Jambalaya Conference - Houma, LA

Last weekend, I was lucky enough to attend the Jambalaya Conference in Houma, LA. And yes, we were served delicious Jambalaya for lunch. For those of you that have never tasted Jambalaya, it's yummy. It's a dish made with rice and several different meats like sausage, chicken, shrimp or whatever meat the cook decides to throw in there. It's sort of similar to gumbo except it's thick, not soupy.
Are you hungry now?
This years conference was well worth the money. Plus, I was honored to have been asked if I'd like to have a table to sell my books at. Of course I jumped at the chance. And below is, Demore one of my new cutie pie fans! Isn't she just adorable? To top off her cuteness, she was so excited to get one of my books. She truly put the cherry on top of the day for me.

The conference had some amazing speakers like Heather Graham, a NYT and USA Today bestselling author; Cherry Adair, New York Times bestselling author; Dianne de las Casas, an award winning author, storyteller, and founder of Picture Book Month; David Schwartz, author of over 50 children's books. Those are just a few of the speakers.
My very favorite of all was the keynote speaker, Adriana Trigiani, a powerhouse New York Times best-selling author who is beloved by millions of readers around the world for her hilarious and heartwarming novels. And that ain't no joke, folks. This woman had us in stitches the entire time. But at the same time, she was very informative and compassionate. I could've listened to her all day. She not only had a hilarious comeback for every question anyone asked, but I learned more from her than all the other speakers put together.
One of the things I liked most about her, besides her humor and the fact that she bought three of my books (squeeee!) was that even though she has many published books, she's been a writer on The Cosby Show, Different World and other TV productions, she never once bragged about herself. She wasn't there to tell us all about what it took to write her books, she was there to give us productive, useful information and honestly help us. I admired that tremendously. Too many speakers that I've listened to at conferences such as this, only want to talk about their own books and you leave whispering to yourself, "What a waste, I didn't learn a thing!"
Adriana did preach on a few pointers, which we all need:
1. If you want to be a writer bad enough, you must allow yourself three or four hours a day to write. She actually used to get up at 3:00am before anyone in her house was up, and use that time to write. We can have all the excuses in the world but the bottom line is... it's up to us. We are worth it and we need to keep telling ourselves this.
2. We deserve the best tools we can get to help us with our craft. For example, an updated computer, a nice notebook, a pen we enjoy writing with etc. All of these things help.
3. Always keep a notebook with you so you won't miss any inspirational opportunities. (I think most of us do this anyway)
4. Give yourself a philosophy. In other words: What am I trying to say that matters? Remind yourself over and over why you are writing in the first place.
5. Keep a master list of ideas. (I myself have a huge list that is ongoing on my computer.)
6. Don't be in denial of your gift!!
Dianne de las Casas was another speaker who was there to teach, not brag. She talked a lot about writing your children's books according to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) or Accelerated Reader (AR). If we don't do that, chances are teachers can't bring our books into the classrooms. You can find out about your own States CCSS by Googling it.
One of the biggest pointers I got from Dianne was that you should NEVER talk down to a reader... always talk up! I never really thought about that but definitely will from now on.
It is my feeling that all of us writers need to attend as many conferences about our craft that we can. Normally, if you find a conference in your area, the cost is very reasonable. Even if you only learn one new thing, that's one thing you didn't know before! Plus these events are great for getting new contacts, meeting new friends, selling our books, and most of all they can really "re-fire up our writing motors!"


Sunflower Award

Last week the spotlight was on Author, Deborah Lynne who writes inspirational mystery, romance, and suspense books. She offered a free autographed copy of her newly released romance novel After You’re Gone for anyone who commented. And the winner is Sherry Alexander! Congratulations, Sherry and enjoy the book!

This week the spotlight is on little ole ME! I’ve been nominated for the Sunflower Award by fellow author, Katrina Delallo.

Thanks so much Cat for the wonderful nomination for which I’m truly honored. Now, here are the rules to receiving this award:
     a. Share eleven facts about yourself
     b. Answer the questions set by your nomination blogger
     c. Nominate eleven bloggers
     d. Set questions for the nominated bloggers

So following are eleven, oh so interesting, facts about myself:
1. It’s a real stretch to come up with eleven things about myself. I’m just not all that interesting!
2. I still dream about playing Barbie dolls all the time. When will I ever grow up?

3. I haven’t slept through the night without waking up in 2 hour intervals to get up to go the bathroom, for as long as I can remember. But I’m lucky that I can always go right back to sleep.
4. I can never remember who sings a song, unless it’s Barbra Streisand. I get so embarrassed when people are talking about who sings what and I can’t ever answer. Same with movies.
5. I hated reading as a child but can’t get enough of it now.
6. I was the very first cheerleading captain of our town’s football team.
7. I freak when someone invites me anywhere or invites themselves over to my place if I don’t have 24 hrs. notice first. Don’t ask me why because I have no clue.
8. I check my email every 2 hrs of every day. I’m so addicted.
9. I cringe when going into a restaurant that doesn’t look clean to me. If there are crumbs on the floor, or tears in the seats, I get the willy jillys and it’s very difficult for me to eat there. One time when being seated, there was lettuce on my seat and the ketchup jar was very sticky. I couldn’t eat a bite of my lunch.
10. I sucked my thumb until I entered the sixth grade!! I was envisioning the boy I liked seeing me with my thumb in my mouth and it made me stop cold turkey. FINALLY!
11. A friend paid my husband (I was a freshman, he a sophomore at the time) a dollar to walk me home from school. The rest is history… even though after that walk, I thought my husband was the weirdest guy in town! But I was desperate for a boyfriend so……
Weren’t those just so terribly interesting? Don’t you wonder how you ever made it this long without knowing all those things about me?
Now for the answers to the questions Cat asked me.
Questions from Katrina:
1. Do you prefer Arabic or Roman numberals?
Usually I prefer Arabic numbers because I don’t have to think about them. Sometimes, I have to think about Roman numbers. Ok, so whats the roman numeral for 10? That kind of thing.
 2. Do you watch My Little Ponies?
No, don’t even know what you’re talking about.
3. What’s the absolute stupidest thing you’ve ever done?
Wow is that a loaded question. There are sooooo many I could mention but the one that comes to me right away is I was conned out of all my money and gave it up so easily. Of course at the time I was only about 19 or 20 so $200 was my entire bank wad. I fell hook, line, and sinker for that scam where two people come up to you from different directions. One acts like she found a money bag on the street. The other person acts just as clueless as me and never met the person before. Anyway, I won’t go into all the details but they sure picked the perfect “sucker” in me!!
4. What’s your idea of the best car?
Well for starters, one that I can afford! I’m really not that picky except I have to have leather seats, air conditioning, some power and it has to be roomy and have good cup holders! Right now we have a Lexus RX350 and that’s the perfect car at the moment.

5. What’s the worst thing you can imagine?
Getting kidnapped and tortured. I watch way too many crime stories on TV!
6. Do you know what gif stands for?
I don’t know what gif actually means but I do know it’s a photo format similar to jpg, png, tif. That’s about all I know.
7. Be honest… did you have to Google “gif” in order to answer question 6 intelligently?
Not sure my answer is intelligent but no, didn’t have to Google it.
Here are my nominees for the Sunflower Award. I’m breaking the rules though and only nominating four.
Last but not least, here are the questions for my Nominees:
1. What’s your favorite thing to cook?
2. Would you rather be an Avatar, a vampire, a Star Trek character, a princess in a storybook  or  a mermaid.
3. Would you take a pill if it promised you the figure of your dreams?
4. How many published books would it take you to be confident in calling yourself a successful author?
5. To date, what has been your favorite blog that you’ve posted?
6. If you had to pick one of the following holidays to remove from the calendar, which would it be and why? Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentines Day, Easter, Memorial  Day, July 4th, Labor Day or Halloween.
7. Since you’re receiving the Sunflower Award and we associate sunflowers with happy things, what makes you the happiest?

Congratulations to all my nominees! You all deserve this award and many more.

Spotlight on Author, Deborah Lynne

For those of  you who are avid fans of author, Deborah Lynne, and those of you who will soon be, she has a new book coming out titled After Your Gone. I'd like to introduce to you her new cover and a bit about the book. Isn't the cover gorgeous? I've read all of her books (8 in total) and they are all fabulous. She normally writes inspirational suspense with a twist of romance but this new book is strictly inspirational romance. I for one can't wait to read it!

And one of you can also have a chance to read it because she is giving an autographed copy away. All that's required is you follow my blog (if you are not already a follower) and comment. Each comment counts as a chance to win. I will announce the winner on next Thursdays post.

The day Melilla Vasquez, curator of The San Francisco Institution of Art, has dreamed of has finally arrived. She’s worked hard to see the new Native American art exhibit, which showcases her own Navajo lineage, come to fruition. To add to her joy, she’ll be allowed to display a couple of her own paintings…the big break she’s waited for as an artist ever since college.

Then Lila receives a phone call that will change her world forever. Victoria, her old college roommate and a very wealthy woman, is dying. She trusts no one but Lila to raise Kaitlin, her baby, after she’s gone. But can Lila, a single woman, raise a child on her own? What about all the big plans she has for her career? Even more, choosing to help her friend means facing the only man she’s ever loved—Joseph Neal Rodman III, Vicky’s brother. Can her heart survive seeing him again? And can she live with herself if she doesn’t at least try?

 Ten years ago he stole her heart…then crushed it.

Now she’s gazing into his blue eyes again.

Dare she hope that things could

turn out differently this time?

A heartfelt romance that will tingle your toes!


Deborah Lynne, author of inspirational romance, mystery and romantic suspense, has penned eight novels. Her latest is After You’re Gone. She’s an active member of ACFW & RWA. Deborah Lynne says her books are fiction, but God is real.
Although she is a recent widow, she enjoyed 42 years of marriage to her wonderful husband Scott. They have three grown children and three grandsons.
Deborah is now writing her next Samantha Cain Mystery—Against Her Will, Book 4 in the series.
You can visit Deborah Lynne at her website: or email her at . She loves hearing from her readers!
Below is a list of all Deborah's books which are available through her website, on,, in Baton Rouge libraries, as well as many other online retailers. If you'd like an autographed copy, just shoot her an email.
Grace a Gift of Love
All in Gods Time
Passion from the Heart
Be Not Afraid (the 1st in the Samantha Cain series)
Testimony of Innocence (2nd)
The Truth Revealed (3rd)
Against Her Will (4th, coming in 2014)
Crime in the Big Easy
After Your Gone
You can view a trailer and the first chapter of her books on her website. Don't forget to leave a comment for your chance to win a copy!

Tips for Writing an Eye-catching Press Release

Happy Mardi Gras everyone! I hope you all had fun celebrating and stayed warm and safe.

Today I'm privileged to have a guest blogger, Nikolas Baron who is giving us tips on writing a professional press release. I'm sure we could all use some advice on this so enjoy!

Tips for Writing an Eye-catching Press Release

Have you been saddled with the task of writing a press release but don’t know where to start? Maybe you’ve never written one before. Maybe you don’t know how long it is, what to put in it, or how to structure it. Maybe you’re just not sure how to improve your skills. Press release writing can be difficult until you get the hang of it.
When you write a press release, you want to suck the reader in, keep them interested, and give them vital information. Press releases are typically short but pack a lot of punch. They’re used as informative tools that promote, professionalize, and personalize your company, achievement, or other positive attributes. The general format of a press release is simple; your wording should not be. With the tips below, you’ll be able to craft a perfect press release while adding the spice that it needs to attract readers.

  Hook ‘em with your headline: Readers will tune into a press release with a catchy title. They won’t read the article if the headline lies flatter than a sheet of paper. You want to make the best of your writing abilities and capture your reader at the first glance. Think of your headline as a picture at an art museum: the picture draws in the viewer and then they take the extra time to read the placard about the artist, their history, and when they painted. Make the reader want to take the extra time to read your article because of the headline.
Get to the point: Press releases are at most two pages. They should never exceed that amount so you have to get to the point fast. You just drew in the reader with your exceptionally-written title and they want to know right up front, what’s the point of this press release. Press releases aren’t articles that can slowly wind to the point and if yours ends up being around two pages, it had better be filled with tons of interesting information and critical points. From the starting sentence, you should be filling your reader in on what the release is about.
It should be less than a page: Like stated above, the press release should never exceed two pages; however, ideally you should finish your release in less than one page. It’s not an article – it’s a short blurb to inform the reader of critical information. You want to make sure that you’re not boring the reader or wasting their time with fluff. Cut the fat and make your press release one page.
Proofread: Proofread. Proofread. Always proofread. The press release will look sloppy if there are grammar and spelling mistakes everywhere. If you happen to not work at a newspaper or magazine, or if writing really isn’t your forte and you were forced into writing the release, use an online proofreading resource like Grammarly to clean up your work. Nothing is more embarrassing than having tons of errors sprinkled through a mere one page of writing.
Provide other critical information: At the end of your release, it’s important to provide contact information, website, or other pertinent information. If your press release is about your company’s product, you want to provide the sales department’s information in case anyone reading the release wants further information. If the release pertains to a new start-up company, the website is most critical. Make it easy for the reader to get more information if they want it.
You don’t want the reader to be excited about your release then be barred from gaining access to whatever it is the release is about.
 Writing a press release is all about important facts and excitement. You should be able to grab the reader, hold onto them for one page, and get them interested in your release information. It may be difficult at the start, but these tips are an excellent foundation to writing an amazing press release.

By Nikolas Baron

Nikolas Baron Bio:

Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown children’s novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, travelling, and reading.

Thank you to Nikolas for this great information. I hope it helps anyone who may be in the process of writing a press release or with luck... will be in the near future!