Down to Earth Romance

Archive for the ‘Writers’ Conference’ Category

Madeline Hunter-Join Us! Workshop For Writers @VFRomanceWriter @MadelineHunter

You’re invited to an all-day writing workshop offered by Valley Forge Romance Writers, featuring NY Times best-selling historical romance author Madeline Hunter, at Montgomery County Community College in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Register now and join us September 15, 2018!


Bring a work-in-progress or a new story concept and leave with a conflict driven synopsis for a book that will wow readers and editors!  For more information visit Valley Forge Romance Writers.

Madeline Hunter-Workshop For Writers @VFRomanceWriter @MadelineHunter

You’re invited to an all-day writing workshop offered by Valley Forge Romance Writers, featuring NY Times best-selling historical romance author Madeline Hunter, at Montgomery County Community College in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Join us September 15, 2018.


Bring a work-in-progress or a new story concept and leave with a conflict driven synopsis for a book that will wow readers and editors!  For more information visit Valley Forge Romance Writers.

Ellora’s Cave Publishing – Postmortem and Farewell

During Ellora’s Cave Publishing’s early years, to write for them was a sign a romance author had “made it.” Many aspiring and seasoned authors wanted to write for Jasmine Jade Enterprises, and the competition for a contract was fierce. Ellora’s Cave was a pioneer of the ebook industry, and shot erotic romance into the heart of mainstream romantic fiction. The company spawned several copycat publishers, and the competition, including the rise of self-publishing, eventually led to its decline. Things got ugly. But my purpose for this farewell post is not to disparage the organization, but to remember the good times.

I wrote for Ellora’s Cave for years under another pen name, and when I decided to go mainstream, and asked for the return of rights to my books, I had no idea I would escape one of the most divisive business collapses in romance publishing history. I was spared the grief of flagging sales, unpaid royalties, and acrimonious departures. My memories of Ellora’s Cave are still filled with days of bright-eyed optimism, their fabulous convention parties, generous gifts and awards to authors, and their boost to my early career. I try to hold on to those thoughts, though my heart goes out to author friends who were hurt by Ellora’s Cave’s downfall.

Here’s a look back at the last of the glory days, during a visit to their offices in Ohio, on the eve of the first Ellora’s Cave RomantiCon in 2009. I found these pictures in an old file on my flash drive, and thought it would be fun to post them.


Ellora’s Cave mobile book trailer, parked inside their Ohio warehouse.


Ellora’s Cave authors tour the print shop, warehouse, and shipping facility that printed and stored our books and filled customer orders. (left to right: Samantha Cayto, Dalton Diaz, Adele Downs, Mari Freeman, Lee Pearce, Nina Pierce, Samantha Kane.)


The print shop and paper roll for the printing press. It was fascinating to watch a book being created.


Our books were stored in the warehouse opposite the print shop.


Printing the pages of a single book.


Producing the cover art.


Cutting and binding the pages into a completed product.


The warehouse where our books were stored.


The SuperStar Award presented to me in 2009 from the publisher for two of my books. (Currently out of print and circulation.)


The official Ellora’s Cave mascot, housed in an enormous glass case inside the entrance to the editorial offices. Personally, I wouldn’t have wanted my office or cubicle anywhere near this snake, but the EC staff didn’t seem to mind.


The Ellora’s Cavemen cover models and their choreographer. The Cavemen attended all our author events and conventions for readers, and were a lot of fun to hang out with.

Farewell, everyone. Good-bye to a golden era.

(Photos copyright Adele Downs and may not be copied or reproduced without permission.)

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.

Dining in New York after the Workshops #RWA15


Socializing after all-day workshops highlighted my experience at the Romance Writers of America 2015 conference.


Boroughs Publishing Group authors pictured clockwise at Becco on 46th street’s famous restaurant row, left to right: Paula Millhouse, Adele Downs, Christine Ashworth, Alanna Lucas, Jane Lynne Daniels, and Lyn Austin.

Multo bene!



We had the best table in Becco–which included a skylight view. Mouth-watering traditional Italian cuisine and great company created the perfect evening after a long day of meetings, learning, and networking.


Dinner on the rooftop of Lattanzi Ristorante Italiano on New York’s 46th street restaurant row was a once-in-a-lifetime experience I’ll never forget. The open air level was decorated with flowers and lit with candles and each table was accented with tapers. The Jewish-Italian style food was unique and delicious, and the service impeccable.

I ♥ New York.

Boroughs Publishing Group authors pictured clockwise, left to right: Teresa Carpenter, Nancy Sartor, Marilyn Baxter, Adele Downs.


The rooftop was reserved just for Boroughs authors. Who could forget rooftop dining in the heart of Manhattan? Not me. Ever.

See you soon New York, I hope. Until then, I’ll be in my office, writing.


Every woman needs a man that… #RWA15

Returned from the RWA (Romance Writers of America) national conference in New York City both energized and zombie-like. It’s a strange sensation to be simultaneously exhausted but raring to go.

This is my favorite conference souvenir. My publisher got this exactly right, wouldn’t you agree?


During off hours, author friends from my publishing house and I walked around Times Square and watched the street performers. For a price, visitors could gather around break dancers, or have their pictures taken with costumed cartoon characters and actors dressed as the Statue of Liberty. A production company was filming a music video and the crowd was invited to sit in a section of bleachers and act as extras. We watched actors in tuxedos complete a scene for the film.


The most interesting photo-op for hire was the naked young woman wearing only a thong, painted head to toe in red, white and blue in front, and I ♥ New York on her butt cheeks. I couldn’t help but wonder how much money she made a night. Her so-called boyfriend tried to persuade me to take a picture with her, but I declined. I wanted to cover her with my cardigan and call her mother, instead.


More mainstream performers pitched Broadway shows in places like the Marriott Marquis on 46th and Broadway, where Romance Writers of America held their conference. These women danced and posed in the hotel lobby to promote the musical, “Chicago.”


I might be a country girl from rural Pennsylvania, but I love visiting New York.

More soon about my trip to the RWA national conference.


On My Way: New York City, RWA 2015 Conference #RWA15


This country girl is on her way to New York by train for the annual conference of Romance Writers of America. Though I love living in rural Pennsylvania, I enjoy my trips to Manhattan. I’ll share photos and news about the 35th Anniversary conference when I return.

In addition to the writing workshops, there are fun networking events on my conference schedule. A group of Boroughs Publishing authors have reservations for dinner at Becco, a restaurant owned by renowned Italian chef Lidia Bastianich (Lidia’s Italy on PBS) and her son. I love Becco and can hardly wait for my return visit. The food comes straight from heaven. The next time you’re in New York, be sure to put Becco on your must-try list. It’s a short walk to the restaurant from Times Square.

Other conference events include an invitation-only meet and greet hosted by Entangled Publishing, a Boroughs Publishing Group author mixer, a Boroughs Publishing Group Open House, and a private Boroughs author dinner. (Management has kept the restaurant name a secret. Can’t wait to find out where they’re taking us.) A couple of meetings will cap the trip and then I’ll take Amtrak home.

I’ll be back with news of a hot September 15 release! (Hint: Ready for more firefighters?)


Advice From Author Bob Mayer

New York Times best-selling author and former Green Beret, Bob Mayer, often has interesting things to say about the publishing industry. I especially liked his blog post of April 29, So You Want To Make A Living at Writing?: 13 Harsh Truths. In his candid article he included a rant by science fiction author Harlan Ellison called, “Pay The Writer.” I agree the expectation that writers give their work and their time away for no compensation has gotten out of hand.

Bob Mayer presented a half-day workshop at my local chapter of Romance Writers of America, Valley Forge Romance Writers, with his business partner, author Jen Talty, on Saturday, August 4, 2012. The following is a repost of a report I wrote about his presentation on another blog soon after his visit. The information is still fresh, so enjoy.


Bob Mayer’s presentation to writers was offered in three parts: (1) The Original Idea: the heart of your story and key to selling your book. (2) Outlining and Plot: the events of your story. (3) Beyond the ebook: how do you sell it?

Rather than try to regurgitate Bob’s presentation from my notes, I’d like to share some of his insightful and helpful off-the-cuff comments. The following are not direct quotes, but bits of information he imparted that I found interesting.

• Write what you’re passionate about.

• 90% of all requested submissions following author pitch sessions with agents and editors at conferences are never sent.

• The traditional publishing route takes about three years from idea to bookstore.

• Traditional publishers invest their promotional dollars on a few select authors. The remaining authors are left to fend for themselves in a ‘throw it against the wall and see what sticks’ approach to sales and marketing.

• What traditional publishers think readers want, and what readers actually love, are often two different things. The same with filmmakers. When the movie “The Godfather” was completed, the studio feared they had a flop on their hands. They thought the public would hate the film. Instead, audiences loved the movie and it became a huge hit. Later, “The Godfather” became a classic.

• It’s anybody’s guess as to what will happen in this new Wild West of publishing. This is the time to invent something. Try something new. Bob went to Barnes & Noble to pitch a “Nook First” thirty-day exclusive sales option for authors and launched the program when they accepted his idea. This partnership gave him high visibility on Nook and garnered big-dollar sales.

• The secret to publishing success is tenacity.

• An author should have at least three books for sale before expecting long-term sales results. Ebook sales have a ‘long tail’ and build over time. A few years ago, ebooks sold quickly in the first month or so. That has changed. These days, book sales take time to accumulate.

• Privately, I asked Bob if he, or someone he knew, offered a book analysis service. I’m not necessarily interested in hiring a line or content editor, but someone to take a critical look at one of my completed novels and offer her insight as to its strengths and weaknesses.

Bob suggested I ask readers to look at my manuscript. “Readers, not writers,” he said. “Writers tend to be too critical.” So…I’m changing my strategy and searching for beta readers to offer feedback on my novels after my critique partners have helped with the technical aspects.

Do you have publishing insights to share? If so, please leave them in the Comments section.


PUSH TO PUBLISH 2013 Epilogue

Over the weekend I served as a panelist at the Push To Publish 2013 conference, sponsored by Philadelphia Stories magazine and hosted by distinguished Rosemont College. Approximately 100 attendees gathered to meet with agents and editors, attend workshops, and network.

In his keynote speech “Stories We Tell Ourselves” award-winning literary author and Professor at University of Alabama, Michael Martone, had these nuggets to share: “We tell stories because we are human, and we are human because we tell stories. The true regions of the world are mapped by the stories we tell. Mythologies…acknowledge human problems.”

Fiction writers Gregory Frost (moderator; fantasy), Cordelia Frances Biddle (historical), Jon McGoren (thriller), Adele Downs (romance) shared the stage to discuss our respective genres in today’s competitive marketplace. It was my pleasure to meet these talented and gracious authors, and I enjoyed my time with them. I hope the attendees of Push to Publish enjoyed their time with us, too.

Gregory Frost (l), Adele Downs (c), Cordelia Biddle (r).

Gregory Frost (l), Adele Downs (c), Cordelia Biddle (r).

Picturesque Rosemont College in Pennsylvania

Picturesque Rosemont College in Pennsylvania

Volunteers greet attendees at the 2013 Push To Publish conference.

Volunteers greet attendees at the 2013 Push To Publish conference.




Push To Publish Conference 2013, Register Now!

Push to Publish 2013: Strategies and Techniques to Get Your Work in Print and Online

Start: 10/12/2013 9:00 am

End: 10/12/2013 5:00 pm

Where: Rosemont College, 1400 Montgomery Ave., Rosemont, PA 19010.


For Complete Conference Information CLICK HERE.

Whether you are an established writer or just getting started, this one-day workshop will provide valuable resources you can use to get your work in print and online. Highlights include:

•Speed date with the editors and agents: Meet editors and agents who will review and offer feedback on your work (bring up to 5 pages of fiction, poetry, or nonfiction to review and discuss). See complete details for a list of participating agents and editors.

•Learn how to increase your chances of getting published.

•Discuss the new writing trends with professionals in the community.

•Get great marketing and networking tips to break into the competitive world of publishing.

Adele Downs will represent the Romance genre during the following panel discussion:

1:15-2:15 Breakout Session I – McShain/Dorothy McKenna Brown Science Center (Building #2 on campus map) :

A: SELLING YOUR GENRE FICTION Panelists: Gregory Frost (moderator), Jon McGoran, Cordelia Frances Biddle, Adele Downs.

For Complete Information about PUSH TO PUBLISH 2013, visit

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