Tag Archives: Virna DePaul

Got Swag?

Barbara Vey -- March 17th, 2014

virna-2Many thanks to today’s guest blogger, Virna DePaul.  Virna is a former criminal prosecutor and national bestselling author of paranormal romance, contemporary romance, and romantic suspense. She writes for Harlequin Romantic Suspense, HQN, and Random House. In her off hours, she loves broadway musicals, spending time with her family and friends, and connecting with other romance readers. 


Swag (noun, verb)

Swag from a Lori Foster event

Swag from a Lori Foster event

1. Slang

a. plunder or booty, as in promotional merchandise

b. The way a person carries herself; confidence, appearance, or style

Romance readers love swag. Which is good, because every year, romance authors go to great lengths to fill hundreds of conference registration bags with little goodies. Why? Because we’re hoping to introduce ourselves to new readers and to remind readers who are already our fans how awesome our books are.

-6The problem is, however, it is very possible—no, probable—that our swag will get lost among the sea of other swag in those bags. That can be a disheartening thought—just like imagining our books lost among a sea of other books would be. But romance writers are a hearty (and creative) bunch, otherwise we wouldn’t be putting our hearts and souls on paper for public consumption to begin with.


Swag is just another extension of our professional brand, one to be taken seriously. It’s a greeting and a handshake to readers when we can’t be physically present. As such, the swag should truly be a representation of ourselves and our stories.

These tips on how to stand out in the overcrowded job market apply beautifully to author swag!

Continue reading the blog here at my new home, BarbaraVey.com.  And stop by tomorrow for my final PW Blog!

Lori Foster’s Reader & Author Get-Together

Barbara Vey -- June 8th, 2012


Hi. joysann here again to tell you about the Annual Reader & Author Get-Together.

Lori Foster, Duffy Brown, and Linda Keller started this little “Get-Together” near Cincinnati eight years ago to be just what it sounds like. They invited a few authors and put out word to a few fans through a loop, and somewhere between 50 and 100 people gathered at the Cincinnati Marriott North to enjoy an informal opportunity to meet and visit.


Now the hotel is overrun with 500 book enthusiasts for most of two days, and it’s become quite an event. Readers can meet favorite and find new authors, authors can work at building their readerships and meet with editors and agents, and everyone can simply enjoy a couple of days of fun in a relaxed and casual atmosphere. Lori says she believes that a big part of the sense of community that develops is from the huge ballroom, open for the whole of the event, allowing participants to come and go as they please, providing plenty of seating, and allowing friends to gather and visit.

Author Island hosted a Country Western costume party with games and prizes

This year there were two book signings: Friday evening with Digital, POD, and other non-traditionally published authors, and those with donated print books to giveaway; Toni Blake, Jill Shalvis and Shiloh Walker. Saturday was the traditional book signing, sponsored by Barnes and Noble, open to the public, and taking up almost every foot of the hotel’s huge open atruim and into the restaurant and bar. Author Sherrilyn Kenyon signed at both events, with her excited die-hard fans waiting patiently for their turn to meet her.

At these events Lori Foster has been organizing an anthology book with donated novellas by herself and other authors, the proceeds of which go to a charity of her choice, this year benefiting the AAF – Animal Adoption Foundation – a no-kill animal shelter in Hamilton, Ohio.

Four of the five Love Bites Authors; Brenda Jackson, Lori Foster, Jules Bennett, Virna DePaul

Love Bites includes stories by Lori, Brenda Jackson, Catherine Mann, Jules Bennett, and Virna DePaul. It’s a remarkable endeavor.

In fact, the whole event is remarkable in that it is an high-energy, inexpensive event which packs a lot of punch for the money. A $50 registration fee includes a pizza night, 2 delicious buffet meals, and a Saturday morning Continental breakfast. One wonders how that can possibly be, but talking with Lori and Duffy Brown, one learns that the whole operation, which runs like clock-work, is done with very dedicated, enthusiastic and inventive volunteers, and the support of sponsors, like Liquid Silver Publishing, Turquoise Morning Press, Secrets Craving Publishing, Samhain Publishing. All of it…registration, the welcoming committee, raffle coordinators, transportation, troops donations coordinator, and official photographer, all of the work is done by volunteers.

One of the biggest features of the event is the Raffle Drawings. Everyone loves winning prizes, and when the money for the raffle tickets goes entirely to a special charity, donations are generously made. There were 175 raffle baskets donated this year from authors, reviewers, agents, editors, publishers, enthusiastic readers, and even the Marriott Hotel. The funds raised were donated to The One Way Farm Children’s Home, a non-profit organization that cares for the abused, abandoned, neglected, troubled youth, and children with disabilities. And the funds raised on this occasion? Nearly $11,000. Quite remarkable.

Lori Foster, Duffy Brown, and Linda Keller, and their intrepid fleet of volunteers are already planning for next year’s event, finding ways to make it run even more smoothly and provide the best of reader entertainment. Watch for registration in January… this year it sold out in less than one week.

Bottom Line: Lori? Duffy? Save me a place for next year, please.

Low County RWA Jumpstart Masterclass Retreat

Barbara Vey -- November 8th, 2010
Virna DePaul

Virna DePaul

Here today as Cub Reporter is Virna DePaul whose debut paranormal suspense series launches in May 2011 by Berkley Books.  Book 1, Chosen By Blood, introduces a unique Para-Ops team that includes a wraith, shape-shifter and mage, as well as a vampire and the human female he’s forbidden to love.

The Low County RWA retreat started on Friday night (October 22) with the arrival of the instructors and participants, all writers, published and unpublished alike.  Author Nina Bruhns, the retreat organizer, served up her famous homemade chimichangas with all the fixings.  Everyone relaxed and introduced themselves, including Bruhns and the week’s other three instructors: Alexandra Sokoloff, Joanna Wayne, and Sherry Lewis.   After great food and conversation, participants shuffled off to find their room assignments and prepare for a busy week.

Joanna Wayne, Cathy Perkins, Virna Paul, Nina Bruhns, Cynthia Cooke, Tracy Montoya, Sharon Marie Lightsey, Roger Jones, Grace Chow, Sherry Lewis, Amy Fagley, Sharon O'Meara Lyon, Veronica alderson, Florina Craven, Dorothy McFalls

Joanna Wayne, Cathy Perkins, Virna Paul, Nina Bruhns, Cynthia Cooke, Tracy Montoya, Sharon Marie Lightsey, Roger Jones, Grace Chow, Sherry Lewis, Amy Fagley, Sharon O'Meara Lyon, Veronica alderson, Florina Craven, Dorothy McFalls

The next morning, return favorite Sokoloff presented a workshop on Mastering Story Structure, which included insight into screenwriting techniques as applied to novels.  After breaking for a light lunch, veteran Intrigue writer Joanna Wayne discussed setting up one’s plot, and Sherry Lewis touched on the all-important topic of character motivation.  The participants then had several hours to walk the beach, write, socialize, and even nap before getting together for small group time.

Nina Bruhns, Top right, Alex Sokoloff, Bottom left Joanna Wayne, Bottom right, Sherry Lewis

Top left, Nina Bruhns, Alex Sokoloff, Bottom left Joanna Wayne, Sherry Lewis

The beauty of this retreat is the craft workshops early in the day, the small group time at night, and the intimate 24/7 atmosphere that encourages writers and instructors to chat one-on-one.  Also encouraged is snacking on popcorn and chocolate while watching anything from the first Harry Potter movie (which Sokoloff helped break down into the eight sequence she lectured about earlier) to a humorous horror spoof, Slither, starring the popular actor from “Castle,” Nathan Fillion.

Throughout the week, attendees showed their culinary skills, serving up crab and shrimp one night and an authentic Cuban meal on another.  Wine was abundant and a true feeling of camaraderie ensures several return attendees each year.  Other workshop topics this year included layering scenes, rewrites, visual and thematic systems for fiction, pacing, and suspense.

Retreat Mansion

Retreat Mansion

Author Dorothy McFalls’ friends had been telling her for years what she’d been missing with the Masterclass and here’s her response:  “Whew, were they right!…I spent a bunch of one-on-one time brainstorming plots, talking about career goals, sharing our hopes and fears with the others in attendance. These conversations usually took place in the kitchen while we were preparing meals…a great parallel to nourishing our creative selves while nourishing our bodies.”

And what about Alexandra Sokoloff, who teaches numerous workshops each year?  Here’s what she had to say:  “[The Masterclass is] one of my favorite workshops in the country.   The writers who come are tremendously motivated, many of them obviously on the brink of publication, and they’ve committed to pushing themselves and their books to the next level.   It’s thrilling to see the publishing deals that have happened in the year since last class, and I know there are more to come this year.”

This was my fourth Masterclass and I’ll be back next year. In addition to the Masterclass, participants can attend other retreat programs, including a weekend retreat and two separate weeks of “Hermit Week.”

Bottom Line: Six nights in a mansion on the beach learning craft and chatting with other writers.  What’s not to love?