Travel with Mona on a Cruise Conference

For years I enjoyed cruising around the world—in the Caribbean, Cross-Atlantic via the North Pole and Greenland, in the Mediterranean Sea, the Far East, around South America, all the way to India and Singapore through the Suez Canal, in addition to several river cruises.

Let me tell you about a different kind of cruises that combined fun and business for writers. I’m talking about the cruise conferences organized by FRW [Florida Romance Writers] the South Florida chapter of Romance Writers of America [RWA]. (Unfortunately I think both groups don’t exist anymore.)

The FRW members gathered for their monthly meeting at a fixed location where a qualified guest presented a talk, but once a year, FRW opened its doors wide for the annual conference where editors and agents were invited to come and chat with the authors. For years this annual conference was set in a big hotel in Miami or Fort Lauderdale. Later it was moved to a cruise ship. I attended two of these memorable cruise conferences.

In the following pictures, you may recognize familiar faces–authors who are now multi-published and quite famous.

The obligatory drill

Together with the other passengers we attended the safety drill before departure. As soon as the ship sailed out of port, we gathered in one of the ship’s big lounges for an introductory meeting.

~*~ THE EDITORS=THE GODS ~*~ at the time !!!
Introductory meeting in the lounge with the three founding mothers of the FRW chapter. Joan Johnston, Sally Fairchild and Heather Graham.

Dinner took place in the main restaurant, with an editor or an agent sitting at each table to allow the writers easy access to the agent or the editor they want to approach about their latest book. Remember, this was before self-publishing became so popular.

So business was in the afternoon, fun in the morning, and more fun at dinner.

Shopping for a t-shirt and a mug.

At the Three Amigos: This restaurant/pub became a traditional stop for the FRW writers who needed a beer, a tequila and some fun.

At Three Amigos!

After a good lunch it was time to work. Seriously! We were at a business conference! Heather Graham separated us in 5 groups. Each group received a few words and had to come up with a blurb for an interesting story. My group included Senior Editor Eric Raab from Tor, and our words were: actress, roto-rooter, ugly, basement… We brainstormed our blurbs and then read out loud with everyone. Quite hilarious.

This workshop was followed by an open discussion with Agents Lucy Childs and Lucienne Diver: How can an agent help writers achieve their goals? In the past, to be published writers needed an agent.

For the next two hours we enjoyed a special treat called the Floridian Idol. Heather Graham and Traci Hall read the first two pages submitted anonymously by more than thirty writers. Each submission received a thorough critique by the agents and editors.

On the last night, we gathered at dinner for our formal night.

Yes my husband came along and volunteered to be FRW’s official photographer!

He met most of the writers and enjoyed the conference too!

But all good things came to an end–business and fun–when our ship returned to port.

Time to say goodbye. Here with Heather Graham, a fabulous author who has been an inspiration to all of us at FRW.

On Special Sale for the Holiday Season:

CHRISTMAS HER AND THERE

Christmas is the most beautiful time of the year, a time for family gathering, for sharing love and exchanging gifts, for spoiling the children…
And yet some people may run away from celebrations that brought them betrayal, grief, or frustration. In this box of three sweet novels and a sexy novella, our heroes/heroines are trying to avoid Christmas and their painful memories. But…

LOVE YOU DOC series

Dr. Robert Olson, a well-known cardiac surgeon and heart transplant specialist, and his wife Janice, an ER nurse lived in Florida and deeply cared for their close-knit family. At home, all they talked about was hospital, patients, surgery, recovery, etcetera…
Sure enough, their four kids studied medicine. The oldest brother, Nathan, became an orthopedic surgeon and worked in Boston. His brother Aidan finished a residency in neurosurgery and accepted a position in Cincinnati. Their sister, Sophia, was an ER doc, and the youngest sibling, Liam, was still in med school when their dad died. Sure enough, these successful doctors faced their share of problems before finding their HEA. The following books related their stories: A Complete Family, Love On The Slopes, Love In The ER, Secret Kisses.

MODERN PRINCES Series

While cruising the British Isles, I visited Guernsey, in the English Channel, 30 miles west of Normandy. We were welcomed in St. Peters Port with a gorgeous sunny weather and a 70 o F temperature for our visit of the island, an idyllic paradise with cobbled streets and picturesque seafront marina.
Guernsey is not part of the United Kingdom but it is part of the British Islands. Residents speak English and French, and their money is similar to the English pound. The top speed limit in Guernsey is 35 miles/hour. If you drive along the coastline of Guernsey you will hit military fortifications almost every 2 minutes or so. These were built during the Napoleonic wars to protect Guernsey from France.
St. Peter Port is the main town on the island of Guernsey. It’s full of hills, colors, and super cute shops! French author Victor Hugo lived in exile in St. Peter Port for 15 years at Hautevile House where he wrote both Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame.
This quaint island with special privileges and autonomy became Rensy Island, the setting of my new series, MODERN PRINCES.
Modern Princes Series:
A Bride For Prince Paul: She can’t abandon her patients for his crown!
A Bodyguard For The Princess: A murder at Harvard in Princess Chloe’s student building.
Jingle With My Princess: The doc and the princess… He saves lives but Princess Charlene may save his heart.
Prince Philip’s Cinderella: A charming jogger saves her from danger. But he’s a prince… and she comes from nothing.
A Dance for Prince Eric: A ballerina with a promising career on the run for her brother’s sake. A charismatic prince who saved them both.

Love a Beach Read? Romance, adventure, and fun by Rachelle Ayala #RachelleAyala @mimisgang1 #mgtab

Summer is prime beach reading season, and women’s beach reads are a genre all their own. The perfect beach read for women combines several key elements that make it compelling, entertaining, and ideal for reading on vacation.

A beach read should be light and fun. Women often choose easy page-turners with a generous dose of humor when lounging by the ocean or poolside. Plots are fast-paced and focus more on fun, witty banter between characters rather than complex world-building. Compelling characters and addictive drama are a must, but the overall tone should be feel-good rather than heavy.

The setting plays a huge role in immersing readers in summer vibes. Beach reads usually transport us to sunny, tropical locales like a Hawaiian resort, Caribbean island, small coastal town, or European vacation hot spot. The glittering blue ocean, flowy sundresses, icy cocktails, and warm sand between toes create the ultimate escapist backdrop for temporary getaways between the pages.

Travel and adventure are common themes, as beach reads allow us to live vicariously through characters while we relax and recharge. Following a heroine as she checks items off her wanderlust bucket list or reinvents herself in an exotic new environment provides exciting yet comfortable literary journeys from the security of our beach chair.

Of course, romance is a must for any successful women’s beach read. Flirty banter, meet-cutes over piña coladas, and passionate affairs under the moonlight satisfy readers’ summer cravings for fantasy and fun. Scandalous love triangles, fake engagement plots, and romances between seemingly mismatched characters provide playful and irresistible romantic tension.

The best beach reads for women combine all these elements into page-turning books you can’t put down until you find out what happens. The stories whisk you away to an imaginary getaway full of summer fun without having to leave your lounge chair. With the sound of crashing waves in the background, these entertaining tales make for blissful beach reading any woman will enjoy.

These are all the reasons why I love reading and writing beach reads. I get to travel to fun and exotic locations, create adventurous situations and of course, add in a hunky hero, matchmaking locals and animal friends, and we get an irresistible romance to spice up the soothing sounds of the surf.

My latest beach read, Where Love Blossoms, provides the perfect escape if you’re looking to relax with a side of sweet romance. Maya Chance finds herself instantly attracted to the dashing and somewhat mysterious Luke Hastings. The fictional island of Ile d’Amour is the perfect setting with its tropical scenery, quirky locals with an eye for matchmaking, tall tales of its pirate heritage, and natural beauty. Add a pet monkey who’s endearing but mischievous, a wise innkeeper, an observant bartender, and a taxi driver full of stories and tales, and you get a heartwarming romance with plenty of humor and fun.

Where Love Blossoms by Rachelle Ayala (99c or KindleUnlimited)

7 Items People Forget to Pack for a Trip to the Beach by @Donna_Fasano

It’s August! In my neck of the woods, that means hot, sunny days at the beach. Can you imagine that 40% of the people who were asked when they pack for their trip to the beach answered “the night before”?  The night before! That last-minute scramble to toss things into a suitcase means there are always important things that are forgotten. Here’s a list of the top 7 items people forget to pack for a trip to the beach.

Trip to the Beach

 

7. An Extra Bag for Souvenirs. Do yourself a favor and pack an extra tote for to carry home your souvenirs—t-shirts, sweat shirts, beach towels, salt water taffy, delicious fudge, buttery caramel popcorn. Believe me, you’ll need an extra tote!

6. A Book to Enjoy. Relaxing on the beach is the very best place to enjoy a beach read. Hardback, paperback, or e-book; it doesn’t really matter. There is nothing like turning those pages while digging your toes in the sand.

5. Comfortable Walking Shoes. Taking a long walk on the beach can wreak havoc on the soles of your feet. Blisters are not fun. Pack an old pair of comfortable walking shoes and enjoy that stretch of sand.

4. Beach Umbrella. Sitting in the blaring sun starts off kinda nice. But after an hour or so, the shade of a beach umbrella will be a great relief.

3. Sunglasses. Protect your eyes! The sun’s rays are stronger near the water and sand due to reflection. Grab a pair of sunglasses and protect yourself from those UV rays.

2. Toothpaste. It sounds crazy, but people brush before leaving the house and forget their toothpaste. Keep a couple of travel-size tubes ready for any trips you might take.

And the most forgotten item???

1. SUNSCREEN. Yikes! Sunscreen comes in a wide variety of SPFs. When planning your trip to the beach, choose the sunscreen that’s right for you and toss it into your suitcase. Your skin will thank you!

Have I got a Beach Read for you!

ROMANCE BEACH BUNDLE 1 is on sale for just 99¢! You save $7 off the regular price of this 3-book bundle. Here’s what readers have to say about the sweet, clean bundle of books:

“I enjoyed all three. The characters were funny romantic and delightful. I would read this author again.” ~Rosemary, Kindle Reader

“I really enjoyed reading each of these books. Each had excellent story lines and drew me in from the first page.” ~Ruby B, Kindle Reader

Click here to get ROMANCE BEACH BUNDLE 1 for just 99¢

 

Location, Location, Location by @JoanReeves #mgtab

man on motorcycle, woman standingLocation is supposed to be the most important thing in real estate, at least that’s what the old joke says. In writing, location, as in setting, is also very important. Why?

Because a location can tell you something about the characters. In The Key to Kristina, my novel in Forutune’s Favor: The Treasure, the heroine is from a sparsely-populated West Texas county.

In her words, she lives in a “crappy house trailer she called home in a dry, windy West Texas county.” Later, the reader learns, “Through the deserted highways of West Texas, she’d driven eighty until she reached a more populated area.”

Farther on, she says, “Yes, I know about video monitoring, but we don’t have to worry about Big Brother watching our every move in the wide open spaces where the buffalo once roamed.”

In truth, the lack of people, the wide open spaces, the crappy house trailer, and other details build a picture of a lonely woman of limited means.

Many West Texas counties are sparsely populated. I’ve driven through a lot of them and knew I wanted to set a book in one because the people are always friendly, the sunsets are amazing, and the monochromatic landscape can be either discouraging or beautiful depending on one’s mood.

From Desert to the Beach

From arid West Texas, I moved to Last Chance Beach for my next story, Hot August Night. This romance short story and the 13 others are set at a fictional resort island called Last Chance Beach.

I wrote the Legend of Last Chance Beach and included it in the box set. Then all of us created the details about the island paradise like the names of hotels, beach houses, restaurants, gift shops, and all the other businesses you’d find at an island resort. Creating the bible or the Master Plan of this community was a lot of fun.

When I created the concept of Last Chance Beach: Summer’s End, I thought of all the beaches I’ve loved: the one bordered by coral boulders below my house overlooking the East China Sea, the one in Italy on the Adriatic Sea, the one at a Mexican resort on the Pacific, and Galveston beach, the one nearest my home.

I took the atomosphere, the details, the landscape of trees, shrubs, and flowers, the character of the oceans—in other words all of the sensory details that make readers “identify” with the location even though this island resort is a figment of the imagination.

If you’re still “staying home” and wish you could travel, then do it the safe and easy way. Read a book! In The Key to Kristina, in Forutune’s Favor: The Treasure, the heroine starts out in West Texas, goes to Houston, then to Michigan, Memphis, a small town in Louisiana, and back to Houston.

Then, chasing a different kind of treasure, they head out to West Texas to a completely different area than where she started. That road trip is a lot of traveling!

Or pack your virtual suitcase and head to Last Chance Beach for Summer’s End! Maybe you’ll run into celebrity chef Zander Rojas, a former Navy S.E.A.L. and his nemesis, Chelsea Elliot, a Houston police detective who find a Hot August Night can change everything.

By the way, both of these box sets are priced at only 99¢, a bargain in anyone’s book. They’re both in Kindle Unlimited so if you’re a subscriber, you can “read free.”

Sign up for Joan’s FREE Newsletter, and you’ll be the first to know about new books and giveaways. When you confirm your subscription, you’ll receive a link for a free ebook.

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