Dance with Me is here!

cover for dance with me by alexis daria

This has been quite a year, folks. Back in January, I had just finished editing Take the Lead and sent it off to agents and the Golden Heart contest. Natasha and Dimitri had emerged as the next couple in The Dance Off series, and I had a vague blurb. That was it. Now, less than a year later, Take the Lead was named one of The Washington Post‘s 5 Best Romances of 2017 and Dance with Me is available for everyone to read. So yeah…quite a year. Thanks for following along, and I hope you enjoy Natasha and Dimitri’s story.

Dance with Me, the second in a sizzling new series about finding love on and off the dance floor.

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Natasha Díaz is having a day. She’s trying to prove she can make it as a professional dancer, but she’s overworked, out of cash, and her roommate has just moved out. When she comes home to find a hole in her ceiling and her bedroom flooded, she’s desperate enough to crash with the one guy she can’t quit. She accepts his offer with one condition: no sleeping together while she’s living with him.

Dimitri Kovalenko has never lived with a woman before. But when Tasha’s in need of a place to stay, he suggests she move in without a second thought. He accepts her condition, hoping she won’t stick to it. They’re good together, both in the ballroom and the bedroom. Since their first dance, she’s never been far from his thoughts. Sure, she’s a pro and he’s one of her show’s judges, but they’re not currently filming, so no one needs to know.

Living in close quarters shows Dimitri a side of Natasha he’s never seen before, and he likes it. A lot. Too bad she’s doing everything in her power to keep him at arm’s length. When an injury forces Natasha to take it easy or risk her ability to dance, it’s his chance to show her that the rules have changed, and she can trust him with her heart.

Check out the Pinterest board and Spotify playlist for Dance with Me!

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Countdown to Dance with Me

Dance with Me, Book 2 in The Dance Off series, releases in three weeks!

I do have more stories planned for the characters from The Dance Off world, but no release dates yet. Hopefully next year! In the meantime, I’m having fun developing a new contemporary romance project and gearing up for Dance with Me‘s release on December 12th. As with Take the Lead, I’ve made a Dance with Me Spotify playlist based on what I listened to while I was writing the book and songs that inspired some of the scenes, and a Pinterest board for Dimitri and Natasha. Enjoy! And if you’ve started a playlist or board for Dance with Me, let me know!

 

Interviews

I’ve got a few interviews posted in different places, so I’ll link to them here (and on the Press page).

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RT Book Reviews featured me for their Debut Author Spotlight, where I talked about getting “The Call” and attending the Fame school. Read it here.

USA Today’s HEA blog included me in an interview with Priscilla Oliveras, Mia Sosa, and Sabrina Sol, three awesome Latina romance authors. We talked about the influence Latinx culture has had on us as writers, cultural stereotypes we hope to dispel in our writing, and made some book recommendations. Read it here.

I also answered questions about my writing process and publishing journey for 17 Scribes, the website for authors debuting in 2017. Read it here.

Let me know what you think, and if you have any questions you’d like me to answer here! Or better yet, send me a tweet. 😉

Take the Lead is here!

take the lead alexis daria

This is a big day for me—the debut of my first book! If you’ve been watching this space, you’ll know this has been something I’ve been working toward for a while. I recently wrote about my evolution as a writer over on the RWchat blog, and I talked about my publishing journey over at the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood. Still, it’s weird to think that a year ago, I had three chapters of a story I was excited about, and now, finally, Take the Lead is out in the world! More info below!

 

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TAKE THE LEAD, the debut contemporary romance from 2017 Golden Heart finalist Alexis Daria, is out now! The first in a sizzling new series about finding love on and off the dance floor.

 

Gina Morales wants to win. It’s her fifth season on The Dance Off, a top-rated network TV celebrity dance competition, and she’s never even made it to the finals. When she meets her latest partner, she sees her chance. He’s handsome, rippling with muscles, and he stars on the popular Alaskan wilderness reality show Living Wild. With his sexy physique and name recognition, she thinks he’s her ticket to the finals—until she realizes they’re being set up.

 

Stone Nielson hates Los Angeles, he hates reality TV, and he hates that fact that he had to join the cast of the The Dance Off because of family obligations. He can’t wait to get back to Alaska, but he also can’t deny his growing attraction to his bubbly Puerto Rican dance partner. Neither of them are looking for romantic entanglements, and Stone can’t risk revealing his secrets, but as they heat up the dance floor, it’s only a matter of time until he feels an overwhelming urge to take the lead.

 

When the tabloids catch on to their developing romance, the spotlight threatens to ruin not just their relationship, but their careers and their shot at the trophy. Gina and Stone will have to decide if their priorities lie with fame, fortune, or the chance at a future together.

Countdown to Take the Lead

The summer of deadlines rolls into the autumn of promo…

My debut contemporary romance, Take the Lead (Dance Off #1), comes out next week, and things have been super busy. I’m working on supplemental material for my newsletter subscribers (hint hint), but in the meantime, you can check out the Pinterest board and Spotify playlist for the book.

If you’ve started a playlist or board for Take the Lead, let me know! 

Using a Bullet Journal for Revisions

(Originally posted in the RWA-NYC Keynotes April newsletter. Reposting here by popular demand.)

IMG_7175In mid-December, I decided to enter the Golden Heart® contest. The deadline was January 11th. On December 14th, I had a 100,000-word first draft and the holidays were approaching. If I was going to do this, I needed a plan.

One friend had recently shown me her bullet journal, and I knew of another author, C.L. Polk (author of Witchmark, coming 2018 from Tor.com), who uses journaling to develop new story ideas. My background is in art, so there’s always something appealing to me about working on paper. I wanted to try using a bullet journal to help me revise and edit my novel in four weeks. Inspired, I grabbed one of my many spare notebooks, a 24-pack of Paper Mate Flair felt-tip pens, and a ruler, and got to work.

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RWA Chapter Contest Data

RWA Take the Lead Golden Heart certificateContests are something of a hot topic. Some writers don’t see the point of them, while others are hesitant to break out of the safety of the contest circuit. I think chapter contests can be useful if you’re clear on what you hope to get out of them. In the last year, I’ve submitted sixteen entries to twelve RWA chapter contests. For most, I had my eye on the final judges, who are often agents and editors. It worked—I received requests from a contest, which led to offers of representation and publication. For others, I wanted feedback, to see how the piece was received and if it fit the genre.

I read a blog post by Angi Morgan where she compiled the comments she’d received from various contests, and it made me curious about my own results. I’ve submitted opening pages from four unpublished manuscripts in different categories and tried to draw conclusions. Here are the stats:

Title: Take the Lead (formerly Feel the Rhythm)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Contests entered: 6
Finals: 4
Wins: 3

Title: The Art of Loving a Duke
Genre: Historical Romance
Contests entered: 2
Finals: 1
Wins: 1

Title: Venus Rising (formerly Aphrodite’s Heart)
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Contests entered: 7 (3x as contemporary, 4x as paranormal)
Finals: 1
Wins: (Winners announced end of August)

Title: Say Please
Genre: Sci-Fi Erotic Romance novella
Contests entered: 1
Finals: 0
Wins: 0

I like crunching data, and contests offer a lot to crunch. In the interest of time, I’ve compiled the scores, averages, entry lengths, and results. In each case where I finaled, I incorporated the first round feedback before submitting for the final round. Results are included at the end, in case you want to jump right to the conclusions and takeaways.

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11 Ways For Writers to Prepare for Publication

Fourteen months passed from the moment I decided my manuscript was ready to go out on query to when I signed with my agent and accepted an offer of publication (on a different manuscript). I don’t even want to speculate on how often I checked my email during that time, but it was a lot. Common wisdom suggests writing the next book while you wait, and I did. In fact, I completed a full-length novel, a novella, and a short story. (Not to mention all the other projects I outlined, plus two failed revisions.) But there’s more you can do.

If you’re seeking a traditional publishing path and lit agent representation, it can sometimes feel like everything is out of your control. You’re sending queries out into the void, hoping they’ll boomerang back with an offer attached. And in the meantime…you wait. But while you wait, there are a few things you can do to prep for representation and publication, and make yourself stand out as an ideal client.

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1. Learn to write to deadline.

It’s invaluable to know how you write before you publish. Know what works for you and what doesn’t. Know how much you can comfortably write in a day, a week, a month. This will help you know which deadlines are feasible and which aren’t. (For example, before I signed, I said I didn’t want crazy deadlines. But then I took on some tight deadlines because the release date payoff would lead to great promo, and because I knew how quickly I could write a full first draft.) Know your output stats, and learn to write to a deadline. I offer some tips for writing fast and writing a lot in my previous post

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Writing Tips & Tricks for Crushing Word Count Goals

For the first time ever, I’m on deadline, so I’m putting everything I’ve learned about writing fast and writing a lot to the test. In June 2017, I wrote 22 days out of the month and added 62,298 words to the Project Roommates manuscript before hitting “The End” on June 30th. Since a few people have commented on my word counts, rather than blaming it on “desperation” and discounting all the research and work I’ve put into learning how to increase my output, I made a list of tools, suggestions, and resources to share.

As with all writing advice, take what works for you and junk the rest.

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Know your best writing time

For me, that’s early mornings. It’s quiet. No emails. Noisy kids upstairs aren’t up yet. By hitting my word count first thing in the morning, I approach it fresh and rested, and it’s out of  the way so I’m not worried about it for the rest of the day. Know what works for you and stick to that time. If early mornings are your thing, check out #5amwritersclub on Twitter. Bonus tip: Make sure you’re getting enough sleep!

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Story Planning from a Reformed Pantser

Once upon a time, I used to sit down at a blank page and write whatever popped into my head. Other times, I toyed with an idea first, and once I had a loose premise, I started writing. I wrote about unexpected superheroes, teenage vampires, epic fantasy worlds, parallel dimensions, corrupt ghosts, possessed mermaids…and as fun as it was to play around with these stories, none of them went anywhere. Most of them were never even finished. And when I did get far enough to type “The End,” those manuscripts languished in Revision Purgatory, forever finessing, never finishing. Needless to say, this approach wasn’t going to get a manuscript polished, let alone published. I needed to change my pantser ways and embrace the art of planning.

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Me as a pantser trying to revise a finished first draft.

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