Free Gift–Romancing the Beat

It’s a Christmas Miracle!  (or any of the 20+ holidays celebrated in December really)
buypbThrough the holiday season, the matchbook price on Romancing the Beat is free. Gift the paperback to your crit partner or a writer friends, keep digital for yourself!


How the Kindle Matchbook pricing works:

  1. Buy the paperback book here.
  2. After transaction has cleared–go to the Kindle page here. Book should be available to you for FREE. Once downloaded, you can read on any device with Kindle app on it. For more information about the Matchbook Program, visit Amazon

Sleepaway Camp for Grownups Starts Now

I’m so excited. Camp starts today! And the first book (my first co-writing project) is FREE. The reviews are coming in and they are very positive–which is a great way to start the holiday weekend (Happy Canada Day and Independence Day!)

But wait, there’s more.

In just two weeks, Book 2 comes out. And you can preorder it now so you don’t miss a day of camp.

 Coming Soon to an eDevice near you…

July 1: Winning Back His Wife by Zoe York and Gwen Hayes

CFF-Cover-Winning-UPDATETwenty years ago, Michael Tully fell hard and fast at summer camp. Now his soon-to-be ex-wife has quit her job and invested every last penny into re-inventing Camp Firefly Falls. It’s a crazy, ridiculous plan–which he ignores, right up until he’s served with divorce papers.

Kindle | Nook | Apple | Kobo |Google Play





July 15: His Counterfeit Campfire Bride by Gwen Hayes


Forget Netflix and chill…campfire and thrill. The second book set in the Camp Firefly Falls world with stories so hot, you can roast marshmallows on your ereader.

Meet Miguel Castillo and Seraphina Worth. Two advertising office enemies sent to a corporate retreat at a sleepaway summer camp to work out their differences. With strict orders to come back with whatever trophies and ribbons are awarded for best team or come back unemployed, they are stunned to find out their boss sent them to the wrong camp session. Instead of corporate team building, they are signed up for Rediscover Your Marital Intimacy week.

She thinks he’s unpredictable, unreliable, and unstable. He thinks she’s stuffy, stilted, and square. They can barely work together and now they have to pretend to be married for a week at summer camp—sharing a cabin with one bed, doing tantric yoga, and thwarting the advances of a couple interested in a wife swap.

Trouble is, the one thing they both excel at is marketing. And the more they sell themselves as the perfect married couple, the harder it to remember it’s an ad campaign and not a love match.

Kindle | Nook | Apple | Kobo |

Submission Call: Camp Firefly Falls 2017

CAMP-FF-LOGO-COLOUR-GIFAre you a contemporary romance author? Are you interested in writing a category length novel that takes place at the shared world of Camp Firefly Falls during the summer of 2017?


Camp Firefly Falls, is a fictional sleepaway camp for grownups, set in the Berkshires.
Are you thinking of Dirty Dancing? Yeah. So were we. And Indian Summer. All those fantasies we had about making out on a dock, sneaking into the woods late at night, and making fast friends and slow, sweet crushes?

This year’s camp:

Nitty Gritty: Each author self publishes own book and is responsible for editing (which we stress as important). There is no payment or advance to the authors, they are paid via the vendors they upload to according to sales. There may be incidental costs to chip in on but will be agreed to by all authors: cover art, web hosting, promo.

All authors co-work on a camp bible so we can keep things straight. You are free to use campers or staff in your book. Covers are branded as a group, author responsible for cost of their own. Each camp session can have a different theme limited only by your imagination.

Diverse characters more than welcome!

How to submit:

Please email Gwen @ with a proposed blurb of 125-200 words that includes your main trope(s), characters, premise, and camp session theme. It can and probably will change when you are done writing your book–we just want to know you have an idea.

If you are unpublished, we are still interested but please also attach a sample 50 pages of a manuscript you have finished so we have an idea of your writing voice. We also ask that you have a social media platform.

End date for submissions: July 31, 2016


*FREE* Scrivener template for Romancing the Beat

RTBIf you are a Scrivener user and have read Romancing the Beat: Story Structure for Romance Novels, you are in luck! I have put together a companion template just for you.

This Scrivener template is intended to supplement the writing experience after reading the book. If you haven’t read the book—I hope the template is still useful to you. I tried to put mini-explanations on the front of each beat card. I am not a Scrivener Professional—but I did my best.

Link to template 

Link to Romancing the Beat

Link to Scrivener

Romancing the Beat: Story Structure for Romance Novels

I know you read kissing books, but do you write kissing books too?

This week I released my first nonfiction book about story structure for romance novels. If you write or review romance–or you just want some behind the scenes info–you might be interested. I sort of sound like I know what I’m talking about and there are plenty of ’80s references so you know it’s me. LOL.

What makes a romance novel a romance? How do you write a kissing book?

Writing a well-structured romance isn’t the same as writing any other genre—something the popular novel and screenwriting guides don’t address. The romance arc is made up of its own story beats, and the external plot and theme need to be braided to the romance arc—not the other way around.

Told in conversational (and often irreverent) prose, Romancing the Beat can be read like you are sitting down to coffee with romance editor and author Gwen Hayes while she explains story structure. The way she does with her clients. Some of whom are regular inhabitants of the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists. Romancing the Beat is a recipe, not a rigid system. The beats don’t care if you plot or outline before you write, or if you pants your way through the drafts and do a “beat check” when you’re revising. Pantsers and plotters are both welcome. So sit down, grab a cuppa, and let’s talk about kissing books.

Kindle Nook Apple Kobo Scribd Print

New Release: Don’t Stop Believing

Silver PinesWelcome to the charming coastal town of Silver Pines, WA. Nestled between the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic Mountains, Silver Pines is known for clean air, majestic views, heartwarming, sexy romance, and more than its fair share of shenanigans.

The first book in the series releases today! I have referred to it for a long time as The Grumpy Lumberjack’s Gay Christmas…but alas…that is not it’s real title.



Don't Stop Believing is a m/m gay romance. 
Not all books in this series are LGBT, but just like your town, 
Silver Pines is home to diverse characters who all deserve their 
happy ending.

Ready to hear more?

It’s only .99!

Kindle | Nook | Apple | Kobo |

The Ogre from the Hill 

Simon Powell, the town recluse, only comes to town to deliver firewood and get supplies. Two days cover for Don't Stop Believing by Gwen Hayesbefore Christmas, he sees the new librarian’s car in a ditch and knows he can’t leave him on the road, but it’s too late to take him back to town. He’ll have something he’s never had in his cabin in the ten years that’s he’s lived there…company.

The Book Nerd from the City 

Adam Parker moved to the small community to make big changes in his life, but being snowbound with the bearded lumberjack in his rustic cabin was something he’d thought only existed in his fantasies. Simon pushes away anyone who wants to get close to him, but Adam sees what he’s hiding in his heart and he wants it. Badly.

A Christmas to Remember 

Adam smells like cinnamon and redemption but Simon learned long ago that everything he touches gets tainted, and he’ll do anything to keep his darkness away from Adam’s light.

But Adam has something else on his side—he’s been a very good boy this year and all he wants for Christmas is Simon.

Kindle | Nook | Apple | Kobo |

Erin Condren Planner and my office space

(I love looking at pictures of where authors work, so I included one of my space below! If you are a writer/artist, put your pics in comments, I’d love to see where you create!)

I’m so excited that my Erin Condren planner arrived this week.

Picture of Erin Condren Planner

This is the new Erin Condren Planner.

I’ve been watching Youtube videos and Pinterest boards and coveting them so much, but put off getting one because:

  • I hardly ever leave the house. Last year, I traveled a lot. This year, I have very few plans. I work from home. I started cutting my own hair this summer (thanks Youtube!) I only go to the doctor when forced (and I’m doing great now, you guys.) My husband is the house manager, so he does the shopping, meal planning, etc. My kids live on campus and keep track of their own schedules now. I really have no pressing need to keep track of the days the way some do. (It would have come in super handy when I had two kids in sports and extracurricular activities though.)
  • I am a little intimidated by glorious Washi and sticker creations all over the net.
  • Did I mention I am always home?

    picture of shelf in Gwen Hayes office with Erin Condren planner

    The shelf where Erin Condren Planner lives

But I purchased one for my daughter, who loved hers, and posted an affiliate link on the blog for my readers (all seven of you) so someone else could get the $10 off coupon. And when they did–Erin Condren sent ME a $10 off coupon. (Affiliate link still works–you click on it and sign up for the Erin Condren site newsletter and they email you a coupon. And if you buy something, they email me a coupon. And THEN, you get a link you can share with others.)

So I bit the bullet and figured out a way to use it as a journal instead of a planner.

So instead of using the Morning, Afternoon, Evening, Meal boxes for time, I’m going with:

picture of decorated Erin Condren planner

Rough draft of Erin Condren Planner

My Day: Instead of planning ahead for doctor and hair appointments, I’ll journal a little bit about what I did that day. It’s a small box, so no pressure. I’m thinking stuff like “Met wordcount goal” and “Went out to lunch today: wore pants!”

Spirit: Everyday my life is awesome, so this box is for me to remember that. Gratitude journal some days. Bragging box on others–like this week, a book I edited, The Deal by Elle Kennedy, hit #65 on the USA Today Bestseller list. How amazing is that? Somedays, I might put in a quote that resonated. No rules.

Mind: Writers need to fill the well. This is where I’ll keep track of music that resonated( 1989 by Taylor Swift if you are interested), what we watched at night (Season Six of Friends currently, books I read for pleasure or self-improvement (17th re-read of Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie). Maybe a new word I learned that day. Again, no rules. I think it will be fun to look back on.

Body: Fitbit steps, water check-off, Fruit and veggies. Probably not my weight. Because that is no fun and this journal is about nurturing myself not pushing.

I also ordered some cute weather stickers so I can track the sunshine and see if weather makes a difference in my mood. 🙂

picture of Gwen Hayes' Workspace

Gwen Hayes’ Workspace

And here is my office and workspace. I had a couple weeks without clients, so I spent some much needed time making it prettified. Now I have no excuses.

Note the treadmill to the left. Because what have I told you about sitting for too long?

Bulletproof coffee? With butter? Seriously?

Picture of bulletproof coffee

Do you take your coffee with butter?

Filed under: Things I thought I’d never say

I have been drinking my coffee with butter the last two days. I’m not 100% sold that it tastes better than coffee with a really good creamer, but according to the Bulletproof® Exec the butter and the MCT oil are good for brain fog. And weight loss, if you can imagine. But I am more concerned about the mental clarity.Go to the Bulletproof Coffee page here for more information.

So, after two days, I actually did feel more alert. But I also felt a little bit like when you eat too much fried food.  I might lessen the butter tomorrow.

So I’m wondering how many of you have tried it? What do you think? Any tips?

Dangers of a sedentary lifestyle



Lots of things have been going on lately in my life. Good things and bad things. And the worst thing is probably the best thing.


There has likely been some confusion swirling around about my career. I had a medical scare. I’ve been on the fence with how much to share, but my goal here is to encourage people to take better care of themselves, so I’m going to offer my story up. I want to say up front it was a medical scare that turned out okay. I was in a high risk category but I don’t think I am now (I see the doc again tomorrow.) The lifestyle changes I am making are to prevent being scared again–but I feel great right now. So–people stop worrying.

Three weeks ago, I developed a blood clot in what, luckily, turned out to be a superficial vain. It still hurt really bad. And the length of the vein damage (groin to calf) bumped me in a higher risk category for the kind of clot that has much worse complications. I was given a few choices for how negate this happening, and being a granola kind of girl, I chose the one with the least amount of chemical medications and invasiveness (also I’m totes not into getting a shot EVERY DAY.) The doctor told me when I was sitting I had to elevate my leg above my heart and put hot compresses on it. And I wasn’t allowed to sit much. And the rest of the time, I had to be walking and moving.

Not wanting to have him change my prognosis at the next appointment (because shot EVERY DAY) I set about to do this moving that he spoke of.

Which is really hard to do when your work keeps you sitting at a computer 10+ hours a day every day. I had to figure out how to live offline. Not easy for this girl. I had to squeeze work into 20-30 minute sprints with my legs on a yoga ball and my laptop on my chest. Again, not easy. And, after doing some research, I realized that I have probably been killing myself by sitting at a computer 10+ hours a day.

 Women who sit for more than six hours a day have a roughly 40 percent higher risk of dying from any cause, regardless of their fitness level, versus those who sit for fewer than three hours.” 

Sedentary women have more than double the risk of developing a pulmonary embolism, a.k.a. a blood clot in the lungs. “Prolonged sitting makes your blood flow sluggish and more likely to form clots, which can become lodged in your lungs,” explains Christopher Kabrhel, M.D., M.P.H., an emergency medicine physician at Massachusetts General Hospital.”

So, I had to make some choices about adding balance to my life. We’re saving for a treadmill desk for long-term and I need to take a pause and make getting healthy my full-time job for the short-term. ETA: neighbor had a free treadmill for me and husband fashioned a desk from plywood and magic. I use it for about an hour every day.

Which means I have to step away from management at Entangled Publishing. A job that I love, adore, and worked so hard build. But I can’t do it justice right now.

So, long story short. This message is to encourage you to move. Right now, I work in 30 minute sprints and move for 30 minutes. When I get the clean bill of health, I’ll need to do 45/15 for the rest of forever. I bought a Fitbit–which I encourage everyone to do. I am spending more time with my husband, with my dogs, with the outdoors. I’m losing physical weight. And I’m weighing all my choices to make sure I am eating, sleeping, loving, and working in a way that my health (of my mind, body, and soul) is my focus. And my work is definitely a part of that because I love what I do. I just need to remember it’s part of the pie chart, not the whole pie.

So, if you hear rumors. I wasn’t fired (still at Entangled, just stepped down from management), I’m not dying (scary and expensive wake up call), and I’m still freelancing. ETA: I left Entangled about a month later. What I’m not doing is sitting at a desk from 6 a.m to 8 p.m or later. I removed myself from almost all loops and subscriptions (I’ll miss you Publisher’s Marketplace). I play Words with Friends once a day with my first cup of coffee and then don’t get on Facebook again until next morning. I check into Twitter several times a day, but don’t leave it open. I’m looking in to ways to listen to manuscripts (the text-to-speech is still weird to me, but I’m trying to acclimate myself.) I’m drinking lots of water. I cut back on meat–once or twice a week instead of once or twice a day. I go for short walks, I go for long walks, I go up and down my basement stairs ten times a day on purpose. I am reading for personal enrichment. I am going to bed earlier. I’m going to street fairs and festivals instead of holing up in my house and staying away from people. I wrote this blog post in two different sessions. 🙂 I edit for half an hour and then think about it while I walk. I started writing again. Because all of these things together make me a better, happier person. (Don’t try to make me drink my coffee without my full fat cream though.)

Most of my friends are editors and writers and agents and we are all sitting too much. Please, for me, make it a priority to move. Circulate your blood. Get fresh air. It doesn’t matter if you exercise once a day at the gym and are in great shape, if your job is sitting, you need to break it up with movement.  In a week, you will be rewarded. More clarity. More energy. More better stuff. I promise.

And I’m still taking submissions!

ETA: This is the Fitbit I have.