Friday, September 6, 2013


Thank you Sia, for hosting me today, my chosen subject sounds almost impersonal but I've found the Dedication page of a novel to be most personal, and I'd love to know what your readers feel about it.

The dedication page comes after the title page of a novel and is an expression of thanks by the author towards the most significant person or influence for the book.

I dedicated my first book, Murder, Madness & Love to my grandmother, Lilly Opal Stansberry; she was the most positive influence in my life and still inspires me today. A writer of poetry, a strong and gracious woman, her response to my creativity was heartfelt and priceless. She had read an early copy of my manuscript but never saw it in book form.

I am dedicating Memories of Murder to nightmares, and the creativity that they inspire, because the idea for this novel came directly from a nightmare! An abstract dedication, but important because the life events during the writing of Memories were nightmarish and highly influenced the book.

The third book in the trilogy From Obsession to Murder is all about love, sacrifice, and heroism and is dedicated to T. R. S. – my hero – my husband. It may seem like he's been shortchanged by appearing third, but the truth is I followed my creative muse and recognized the true inspiration for each novel. The simple truth is – my husband is my hero.

Years ago, we saw one another across a crowded room and it was love at first sight, but it also involved a bit of a detour. On what I thought would be our first date we met again at a dinner celebration. The problem – he showed up with a date. To say I was devastated would be putting it mildly.

However, miraculously six months later and free from any other encumbrance, he did ask me for a date. He then shared with me the fact that my dear brother had warned him off. Big brother was trying to protect me from his best friend, the playboy. Needless to say, we've been together ever since!

T. R. S. is and always has been my biggest supporter. Through my entire writing journey and regardless of the mistakes I made or the many times I wanted to give up, he was always cheering me on. When I pleaded with him to read my unpublished work, he would refuse, claiming he'd only read it after it was published. His way of pushing me forward through the process – from creation to query – he stuck by that statement.

T. R. S. – is – my hero and the third book is the most appropriate place to make that statement!

  • Who is your hero? As a writer, how would you use the dedication page – as a reader, does it matter?

 Thanks again Sia, this was a blast.

A killer plays cat and mouse with a young widow against the snowy backdrop of an Alaskan winter.

Branded a black widow after the suspicious death of her millionaire husband, Sarah Palmer flees Seattle for Anchorage.

But the peace and quiet she hoped to enjoy in her hometown is soon shattered: The killer is murdering Sarah look-alikes on the 14th of each month, taunting Sarah with a valentine of evidence.

After her experiences in Seattle, Sarah is slow to go to the police. When she finally does, she finds Detective Steven Quaid, who is called on to protect the beautiful widow from a stalker intent on her destruction.

Steven is not entirely sure she is not behind the scheme herself, and before long Sarah has him wound up tighter than barbed wire. Is Sarah a victim or a very skilled manipulator?

With a killer on the loose and a climbing body count, Steven can't afford to hedge his bets-or his life. Excerpt


An adventurous spirit took Yolanda Renée to Alaska where she hiked the Brooks Range, traveled from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, and learned to sleep under the midnight sun.
She claims her vivid imagination as a blessing, a habit, a hobby, a calling and sometimes a curse.
Renée now resides in Central Pennsylvania with her husband, two sons, and Boston terrier, Patches. 

You can find Yolanda: Website, Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


I am a contest whore.

Yes, you read that right. I can’t resist a contest. And romance writing contests...well, let’s just say I have lots of experience J

When I first started writing, I found it very difficult to find good beta readers. I asked my sisters, my friends, even a casual acquaintance. And they were all very willing to help out. Problem was, they were too nice.

Everyone loved my sample chapters. They thought I was the best writer since Margaret Atwood (little hint there that I’m Canadian). The only real criticism I got was from one sister who works as the Managing Editor of a prestigious medical journal. Apparently, I didn't use enough commas.

Around that time, I read a blog post by a romance author who extolled the virtues of joining a writing group. She mentioned the Romance Writers Association. I promptly looked them up and was delighted to discover they had a local chapter near me. Yay!

A whole new world of support and information opened up the day I became an RWA member. Not the least of which was a monthly listing of...gasp...contests. Yes, I am one of those people who fills in the little contest forms in malls and parking lots. I click every button that says “Enter here”. I tick every box that says “Sign me up.”

But an RWA chapter contest is a whole different beast.

Designed to give newbie romance authors substantive feedback on their work, the RWA chapter contests require the submission of several chapters and often a synopsis (gah). There is no “click here” button. No “easy entry.” Your work has to be read and reread, polished and spit-shined. And did I mention the synopsis?

I wrote and rewrote my chapters. I edited them with a fine-tooth comb. I read article after article about writing a synopsis and then proceeded to destroy a forest worth of trees. I realized then, I hadn't properly plotted out the story.

Back to the computer. Learn about plotting. Write and rewrite. Attack synopsis with the vigor reserved for really dirty ovens (at least in the days before oven cleaner was invented). Finally, I had something that didn't make me cringe.

But more than that. The process of reviewing and editing my own work taught me more than I had learned from self-help writing books and community college courses. There is nothing like ripping your own work apart. Except maybe forcing it into a two page synopsis. I did mention the synopsis, didn't I?

I learned more with every contest I entered (and there were quite a few!). My scenes became steamier when I entered a contest for the best “first kiss”. My writing became crisper when I learned how to condense for the “one page synopsis” contest. The best “cute meet” taught me how to put emotion into a scene.

Best of all, however, the feedback I received from contest judges was invaluable. Some pointed out inconsistencies in the story. Others made me realize that sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. A few kind judges pointed out grammar errors (although no missing commas). It was through contest judges I learned to avoid the “As you know, Bob” literary device where a character blurts out a bunch of information in dialogue to another character that already knows the information with the sole purpose of informing the reader. Boy, was I guilty of that!

I would highly recommend contests for anyone starting a romance writing career. Not only did I get excellent feedback through the contests, I learned a lot about writing, won a few prizes, and I got an agent!

I still enter contests. After all, the learning never stops.

  • What has been your experiences with contests? Love 'em? Hate 'em?

Thanks very much to Sia for hosting me today. I wish you many happy contests!


AGAINST THE ROPES--Available in stores and online now.

He scared me. He thrilled me. And after one touch, all I could think about was getting more...

Makayla never thought she'd set foot in an elite mixed martial arts club. But if anyone needs a medic on hand, it's these guys. Then again, at her first sight of the club's owner, she's the one feeling breathless.

The man they call Torment is all sleek muscle and restrained power. Whether it's in the ring or in the bedroom, he knows exactly when a soft touch is required and when to launch a full-on assault. He always knows just how far he can push. 

And he's about to tempt Makayla in ways she never imagined...



Recovering lawyer, karate practitioner, and caffeine addict, Sarah Castille worked and traveled abroad before trading her briefcase and stilettos for a handful of magic beans and a home near the Canadian Rockies. Her steamy, contemporary romantic tales feature blazingly hot alpha heroes and the women who tame them.

You can find Sarah: Website, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter

You can also sign up for Sarah's newsletter for the latest scoop on books, contests, and appearances.