14 Websites That Will Help You Find Your New Favorite Book!

14 Book Recommendation Websites You Do Not Want to Miss

Ok, so like most avid readers and writers we already have a “To-Be-Read” list a mile long.

Therefore, theoretically, we should not have a desire to add to this daunting pile.

However, in my case, as I’m sure it is with many of you, I just can’t seem to get enough.

Reading List Image


I hoard books and eBooks like my life depends on it!

Just the idea of walking into a book store or library and picking up something new to read sends a thrill through me.

I even peruse the free section of Kindle on a regular basis because I can’t stand the thought of missing out on a great read.

I think I might need help.

Hi, my name is Darla and I’m a book hoarder, a hoarder of stories. 

As if this problem isn’t bad enough on it’s own, I’m also the type of person who can’t walk into a book store and just grab a book. I need to know if it will be something I like and if it’s part of a series.

I can NOT read a book out of order. The very idea makes my eyes bug out a bit lol. I honestly do not know how people do that.

So, to help me find my next read, that is perfect for me, I like to use websites that specialize in doing just that.

Below, I’ve listed 14 websites that specialize in helping you find your new favorite book.

Feel free to click on them but be warned you may walk away with a mile long wish list!

  1. AllReaders
  2. Amazon
  3. Bookish
  4. Book Seer
  5. Gnooks
  6. GoodReads
  7. LibraryThing
  8. Listal
  9. Riffle
  10. Shelfari
  11. Tastekid
  12. What Should I Read Next
  13. Which Book (My Current Favorite!)
  14. Your Next Read

Books Quote Image

2014 RITA Winners

2014 RITA Winners

Another year has come and gone and RWA has announced it’s newest RITA winners.

For those of you who do not know, RWA (Romance Writers of America) holds a yearly competition to find the best romance book in each genre that has been written by an RWA member. To learn the specifics of this contest click here: The RITA Award

The winners are announced at their annual conference. I didn’t get the opportunity to attend this year but believe me, attending an RWA Conference is on my top “to-do” list! This years convention was held in San Antonio, Texas. From all the pictures and tweets floating around it looks like it was an amazing time. (check out #rwa14) Next years conference will be held in New York! I think I just might have to go visit the Big Apple ;-)


Without further ado, here are the 2014 RITA winners:



The Sweet Spot by Laura Drake



Crazy Thing Called Love by Molly O’Keefe



Claim Me by J.Kenner



No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean



Five Days in Skye by Carla Laureano



The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley



Take Me, Cowboy by Jane Porter



Off The Edge by Carolyn Crane



Why Resist a Rebel? by Leah Ashton


If you haven’t already, I hope you take the time to read these books and check out the authors who slaved over them.

To see the list of nominees check out: 2014 RITA Finalists

To check out last years winners click: 2013 RITA Winners


If you’ve read one of these books or any book by any of the authors on this list share your opinion/experience below. I love hearing from you :-)

An Unexpected Writers Retreat

Hello Everyone,

I just wanted to pop in and write you a quick update. Two weekends ago my in-laws came down and decided to bring our kids back with them for two weeks of family time in their home state. Amazing! I know!! lol

Anyway, I decided this was the perfect opportunity to finally finish revising my book. My goal was to have it buttoned up and ready to give to beta readers by the time the kids return home (Sunday, July 27th).

The first week of my “Writers Retreat” started and I immediately was bombarded by people who needed me, people who wanted to hang out since I was kid free, and of course my loving husband who wanted me all to himself. So I put off the “writers retreat” for the first week and have now dived back into it. Thankfully the phone has been quiet. I haven’t even dared go on the internet for fear of getting distracted but then the guilt of neglecting my blog/webpage got to me so here I am trying to type this out as fast as I can.With each second that passes I feel the urge to “look something up” on the internet get stronger and stronger.AHH!

So keep your fingers crossed and pray that I make my deadline. I won’t lie, I think I might feel utterly defeated if I dont. :-/

Anyway, if anyone is interested in being my first ever beta reader let me know! You can comment on here or contact me through my email or any of my social media formats. I am looking for 2-3 people willing to take the time out to read my book and give me their honest opinion (even if your honest opinion is that it sucks). My hope is to find at least one person who is a Romantic Suspense Fan, someone who knows what it takes to get published in the romance industry, and even someone who is not a fan of romantic reads.

Why would I want someone who is not a fan? Because if they actually liked it then that means I really am on to something ;-)

Just How Much $$$ Can You Make Ghostwriting?

Ghostwriters Make How Much


For those of you just tuning in, this post is a continuation of a previous article, “Who Ya Gonna Call….Ghostwriters!“.

In the previous article I explored what a ghostwriter was, why someone would use one, how to find them, how to hire them and surprising works that had been written by ghostwriters.

Today, I want to talk about why someone would choose to BECOME a ghostwriter, how you would go about doing that and how much money you could possibly make from it.

So, you think you might have what it takes to be a ghostwriter?

Well, lets take a deeper look at this controversial job.

For the sake of this article we will be looking at ghostwriters who deal in the literary field.

There are 3 types of ghostwriting jobs

  1. The ones where the ghostwriter is given a topic or idea and must do all the research and outlining along with completing the material.
  2. The ones where the ghostwriter is given an outline, and/or research notes from the client and works alongside them to come up with a finished product
  3. The ones where a client is struggling to gain any ground with the product so the ghostwriter comes in and edits/rewrites what needs fixing.

Listed below are examples of what kind of clients a ghostwriter sees.

  • Celebrities/Political Figures looking to write a book about their life/Memoirs or to manage their social media platforms
  • Struggling Writers looking to fix unbuyable manuscripts
  • Publishing Houses looking to produce mass quantities of books in certain popular series or through certain popular authors who no longer can write due to death or lack of physical ability
  • Literary Agents who have clients that have an idea but lack the skill or the time to see it completed
  • Everyday People who want to write a book but do not have the know how
  • Business Professionals looking to make a how-to-book that demonstrates their knowledge in their field
  • Website Owners looking for content
  • Blog Owners looking for blog articles
  • College students looking for help with their varied papers
  • Pharmaceutical/Medical companies looking for material to publish in medical and scientific journals

As you can see the client base is vast and varied. The business opportunities are essentially endless if you have the talent, the connections or know where to look.

What does it take to be a ghostwriter?

A bachelors degree in English, Journalism or Communication would definitely help but surprisingly enough it is not a requirement.

However you do need to be able to:

  • Understand your role – knowing that even though you are doing all the work this is your clients product and therefore in the end it must be what the client wants.
  • Manage your time efficiently – Most Ghostwriters are freelancers therefore it is up to you to find your clients, to accurately charge them for the work and to complete the work in the time you promised.
  • Be Personable – ghostwriters and their clients deal mainly through interviews, phone conversations and emails. There are times where you will need to meet in person as well. You need to be able to be friendly, while also being professional and you need to remember everything the client is telling you.
  • Handle Research – Most projects will require at least some research on your part if not a lot. Research can take up to a few days or months. You need to know how to research efficiently so that you find out what you need without wasting precious time.
  • Manage your client – Clients are high maintenance. You not only need to keep them happy and informed but you also need to keep them on schedule for the times you will need information from them so that the product is completed in the allotted time.
  • Structure and Organize all your research material and notes – Some projects will be heavy with facts, research material, and notes from the client and it’s your job to be able to structure it all into an organized format that makes sense and flows with what the client wants.
  • Capture the Clients Voice –  This is THE most important ability of a ghostwriter. Remember, you are not writing this as yourself. Someone else’s name will be appearing on the front cover. Therefore, you need to know how to capture your clients voice and writing style.

What are the benefits of becoming a ghostwriter?

You get to work on a wide range of topics so your knowledge base grows.

You get the satisfaction of completing a project without having to worry about marketing and promotion. 

You don’t need to build a platform like a writer/author does. You just need to create a network of good, reliable contacts.

Depending on the project you may get to work with a team of ghostwriters.

Depending on your contract with your client you may actually get a byline and/or a split of the royalties.

You get to work from home, set your own schedule and work with the clients and projects you choose.

What are the disadvantages of becoming a ghostwriter?

You work from home, therefore you have to be able to keep yourself productive and managae your time efficiently.

You will need to have some knowledge on how to draw up the types of contracts you will need or know someone to hire for that. 

Unless you are part of a firm of ghostwriters you will need to find the jobs yourself. You will need to post want ads or look through help wanted sections. You will also have to screen the potential clients yourself.

In the end you are the one who decides how much money you will need and are willing to take for a certain project. If by the end you decide you were underpaid then you only have yourself to blame. 

You will be in charge of making sure your clients pay your on time or even at all. This of course can get messy.

You will be working in a career field that is very controversial. Some people except and understand the need for ghostwriters while others believe it to be morally wrong and feel that it should be illegal. 

What kind of money does a ghostwriter make?

This is a very difficult question to answer. Every ghostwriter charges differently then the other and every project is priced differently from the next. However, I can give you ranges that I have found. Keep in mind that these ranges are very wide because, like I said, the pricing depends on so many different variables.

3 Different Ways a GhostWriter Might Charge:

  1. Hourly: $65-250/hr
  2. Per Word: $0.25-$3/word
  3. Per Project/Book : $15,000 – $150,000 

Potential Incomes from Non Fiction and Fiction Books:

  • 50,000 – 70,000 words $10,000 – $50,000
  • 200 – 300 page book $20,000 – $80,000

*Remember that if the client is a celebrity or a well known political person then the prices are much higher*

So, do you still think you’ve got what it takes?

Then have fun checking out the following links:

Who Ya Gonna Call….Ghostwriters!

Who Ya Gonna Call? Ghostwriters!

Yup, your welcome :-)

You will now have that theme song stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

Hopefully you wont bust that verse out while stuck in line or in an elevator because that would be awkward…for you.

Anyway, last Wednesday I posted “48 Celebrities Who Wrote Fiction” and I wondered how many of those Author/Celebrities actually wrote the book and how many went the route of a ghost writer.

So I thought, let’s take a moment to talk about Ghostwriting.

What is a Ghostwriter?

A Ghostwriter is a writer who is paid generously to writes books, articles, stories, reports or other texts that are officially credited to another person. Another term for Ghostwriting is “ghosting” (just in case you didn’t know).

Who seeks out Ghostwriters?

Everyone. Well, not everyone literally but more people then you realize and in more areas then you even thought possible.

People in:

  • Literature (People looking for guidance in writing a book or who have no writing ability of their own)
  • Music ( Someone who not only writes the words of a song but the melody as well and gives it to someone else for the credit)
  • Film (Someone who needs help turning a film idea into an actual script or revamping a script that is lacking)
  • Fine and Commercial art (Such as comic books art and vanity artwork)
  • Social Media (Someone who manages/posts tweets and other social media things under someone else’s name because that person does not have the time to do it on their own)
  • Academic (For Entrance essays, term papers, thesis and dissertations)
  • Websites/blogs (for the information on the home pages, writing articles/content for their blogs, and being fake commentors)
  • Professional Business People (Looking to turn their knowledge into “How-To Books”)
  • Politicians (usually in the form of “Correspondence Officers” who reply to all the politician’s correspondences)
  • Medical (pharmaceutical companies pay ghostwriters to produce papers and then pay other scientists or physicians to attach their names to these papers before they are published in medical or scientific journal) 
  • Celebrities/Political People (to produce Memoirs of their lives)

Depending on the cases, a Ghostwriter will either come in from the beginning and complete the piece of work in it’s entirety or they will be brought in during the editing phase to edit and then fix anything that needs fixing.

Why Would Someone want to use a Ghostwriter? 

The reason’s vary with each individual but a lot of them look for the help of a ghostwriter because they:

  1. Don’t have the time to write the content
  2. Don’t have the talent to write the material
  3. Can’t keep up with the demand vs. supply
  4. Have the idea but lack the knowledge to see it completed

Ghostwriters To The Rescue!

Where Can I Find A Ghostwriter?

Professional Services

The Writers For Hire

Ghostwriters Ink



Gotham Ghostwriters 

…just to name a few…

Do a Google search “Professional Ghostwriter in ________ (add whatever field you need one in)”

Post an Ad 





….again, just to name a few….

*While you can certainly find a great ghostwriter going this route, it’s risky (in my opinion).

You could also find ghostwriters by doing some research of your own. Look into works that reflect what you want to accomplish and dig deeper to see if there was a ghostwriter involved in that project of project just like it.

 How Do You Hire A Ghost Writer?

  • Jot down some names and check them out. Go to their websites, see if you can find some of their work.
  • When you’ve narrowed your list of possible candidates down to three, contact them personally and see what their current rates are, if they would be available to work on your project and how long they thing think it might take them.
  • Ideally, all 3 of your picks would be available. If that is the case ask them if they would be willing to complete a small assignment that pertains to what you are looking for. Give them set guidelines and a time limit. If they agree and complete the task, you will be able to see which one of the candidates performed the task the best, within the best time frame. Whoever that is should be the one you go with and if things go south then you know who to contact next.

Also, Check out this great article that covers it in full detail: What To Look For In A Ghostwriter by Melinda Copp

Here is great Blog about ghostwriting (their last post was September 2013 but they have 27 articles to browse through): Book Ghostwriting Blog

How Much Does A Ghostwriter Charge?

There are a few ways a ghostwriter charges for their work. *Please keep in mind that these are examples and not numbers set in stone*

  1. Hourly: $65-250/hr
  2. Per Word: $0.25-$3/word
  3. Per Project/Book : $15,000 – $150,000 (for celebrities its MUCH higher)

*I have heard that some freelance ghostwriters will charge per page but I have no idea what that means really. Each page can have a different word count depending on layout and font style so charging per page seems like a logistical nightmare to me. I tried doing some quick research about it online and came up empty.

10 Years ago no one outside of publishers and literary agents even knew “ghostwriting” existed. 

It’s said that the book, “The Ghost” by Robert Harris brought the topic to the public’s attention. The movie “The Ghost Writer” starring Ewan McGegor and Pierce Brosnan is reported to be based off of that book.

But honestly ghosting in one form or another has been around for a very long time.


  • Mozart….. No I’m not saying his musical works were done by someone else but he was known to write music for the wealthy who then claimed it as their own.
  • Charlie Chaplin used David Raksin to orchestrated the music in his films and sometimes his scripts.
  • Harry Houdini used H.P. Lovecraft to ghostwrite some sci-fi stories for him in sci-fi magazines in the 1920’s.

Did you know that Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, Sweet Valley High and Goosebumps were written by teams of ghostwriters who worked off a “Series Bible” or template to produce each book? I had no idea!

Here is an interestesting article from Amy Boesky (A ghostwriter for the Sweet Valley High Series): The Ghost Writes Back

Check out 10 Works You Didn’t Know Were Ghostwritten by Cory DudakIt’s an interesting slide show of 10 well known people who have ghostwritten or employed ghostwriters in various fields (film, music, books).

Does anyone remember the movie Alex & Emma? While not quite a ghostwriting story  it is a movie that touches on what a relationship between a ghostwriter and their  client could be like (in a highly romanticized atmosphere lol) This article just made me think of it. Incase you’ve never heard of the movie, it’s a:

 romantic comedy about an author whose writer’s block and gambling debts have landed him in a jam. In order get loan sharks off his back, he must finish his novel in 30 days or wind up dead. To help him complete his manuscript he hires stenographer Emma. As Alex begins to dictate his tale of a romantic love triangle to the charming yet somewhat opinionated stenographer, Emma challenges his ideas at every turn. Her unsolicited yet intriguing input begins to inadvertently influence Alex and his story and soon real life begins to imitate art.

(from IMDB.com)

I wonder if my husband will surrender control of the TV long enough for me to watch it again…. hmm….

Stay Tuned


Wednesday’s Article

where I explore:

What It Takes To BE a Ghostwriter


Just How Much $$$ Can You Make “Ghosting” on The Side 

Prompt Your Imagination Into Overdrive

5 Writing Prompts For Romance Writers

I’ve talked before about the art of keeping a writer’s notebook  and how using prompts as an exercise can really build a writer’s creative muscles.

Sometimes inspiration pours out of us and sometimes it doesn’t. Our muses can be fickle beasts.

Writing prompts are a great way to keep us company while we are in a rut and hopefully help us out by sparking a great idea or giving us a starting off point for a story.

If you are currently in a dry spell and need a kick of inspiration check out the following:

Romance Story Starters

LitBridge – Article: Creative Writing Prompts About Romance

Awesome Writing Prompts -Tumblr of writing prompts that don’t suck! (This is for any genre)

TVTropes: Romance Novel Plots – A One Stop Shopping List for Romance Plots and Complications

Prompt Inspiration – A Daily Prompt Generator (This is for Multiple Genres)


Do you love random generators? Then check out  35 Random Idea Generators for Writing A Romance Novel.


Oh, by the way….

Happy Independence Day America!



48 Celebrities Who Wrote Fiction…Who Knew!?

48 Celebrities Who Wrote Fiction

As time goes on and I dive farther into this writing journey I’m finding out so many things I had no clue existed.

Like, for instance there are celebrities/famous people who have written fiction!

Sure, I knew there were markets drowning in non fiction works from famous people writing tell-all books about their life and experiences but I honestly had no idea they ventured into the fiction industry.

I wonder, did they actually write these works of fiction on their own?

Did they pine away at their laptop or typewriter hashing out plots, dialogue and characters,wracking their brains for a story that not only flows well but was entertaining to read?

Probably not. Sure, some might have taken the leap into writing on their own but for the most part I bet they used Ghost Writers.

The following is a list of famous people that have put out works of fiction.

  1. Farrah AbrahamIn The Making (2014) *Contemporary Erotica*
  2. Pamela AndersonStar (2004) *Erotica* and Star Struck (2005) *Erotica*
  3. Glenn BeckThe Overton Window (2010) and The Eye of Moloch (2013)
  4. Barbara BoxerA Time To Run (2012) and Blind Trust (2012)
  5. Jimmy BuffetWhere is Joe Merchant (2003) and A Salty Piece of Land (2004)
  6. Ed BurnsThe Dock Walloper Series (2008)
  7. Tim BurtonThe Melancholly Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories (1997)
  8. Bruce Campbell - Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way (2010)
  9. Naomi CampbellSwan (1994)
  10. Johnny CashMan in White (1986)
  11. Lauren ConradL.A. Candy Series (2010) and The Fame Game Series
  12. Wes Craven - The Fountain Society (1999)
  13. Macauley CulkinJunior (2007)
  14. Hilary DuffThe Elixar Series (2010)
  15. Bod DylanTarantula (1965)
  16. Chris ElliotThe Shroud of the Thwacker (2006)
  17. Carrie FisherPostcards From The Edge (1987) and The Best Awful (2004)
  18. Isla FisherSeduced by Fame (1996)
  19. Newt GingrichGettysburg: A Novel of the Civil War (2003)
  20. Lauren GrahamSomeday, Someday, Maybe (2013)
  21. Gene HackmanWake of the Perdido Star (1999), Escape from Andersonville (2008) and Justice for None (2006)
  22. Ethan HawkeThe Hottest State (1996) and Ash Wednesday (2003)
  23. Kourtney, Kim and Khloe KardashianDollhouse (2011)
  24. Kendall and Kylie Jenner - Rebels: City of Indra: The Story of Lex and Livia (2014)
  25. Hugh LaurieThe Gun Seller (1998)
  26. Janet LeighHouse of Destiny (1995) and Dream Factory (2002)
  27. John LennonA Spaniard In the Works (1965)
  28. Courtney LovePrincess Ai (2004)
  29. MadonnaThe English Rose Series
  30. Michael MadsenThe Complete Poetic Workds of Michael Madsen Vol. 1 1995-2005 (2005) and Burning in Paradise (1998)
  31. Steve MartinShop Girl (2000) and The Pleasure of My Company (2004)
  32. Julianne MooreFreckleface Strawberry
  33. Leonard Nimoy - You and I (1973), Will I Think of You (1974), Come Be With Me (1978), Warmed By Love (1983), and A Lifetime of Love (2002)*He also compiled a book of his photographs titled: The Full Body Project
  34. Chuck NorrisThe Justice Riders (2006), A Threat to Justice (2007)
  35. Bill O’ReillyThose Who Trespass: A Novel of Television and Murder (1998)
  36. Sharon OsbourneRevenge (2009)
  37. Nicole RichieThe Truth About Diamonds (2005) and Priceless (2010)
  38. Joan RiversMurder at the Academy Awards (2009)
  39. Wesley SnipesAfter Dark Series (2010)
  40. Britney Spears - A Mother’s Gift (2001)
  41. Sylvester StalloneParadise Alley (1977)
  42. David ThewlisThe Late Hector Kipling
  43. Courtney Thorne-SmithOutside In (2007)
  44. John TravoltaPropeller One-Way Night Coach
  45. Ivana TrumpFor Love Alone (1992) and Free To Love (1993)
  46. Blair UnderwoodFrom Cape Town With Love
  47. Gloria VanderbiltObsession: An Erotic Tale
  48. Gene WilderWhat is This Thing Called Love? (2010), My French Whore (2008) and The Woman Who Wouldn’t (2008)

Please keep in mind that this list is not complete. These are just a few names and titles that I came across in my searches.

I hope you take the time to check some of these stories out.

There are few that have great back stories, like for instance, Johnny Cash’s “Man in White” is a biblical fiction book about the Apostle Paul. Really. I’m not kidding! lol



Writers Beware! An Unknown Pitfall for Obsessed Writers

Writers Beware

O k, If I’m being honest then there are many pitfalls of being a writer right along with many benefits :-) It’s a double edged sword at times.

However, there is one pitfall that has taken me by surprise.

If you are one of my regulars you would know that I’ve been absent for over a week.

Thank you to all of my caring followers who have sent me “Are you Dead??” emails lol.

No I’m not dead.

Yes, it was a busy week in regards to family… but that’s not what has kept me off any and all social media, my website/blog, the computer and even my writing (yes,even that!).

I woke up one day and my right hand started to ache. Big whoop right?

I took a shower to loosen it up and instead it got worse.

Over the course of the day it literally started turning into a claw. My husband and kids joked with me about my “claw like” hand but in reality it was actually pretty painful.

If I held my hand out or even just laid it down on a flat surface you could see the nerves in my hand making almost all my fingers twitch back and forth….Nonstop.

I wasn’t too worried. Before getting married I was a CNA (Certified Nurses Assistant) working my way to an RN so I’m not completely dumb in regards to my body. I just figured I had slept on it wrong or even pinched a nerve in my shoulder.

I went to bed that night after a great hand massage (thanks to the husband) and woke up the next morning to both hands being claws…. both. Yup.

Not only was it like having a rubber band wrapped around my whole palm and fingers (when I opened my hands they seemed to snap back to the claw position) but both hands were now very week and ,well, holding small things like pens looked hilarious and was extremely frustrating.

Long story short… I have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Dun Dun Dunnnnnn……

You all know I’m a “link hoarder” and have been working on creating pages on my website to house these links. Well, it turns out spending hours upon hours performing that repetitive motion of categorizing and entering them in, along with my regular computer use is a recipe for disaster. Especially since I’m not use to working on a keyboard all day long. Who know!

So now I’m to wear wrist splints to help immobilize the area until the swelling goes down and I’m to refrain from using my hands to type on the keyboard and even playing on my smartphone… for a month.

lol Yeah right Dr!  I don’t think that’s going to happen. As you can see, I’m already breaking that rule but I was good for a week, I promise!

My hand is still numb but thankfully the pain is pretty much gone. The constant twitching has calmed down too (Thank God!).

I’m no fool. I know Carpel Tunnel can get pretty serious, affecting way more then one realizes in our daily lives. Therefore, I do plan on refraining from using my computer and phone…. as much as possible.

I’m sure there are many of you who suffer with this so here are some simple hand exercises to help prevent or alleviate the symptoms:

carpal tunnel


I have found that cold packs work wonders!

So if you see me on twitter, facebook, commenting on your blogs, or working on my website, yell at me. I’ll probably need the tough love and intervention.

My husband has already taken my phone from me.

Apparently I treat my phone like my baby (according to my husband) because I felt compelled to check on it like a worried mother over and over until I drove him nuts.  By the time evening rolled around he let me have it back but only while I was sitting next to him. Lol That way I would know if there was something to respond to or check.

So basically all I was allowed to do was hold it. Which, oddly enough, made me feel better. :-/ Hmm… maybe I am slightly addicted to the thing!

Oh BTW: Do you remember the post I did titled “Make It Stop” ? The article about my horrific dental experience? Well, it turns out that dentist cracked my tooth while she was “repairing” the cavity. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thankfully she is no longer there and the dentist that has taken her place is actually pretty amazing. Unfortunately, he will have to go back in and not only repair the crack but drill out everything she put in there first.

Yeah, I’m sure you can imagine just how much I’m looking forward to that experience…

It’s Official!!!

I finally took the leap and became an official member of  RWA (Romance Writers of America)!

I can already feel the RWA magic fairy dust rain upon me.

…all my publishing dreams and wishes will come true…

O k….maybe this isn’t quite as magical as I’m making it out to be but it is a big deal, for me.

This is the first “serious” writers organization I have joined. I honestly do feel like this is the right “first step” to take on the path to publication and a long term writing career.

If you haven’t already joined RWA and your a writer of Romance (of any genre) then take the time to check them out.

Before I go any further, let me just say that I tried researching what RWA had to offer before committing $120.00. I couldn’t even find any reviews on the organization itself. That either means:

  1. They are really good and no one has a complaint (not likely)
  2. They are really good at keeping their members in line, in which case my follow up blog post will be “It’s official, I was thrown out of RWA!” 


Honestly though, I’m writing this review for the people who have been on the fence for years. It’s hard to commit so much money to an organization without really seeing what they have to offer. So, hopefully I don’t get in trouble for this. Here goes nothing!

If you’ve been on the fence about joining because of the cost, let me fill you in one what RWA has to offer it’s members.

{Keep in mind this is a “first look” behind the curtain review}

Career Benefits 

RWA offers its members:

  • Romance Writers Report – a monthly trade magazine that will be mailed to you and that can be viewed online.
  • RWA University – education that RWA offers it’s members where you can take online classes year round. The classes range from Free to Paid and cover any writing topic you can think of.
  • The RWA Annual Conference – where writers, authors, agents, and publishers come together.
  • Help in Developing Professional Relations – RWA provides members with up to date info on publishers and agents looking for romance material and who meet certain criteria. It will also give you their current contact info and instructions on how to submit to them.
  • RWA eNotes – a semi monthly eNewsletter that has info on association and industry news. It is sent to your email.
  • Subscriptions- deals where members can purchase subscriptions to Nielson Book Scan, Publisher Alley and Publisher Weekly at a discount.
  • Recognition of your hard work – RWA offers it’s members two main contests a year where you can get recognized for all your hard work. RITA is the competition for published romance fiction novels. The Golden Heart Award is for exceptional unpublished Romance fiction manuscripts. You can also get noticed for any volunteer services you do for RWA and the Romance genre.

My RWA” is your RWA online homepage where you can access anything in regards to your account (purchases, your favorite forums, the chapters you’ve joined, etc…)

Chapters are parts of the RWA organization where you can either join and attend local meetings or join an online group. The local chapters are usually designated by geographical location while the online chapters tend to be designated by genre and special interests.

RWA has communities of practice such as PAN (The Published Authors Network). PAN is a community for published romance authors to help foster the right connections with leaders in their industry. PRO is a network of communication and support to effectively promote and protect romance writers in the areas between manuscript submission and publication.

Now let’s looks at RWA, it’s background and it’s current numbers.

  • RWA started in 1981 as an idea that 37 women had to create a group that will help nurture and support their romance writing careers.
  • A few of RWA founders are Rita Clay Estrada and Parris Afton Bonds.
  • Their Mission statement is to “advance the professional interest of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy.”
  • They currently have around 10,000 members worldwide with at least 2,000 being traditionally published authors. Check out their members page to see if some of your favorite romance authors are RWA members!
  • The RWA can be found in 31 countries and has 145 local and online chapters.

My opinion after searching through the website as a Member:

I’m unimpressed.

Yes, there is a lot of information available to you as a Member that would be harder to obtain on your own (like current contact info on publishers and agents that are excpeting and looking for romance material) but there is hardly any writing resources that I can click through and browse (there does seem to be articles that cover those topics in their eNewsletter and RWR magazine). The classes and courses were much fewer then I thought. I realized the new courses were going to cost $ but I thought that all those archives of old classes (which aren’t very many for some reason) would be free or at least have a free preview. There seems to be a lot of chapters that stem from RWA but guess what, you have to pay an additional membership to join them as well. If your thinking of maybe joining a chapter instead of the whole RWA organization you can’t. You have to join RWA first and then you can join other smaller chapters if you like. That’s the prevailing theme, $$$.

However, that being said, not having an abundant stash of resource links to easily browse isn’t a deal breaker. I think almost everyone who joins RWA does so for the connections. You can finds hundreds upon thousands of links one whatever subject you need but solid connections in the writing world are hard to come by. RWA states from the beginning that it’s an organization for writers/authors who take their writing career seriously and that’s true because no one who is writing romance as a hobby will be comfortable shelling out $120 and more.

If you are

  • truly serious about wanting to advance in your career
  • looking to get a solid start on your path to being published
  • hoping to gain connections you wouldn’t be able to make on your own
  • trying get noticed by publishers and agents that are trusted and looking for what you have to offer

Then you will be willing to pay, no matter the costs. Well, within reason and what your bank account will allow ;-)

So am I glad that I paid $120 for a RWA General Membership? YES

Is it everything I expected and more? NO not yet.

Do I believe RWA will help me obtain my dream of becoming a full time romance writer? YES (without a doubt)

To Be Detailed or Vague: That Is The Question

Setting Spencer Park fog Sioux Falls South Dakota

Everyone who writes a book needs to decide on its setting.

A book’s setting is used to identify and establish the time, place and mood of the events in the story. Basically it’s the where, when and under what circumstances the story is taking place.

So, the pressing questions are:

  1. Do you use a location that actually exists?
  2. If not, do you create a whole new world from scratch?
  3. Will your story take place in the past, present or future?

No matter what your answer is to those questions you will need to decide the following:

  • Just how detailed or vague you want to be with your setting/location
  • What feeling you want your setting to evoke in your story

In my case I chose to use a location that already exists and to place it in present time. The kicker being that I’ve never actually been there, ever. Therefore I had 4 options:

  1. Go there and document what I see. Scout out locations and details I want to add to the story.
  2. Research it in travel books and websites. Also check out the city data info online.
  3. Use YouTube to find any and all videos that pertain to or have been shot at that location.
  4. Do a little bit of all three. Read up and research the city to see if it will fit into the story I have planned, check out any videos that might be floating online about it so that I can pick a few key locations and then finally taking a quick weekend trip (if I’m able to) to see it first hand and to be able to describe the details that are missed when reading about or watching a video (like sounds and smells of a location).

I made a rookie mistake. I didn’t choose any of those options. Yes, I knew better.

I decided on an actual city where I’ve placed my characters in different locations through out it all while trying to be somewhat vague about it.

I did look up the city info on the internet and took a look at some pictures of the city but that’s the extent of my “research”. God, I was so stupid!

I was watching one of my favorite shows with my daughter the other night when my daughter says, “Hey Mom, aren’t they at the city you write about in your book?” I looked at her, a little confused because (1) I hadn’t caught on yet that that was truly the case and (2) This town I was seeing was completely different then how I thought it was and how I wrote it.

I couldn’t tell you what happened during the rest of that episode. I was busy wallowing in dread and fear.

I was finally getting somewhere with my revisions and now I was looking at having to revise every chapter that talked about the location! My stomach was in knots and my brain hurt just thinking about it.

Learn from my mistakes folks. No matter how vague you think your going to be about a location, do everything you possible can to find out all it’s little details. Trust me. It’s better to get all the leg work out of the way in the beginning rather then having to go back and fix it all when you realized you had the location and its people all wrong.

So the questions now are:

  • Do I write the story like the locals are going to read this book?
  • Do I go even more vague with my setting descriptions so that I don’t have to waste more time revising?
  • Do I take the time to truly learn about this location (what I should have done in the beginning) and write it as accurately as possible so that not only am I proud about it but if a local does happen to read my book they’ll smile thinking to themselves, “Hey I know that place!” or “Man, this author did their homework.”

As you might have guessed I chose to go back and take my time and get it right. In doing so I think I might have found an event that would coincide with my story, adding a nice little plot twist.

However, If I had just followed my own advice and stuck with my comprehensive research plan that I talked about in 35 Links To Help You Research Your Novel I wouldn’t be in this mess!

Oh well, live and learn… hopefully.

Some new ideas I have on researching locations and setting are:

  • Check Youtube videos for anything pertaining to your location.
  • Check Flickr for photos of the area, area attractions, and landmarks.
  • Use your social media network. Send out a message stating you are writing a story about {enter city and state} and tell them that any and all info would be welcomed and appreciated.
  • Call the local tourist office. It’s their job to answer any questions you might have of their city.
  • Check the local Real Estate listings to see the style of houses in the area and to even window shop your characters home.
  • Do a Google search for “Library research guides ________”
  • Look to see if there are other fiction books in your genre or outside that have already used your location.