Rebecca took an old kitchen cabinet and made it a work of art! Ozzie seems to think she designed and painted it for him.
She bakes for her son in Afghanastan like a good mom. Check out the shirt.
She likes to travel. See her in a photo in China
Check her blog and website for wonderful photos of her travels.
Ask a question for a chance to win one of her books!
I've been reading books by Rebecca York for ages, so I couldn't believe she agreed to let me interview her. I am so glad I did.
Please help me welcome her and please ask her tons of questions.
Rebecca, what was your first published book and to whom did you sell it?
Would you believe, my first published book was DOLLHOUSE FURNITURE YOU CAN MAKE, for A. S. Barnes. I started off writing non-fiction and gradually switched to fiction. And I've kept up my non-fiction career with a number of cookbooks, including THE DIABETES SNACK MUNCH NIBBLE NOSH BOOK, which was a bestseller for the American Diabetes Association.
How many books did you write before selling one?
I had a ton of determination to sell. The dollhouse furniture book was the first book I wrote. I also sold my first novel, which was THE INVASION OF THE BLUE LIGHTS, a children's science fiction book. I wrote it in a class I took at my local community college, edited it mercilessly, and sent it out on my own. After holding it for nine months, an editor at Scholastic wrote me a two-page rejection letter. I knew that was a lot better than getting, "this doesn't meet our needs." So I did what the editor suggested and sold the book to her.
How many books have you published?
Well, I mostly sit in my sunroom and write, except when I'm traveling. So I've published 122 books.
What themes go through your books?
You want me to reveal my deepest secrets? Okay, I usually write about guys with deep emotional scars who can only be saved by the love of a good woman.
How would you best describe your books?
Don't ask me to write comedy. That's not me. My work leans toward the dark and dangerous. And I'm always shocked and happy when I can think of some humor to include.
How did you write with kids and deadlines?
When my kids were little, I wrote while they were at school. And when they were home, I made sure everyone knew that Mom had a job-writing. And she needed her work time.
Which other jobs have you had?
When I was in college, I worked in the admissions office. In graduate school, I was a teaching assistant, teaching freshman English and then world literature. Then when I had my kids, I wanted a job where I could work from home, I started writing for my local newspaper, then writing publicity for the library system.
What do you love most about writing and do you not like?
I love coming up with an idea and plotting it out. I don't love the first draft, because I hate facing a blank page. When I have my draft, I edit and edit and edit. Every book gets edited first on the screen. Then I print it out two or three times and edit on paper. Each time I do, I see things I missed. The cleaner it is, the better I see what's missing or what needs to be cut. I love the editing part because I love making each scene and each chapter better.
What are you writing now?
I'm plotting a book about a dragon shifter. Probably before I write it, I will write another Harlequin Intrigue about people caught in an assassination plot. It looks like the heroine's an innocent bystander. Then the hero finds out that she's up to her ears in the plot. But she has good reasons for joining a conspiracy of murderers.
What would you write if you could write anything you wanted to write?
Lucky for me, I'm doing what I love-writing romantic suspense, usually with paranormal elements. I love writing about people falling in love and working out a relationship against a background of suspense and danger.
Why do you write?
Writing is part of who I am. I can't imagine not doing it.
How do you write?
Well, on a laptop. I'd hate siting at a desk. I can take my laptop anywhere in the house. Mostly the sunroom or the living room. But if I want to be warm and cozy, I write in bed. I'm a plotter. I don't want to go ahead with a story, especially a suspense novel, until I know a lot about the plot. Plotting is a combination of hard work and fun. I love coming up with the twists that will make the book exciting. I always pick characters who will work well in my plot, but I don't know them really well until I start writing the first chapters of the book.
Do you write what you know?
Sometimes I wrote what I know. I set a lot of books near my home in Howard County, Maryland. But my imagination plays a big role in what I write. I mean, I don't know any werewolves or dragon shifters personally. But I love making them up and spending hours with them while I write their stories.
What's next for you?
More of the same, I hope. I love getting to write shorter books for Harlequin Intrigue and longer ones for Berkley. In August, MORE THAN A MAN will be out. It's one of the Harlequin Intrigue 60th Anniversary books. The hero has lived for more than 500 years, and once again he's met a woman he could love. But can he open himself to the pain of loss? At the same time, a ruthless millionaire with a fatal disease wants to find out the hero's secret of longevity. And he will use any means to force him to cooperate.
Rebecca York (aka Ruth Glick) ** http://www.rebeccayork.com/
ETERNAL MOON, Berkley, 4/09
MORE THAN A MAN, Hqn Intrigue, 8/09
MAMMOTH BOOK OF VAMPIRE ROMANCE, Running Press, 8/08
Suresh had made reservations at a restaurant near the tram stop.
An intimate, twenty-seat haven off one of Nice’s busy streets with open, burnished oak stable doors, Terry had first introduced the Internet wunderkind to the establishment a few weeks earlier. Suresh termed it “The Bottle Restaurant” because of its wall-to-wall display of miniature liquor bottles dating back over a hundred and fifty years.
Terry and Thomas had to duck to enter the bistro.
Geoff Stanford, all aristocratic and haughty, sat at a circular table with a burgundy leather-bound wine list in front of him. He and the proprietress discussed his selection, Geoff in flawless, Parisian-accented French, the matron in a more provincial tone.
Seated to Geoff’s right, Suresh Singh stood, threw his napkin on the table, and halted all movement when he caught sight of Thomas.
Terry’s mouth curved, and he and Thom swapped grins at Suresh’s almost-comical surprise, mouth open, one hand doing a questioning wave, while his eyes did a rapid-fire examination of each twin.
“I didn’t know you had a brother, far less an identical twin,” he said, walking forward and clapping Terry on the shoulder.
“Yeah, I’m full of surprises. Thomas, this is Suresh Singh, Internet billionaire, and a decided pain in the backside.”
“Nice to meet you.”
The men shook hands.
“What’s the occasion?” Terry inclined his head to Geoff, now joined by James Lockheed.
“I’m launching a charitable organization to eliminate illiteracy. It’s pioneered around under eleven inner-city soccer leagues.”
Su-Lin and Emma had stopped to look at jewelry in a window case. Terry knew the moment she entered the restaurant.
Suresh’s head did an exorcist whip, and his jaw dropped open. “Crimey, tell me she’s not your wife, Thomas.”
He uncurled one bent knee and strode forward, his gaze pasted on Su-Lin.
Terry clamped his hand on Suresh’s shoulder, effectively halting his momentum.
“She’s mine,” he growled.
“You got married?” Charcoal eyebrows separated and lifted. “You?”
“We’re not married, but she belongs to me.”
“Uh-uh, don’t pull that Rolan crap on me. I told him and I’ll tell you, unless there’s a wedding band, no one’s off limits. Unhand me, man.” Suresh shook Terry’s hand off and ate up the distance to Su-Lin.
“She’s in love with you, you know,” Thomas said, his voice a bare murmur.
Sizzling sounds preceded the scent of searing meat.
Thomas sniffed. “Lamb, if I’m not mistaken. Su-Lin’s good for you, Ter.”
“She’s in lust. The woman has had no life, no childhood. She’s stayed on the sidelines all her life. With her looks, it’s amazing she went through adolescence without being groped or raped. Do you know she’d never even been kissed until a few days ago?” He couldn’t take his eyes off Su-Lin. She wore a soft green sundress with spaghetti straps and a curved neckline, which revealed cleavage that had his mouth watering the minute he caught sight of her.
She needed a pendant to match the emerald earrings, he decided. And a ring. He choked back the thought, but it formed anyway, a big-ass emerald ring, and a thick wedding band, a symbol no man could mistake. Maybe one of those collar necklaces, one with his initials engraved all over it; a smile captured his mouth as he pictured it.
“Ter, have you heard a word I’ve said?” Thomas shook his arm.
“Sorry, boyo. What?”
“Su-Lin’s cocked onto Suresh’s idea. She wants to buy a gym and teach gymnastics to children who normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn. Children in foster homes.”
“When did this come up?” The notion had his sixth sense pinging away, but he couldn’t pinpoint what disturbed him about the idea.
“When Emma mentioned the masked ball, she explained what Suresh wanted to do.”
“She spoke about her idea in front of her relatives?” He rolled his shoulders, but the uneasy feeling persisted.
“I’m not sure if she’s told them. When we were waiting for you in the entertainment area, she told me about her plans. She’s so excited. You should have seen her. I swear if she hadn’t been wearing a dress, she would have done a cartwheel.”
“Thom, I’ve been trying to find a way to tell you this for a while. I saw Carol-Ann today, near the train station.”
“Bloody hell,” Thomas muttered as he stumbled backward. “If our step-mother’s here it means she’s up to something.”
“Nothing makes sense.” Terry shook his head. “Why is she here? Why is Father here? He’s ignoring you as much as he’s ignoring me, and you’ve been the good twin, the heir, and all that.”
“He wants me to sire another Gore. Get married, settle down.”
“Are you going to? For the sake of the title?”
“The last thing I want is to follow in his footsteps. I have no desire to have a child. The title will go to your first son, if you don’t inherit it sooner.”
“You are not going to die on the operating table, Thomas, not if I have anything to say about it.”
“We have to face reality. And talk about the consequences.”
“Do you think I don’t fricking know that? But not here, not now, and there’s no sodding way you’re getting off the hook so easily. You’re the earl, not me.”
“We’ll table the issue. Everyone’s sitting down, and a second ago, you lost your chance to sit next to Su-Lin.”
Terry mugged a scowl Suresh’s way, and the young billionaire gave him a victory salute as he scooted Su-Lin’s chair closer to the round table.
Thomas took the empty seat next to Emma Lockheed, while Terry schlepped into the chair next to Harry.
“Suresh has his eyes on our woman.”
“No ‘our’ about it. You stole one kiss, and that’s all you’re ever going to get.”
Geoff, on his left, asked, “Ever? Sounding pretty long-term there, chappie. This one’s going to last longer than a week?”
“It’s a three-week charter,” Terry hedged. “You know the relatives?”
“I’d never heard of James Lockheed until a few weeks ago, myself. He Skyped me about chartering the Glory. Said a friend had recommended the yacht.”
“He never mentioned anything about speaking with you. I engineered a meeting with him in Antibes after I met Su-Lin and found out they controlled her schedule.” Terry thumbed his jaw and stared at James Lockheed. “I thought I manipulated the man into the charter.”
“Did you now? I arranged the Glory charter for Thomas the minute he made the request. I let Lockheed know the Glory wasn’t available that same day. Something doesn’t add up.” Geoff drummed his fingers on the table. “Could this be some sort of setup?”
“To what purpose?”
“Su-Lin. The usual. Marriage?”
Terry’s stomach caved as if he’d been sucker punched. His mouth soured.
“Doesn’t make sense.” He forced out the words. “They’re rich. Don’t need the money.”
“One easy way to clear this up, Terry. Let’s ask Lockheed why he didn’t mention his phone call to me. Wait a minute, when I canceled the charter, I spoke with the wife, not Lockheed. It could be a simple case of miscommunication. How do you want to proceed?”
“Not worth pursuing the matter at this point, Geoff, not with Lockheed being hostile about my relationship with Su-Lin. Sleeping dogs and all that.”
The matronly proprietress strolled to their table, a bottle of wine clutched to her chest, two crystal goblets dangling upside down from her fingers. She deposited the glasses on the linen-covered table, nudging them into correct positions, and brandished the label on the bottle in front of Geoff.
Terry waited until the woman finished pouring wine for the whole table, filling their balloon glasses a third of the way. Thomas refused the alcohol, holding a palm over his glass.
“Carol-Ann’s in Nice, Geoff. I saw her this morning.” Terry took a fortifying glug of the Bordeaux vintage.
“She found you?” Geoff’s normal reticent expression changed, and his mouth curled into a sneer. “She’s the reason I flew in. Couldn’t find her in Singapore, and I had business here and wanted to warn you in person. That’s all you need added to this ticking situation, Carol-Ann.”
Harrison’s head whipped around. “What’d you say? Carol-Ann? Big hair, boobs out to here, long cheerleader legs?”
“Yes,” Geoff answered.
“You know her?” Harry arched a brown eyebrow.
“She’s been my stepmother for the last dozen years,” Terry said, and he knew the minute he saw Harrison’s face that Murphy’s Law had slammed them all. Things were about to get roller-coaster worse.
Harry’s Texan sun-bronzed complexion greened right before Terry’s eyes and his iron-pit cowboy stomach seemed ready to upchuck all its contents. He shoved out from the table and took two lunging strides through the only door in the back of the restaurant.
Metal clanged onto the stone floor in a blistering inferno. A woman shrieked. A man shouted in a furious combination of Franglish. Harrison stumbled out the doorway he’d careened into, looking like doused rawhide.
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
“Harry screwed your stepmother?”
“I should have known when Thomas said she had the hots for some cowboy. What a fricking mess.”
Liz Lipperman gave away The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them) by Jack M. Bickham.
The winner (chosen by a random number generator) is SCARLET PUMPERNICKLE!
Contact me with your mailing address and Liz will get that book right out to you.
email..... arkansascyndi @ sbcglobal.net
Georgia in the 1970's is a place of turmoil. Firmly established elsewhere, segregation is getting a toehold in spite of a few remaining diehards, and the country's youth are in open rebellion against the Vietnam War--it's sex, war, and Rock'n'Roll. Sardis Crossing, a little town in middle Georgia, is no except as far as prejudice and racial hatreds are concerned, its inhabitants content to let life go on as it has for the last two hundred years. In the Spring of 1970, two people arrive in town who will become catalysts to the fermenting unrest. Wade Conyers IV, is a returning vet, scion of an old Georgia family, born and raised in Sardis Crossing. Logan Redhawk, is a Yankee, a man of two races, a part-Mohawk doctor assigned to the local hospital. Wade is newly-married but a haunted man with a secret; Logan is brash, sexy, and in love with Wade's naive younger sister, Lindsey. These two men are destined to change life in Sardis Crossing forever, and the town and two of its families will never be the same!
Jericho Road is scheduled for release as an e-book by Lyrical Press in April, 2009.
It had seemed simple enough.
As a child, one of my characters had run away from home...led an adventurous but dissolute life...contracted a terminal disease. I'd decided he would return home a la prodigal, be welcomed back into the family fold, a cure would be found...and he'd live happily ever after.
It didn't work out like that.
The minute he staggered through the door, it hit me. He's going to die! "But I don't want it this way!" I shouted the words aloud, pushed away from the computer, and burst into tears.
A little dramatic perhaps, but that's the way it happened. I had just killed off one of my main characters--and I didn't even intend to. As I typed that part of the story, I realized it had to be, because his death would influence the other characters from then on.
The character who died? Cash, son of Sinbad's beloved Andrea.
Acashi Day makes his first appearance in Sinbad's Last Voyage. He is fourteen, the son of Andrea Talltrees and the villain Tran li Day-lin, a handsome man-child with his father's startling semi-Asian looks. In that book, Cash doesn't take up many pages. When we meet him, he's sitting on the front porch of his mother's farmhouse, trying to absorb the fact that his world has just collapsed because his father is a fugitive, accused of being a spy and a smuggler named Sinbad sh'en Singh has taken his mother off-planet to prevent her being arrested whlie he searches for Tran. His only other appearance is in the last chapter when he reunites Sin with Andi minutes before she gives birth, but in those few pages, he gives Sinbad a glimpse of future troubles to come.
In Sinbad's Wife, Cash is adjusting to life with Sinbad. He now has a stepfather who is dying and a stepbrother, Adam Lawless, his partner in crime. While Sin is hospitalized, Cash and Adam raid the cookie jar and take themselves to Old Town, to lose their virginity in an evening of teenage lust. When Andi is kidnapped by slavers, they enlist in the Space Guard to help bring her back. Confronted by his father, Cash has to make a choice between killing Tran or being called a coward by the man who sired him. He's saved from being a patricide by Sin's action.
Sinbad's Pride finds Cash a randy sixteen-year-old with hormones in overdrive, just beginning to emerge into the potential of a full-grown Serapian male. He runs away with Sin's concubine, Senset, only to find himself a single parent of twins, abandoned by his love and forced to become an adult overnight as he is faced with the most difficult decision of all--how to provide for his children. Desperately, he sends them to Sinbad, begging him not to make them suffer for their father's sins.
Eighteen years have passed in Sinbad's Triumph. No longer the brash, ready-for-a-fight youngster, Cash is now thirty-seven, a weary but well-known mercenary dying of a terminal disease contracted during an unprotected back-alley encounter with a prostitute. He wants to go home, wants to see the sun come up over the mountains, wants to sit with his little sister N'Sagar as he used to when he would tell the child he was making the sun come up just for her. With the help of N'Sagar and a doctor-monk from the Brotherhood of St Luke, he makes the journey back to Felida. Cash meets his children, Drea and Tran, discovering they consider him a hero. He's makes his peace with Sin, is installed comfortably in his old room, and everyone waits for the inevitable.
At last, the day came when Cash began to have trouble breathing. In the middle of a sentence, he stopped, choked, and expelled his breath in a cough.
"Drea." He caught his daughter's hand. "Quick! G-get Mom! I want my Mother!"
By the time Andi got there, his lips were blue, skin taking on a leaden, dusky hue. She held his hand, the fingernails now blue-tipped, while she murmured wordless, soothing sounds.
"I'm here, Cash. Shhh, Mother's here." She had to choke back the tears. My son...my baby...Oh God, no...
"Mom...oh, Mom..." Then he lay so quiet, everyone was frightened.
"Better call the others to say their goodbyes," Cousin Kaz told them, biting his lip as he took readings with the CompuMed.
"Look, N'Sagar--it's the sun! Come up, sun! Come up for Nanny! Laugh for me, Nanny..." He took a slow, deep breath--and didn't let it out. The hands tightly gripping his children's relaxed, and Andi and Drea and Tran began to cry, very softly.
N'Sagar leaned over and kissed his cheek. "It's beautiful, Cash. Thank you." Gently, she pulled a small white handkerchief from her pocket, folded it lengthwise and laid it across Cash's eyes. Then she put her head on her arms and leaned against the bed, shoulders shaking.
I've killed off other characters but none have affected me like Cash's death. Perhaps it's the fact that he was the first, or that I wrote into his passing my own first-hand heart-wrenching experience of witnessing the death of someone I loved. Whatever the reason, killing off a character you've created from childhood to adulthood is a traumatic thing. It's like losing a friend--and it stays with you.
Sinbad's Last Voyage and Sinbad's Wife are available as ebooks and in print from Double Dragon Publishers, and www.amazon.com. (Voyage is also available as an audio book.) Sinbad's Pride, Sinbad's Triumph, and Sinbad's War are scheduled for later release.
How did you become a writer?
Almost every author answers she was an avid reader and always knew she wanted to write.
Is that enough to transform us into New York bestsellers?
Would you entrust your health and life into the hands of a surgeon just because he eagerly claims he always wanted to be a doctor? Hey, Doc, show me your credentials. You carefully read the framed diplomas and count how many years of experience your expert physician has garnered, before you allow him to slice your precious flesh.
It’s the same with every profession. And I want to believe that being a writer is a respectable and respected profession.
After careful consideration, I put some necessary requirements to be an author and a New York best-seller. No kidding.
1-EDUCATION for aspiring authors:
a- Workshops. Some are offered by your local chapters, others are given on-line. Learn everything you can about POV, GMC, hooks, show don’t tell, good pacing, emotion, interesting dialogues, appealing characters, suspense, dark moment and resolution.
b- Craft books: Here are some from my bookcase.
You Can Write A Romance by Rita ClayEstrada & Rita Gallagher
How to Write Romances by Pianca
Writing Clinic by Nicken
G.M.C: Goal, Motivation & Conflict by Debra Dixon
Heroes & Heroines by Cowden LaFever Viders
Characters& Viewpoint by O.S. Card
Scene & Structure by Jack Bickham
Beginnings, Middle & Ends by Nancy Kress
Conflict, Action & Suspense by William Noble
The Dreaded Synopsis by Elizabeth Sinclair
Writing the Breakthrough Novel by Donald Maass.
c- Critique Group: you may have to try several until you find the critique partners with whom you feel comfortable.
d- Contests: enter as many as you can. Use the suggestions if given by more than one judge.
a- Submissions: polish your book and submit. Submit non stop. If given suggestions for revisions, drop everything and do the requested revision. Even if it involves cutting the three first chapters and rewriting the last three. It happened to me.
b- Go to conferences and pitch your manuscript.
c- SEND the requested partial.
d- Accept the rejections letters and develop a tough skin. It’s part of your learning curve.
You did all of the above and received THE CALL. You are an author.
Announce it to the whole world and celebrate.
Now the hard work, the real work is starting as I learned the hard way.
In addition, to revising, editing, polishing your contracted manuscript, you have to promote it and sell it.
1-Promotion is tough for introverts converted into authors, but there is no way out of it.
a-Create a website
b-Create a blog and post, even if it’s once a week or less, as I do.
c- Participate in popular blogs, such as the famous Pink Fuzzy Slippers.
d- Leave comments on other authors’ blogs, as Mary Ricksen often do. They will return the favor. A blog is like a restaurant. If it’s crowded, it is a sign that the food is good. People come back often.
e-Advertise your writing on world-wide loops: mySpace, Facebook, Goodreads, even if you think it’s a waste of time.
f- Create a trailer: I just did mine. Please check it by going to my website http://www.monarisk.com/ and click on the link to watch the trailer, right over the bookcover picture.
g- Send a newsletter to every one you know. I still have to do that.
h- Enter contests. Still on my to-do list.
i- When you receive good reviews, post them everywhere on earth. Be proud of yourself.
When your paperback book arrives, hold it with love, caress it and enjoy the feeling of achievement. It’s your baby, your beautiful cover, your wonderful story.
Go out and sell it, autograph it and participate in book signings.
It’s not easy to write and sell a book.
Congratulations authors. You did it.
Mona Risk writes for Cerridwen Press and The Wild Rose Press.
TO LOVE A HERO: Click here to buy:
Two Lips Review: 4.5 lips Mona Risk tells a poignant yet beautiful and sweet story of two people falling in love, who must fight their attraction.
Review Your book: 4 stars. Mona Risk is a talented author. She knows how to weave intrigue and romance into her story. The characters are well-developed. Fans of romance and suspense will enjoy To Love a Hero.
SIMPLY ROMANCE REVIEW: Outstanding Read. Mona Risk's TO LOVE A HERO is a wonderful love story complete with deception, conceit, stubbornness and the love of a lifetime for two people who couldn't be more different. Ms. Risk hits a homerun with this story.
FRENCH PERIL: Click here to buy:
Review Your Book Review, 4 Stars Mona Risk, author of French Peril, offers her fans another great read. Risk has a talent for character development.
TWOLIPSREVIEW 4.5 lips Mona Risk brings old-fashioned romance back into style with French Peril. French Peril is full of mystery and intrigue. I loved Ms. Risk’s injection of humor into the story. The ending was every romance readers dream! I love happily ever afters! Pick up French Peril, a sweet mystery romance you’re guaranteed to enjoy.
Night Owl Romance Book Reviews: Recommended Read. Mona Risk will pull you in with her amazing characters and in-depth twisting suspense. She takes armchair travel to whole new heights as her characters travel to their heart wrenching and spine tingling doom. Mona Risk’s characters will enthrall you as they all dance to their own personal tunes.
The Pink Fuzzy Slipper Writers are pleased to welcome Liz Lipperman to our blog. Liz is a chapter mate of mine (Dallas Area Romance Authors) and a huge support to me and Mary Marvella on our Goals loop (headed by Amy Atwell). If you want more information on the goals loop, let me (ArkansasCyndi) or Mary know and we'll get you hooked up. Take it away, Liz!
First off, I want to thank Cyndi and the rest of the girls at TPFS for inviting me to talk about the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. When I heard it mentioned on a loop the early part of February, I decided to give it a shot since I was in a funk after having rushed through a manuscript to enter in this year’s GH.
Let me stop right here and say up front - I hate contests! I have never had much luck with them since I write Women’s Fiction. Until a few years ago, this genre didn’t exist, or at least it wasn’t addressed. Those of us who write it have always had to enter Single Title which still carries with it a lot of romance mindset and genre rules. (Hero and heroine meeting in the first chapter, sexual tension right up front, etc.) Judges either hated my writing or they loved it. Usually, I got one of each, and I never finaled. Two years ago, I entered a
That’s when I vowed NEVER to enter another contest again.
At the encouragement of my agent, I broke my rule and entered the GH. Her motive was to get me to finish a ghost story she loved. So, I did, wondering what had I been smoking.
I only mention this to let you know where my mind was when I entered the ABNA. It was free, so I thought what the heck. I had a week to get my entry ready since it required a pitch, a bio and a short synopsis. Never having written a short synopsis and hesitant to sing my own praises, it was a challenge. I forgot about it until the day they were supposed to announce the quarterfinalists – March 16th.
I was nuts that whole day, checking the Amazon site at least every ten minutes. Finally at midnight, I went to bed, but when I woke up at 3:30 am, I HAD to check. Sure enough, there was an email from Amazon time stamped 12:30 am.
Now here’s where it gets spooky. TALK DEAD TO ME is a story about four sisters who come together for the funeral of the fifth sister, fashioned after my own relationship with my four sisters, one of whom is dead. The dead woman has been a loner all her life and she and the heroine have been estranged for over nine years. At the funeral home, the dead woman appears to the heroine to convince her to help her find her killer. I’ll spare you the details except to say, TDTM is a story about starting over, healing relationships, murder and mayhem. I made my ghost a wise-cracking, potty mouthed woman (nothing like my real sister) who adds humor to the mix.
I sent out emails to all my relatives and told them to read the excerpt. I can’t tell you the chills I got when my nephew commented about how appropriate that I found out on the day his mother, my sister, had died twelve years earlier. I swear to you, in that moment when I realized he was right, I knew Theresa, my sister, had a hand in this. Knew she must have hexed the two people who reviewed my entry and bullied them into choosing it.
Anyway, I was supposed to be talking about how ABNA works. Out of 10 thousand entries, Amazon reviewers chose 500. Until April 14th, the excerpts are posted on Amazon as a free download. Mine is (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B001UG3BYK,) Publishers Weekly will review the fulls of all 500 entries and will post their scores. Then Penguin will use that, the original scores and reviews of the second round reviewers and the input from the reviews on Amazon to come up with 100 semi finalists whose names will be posted on April 15th. Penguin will read the 100 fulls and pick three finalists. At that time, Amazon customers will be allowed to download a longer excerpt and like American Idol, you get to pick the winner. Of course, Penguin has the right not to publish and award a cash prize instead.
So, that’s how it works. I’ve read the threads from last year’s top 10, and they all agree, the reviews probably mean nothing. Penguin will be looking at the PW reviews and scores. It is really fun, though, to see my excerpt with author after my name.
Oh, congrats to everyone who made the finals of the GH. I didn’t. Where was that damn ghost when I needed her??
I’d love to hear any spooky stories you’re willing to share as well as your comments. I’ll let the TPFS girls pick one, and the prize will be a copy of The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them) by Jack M. Bickham. This is one of my favorite books, but somehow, I ended up with two copies.
Thanks for listening to me babble on.
Thanks for visiting Liz. You're always welcome at Pink Fuzzy Slipper Writers!
For all of us writers out there, it's time to stock up on paper because STAPLES is offering a great deal on printer paper this week. 500 sheets is $6.99 and they are offering an easy $5.99 rebate, which you can fill out on your computer. So, the paper will cost $1.00.
Check your store and circular, as offer may vary by region.
Favorite quote: "I can't afford to save any more money."
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While organizing my bookcase, I browsed through some old historicals. Although dog-eared and yellowish they are very precious to my heart. The Kathleen Woodiwiss, Heather Graham, Johanna Lindsay and so many that I read and reread in the eighties. The heroines were blushing virgins, fresh out of puberty, sixteen to eighteen. They were living in country castles with strict fathers or guardians, dreaming and waiting for knights in shining armor.
The older heroines who had reached the respectable twenties were either widows who had just buried an unloved husband thirty years older; or spinsters as they called them at the time. Offspring of noble but penniless parents, they earned their living by chaperoning young pupils until the right husband showed up. The twenty-something spinsters were good mannered but assertive, claiming they didn’t want to get married while hiding a blazing curiosity under an uptight façade.
The Regency books of Stephanie Laurens, particularly the Bar Cynster series, presented heroines ranging in age from twenty-two to twenty-nine. And still not married. These books were published in the late nineties. The heroines were hot, daring, determined to follow their own minds.
What about the heroines of contemporary romances?
Most of the contemporary romances I read use heroines in their late twenties or early thirties, earning their own life and often determined to be happy without the help of a husband. They are experienced, assertive, sometimes passionate, but deep down they hide a secret longing for real love and commitment.
Before staring in my romances, the heroines of my books had to study for many years and earn advanced degrees. They work hard and dedicate themselves to their career.
In TO LOVE A HERO, Cecile Lornier is quite successful professionally. She has a Ph.D. in Chemistry and wins an international contract to refurbish a laboratory in Belarus. But her personal life was a mess. At thirty-four, she is recovering from a bad personal experience with the wrong man. The last person she needs in her life is an alpha hero, a Russian general and national hero. And yet, she is attracted to Sergei and falls in love with him. Sergei recognizes she doesn’t need him like his delicate first wife. In spite of her love for him, Cecile hurts him while trying to protect her independence and her career.
In PRESCRIPTION FOR TRUST, Dr. Olivia Crane is a psychiatrist and respected University Professor. At thirty-five, she is totally dedicated to her career and her daughter. With too many secrets lurking in her past, she considers love a useless baggage and resists trusting the man who adores her and tries to help her, the French psychiatrist Luc George, she loved but refused to marry ten years ago.
My heroes are all in their late thirties, mostly alpha heroes, successful, gallant and respectful of their protagonists’ independent spirits and successful careers.
Whether you are writers or readers, you probably have a good idea of who like for heroine and hero.
How old are your favorite heroines? Are they seventeen, twenty, thirty, forty? Are they blushing virgins or brazen women, shunning love or looking for commitment? What do they do for a living?
How old are you heroes? Are they protective or possessive?
The bay teemed with it.
Yachts, luxury sailing ships, ritzy sports cars in colorful hues blurred the sweeping vista facing Su-Lin.
Monte Carlo; she pinched her forearm, overwhelmed by her good fortune.
Today they started a three-week cruise on an actual yacht captained by Terrence O’Connor, her future lover. Staring at the boat, she stepped onto the immaculate cement dock.
Su-Lin took in the resplendence of the yacht, the proud curves, and the three tiered decks. Her heart, already joyful at the prospect of sailing the Mediterranean, vaulted over a full-fledged hurdle when she glimpsed streaked blond hair glinting red highlights and walnut-toned biceps framed by a tight black T-shirt.
Her eyes focused on Terrence puffing on a cigar, blowing smoke rings, which disappeared as they rose against the perfection of a powder blue sky. She never noticed her uncle unpacking their luggage, didn’t acknowledge her relatives’ presence, but followed them on autopilot. On board, she came to a stop in front of a lanky, handsome man wearing a brown Stetson set at a rakish angle.
“Welcome to the Glory,” he drawled in this sexy, send-shivers-up-your-spine voice. “Harrison Ford, first mate, at your absolute disposal. I saw you on the beach in Antibes a while back, sugar. Amazing performance. Surely you’re Olympic material?”
His palm enfolded her small hand, and he brushed full lips over the throbbing vein at her wrist. Bemused by the way he said the word “sugar,” like it had no R and a host of Hs, shug-ah, her lips curved, hoping he’d say it again. She paraphrased it in her mind, shug-ah, and drew in gulps of his Acqua Di Gio aftershave as her stomach did a giddy slide into his twinkling honey eyes.
She rushed out, “I made the team four years in a row but had to drop out. Then I shot up. I’m too tall for Olympic competition.” She stifled a groan, too much information. It still amazed her how rich people conducted a conversation. They asked questions as greetings but didn’t expect answers, far less the truth.
“An itty bitty thing like you?” Liquid caramel eyes glistened sympathy beneath arched eyebrows. “Shucks, sugar, that’s their loss. I took a shot of you on my cell. Remind me, and I’ll show it to you later.”
He had taken a picture of her? This man with rock-star looks and Indiana Jones charm?
Su-Lin fell back when her uncle stepped forward.
“I’m James Lockheed, and this is my wife, Emma, my niece, Su-Lin.”
“Nice to meet y’all. Terrence O’Connor’s the captain, but he’s tied up for the moment. I know you chartered the Glory for the coming three weeks, Mr. Lockheed, but Geoff, Terry’s partner, seems to have scheduled a cruise with another party for the same period.”
“Well, I hope we can settle this mix-up quickly.” Aunt Emma started tapping her Clarks pump on the teak deck.
“Not to worry, Terry’ll sort something out.”
“We’ve already paid for this cruise,” Uncle James announced. “We’re not going anywhere.”
Tap, tap. Her aunt’s drumming intensified. Su-Lin rubbed her left temple.
“Jimmy, do you see what I see?”
Something about the strange way her aunt and uncle looked at each other bothered Su-Lin, but she couldn’t quite identify what.
“Well, I’ll be,” her uncle muttered. “He’s the spitting image of Terrence.”
Su-Lin followed the direction of their gaze and saw Terrence with shorter hair, dressed in beige trousers and a white linen shirt, climbing the inclined gangplank. Her head spun to the boat’s second level where another Terrence in black slacks and a black shirt puffed on a cigar. Nothing made sense.
Su-Lin chewed her lip and grabbed the handrail as her knees buckled.
A crew member approached bearing a tray of martini glasses.
More confused than ever, on autopilot, she absently curled her fingers around a chilled stem, glanced at the blue liquid sloshing side to side, her mind slipping and sliding in a mimicking rhythm.
Every fear about her mental stability surfaced. Had she dreamed all this?
The sound of pounding footsteps snapped her gaze to the second deck, and she spotted Terry stomping down the metal stairs, hair flying, mouth a thin, flat line, and the other Terry striding onto the Glory’s deck.
She’d gone over the edge, crossed the line into living her dreams. She had too much of her mother in her, after all.
“What in damnation are you doing here?” an angry Terry barked.
“Nice to see you again, brother. Didn’t you know? I chartered the Glory for three weeks.”
Twins, identical twins; her pulse steadied, beating faster than normal, but not jumping and starting like it had seconds before. She gripped the crystal flute in her hand so hard, she feared it would break.
“Damn it, what the hell is going on here, Thomas? You’re the other charter?”
“Calm down, Ter. There is a reasonable explanation.”
“Sod off, you prick. I don’t want to hear it. And,” he growled, his voice lowering, “you brought Father. How could you?”
Through all the shouting and fists stabbing the air, Su-Lin discovered dissimilarities between the identical twins.
Thomas, though muscular, didn’t have Terry’s powerful biceps, nor were his shoulders as broad. His hair barely brushed his nape and fell into a side part. He personified the suave Ralph Lauren type, urbane and sophisticated. Terry, even in repose, oozed a primitive sexuality braided with a leashed rage and hunger.
Fisted hands balled on his lean hips, Terry scowled at his father and brother.
Harrison held out a cell phone. “It’s Geoff. He wants to speak to you.”
Terry spoke into the receiver for three minutes, issuing words in a fierce staccato. He snapped the phone shut and cursed, his brogue so thick Su-Lin couldn’t understand a single word.
“Well, well, this is interesting,” Aunt Emma drawled. “It complicates matters.”
Su-Lin’s stomach listed. “I don’t understand.”
“I’m sure you don’t, Jennifer,” her aunt said.
Terry dragged both hands through his hair and turned to face her. “We meet again. Welcome to the Glory.”
Shock kept her speechless as she realized she wasn’t welcome on board his boat, not by a long shot. She needed to escape, find a safe place, hole up, and block the humiliation shattering her fragile self-confidence.
Gritting her teeth, Su-Lin lifted her chin and said, “A most gracious welcome. Thank you.”
At least he had the grace to blush, although that proved poor solace for her bruised ego.
“James and Emma Lockheed, Su-Lin, meet my brother, Thomas, and my father, the Earl of Arran, Nigel Gore.” He appeared to be speaking through clenched teeth.
“Nigel, good to see you again,” Uncle James said, extending a hand.
“You know each other?” Terry asked, gaze whipping between the two men.
“Business acquaintances,” the earl replied.
“Harry, Austen, show our guests to their rooms,” Terry ordered.
The cowboy, Harrison, intervened. “I’ll show you to your cabin, Su-Lin.” He crooked an elbow. “Terry has to show his father and brother to theirs, and Austen, our bosun, is showing your relatives to the upper deck.”
“Thank you.” She refused to sneak a look at Terry and smiled at Harrison Ford. “What’s a bosun?”
“The Glory’s foreman. He organizes the other crew members and reports to me.”
“Oh,” she said. “Like a manager.”
“Bull’s-eye, sugar,” he drawled, gifting her with a crooked grin.
Su-Lin wondered if this gorgeous man had any physical flaws.
“Has anyone ever told you that you look like Indiana Jones?” A Harrison Ford look-alike without the cragginess or the twisted nose.
“Pure luck, as my mama named me after him.” He winked at her. “I even took archaeology as a minor in college.”
By this time, they’d reached the end of the stairs leading below deck, and a long, carpeted corridor faced them.
“You’re at the far end. The Glory’s staterooms are divided evenly between this deck and the upper one. Our level is separated by this entertainment area.” Harrison paused and waved a hand in the direction of a bar, a sectional curved couch, and a wide plasma screen blaring CNN Headline News.
“Where is my aunt and uncle’s room?” Su-Lin asked.
“They’re on the upper deck, as are the rest of the guests. Austen and I are on this level. You’re next door to the captain’s cabin.” He pointed to the left. “Terry’s decided on a different itinerary, one that’ll keep us closer to the coast where you can do day trips. We’ll head out soon. Someone will bring the bags down later. Dinner’s usually around eightish. Join me for a drink on deck in half an hour, sugar? Wanna get married?”
“I beg your pardon?” Shaking her head didn’t seem to clear it. “I’m sorry, what did you say?”
“Wanna get married?”
She did that back of the throat thing to clear stuffy ears and shot him a smile-grimace. “Did you just ask me to marry you?”
“Durn right, sugar. My father left me a fortune, which I inherit the day I marry. My stepmama inherits if I’m not wed by thirty.”
“Oh,” she muttered, digesting this interesting but peculiar tidbit. “I take it your birthday’s coming up?”
“Yep. And that bitch ain’t getting a cent, not even if I have to marry a freakin’ octogenarian.”
Hysteria spurred a sudden fit of giggles. “Have I just arrived in some sort of parallel universe? This must be a surreal dream.”
“I’m serious. You have a chance to save me from hunting down a wife in an old folks’ home.” He winked at her again.
“You’re impossible,” she said. “Even if what you’re saying is true, why not marry a friend and then get divorced?”
“Proof of consummation is part and parcel of Daddy’s will. The old fart put it in black-and-white.”
“Oh,” she muttered. “Hold on a second, there’d only be proof if the female was a virgin.”
“One of the requirements is an untouched woman.”
“What makes you think I fit the bill?”
One forefinger traced the outline of her mouth. Their gazes tangled and he shook his head. “Ah, sugar, you radiate innocence. And you have a hunger in your eyes. It makes a man burn to be the first.”
“Sod off, Harrison. Above deck, pronto. You,” Terry barked. “Come with me.”
Where had he come from?
Everything happened so quickly, Su-Lin’s mind reeled. He scooped her into his arms and then the two of them were alone in his cabin.
Travelling in Third World Countries - Part Three
My husband, parents, brother, and his wife were scheduled to join me the Friday I finished my UNDP Computer Literacy Course. To my surprise, the week flew by. Everyone I met proved eager to show me a different aspect of Georgetown, Guyana’s capital.
My first visit to ‘Main Street’, which turned out to be appropriately named as it was the major thoroughfare of the capital, substantiated all the boasts of my parents. Georgetown was once celebrated as the most beautiful city in the Caribbean (I know it’s in South America, but it has always been culturally considered part of the Caribbean).
The street is divided into two by a series of mini-parks in the centre lined with trees resembling a combination of a weeping willows and stately oaks. This green oasis, nearly double the size of its asphalt border, held fishponds, old-fashioned colonial benches cooled by the shadows above, exotic tropical flowers, and crotons of colors and hues I’d never seen before.
I discovered a couple of days later that this was all the work of volunteers. In a country this poor, ruled by a dictator most considered touched with syphilis-induced insanity, where the population had cheese or fresh butter available only in fits and starts, pride still existed.
Everywhere I went that week the generosity of the population proved overwhelming. One of the most amazing sights occurred on the last day of the course, Thursday. The UNDP personnel insisted I had to visit the famous sea-wall and see the kites. Kites? What’s so spectacular about kites? And what was a sea wall?
Georgetown is below sea level. The first colonists conveniently were Dutch. If any of you have been to Holland and stood on the Afsluitdijk, the dyke that prevents the North Sea from flooding ALL of Holland, you’ll understand what an amazing feat seawalls or dykes are. On the one side of the dyke, you look down and the water is a good forty feet below, and that’s the Holland side. On the other side, the sea is right there, maybe twenty feet below. It’s unnerving.
We arrived at the seawall around 5:00 pm. Every single individual who lived in the capital must have been there, and each one of them flew a kite. The shapes and sizes overwhelmed my senses. No play toys these specimens, but complex, intricate works of art. I saw dragons, butterflies, fairies, monsters, even an elephant.
Imagine around five to six thousand kites, each one more colorful, more elaborate than the other doing a samba in the strong breeze. And dance cannot begin to describe what each person could do with a kite, figure eights, kite battles, circles, hexagons, octagons; my mind reeled as everyone sought to explain the different terms.
That evening my family arrived. One of my father’s childhood buddies invited us for dinner at his home. Housed in a guarded, gated, small community of around thirty houses in mint condition, his friend’s beautiful, well-maintained plantation style mansion with manicured gardens made me think of the path the UNDP driver took to get to their offices daily.
Narrow roads littered with mounds of decaying garbage, rusted food cans, and rotting mattresses. I had never seen such poverty, and I’ve been to every Caribbean island at least once. What broke my heart though were all the bare footed boys and girls playing amidst and sometime on top of the filthy mounds.
When I saw the bountiful spread laid out on a barbeque table in Dad’s friend’s backyard, I flinched. All I could think of was how proud everyone had been at the UNDP the day before because they managed to find cheese on the black market to serve at a thank you party in my honor.
On the way back to the hotel, I wondered how anyone could become accustomed to living in such starkly contrasting conditions: on the one hand so bleak and dismal, and the other so opulent and magnificent. I knew I could never drive through streets with children clothed in tatters, who foraged for food in mounds of garbage, to a magnificent home with servants, and copious, gourmet food.
Maass has divided the chapters into three parts, and the first part is, of course, Character Development. The first chapter is titled From Protagonist to Hero. Donald Maass is sneaky. This chapter starts you off easy . . . but I've read the book three times and it doesn't stay easy. If it did, I wouldn't be going through this. There's an old song titled "Breaking up is Hard to Do." Breaking out is hard to do, too.
Maass tells us to create heroes that people want to spend time with. He says we need to give the reader a reason to care about our protagonist "in your opening pages." According to him, it doesn't take much to give the character qualities we like and admire. "A small show of gumption, a glimmer of humor, a dab of ironic self-regard can be enough for us to hang onto."
He gives an example from Tess Gerritsen's THE SURGEON. I'm sure you can think of your own examples. Instead I'm listing the five ways Michael Hauge gives in his DVD, "The Hero's 2 Journey," to create characters the reader cares about:
- Create sympathy.
- Put the hero in jeopardy.
- Make the hero likeable.
- Make the hero funny.
- Make the hero powerful.
Hauge says we need to reveal at least two of these qualities as soon as the hero is introduced. He's talking about movies, and we might have a bit more leeway in books, but you get the idea.Back to Maass and his exercises. He asks: "Who are your personal heroes?" I put down my mother, who was widowed with five children between the ages of three and ten. Yet I never heard her complain. She did what she had to do and went on with her life.
All my protagonists are like that. Not a whiny one in the bunch. The heroine in my wip had been married to a man who beat her, but she's not fearful and sorry for herself. Instead she's embracing her new life -- as much as she can with all the trouble I'm heaping on her head.
Who are your personal heroes? Have you given their heroic traits to your protagonists?
Please help me welcome talented author Stephanie Bond. I remember when Stephanie announced her first sale. I also remember seeing one of her books in a bookstore in England. Boy, was I impressed.
The Year of Writing Dangerously
Last year I disappeared. Fell off the face of the earth. My friends didn’t see me. My family didn’t see me. The members of my local writing chapter didn’t see me. I didn’t answer the phone. I put a Do Not Disturb sign on the door of my condo so my neighbors wouldn’t come knocking. You see, in the months prior, I had committed to a LOT of writing projects—it just sort of happened that way. I write for Harlequin Blaze and I also write a humorous mystery series for Mira called Body Movers. I had pitched an idea for a back-to-back trilogy for Blaze called Sex for Beginners, and my editor took it. THEN my editor for Mira, responding to reader complaints that the Body Movers books were spread too far apart, asked me to write a back-to-back trilogy to boost momentum for the series. I was thrilled for the opportunity and agreed, but in the back of my mind, I knew it was going to be a tough schedule. Especially since I had also committed to writing two novellas! (I still vividly remember the days when rejection letters filled my mailbox, so it’s difficult to turn down projects.)
At the end of 2007, I took a deep breath and, looking forward, decided to dub 2008 as my Year of Writing Dangerously. I put myself on a daily page quota, cleared my social calendar, put my friends and family on notice, put my head down…and wrote!
I wrote every day from about 9:00 a.m. all the way to 2:00 a.m. I took a break each day to work out, and again when my husband came home so we could have dinner together, but afterward, I went back to my computer. And I kept my weekly appointment with my critique partner to exchange work and refill the creative well. In short, I got into a routine and stuck with it.
The worst part was not being able to attend social activities. When people asked me to do things, the regret was twofold—that I couldn’t accept their invitation and that I had to work while everyone else was having fun! When people said, “Oh, come on—you need to take a break!” I had to resist giving in because I knew later I’d feel even more stressed over having to make up those hours. Because, as everyone knows, a lunch date turns into a huge chunk being cut out of the work day, and 30 minutes on the phone with this person and that person, and suddenly, your afternoon has evaporated. Out of necessity, I became anti-social.
Over the year, I wrote 3 Blaze novels, 3 single titles for my Body Movers series, and 2 novellas. That’s over 2500 manuscript pages in Courier, 12 pt. How did I do it? By setting daily goals and taking one day at a time. By reminding myself that I’d made a commitment to my editors. And by telling myself how good I would feel when it was all over and I had all those books in the pipeline!
It was a rough year, worse than I even imagined. I would not recommend it to other writers. It was a dangerous year, all right—dangerous to my social life, my mental well-being, and my waistline! But now that it’s over, I feel like I could do just about anything my editors asked of me or anything I ask of myself. And it made me realize I need to find ways to make writing fun again, so this year I’m tackling some unorthodox projects, like writing a screenplay. I’m back to attending monthly meetings of my local writing group, Georgia Romance Writers. And I’m taking time to reconnect with friends I haven’t seen in a while. For 2009 I have a new mantra: Fewer books, more wine!
Atlanta author Stephanie Bond has written over 40 romance and mystery novels. She currently writes romantic comedies for Harlequin Blaze and a humorous mystery series for Mira called Body Movers. Look for books 4, 5, and 6 in the Body Movers series to be released back to back in April, May, and June 2009.
Stephanie’s website and her blog offer a chance for her readers to get to know her and for writers to pick her brain about the craft of writing.
Take time to comment or ask a question for a chance to win Body Movers, Book 4, due for release March 31.
Ask questions so I won't need to spill secrets.
A little about Rhonda Pollero/Kelsey Roberts
"Humor is the sustaining and driving force of my life."
The pertinent stuff is all in my ‘official bio’ but it doesn’t quite capture reality. USA Today bestselling author is great, but those near and dear to me would probably tell you that Supreme Geek is a better moniker. I’m a total dork at heart, quite content to read technical manuals and watch foreign films.
I’ve always been a dork. My dorkdom began early on and I’ll take the easy route and blame it on my father. He loved language and enjoyed pop quizzes at the dinner table on obscure words and phraseology. The result of that turned me into the fountain of useless information that I am. I learn and store stuff that would – arguably - only be relevant during a taping of Final Jeopardy.When I met Rhonda I was pleasantly surprised. She was down to earth, friendly and her acerbic wit just cracked me up. Despite her notoriety she remains a kind and approachable star. Her book have given many people that wonderful escape we all look for in a book. Rhonda is a trooper, even though she has had medical problems, she never complains and you would never know she was in pain. I love this lady, she is a sweetheart. Please welcome, Rhonda Pollero.
37th published book. I got ‘the call’ at my office at 9:30 on February 10, 1993 and my first book, LEGAL How many books have you published and when did you first publish?
FAT CHANCE is my TENDER, was an October, 1993 release.
What do you like to do in your spare time? If you have any.
I try very hard to make sure I have down time. My basic week is three days of writing; two days of doing writing-related stuff (send off ARCS, etc.); and I try to keep my weekends free for my family and myself. It doesn’t always work, especially when I’m on a deadline crunch, but I do try to get to the beach for a walk at least twice a week. It clears my head. I spend a ridiculous amount of time at my daughter’s dance studio but that’s when I multitask - I can work on my laptop in the car while she has classes.
What inspired you to start writing?
I don’t remember when I didn’t want to write. I received my first moment of recognition in first grade by winning the Daughter’s of the American Revolution’s essay contest (and a whopping $25.00 savings bond). I was hooked from that moment forward. However, I had very practical parents who guided me toward an education where I’d get a paying gig just in case I didn’t sell my first book straight out of high school. As it turned out, thank God - it took me 10 years to sell a book.
What book that you wrote was your favorite book?
That’s like asking me to name my favorite child. I like different books for different reasons. LEGAL TENDER will always be special because it was the first. FAT CHANCE is my current favored child because it’s the most recent.
The all time favorite. Are you a plotter or a panster?
One of my fave buttons. Here’s what I know - people who are pantsers write many drafts. Why? Because they have no idea what they’re going to write so they do the draft, then go back and plug the holes or seed information. If that’s how they want to get it done I say go for it. However, if that’s your choice, remember you’ll be working twice as hard as someone who approaches a book from a place of organization. Do you have to have colors, collage sheets, and dry erase boards? Nope. You should organize your book - should you opt to do so - the same way you organize your life. If you’re a list maker, make a list of plot points; if you’re a visual learner, create a timeline or cut pictures out of a magazine. Personally, I don’t feel comfy telling other people how to write, you have to do whatever works for you. My only caution is that if a writer is completely rudderless, they’ll rarely work at the speed required of this industry.
How do you manage to juggle family and writing, while doing justice to both?
I like to think I manage it but truth be told, having my husband is the only reason I can get things done. He’s a retired college professor so when he was working, it was 10-ish to 2-ish. He’s retired now, so it’s kinda like having a wife. He does the grocery-shopping, car-pooling, etc. It’s amazing how much you can get done when you have a partner manning the home front.
Tell us about your new release.
FAT CHANCE is a lot of fun. Finley Anderson Tanner (FAT) is back for this third installment in a be-careful-what-you-wish-for scenario. Her controlling mother sells her a beachfront cottage sight unseen. Finley gets a much-coveted Palm Beach address but there’s a catch - it wouldn’t be a FAT book if there wasn’t - Finley isn’t alone, there’s a skeleton in the closet, literally. She is the only one who doesn’t believe the remains are some vagrant who crawled inside the house and died. She is aided in her quest by her friends, Jane, Becky and Liv. She also gets some help from the new attorney to join the firm - Tony Caprelli. And as usual, smoking hot P.I. Liam McGarrity manages to insinuate himself into her investigation. Finley is slightly better at solving mysteries but she’s a long way from proficient. With the help of her friends and applying the same determination she uses on her eBay missions, Finley uncovers the identity of the skeleton and the reason it was left behind.
Who is your favorite author?
Tell us about your upcoming book with Traci Hall.
ADOPTION IS FOREVER was the best and worst experience of my life. Aside from being only my 3rd foray into non-fiction, it required me to revisit the death of my son and all the emotions that went with sharing the story of my daughter’s adoption. Traci and I moved here at about the same time and our budding friendship changed when, on a drive down to Ft. Lauderdale, we shared our individual experiences. Traci is a great writer, a great wife, a great mom and a great friend. She also happens to be a birth mom. Though we were on opposite sides of the adoption experience, we both agreed that there was very little out there other than sugarcoated adoption stories and/or horror stories. We wanted to write something that was honest, emotional, humorous and balanced. We talked about it for about two years before we actually put words on the page and I we’re both thrilled with the final product. You can buy it on Amazon beginning March1, 2009.
How many books did you write before selling one?
One. Yes, seriously. I finished exactly one book in ten years. I was the queen of writing 3 chapters, dumping the project, then writing 3 more chapters, blah, blah, blah. Thanks to a dear friend who told me I could write action and dialogue and everything else sucked, she suggested I try romantic suspense. Please don’t view that as harsh - it was far from it. Honest critique is an important part of this industry and we were good friends and I knew she was being blunt because she knew I’d hear that loud and clear. Series romantic suspense was in its infancy, but I figured what the hell, I gave it a go and sold the first manuscript to Harlequin Intrigue.
Do you write what you know, or is there research involved?
That depends on the book. I’m currently finishing the 4th Finley book so I’ve already compiled a great deal of research. If I’m starting from scratch, I’d say I lean toward writing what I know or about something in pop culture but nothing can replace research. One of my fave but little used by others research - subscribe to the local newspaper. That got me through 7 Landry Brothers books set in Montana (I’ve never been there). I also rely heavily on Internet contacts - nothing beats an interview with someone who lives the life you’re creating for your character.
Why writing, what drew you to the romance and the mystery genres?
Voice. Yep - it was that simple. I didn’t exactly fit in romance because I don’t have the ability to write deep emotional angst. I don’t exactly fit in mystery because I enjoy creating sexual tension. My voice works in romantic suspense and mystery. I can’t pass up a cheap joke and my characters normally don’t have a great deal of emotional baggage. I’m trying to get better with those things.
Is your family supportive in your writing endeavor?
If by family you mean my husband . . . he’s read exactly one of my books and that was only because his friends guilted him into it. Now, before you get all horrified, he taught for almost 40 years and I never went to his lectures. My mother reads all my books, though I’m not sure she’s ever paid for one. She normally grabs one of my author copies and then shares it with all her friends - who in turn don’t buy the book.
My sister just thinks I’m a disgusting sinner and has never, nor will she ever, read anything I write.
My daughter is still a few years away from being old enough to read my books, she is only eleven.
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Thanks Rhonda, for a wonderful, informative post. You make it all look so easy. And you do it with class and style. I think your the greatest! You rock, Rhonda!