Like most creative people, I happen to have a ‘day” job. One of those regular things your have to pay the bills, the grind! Of course I would love to make money with my art, but until then, I have to slave away, and I do mean, slave away
The secret to having a regular job while you are waiting for the New York Times to come calling is to find one you love, and I have done just that. I am lucky to have found work, at the ripe old age of forty-eight, as a person trainer at my local gym. I specialize in weight management and weight loss. I help people do what I love: exercising.
I fell into this job quite by accident. Eight years ago, I gave birth to my son, Cameron. To put it bluntly, I “porked out”. I put on lots of weight and just shrugged it off to middle age. When my birthday rolled around my husband, dropping a not-s-subtle-hint, gave me a gym membership. I thought to myself, “nice, honey”, but I decided to give it a try. I started working with an amazing personal trainer who helped me lose the weight, gain muscle mass, boost my metabolism and straighten out my nutrition habits, which were not that spectacular (I still love a nice slice of pizza every once in a while).
Pretty soon, I had people coming up to me asking how I did it! They were just as amazed as I was at my dedication, determination, and how I managed to shed the pounds.
One fateful day, about a year ago, I noticed that my gym happened to be hiring personal trainers. The gym provided the education and certifications needed. I thought I would give it a shot, not imagining in a million years they would hire me! So, in my late-forties, I handed in my application. Lo and behold, they called me in for an interview, than another, then I met the owner of the gym. He told me he liked the fact that I was an “older woman” (!) who was in great shape and I could inspire others. I took it as a compliment.
So, I started my trainer training. My co-workers were, and are, hot sexy young college students. Whenever I play ’80s music they call it the “oldies”! We have a great time working together, and I feel my job is very rewarding.
How do I incorporate my writing into my work-out? Just yesterday I was telling a client about City of Toys, she loves to read on the treadmill. And she said she would check it out.
I would love to perhaps write a fitness book one day. A very positive and encouraging message that it can be done! You can fit back into your skinny jeans again and you don’t have to give them away to the Salvation Army. It would be non-fiction of course, but I would use my own life experience, and hopefully give inspiration and motivation to others that yes, you can do it! At any age!
I am going through a nasty bout of writer’s block right now. I am pretty certain it’s because of the Holiday season. I just can’t concentrate on anything erotic and sensual when I have to take the kids to see Santa Claus and fight my way into a parking space at the local Walmart! I am not saying that the Holiday season is negative, mind you. It is, however, taxing and demanding when you have millions of things to do and you don’t seem to have enough hours in the day to do them. That is when my muse seems to go into hibernation.
If you are an erotica author, it’s especially challenging. Sometimes I feel like I’m trapped in a Christmas movie with all these adorable elves and reindeer with shiny noses, glaring at me and saying, “I know what’s in that head of yours! It’s Christmas! Stop with all the sexy stuff!” I can’t even look at that Elf on a Shelf without feeling guilty and blushing.
It’s problematic being an erotica author during the holidays. I am often asked if I get “turned on” during the writing process. How does one answer a question like that? Do I say “yes” then have that person stalk me on Facebook, sending me private messages wanting me to “talk dirty” to him? What am I? An online sex operator? Hate to break it to you, buddy, but an erotica author is an artist and a writer, not your own personal sexting service. However, to answer that question, no. I don’t get turned on, not in the “bedroom sense”, because I’m in professional author mode.
I try to do my writing when the kids are at school. But when they’re home for the Holiday break, it’s just not possible. As far as writer’s block goes, I will deal with it the same way I deal with it at any other time of the year: Ignore it! Keep writing. My creative muse will eventually return when she’s had enough of lying around on the beach and working on her winter tan.
I do think that taking a little “brain break” during the holidays is a good way to recharge batteries. I am going to take advantage of this time to relax, and enjoy myself so I can start the new year fresh and focused. To all of my creative comrades out there, I suggest you do the same. You deserve it!
So, I will be busy doing mom/Christmas stuff until the New Year. It’s all good, and I am gearing up to write some sequels! Hopefully with 2016 I will be bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and ready to get in gear with the next installments of my erotica series. Until then, have a safe and wonderful holiday. Have fun, and enjoy the goodies and the good times.
I will leave you with a few lines from the song The Best of Times from one of my favorite musicals, La Cage Aux Folles:
So hold this moment fast And live and love As hard as you know how And make this moment last Because the best of times is now Is now, is now
LeeAnn: This week as I sat down ready to get the writing started I found myself staring at a half filled page. I should feel encouraged since I’m not looking at a blank page. However I wasn’t. What is wrong here? I know my characters ins and outs even the villain.
So why am I not writing?
It didn’t take long to realize that although I knew my characters I no longer knew where they were and where they were going in the story. I have no choice but to go back to the beginning and take it from there. No, I’m not ditching the first 78 pages, I’m simply going to reconnect with my story by looking over the pages that I have written. No I promise I will not do any massive edits (Note to self you are not allowed to edit this book yet). Once I’ve done that I’ll be back on track and writing away . . . or so I hope.
Wish me luck for this coming week!
Jojo: This week I worked on my heroine. Who she is, her background and her personality. I spent most of my time on Google. I got caught up in finding that perfect name for her. I know it may sound extreme, but I need to know her name at this stage, because if I don’t know her name, I won’t be able to shape her story. Google can be your friend and your foe. A veritable time-suck. I tend to get carried away – researching the meanings behind certain names, etc . . . Maybe I’m procrastinating, but at this point my goal is to get all the background down. Build my character breakdowns and the world they live in. Once I have that done I can start to formulate the bones of the story. Onward and upward. Have a great week.
Oh, the stories I could tell you about some of the submissions I’ve received at Lachesis Publishing. Some funny, some weird, and some down right scary! The thing is – making a submission isn’t rocket science – it just requires some common sense and a good manuscript of course. So here are my DOs and DON’Ts when making a submission or a cold query.
Do: Introduce yourself in your e-mail query. Tell me a bit about yourself, your work, and where you’re from, and your educational background. Some editors may not care to know this right off the bat, but I do. I want to get a good sense of you as a person. But don’t tell me your entire life story in a grand sweeping saga. And don’t write your query as the heroine or hero of your book. And don’t tell me what you had for breakfast. Just make it to the point but include something that could grab my attention. Let’s say you’re submitting a military romance and you have a background in the military. That would definitely interest me. And guess what? It could give you that “edge” (aside from your wonderful book) that convinces us to sign you up. Why does it matter? Because, if you have something unique about you that can help you stand out – then I want to know about it.
Do: Include your social media links in your signature line or in an attached bio. I want to know if you have a blog, a website, a facebook account, a twitter account. Etc . . . Why? Because it tells me that you are already out there in the social media universe. And you have a presence, a foundation, to attract readers, fans. It tells me you are building relationships with fellow authors. It tells me that you already have contacts, friends, people you’ve connected with who could be potential readers. It tells me you are thinking like a pro who is serious about his or her career.
Do: Make sure you actually have at least one social media account. I’ve received submissions from people who have NOTHING! All they have is their email account. What is this – 1992?
Do: Attach at least the first three or four chapters of your book. The synopsis is a no-brainer. That’s a must of course! But you can send me the entire manuscript if you like, as long as it’s formatted properly. For details on formatting click here. The first few chapters will help me figure out if I want to read the rest of it.
Do: Attach a brief marketing plan (2-3 pages) with your submission. Why do such a thing? Isn’t that what the publisher is for? In today’s marketplace you can’t rely solely on your publisher to sell your book. The publisher will focus on the book, but you must focus on your own career. Do your research. There is a lot of info out there about how to market yourself and your books. Every successful author who is making a living full time at their craft, is involved in their own careers. From social media, to newsletters, to savvy websites, to street teams, to book signings, to giveaways, to buying advertising, to attending reading events and conferences–you need to be thinking pro-actively instead of re-actively. You need to be thinking long term and big picture, not just in terms of a new release and you need to put that all down in a nice, well-written marketing plan.
Do: Make sure you spell check your email. I cannot tell you the number of times that I’ve received an email loaded with spelling errors. We all know mistakes happen. And sometimes typos slip by us. But a query letter should be polished. So make sure you spell check or have a friend read it.
Now fasten your seatbelt for some DOOZY DONT’s:
Don’t: Just send me your book with one line that says: “Hi I’ve attached my book for you to consider.” Guess what? I don’t have time to chase you down and ask you for everything I need from you. That is your job! You need to figure that out. Be professional. Do your research ahead of time. You need to find out what to send me, so don’t act like you’re in elementary school, hoping for the teacher to tell you.
Don’t: Please don’t write some “clever” intro where you tell me why your book is so amazing. Or why it’s going to appeal to EVERYONE. Really? Stephen King is one of the biggest selling authors of all time and he still doesn’t appeal to EVERYONE. If you think your book is amazing – great! I’m happy for you. But I may not agree. I don’t like cocky or aggressive emails.
Don’t: I don’t want to see your cover art ideas. And I certainly don’t want you to submit a cover design to go with your book. So don’t attach any images to go with your manuscript. All I want is the book. There is plenty of time to think about the cover later. That’s if we decide to take you on.
Don’t: Don’t miss an opportunity to connect. I once received a query from a writer who was a fan of one of our authors and made a point of mentioning it in her query. Guess what? I took notice of that. I like it that writers pay attention to our books at Lachesis Publishing, and our facebook page, and our website. That’s being savvy. That means you are thinking about the world outside the pages of your book. It means you are open and aware and understand that to sell a book you have to interact and connect.
Don’t: Don’t be a jerk. Don’t send me some vile story about a woman having sex with her son and try to pass it off as “erotica” or “erotic fantasy”. Whackos need not apply. If you’re a serious writer then you need to visit a publisher’s website to see what they already have on their roster, before you even think of making a submission.
Don’t: Don’t send out a mass email to a bunch of editors and agents and then forget to BCC all the emails. Unprofessional to the nth degree. I will hit the delete button before you even have a chance to send your next mass email out.
So that’s my list of Dos and Don’ts. See? It’s all about common sense. And good sense. And a little bit of a “sixth sense”. 🙂 Write a good story. Be true to yourself. Don’t give up. Be nice. Have fun.
What was your first book that hit a bestseller list? What was the list, where did the book rank when it first hit, and how high did your book get?
VL: Winning Miss Wakefield(Wallflower Weddings, book 2) hit the USA TODAY Bestsellers List at #120. I was so surprised that I didn’t really believe my editor when she called. I started to hyperventilate and I think I might have asked her “Are you kidding me?” about three or four times. The great thing was, she wasn’t kidding. WMW stayed on the list for one glorious week of ear-to-ear grins and random squeals of delight. Then, poof it went away. Shortly thereafter, Finding Miss McFarland hit the list at the same number, for one week, and then poof. Coincidence or magic fairy dust?
When something awesome happens in your career do you celebrate with food, flowers, or fun? Details please.
VL: Life is short, so I celebrate as often as I can. When I begin a new book, I shop for office supplies—there’s just something about a new pack of Post-it’s, pens, and pencils that adds to the excitement. And since I’m out anyway, I might stop by Starbucks for a grande chai with whip.
When I finish a particularly tough chapter, or write a scene that makes me happy, I’ll do a little victory dance—though I try to steer clear of the windows so I don’t scare the neighbors. And since I’m already in motion, I might slip on my shoes, go for a drive, and grab a grande chai with whip.
When something BIG happens, like a book release or signing a contract for a new series, I usually buy myself flowers (roses or daisies), and maybe . . . just maybe . . . stop by Starbucks.
What advice can you give authors who really want to hit a bestseller list but haven’t yet?
VL: I don’t think there’s a secret formula for hitting a bestseller list. If there were, I would have figured out how to stay on one, or how to hit the top 100. But I think having a support-team helps. I’ve been blessed with an incredibly supportive editor and publishing house, not to mention the amazing art department. In addition, it helps to write the book you want to read. After all, if you believe in your book, chances are that other people will too. From there, good things will happen. At the very least, you’ll be proud of the pages between the covers. That means a lot.
Promotion is an important part of every author’s work routine. Tell us one promotional approach that has worked well for you.
VL: Facebook is a wonderful way to keep in touch with your fan base—a quick note about the writing process, a picture of your latest hero or heroine, motivational phrases that inspire you, and random/whacky posts all work to make a personal connection to the people who support your career. Hosting rafflecopter contests on your page also helps. It’s important to give back and spread the love whenever possible.
What is one thing you absolutely LOVE about being an author and one thing that makes you BONKERS?
VL: I love writing. The act of touching the keyboard and watching the pictures in my head transform into words is pretty cool. Of course, there are days when that doesn’t happen easily and/or the words don’t quite match the pictures in my head. But those are the days when it’s time to fill up the writer’s well, and usually that’s a fun process.
Interruptions drive me bonkers. When I’m writing a scene, and my mind is traveling back to the Regency period, it’s difficult to tune out the lawn mowers, barking dogs, and the daily screaming contests in the neighborhood. Over the years, I’ve used different methods, from wearing gun-range earmuffs to buying a noise-cancelling machine. Then, there are the interruptions that happen within the walls of my writing domain. It’s harder to ignore “I don’t mean to interrupt, but . . .” The questions could be anything from “Have you seen my glasses?” to “Can you do me a favor and . . .” For years, I would stop what I was doing, help find the glasses, fix dinner, or run errands for anyone who asked. But then, I learned to say no. Not just a hem hawing no, either. A definite I’m-working-and-my-time-is-valuable no. It’s liberating. I highly recommend it.
What is the coolest/nicest thing a fan/reader has done for you or said to you?
VL: I received a personal email from a reader one day. She’d written me after spending a night in the hospital with her child. And while reassuring me that her son was fine, she also took a moment out of her life to tell me that my book had helped her through the night. I cried instantly, amazed and awed by this woman. With everything going on in her life, she chose to reach out to me. And I’m thankful each and every day that, in some small way, my book provided the distraction she needed.
Tell us about your latest release and what do you have coming down the road?
VL: My latest release, The Maddening Lord Montwood, came out in paperback on August 18th. Yay! I’m so excited about this book! TMLM is the third and final book in The Rakes of Fallow Hall Series. In the beginning, Lucan Montwood pulled his friends into a high-stakes wager, each of them vowing to be the last bachelor standing. Then one after the other, they started to find love. To me, it seemed fitting that the charming, manipulative Lucan would ultimately fall for a strong-willed woman who could see through his tricks. I loved writing Lucan and Frances’ story.
My novella takes place during a Christmas house party. To the Duke of Vale, science is everything. He has invited all the right people in order to reveal a formula designed to generate a suitable marriage partner without engaging in the messy procedure of courting . . . (think of it as a Match.com in the Regency era). North’s method is clean and flawless. That is, until the impulsive Ivy Sutherland crosses his path. She makes him question all of his data, forcing him to admit that he failed to catalog one vital element for a perfect match . . . love.
In your daily work routine what do you do first and why? A. write/plot/creative B. social media/promotion C. email/admin
VL: Most of the time, a. I like to start writing with a fresh brain. Umm . . . that sort of makes me sound like a zombie. Mmm . . . fresh brains! Then again, that’s usually how I feel until I’ve had my first cup of tea.
What would I find on your desk at this very moment?
VL: A lot of Post-its, pens, and papers. I’m in new-series-mode right now, so it’s kind of a mess. I have family trees, character sketches, and a calendar that serves as a ticking clock for each deadline. Beside my desk hangs a huge whiteboard full of story notes. Above my desk, I also keep a slew of notes, reminding myself to focus and to write the book I want to read, among other things. My office can be described as organized chaos.
BONUS: Finish this sentence: I’m a writer because . . .
VL: I’m a writer because that’s the line I stood in when they were handing out souls.
Thanks for having me here today! This was fun and I loved your questions!
Don’t make me chose one book. I can’t do it. I loved listening to my dad read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and I still have the edition he used. I also have a colour-illustrated edition, an annotated edition, and a book of art by the various Alice illustrators. The first art I bought with my own money was a poster of a Rackham illustration. The second piece was a Rackham illustration from Wind in the Willows, another favourite of mine that my father read me as a child.
I loved and still love the Eloise books by Kay Thompson. My first copy of Eloise and Christmas, complete with shredded binding and crayon annotations, is still on my shelf along with the special edition of Eloise that is sold at the Plaza Hotel, NYC. In 1993, I dragged my friends into Plaza to see the place Eloise lived. Her portrait is just outside the Palm Court, where Eloise and Nanny take tea.
I could go on and on . . . but I’ll save something for a future interviews, perhaps involving my introduction to mysteries through Freddy the Pig.
Who was your favourite teacher growing up and why?
You really ask tough questions. I should say Miss Steven in Grade 2 because she saved me the academic harm done by my Grade 1 teacher. I can’t say I really appreciated her at the time, however.
I will always have a soft spot for the exchange teacher from New Zealand I had in Grade 5. He introduced me to Paddington Bear, Roald Dahl and Finn Family Moomintroll. Unfortunately, I was having chronic ear problems at the time and I kept being taken out of school all the time RIGHT WHEN THE BOOKS WERE ENDING. Worse, none of these books were readily available in Canada at the time. It wasn’t until I was in my teens that I finally was able to buy and read the books myself.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer? Why?
At first I didn’t really think in terms of being a writer. I loved telling stories, so I was a storyteller. I still think of myself that way. I started writing down my stories when I was twelve. I haven’t stopped since.
Who in the writing/publishing world do you admire and why?
I admire different people for different reasons. For instance, I respect Janet Evanovich’s professionalism as an author. I’ve read her How I Write and listened to her interviews on her audio books. When I was sticking my courage to the sticking place, to butcher Shakespeare, I found her practical advice helped me put my work out in the market place.
Reading the author introductions to Louis L’Amour’s books inspired me to put myself out there in a different way. That man had a rich and varied life, but he didn’t rely on his own experiences along. He talked to old men who had lived in the west when it was wild. He read old letters, journals and newspapers to make sure that what he wrote about was authentic. Thanks to him, I reached out to women veterans from World War II in order to have primary accounts for my undergraduate thesis. Now, I take every opportunity to talk to police officers, soldiers, and other men and women in uniform.
Tell us about your daily writing routine – what do you typically do every day?
I’m not a routine sort of person. I usually find it easier to get out of bed and start working on days when I don’t have to. My day jobs are . . . let’s just say scheduling my day can get a bit problematic. Leave us say that I write when I can (often in the wee hours).
What is your favourite snack or guilty pleasure food that you (may or may not 😉 indulge in when writing?
Coffee is a must. Otherwise I’m a creature of whim. Sometimes I crave salty foods. Then Jalapeno Popper chips are my downfall. Sometimes I NEED chocolate. I really do. Only Cadbury or Lindt chocolate will do. (Sorry Godiva lovers. I find it too sweet.) More often than not, I turn to cheese, crackers and olives.
What does “writing voice” mean to you? Describe your own writing voice.
To me writing voice is similar to a musical voice or artist’s brush. When painting is being authenticated, you can test the paints and canvas and degree of aging scientifically, but someone who really knows their business can also spot a fake because the brush stroke isn’t right. A really good forger may be able to imitate the artist’s technique, but they’ll know the difference even if the examining expert doesn’t. The same thing goes for music. I’m terrible at remembering names, but I can identify a Mozart or Beethoven piece. I’m pretty good at Chopin, Carol King and Beatles.
My writing voice has been influenced by the authors I emulate. They are the masters I learned from, just as artists followed in the footsteps of Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci and Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi, (better known as Donatello). In my case, the team would be Georgette Heyer, Donald Jack, Janet Evanovich and Terry Pratchett (none of which have been used as the names of hero turtles). But my voice is my own.
What do you want to accomplish in the next five years in your writing career?
Is this a test? Honestly, this is a hard question for me to answer. The best I can say is every year I want to get better and better and have more and more fans. I’m all about the adoration. 😉
What are three important things that a writer needs to do to promote himself/herself?
You have to have a well-established social media platform. It doesn’t have to be all-inclusive. Better to do a few really well than try to do all of them and spread yourself too thin.
You have to leave your ego at the door. Your balloon is going to get popped from time to time. Then someone will come along and you’ll be lifted up again. But you have to do some lifting too. It’s not all about you . . . or me. Someone else might need a lift, and you’ll be glad you provided it.
Don’t get discouraged. I did that once and kept my writing to myself for a couple of decades. Admittedly, those decades were also filled with university, jobs, travel and relationships. Not a total loss.
Ice cream or popsicles?
Ice cream! Hmm . . . I wonder if we have any left for dessert?
We’re launching a new series here at the Lachesis Publishing Daily Blog – featuring interviews with bestselling authors. It takes a lot to hit a bestseller list. It ain’t just dumb luck. It takes determination, hustle, and damn good writing. We have some great authors lined up so sit back, enjoy, and have fun reading and learning from these talented writers!
Our first Bestsellers Q and A is with V.K. Sykes – which is actually the husband and wife writing team of Randy Sykes and Vanessa Kelly. How fun is that? They write contemporary romance and romantic suspense. Randy is great at plotting and characterization and Vanessa handles the emotion. Together they’ve written nine books and one novella. Vanessa also writes sexy historical (Regency romance) under her own name Vanessa Kelly. She’s penned eleven historical novels and four novellas.
This is definitely a dynamic duo.
Welcome V.K. Sykes!
What was your first book that hit a bestseller list? What was the list, where did the book rank when it first hit, and how high did your book get?
Hi, Jo—thanks for hosting us! Vanessa reporting in for V.K. Sykes. I actually don’t remember the exact numbers – LOL! The first major list we hit was USA Today, and we did that with our sports anthology, The Philadelphia Patriots. It was between 120–130 (I think 127). And we also hit the top 50 on both Kindle and Nook.
What were you doing when you found out you hit the bestseller list? And how did you celebrate or mark the occasion?
I was just browsing the USA Today list because friends of mine who were in a joint anthology had just posted on social media that they made the list. I went to look, and there we were! It was quite a surprise. As to what we did to celebrate . . . I think we just got a bottle of champagne and had a few glasses of bubbly. We tend to be pretty low key when it comes to celebrating.
What does being a “successful author” mean to both of you?
Not to be crass, but it partly means not spending more than you make. It’s always a temptation to put too much money (and time) into promo in the hopes that you’ll somehow find the winning formula for the next book. To me, being a successful author also means having the time to write the books you want, finding readers who “get” you, and having a good work/life balance. It means finding people you like to work with, and who help you to be a better writer. Would we like to sell more books and hit more bestseller lists? We sure would. But we also want to have a life that we can enjoy, without being absolute slaves to deadlines.
Some authors are great at it, while others can’t find the right formula, but in order to be a success in today’s market, you have to do promotion. So, what are the top three things that you both do consistently when it comes to promotion?
My newsletter is the most important thing, and I’ve worked hard to build that up. I also engage with my readers on facebook and Twitter; mostly that’s social interaction, but I do use it to promote our books. I’m also a big believer in running giveaways on Goodreads. Very little effort with a pretty big bang for the buck. But the most important thing any author can do is to write more good books.
What is one thing you absolutely LOVE about being authors and one thing that makes you BONKERS?
I love that we’ve made so many new friends, both readers and other authors. And it’s fabulous when a reader writes to tell you how much she loves one of your books. What makes me crazy is how much promotion there is in the industry. There is just an insane amount of promoting going on, especially on social media. And if you’re not careful, you can start comparing yourself to other writers and feeling like you’re not good enough, or smart enough, or successful enough. It’s very debilitating and absolutely not the way to nurture creativity.
Those books also feature my favorite romance hero, Amelia’s grown son, Ramses Emerson. Other favorite authors are Deanna Raybourn (Lady Julia Grey is probably my fave romance heroines), Loretta Chase, Lisa Kleypas, and Meljean Brooke. All of them are talented storytellers and amazing wordsmiths. Randy is a big fan of the Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child. He also likes Sandra Brown and would probably list Pat Conroy as his all-time favorite author.
In your daily work routine what do you do first and why?
write/plot/creative:I do this in the afternoon, which tends to be the quietest time of the day for me. It also takes several hours for my brain to kick into creative gear. I am NOT a morning person. Randy, however, does do a lot of his best writing in the morning, so our schedules tend to be reversed
What would I find on your desk(s) at this very moment?
Not much. Lots of scraps of papers and my computer. And my headphones, which are essential for eliminating outside noises. I can’t write when it’s noisy!
Finish this sentence: I’m a writer because . . .I (we) enjoy it!
V.K. Sykes is really two people – Vanessa Kelly and Randy Sykes, a husband and wife team who write USA Today Bestselling contemporary romance. The second book in their Philadelphia Patriots Series of sports romances won the Kindle Book Review Best Indie Books of 2012 Contest, in the romance category. MEET ME AT THE BEACH, the first book in their new series of small town romances set in Maine, released in February, 2015. Vanessa also writes award-winning, Regency-set historical romance for Kensington Zebra and was named by Booklist as one of the “new stars of historical romance.” Her current series,The Renegade Royals, is a national bestseller. You can find them on the web at vksykes.com or vanessakellyauthor.com. Follow them on facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
Today’s Q and A is with historical romance author Patricia Grasso is the author of eighteen historical romances including the Douglas Series which follows the love stories of the amazing Douglas sisters (Angelica, Samantha and Victoria) in Regency London and the Lords of Stratford Series, Regency historical romances with a fairy-tale twist about the aristocratic families in Stratford-on-Avon.
Why are you a writer?
That’s a good question. Why does anyone drop into any job/ profession? For me, I can’t not write. Yes, that’s a double negative, but a double negative equals a positive.
What do you love to read in your spare time?
That question assumes I have spare time. My reading taste is eclectic. I read both non-fiction, mainly historical or craft, and all genres of fiction.
What is your favourite first line ever from a novel?
Actually, my favorite first line comes from the mystery I’m five chapters short of finishing. The line reads: “My biggest fear is dying a formaldehyde-scented spinister.” If I had to pick another first line it would be from the only Charles Dickens book I liked, A TALE OF TWO CITIES. The line reads: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
What are three of your top goals in your writing career?
My number one goal is to keep writing books that readers buy and enjoy. Reaching that goal would mean I could achieve my other 2 goals: make tons of money and sail the Mediterranean with my newly-acquired boy toy. I’m old, not dead.
What are three things that you do that are important to your career as a writer (aside from actually writing the book)?
I read and observe. I regularly watch the History Channel and FBI Files type of shows. (Okay, I admit I’m addicted to Revenge, Scandal, and The Walking Dead.) I’m also learning (slowly) about promotion and social media. The problem is my computer frightens me.
What is your go-to power energy snack when writing?
Coffee, soy milk, no sugar. I also like peanut butter on crisp apple slices. My favorite foods are peanut butter and pizza, but not together.
What was a book that made you go “aha!” and why? (fiction or non fiction)
There are many books I’ve liked, but no book ever made me go “aha”. If forced to pick something I admire greatly, I’d say Shakespeare’s tragedies. I love William Shakespeare.
How do you cope with bad or nasty reviews?
There’s a big difference between bad and nasty. “Bad” is constructive because the reviewer is telling the reason the story didn’t work for him/ her. “Nasty” is different. Nasty is a reviewer spewing hatred and anger directed at the author, making it personal. The truth is this: No author is as good as her best review or as bad as her worst review.
What do you listen to when you write?
Cats or dogs?
I’m a dog person who lives with cats. Need I say more?