Monday, September 8, 2014

5 Reasons Why I Love Fall

Although the weather here seems determined to hold on to summer forever, I'm stubbornly embracing the fall season with open arms.

I used to be all about the summer. I grew up in Southern California, less than an hour's drive from some of the region's best beaches. Perhaps my love of summer was tied to the fact that school was out and barbecues and bonfires were in? Whatever it was, I made the most of my summer days and nights.

But as I've gotten older, I find myself wishing summer would end sooner rather than later.

So why do I love the fall? Here are my top 5 reasons:

1) Most of my favorite TV shows are back!
I'm counting down the days to the return of Scandal, Revenge, Sleepy Hollow and more. While I've become addicted to a few summer shows, nothing can beat the excitement of fall season premieres!

2) Everything pumpkin!
Lattes, muffins, cheesecake and, of course, pie. I love the smell, especially when it's combined with some nutmeg and cinnamon. In fact, "Pumpkin Love" is the title of my newest Pinterest board.

3) My birthday!
I'm an October baby and if I could celebrate the entire month, I would.

4) The colors!
As you can probably tell from my blog, I love scarlet red, burnt orange and coffee brown. These colors ARE fall -- warm, cozy and inviting.

5) OCC RWA Birthday Bash!
October is also the month for OCC RWA's annual Birthday Bash. This is hosted by my writer's group and attending this conference will definitely be a highlight of my fall season. This year's theme is "Mad Hatter" and it's sure to be a fun weekend! If you're interested in attending yourself, visit the website at

So that's why I love the fall. Now, what about you? I'd love to hear what season you love best and why!

Friday, September 5, 2014

New contract!

I'm excited to announce that my short story "Her Sweet Seduction" will be published in the "Big Little Book of Eros" anthology by Hot Ink Press.

No release date yet, but here's the unofficial blurb:

When romance novelist and single mom Celina Preciado writes a near tell-all about her former lover, he’s the last person she expects to see at her book signing. But not only does Luke Anderssen tell her that he enjoyed her book, the stockbroker-turned-chocolatier let’s her know in no uncertain terms that he wants her back.

Celina’s been burned before and she’s hesitant to let him into the life she now shares with her young daughter. So Luke embarks on the sweetest of seductions to prove once and for all that he’s not the man he used to be and he’s ready to offer her more than just sex and chocolate.

Can't wait to share more, so stay tuned!

Monday, August 4, 2014


My romance stories feature strong, smart and successful Latinas in search of their Happily Ever Afters. But while my characters may be make-believe, the women I'll introduce you to in this new column are definitely real.

These Real Life Latina Heroines are the authors of their own success stories. They are inspirational role models who are committed to making a difference and making an impact in their community, culture and career field. 


Who is she?
Maria is the Director of Community Relations and Outreach for the MIND Research Institute, a nonprofit based in Irvine, CA dedicated to ensuring that all students are mathematically equipped to solve the world's most challenging problems by revolutionizing math education through visual learning. 

On her career path...
"Going through Santa Ana Unified School District (in Santa Ana, CA) and growing up in the hood, I didn’t even dare to dream. Education meant nothing to me, although grades were never an issue.  I never learned study habits or enjoyed reading, yet I was able to pull good grades somehow. My mind and spirit were always at home watching over my younger siblings, cooking and cleaning. If you asked me back then what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would've given you a blank stare and said, "Besides a great wife and a loving mother? What else is there?"  

After dropping out of college to get married and join motherhood, I had an emptiness in my life. The day I saw my son with his little cap and gown posing for his kindergarten graduation picture, it clicked. I decided to act on what so many people had seen in me: the potential to become a professional. I didn’t want to be another statistic. I earned my education and no one can ever take that away. I owe that to the great mentors and empowering role models I had.

In the year 2000 I wanted to see what volunteering was all about so I went through training and was offered a job. There I met one of my first professional mentors who took me under her wing and taught me the career basics: how to dress, proper handshakes, email etiquette etc. She also taught me to be a professional “Pedishe” all for a cause I believed in.

I started helping with special events and began my career as a fundraiser. At MIND I was able to help develop our first gala that went from raising $130,000 to over $700,000. Then they challenged me to start fundraising through relationship building and grants. I went from raising $50,000 the first year to $800,000 last year."

On her passion…
"My passion is to provide resources and guidance to our low-income families and to give them the encouragement to dream and make those dreams a reality.  I love talking to parents about the possibilities available to them. I want them to break out of the cycle of just sitting and waiting around for an opportunity to fall onto their laps. I help them go out and seek those opportunities."

On being a Latina…
"I'm a Mexicana born in Zamora, Michoacan. Although I came to live to the states when I was very young and went through the school system here, I needed to communicate with my parents and grandparents, so losing my language was not acceptable. I am very grateful for having been taught to think, read and express myself in Spanish. I also was taught values, respect and humility above all, and also how bright colors and great music can bring up your spirit.  I can be asking for a million dollars in the morning and then come home to cook frijoles de la Olla to feed my son and fiancĂ© before going to soccer practice. I am an educated Latina -- scholastically, culturally and ethically.  My favorite hashtag is #OrgullosaLatina.

Being a Latina to me represents having an in-depth impact in my community.  You can speak and understand two languages and two cultures; it means that you can take the best of two worlds to make a better one. It also reflects the hard work and the sacrifices our parents went through to make sure we kept our culture, while adopting a new one. I am a proud Latina who honors this country for the opportunities provided to me, my family and those who have dreams."       

On her worries and fears…
"One of my biggest worries is wondering what kind of human being my son will grow up to be.  For many years I was so stuck on making sure he was academically smart, but at some point I realized that I was only focusing on what society wanted from my child, not what I wanted and certainly not what he wanted. By supporting his passion I have been able to gain his trust and respect, and he can see where my passion has taken me.  Once he tested my reaction by telling me that when he grew up he wanted to be a "paletero" (someone who sells ice cream on the street). My answer to that was, "As long as you can wake up each morning smiling and know this is what gives you the lifestyle you are happy with, then go out and be the best paletero out there."  In reality he wants to be a professional soccer player so he can get a scholarship to UCLA and then work for Nike's marketing team.  I believe he will do that.”

On the idea of Happily Ever After…
“It means standing up for your beliefs and the reasons that make you smile. At the end of the day, it is those who can bring out that smile during the rough times who will be the ones to find their happily ever after.”

On her own love story…

"I was an educated Latina and single mom making it on my own who became friends with someone who had no academic education, but had the purest love for life. He gets up each morning whistling, talking to his plants and thanking God for his health and his job as a landscaper. He taught me how to live in the moment, cherish family and laugh out loud. After almost four years of being together, I will be marrying my #1 cheerleader and motivator. Many people, including my family, may make faces and comments, but guess what? This is my happiness, and my son has found a friend he can trust and share his dreams with. The three of us respect and support one another and balance each other out."

Special thanks to Maria Cervantes for my being my first profile! 
If you or someone you know would like to be featured as a Real Life Latina Heroine, please contact me at

Friday, August 1, 2014

What I read this summer...and loved!

My kids go back to school next week. Crazy, right?

So that means my summer is technically over. It was a good summer overall, especially since we were able to spend some time in Chicago with my sister and her family. As I was thinking about other things I did over the summer it dawned on me that I actually read some books!

I've done a summer reading list before, so I figured I was due for another one. Here are my favorite reads from the past three months and I've also included what I loved best about them...

A Duel With Death - Louisa Bacio
Amazon buy link
I actually had the chance to be a Beta Reader on this one. When it was officially published a few weeks ago, I decided to read it again! It's the third of Louisa's 1Night Stand series of novellas for Decadent Publishing. I loved this one for many reasons -- great romance, hot sex scenes and a paranormal twist. Plus there's a Latina heroine! All in all, this was a definite page turner. I highly recommend!

The Best Man's Baby - Victoria James
Amazon buy link
This book has the best scene ever involving a pregnancy test stick. I read this on the flight to Chicago and laughed so loud that one of my fellow airplane passengers looked up from his laptop and gave me a look. Ha!

Veggies Not Included - Christine Leo
Amazon buy link
Christine is a fellow member of OCC RWA -- my local author group. During one meeting, she received recognition for self-publishing this book and the background behind why she wrote it peaked my interest. It's a memoir of her unconventional journey to losing 130 pounds. It's a fascinating read, especially if you've ever battled with weight loss yourself. I applaud Christine for sharing her story.

Baiting the Maid of Honor - Tessa Bailey
Amazon buy link
Tessa Bailey has earned a reputation for writing some sexy, dirty-talking heroes. She just has a way with words -- or rather her characters do! It makes for a fun read and I've definitely become a fan.

FAT - Saranna DeWylde
Amazon buy link
Saranna was a guest speaker at an OCC RWA meeting and that's where I learned about this book. It's the first in her "Labels" series and is about exactly what the title says. I thought Claire Howard, the book's plus size heroine, was awesome. I wanted to be her friend, buy her clothes and just hang out. I don't know what else to say except that I loved this book. A lot.

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