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Dare to SOAR: Oct – Nov & Nov – Dec

 Set * Overcome * Achieve * Receive


October – November & November – December

As we say farewell to 2015, what will you take with you the most? What is your writing highlight? Maybe it was to finish a novel or a chapter or a scene. Maybe it was to begin to write something, anything at all. Whatever it is, celebrate your strengths and your accomplishments whatever they may be, then get ready to stretch a little or a lot further next year. Set your sights on something wonderful and SOAR!

Our October & November Dare to SOAR participants!


Sherry Weddle
Raven Q. Bell

Michelle Blackstone
Katrina Bauer
Jan Moretti
Robin Skylar
Helen Scott


Special kudos to our remote Dare to SOAR participants:


Cici Edward
Martha Burch


Keep dreaming and doing and remember:


New Year’s Day. A fresh start. A new chapter in life waiting to be written. New questions to be asked, embraced, and loved. Answers to be discovered and then lived in this transformative year of delight and self-discovery. Today carve out a quiet interlude for yourself in which to dream, pen in hand. Only dreams give birth to change.

Dare to SOAR: Sept – Oct

Set * Overcome * Achieve * Receive

September – October

I’ve read a couple of things lately that made me think of these lyrics.

There’s always gonna be another mountain. I’m always gonna wanna make it move. Always gonna be a uphill battle. Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose. Ain’t about how fast I get there. Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side. It’s the climb.

Sometimes, we stare so hard at that ultimate goal that we forget to appreciate where we stand and all the wonderful things, people, and events around us. So, as you set your goals for the next couple of months, remember to take a deep breath in and remain in the present. Look at the joy and fulfillment you’re getting everyday in your writing world, whether it’s meeting with a writer friend, talking shop at a meeting, or simply putting new words on the page. It’s just as much about the journey as it is the goal.

Our September Dare to SOAR participants!

Nicole Leiren
Denise DiLeo
Livia Grant
Sherry Weddle
Raven Q. Bell

Michelle Blackstone
Katrina Bauer

Special kudos to our remote Dare to SOAR participants:

Cici Edward
Martha Burch
Melonie Johnson
Savannah Reynard

Keep dreaming and doing and remember:

“There was a moment when I changed from an amateur to a professional. I assumed the burden of a profession, which is to write even when you don’t want to, don’t much like what you’re writing, and aren’t writing particularly well”
— Dame Agatha Christie –

2014 – 2015 Good News!

Large Blog ImageGood News
Windy City Romance Writers

Librarian of the Year:

This year we’re dedicating this award to Cathie Linz, author and librarian, good friend, and a treasure to us all.

Rita Nominees:
Best First Book
A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev
Kensington Publishing

Run to You by Clara Kensie
Harlequin, TEEN

Young Adult Romance
Run to You by Clara Kensie
Harlequin, TEEN

New Books, April 2014-April 2015 (more or less)

J. Leigh Bailey
Sold her first book, a Young Adult LGBT Romance called Guyliner to Spencer Hill Press. It will release in November 2015. She also signed a three-book deal for her New Adult LGBT Romance Series, Letting Go, to Carina Press. Nobody’s Hero releases April, 2015; Reckless Hope in August, 2015, and the third book, title and release date TBD. Her Young Adult LGBT romance MS, “Do-Gooder,” finalled in the Nola Stars Suzanna Contest.

Wendy Byrne
Has four books out: Hard to Kill, August, 2014, Hard to Trust, November, 2014, and Hard to Stop, March, 2015, all from Gemma Halliday Publishing. And, The Millionaire’s Deception, Entangled Publishing, February, 2015.

Mary Jo Burke
Has two books published: Cupid’s Busted Arrow, January 2015, The Wild Rose Press, and Spicing Up Trouble, February 2015, Gemma Halliday Publishing

Paul Calhoun
Married Rachel Revilla Calhoun on May 17, 2014. At Spring Fling nine agents or editors asked for submissions of “Chocolate Covered Potato Chips,” a contemporary romantic comedy.

Dyanne Davis
Published Frog Prince, in July 2014 through WD Publishing.

Sonali Dev
A Bollywood Affair, A Rita Nominee for Best First Book, won the ALA Reading List Award for best romance, was on Library Journal’s and NPR’s lists of Best Books of 2014, and is an RT Reviewer Choice Award nominee and winner of the RT Seal of Excellence. It was also on ‘Best Of’ lists on Kirkus Reviews, Smexy Books, Heroes and Heartbreakers, All About Romance, Book Riot and several independent blogs. Her second book, The Bollywood Bride, releases in September 2015 also from Kensington.

Cici Edward
Possession of the Heart, Book 1 in The Possession Series, came out in 2015, with three more to come in the series of contemporary ghost stories.

Kelly Garcia
Her Young Adult manuscript, “A is for Atherton,” finalled in the Get Your Stiletto in the Door contest, Contemporary Romance Writers Chapter of RWA, and in the Suzannah, NOLA Chapter RWA.

Blythe Gifford
The Witch Finder, Blythe’s self-published book, was named Book of the Month for February, 2015, by The Review.
Whispers at Court, the second of her Royal Wedding stories, will be released in June, 2015, by Harlequin Historical. The first book, Secrets at Court, was on Wendy the Super Librarian’s Honorable Mention list for Best of the Year (2014). She called it “one of the best done medievals I’ve read in a long time.”

Livia Grant
Signed her first publishing deal with Blushing Books in 2014 and had 3 full length erotic romance novels released in 2014: Wanting it All, Passion Series Book One, August, Securing it All, Passion Series Book Two, September, and Life’s Unexpected Gifts, Corbin’s Bend Series, in December.

Clara Kensie
The first book in her series, Run to You, finalled in two Rita categories: Young Adult Romance and Best First Book. The series was also named in RT Magazine Editor’s Picks – Best Books of 2014. The series was originally published in installments, and Harlequin Teen in May will compile it in two books with new titles: Deception So Deadly and Deception So Dark.

Vanessa M. Knight
Her first book, Second Time’s the Charm, a contemporary romance with suspense elements, was released in April 2014. The second in the Chicago’s Finest series, Stark Raving Mad, comes out this summer from MuseItUp Publishing.

Nicole Lieren
Nicole has signed a two-book contemporary-romance deal for her Heroes of the Night Series with Gemma Halliday Publishing. More than One Night will be out in the fall.

Cathie Linz writing as Cat Devon
Tall, Dark and Immortal in her Entity Series will be out in September 2015.

Noirin Leahy Mele
Her tale of Ireland, Dancing in the Heather, is available on Amazon.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Heroes Are My Weakness came out in August 2014.

Allie Pleiter
Allie had four books released: The Lawman’s Oklahoma Sweetheart, A Heart to Heal,Saved by the Fireman, and Small-Town Fireman. Two of her 2014 books, A Heart to Heal and Saved by the Fireman, received 4.5 stars and Top Picks from RT Magazine. She received the Readers Crown Award for The Fireman’s Homecoming and was a double finalist in the Love Inspired category of the RT Reviewers Choice Award. She also released her first independently published non-fiction: THE CHUNKY METHOD HANDBOOK: Your Step-by-Step Plan to WRITE THAT BOOK Even When Life Gets in the Way

India Powers
India will release Book 1 of her Mageblood Chronicles series, Demon’s Bane, through Three Hats Publishing, LLC. This book was her Golden Heart Final contender in 2013. The historical paranormal romance is expected in 2015.

Savannah Reynard
Stolen Child, Book 1 in her fantasy romance trilogy will be released in 2015 through Storyvixen Press LTD.

Elizabeth Rose
Was a finalist in the Florida Romance Writers’ Golden Palm Contest in the Young Adult category with her paranormal book, Mary, Mary, scheduled for an April release.
The Border Lords and Ladies boxed set made Amazon’s best seller’s list.
Liz has published six books in the Tarnished Saints’ Series and three in the Cowboys of the Old West Series. Her Western novellas have been in the Amazon Top 100 list (Western category). She is in the process of putting all her books into print, including the series, The Daughters of the Dagger; and MadManMacKeefe.
Her 40th book, The Gunslinger, was just released, and she has a new paranormal Gnarled Nursery Rhymes Series for young adults out this month.

Stephanie Scott
For her manuscript “Alternations,” Stephanie received the Heart of Denver RWA 2014 Molly Award First Place Winner, Young Adult category; and was a finalist in the Georgia RWA 2014 Maggie Unpublished contest, Young Adult category

Denise Swanson
Had three books published in the last year: Murder of a Needled Knitter, A Scumble River Mystery, from Penguin/NAL; Dying for a Cupcake, a Devereaux’s Dime Store Mystery, also from Penguin; and Good Girl Overboard, a Change of Heart series romance from Curtis Brown Unlimited.

Kathy Thigpen
Writing as Regena Bryant, Kathy’s Love’s Remnant was published by Willow Bend Books in September 2014. Kathy has been honored with an Orchid Award for excellence in the arts and entertainment field by the West Suburban Chicago Chapter of Top Ladies of Distinction.

Barb Valentin
Her first book in the Assignment: Romance series , False Start, was published by Gemma Halliday Publishing in October. It also received an Honorable Mention in the Illinois Women’s Press Association’s annual communications competition.

Ann Marie Walker
RT Magazine gave their highest rating to her and her writing partner, Amy K. Rogers, for their debut novel, Remind Me, in the Chasing Fire Series. The contemporary romance from Berkley is out this month.

Margaret Watson
To catch up: In The Donovan Family Series, Watch Me and Find Me came out in December 2013 and Love Me in January 2014. Trust Me came out in November 2014 and Cover Me will be out this month.

Paula White
For those of us who don’t know, Paula is a fifth-generation textile artist and has participated in several mixed media art installations. Her art quilt in honor of her late aunt will go up for auction, and the proceeds will be used to fight domestic violence. Check with Paula for information on display venues. An acquisitions editor at Simon & Schuster is interested in a book proposal about this as well.

Dare to SOAR: May – June

Set * Overcome * Achieve * Receive

May – June

Welcome to our first Dare to SOAR post!

Dare to SOAR is Windy City’s focus on goal setting, where we get to support and encourage each other in order to realize our dreams. It all starts with the first step. The goal.

I’d like to give special thanks to Denise Swanson who shared her very own Dare to Soar ideals with Windy City back in January– “Demonstrating inspiration, motivation and perspiration to achieve success,” inspiring Windy City to take it one step further.

Our May Dare to SOAR participants!

Cindy Maday
Erik Nelson
Jenna DePaul
Katrina Bauer
Kelly Garcia
Patricia Ruocco
Raven Q. Bell
Robin Kuss
Savannah Reynard
Sonali Dev
Stephanie Scott

And our SOARING member of the month is:

Stephanie Scott

SSYoung Adult writer represented by Sarah LaPolla of Bradford Literary. I write contemporary YA and wrote a 1960s-set YA romance. Member of Windy City RWA and the YA-RWA chapter. Library Superfan, award-winning TV-binger, and your cat’s new best friend. I love celebrating other writer’s successes!

Keep dreaming and doing and remember:

Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek.
~ Mario Andretti


Chicago Words!

Dare to SOAR this summer with Chicago-North and Windy City! Tonight we invite you to TWEET your goals, whether it’s for the whole summer, this month, this week or the next hour.

Chicago-North and Windy City are pairing up to present Chicago Words! From 6/6 (TODAY!) – 9/6, by hosting writing challenges on Twitter!

Here’s how it’s going to work:

We will be using the hashtag #chiwords for everything.

Every Friday from 9-10 pm, we’ll have a 1k/1hr challenge. Check in any time from 8:45 – 9 pm by Tweeting @chicagonorthrwa and using the hashtag #chiwords,and then hang out from 10 – 10:15 to report on how you did.These Friday events will be sponsored by our authors, so everyone who checks in will be entered to win a prize from that sponsor, such as, one of their e-books or even one of their actual paper books! (The sponsor will determine what the actual prize is and how to award the prize. It might be a random checker-in. It might be a person who offers up the best line from their 1k that hour. It might be some other criteria. Sponsor’s choice!)

To get the ball rolling, the sponsor will post a quick blog entry Friday morning with something short about their writing process – like, what do they like to drink while they write, or what playlist they’re listening to, or a maybe a pic of their writing environment – whatever they want to put up! They may offer a peek at their planned prize for that night’s check-in as well (again, up to them!)

In addition, every weekend, we will check in at 9 am Saturday and check out at 9 pm Sunday (again, by sending a Tweet to @chicagonorthrwa with the hashtag #chiwords) with reports on how many words you wrote, when you got the best work done, what helped inspire/motivate you that weekend.

AND there will be surprise Twitter events throughout the summer. In fact, YOU could start a surprise writing event ANY TIME between 6/6 and 9/6 just by messaging our Twitter account @ChicagoNorthRWA with the hashtag #chiwords and say, “Hey, I’m writing right now! Come join me!” Or, you know, whatever you want to say.

One point will be awarded for every check-in, and there will be special, as-yet-to-be-determined prizes at the end of the summer for people with the most points!

Our Summer Writing Challenge was inspired by Erica O’Rourke and Clara Kensie and their Summer of All The Words, which they hosted last summer and will host again this summer. (Please check them out at @Erica_ORourke and @ClaraKensie to find out more, or follow the hashtag #SoATW)

Our friend Ricki kicks off our Summer Writing Challenge with the first blog post! Check it out and we’ll see you on Twitter! Chicago-North and Windy City RWA present Chicago Words!

Write on!!!

2013-2014 Windy City Good News!

2013-2014 Good News
Windy City Romance Writers

Librarian of the Year
Nancy McCully, adult/teen reference and readers’ advisory librarian at the Glenside Public Library in Glendale Heights.

Amy Alessio
Taking the High Ground, a YA , is out from 4RV Press.

Mary Jo Burke
“The Last Case” won the Washington DC Romance Writers Marlene contest in the romantic suspense contemporary category.

Paul Calhoun, Jr.
Paul had requests for “Chocolate Covered Potato Chips,” from Christa Desir, Samhain; Avon Impulse; Nicole Resciniti, Seymour Agency; Margo Lipschultz, Harlequin; Laura Bradford, Bradford Literary Agency; Nalini Akolekar, Spencerhill Associates; and Elizabeth Poteet, St. Martin’s Press.

Dyanne Davis
Dyanne had an article in the RWR, “If you’re self publishing, do you still need RWA?” In 2013, she released The Gift, a paranormal romance, in The Undying Love Trilogy, WD Publishing. She published in 2013 a contemporary romance, Giving It Up, and a women’s fiction, An Imperfect Life, and in 2014, the paranormal last book in The Undying Love Trilogy, Full Circle.

Kristin Daniels
Two books by Kristin from Ellora’s Cave: Sunset Tryst in March 2014 and My Tye in April 2013.

Sonali Dev
Sonali has a short story in Scribbling Women and the Real-Life Romance Heroes Who Love Them, an anthology with 27 other romance authors telling their real life love stories. All proceeds go to WIN NYC. A Bollywood Affair comes out in October from Kensington.

Tracey Devlyn
From Sourcebooks Casablanca, Checkmate, My Lord came out in 2013 and received a Publishers Weekly Starred Review. A Lady’s Secret Weapon followed and was an RT Booklovers Top Pick and also a Night Owl Romance Top Pick. Latymer, a novella, came out in January 2014 from TDC Creations, Inc.

Karen Doornebos
Undressing Mr. Darcy, Karen’s women’s fiction/contemporary romance with Berkely, Penguin Random House, received 4 Stars from RT Book Reviews and 5 Stars from

Christine Foutris w/a Sophie Foster
Chris has a request from Amanda Bergeron of Avon Impulse for her contemporary romance, “Never Closer Together.”

Savannah Reynard
Savannah had a full request for Stolen Child from Christa Soule from Samhain and synopses for the following books in the fantasy romance trilogy. She also had a partial request from Margo Lipshultz of HQN.

Kelly Garcia w/a k.d. Atkins
Her YA manuscript, “Late Night Reflections on the Zombie Apocalypse,” took first place in the Emerald City Opener (Seattle RWA), YA Category; first place in the Heartland Romance Authors Show Me the Spark Contest; and third place in The Catherine (Toronto Chapter). It also got her an agent, Beth Phelan of The Bent Agency.

Blythe Gifford
Blythe has published The Witch Finder, a historical romance set on the Scottish Borders, in print and ebook. From Harlequin Historical, the third in her Brunson Trilogy, Taken by the Border Rebel came out last year. Secrets at Court, A Royal Wedding Story, the beginning of another Harlequin Historical series, is out now.

Nancy Hurst w/a Raven Quinn Bell
Nancy received a request from agent Nicole Resciniti for her historical novel, “The Master of Thornfield Hall.”

Vanessa M. Knight
Vanessa’s first book, Second Time’s the Charm, was released by MuseItUp in April 2014. The story is a contemporary romance with suspense elements.

Robin Kuss
Alex Logan from Grand Central Publishing requested her women’s fiction manuscript “Outrage,” and the story also received requests from Cori Deyoe, 3 Seas Literary Agency and Jita Fumich, Folio Literary Agency, and at RWA National, from Audrey LaFehr at Kensington.

DL Larson
Promises My Love came out May 2013. It was a Final
Fifteen in the 2014 Illinois Library Association, “Soon To
be Famous Illinois Author” Contest.

Nicole Leiren
Amanda Bergeron at Avon Impulse requested her
contemporary romance, “More than One Night.”

Cathie Linz
Cathie’s first three vampire romances with heat and humor
written as Cat Devon: Sleeping with the Entity (June
2013), The Entity Within (July 2013), and Love Your Entity
(January 2014). She will be doing three more vampire
romances for St.Martin’s Press, to be released beginning in
mid 2015. Writing as Cathie Linz, two of her reissues are
out in ebook format: Lover and Deceiver and A Glimpse of
Paradise, both in November 2013.

Ann Macela
Ann published a two-book contemporary romance series,
Wolves in Business, not shapeshifters, but alpha business
men. Book 1 is Wolf in Jester’s Clothing. Book 2 is Wolf
on Thin Ice. Both are available as ebooks and in print from
Amazon and CreateSpace.

Cindy Maday
Cindy had a request for “Just Like a Woman,” a humorous
contemporary romance, from Margo Lipschultz at
Harlequin and Amanda Bergeron at Avon Impulse.

Teresa McCarthy
Teresa has Books 3 and 4 of the Colorado Clearbrooks
series, Almost Daybreak and The Mischievous Bride, out
as ebooks. Book 1, The Clearbrooks, has also been
published in audio.

Kate Meader
Out in the Hot in the Kitchen series with Grand Central
are: Feel The Heat (2013), All Fired Up (2013), Hot and
Bothered (2014). Kate has a contract for three books about
Texan tycoons with Entangled Publishing, and another
contract with Pocket/Simon & Schuster for three books
and a novella in a new Chicago firefighters series. The first
story will be a novella in the Baby, It’s Cold Outside
anthology with four other authors, to be released October
2014. The first full length book will release March 2015.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Susan has a new hardback coming out on August 26,
Heroes Are My Weakness. She’s also giving two
workshops at RWA National, one with Jayne Ann Krentz.

India Powers
Over the past 12 months, she has received requests for
“Demon’s Bane,” a paranormal historical romance, from
Nicole Resciniti, The Seymour Agency; Alex Logan,
Grand Central Publishing; Tracy Montoya, Entangled
Publishing; and Rose Hilliard, St. Martin’s Press.

Kelle Z. Riley
Kelle sold a story, “Always A Mother” to Chicken Soup
for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer’s & Other Dementias
(April 2014), Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing
LLC. The book entered its second printing after only one
week of sales. It is garnering praise such as “Now I don’t
feel so alone,” and “I laughed and cried and I feel so
much better now.”

Stephanie Scott
Stephanie had a request for her YA Sabrina-retelling
from Margo Lipschultz from Harlequin Teen.

Denise Swanson
Denise has books from two series of romantic smalltown
mysteries with a touch of humor out now: Nickeled
-and-Dimed to Death (March 2013), Murder of a Stacked
Librarian (September 2014), and Dead Between the
Lines (March 2014).

Barb Valentine
Barb has requests for manuscripts of “Fatty Mattie and
the Comeback Kid” from Laura Bradford, Bradford
Agency; Melissa Jeglinski, The Knight Agency; Nicole
Resciniti, Seymour Agency; Amanda Bergeron, Avon;
Margo Lipshultz, Harlequin; and Elisabeth Poteet, St.
Martin’s Press.

Julie Ann Walker
Julie contracted with Sourcebooks for books 9-12 of her
current romantic suspense series, Black Knights Inc. and
for books 1-3 of her new romantic suspense series, Six
Leagues Salvage. She also won the 2013 Book Buyers
Best Award for In Rides Trouble, was nominated for
National Readers Choice Award for Born Wild, and
nominated for a RITA for Thrill Ride. Thrill Ride, April
2013, and Born Wild, November 2013, made the USA
Today and New York Times lists. Hell For Leather was
chosen as one of Amazon’s Best Books of the Month for
May 2014.

Margaret Watson
Margaret has published as ebooks Personal Best, and
The Donovan Family series, Love Me, Watch Me, and
Find Me.

Paula White
Paula received a request for a full manuscript for her
romantic suspense/thriller “Sweet Home Chicago” from
both Grand Central Publishing and St. Martin’s Press.

Blowing Kisses To: Diane Ladley

Windy City enjoyed a visit from a local Ghost Hunter, story teller, and author from Haunted Hometowns, Diane Ladley.

GHOST1Diane talked about the difference in types of supernatural phenomenon, fakers or charlatans (as she affectionately called them), and showed examples of the tools it takes to hunt ghosts.







Our time was over before we knew it and we were just getting to the good…er…creepy stuff!

A big thank you to Diane for visiting us at Windy City.





Blowing Kisses To: Allie Pleiter

100_3099Our own Allie Pleiter presented “The Chunky Method” of Time Management for writers. She gave a simple and concise formula to help you discover your own “Chunk.”

                                                                                                                                            She further explained, knowing your writing style i.e. Big Chunk, Little Chunk, Mixed Chunk and how many words you can crank out in one Chunk, can help you calculate how long it will take you to complete a first draft, help you to be more productive, and help you to be the kind of professional writer that editors and agents are begging for.


                                                                                                                                                A big thank you to Allie for sharing this with Windy City. And we will all remember to “Respect The Chunk!”


Blowing Kisses To: Rick Tucker

Richard A. Tucker, a former Assistant Special Agent in Charge for the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) joined Windy City for a candid and entertaining look into the real world of the DEA. Rick shared many a story and one can only assume what we heard was the tip of the iceberg. His tales were what great books and movies are made of. We can only hope that Rick will join us again for a Part II. If he does, you don’t want to miss it. A great big than you to Rick for joining us and to Nicole Leiren who was kind enough to tip us off to what a great speaker Rick would be!

DSC02448 DSC02449DSC02450

Blowing Kisses To: Librarians and Booksellers

100_3076Rad Night!

Romance Appreciation Dinner100_3095 2013

Every year Windy City honors librarians and booksellers from the area who celebrate the romance genre.

We get to mix-n-mingle with those who share a common love of all things books, as well as, our beloved romances. We thank Sherry Weddle who hosted this event for us this year and served as our “food fairy” and Kelly Garcia who coordinated the swag baskets. 100_3084100_3098

One lucky librarian gets awarded the Northern Illinois Librarian of the Year Award. This year it was our very own Amy Alessio. Congratulations Amy! One last thanks to all of our Windy City members and our guests who braved the flooded streets to attend. A great evening was had by all! 100_3089