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Jeffe Kennedy to speak about keeping secrets and creating suspense at the May 22, 2021 meeting of DARA via Zoom.

The judicious use of secrets and revelations can be a difficult skill for new writers to learn. Jeffe Kennedy, known for her slow reveal of deeply held secrets, worldbuilding details and using secrets to amplify sexual tension will teach skills to approaching this delicate task.

She’ll discuss when to withhold information and how that functions to build tension, even in books that aren’t technically mysteries. She’ll also give pointers on how to know when NOT to withhold information and how to seed important clues. She’ll cover how to create suspense through setting, body language, and dialogue.

Finally, Jeffe will discuss different approaches for the big reveal and how to avoid info-dumping so that the pace remains climactic.

About Jeffe Kennedy

Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include novels, non-fiction, poetry, and short fiction. She has won the prestigious RITA® Award from Romance Writers of America (RWA), has been a finalist twice, been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) as a Director at Large.

She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Jeffe can be found online at her website:, every Sunday at the popular SFF Seven blog, on Facebook, on Goodreads and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy. She is represented by Sarah Younger of Nancy Yost Literary Agency.

Lee McClain will take your questions about anything writing and publishing related at the April 24, 2021, meeting of DARA.

Lee Tobin McClain, PhD, boasts a long and varied writing career, as well as serving as a full-time professor at the oldest genre-fiction MFA program in the country. At DARA's April 24 meeting, she'll answer your questions about writing, publishing, the writer’s life… almost anything you want to ask her. Nothing’s taboo! Here’s some suggested topics:

  • being hybrid

  • turning rejected manuscripts into indie moneymakers

  • heat levels and why anyone would want to write sweet romance

  • writing for the inspirational market

  • writing category vs mainstream romance

  • essential qualities needed to succeed long-term

  • importance of reading for writer

  • marketing (she says she’s not an expert, but we all have to do it, so…)

Randee will be collecting questions in advance so we can keep the ball rolling while we have Lee online. Please send them to her at by April 23. You’ll also have time to ask questions live during the meeting.

About Lee McClain

Lee Tobin McClain grew up as a happily-nerdy kid in Columbus, Ohio. Checking out stacks of library books, taking long walks with her sister and their dachshund, and devouring chocolate ice cream were her primary activities—that, and a lot of daydreaming.

Lee never thought she could become an author—that was for exotic, important people, not everyday girls from the Midwest. So instead, she found a book-centered career as a graduate student in literature and then as an English professor. One year when the teaching job fell through, she tried her hand at romance fiction—and her writing habit was launched.

After getting a professor job at Seton Hill University, Lee helped to start the only graduate program in North America specializing in popular fiction—mysteries, YA novels, fantasy, and, of course, romance. Seton Hill's MFA in Writing Popular Fiction has grown into a lively, crazy, successful enterprise, and Lee still loves teaching in it.

In 2002, Lee and her then-husband travelled to China to adopt their daughter, Grace–the best decision she ever made. Grace is now a college student majoring in English, which makes Lee very happy!

In 2014, Lee was thrilled to get “the call” and learn that her first inspirational romance, Engaged to the Single Mom, would be published by Harlequin’s Love Inspired line of books. That same year, she began independently publishing the stories she’d been writing for years: the Sacred Bond series of Christian romances, and the Sacred Bond Guardians series of romantic suspense novels. In February 2016, she achieved a lifelong dream when her second novel for Harlequin, His Secret Child, hit the Publishers’ Weekly bestseller list. In 2017, she reached another personal milestone when she contracted with HQN to write longer, more complex contemporary romance novels.

Nowadays, Lee spends her time writing love stories—for Love Inspired, HQN, and independently—as well as teaching writing and taking adorable pictures of her goofy goldendoodle and her aptly-named cat, Trouble. For more information about Lee, visit her website at

Priscilla Oliveras teaches how to Craft Believable Characters at the March 27, 2021, meeting of DARA.

Many Keeper Shelf books land there in large part because the readers fell in love with the characters and want to revisit them. To create believable, three-dimensional characters and bring them to life on the page, you have to know them as well as you know your best friends.

This presentation explains several character-creating techniques, starting with character sketches, interviews, diary-ing/journaling, and “who, what, why,” ending with a detailed explanation of the all-important GMC, popularized in Debra Dixon’s how-to text Goal, Motivation and Conflict. GMC charts from the rom-coms “You’ve Got Mail” and “Pride and Prejudice” along with tips for using the GMC sentence to help with pitching round out the discussion, all with the end goal of providing attendees with a few new or improved additions to their writer’s toolbox.

Priscilla Oliveras

Priscilla Oliveras is a USA Today bestselling author and 2018 RWA® RITA® double finalist who writes contemporary romance with a Latinx flavor. Proud of her Puerto Rican-Mexican heritage, she strives to bring authenticity to her novels by sharing her Latinx culture with readers. She and her work have earned praise from O, The Oprah Magazine, Washington Post, New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist, among others. Since earning her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, Priscilla now serves as adjunct faculty in the program and teaches the online class “Romance Writing” for ed2go. While she’s a devotee of the romance genre, Priscilla’s also a sports fan, beach lover, and Zumba aficionado, who often practices the art of napping in her backyard hammock.

To follow along on her fun-filled and hectic life, visit her on the web at, on Facebook at, or on Twitter and Instagram via @prisoliveras.

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