2023 Craft Books TBR

Last year I only read one writing book. (It was a hard reading year.) For 2023, I’m aiming to spend less time scrolling and more time reading, and I’m hopeful I’ll finish at least a few craft books and related nonfiction titles along the way. Here’s a look at what’s on my TBR.

stack of books

Show Your Work: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered by Austin Kleon
Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wicked Good Prose by Constance Hale
Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need by Blake Snyder
Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women: Romance Writers on the Appeal of the Romance edited by Jayne Ann Krentz
The Screenwriter’s Bible by David Trottier
Writing the Romantic Comedy: The Art of Crafting Funny Love Stories for the Screen by Billy Mernit
Screenwriting 101: Mastering the Art of Story by Angus Fletcher
Write True: A Bestseller’s Guide to Writing Craft and Achieving Success in the Romance Industry by Jennifer Probst
Body Work: The Radical Power of Personal Narrative by Melissa Febos
How to Read Now: Essays by Elaine Castillo
The Anatomy of a Best Seller by Sacha Black
Breaking the Good Girl Myth: How to Dismantle Outdated Rules, Unleash Your Power, and Design a More Purposeful Life by Majo Molfino
Intimations: Six Essays by Zadie Smith

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

A Lot Like Adiós Preorder Gifts!

A Lot Like Adiós comes out on September 14th and I’m so excited to partner with these amazing indie bookstores for the preorder campaign and virtual launch event! There are a few options, so please take a look below.

Option 1: Signed copies

Preorder from Word Up Community Bookshop and receive a SIGNED print copy of A Lot Like Adiós, admission to the virtual launch event, an acrylic charm keychain, and a bookmark!

These adorable charms show Gabe and Michelle in two different outfits! Illustration by Mayhara Ferraz.

*Orders made after the charms run out will receive a sticker with the same design. Charms/stickers/bookmarks available while supplies last.

Option 2: Signed Bookplates

Preorder from East City Bookshop, Love’s Sweet Arrow, Loyalty Bookstores, or WORD Bookstores and receive a print copy of A Lot Like Adiós with a SIGNED BOOKPLATE, admission to the virtual launch event, an art print, and a bookmark!

Art print features a gorgeous collage of Gabe and Michelle through the years. Illustrated by Leni Kauffman.

*Bookplates/art prints/bookmarks available while supplies last.

Option 3: Digital goodies

Preorder A Lot Like Adiós ANYWHERE and upload your receipt info to receive desktop and phone wallpapers of the collage!

*Available until September 20th. Digital goodies will be sent via email.

A Lot Like Adiós Virtual Launch Event
Tuesday, September 14th, 7pm ET
Join author Alexis Daria and Oprah Daily‘s Arianna Davis as they discuss Alexis’s new novel, A Lot Like Adiós, along with special guests Adriana Herrera and Zoraida Córdova/Zoey Castile.
To gain admission to the event, preorder A Lot Like Adiós through one of these participating bookstores, and you will receive an email with the event link: Word Up Community Bookshop, East City Bookshop, Love’s Sweet Arrow, Loyalty Bookstores, WORD Bookstores

A Lot Like Adiós cover reveal!

I’m thrilled to finally share the cover for A Lot Like Adiós!

This book takes place about a year after You Had Me at Hola and follows Michelle, one of Jasmine’s Primas of Power, as she reconnects with an old friend.

Once again, Bo Feng Lin has illustrated a cover beyond my wildest dreams. And Elsie Lyons, the designer, has done a stellar job hand-lettering the text to match. 

Here’s the back cover copy:


The national bestselling author of You Had Me at Hola returns with a seductive second-chance romance about a commitment-phobic Latina and her childhood best friend who has finally returned home.

Hi Mich. It’s Gabe. 

After burning out in her corporate marketing career, Michelle Amato has built a thriving freelance business as a graphic designer. So what if her love life is nonexistent? She’s perfectly fine being the black sheep of her marriage-obsessed Puerto Rican-Italian family. Besides, the only guy who ever made her want happily-ever-after disappeared thirteen years ago.

It’s been a long time.

Gabriel Aguilar left the Bronx at eighteen to escape his parents’ demanding expectations, but it also meant saying goodbye to Michelle, his best friend and longtime crush. Now, he’s the successful co-owner of LA’s hottest celebrity gym, with an investor who insists on opening a New York City location. It’s the last place in the world Gabe wants to go, but when Michelle is unexpectedly brought on board to spearhead the new marketing campaign, everything Gabe’s been running from catches up with him. 

I’ve missed you.

Michelle is torn between holding Gabe at arm’s length or picking up right where they left off—in her bed. As they work on the campaign, old feelings resurface and their reunion takes a sexy turn. Facing mounting pressure from their families—who think they’re dating—and growing uncertainty about their futures, can they resolve their past mistakes, or is it only a matter of time before Gabe says adiós again?

A Lot Like Adiós will be out on September 14th, and is available for preorder now.

And now, without further ado, meet Michelle and Gabe!

Check out the cover reveal for A LOT LIKE ADIÓS by @alexisdaria! Out 9/14/21 from @avonbooks.

Solstice Dream

A FREE Summer Solstice-themed short story available to newsletter subscribers for a limited time.

Two people dreaming of love find their wishes granted on the longest day of the year.

Solstice Dream by Alexis Daria

Emma Reyes has it bad for Logan Argento, the single dad next door. When he asks her to host his daughter’s witch-themed birthday party, Emma leaps at the chance to help. She’s been looking to shake up her usual Summer Solstice celebration, and this might be just what she needs. Because little does Logan know, Emma is a real witch pretending to be a regular person pretending to be a fake witch. Emma dreams of finding true love, but so far, her magical secret has made relationships impossible. Could Logan be the one to break her dry spell?

Download link will be included in the welcome email.

6 Writing Craft Techniques in One Draft

6 Writing Craft TechniquesBooks on writing craft aren’t for everyone, which is totally fine. I happen to get a lot out of them, but my approach is to take what works and scrap the rest. When I read craft books, it’s with an eye toward finding the gems that will supplement and strengthen my existing process, then I promptly forget the parts that don’t resonate with me.

While drafting Dance All Night: A Dance Off Holiday Novella, I noticed I was using elements from a number of different sources in my process, and I was able to pinpoint which craft books had given me each of these tools. The thing was, I hadn’t really thought about this as I was doing it. As I’d read each book, I had filed away the parts that appealed to me in my mental writer’s toolbox. During the process of planning, drafting, and revising the novella before sending it to my editor, I had used these tools without thinking, “I should use that step from that method.” The tools were just there, right when I needed them.

In this post, I’ll walk through each step and link the book that gave it to me. My thanks to all of these wonderful writers for sharing their tips and knowledge!

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3 Tips for Writing a Novella

3 Tips for Writing a Novella from Alexis DariaAccording to Wikipedia, the maximum word count for a novella is 40,000 words*. By contrast, my full-length novels are over 90,000. That’s more than twice as many words! Some authors excel at writing novellas, but if you’re like me and used to writing long, how do you cram a full romance into a smaller package? Well, I do it with a little planning.

Here are three tricks I use to fit a an emotionally satisfying romance into a shorter word count.

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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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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.

shakira the voice pointing at herself gif


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.


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.


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

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