Friday, July 11, 2014

Vacation (It's all I ever wanted)

I'm officially in countdown mode. In just a few more days, I will be on V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N...for almost two -- TWO -- glorious weeks.


We'll be visiting family in Chicago for most of the time and then we'll hit a local amusement park and maybe a movie or two once we're back home. I always try to build in some "vacation from the vacation" time whenever we go away on a trip. That's because the days leading up to the vacation are some of the most stressful, right? Then when you're on your trip, if you're like me, you have an informal itinerary to make sure you do everything you came there to do. It's fun, but it's nonstop fun.

Or maybe that's just because I have kids? I'm always on the search for new experiences and new memories for them. Plus, I'd probably tear my hair out if any of them ever said they were BORED on a vacation!

Maybe one day, I'll take a real honest-to-goodness relaxing vacation. You know, the kind where you don't have to wear a watch because time stands still and the only thing you have to worry about is when you're getting your next cocktail.


Anyway, I'm especially looking forward to this year's vacation because I think I've earned it! The day job has been extra busy and I finally finished my full-length manuscript. Content edits are just about done and I'm planning to send it off to my copywriter friend for one last review. Hopefully, if all works out, when I return from my trip, my book will be perfect and ready for submission!

Yep, I've definitely been working like a crazy woman. So time away from the office and our hectic every day schedules, will be greatly appreciated.

Also, when I get back, I'll have a new feature starting on the blog. I'm very excited about it and can't wait to unveil it. So check back in a few weeks!

Until then, have some fun in the sun. I know I will.



Friday, June 27, 2014

When The End is really just the beginning

The End.

Every writer loves typing those two words. They mean you've accomplished something, that you've actually, finally finished writing your book.

It's a good feeling.

I know, because I just did it!

I'm proud to share that I finally finished writing a book I started writing fourteen months ago. Now, I wasn't working on it all that time. In fact, I probably wrote 80% of it in just the first two months. Then life happened and I stopped and didn't start back up again until about six weeks ago.

So now it's finished. Phew.

But, hold on! Just because I've typed The End doesn't mean I'm done with the book just yet. I'm editing and rewriting and editing some more. When that's done, then I submit it to the specific publisher I'm hoping will accept it.

The journey of sharing this story with all of you has only just begun.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Writing contests: Why you win even if you don't

I entered my first writing contest this week. I did it on a whim after seeing an announcement on Facebook. Of course, it would be awesome if I won. But I did it more just to say that I did it and because I'm looking forward to getting feedback -- the good and the bad.

See that's the thing about contests. Whether you get a prize or not, you can get other things just for participating.

If you're unpublished, here are some other benefits to entering contests:

- A firm entry deadline will give you an incentive to finish your WIP once and for all.
- Your manuscript will end up in the hands of editors, agents and future readers/potential fans.
- If you do end up winning or placing -- bragging rights!

Sounds tempting, right? Are you ready to take the plunge and try out a contest?

Luckily, I know of a great contest for unpublished writers that's taking entries now!

The Orange Rose Contest for Unpublished Writers, sponsored by the Orange County Chapter of RWA, is one of the longest-running and most respected contests offered by an RWA chapter. 

Click here for more information about the 2014 Orange Rose Contest sponsored by OCC RWA

Monday, March 10, 2014

My Writing Process Blog Tour

Thank you to my friend Louisa Bacio for tagging me in this blog tour. 

1) What am I working on?

Perhaps a better question might be, what am I NOT working on? It seems like I'm always juggling multiple stories both on my laptop and in my head.

First, I just started a new short story I'm hoping to submit to a Mothers' Day anthology by the end of the month. Her Sweet Seduction is about a single mother who is romanced by a former lover who uses chocolate and other sweet surprises to prove he's interested in more than just another fling.

Second, I'm wrapping up edits on a story that was actually my first ever submission to a publisher. The editor sent it back with "Revise and Resubmit" notes...two years ago. My friend Louisa was actually the one who nudged me to dust it off and get it ready for submission again. But I learned so much from that first editor's notes, that I decided to make major changes to it -- including changing the title and increasing the word count by another 10K. Romancing Her Rival will hopefully be ready to see the light of day again in a few more weeks.

Third, I still need to add about 15K words to my first book-length story. Then it will go into edits and beta reading. I'm hopeful this one will finally be done by this summer. 

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Well, I am the Romance Chica. LOL. This means that all my stories feature Latinas who are looking for their happily ever after. I've always been a romance reader, but honestly it was rare to find heroines who looked like me or the women in my family. When I decided to become a romance author, I also decided that I would do my part to promote diversity in romance. So while the heroes in my books may range when it comes to skin color and heritage, my heroines will always be Proud Latinas.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I love love. It's as simple as that. 

4) How does your writing process work?

I don't really have a "process" which may be the reason why I'm juggling three stories right now. For the most part, I'm all over the place. I don't write chapter by chapter or use much of an outline. Usually, when I get a story idea (sometimes inspiration can come in the form of a dream or even a submission call), I try to write out a few paragraphs right away. Something similar to a synopsis, but it can be very general and full of question marks. I let the idea sit for a few days in my head. I'll think about key scenes while I'm shopping or driving and then as soon as I get on my laptop, I'll write them down. I've been known to write end scenes and sex scenes way before the first chapter.

When I'm ready to start writing the main chunk of the story, I'll make a playlist on my iPhone. I always write to a playlist that's been created specifically for the book I'm working on. It helps puts me "in" the story and in the minds of my characters. Plus having headphones on when I write helps to block out  any background noise and also lets my family know that I'm in the zone. I usually end up with the majority of the story written after a few weeks and that's when it's time to go back and fill in missing scenes or tweak the plot.

The trick is being disciplined enough to focus on finishing the current story before a shiny new idea pops into my head.

Yeah, I'm still working on this part of my "process."

Thanks for visiting today! The Writing Process Blog Hop continues next Monday, March 17 with Skylar Kade. So make sure to stop by and say hi. Besos!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Lovers' Day!

It's Valentine's Day! This is a national holiday for us romance lovers -- readers and writers alike. Because what could be better than a day set aside to celebrate L-O-V-E?

Not much in my humble opinion.

But let me clarify. My idea of Valentine's Day isn't an expensive bouquet of roses that will just die in two days, or a box of assorted chocolates I'll feel guilty for eating or having to wait two hours for a dinner reservation at some trendy restaurant. My perfect Valentine's Day is more about the simple, but creative, ways you show your love to others and vice versa.

In fact, my favorite Valentine's memory is from 16 years ago. My husband and I had just started living together and I was pregnant with our first daughter. I was also horribly sick but had gone into work that day anyway. Halfway through the day, my boss ended up sending me home and as I was driving I realized I had forgotten to get him something. I felt awful, but there was no way I was going to go shopping at the mall. Still, I didn't want to come home empty handed. Plus we were dirt poor in those early days, so it wasn't like I could spend a lot either. Finally, I decided on the one thing I knew he would enjoy that wouldn't cost that much.

When I got home, I knocked on the door and when he opened it, there was a heart balloon tied to a 12-pack of Pepsi. To this day, he says that was his best Valentine's gift ever.

Even though I was sick and couldn't even tell you what we did the rest of the day, it's my favorite Valentine's Day memory because I still remember the look of pure love on his face.


So, in following my tradition of offering creative Valentine's gifts, I have one for you. It's a sneak peek at my WIP that I'm currently revising and polishing for submission. It's a friends-to-rivals-to-lovers story and the scene I'm sharing is about the first time our heroine admits to herself that there may be something more to this affair with her ex-boyfriend's brother. I hope you enjoy!

As he entered her, they both gasped. He lowered his mouth to her neck. “I’ve missed this. I’ve missed you,” he said between kisses.

Gabriela didn’t respond with words. Instead, she arched her hips so her body could welcome him back fully. They moved together, first slow and languid, finding their rhythm once again. Then their pace increased. Frantic. Wild. Desperate.

Her climax came quickly. She knew it would. Just like she knew that this—whatever this was between them—would be over soon too.

She pushed the thought away though as Josh collapsed on top of her, heaving hot breaths against her chest. When he finally moved and looked into her eyes, she lifted her head to kiss him. The moment her lips found his, she lost herself in their warmth. He kissed her back with such gentleness that she couldn't help but sigh. There was no urgency. No hardness. The kiss was soft and sweet. The complete opposite of what they’d just done. Yet, it rocked her to her core so much more.

She broke away to find him smiling at her. “That was nice,” he said.

“Uh, I think that was a little more than nice. Nice doesn’t make you sweat.” She laughed and wiped his forehead with the back of her hand.

“I didn’t mean that. I meant the kiss.”

Her chest tightened. “Oh, that. Yeah, I guess it was. Why do you sound so surprised?”

“I don’t know. I guess because we’ve never kissed like that before. I liked it.”

“I liked it too.” That was an understatement.

“Let’s do it again,” he whispered and leaned into her.

Internal warning bells sounded their alarm. But it was too late. Gabriela didn’t care. She shut them out, closed her eyes and surrendered to the sweetness.

I hope you enjoyed this excerpt from "Romancing Her Rival." I'd also love to hear your favorite Valentine's Day memories! Comment below and I'll enter you into a drawing to win either a copy of REUNITED (e-book only) or a copy of the SINSPERATIONALLY YOURS anthology (e-book or print). Deadline to enter is 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, February 16, 2014.

Have a wonderful Valentine's Day! Besos!

Friday, January 3, 2014

2014 - My Year of Living More

It’s January 3 and how many resolutions have you kept? Or maybe you’re like me and needed a few days to make a list of things you know you SHOULD do but aren’t quite sure how to go about doing them?

I could’ve gone with the standards – eat healthier, lose weight, quit gossiping, yada, yada, yada. Or I could’ve just kept my mouth shut and not commit to doing anything different in 2014.

But I know I NEED to make some changes in my life. And what better day to start than on January 3?

So here are my resolutions for this year. You’ll notice that 2014 – for me – is not going to be about quitting anything or doing anything less. Nope. This is the year I’ve decided to do MORE of certain things. Why? Because I think I could’ve been more proactive in 2013. There were some exceptions, but for the most part I kind of just let things happen to me. So, this year, I’m going to make things happen for me.

And this is how. In 2014, I’m going to:
WRITE more: I had one book published in 2012 and one short story published in 2013. I don’t want one thing published in 2014 – I want MANY things published. And to do that I need to write more. It’s that simple.
SUBMIT more: Of course if I’m writing more, the hope is that I’ll submit more as well. But I’ve learned that just because I write something doesn’t always mean I’m going to submit it. I’m ashamed to admit that I passed on a chance last year to submit to a major publisher because I didn’t finish the manuscript in time after it was requested by an editor. The editor ended up leaving the publisher and an amazing opportunity slipped through my fingertips. It is my biggest regret of 2013. I also have another book I’m revising that’s been sitting on my flash drive for 2 years. I have another almost-completed novel that needs heavy revisions that’s also been secretly stashed away for a few years. It’s time to finish these and submit them once and for all.

LEARN more: I’m fortunate that my local chapter of RWA is one of the biggest and most active in the country. Every month I have the opportunity to listen to great speakers on the craft of writing and publishing at our regular OCCRWA meetings. But it’s been awhile since I signed up for any online classes or workshops so I plan to try out a few this coming year. It can only help.
CONNECT more: I know this sounds weird, but I’m not sure how else to say it. Basically, I want to get involved in more blog hops and giveaways and connect more with readers and other authors via social media. I can’t do this writing/publishing thing alone. Or more importantly, I don’t WANT to do this alone.

TRAVEL more: Besides attending conferences when I can, 2014 will hopefully be the year I finally visit New York. It’s on my bucket list and we’re hoping to make it out there in the summer for a family vacation. I’m also planning to just “visit” more by traveling to see family and friends who are local. Although I cherish those Saturdays when I don’t have to leave my couch, I don’t want to miss out on a chance to strengthen a relationship or friendship by seeing loved ones more often.

PARENT more: This is a hard one to put out there. It’s not that I’m NOT being a parent now. It’s just that I know I can always be a better one. That’s why I’m going to make an effort to spend more quality time with my kids. I have 2 teenagers and it’s too easy for me to let them hide out in their rooms doing their own thing when I need to write or work or catch up on my DVR shows. But I also have a 6-year-old and she lets me know loud and clear when she wants my attention. So more family daytrips, more family movie nights, more family walks around the block and more “so tell me about your day” conversations will be happening this year.

CARE more: This is a two-parter. First, I’m going to care more about me. That means taking care of my body and spirit by doing more things to keep me healthy and sane. Second, I’m going to care more about others. This means helping those in need or less fortunate than me. Whether it’s donating money or time or something else, I know I can always do more. We all can.

LAUGH more: This is probably something we all should do, right? Life is serious enough. Let’s all take a deep breath and share more funny pics from
LIVE more: Period. Exclamation Point.

Happy 2014!

What would you like to do more of in 2014? I'd love to hear your hopes and resolutions for this new year...

Monday, November 25, 2013


In just a few days, many of us will gather around a table somewhere and share thanks for our many blessings.

Here's a short list of what I'm grateful for this year:

1. The love of family. I'm fortunate in that I have a big one so this is at the top of my list every year.

2. My author friends. They cheer on my accomplishments and give me that extra push when I need it.

3. My online friends. I've met so many creative, inspiring and supportive people this past year. And whether you bought one of my books or not, you made my year wonderful.

4. My writing. I've been published twice this past year -- a 200% increase from the previous year. Sometimes I still can't believe it.

5. My day job. Although I may grumble here and there, I know I'm lucky to have one so that it can pay the bills and allow me to write because I want to, not because I have to.

6. Caffeine, butter and sugar -- together or apart, they just make life better.

Happy Thanksgiving!