Four to Tango

IMG_0669Even once an author has typed “The End” on her story, there’s still plenty of work to be done between typing the final chapter and getting the book “on the shelf” for readers. While there are plenty of indie authors who handle the whole production from formatting to cover design themselves, I’m not one of them. There many who do such things better than me and I like being on speaking terms with my children.

On my romance blog, Mariposa’s Musings, we’re celebrating the publication of my latest MC Wedding Tango KINDLEMariposa Cruz title, Wedding Tango.  My editor, Marian Kelly, formatter, Stevie DeInk and cover designer, Harris Channing, each chat about their favorite romantic locale because Wedding Tango is all about a destination wedding gone wrong.  The same crew has worked on the entire Rhythm & Romance series and once again I’m thrilled with the final result.  Marian and Harris also worked with me on Ever After.

Stop by Mariposa’s Musings today and visit the rugged Na Pali Coast or the fairytale castles of Austria without having to grab a passport or pack a bag.


Getting More Mileage from Writing Conferences

Sam's Town

Even with not playing slots, my trip to Sam’s Town for the 20Books Conference resulted in a jackpot of opportunities.

Maybe one of your resolutions this year is to attend a writer’s conference. While conferences are a valuable source of information, often pearls wisdom gleaned from a conference are often left to languish on a laptop or notebook. Here’s a few tips on how to better leverage your new-found knowledge.

  • Create a to-do list based on conference materials. Which includes following up with any contacts that you met at the conference. One of my to-do’s from the 20 Books to 50K conference resulted in an interview with Cameron Coral who then invited me to be a guest on her blog.
  • Share what you’ve learned. Conference re-caps make great blog posts. Courtney Kenney recently posted an excellent re-cap of the 20 Books to 50K conference.
  • Schedule time to review your notes a few weeks to a month after the conference. Do any new action items come to mind?
  • Make a date for lunch or coffee with one of your writer peers to discuss the conference highlights. Additional discussion will reinforce what you’ve learned.  Besides there’s something magic about sharing knowledge over a good cup of coffee or a delicious meal.

Wishing all of you much success with your creative endeavors in 2018!

Writer Interview-Cameron Coral

Brink-12-9-17Sometimes being stuck in line at the hotel reservation desk is a good thing. While waiting for check-in at Sam’s Town, I met Cameron Coral, one of the amazing indie authors attending 20Books Las Vegas!

Tell me about your latest book.  BRINK is a dystopian cyber-thriller that takes place in futuristic Spark City. The main character is a woman named Ida. After several years in the military, her time is up, and she’s able to return to civilian life. She ends up in Spark City where she hopes to start over and leave her troubled past behind.

But she intervenes in a hostage situation, and others discover her secret–she can bring people back from the brink of death. The mayor of Spark City is terminally ill. When he discovers her ability, he will stop at nothing to find her and unleashes his robot army to hunt her down.

Imagine Blade Runner meets La Femme Nikita,  and you get a sense of BRINK.  I enjoy writing strong female protagonists inspired by characters like Ripley in the movie, Aliens, and Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games. You can expect my books to have strong female characters who kick ass.

What’s next for you? I’m busy at work on Book Two of the Spark City series. You’ll learn a lot more about Ida and other characters from BRINK in subsequent books. I’m planning to release the sequel in early 2018, along with at least two more novels in the series.

Also in the works, I am writing an apocalyptic novella series set in Chicago. Imagine waking up one day to find an entire city population is gone. What would you do? How would you react now that we are so dependent on mobile phones and GPS? This scenario has always fascinated me.

Who are your writing role models? Ever since my stepdad gave me my first Stephen King novel at age eight, I’ve been hooked on horror and the supernatural. I was a late bloomer and learned to read later than other kids, but once I started, I was a voracious reader.

Stephen King’s productivity throughout his career has been amazing. When I was a kid, some people laughed him off. It’s a testament to his dedication, consistency, and talent that he has become one of the most successful writers of all time.

I am also inspired by Ray Bradbury, Frank Herbert, and more recently by George R.R. Martin and Octavia Butler. Sci-fi fans should absolutely read Parable of the Sower by Butler. It’s an apocalyptic novel that she wrote in the early 1990s, and it’s eerily predictive of our current times. I love her work.

Joanna Penn (also writes as J.F. Penn) is an indie author whom I greatly admire. I hope to model her career someday. She has been a mentor and an inspiration to me as I’ve begun my author journey.

How do you balance your day-to-day commitments with your writing life? I write first thing in the morning when I wake up. With a clear head, I’m rested, and can usually churn out a few thousand words. My days are always better when I write first.

For many years, I was a corporate project manager but quit a few years ago. Now, my day job is helping authors launch bestselling books. I also write nonfiction and blog under another name. You can check out my nonfiction writing at

It’s challenging to balance writing and a day job. Scheduling my day has been helpful. I also track my time to see where I’m spending it, and I keep a list of goals and hold myself accountable to deadlines.

What are your other passions outside of writing? I’m a travel junkie. Chicago is now home, and it’s the longest place I’ve lived other than Maryland where I grew up. I’ve lived in Arizona, Maine, and spent nearly two years in Adelaide, Australia. I’ve been fortunate to visit over a dozen countries including China, Germany, Poland, Greece, United Arab Emirates, New Zealand, and New Caledonia.

Of course, I’m also a nerd and enjoy sci-fi and comic conventions. A child of the 80s, I am nostalgic for Star Trek, Star Wars, Ghostbusters, and so on.

My husband is also a writer. In the next few years, we plan to turn our creativity into a sustainable business that allows us to travel and live in different places around the world. While I love Chicago, the winters can be tough!

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers? Keep creating! Creativity is so important, and I believe that too many people ignore it, or lose their creativity because of the daily grind of life. I was stuck for years in a job I hated, just living for the weekends. I missed out on time I could have spent writing.

It finally took a wake up call: my stepfather died of cancer, and I got laid off. That’s when I realized that life is short, and we should be spending our time on what matters. I started writing and haven’t stopped.

I encourage others to spend just a few minutes a day journaling or doing something creative. No matter what–whether sketching, creating a collage, or writing poetry–what matters is that you are creating something, and I truly believe that something happens in your brain. When you create, neurological switches get turned on, and you become a happier, more fulfilled person. Creativity is like a domino effect: when you create, you want more creativity, and you make better decisions, which can ultimately change your life for the better.

One last thing, I have a free short story for anyone who is interested. You can find it on my website: Breaking Day is about a dystopian prep school. Dresden School isn’t like regular schools. Electives include Weaponry 101 and Advanced Hand-To-Hand Combat. Interesting things start to happen when new student, Rik, arrives and meets Ida. Don’t be late to class…your life may depend on it.


Hunted For Her Power to Heal.

After leaving the military, Ida moves to Spark City, where she plans to start a new life and leave her past behind. Instead, she discovers a disturbing trend of returning soldiers becoming violent and an android police force that shoots to kill.

When she intervenes in a hostage situation, Ida’s hopes of blending in are shattered after the malevolent mayor discovers she is the answer to keeping his ailing cyborg body alive.

Despite Ida’s resistance, she is befriended by a rebellious seventeen-year-old artist and a genetically engineered hybrid. Can she trust them or will they double-cross her?

As the lives of innocent citizens hang in the balance, can Ida stop the mayor from his deadly plans and start accepting her true power of bringing lives back from the brink? Only she knows the devastating consequences her power creates.


Good Reads for the Holidays


Each basket includes a book, votive candle and of course chocolate.

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”   C.S. Lewis

When you have a long Christmas to-do list and with many good causes needing support this time of year, trying to cover all bases during holidays can be a challenge.  Fortunately, Secondhand Prose’s Open House can solve both problems.  The 13th Annual Open House will have books, holiday items and book-themed gift baskets (including a couple from yours truly).

Located in the Northwest Reno Library, bookstore is operated by volunteers from Friends of the Washoe County Library.  In addition to gently used titles, the bookstore also carries books on CD and unique gifts for the booklover.

When I dropped off my baskets, the library’s backroom was filled with busy volunteers, baskets, and all sorts of goodies from toys to wine glasses. As with most holiday events preparation is key.  One of the volunteers told me, they had slotted two full days to prepare all the baskets for the open house.

Holiday music will be provided by local musicians, so the open house is the perfect opportunity to pick up a few gifts while enjoying the spirit of the season.  And you might find a couple choice reads for yourself…after all it’s for a good cause.

Northwest Reno Library

3525 Robb Drive, Reno NV


Saturday, December 2, 1017


20Books Vegas


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“And everyone’s definition of success is different. Know what yours is before you start on your author journey.”  From 20Books 2017 handout.

Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a rookie, most writers agree that writing conferences are an excellent way to network and garner tips on perfecting your craft. However with the vast range of abilities and genres out there, it’s impossible for a single conference to be all things to all authors.  Even genre-specific conferences can have issues with logistics as a couple of my romance colleagues discovered when they attended an established romance conference in Vegas.  The duo trekked long distances to the panels only to discover the rooms filled to capacity.  Not to be denied their HEA, the pair spent the remainder of the conference in their suite working on manuscripts and strategizing for their next boxed set.

I’m happy to report a much different experience from 20 Books Vegas 2017.  Unlike many conferences which are focused on traditional publishing, 20Books is all about Indie publishing. What started as a Facebook group in March 2016 by Michael Anderle soon developed into a significant voice in the indie world.

Held at Sam’s Town, the event reflected the frontier vibe of the venue.  No shoot-out’s at Sam's Townhigh noon, but the spirit of people helping each other resonated throughout the conference.   Twenty minutes before Craig Martelle’s opening remarks, the Ponderosa room was already abuzz with discussion.  With many writers staying at the venue, networking was often as simple as waiting for the elevator.

I returned home with my green spiral bound notebook packed with ideas, business cards and a daunting to-do list.  I can’t say that I’ve got it all figured out, but I now have a better sense of direction thanks to 20Books.

Writer Interview-Maureen Bonatch

EvilSpeaksSoftly_w11335_750Tell me about your latest book.

Evil Speaks Softly is the first book of The Nightwalkers series. It’s a paranormal romance that explores the possibilities of what goes bump in the night. The first person narrative allows the reader to uncover family secrets, struggle with hopes, heartache and love and seek to break an ancient curse along with our strong heroine.

Here’s a short synopsis:

They were never supposed to meet. Fame came easy for Liv by following in the footsteps of the female writers in her family. The cycle repeated for decades…until Liv changed the story. Her villain doesn’t like the revision—and he isn’t a fictional character. In his story, the bad guy always wins.

They were never supposed to find love. Liv never questioned her demanding nocturnal muse, or the strange incidents in her old, family home until she met Gage. His job was to watch her from afar, not reveal the truth about the curse and the stories of the dead.

They’ve broken all the rules. Together they unravel secrets as they strive to stop the cycle. Liv’s ability to find love, and protect her loved ones, hangs on the fickle whims of the dead—and they’ve got nothing to lose.

What’s next for you?

I’m working on edits for the second story in my The Enchantlings Series tentatively titled Not A Chance as well as gearing up for NaNoWri (National Novel Writing Month) this November.

Who are your writing role models?

There are so many writers that I admire. Some of my favorites that inspire me include Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Kim Harrison and Charlaine Harris.

How do you balance your day-to-day commitments with your writing life?maureenbonatch

I start my day really early. Getting up around 4:30 gives me a little time to work on my writing before I get the kids up for school or go to the day job. I take my laptop practically everywhere and sneak some time in for writing on lunch breaks, commercials, waiting for the kids during activities, or if I’m watching television.

What are your other passions outside of writing?

Besides reading, of course, my favorite hobbies include music and concerts, bicycling on the beautiful trails around my home and winding down with a glass of wine and a movie.  Plus since I can’t get enough writing, I’m also a freelance writer specializing in healthcare, careers and mental health.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

We all get the same amount of time everyday. You can find the time to do what you love even if it’s only a few minutes a day, or if you have to give up a little sleep or a television show. Thank you so much for having me here today.

Buy Links for Evil Speaks Softly


 The Wild Rose Press:

 Barnes and Noble:


 Google Play:


About Maureen:

Maureen Bonatch grew up in small town Pennsylvania and her love of the four seasons—hockey, biking, sweat pants and hibernation—keeps her there. While immersed in writing or reading paranormal romance and fantasy, she survives on caffeine, wine, music, and laughter. A feisty Shih Tzu keeps her in line.


Amazon Author Page:







Art Open House

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” Pablo Picasso

What do Froggie Beads, Meridian Press prints and Wine-ing Cats have in common? Besides being featured on Create on the Side, they’re also part of the creations available from the talented artists featured at Reno Open Studios.

Wine-Ing Cats Reno

Wine-ing Cats by Michele DiFonzo

This year 31 visual artists, coppersmiths to photographers, open their studios to the public.

Best of all, Reno Open Studios is arranged in a true open house format.  Since the studios are located throughout Reno and Sparks, you can easily manage to visit a couple of studios between your usual weekend errands.  Or better yet, grab a friend and make a day of it.

Reno Open Studios-Dates and Hours

October 6th, 7th and 8th, 2017-Note some studios are not open on Friday. Check the website for details.

Hours 10:00am to 5:00pm each day.