2017 RWA Orlando in Pictures

August 2, 2017

Did you miss us? Sure you did!

The Romance Writers of America conference was held at Disney’s Mariott Swan and Dolphin last week. Naturally, it was an opportunity to take the kiddos on a magical vacation. So I came to town five days earlier, building memories. Nine to twelve hour days for three days at the Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and the Magic Kingdom. My feet were screaming for mercy before the conference even started. Still, the awe and wonderment in my youngest daughter’s eyes when she met her favorite Disney characters, the laughter and squeals of my oldest daughter as we rode coasters, and the speed at which my hubby whipped out his camera to take pictures of Storm Troopers marching through the park made it all well worth it. Most definitely a vacation to cherish.

After the fam returned home, I stayed behind for the second leg on my Florida stay. I can’t say I was disappointed. How could I be? Workshops, education, networking, inspirational keynote speakers, meeting new friends, hugging old friends, yummy cocktails, and dancing—it was all so wonderful! See for yourself.

Arriving gives me the giggles.

We start off the conference with Level Up workshops on Wednesday. Stacey and I took a Master Class and an Indie Track class, each lasting 2 hours and each chock full of great information.

Intensive Workshop with Mark Dawson.

Another great workshop with Roxanne St. Claire and Kristen Painter.

Thursday was filled with more workshops, book signings, the Golden Heart luncheon, and the Rita Awards. Avon Books sponsored a dance party following the Rita ceremony. Dancing, drinking, laughing, nonsense ensued. It’s not a party until you break your favorite pair of kitten heels.

The Golden Heart luncheon with our friends from our local chapter, Northwest Houston. Amazing ladies, they are.

Posing with our superstar sister and Rita finalist, Sarah Andre.

Dancing the night away!

Drinks while strutting to the music with Rita finalist and fellow Ruby sister, Vivi Andrews.

Fun with friends Chloe, Eliza, & Ruth. Pics were taken for prosperity, of course.

Friday ushered in tired feet, more workshops, the trade show, networking, an impromptu podcast, another luncheon, RWA’s AGM, and volunteering to set up the literacy signing event.

This was just the beginning of getting the massive event set up. Even better when you have friends like Becca St. John (who took this pic) toiling away with you.

Throughout the conference, there were so many opportunities to meet new friends, catch up with old pals, finally meet online buddies, and make connections, usually with a nice relaxing cocktail.

One of my newest friends, my kindred spirit and fellow pirate wench, Chloe Flowers.

Finally meeting in person after being friends for years, Pam Stack, executive producer of Author on the Air Global Radio Network.

Are we ever serious? No…not really.

Stacey chilled with a (literally) smoking drink.

Saturday brought in, you guessed it, more workshops, the leadership breakfast, posing for a new author photo, the literacy signing, and a special book launch for one of my all-time favorite authors, Sherrilyn Kenyon.

2017 Readers For Life Literacy Autographing!

Stacey and Jami, beautiful ladies with beautiful smiles, showing us how it is done!

Lark and I were ready to sell out!

Girl crushing on Sherrilyn Kenyon. What a great way to end the week!

Last night at the Dolphin. So pretty!

No conference trip is complete without the TSA rummaging through my (locked) suitcase. Again.

Musetracks had a great time in Florida. Next year…Denver, Colorado. I can’t wait to see what’s in store.

Off Air and Sportin’ Mickey Ears

July 24, 2017

MuseTracks will be in Orlando this week for the Romance Writers of America’s national annual conference and will not be posting. Take cover, Mickey. No tellin’ what trouble we bring. We will be back to our regularly scheduled shenanigans next week. Probably with visual evidence of our fun.

Y’all be good!

2016 RWA San Diego in Pictures

July 20, 2016

We’re baaaack!

The Romance Writer’s of America conference in San Diego was A-Mazing! First off, the city is beautiful and everyone there was so friendly. San Diego is California at it’s finest! The conference, itself, was great—workshops, networking, education, opportunities, seeing old friends, making new friends and fun, fun, fun! Just as I’ve done every year since 2009, I’m going to share the conference in pictures.


and we are here (1)

The first selfie of the trip—Stacey, Melissa Ohnoutka (our roomie), and yours truly.


and we are here (3)

Amazingly, we didn’t get lost.


seaport village (19)

It didn’t take us long to find Seaport Village.


Stacey signing (2)

Stacey’s first signing!


Stacey signing (1)

Stacey’s first RWA Literacy Signing. Squeeee! Classy and Sassy!


me and Vivi

Posing with Lizzie Shane, aka Vivi Andrews, dancing buddy and double Rita finalist!


Missy and Christy

Melissa with funny lady, best-selling author, uber-fun, Rita finalist C.C Hunter, aka Christie Craig.



The Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood in da house!




LBTC (1)

Love Between the Covers documentary director and producer Laurie Kahn with Damon Suede.


LBTC (7)

We were all helping set up LBTC and, more importantly, tweeting about it.



Umm…and Stacey, well, she was more enthusiastic than others.


seaport village (12)

Taking pics and tweeting them and then taking pics of them being tweeted. Hours of fun.



Enjoying the wildlife.


seaport village (8)

Being the wildlife.



Switching gears and being a professional. Pimping with The Killion Group. (Shameless plug – we do more than just book covers. Check out all our services, including editing, formatting, and PR!)


me and TJ MacKay

Smoozing with the delightful, gorgeous TJ Mackay of InDtale Magazine.


HHRW (15)

Hosting a cover shoot workshop. *grin*


HHRW (5)

Why, yes, he is dropping his pants to change into a kilt. I may or may not have peeked.


HHRW (34)

Just me and Julian. Don’t be hatin’.


seaport village

Stacey and Ruth (who is a regular contributor to MuseTracks’ Hump Day Kick Start) playing hooky again.


sailing san diego bay (6)

Sailing around the bay with some awesome ladies. This was one of those times of “what happens on the sailboat, stays on the sailboat”.



Sailboat, sunset, navy ship, I should win an award for this pic.


Rita-GH (2)

Last night in San Diego and the drinks flowed. Mmm…rum and coke.


Rita-GH (1)

All dolled up for the Rita/Golden Heart ceremony.



A trip isn’t complete until TSA searches your luggage.


There you have it. More than you ever wanted to see of our trip to San Diego. We’re looking forward to the 2017 RWA National Conference in Orlando, Florida!



MuseTracks Off Air and Off Causing Trouble

July 11, 2016

MuseTracks will be in San Diego this week for the Romance Writers of America’s national annual conference and will not be posting. No doubt the city will never be the same after we arrive. But don’t fret. We will be back to our regularly scheduled shenanigans next week. Y’all be good. See you on the flip side!

cc-rf - tv test pattern

2015 RWA New York in Pictures

July 30, 2015

Romance Writers of America’s conference was held in New York City this year. As I do every year, I’m posting pictures of the visit. I admit, I was in back-to-back meetings for most of the conference, without attending one workshop. Yet it was a productive trip with a great deal of networking. And I did manage to get in a few photo ops. Stacey and I even played hooky for a few hours to sightsee.

A room with a view. Sort of makes up for the horrendous traffic.

A room with a view.


Day or night, Times Square is packed. And you never know what characters you will meet.

Day or night, Times Square is packed. And you never know what characters you will meet.


Minions, Super Heroes, Ninja Turtles, Famous Piano-playing members of boy bands, the Naked Cowboy, creepy, tall Statues of Liberty and more. Here, I spotted Captain Jack, blissfully unaware of the naked painted ladies nearby.

Minions, Super Heroes, Ninja Turtles, Famous Piano-playing members of boy bands, the Naked Cowboy, creepy, tall Statues of Liberty, evil dancing babies, selfie-stick vendors, and more could be found in the crowds. Here, I spotted Captain Jack, blissfully unaware of the naked painted girls nearby.


Photo-bombed by New York's finest.

Photo bombed by New York’s finest.


A dinner with old friends, the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood, is a conference tradition.

Dinner with old friends, the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood, is a conference tradition.


Netwroking is a must. Here, I'm chatting with RWA's Bookseller of the Year, the delightful Tom Luce.

Networking is a must. Here, I’m chatting with RWA’s Bookseller of the Year, the delightful Tom Luce.


Took a couple of hours to visit the 9/11 Museum and reflect. Truly moving. There are no words...

Took a couple of hours to visit the 9/11 Memorial Museum and reflect at the Twin Towers footprints. Truly moving. There are no words…


Stop! You must take in a Broadway show. Stacey succumbed to the call.

Stop! You must take in a Broadway show. Stacey succumbed to the call…


Taking me with her. *YES!* The Phantom of the Opera was A-Maz-Ing!

…taking me with her. *YES!* The Phantom of the Opera was A-MAZ-ING!


Taking time at the Trade Show to pimp my peeps - The Killion Group. Pretty sweet gig!

Trade Show pimping – The Killion Group. Pretty sweet gig!


Speaking of pimping...look at my, um, you know...pasties. Courtesy of my Passionate Ink chapter.

Speaking of pimping…look at my, um, you know…pasties. Courtesy of the Passionate Ink chapter.


My ride to the Waldorf Astoria on Park Avenue for the Harlequin Ball. *giggles*

My ride to the Waldorf Astoria on Park Avenue for the Harlequin Ball. *giggles*


Feeling like a celebrity with my Ruby Sisters in the Starlight Roof at the Harlequin Ball.

Feeling like a celebrity with my Ruby Sisters in the Starlight Roof at the Harlequin Ball.


What a way to end the trip...with my very own mini Rita statuette made of dark chocolate. Sadly, she didn't make it through the night.

What a way to end the trip…with my very own mini Rita statuette made of dark chocolate. Sadly, she didn’t make it through the night.


If you went to New York for the conference, I hope you had an amazing time enhancing your career, meeting old and new friends, and making memories. If New York wasn’t in your cards, there is always next year. San Diego or bust!

Link of the Week – Using the Hotel Concierge

June 30, 2015
pic by Thor

CC pic by Thor

We are in the midst of conference and convention season. That means travel. Today I’m posting a link to a useful and educating blog post titled How To Use A Hotel Concierge. The post comes from an online magazine I follow – The Art of Manliness. I see you raising that eyebrow. Yes, this is a blog for men. Trust me, this quirky site is worth the subscription. Loads of useful information, interesting history lessons, and all things manly, but with swagger, and often with humor.

Other travel advice from this site:

How To Pack When Traveling

39 Things To Do Before Leaving on a Vacation

How To Pack a Bag When Traveling





RT Booklovers Convention 2015 in Pictures

May 28, 2015

Now that I’ve recovered from the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention and the holidays are behind us, I thought I’d share a few pics. Sadly (for you), some photos are filed under the heading “What Happens at RT, stays at RT” and not for public consumption—to protect the guilty. But, if you happen to see me somewhere, ask, I’ll gush all about the details.

The convention was a success. I attended fabulous workshops, met new friends, had fun with old ones, networked, hugged and posed with cover models, loaded up on free books, partied, and had an awesome book signing. I feel like I scored. 🙂


Packing is always a challenge.

Packing is always a challenge.


Pretty sweet view.

Pretty sweet view.

The all-important badge.

The all-important badge.

When in Rome (or Dallas, as it were).

When in Rome (or Dallas, as it were). First night, Romance Rodeo.


Oh…the cuttin’ up we did this night. Polished silverware, bruised knees, BrokeBack Mountain, Poo-pourri, gambling, half-naked men (both hideous and handsome), and, of course, alcohol were involved this night.

Long lines for reader events were everywhere.

Long lines for reader events were everywhere.

Steampunk one night...

Steampunk one night…

Harelquin-inspired tu-tu-wearing cowgirl the next.

Harlequin-inspired tu-tu-wearing cowgirl the next. (With the fabulous Joanna Grace.)

Got in a little sight-seeing on my way to my publisher's cocktail party. This is the Sixth Floor Museum, formly known as the Texas Book Depository from which JFK was assasinated.

Got in a little sight-seeing on my way to my publisher’s cocktail party. This is the Sixth Floor Museum, formerly known as the Texas Book Depository from which JFK was assassinated.

Spotted this guy sporting a man-bun and thought of all you. Can't tell from the photo, but he was kinda hunky, wearing a suit, shiny shoes, and listineing to music.)

Spotted this guy sporting a man bun and thought of all you. Can’t tell from the photo, but he was kinda hunky, wearing a suit, shiny shoes, and listening to music.

Did I mention all the cover models?

Did I mention all the cover models?

Book Signing Bonanza!

Book Signing Bonanza!

My spot among the magical melee.

My spot among the magical melee.

Had a turn with the Anti-Bullying campaign. It was a great way to round out the week!

Had a turn with the Anti-Bullying campaign. It was a great way to round out the week at FANtastic Day.

I’m hoping to have a repeat performance next year when RT goes to Las Vegas! Whoo boy!


I Should Put Pants On – RWA 2014 in Pictures

July 30, 2014

Song of the Day: Without You by Motley Crüe

I should put pants on. Yes, that seemed to be the running theme of MuseTracks in San Antonio. But in our defense, we’re too carefree (and perhaps too old) to care.

Have you ever just been so spent that the moment you get home you take off your pants? Sure you have. Stacey and I both had intense activities we attended in San Antonio prior to the (RWA) Romance Writers of America’s four day conference. By lunch on Wednesday, we were both ready to strip down to our skivvies and crawl under the down comforters of our beds. Never mind we had visitors who stopped by our hotel room. But did we put our pants back on? No! What an eyeful they received, especially since my green undies were emblazoned with “Lucky Angel” across the bum.

The next day, I couldn’t keep my favorite stretchy jeans on. *sigh* I’d forgotten to pack a belt. Thus, I repeatedly tugged at the pants. Ultimately, I gave up on them, changing into a dress. The following day, I wore a skirt. But the workshops were so frigid, I wished I had my pants back on.  Saturday, after several more workshops and a seminar, I headed for the room to, you guessed it, remove my pants and rejuvenate before night’s festivities. Damn pants! I was so comfy without them, I dozed off and missed dinner.

Here are a few pictures of the conference – all of which clothing was worn.

2014-07-22 09.41.40

The Alamo – a different view.

2014-07-22 18.19.13

All I needed on this river walk boat trip was a frosty Margarita.

Hotel Lobby early morning

The unsuspecting hotel lobby – before the hordes of romance writers.

2014-07-23 17.43.03

Signing books! Both awkward and exciting!

2014-07-23 17.42.26 2

My bestie and partner in crime. Making pacts and being generally awesome.

2014-07-24 13.19.54

Only a portion of my local Northwest Houston chapter. There were a bunch more not pictured. Can you imagine us running loose?

workshop Eliza

Great workshops galore! This room was so packed, people were sitting on the floor.

2014-07-25 18.13.28

Hobnobbing with Boroughs Publishing. And look! Musetracks follower and killer friend (to use the term loosely) Ruth, too!

2014-07-25 19.35.37

Editor Chris – always fun!


Speaking of editors…my slave driver, er, I mean, A-freakin’-mazing editor, Mallory!


Divas spotted!

2014-07-24 22.47.37

Took a spooky ghost tour and heard chilling tales. Hotels, street corners, and even churches were plagued by otherworldly happenings.

2014-07-24 23.08.37

One of the most haunted places in San Antonio.

2014-07-25 20.26.17

Liquor, s’mores, and fluffy socks. Jealous you weren’t at the Harlequin party?

2014-07-25 20.55.43

Made to order banana splits, too! *sigh* Heaven…


Put your hands in the air like you just don’t care! Dancing at the Harlequin party!


MuseTracks Hump Day Kick Start diva, Golden Heart finalist, and beauty queen, Sarah!

2014-07-26 23.58.48

The view from a terrace at a super secret party on the last night.

2014-07-29 09.51.47

My book booty!


Hope you enjoyed the tour. Watch your step as you exit to the left. And be sure to leave a comment for your tour guide – me!

Talk Back: Are writing conferences necessary?

August 5, 2013

On my Kindle: Manhunting by Jennifer Crusie

Talk Back – Tell us how you write!

What do you think? Now that Jenn has made us all totally jealous with her RWA photos, I feel like I am totally missing out.

Yet, unlike her, I have no real reasons to justify the price of going to a writing conference right now. I don’t have any book to sign, no agent or editor to meet and while I would love to learn more about the craft by attending the many workshops offered, the benefits would not outset the costs for me at this time. If I’d go, it would be a total splurge just for a little time out and to meet all my writer friends.

And I’m afraid that right now I don’t think attending writing conferences are necessary for me to reach my current goal (make a sale).

That said, this is only my own opinion and I may totally be wrong. So I turn to you for input. Do you think writers need to go to writer conferences to meet their goals? Is it different for writers at different stages of their careers? Are some conferences more useful than others?

What is your experience and thoughts on this?

Much love,
Marie-Claude xoxox


The First Five Minutes With James Scott Bell- Story Masters Conference

November 17, 2011

If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood.  I’d type a little faster.  ~Isaac Asimov

By: Stacey Purcell

Do you know what one of the first breakout novels was back in 1774? You don’t know? Imagine that.

A man named Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote The Sorrows of Young Werther and it was an instant success. It’s about a young man who falls in love with a beautiful woman who just happens to be engaged to another man. Instead of walking away, he becomes close to her fiancé even though it causes him much pain. Werther loves her beyond all reason and finally cannot take anymore and leaves town. Shortly thereafter, news comes that the couple have married and are quite happy. He is filled with despair and commits suicide. The End.

The German public back in 1774 were so inspired by this man’s love for a woman that it sparked a trend of young men committing suicide to prove their love. Seems a bit self defeating- you prove your love, but you’re dead…..just saying….

Why did James Scott Bell open his part of Story Masters with this story? It was to prove his point that a great plot is the record of how a character deals with death. This got my attention.

The first type of death is the most obvious. Physical death will ratchet the stakes of the conflict happening in your story right into the stratosphere. If your protagonist is willing to push for the gold or is being forced into doing it, the only possible ending is death. Any of the James Bond movies demonstrates this type of problem. James tries to save the world, bad guy catches him and promises a tortuous death, but our handsome spy prevails and saves the world while getting the girl too! Whew!

Professional death is often used when the protagonist is a cop, detective, doctor, lawyer or some other profession that is closely identified with the type of person they are in the story. The stakes for this protagonist has to be that if they go for the win, it will cost them everything professionally. Mr. Bell used The Verdict and Silence of The Lambs to illustrate this. Paul Newman is a washed up drunk of a lawyer chasing ambulances and handing distraught family members his card. He doesn’t have much to lose at this point except being able to practice law. He takes on a medical malpractice suit and discovers that the case should not be settled out of court, but that someone needed to fight for the patient. This washed up old drunk just took on a whole team of high priced lawyers- it doesn’t look good for him. If he proceeds with this case and loses, he will be finished in the legal profession. They will bury him.

The same goes for Clarice Starling who is pitted against Hannibal Lecter.  Because of her superior analytical skills, she is pulled from her FBI training to interview Hannibal. She is aware of the fact that there are people who are waiting for her to screw up and it will end her career. In both cases, the protagonist defies all odds, risks everything professionally and comes out the victor. This creates high stakes and almost suffocating tension for us!


Psychological death can be a more subtle, more sophisticated type of death to consider. For instance, in The Catcher In The Rye, the protagonist is on a journey to find authentic people and if he doesn’t find them, he will die on the inside. We also see this in some love stories. If the lovers aren’t together then they too will die on the inside. (Which may then lead to a physical death-check out poor Werther!)

This is also used in comedy very effectively. James Scott Bell chose The Odd Couple to demonstrate this type of death. Oscar Madison depends on his slobby ways to bring him happiness. He’s a guy on his own, living however he sees fit and loving every second of it. In comes Felix Unger who is the epitome of an obsessive compulsive clean freak and throw in being fragile and possibly suicidal if upset. You have hilarious comedy when they decide to live together. Oscar risks a huge psychological death if he helps his friend after being kicked out of his own house.

Wow. All this was from my first page of notes. What a conference. What great insights to writing.

What type of death will your protagonist suffer? I want to know!