOT conference attire, and got downstairs. Oh joy! Coffee!!! Food!

I listened to the speaker (Karen Rose) but had to leave early, so I snuck out and then went to a couple of workshops. I don’t even remember what I did for lunch. Or if I had lunch. Did more workshops in the afternoon. One was a workshop on selling books on Amazon and how to make the most of themes on Amazon. I thought my theme for the weekend was Mexican Food and Wine. Right in the middle of Virginia Kantra’s workshop about intimacy and sex and handcuffs, Caroline texts me. “Want to have wine at the bar?”  I texted back, “I can’t, I’m busy with sex!”

Where else can you say that and someone will totally understand?

After, I met Caroline in the bar and we chatted. Then it was upstairs to get ready for dinner. I met my longtime buddy Linda Broday, whom I had not seen in ages. We had… GUESS?


Then Linda had to get ready for the Rita/Golden Heart awards. She had a long blue dress with sparkles she was wearing. I was too zonked to get dressed so I went upstairs, napped a bit and then came down to the bar. Dennis Pozzessere, Heather Graham’s husband, was there with Jo Carol Jones. We chatted and then Forrest, Jennifer Ashley’s husband joined us. Jo Carol showed me amazing photos of stained glass she has been doing. The awards were over and the bar started filling up. Heather joined us with Beth Ciotta (pictured here), who had been nominated for a Rita. She didn’t win, but she looked amazing in her long gown!

By then I was feeling really winded, so I said good night to everyone and went upstairs. It was only around 11:30 but I had a flight to catch.

I made it to the airport and had a little breakfast and someone said, BONNIE VANAK! I turned around and it was Cindy Holby. She was sitting with Megan Frampton, so I joined them and we talked furniture and basements and other stuff.

Then I went to my gate and waited… and found out the plane was delayed. But it eventually moseyed into the airport and I was able to make my connection and make it home. DH picked me up at the airport, gave me a huge hug and kiss and drove me straight to dinner. To Davie, the cowboy capital of South Florida. I fit right in with my cowboy hat! I had a Reuben sandwich. NO Mexican food! Then we got home and the dogs went nuts, jumping all over me.

And then the next day it was back to the day job, dragging myself into the office, one tired foot after the other. It’s Friday now and I have finally unpacked, washed my dirty clothing and thought about RWA and what I learned.

The one tried and true premise remains, at least for me.

You can know all the secrets of Amazon algorithms, how to get a bazillion likes on your FB page, use social media to reach millions and get a contract or self publish your books and get lots of sales….

But if you don’t write the best book YOU can write, it doesn’t matter.

Readers are smart. They will buy one or even three books. But you must consistently produce quality product, the best you can. Write the story from your heart, and be market savvy. Hire an editor and proofreader if you are self-publishing because the story is too close to you and there will always be mistakes.

If you are publishing with a trad house, work with your editor. That’s the benefit of a trad publisher… you are assigned an editor, a professional you can learn from!

So the weekend is approaching and I’ve done a lot of thinking. I have taken a short break from writing because I was burned out from writing back to back books. I hate telling readers who are anxious for Aiden’s book that I have no firm publication date, but that is a book I want to be GREAT! It needs to percolate. I’m ready to write again. I have a short story for my wolfies that will include Aiden playing matchmaker. And Monday I am off to Guatemala for the day job. More travel! More airplane rides!


Holding down a full time, restrictive day job in which I hop on a plane and zip off to foreign lands makes finding writing time very challenging. By the time my day ends in these countries, I am usually too exhausted to do more than fall into my hotel bed. I will probably write on the plane. Or perhaps at night if I can find the energy.

No matter what, I don’t want to publish anything more until I feel confident it is the best work I can produce.

RWA 2014 taught me a lot. It was a wonderful conference and a chance to catch up with friends and totally immerse myself in the romance industry. Most of all, it taught me to dream big, and keep pursuing those dreams. I made the NY Times this year. That was a huge dream come true. And there are many more dreams to pursue. Some will change. Some will remain the same.

But no matter what, the journey will be challenging and worth the ride, especially with good friends along the way.

As long as there is no tequila…

Thursday, July 24, 2014

RWA 2014

I'm in San Antonio for the annual Romance Writers of America annual conference. Last night was the huge booksigning to raise money for literacy. I got to meet some readers I know from FB like Jai and Karen, which is always fun!

So far, it's been a great time. I've met my fellow book bundle author Erin Quinn, had lunch with Jennifer Ashley and her very witty husband Forrest, saw old friends and reconnected and got a really cute cowboy hat. Since I write werewolves who are cowboys, I thought it appropriate.

The bar is conveniently located in the hotel lobby next to Starbucks, lol.

Today's a blizzard of workshops and dinner with my friend Renee Ryan and catching up.

For now, it's coffee.

I have a new project I am working on, a fun project, but for now I am putting my conference hat on. Have a great day!

  • Bonnie Vanak's website

  • Author Pamela Clare

  • Author Norah Wilson

  • Author Linda Broday

  • Mystery author Nancy Cohen's blog

  • Jennifer Ashley's blog

  • Florida Romance Writers

  • Author Alice Duncan

  • Author Alice Gaines

    A GREAT organization to donate to!

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