Come See Me in Boulder at My First Book Store Event

This whole author thing gets more and more real every day!

Never more real than when I see my name and picture alongside the likes of New York Times bestselling author Roni Loren and international best-selling author Tiffany Reisz.

On Wednesday, July 18, at 7:30 p.m., I will join these and three other romance writers -- Aliza Mann, L. Penelope, and Maggie Wells -- to take part in a Romance Authors Panel at the Boulder Book Store in Boulder, Colorado. The event was arranged by our spectacular agent, Sara Megibow, who will also be part of the panel.

It's $5 to attend, but you will receive a voucher worth $5 that you can use in the store. 

Come see us!

I Have An Agent

I was going to come up with a clever headline. But there is no being clever when you've hit the biggest accomplishment of your adult professional life. I have no irony or sarcasm or wink, wink, nudge, nudge when I realize I've crossed the threshold from "I want to be a professional romance author," to "I AM a professional romance author."

Or, at least, Sara Megibow thinks I can be.

I met Sara in the spring of 2011 at the Washington Romance Writers' retreat, and we were super into each other. Unfortunately, she wasn't super into my book. She nailed what was wrong with it -- the dialogue was flat and stuffed with info. I wasn't ready. That summer, however, we chatted for a couple of minutes out on the tiny four-person balcony of NYC's famous Flatiron Building, where St. Martin's Press had its annual party. 

Every time I see a picture of that iconic building, I think of Sara.

This time around, she thinks I'm ready. I think I'm ready. Still, it's astonishing to me that another human being is going to hang their paycheck on the words I type at my desk in my pajamas. 

For her to believe in the words, the book, my present skills, and future ability is staggering. Mind-blowing. I'm still in the "pinch me" state. I know this honeymoon phase won't last forever, but damn, I'm going to enjoy while it lasts. Sara certainly helps, with her vibrant "WOO HOOOO" responses every time I get an email from her. Her woo-hoos make me feel like I can climb mountains.

I'm thrilled I've found someone who wants to climb with me.

A Shout Out to My Arrow Fanfic in USA Today's "Happy Ever After"

Guess who was mentioned in USA Today's romance blog, "Happy Ever After?" THIS GIRL!

Denny S. Bryce, HEA columnist and romance author, first interviewed me in 2015 about my Arrow fanfiction story Desperately Seeking. I didn't realize at the time that it was her first interview for her inaugural blog about fanfiction. Three years later, she's revisiting her favorite stories and chose mine to lead her column. 

 Excerpt from  USA Today's "Happy Ever After" blog by Denny S. Bryce . Roxanne was my pen name.

Excerpt from USA Today's "Happy Ever After" blog by Denny S. Bryce. Roxanne was my pen name.

I've known Denny for a few years now and she's a hardworking author as well as a generous soul -- she's given so much of her time and energy to our writers' organizations, the Washington Romance Writers and Romance Writers of America. I don't know what I did to fall under this woman's special light, but I will be eternally grateful.

I wrote Desperately Seeking after a three-year writing hiatus. This story and Wattpad helped re-ignite my love of writing; it gave me my creative soul back. So having this story recognized and praised this way is tremendously gratifying. And comes just when I need it. I'm currently riding the roller coaster of submitting my book to agents, having one agent tell me she loves the concept while another agent tells me my characters are unlikeable, and writing confidence is a shaky thing right now. 

Denny's praise of my story three years later helps me believe that all these hours I've spent at the keyboard aren't a waste of time.

Check it out.

Must-read fan fiction: Denny S. Bryce celebrates 3rd anniversary of fanfic recs with ‘Arrow,’ ‘Bones,’ ‘Farscape,’ ‘Firefly’ and ‘Scandal’

by Denny S. Bryce

 

Can you believe it? I’ve been hanging out here at Happy Ever After, sharing fan fiction recommendations since Feb. 18, 2015, people. That’s three years! And I still haven’t covered nearly as much fic as there is out there!

Now, you know, I do have some favorite genres I simply can’t back away from. You’ve seen my unabashed love of all things BtVS from my very first post. I also have a weakness for anything and everything sci-fi, or with vampires, and I like my fan fiction heroes superhuman, alien or Supernatural. (And yes, that was a shout-out to the boys!)

For this month’s column, I decided to do a throwback fan fiction post. So, I scoured a few of my early columns from 2015 and am sharing some of those recs, here again, this month.

Happy anniversary to me! (Click to keep reading...)

 

An Ode to Supportive Men

On Valentine's Day, my husband sent me flowers.

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He didn't send them because it was Valentine's Day, which we'd celebrated the weekend before. He sent them because, earlier that day, I'd been on a roller coaster ride with a potential agent that ended in a confidence-shaking rejection. So my husband sent me flowers.

These, "You got this and I believe in you" flowers meant more to me than "I love you" flowers could.

This is a hard blog to frame. Woman have played the role of "supportive" for so long that it seems like it's written into the job requirement: cook dinners and rub feet and say uplifting things. So should men really get a bravo when they rise to the same standards? Yeah. First, because I believe in positive reinforcement. And second, because when both people in the equation are supportive, that's where the magic happens. 

Supportive Men Are Sexy

I thought my latest book, The Billionaire's Prince, was going to be about strong women. It derived from the concept: What if the billionaire CEO was a woman? I wanted my female lead to take control and ultimately be the person who swoops in to save the day. But since I write cisgendered, hetero romance novels, I needed the man to be "manly." I needed him to be sexy and strong, but in a way that didn't impede on my heroine's strength.

The book became an exploration of the behaviors of supportive men as much as it was about strong women. I realized that the way for him to be strong and sexy was to accept her strength as a matter of course, for him to lean into and on her strength, and ultimately that one of his strengths -- and one way that made him immensely sexy -- was how much he enjoyed hers.

Men, take note.

Supportive men are Active

Chris Pine in the role of Steve Trevor in the "Wonder Woman" movie did an astonishing job playing the role of the strong, sexy!!!! supportive man. It's easy to think of support as passive, a rah-rahing from the sidelines while the other person does all the work. But Pine is lockstep with our (yes, we've claimed her) Gal Gadot all the way. He's attracted to her, overwhelmed by her, worried for her. He pulls her back when she insults a general and marvels at her when she enjoys ice cream. But never once does he doubt her abilities. He's the one who tells his burly compatriots to place a platform on their backs so they can fling her into battle. 

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Watching Chris Pine in that role gave me hope for the future of story telling. Watching Chris Pine in that role made me sad for how rare we see that type of man.

Supportive men are complicated

The movie "Hidden Figures" -- which tells the story of three African-American female mathematicians who helped the U.S. win the space race -- does an incredible job of exploring too many unknown stories. One piece I noticed was how the husbands reacted to their incredibly smart wives.

Aldis Hodge plays the husband of Mary Jackson, NASA's first black female engineer. In the beginning of the movie, he is critical of his wife's efforts to be the first black woman in white-only classes. He is afraid for her. Ultimately, though, he supports her. Hodge says about his character: 

"He supported his wife — supported her in a very avant-garde way given the time frame. This is the '60s, so I loved what he represented and what they represented."

Support doesn't come instantly or easily. It's earned, learned, and taught. Even the character of Col. Jim Johnson, played by Mahershala Ali, missteps wildly in this awesome scene before he goes on to become the supportive husband of physicist and mathematician Katherine G. Johnson, played by Taraji P. Henson.

supportive men are rare

I've become a big fan of The Wicked Wallflowers Club podcast, which showcases big-name romance writers and explores why the genre is awesome. More than once, authors have mentioned how they don't feel supported by their partners or families, how their husbands don't "get" what they're doing.

This makes me sad. It also makes me deeply appreciate of what I have and reminds me not to take it for granted. My mom reads and comments on all my books on Wattpad. My brothers share my stories on their social media profiles.

But most importantly for the day-to-day Angelina who sits down and slaves at this writing thing every day, my husband believes in my writing every day. He's believed in every story, he's cheered on every query and request for full, and he's commiserated with every rejection. In December, when an agent asked for a full manuscript before I was quite ready, he spent a weekend editing it while I frantically wrote the end. 

He is not perfect in all things, and I wouldn't want him to be because that's waaaaay too much pressure. But in this, this active, sexy, and complicated support of my writing, he has been perfect. 

So while this is an ode to supportive men, I guess it's also a little bit of an ode to him.

Happy Valentine's Day, my love.

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How to Fill the Well as a Writer

New York Times bestselling author Joan Johnston talks about the need for writers to "give yourself the opportunity to fill the well so you have something to write about," in the latest issue of Romance Writers Report. I found this so inspiring. Writers cave up, have endless deadlines, and tell victory stories about how many days in a row it's been since they've showered. Many of us, no matter our endeavors, stick our noses to the grindstones and then proudly compare how little nose we have left.

Stop it. Fill the well. Writers, if the only world you have to write about is the Bermuda Triangle of your desk-couch-fridge, I'm sorry but that book is not going to sell. Everyone else, you know you need to go have a good time.

Here are ways I like to #fillthewell. I've included A TON of links. I hope they help you discover your own inspiration!

Museums

I'm a huge fan of museum gazing in the winter time because you get shelter, exercise, and inspiration for a modest price. Here in the D.C.-area, where we have an embarrassment of museum riches, many of our museums are free. A friend and I recently went to the Smithsonian's Freer|Sackler, which has an incredible collection of Asian art. There we saw Buddhas and Chinese wine cups and dazzling Indian jewelry and the beautifully carved heads of pharaohs. Did you know that some Buddhists venerated a Lord of Burning Desire? I didn't either. But that's the kind of useful inspiration you can get when you go to your local museum.

 Aizen Myoo, the Lord of Burning Desire, “avatar of sacred lust...recognizes and emphasizes the disruptive power of sexual passion” against evil. 

Aizen Myoo, the Lord of Burning Desire, “avatar of sacred lust...recognizes and emphasizes the disruptive power of sexual passion” against evil. 

Volunteering

My responsibilities as a volunteer force me to step away from my writer's desk and provide that glow that comes with giving time instead of getting paid for it. I've served as a docent at the Hillwood Museum in northwest D.C. for a year and that beautiful house and gardens have provided so much inspiration. I've learned a ton about strong women who can buy their own fancy houses, about the joy of sharing what you know with others, and about the pleasure of strolling through a greenhouse dripping with orchids and pretending -- just for a second -- that it belongs to you. 

 Tomorrow come celebrate the oncoming spring with  La Chandeleur or Crepe Day at Hillwood . Enjoy crepes, decorate your own version of priceless porcelain, and let me show you some of our incredible French treasures when I give a family-focused gallery talk at 10:30 and tours at 11:30 and 1:30. Come join me!

Tomorrow come celebrate the oncoming spring with La Chandeleur or Crepe Day at Hillwood. Enjoy crepes, decorate your own version of priceless porcelain, and let me show you some of our incredible French treasures when I give a family-focused gallery talk at 10:30 and tours at 11:30 and 1:30. Come join me!

Booze

I want to insert this in here before I give the impression that I only enjoy heady pursuits. I like booze. I like to learn about the origin and creation of various alcohols, I like to read about burgeoning alcohol trends, I like to experiment with my own concoctions, and I like to have long-winded conversations about how cocktails are made. And I like to drink them. One of my favorite places to do all of the above is the Dogwood Tavern. Dogwood is the kind of place where the bartenders remember you, remember your drink of choice, make it spectacularly, and whip up a concoction with you if you catch them when it's slow. They'll also give you a pleasing nickname if you're a regular. Ours is "Angeleter."

 Drew's Bulleit Rye Old-Fashioned

Drew's Bulleit Rye Old-Fashioned

Wine

I also enjoy wine. This is my stepfather's fault. In 2009, my parents bought a 6.5-acre property in Sonoma County's Russian River Valley and started Gantz Family Vineyards. Suddenly I, who'd had a passing interest in wine, was part of a family that grew Pinot Noir grapes in one of the premiere Pinot Noir regions in the country. Things got much, much worse when they asked me to help them market the vineyard, and suddenly I had to learn about wine and winegrape growing in order to be able to communicate vaguely intelligently about it for their website and social media. This window into this incredible world helped inspire my latest book, The Billionaire's Prince, and the follow-up book that I'll begin in February. Here in D.C., my go-to spot for getting educated (and inspired) about wine is the the Capital Wine School. I rave more about it here.

 Gantz Family Vineyards

Gantz Family Vineyards

Friends

I love my husband and my kids and my family. But I would be nothing without my friends. My friends are a wonderful pressure valve from the rest of my life, and whether they provide me tips on the writing industry or help me understand my kids better or share in a laugh and a glass of wine, they inspire me and help calm me so I can be open to inspiration. Some of my dearest friends can inspire you, too!

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  • Parenting coach Paige Trevor - Paige and I bonded over a shared love of this Jonathan Rhys Meyers lip bite 15 years ago and we've never looked back. Through classes, seminars, and one-on-one sessions, she helps parents understand the connection between an organized house and a calm and content family. As a Certified Parent Educator with PEP, Paige has trained over 1500 parents in the Washington, D.C.- area. Her weekly blog, Nifty Tips, is a funny, heartfelt, tough-love dose of realistic parenting advice. 
  • Author Sharon Wray - Sharon is the most generous soul I know, and a large portion of the romance writing world would agree with me. Sharon is a fount of selfless information and good cheer and believed in me as a writer when I didn't believe in myself. Her book, Every Deep Desirea genre-bending romantic suspense reunion story set in Georgia swamps that hide a deeper, darker world, will come out on March 6. 
  • Life coach Wendy Reed - Wendy is the dear friend who introduced me to the concept of "living with intention." Living with intention means you live life proactively -- you choose to pursue a career as a creative professional or flirt more with your husband or be patient with your children -- rather than living life reactively, getting batted along the path that life chooses. Wendy is now taking this philosophy into her work as a professional life coach, helping people discover their own intentional life and then helping them figure out how to make it a reality.

Podcasts

Not all of my filling of the well is done out and about. I spend an impressive amount of time luxuriating in my pajamas and yoga pants. Podcasts give me inspiration when I'm emptying the dishwasher or walking the dog. My three recent favorites are:

  • The Thirst Aid Kit - "Thirsting," as used by these brilliant hosts, is the act of desiring, crushing, lusting from afar that women do so well. This podcast honors that thirst -- an act that has sustained the movie industry and keeps the publishing industry afloat -- with intelligent, diversity-aware, and screamingly funny conversations about the people we thirst for and why.
  • Girl in Space - Girl in Space is an audio drama about a girl in space, written and performed by a girl. This act should not seem so revolutionary. And yet this podcast has such a unique, interesting, wise, and funny point of view of sci-fi and space travel and story telling that it does seem revolutionary. 
  • The Wicked Wallflowers Club - I have been endlessly tweeting about this new podcast devoted to taking the shame out of romance reading. As I've said endlessly on Twitter, this podcast is like grabbing a coffee with your favorite author and smartest friends and talking about what makes romance novels great.

Please share your favorite ways to #FillTheWell in the comment box below. Fill free to include links, too, if you've got them. I love sharing the inspiration!