Down to Earth Romance

Archive for the ‘For Writers’ Category

Retro Peach Pie Recipe from author Adele Downs #dessert

It’s peach season, and peaches might be the best tasting fruit on the planet. I love them, which I why I contributed my original down home Retro Peach Pie recipe to the multi-author dessert cookbook Eat, Love, Write that also offers advice from romance authors on relationships and writing.

Lois Winston, editor of Eat, Love, Write, has featured my original recipe on her book blog. Be prepared to bake and enjoy something delicious!

Find the instructions here:

Buy Bake, Love, Write!

Available in digital and print formats.

#Words WTH? Why We Need Editors – #photography by Adele Downs

This is why we need editors–to avoid expensive and embarrassing spelling errors. See the mistake?

Photo copyright Adele Downs 2017

Aspiring or Published Romance Authors-The Sheila Contest Opening for Entries

Are you an aspiring romance author or a published author who’d like feedback on a new manuscript? The Sheila Contest, hosted by Valley Forge Romance Writers, can help.

On the path to publication of my novel LUXURY MODEL WIFE, releasing May 2016, I entered The Sheila Contest with an early draft of the manuscript under a different title, and finaled in the competition. Though I was happy to have scored high enough to make the cut and win a finalist badge, I didn’t win my category, or even take one of the top three spots.

Fueled by the desire to make my book a winner, I took the feedback I received from the judges to heart and revised the entire manuscript. After revisions, I polished the book again. And again. And again. I changed the title to LUXURY MODEL WIFE, and when I thought the manuscript was ready, pitched the rags to riches story to my publisher. Within a week I received an email with the magic words “love the book” and a contract arrived soon after.

If you’d like feedback on a work in progress or the opening of a completed novel, The Sheila Contest opens for entries March 13. You do not have to be a member of Romance Writers of America to enter.


The Sheila Contest 2016

Sponsor: Valley Forge Romance Writers

Fee: $25 for VFRW members, $30 for non-members

Opens for Entries: March 13, 2016
Deadline: April 16, 2016

Eligibility: Participation is open to all romance writers who are unpublished, self-published, and published. Entry must be the author’s original unpublished work and not under contract.

Entry: First 20 pages of manuscript and up to 5 page unjudged synopsis.(25 page total)

First Round Judges: Three (3) qualified, trained judges, including: General, PRO and PAN members.

Categories and Final Judges:

Single Title: Junessa Viloria, Penguin Random House

Historical: Stephany Evans, Fine Print Literary Management

Erotic: Sara Megibow, KT Literary

Romantic Suspense: Alicia Condon, Kensington Publishing

Fantasy/Futuristic/Paranormal: Nicole Resciniti, The Seymour Agency.

Best of the Best – 1st place winners from the final round will move on to the Best of the Best round, judged by Best Selling Authors and Booksellers:

Madeline Hunter – New York Times & USA Today Best Selling Author

Mariah Stewart – New York Times & USA Today Best Selling Author

Terri Brisbin – USA Today Best Selling Author

Joan Silvestro –  Indie Bookseller, Hamilton Book Trader

Heather Soligo – Traditional Bookseller, Barnes & Noble, Christiana Mall

Grand Prize for Best of the Best: $100

Top Prizes: Certificates, and the 1st through 4th place winners will be printed in RWR Magazine. (Romance Writers Report is the trade magazine of Romance Writers of America.)

For more information please visit our website:

We Holiday Partied with Benedict Cumberbatch (Sorta’)


Members of Valley Forge Romance Writers, a Pennsylvania chapter of Romance Writers of America, celebrated the holidays in style with special guest Benedict Cumberbatch’s cardboard facsimile. Benedict stood patiently for hours to pose with authors including (left to right) Judi Fennell, Adele Downs, Terri Brisbin, and Leslie Lighton.

Authors pictured with Adele Downs in less than flattering, but fun, selfies, top left to top right are: Veronica Forand, Lynn Kellan, Alleigh Burrows, and Stephanie Julian.

Authors featured in the center photos with Adele Downs are Lynn Kellan, Terri Brisbin, Cate Price, Kristin Contino, and Leslie Lighton.

We enjoyed appetizers, wine, desserts, wine, a gift exchange, wine, desserts, and lots of laughs at our holiday bash. Lucky Veronica Forand won the cardboard version of Benedict Cumberbatch.

Guest Post-Paula Millhouse, Original Map Art

Please welcome my talented guest Paula Millhouse, whose original maps of the Kingdom of Chalvaren, the world she created for her fantasy novel Chalvaren Rising, intrigued me so much that I invited her to my blog to share her artistry with you. Paula is here to describe her fascinating process. Please be kind and like or leave a comment for Paula, and then check out her new release.

~ Best, Adele


Cartography and Maps in Fantasy Worlds by Paula Millhouse:

Maps are important parts of Fantasy worlds. As a key to world-building a writer must see where her characters live, how the climate affects them, where water sources are located, and the best routes for trade, protection, and natural resources.

As a nod to Mr. Tolkien who inspired me with his maps of Middle Earth as a child, I decided, “HEY – my Fantasy Romance novel, Chalvaren Rising, needs a map too. I’m an artist – I can provide that.”

Kingdom of Chalvaren (c)Paula Millhouse/Boroughs Publishing Group 2015


Map #1

Developing a Watercolor Painting

Here’s the first really rough draft of my map. Kinda ugly, right? Just like a first draft of a novel. You kinda know it’s got potential, but… you’re not willing to share that ugly puppy with anyone.


Draft 2: This is my developmental edit

I took my really rough composition above, thought on it, and reconstructed it. I edited out the parts that didn’t work, added new elements like any great Cartographer would to ground the map’s Reader, and I revised the entire painting. I went to my photo-imaging program Gimp, and added text to the base image.


Draft 3: How the Process of Creativity is Unified

Finally, I added my copy edit – which visually included development of the pencil dragon drawings, and what I thought might be the final text images. I love this edition. This is how art is made, whether with brushes and watercolors, or with the text of your prose. It’s a process. No matter what, I created this world of Chalvaren, and I feel her and now I see her not only in my imagination, but also on the page. This original watercolor painting now hangs in my house in honor of the love I have for Chalvaren’s territories, her castles, her dragons, and her citizens.


But, and here’s the caveat of this post, remember Editors Always Matter.

My amazing editor over at Boroughs Publishing Group, Christopher Keeslar, took my piece of art and transformed it even further into what I consider to be the finished product, just like he did with my novel.

I adore the “Mappiness” of the image below, don’t you?

We were able to include the map in the book, a special nod to JRR Tolkien who introduced me to my first fictional dragon and fantasy world.

Kingdom of Chalvaren (c)Paula Millhouse/Boroughs Publishing Group 2015



With the love of Kort, Chalvaren’s warrior-prince heir, Mia Ansgar will seize her birthright and become the great dragon-riding wizardess prophesied to free that elven kingdom from her embittered sorceress kin.

Chalvaren Rising_FINAL


Twenty-five years ago, Theo Ansgar abandoned the Kingdom of Chalvaren for a hiding place on another world. Some called him traitor. Some, thief. Now his fully grown daughter Mia must return to the land of her birth…and their war.

It was the elf prince Kort Elias who brought her back. Theirs was an instant connection, an inescapable union of body, soul and sorcery, reminding Mia of what she truly is, and what she must become. There is also Magnus, destined to be more potent than any wyrm Chalvaren has ever seen, a three-day-old dragonlet Mia must nurture and then ride. And then there is the Dragonstone, an artifact of power nonpareil. Joined, they can tip the scales of battle against the wraith-possessed forces of darkness, of Mia’s own embittered kin.

Redemption will be offered, the protected will become the protector, and an ancient prophecy will come to fruition, but only righteous love can conquer all.


Author’s Bio

Paula's Headshot 1-15

Paula Millhouse is the writer of books where fantasy, romance, and suspense collide, including Chalvaren Rising, it’s prequel, Dragonstone, and Three Wishes. Dragonstone also appears in the anthology, A Gift of Fantasy.These stories are published by Boroughs Publishing Group.

“I wanted to find out what would happen if I designed a world where fantasy lovers get their adventure quest, but also gave their girlfriends a healthy dose of grown-up romance along the way. How can we blend High Fantasy and Romance into a story that leaves the Reader breathless, where magic and suspense collide in a spellbinding imaginary world?”

She is also the author of a romantic suspense series, where fast-paced thrillers collide with high-heat romance. The Wishes Chronicles includes Careful…, and All Your Wishes…

When not following her muse on quests for happily ever afters, Paula works in the field of medicine as a Family Nurse Practitioner by day, and micro-gardens in her potager with her husband and their pack and pride of furry babies. Born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, where Spanish moss whispers tales in breezes from the Atlantic Ocean, as a child Paula soaked in the sunshine and heritage of cobblestones, pirate lore, and stories steeped in savory mysteries of the south.

She’s a PRO member of Romance Writers of America, and the Fantasy, Futuristic, & Paranormal Writers specialty chapter.

She lives in the mountains now, but she honors her southern heritage as a storyteller by sharing her adventures in fiction with readers.

Find the Author here:

Amazon Author Page
Facebook Page
You Tube

Contemporary Romance Night at Lady Jane’s Salon Philly @LadyJanesPhilly


The consensus of book lovers who attended Contemporary Romance Night at Lady Jane’s Salon Philly was, “We had fun!”

Despite torrential rain with heavy downpours and street flooding, romance lovers turned out for an evening with authors Susan Scott Shelley, Judi Fennell, and Adele Downs at Main Point Books in Bryn Mawr, PA and gave us a warm welcome. Susan read from her book Rekindled, Adele read from Lip Service, and Judi read from What A Woman Wants. We sipped wine, nibbled chocolate, gave away prizes, and had lots of laughs despite the weather.

From Left to Right: Susan Scott Shelley, Adele Downs, Judi Fennell

From Left to Right:
Susan Scott Shelley, Adele Downs,
Judi Fennell

Some of the guests at Lady Jane's Salon Philly

Some of the guests at Lady Jane’s Salon Philly

Susan Scott Shelley, author and one of three founders of Lady Jane's Salon Philly with visiting author Ursula LeCoeur

Susan Scott Shelley, author and one of three founders of Lady Jane’s Salon Philly, with visiting author Ursula LeCoeur

Proceeds from the event benefitted the Center for Literacy, Philadelphia.

Author Terri Brisbin Visits Ireland–Photos and Travelogue @SignetEclipse @DiscoverIreland

Please welcome my author friend Terri Brisbin to Down To Earth Romance. I invited Terri to tell us about her recent trip to Ireland because she researched her exciting new series in a place I’ve always wanted to visit. I’ve been told by others who have been to the Emerald Isle that, in addition to living in a beautiful country, the Irish are the friendliest people in the world. I hope you enjoy Terri’s travelogue and will leave a comment for her.

Best–Adele Downs


‘Twill Do Ye No Good!  Or My Trip to Ireland with Writers
by Terri Brisbin


The title of this blog post refers to the scene in THE QUIET MAN when someone asks for directions and the resulting confusion and humor.

I was lucky enough to get the chance to travel to Ireland this past May and even luckier to go with some wonderful writers. Eileen had been there before and she was our leader and main driver. I served as backup driver and navigator. Laurie was the keymaster because they use actual keys for hotel rooms and cars there and she kept them safe for us! And Loralee was our scribe, taking notes and adding commentary through the trip.

And it was grand! Brilliant! Lovely! (those three words are the Irish triumvirate!) We began calling it the 50-shades-of-green tour because we did see more shades of the color green than I’d ever thought possible. Around every turn a new vista spread before us and we drove through hills and mountains, along the sea and lakes and through farmland.  We met up in Dublin and spent some time there before renting a car and going off on the real adventure.

I had two purposes for the trip—the main one was researching. The last book in my Novels of the Stone Circles series takes place in Ireland and I needed to visit some possible locations to see if it would all work the way I wanted it to. So, I headed over early and sought out the Neolithic sites on the northwest coast – Knocknarea and the Megalithic cemetery and stones of Carrowmore.  These are ancient and magical places, built centuries ago for some purposes that remain lost in time. Knocknarea is the site of Maeve’s cairn where the powerful queen in the Irish mythology is believed to be buried…or honored. Though I could not make the climb to the cairn, I spent time scouring the landscape of Carrowmore. It’s amazing how all the tombs and cairns and stones align at certain times of the year.


The other magical place for me was the Drombeg stone circle on the southeast coast. It is where the final battle between good and evil will happen in my story and I was physically affected when I approached it. I could not breathe. I could not go near it. Until I walked around the circle several times, I felt a barrier keeping me out. Then, when I could at last enter, I could not stop from crying. Strange? Oh yes, but there was something there, something more, something different and ancient there. It is a place of great power.


Dublin was great—I visited Trinity College and saw the Book of Kells. Since I’d visited Iona where the book is believed to have been created before, it was great to see where it ended its journey. Dublinia – the Viking center of Dublin – was an interesting place and we did get into trouble there…not the first nor the last time during the trip!

And lost!

We got lost every single time we got into the car (well, with a very few exceptions to that!). No part of our journey around Ireland did not include backtracking and missing signs and turns. And that was in spite of a GPS, a half-dozen ordinance-style maps and iPhones with maps! I now believe that maps and guidebooks are just part of the infamous Irish storytelling! Seriously, maps included roads that either a) do not exist, or b) are no longer there! And though US roads that are odd numbered generally go north-south and even numbered ones go east-west, Irish roads circle around several times and end whenever they want and disappear when they decide to!

Of course, the best part of getting lost is asking for directions and that’s the part of the trip that really showed the Irish people’s gift of storytelling. I have never laughed so much in my life as the times during the trip that involved asking directions – my favorite happened while I was there alone and in Ennis. I stopped there to pick up some basic supplies for my solo part of the trip and got completely lost. So, I asked an older couple how to get to the road to the Cliffs of Moher.  Honestly, I struggled not to laugh when the husband got to the part –“this road ends in a T-intersection, do you know what that is? Grand! So you go to the T, but make sure to take the left turn before you reach the T…”  No, really, those were the directions! Then his wife stepped in and said he’d gotten it all wrong and told me another completely different way to go. Lost, I tell you. Lost!


Our trip ended on the Dingle peninsula where we rented a ‘cottage’ just yards away from the westernmost spot in Ireland and Europe for a week—and that was the second purpose of the trip—writing. We’d planned a week of writing there but with so much history around us we didn’t stay put. The highlight of the week was the chance to meet with Isabel Bennett, a leading archeologist of the Dingle area! It happened through serendipity – a chat in a bar with someone and a suggestion that if I was interested in standing stones, she was the woman to talk to.  The others, writers through and through, came along and we all had questions for Ms. Bennett and she answered them – and gave us directions to the Arda Mór standing stones! You can guess how that all went? LOL – lost, but in the highest places around Dingle with lots of cows and with spectacular views.


So, Ireland was magical and mystical and green! The people were wonderful and friendly and the places beautiful and breathtaking. I found lots of inspiration for my current and future projects and made 2 new friends. And I laughed more than I think I ever have. Grand! Brilliant! If you get the chance to go, do it! For whatever reason, go! You will not regret it ever….and make sure you have lots of batteries for your cameras…you’ll need them!


Terri Brisbin is the author of more than 35 historical, paranormal and fantasy romances and her next release- RAGING SEA – will hit the shelves on October 6, 2015.


Visit her website – – for lots of info about her, her books, events and more.

“Like” her on FB –  or be her friend at

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