DARA News

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 randee@randeeleigh.com 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 www.leetobinmcclain.com.

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 https://prisoliveras.com/books/, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/prisoliveras, or on Twitter and Instagram via @prisoliveras.

Editor and sensitivity reader Crystal Shelley discusses how to choose words with intention at the February 27, 2021, meeting of DARA.

Words have the power to do good: to uplift, to inspire, and to validate. Words also have the power to do harm: to hurt, to marginalize, and to erase. At DARA's February meeting, Crystal will discuss the concept of conscious language and how writers can use their words with intention. She'll also talk about considerations when writing about identities outside of our own and the role sensitivity reading can play in the writing process.


Everyone is welcome to join us for the Feb 27, 2021, meeting of the Dallas Area Romance Authors. Due to the pandemic, we will meet via Zoom. A brief business meeting at 9:30 a.m. will be followed by Crystal's presentation at 10 a.m. CST. To get an invite to the Zoom meeting, please contact us at dallasarearwa@gmail.com.


Crystal Shelley, Rabbit with a Red Pen


Crystal Shelley is a freelance copy editor, proofreader, and sensitivity reader who works with fiction authors, and she is also a licensed clinical social worker. She unites her love of language and social justice by providing editorial services with a focus on conscious language and representation.

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