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Buns and Roses for Literacy

Last weekend I traveled to Dallas to participate in the tenth annual Buns and Roses Tea  and I have to admit I was more fan-girl than author! The event benefited the Richardson Library’s Adult Literacy Center which seeks to transform lives by providing English as a second language instruction to adults who live or work within Richardson—a suburb of Dallas—and its school district.

It was an honor to meet one of my very favorite authors, the very lovely Lorraine Heath!

It was an honor to meet one of my very favorite authors, the lovely Lorraine Heath!

Best-selling author, Lorraine Heath, is a member of the RALC committee, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a HUGE fan of her books. It was such an honor and a privilege to be invited to join the twenty-five romance authors from around the country hosting tables at the event.


The authors in front of the hand made quilt that author Katharine Ashe won in the silent auction. Kandy Tobin, photographer.

The authors in front of the hand made quilt that author Katharine Ashe won in the silent auction. Kandy Tobin, photographer.

The weekend kicked off with a fun book signing at a local Barnes & Noble store. I’ll let you in on a little secret: book signings are scary. I’m always nervous that no one is going to show up, but with fifteen other authors there to keep me company, it was a party.  AND readers showed up! Of course, they may have just stepped in off the street after hearing what a good time we were having. 🙂

Afterwards we headed back to the hotel bar for  some libations and to relax before heading out to dinner at the beautiful home of one of the RALC committee members. There was a lot more laughter throughout the evening, not to mention some great food. Committee members, VIP readers, and authors mingled and chatted as everyone got to know each other. We talked about books, food, football, food, families, and, did I mention food?

I met lots of new friends including historical romance authors, Lily Dalton and Shana Galen.

I met lots of new friends including historical romance authors, Lily Dalton and Shana Galen.

The following afternoon, it was time for the big event. Over two hundred readers adorned hats (author Katharine Ashe’s table wore tiaras!) and headed to the ballroom for an afternoon of fun.

Author Lori Wilde's table had fun with candy lips!

Author Lori Wilde’s table had fun with candy lips! Kandy Tobin, photographer.

We sipped tea (author Diane Kelly’s table sipped moonshine!) with readers, signed books, and bartered on some very impressive auction items including a trip to Scotland and a gorgeous handmade quilt commemorating the event. Tessa Dare delivered a heartfelt keynote while emcee, Candace Havens, kept the audience laughing.

One of the highlights of each year’s tea is the keepsake bears that are outfitted in a unique costume. Guests hold up twenty dollar bills to secure one, but they go fast.

The 2015 Buns and Roses Keepsake Bear. Kandy Tobin, photographer.

The 2015 Buns and Roses Keepsake Bear. Kandy Tobin, photographer.

The folks on the committee are still tallying up this year’s contribution, but they estimate they raised more than $10,000 for literacy programs. Additionally, Barnes & Noble is making it easy for readers to contribute to the cause. Just use the code #11685054 (at checkout) while shopping online or in-store with from Oct. 1-14. To learn more about the RALC, go to

Be sure to make your plans now to attend next year’s Buns and Roses Tea! I know I am.


A Girl’s Gotta Do What A Girl’s Gotta Do

Getting your butt in the chair.  It’s the hardest part about being a writer.  Well, not so much for the paying projects, but definitely for the ‘yet to be paying’ ones.  The  unpublished author faces many obstacles to getting her manuscript on the shelves—not the least of which is getting it written. Just ask Kathryn Stockett.  It took her five years to write The Help.  That fact alone should make me feel better about creeping along in my career.

Except it doesn’t.

I still want to get the book done yesterday, despite the many distractions of my day to day life—including the paying gigs.

At the RWA National Conference in New York this past summer, bestselling author Candace Havens presented a workshop promising to let authors in on the secret to getting a first draft down in no more than 14 days.  Needless to say, I scrambled to the session as quickly as I could—me and over 300 hundred other wannabe authors.  Apparently I wasn’t the only one needing a quick fix.

Now, here’s the thing about Candace Havens:  She is a dynamo!  A petite Texas spit-fire who has not only authored multiple books for Berkley Press and Harlequin Blaze, but she’s one of the country’s leading entertainment reporters, syndicated in over 600 newspapers. In her spare time, Candace also runs a free online writing workshop for more than 1600 writers. She does film reviews for a major Texas radio station, and is the Vice President of the Television Critics Association.

PHEW!! I was exhausted just listening to her bio.  And you know what else I was?  Embarrassed.  Seriously, I must really be a slacker if I can’t get a book written when she does all that AND manages to write bestsellers.  I’m pretty sure she is a mom, too, but I tuned that part out because then I’d have to stick a pencil in my eye.  Had the room not been so crowded—I mentioned the 300 or so others, right?—I would have crawled off to the concierge lounge for the some vinotherapy; but alas, I was pinned in my corner of the room.

So what was Candace Havens’ secret to getting the book written?  GET YOUR BUTT IN THE CHAIR!  She presented a wonderful plan for getting a draft written in two weeks and I have blocked out the month of October to carry it out.  What can I say?  I’m an underachiever.  I also gleaned a useful technique for keeping me in the chair for the edits and rewrites currently causing me grief:  reward yourself. Yeah, that great parenting technique we all used when our kids were toddlers–bribery.  Sweet! 🙂 This was going to be easy, all I had to do was decide on an incentive.

Candace warned in the session that M&M’s did NOT make a good reward.  Yeah, girl, no visual aid necessary.  I have my own thighs for that.  Instead, the prize needs to be something worthwhile and exciting and possibly something you wouldn’t want to do without.  Okay, my husband had some ideas here but as this a family site, we won’t go there.

It took me a few weeks, but I found one that’s working.  What is it?  It’s reading.  I’ve made a pact with myself that if I don’t write or revise 5 pages a day, I can’t delve into a good book.  Probably sounds lame to you, but for me, a voracious reader, it gets the job done.  Before I can escape to Pennyroyal Green, Twilight Texas, Maiden Lane or Lucky Harbor, I have to get some words written.  Instead of taking my Kindle to the barn each afternoon while my daughter rides, I heft my laptop or edit pages.  If my goal is met, I can crawl between the sheets later that night and enjoy a few chapters before I start over again the next day.

Like I said, this probably won’t work for anyone else, but I get jealous of the stack of books beside the bed when I am immersed in writing a manuscript.  This way, I can still get something done without giving up my guilty pleasure.

How about you?  How do you get yourselves in the chair?  What rewards or incentives to you “bribe” yourselves with?

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