It’s My Book Birthday!!!

I can’t believe it’s finally here! As of today, I am officially a published author. EEP!!!

But I had lots of help getting here. First, I’d like to thank Kensington Publishing and Wattpad for providing this amazing opportunity. Without them, I can honestly say publishing would have never happened. I’d also like to thank the countless authors I’ve met and wonderful friends I’ve made along the way. Their consistent kindness and support encouraged me to pursue my dream. And finally, my deepest gratitude, respect and love goes out to every person who has read my book, including my oldest and dearest friends and family. If it weren’t for you, Strawberry Wine would still be a story stuck in my head. THANK YOU all from the bottom of my heart!

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How do you know if a first love is made to last?

Addison Monroe was eighteen when she fell for Jake Grady, a college student working on her family’s farm for the summer. With his sapphire eyes and killer smile, Jake could have had any girl in Lakeside, Georgia. But he wanted Addy, and for those brief, wonderful months—before circumstances drove them irrevocably apart—they belonged to each other.

Ten years later, Addy is engaged to a doctor and working in Atlanta as a physician’s assistant. Life feels full and satisfying. Yet memories of that long-ago summer and wine-flavored kisses are hard to shake. On a return visit to Lakeside, Addy crosses paths with Jake again, and soon finds herself at an unexpected crossroads. So much has changed, and Addy has chosen another route. And the magic of first love can never be rekindled…can it?

Available now and please feel free to share with your romance-loving friends! 🙂

Kensington   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-A-Million   iTunes   Google Play   Kobo

See You In 2017!

 

Fresh starts and positive changes come to mind as we bring in the new year, and I know many are thrilled to say goodbye to 2016. Instead of focusing on what went wrong this year, I’ve been trying to remember all of the things that went right. In addition to making some wonderful new friends, I feel I’ve grown – not only as a person but as a writer. So as we celebrate 2017 and all it has to offer, I’ll be counting my blessings and wishing you more. May the new year bring you much happiness and good fortune!

Love Always,

Darly

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What Makes A Good Romance?

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When I was younger, I used to borrow books from the library. No, no — I don’t mean check them out with my library card. I mean borrow them. You know: stuff one inside my book bag before anyone noticed, smuggle it out of the library and into my house then read it underneath the privacy of my covers by the dim yellow glow of a flashlight swiped from my father’s work bench. When I put the book up for the night, I’d carefully conceal it underneath my mattress where my parents would never find it. And when I finally finished it, I’d return it to its rightful place on the library shelf and find another.

Borrow, read, return, and repeat.

What genre was I so secretive about? Romance, of course. Something eleven-year-old me wasn’t allowed to read, and something adult me still can’t get enough of.

On January 31st, 2017, my very own romance novel will be sitting on book store shelves. True story! But between you and me, I never intended to publish. Not that I didn’t want to. It had always been something I’d fantasized about, even as a child. I just didn’t think something like that could ever happen to someone like me. So when I wrote Strawberry Wine, I wrote it for me. I wrote it for the story that played over and over inside my head every time I heard the song by the same name on the radio, performed by country singer Deana Carter. I never actually thought anyone would read it! And now, as I contemplate my second published novel, I’m left to wonder: what makes a great romance? Here are my thoughts:

  • The main ingredient is … you guessed it. Romance. Romance has to be the main plot. Not just sex. I mean, sex is good. Very good. But I want the whole will they or won’t they end up together? I want the slow burn of infatuation that inevitably builds into a raging inferno of love (so cheesy, I know!).
  • I want meaningful connections with secondary characters. They help make the story more believable. And above all else, authenticity is a must. Secondary characters give the story depth and can be an excellent way to introduce a bit of contrast or comedy. Even tragedy, if you must.
  • I want conflict. Not in real life, of course, but in books. The best way to do this is to make sure at least one of your main characters is fighting the relationship. Do they have a history of failed affairs? Are they damaged in some way? Suffering from a horrific loss? Is the romance forbidden? Internal conflict is more important than external conflict (and yes, you need both) because the reader needs to be left wondering will they or won’t they end up together? It’s especially successful if the internal conflict and the external conflict come into play simultaneously. It gets me every single time!
  • Perfection is for chumps! I don’t want perfect characters, I want them to be flawed. I want them to be human; to be real. I want them to make mistakes and I want consequences to their actions. Imperfect characters make for better storytelling, and writers want readers to experience emotions through the characters they’ve created. Not only that, but by the end of the story, your characters need to have grown. They can’t grow if they have no weakness.
  • I, myself, want that happy ending. At least in a romance. It’s a must! By the end of the book, I want to have fallen in love with the couple and their journey, and I want them to end up together. But this isn’t always the case. A happy ending isn’t guaranteed, and some readers are okay with that. It’s all a matter of personal preference. Happy endings are mine. What’s yours?

These are what make a good romance for me, but what makes a good romance for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Introducing Wattpad Studios – Aron Levitz will lead new division as head of Wattpad Studios

(Reblogged)

One more amazing thing to look forward to from Wattpad!

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At Wattpad, we believe that the future of entertainment will be driven by communities of storytellers and backed by powerful data and insights. Today, we are one step closer to this future with the introduction of Wattpad Studios.

Operating like a multi-channel network (MCN), Wattpad Studios will partner with the entertainment industry to co-produce Wattpad stories for print, film, television, and digital platforms.

With insights on approximately 250 million original story uploads and access to over two million creators, Wattpad is in a unique position to partner with the entertainment industry. Wattpad stories reflect what people love in life, on the screen, and in the depths of their imaginations; and as a result, Wattpad stories are always culturally relevant. With Wattpad Studios, entertainment executives can keep their finger on the pulse of pop culture and also reduce the guesswork involved during the traditional development process.

Aron Levitz has been promoted…

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Sayonara, RT Booklovers Convention 2016!

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Wow, what a ride. For my very first writers’ convention ever, I really hit the jackpot (no gambling pun intended)!

For those of you who do not know, I attended this year’s RT Booklovers Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada—six fun-filled days where I had the opportunity to mix business with pleasure! There were over 200 workshops readers and writers could attend featuring a wide range of topics, from YA Spooky Slumber Party to Charmed by the Cowboy (and everything in between). Feel like discussing New Adult trends with the very writers you read? There was an event for that! Are you an aspiring author ready to pitch your book to several eager agents and publishers? There was an event for that, too!

You could literally hob-nob with your favorite authors at one panel then go straight to another where you’d receive a gift bag full of goodies, including books—yes, FREE BOOKS! It doesn’t get any better than that (just make sure you have plenty of room in your suitcase to take them all home)! It truly was an amazing experience. And on the final day of the convention, more than 625 authors gathered at the Giant Book Fair to sign their books, including Brenda Drake, Jennifer Armentrout, Shayla Black, Sylvia Day, Kiera Cass, Eloisa James, Tessa Dare, Anna Todd … and the list goes on and on. Talk about a fan-girl experience! As an avid reader, this convention was a dream come true. And as an author, I found it to be very inspirational.

Participants could either register for the full six day event, which included several after-hour parties, or purchase individual day passes. Basically, it was a giant party where you could mix and mingle with readers, authors, bloggers, editors, agents and publishers. In fact, there was so much to do you had to pick and choose! It was impossible to fit everything in.

My advice to anyone hoping to attend a future event—besides wear comfortable shoes—is to go over the schedule very carefully and decide which workshops are most important to you. Every hour, new events and panels begin and often times there are several interesting topics taking place at once. You’ll need to know in advance which ones to hit so you do not miss out on something you really want to do. And don’t forget to leave room to eat or before you know it you’ll have missed meals!

After it was all said and done, I left Las Vegas feeling exhausted yet motivated. I met new friends and found something I would love to participate in every year—and plan to! Next year the convention will take place May 2nd—May 7th in Atlanta, Georgia. Who knows … maybe I’ll even be signing my very own book at that one. Eek!

So mark your calendars now! I promise—you won’t regret it.

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Authors Lindsey Summers, Ali Novak, Sarah Benson and me … living it up at RT Booklovers Convention 2016!

Countdown to the RT Booklovers Convention

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So, I’m counting down the mere hours until I head to my very first writers’ conference. And while I should be feeling like this:

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I’m feeling more like this:

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Don’t get me wrong. I am super—and I mean super—excited to have the opportunity to attend. Seriously, this is a dream come true. There are going to be so many talented authors there, authors whose books I’ve obsessed, and in some cases, down-right drooled over.

And then there will be me.

Gulp.

I will be flying into Las Vegas and stepping foot inside my very first convention one year to the day that I found out my story Strawberry Wine would be published. One year to the day. Woah. Talk about a crazy coincidence. And when I think about how much my life has changed over the past twelve months, I’m left speechless.

I’ve been told I’ll have a blast, and I am quite certain I will … especially since I’ll be meeting some writing friends (who I have only corresponded with online) for the very first time face to face. That alone is surreal.

But what have I gotten myself into? I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared out of my mind.

I have no idea what to expect. None. But I do have my business cards. Can you believe it? Me … with business cards? I never would have guessed I would need business cards. I also have an itinerary: meet as many people as I can. I’m in the mindset to make connections. Networking equals knowledge, and I am prepared to soak it all in.

One thing I do know is that if it weren’t for Wattpad and Kensington Publishing I wouldn’t be facing this new experience at all. The amount of gratitude I feel toward them, my family for supporting me, my friends for their consistent encouragement and the lovely people who call themselves my “readers” takes my breath away.

So, to those of you I have mentioned … thank you. This is a gift not many people are given but for some crazy, wonderful reason I have received.

I promise to make the most of it.

Welcome to Camp NaNoWriMo!

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April is right around the corner and you know what that means: it’s Camp NaNoWriMo time!

What is Camp NaNoWriMo?

Well if you’re familiar with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), where you commit to writing 50,000 words during the month of November, you’ll find that Camp NaNoWriMo is somewhat similar, only a little more laid back. At camp, YOU get to set your own writing goal! Whether you want to write a novel, edit a first draft, tackle a script or maybe some short stories, Camp NaNoWriMo will be there to encourage and support you along the way.

How does it work?

During the month of April (and then again in July), you will challenge yourself to write every single day. That’s the first step to establishing a habit that will last throughout the entire year (and with any luck result in a completed manuscript).

Camp NaNoWriMo offers several online writing groups, which they cleverly call cabins (to give you that whole camping vibe). You’ll meet other “campers” by being sorted into a cabin based on your age, genre, or writing goals.

Already have a group of writers you’d like to bunk with?  You can create a private cabin for you and your friends to share! How cool is that?

According to the Camp NaNoWriMo website:

To join a public cabin, you must first make sure you’ve:

  1. Created a writing project for the current session of Camp
  2. Filled out your profile.
  3. Set your preferences on the Cabin Settings page:

If you want to be sorted into a cabin randomly, select the “Surprise me with random cabin mates!” option and click “Submit.”

If you’d prefer being in a cabin with writers that share similar interests, select “I’m looking for campers that match specific criteria.” Then, you’ll be able request cabin mates within your age group, writing in your genre, and/or with similar word-count goals in mind. Once you’ve selected all the preferences you’d like, click “Submit.”

Cabin assignments will begin shortly before the start of the event and will continue throughout the month on a rolling basis.

Joining a private cabin is a little different:

  1. If you’re acting as the cabin administrator, go to the Cabin Settings page and select “I want to create a private cabin.”
  2. Once in your cabin, you can invite your friends by typing their usernames into the invitation field. You can invite up to 11 Campers. A Camper must have created a profile, a novel, and deselected “I don’t want cabin invitations this session” to be eligible.
  3.  First, make sure you have defined a project for the upcoming event.
  4. On your Cabin Settings page, make sure you have: 
    • Selected “I don’t want to be included in a cabin” so you are not sorted into a random cabin. 
    • Deselected the “I don’t want cabin invitations this session” option.
  • When you’re invited to a private cabin, the invitation will pop up the next time you log in to the website or refresh the Camp NaNoWriMo page. “Join Now” will take you to your new cabin home and “No Thanks” will delete the invitation.

You’ll find all sorts of inspiration and conversation on the Camp NaNoWriMo website and there’s even a camp store where they sell a variety of merchandise, from t-shirts and hoodies to pencils and books.

Not enough? Visit Camp NaNoWriMo on Facebook and Twitter and start networking!

One of the great things about the NaNoWriMo community is that you’re never alone. Whether you’ve been writing for years or just getting started, you’ll have the opportunity to meet other authors and forge friendships with people who share the same interests as you.

So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags, grab your bug spray and head on over to camp!