In The Mind of Jennifer Probst – 30 Years of Happily Ever Afters

This week we’re jumping over the hump with our featured workshop presenter, speaker, and best-selling author, Jennifer Probst!

Jennifer will be giving a workshop at our conference in October, and is our Special Presentation Speaker! Sweet, Snarky, or Sexpot: What Makes A Good Heroine? and Trade Secrets of Bestselling Authors – What You Need to Know to Hit the Bestseller List! are just one of many fabulous workshops we have scheduled.

For more information on our conference, how to register, and other popular questions, please visit our website at http://www.njromancewriters.org.

Please welcome Jennifer!

How did you come up with the idea for Searching for Perfect?

I’ve been wanting to write about a beta hero nerd with a makeover theme, so Searching for Perfect was my opportunity! Especially pairing him up with a polished heroine who is broken on the inside. I also wanted to incorporate a lot of humor in this book.

How long did it take you to write?

Searching for Perfect took me three months to write.

What was it about your book that made your editor want to buy it?

My editor and I work closely together with what we think will make each book special, and she loved my idea from the beginning.

What was the most difficult aspect of writing it?

The most difficult part of writing Searching for Perfect was straying from my usual alpha billionaire heroes I’m known for and love to write about. It was a challenge to write a more beta hero, and make him hot enough to want to be ranked as the number one book boyfriend of readers!

How much research did you conduct for your book and what was the most interesting thing you did while conducting your research?

I had to research golf and aerospace engineer dynamics which was difficult. Science isn’t my thing. I griped about this to my husband, who asked why I wrote him as a rocket scientist if I didn’t want to do the research, and I grumpily told him I had no choice! My hero sprang up and told me who he was–I had to write it. So I learned a lot about physics and the NASA program.

Why did you decide to write romance?

I’ve always loved writing sexy contemporary romance with some erotic themes and I will continue to do so for a long time – hopefully!

What is your process for writing a book? For example, are you a plotter or a pantzer? Do you start at page 1 and write your book sequentially or do you skip around? Do you start with your characters or the plot?

I am a complete pantser. I need to start from chapter one, page one and cannot skip out of sequence. I always start with characters – they are the backbone for my entire book.

Do you use any techniques, tools, or aids to help you write?

I use my street team to help me brainstorm for names, or plot twists when I’m stuck, but I hate colored post its and charts and anything that looks too scientific. My brain rebels! Many times it’s a simple drive, a walk, or a shower that helps if I’m blocked.

Do you write multiple drafts or barely need revisions when typing, The End?

The first draft is the main guts of the story. The second is the main edits. The third is just copyedits.

How do you make time to write?

I’m lucky enough to write full time now, so I have no excuses. No waiting for inspiration to strike – I get my butt in the chair every day and write for as many hours as possible.

When you are writing, who is in control? You or your characters?

I’m in control of certain things and then my character takes over. Usually they tell me who they are and what they do, I write the first half, and they take over the second half.

Who has had the most influence on your writing?

Great contemporary romance authors such as Susan Elisabeth Phillips, Nora Roberts, Linda Howard, Jayne Ann Krentz, Sandra Brown, etc.

Have you had any “ah ha” moments as a writer?

I am sure I have throughout every manuscript I write. One of my main aha moments was after an RWA conference when I realized I was treating my writing like a hobby and not a career. I changed my mental state and began selling regularly.

What advice do you have for other writers?

Write all the time. I held down a full time job, commuted 3 hours per day, and had two kids in diapers. I wrote on my lunch hour, plotted in my car, and wrote late at night. Also never give up. Ever.

Why did you decide to become an author?

I always knew I was golng to be a writer since I was very young– it was my true North.

Why did you decide to become a romance author?

I always knew i”d write romance because it was a genre that spoke to me, made me happy, and gave me hope.

Would you tell us your story of getting “the call?”

I had submitted to a pub who finally called, said she loved the book, but wanted big changes like the addition of a villain. I did what she said, she called me back, and said she was going to publish it. When I told my family they didn’t believe me. They were awestruck I had actually done it because I’d been working for a long time.

What was the most exciting thing that happened to you after you signed your contract – besides receiving your first check as a published author?

Well, my first book really didn’t do much of anything but it was still a thrill to hold it in my hand, do a signing, and see my work validated. It helped foster more confidence to keep going and then I was able to break into another publisher and sell again.

If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing?

I have no idea. Not really living.

How does your family feel about your career as a romance writer?

My family is very supportive. My husband is incredible, he actually gives out my website to the people at his job and always tells everyone when I have a new book out. Everyone is proud of my achievements.

What books can we expect to see in the near future?

Searching for Beautiful and Searching for Heaven are the next two books in the Searching For series. You will also see The Last Seduction which is part of the Invitation to Eden series. And I”ll be working on the sequel to Beyond Me, my new adult romance.

What do you want your readers to take away with them after reading the story?

I want them to have laughed, and feel satisfied and happy at the end of the book. Then I’ve done my job. People need escape.

What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as an author?

Never give up on your dream. No matter what it is, having a dream and working toward it every day is priceless. Writing has taught me key lessons in patience, perseverance, and joy.

What was the defining moment that you considered yourself an author?

I wrote my first young adult romance at twelve years old, bound it in a folder and read it to my junior high classmates/friends. Then I knew I was a writer because I shared my stories with readers.

With so many changes in publishing over the past year, where do you see the future of publishing going?

It’s an exciting time to be a writer. I think the digital market will keep increasing, especially overseas, and you’ll see authors love to be hybrid – traditional and self published together to complement each other.

What do you know now about writing that you wished you knew before The Call?

Don’t sign a bad contract. God, please everyone, I’ve done it TWICE and it’s horrible. Get someone to look it over for you if you don’t have an agent.

Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one?

Yes, Kindle.

If you could have one special, supernatural power, what would it be?

Talk to animals.

<laughs> What makes a man attractive to you?

Easy going personality and a wicked sense of humor

What is the most interesting thing you’ve ever done?

Give birth to my children. That was pretty damn awesome.

Tell us a little about the state/country you live in.

Upstate New York in the Hudson Valley. I live by the mountains, near the water, and I have cows down the road from me, yet I can jump on the train and see a broadway play in over an hour.

What are you reading now?

The Perfect Match by Kristan Higgins.

What is your favorite film? Music? Color? Food? Smell?

Can’t pick a fave movie I have too many! Music? Anything by Rob Thomas or Lifehouse. Food? lobster. Or chocolate if that’s a food group. Smell? Fresh cut grass, yum.

If you were a millionaire would you still write?

Yes.

Cat or dog person?

Dog.

Which actor and actress would you chose if one of your books were brought to film, and which book would that be?

The Marriage Bargain – Zooey Deschanel for Alexa and Chris Hemsworth for Nick

I think I just got lost in the fantasy of Chris….one sec. <winks> If you could sing one song on American Idol, what would it be?

Best Day Of My Life by American Authors

Favorite reader-fan story?

A male fan emailed me he’d stolen his wife’s books and was now hooked on my stuff and was afraid to let anyone see his Kindle. He said I wrecked him and now he adored romance novels. That was awesome!

Okay, get ready, we have our rapid response portion. Don’t think about your answers, just say the first thing that comes to mind. Ready?   

Favorite color: yellow

Favorite number: 22

Favorite Actor: Leonardo Dicaprio

Favorite Actress: Meryl Streep

Wine or liquor? wine

Tea or coffee? coffee

Decaf or caffeinated? caffeinated

Boxers or briefs? briefs

Chocolate or vanilla? chocolate

Donald Duck or Goofy? Donald Duck

Frozen (the movie) or Tangled? Frozen

Channing Tatum or Johnny Depp? Depp

Want to meet or attend Jennifer’s workshop? Make sure you check out the information on our conference at http://www.njromancewriters.org and register! 

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In The Mind of Susan Mallery – 30 Years of Happily Ever Afters

This week we’re jumping over the hump with our featured workshop presenter, speaker, and best-selling author, Susan Mallery!

Susan will be giving a workshop at our conference in October, and is our Keynote Speaker! Screw the Muse, I’m on Deadline is just one of many fabulous workshops we have scheduled.

For more information on our conference, how to register, and other popular questions, please visit our website at http://www.njromancewriters.org.

Please welcome Susan!

How did you come up with the idea for the Fool’s Gold series?

I’d been writing series about families—the Buchanans, the Bakery Sisters, the Marcellis—when the brilliant Debbie Macomber suggested I should write about a town, instead because I wouldn’t be limited to the number of siblings one family could reasonably have. I wanted Fool’s Gold to be a special town, so I needed to create a strong sense of place right from the very beginning. I knew I wanted there to be a lot of humor, and I knew I wanted it to be the kind of small town where people are there for each other no matter what.

While the idea of a town was in the back of my mind, I read a story about the then-upcoming 2010 census. (The Fool’s Gold series launched in 2010, so I was in brainstorming mode in late 2008 and early 2009.) I asked myself, “What’s the most embarrassing thing a town could learn about itself from the census results?” And then I thought, “What if there aren’t enough men?”

Fool’s Gold started out as a town with a man shortage, which really ticked off the women who lived there because they did not want the world thinking of them as desperate, lonely spinsters. They were doing just fine, thank you, and any man who wanted to get with them would have to earn the right.

The man shortage was a comedic hook to get readers intrigued, but the hook that keeps them coming back is that Fool’s Gold is filled with strong, independent women they can relate to. I adore writing these books.

Why did you decide to write contemporary romance?

When I was first published, I had two books come out the same month. One was a contemporary romance for Special Edition, a category line. The other was a historical romance. I’m not sure I ever earned out on the historical romance, but that category brought more royalties with each new statement. I’m not saying that’s always the case, but that’s how it was for me, and I knew that if I wanted to make writing a career, I needed to be smart about it.

What is your process for writing a book? For example, are you a plotter or a pantzer? Do you start at page 1 and write your book sequentially or do you skip around? Do you start with your characters or the plot?

Oh, I’m a big-time plotter. I come up with an idea, then write a synopsis. When I’m ready to start the book, I sit down to write the first chapter. That’s what makes the characters really click for me. As soon as I know them, I stop writing and thoroughly plot the story before continuing.

Do you use any techniques, tools, or aids to help you write? How do you make time to write?

I write 4-5 books per year and have been doing so for some time, and I’ve developed some very effective strategies for getting the pages done even when my brain and spirit stop cooperating. I’ll share these strategies during my “Screw the Muse, I’m on Deadline” workshop at the PYHIAB conference.

Do you write multiple drafts or barely need revisions when typing, The End?

I dream of the day my editor will call me and say, “You’re missing a comma on page 283. Other than that, it’s perfect.” Hasn’t happened yet. Because of all of the prep work I do, my first drafts are pretty clean, but they always need revision after going through editorial. For example, in the first Mischief Bay book, which will be out early next year, my editor didn’t like the character I loved the most. I had to step back and figure out why what I felt for her hadn’t come across on the page.

Why did you decide to become a romance author?

Because I love romance. Let me reword that: I looooooooove romance! I’d been reading romance ever since I’d stumbled across the treasure trove of my best friend’s mom. Romance affirms my belief in the world as a just and loving place. The guy gets the girl and all is right in the world.

What books can we expect to see in the near future?

Next year I’ll continue the Fool’s Gold series with another trilogy. Earlier in the year, I’ll launch a new women’s fiction series set in Mischief Bay, California. The first book is tentatively titled THE BEGINNER’S CLASS, which is very exciting for me. It’s the first time since FALLING FOR GRACIE that my working title has been approved by editorial and marketing. Yay, me!

What do you want your readers to take away with them after reading UNTIL WE TOUCH, the final book in this year’s Fool’s Gold trilogy?

The Fool’s Gold romances aren’t “lesson” books. You might not learn anything! Mostly, I just want to give readers a great time. This year’s trilogy—WHEN WE MET, BEFORE WE KISS, and UNTIL WE TOUCH—are some of the funniest, sexiest books I’ve ever written. UNTIL WE TOUCH is my nod to the boss/secretary trope, which has always been one of my favorites. Larissa is Jack’s personal assistant and personal masseuse. He played football professionally, so he has a lot of muscle injuries. Larissa helps him with that, and they’ve become great friends. But everything changes when Larissa’s mom tells Jack that her daughter is in love with him. Suddenly, he sees her in a new light, and every touch feels… different.

If you could have one special, supernatural power, what would it be?

My first reaction was going to be “the power to think a book and have it be magically written.” But that would be no fun. I like writing books. However, I’d love the power to make all the other stuff go away. Snap my fingers, and the marketing is done and every one of the millions of romance readers would have the book.

What makes a man attractive to you?

A strong sense of honor and self-confidence. He’s a man who does the right thing without thinking about it. He protects those who are weaker because that’s what a man does. He tells the truth because that’s what a man does.

Of course, a killer body doesn’t hurt!

Who’s your favorite hero?

My favorite hero is always the one I’m writing at the moment. Which at the moment is Kipling Gilmore, an ex-Olympian who’s heading the new search and rescue operation in Fool’s Gold.

A favorite reader-fan story?

When people sign up for my mailing list on my website, I ask them for their zip code. I started doing that so I could send an email to readers who lived within 100 miles of a scheduled book signing. However, a couple years ago, I was doing a signing in Atlanta, and we accidentally sent the notice to my entire mailing list. I was shocked to learn that several readers came from a few hundred miles away! They drove 5, 6, even 7 hours to meet me. I was so honored, truly. And slightly bemused. I worry about whether I’m that interesting! You know how it is. I work at home all day every day in my comfy clothes. I don’t get out much.

Anyway, from then on, I started sending notices of my signings to the whole mailing list in case other readers would want to make the drive. I only do a handful of signings per year, so I don’t email the list too often. (You can sign up at www.susanmallery.com.) Usually about once a month.

Okay, get ready, we have our rapid response portion. Don’t think about your answers, just say the first thing that comes to mind. Ready?  

Favorite color: Pink is my signature color.

Favorite number: Number 1, of course!

Favorite Actor: Keanu Reeves

Favorite Actress: Meryl Streep

Wine or liquor? Wine

Tea or coffee? Coffee

Decaf or caffeinated? Caffeinated, or what’s the point?

Boxers or briefs? Either, or, neither, nor…

Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate

Donald Duck or Goofy? Goofy because he doesn’t waddle around without pants.

Frozen (the movie) or Tangled? I can’t choose. I love them both!

Channing Tatum or Johnny Depp? I can’t choose. I love them both!

Want to meet or attend Susan’s workshop? Make sure you check out the information on our conference at http://www.njromancewriters.org and register!

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In The Mind of Stella Cameron – 30 Years of Happily Ever Afters

This week we’re jumping over the hump with our featured workshop presenter, speaker, and best-selling author, Stella Cameron!

Stella will be giving a workshop at our conference in October, and is our Luncheon Speaker! People Make Your Story is just one of many fabulous workshops we have scheduled.

For more information on our conference, how to register, and other popular questions, please visit our website at http://www.njromancewriters.org.

Please welcome Stella!

How did you come up with the idea for “OUT COMES THE EVIL”?

Sitting at the edge of the River Windrush in Bourton-on-the-Water in England and watching children play on flat rocks just under the surface.

What was it about your book that made your editor want to buy it?

The story’s irresistible, characters, fantastic plot, clever relationship ploys, amazing background and atmosphere and the absolutely nerve destroying tension.

How much research did you conduct for “OUT COMES THE EVIL” and what was the most interesting thing you did while conducting your research? 

So far I’ve had to suffer through three trips to England while researching this series. Shocking sacrifice. I am English by birth which means that a great deal comes naturally—I rarely need help with common terms, speech that sounds natural, or local customs.  It has been interesting to keep up to date with those elements that do change—social behavior, some obvious loosening of language, police procedure (although I’m not writing police procedurals, it’s impossible to pull off a story with both crime and in my case, male/female relationships, without have all the details at my fingertips). My interviews with many levels of policing were probably the most interesting part of my research, but learning the ins and outs of running a pub and pub life in general had its high points.

Why did you decide to write romantic mystery?

Even as I call the genre romantic mystery I’m unsure if that categorizes the books appropriately. I’ve always incorporated a sizeable dose of mystery in all of my books.  Now the balance leans more heavily into mystery—there would be no story without mystery.  My interest in strong relationships comes naturally and a building love interest we can get deeply involved with is a natural part of my stories.

That said, I need another serious thought here…I don’t choose a story, the story chooses me.  As with many writers, ideas cascade in regularly but the tale that will be told keeps jumping to the front of the line and won’t leave me alone.

What is your process for writing a book? For example, are you a plotter or a pantzer? Do you start at page 1 and write your book sequentially or do you skip around? Do you start with your characters or the plot?

I’m both a plotter and a pantzer, depending on where I am in the story.  I’m not sure I could be as excited as I am about writing if I wasn’t open to surprises.  Events pop up, unexpected events and I love to go with them, to see where they’ll take me.  But I also have to stop and plot.  A lot of serious, “why, when, what, where and how?” goes into any story.  Neglect these questions and you’re likely to have a mess on your hands.

Do you write multiple drafts or barely need revisions when typing, The End?

Many drafts and I never feel a story couldn’t be improved even if only a little.

How do you make time to write?

My career already counts as long… Writing has been a huge part of my life, always.  When my children were young I would have had much more to say on this topic, now, in truth, I write because I must and whenever I must.

When you are writing, who is in control? You or your characters?

Probably a combination.

Who has had the most influence on your writing?

Too many wonderful writers to name.  I’ve been very fortunate in my mentors.

Have you had any “ah ha” moments as a writer?

Yes, thank goodness.  Many, many of them.

Would you tell us your story of getting “the call?”

The first sale call came in while I was looking down into the garden to check on my children who were on a climbing frame—something I always distrusted.  My mind completely blanked and I’m lucky I didn’t say something ridiculous like, “You want to buy my book?  You can’t be serious.”  I didn’t hear most of what the editor said but what a wonderful day that was.

*Smiles* Sounds lovely.  How does your family feel about your career as a romance writer?

My family like and respect my being a writer.

What books can we expect to see in the near future?

More romantic mysteries.  More of almost anything that tells me to hop aboard and go along for the ride.

What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as an author?

There is no fictional situation that can’t be worked out.

If you could choose anyone, past or present for a mentor, who would you choose?

Louise Penny.

With so many changes in publishing over the past year, where do you see the future of publishing going?

Gosh, we must hang on to our hats and be ready for change, change and more change.  I do see even more of an explosion in digital reading.  The ratio, print to digital, has flattened somewhat but I don’t think it will ever be stagnant.

Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one?

Yes.  Kindle.

If you could have one special, supernatural power, what would it be?

Telepathy.

What makes a man attractive to you?

Strength, intellectual, physical.  A sense of humor, gentleness, passion in all things.

What is the most interesting thing you’ve ever done?

Lots of interesting things, really.  Paddled in an outrigger canoe has to be a favorite.

What are you reading now?

Raven Black, Anne Cleaves.

What is your favorite quote?

“A loving heart is the truest wisdom.”—Charles Dickens.

How long have you been writing?

Twenty-eight years full-time.  All my life in some ways.

What comes first—characters or the plot?

This is not so simple.  An idea (situation) may come first, but almost at once, characters are jogging alongside.  But it is the people who make your story.

Who’s on your auto-buy list for authors?

Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick  Deborah Crombie. Louise Penny. Donna Leon.  Tana French.  Nicci French.  Lee Child.  Tess Gerritsen, Alan Bradly, Alistair McCall Smith, Elizabeth Lowell, JD Robb, Mary Deheim, PD James, and I don’t have enough time left before getting back to work for all of my automatic buys.  Don’t want to leave any out but, my word there are hoards of them.

Do you write to music? Do you make soundtracks for you stories? If so, what was on the soundtrack for your latest release?

I write to music, don’t make soundtracks, have broad and eclectic tastes.  At the moment I listen primarily to Mario Frangoulis since I tend to listed to the same discs over and over during a project.

What’s your biggest dream?

Justice for all.

If you were a millionaire would you still write?

Yes.

Cat or dog person?

Both, and a horse, goat, elephant, kangaroo, you name it, I love all animals.  I am afraid of a few, though.

Okay, get ready, we have our rapid response portion. Don’t think about your answers, just say the first thing that comes to mind. Ready? 

Favorite color:  blue

Favorite number: 7

Favorite Actor:   Allen Leech

Favorite Actress:  Judy Dench

Wine or liquor?  Wine

Tea or coffee? Tea

Decaf or caffeinated? Caffeinated.

Boxers or briefs?  Depends on the body.

Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla

Donald Duck or Goofy?  Goofy

Frozen (the movie) or Tangled?  Tangled.

Channing Tatum or Johnny Depp?  Johnny Depp

Want to meet or attend Stella’s workshop? Make sure you check out the information on our conference at http://www.njromancewriters.org and register!

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NJRW Put Your Heart In A Book Contest – 17 DAYS LEFT

Image The New Jersey Romance Writers is celebrating 30 Years of Happily Ever Afters. This means thirty years of helping new and unpublished writers hone their craft, polish their manuscripts, and offer a supportive network of authors, writers, and friends. One of the aspects of the NJRW’s endless resources for writers is the Put Your Heart In A Book Contest. Whether it be through winning, receiving that needed feedback, or a sense of discovery, several Happily Ever Afters have resulted from the contest. Who knows? You might find your own on this very special 30th Anniversary of the New Jersey Romance Writers by entering the Put Your Heart In A Book Contest.

 

Information for the Put Your Heart In A Book Contest:

Entry Deadline: Entry period is from June 1, 2014 until July 1, 2014. Entries must be sent electronically and received by 12:01 a.m., July 1, 2014.

Entry Fee: $25 ~ NJRW members, $35 ~ All others

Eligibility: Unpublished or not Published in last five years.

Categories

Computer counts should be used to determine length. These are projected final word counts for your manuscript.

Contemporary Series: Category romance, 40,000 word minimum romances set in the present day.

Single Title Contemporary: Romances set in present day, 40,000 words minimum.

Historical: Single Title and category romances set before 1945. Includes Regency romances. 40,000 word minimum.

Paranormal: Fantasy, futuristic, paranormal and FFP romantic suspense. 40,000 word minimum.

Young Adult: Romance Novels with a strong romantic theme geared toward young adult readers. 40,000 word minimum.

Romantic Suspense: A work of fiction in which a romance plays a significant part in the story, but other themes or elements take the plot beyond the traditional romance boundaries. 40,000 word minimum.

Please submit the opening chapter of your manuscript, along with a chapter-by-chapter synopsis. Submission should not exceed thirty pages total, including text and synopsis. See Official Rules for details.

Prizes Awarded in each category

  • 1st Place:  $50 + plaque
  • 2nd Place:  $35 + certificate
  • 3rd Place:  $25 + certificate

Final Round Judges

An agent, editor and multi-published author will judge the final entries.

Contemporary Series
Agent: Kathleen Rushall, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency
Editor: Cat Clyne, Sourcebooks
Multi-published Author: Jennifer Probst

Single-Title Contemporary
Agent: Andrea Somberg, Harvey Klinger, Inc.
Editor: Angela James, Carina Press
Multi-published Author: Roxanne St. Claire

Historical
Agent: Sara Megibow, Nelson Literary Agency
Editor: Renee Rocco, Lyrical Press/Kensington Publishing
Multi-published Author: Terri Brisbin

Paranormal
Agent: Michelle Grajkowski, Three Seas Literary Agency
Editor: Mary Altman, Sourcebooks
Multi-published Author: Jeffe Kennedy

Young Adult Romance
Agent: Laura Bradford, Bradford Literary Agency
Editor: Eileen Rothschild, St. Martin’s Press
Multi-published author: Susan Mallery

Romantic Suspense
Agent: Courtney Miller-Callihan, Greenburger Associates
Editor: Patience Smith Bloom, Harlequin
Multi-published author: Stella Cameron

Contest Timetable

Final rankings will be announced and prizes awarded at NJRW Conference (October 17-18, 2014). You need not be present to win.

Questions? Please contact Katherine Givens, 2014 PYHIAB Contest Chair at pyhiab@njromancewriters.org.

Please put PYHIAB Contest – Your Submission Category in the subject line of your email.

In The Mind of Beth Ciotta – 30 Years of Happily Ever Afters

This week we’re jumping over the hump with our featured workshop presenter and best-selling author, Beth Ciotta!

Beth will be giving a workshop at our conference in October. Derring-Do: The Passionate Writer’s Guide to Success is just one of many fabulous workshops we have scheduled.

For more information on our conference, how to register, and other popular questions, please visit our website at http://www.njromancewriters.org.

Please welcome Beth!

How did you come up with the idea for HIS CLOCKWORK CANARY?

Although I’ve had a few other releases since HIS CLOCKWORK CANARY (2013), I’m highlighting this particular novel because it finaled in the paranormal category of this year’s RWA RITA contest—Such an honor! I’m still reeling!

HIS CLOCKWORK CANARY is the second book in the series: The Glorious Victorious Darcys. The concept was born of a love of fantastical treasure hunts and morphed into a steampunk adventure where two time periods meld—The Victorian Age meets the Age of Aquarius. After pinpointing the basis of my ‘world’ these tales took off in ways I never imagined. A total rush to write.       

What was the most difficult aspect of writing HIS CLOCKWORK CANARY 

The world-building. Deciding how and why my alternate world came to be and then creating that world—the history, the lingo, the social and political environment. Since I based my world on a melding of the late 1800s and the late 1960s, reality-based facts were also essential. Research was intense and as important as imagination. Perhaps most interesting to me were the social and political aspects of the 1960s and how they mirrored similar elements in the Victorian Age. Writing this series is a challenge and a thrill!

Do you write multiple drafts or barely need revisions when typing, The End?

I write in layers. Going back and polishing or weaving in new details to what I wrote the day before and then moving on. I can’t move forward until I feel a click. Each scene propels me to the next. I tend to rewrite the first half of the book several times and then the second half almost always flows–first draft. Until revisions. It’s not what I’d call a fast process, but it’s the process that comes naturally to me.

What advice do you have for other writers?

Passion, perseverance, and dedication to craft are key. I’m also believer in positive networking. Don’t focus on what others can do for you. Consider what you can do for others. Generosity and genuine intentions will come back to you tenfold.

What books can we expect to see in the near future?

The fourth and final novel in my contemporary series—The Cupcake Lovers. IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE releases July 2014.  My Cupcake Lover novella—SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL will appear in a Christmas Anthology with stories by Lori Foster, Carly Phillips, and Sugar Jamison later this fall. Super excited about that!

Also this fall, BEAUTY & THE BIKER, the launch book in a new contemporary series—Impossible Dream—celebrating hope, love, and the magic of the human spirit! These stories are modern day fairy tales and very close to my heart. I can’t wait to share them with the world.

Lastly, the continuation of my steampunk series—The Glorious Victorious Darcys. A busy but exciting year!

Okay, get ready, we have our rapid response portion. Don’t think about your answers, just say the first thing that comes to mind. Ready? 

Favorite color: Pink

Favorite number: 10

Favorite Actor: Cary Grant *swoon*

Favorite Actress: Sandra Bullock

Wine or liquor? Wine

Tea or coffee? Coffee

Decaf or caffeinated? CAFFEINATED!

Boxers or briefs? Briefs

Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate

Donald Duck or Goofy? Goofy

Frozen (the movie) or Tangled? Tangled

Channing Tatum or Johnny Depp? Depp. *sigh*

Want to meet or attend Beth’s workshop? Make sure you check out the information on our conference at http://www.njromancewriters.org and register come June 1st!

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Put Your Heart In A Book Conference – Registration Opening!

***Permission to Forward Granted and Encouraged***

Save the Date
Registration Opens June 1st!

NJRW’s Conference “30 Years of Happily Ever Afters!”

October 17-18, 2014
Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel
Iselin, NJ

Early Bird Pricing: June 1-July 31st
NJRW Member $215 – Non-member $240

Prices go up August 1st, so get in early.

Don’t miss this opportunity to take your writing to the next level. This year’s Put Your Heart in a Book Conference is shaping up to be the best ever.

Susan Mallery: Keynote Speaker
Stella Cameron: Luncheon Speaker
Jennifer Probst: Special Presentation*
Roxanne St Claire: 3-hour Pre-Conference Workshop ($45)

* For first 100 registrants (join in the workshop with Jennifer Probst!)

Some things to expect:

  • Workshops for writers of all levels 
  • Editor/Agent Appointments
  • Literacy Book Fair/Author Signings (a portion of proceeds will go to Literacy Volunteers of NJ)
  • Opportunities for Networking 

 

Here is a partial list of agents and editors scheduled to attend:

Agents:

  • Louis Fury, The Bent Agency 
  • Jita Fumich, Folio Literary Management 
  • Lisa Rodgers, JABberwocky Literary Agency 
  • Annelise Robey, Jane Rotrosen Agency 
  • Lori Perkins, LPerkins Agency 
  • Sarah E. Younger, Nancy Yost Literary Agency 
  • Stephany Evans, FinePrint Literary Management

Editors:

  • Nicole Fisher, Avon Books 
  • Sarah Murphy, Bantam Dell 
  • Angela James, Carina Press 
  • Treva Harte, Loose Id 
  • Lauren McKenna, Pocket Books 
  • Mary Altman, Sourcebooks Inc. 
  • Cat Clyne, Sourcebooks Inc. 
  • Eileen Rothschild, St. Martin’s Press 
  • Melissa Ann Singer, Tor/Forge 
  • Julie Mianecki, Berkley 
  • Kristine Swartz, Berkley

… … and more to come

Workshop presenters:

  • Madeline Hunter, PAN/PUB Retreat Kickoff Speaker 
  • Susan Mallery, Screw The Muse, I’m on a Deadline 
  • Stella Cameron, People Make Your Story 
  • Jennifer Probst and Jen Talty, Sweet, Snarky, or Sexpot: What Makes a Good Heroine? 
  • Christine Bush, First Timer’s Workshop 
  • Anne Walradt, Writing the “Can’t Put It Down” Novel 
  • Laura Curtis, Personal Branding for Authors 
  • Nancy Herkness, Sell Your Book, Not Your Soul 
  • Julie Ann Walker, The Hard and Fast Rules for a Kickass Query & How to Make Your Characters THUNDER 
  • Beth Ciotta, Derring-Do, The Passionate Writer’s Guide to Success 
  • Julie Rowe, Taming Twitter 2-hour block 
  • Mary Burton, Novel Write 
  • Joanna Shupe, Tech Tips for Writers 
  • Judi Fennell, How to Self Publish & Novel In A Nutshell 
  • Tina Gallagher and Pattie Giordani, Pitch Perfect 
  • Nisha Sharma, GMC in the YA Novel & Score! Game plans, Strategies, and Plays 
  • Sandra Pesso, Work Your Social Media Platform like a Rockstar 
  • Shiloh Walker, Draw Me A Story 
  • Jen Talty, Building Your Author Brand 
  • Bob Mayer, Write It Forward 
  • Jen Talty and Bob Mayer, E-pub, POD, and the Future of Publishing 
  • Laura Kaye, The Secrets Behind Becoming a Bestseller 
  • Kristen Painter, Worldbuilding Through a Series 
  • Diana Cosby, Marketing for Impact 2-hour block 
  • Donna MacMeans, Grab Your Reader on Page 1 
  • Mallory Braus and Elizabeth London, Top Ten Ways You’re Showing Rather Than Telling 
  • Laurie Cooper, This Bridge Looks REALLY High 
  • K.M. Fawcett and Cathy Tully, Looking for Action? Writing Believable Fight Scenes 
  • Leigh Duncan, A Walk In The Plot 
  • Victoria Pinder, Be Your Own Agent 
  • Judith Roth, The Art of Self-Editing 
  • Sarah Younger 
  • Jeanette Grey, Domains and Graphics 
  • Vicky Sue Dreiling, Make Them Laugh, Make Them Cry 
  • Maria Snyder, Classic Writing Mistakes 
  • Susan Wall, Book Trailer Boot Camp 
  • Louisa Edwards, How to Give and Get Better Critiques 
  • Peter Andrews, How to Write Fast 
  • Laurie Bevin Cooper, How to Make Opportunities Happen 
  • Paula Scardamalia, How to Use the Tarot To Write

If you have questions, please contact: DC “Desi” Stone, NJRW’s 2014 Conference Chair, atconfchair@njromancewriters.org or, Jackson D’Lynne, Assistant Chair, at jacksondlynne@yahoo.com

For registration questions, please contact: Jenny Baskwell Registrar, at registrar@njromancewriters.org.

We will be adding to the list of agents and editors, so please check our web site www.njromancewriters.org frequently for updates!

 

In The Mind of Laura Kaye – 30 Years of Happily Ever Afters

This week we’re jumping over the hump with our featured workshop presenter and best-selling author, Laura Kaye!

Laura will be giving a workshop at our conference in October. The Secrets Behind Becoming A Best Seller is just one of many fabulous workshops we have scheduled.

For more information on our conference, on when registration opens, and other popular questions, please visit our website at http://www.njromancewriters.org.

Please welcome Laura!

How did you come up with the idea for Hard As It Gets, the first book in your Hard Ink series?

I had been writing contemporary romances featuring active duty military and veterans for a while, so I took that base and added a more military-centered suspense plot to it, and then set it all in the sexy and gritty setting of a tattoo parlor. Specific influences were that I worked for the military for eight years as a professor at the Naval Academy and that I’ve always been fascinated with tattoos (I have two…).

I want to ask where and of what, but I think I’ll call you out at the conference with that. *winks* How long did it take you to write Hard As It Gets?

It took me four and a half weeks to write it, but I only cranked it out so fast because I had to. When I sold the Hard Ink series to Avon, my writing schedule was already totally booked for 2013, so I knowingly overloaded my schedule to be able to write this series.

WOW! That’s an amazingly short amount of time! What was it about your book that made your editor want to buy it?

I think my editor loved the combination of the military heroes, the brotherhood of the team, the sexy tattoo setting, and the suspense plot combined with the fact that the team is operating outside the law. I kept getting feedback that there was a “Sons of Anarchy” vibe, but at the time I’d never watched the series so I had no idea what they were talking about. Then I went on a SoA Netflix binge and got it!

I take it you’re addicted now? What was the most difficult aspect of writing Hard As It Gets?

Two things: how fast I had to write it, and the fact that I had to plot out the suspense elements. I don’t usually plot, but I find I can’t write suspense without doing so.

How much research did you conduct for Hard As It Gets and what was the most interesting thing you did while conducting your research?

What didn’t I research for this book? LOL There was a lot to research while writing this – everything from Baltimore neighborhoods to Maryland gang activity to the heroin trade to growing heroin in Afghanistan to how to use a gun and what kind of equipment you use to scan for surveillance bugs to how to do tattoos. And this list only scratches the surface. Plus, since it was the first book in the series, a lot of research was required to just build the world. I also watched a whole slew of documentaries on the Army Special Forces – that was fun!

Why did you decide to write romantic suspense?

Actually, I don’t think I chose to write it. I thought I was setting out to write more military romance. Because I don’t plot and because I sold this series on proposal with only the first chapter of the first book written, I really had no idea how central the suspense plot was going to become. Having done it now, I really respect romantic suspense authors!

What is your process for writing a book? For example, are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you start at page 1 and write your book sequentially or do you skip around? Do you start with your characters or the plot?

I’m definitely a pantser, except for the romantic suspense elements, as I’ve said above. I need to know the characters very well, and they’re usually what come to me first, and I need to know the conflict. Then I just open up a Word document and start writing. I’m very linear; I can’t skip around when I write.

Do you use any techniques, tools, or aids to help you write?

Not really, unless you consider music a tool or aid. I pick one song that reflects the song or characters to me and listen to it on repeat the whole time I’m writing.

OMG, I do the same thing! Do you write multiple drafts or barely need revisions when typing, The End?

I write one draft, but I edit as I go. So, each day when I sit down to write, I re-read what I wrote the day before and revise it. That gets me back into the story again to write new pages. I also have beta readers who read behind me as I write, and I incorporate their edits as I go, too. By the time I write “The End,” I’m done.

How do you make time to write?

For four years, I balanced writing with a full-job teaching job at the Naval Academy. Last year, I took a leave of absence to write, and in December I retired from teaching entirely to write full-time. I’m very lucky to be able to do that. Now, I treat it as a full-time job committing five days a week to a minimum 8:30am-5pm schedule, usually much more. I’ve given up a lot of hobbies and relaxation time to write, too.

When you are writing, who is in control? You or your characters?

The characters.

Who has had the most influence on your writing?

I feel like I’ve learned a lot about what I know about how to write male point of view by reading J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

*sings, “love it!”* Have you had any “ah ha” moments as a writer?

I have lots of them when I’m writing. As a pantser, there are many times when something you do early in the manuscript makes sense much later (like you planned it!) and it’s totally surprising.

What advice do you have for other writers?

Lots: first and most important, there’s no one right way to do this! Never let anyone tell you otherwise. Some things that have been useful for me are: write as close to every day as you can – you can’t revise or sell what you haven’t written; surround yourself with other writers pursuing publication (through writing groups or critique partners); never give up!

Why did you decide to become an author?

Hmm. I’m not sure I decided this. I was already a non-fiction author before I started writing fiction. But in 2008 I had a brain injury and as I healed I was struck with a very strong creative urge that included, among other things, the urge to write a book. Three months after I started writing, I had my first draft. It literally took over my life. But once I’d finished that first book, it was a part of me and I never looked back.

Why did you decide to become a romance author?

I love the hopefulness of the romance genre, in which every book tells you no matter the obstacles or hurdles or pain in your life, you deserve and can find your happily ever after. Plus it’s fun!

Would you tell us your story of getting “the call?”

My first real “call” story came after I already had two books published. I’d submitted a book to Harlequin’s Nocturne line and editor Tara Gavin called to buy that and one more like it. THAT was SO exciting and I danced around my office and scared my dog. But by far the most thrilling call I got was when my agent (who I got after I’d sold 16 books on my own) called to say HarperCollins was making an offer on my Hard Ink series. Totally surreal.

What was the most exciting thing that happened to you after you signed your contract – besides receiving your first check as a published author?

Most exciting thing was—and still is—hearing from readers that something you created touched them in some meaningful way.

If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing?

I’d still be teaching American history at the U.S. Naval Academy.

How does your family feel about your career as a romance writer?

My family is very supportive of me and excited for me. I couldn’t do this without them!

What books can we expect to see in the near future?

I have a lot of releases in 2014 in three series, including:

4/22/14: East of Ecstasy (Hearts of the Anemoi #4)

5/12/14: Dare to Resist

July: Heroes series book

8/19/14: Hard to Hold On To (Hard Ink #2.5)

October: Heroes series book

11/25/14: Hard to Come By (Hard Ink #3)

What do you want your readers to take away with them after reading the story?

I just want my readers to have been touched by the story or characters in some way. But, honestly, someone finding they can just lose themselves in my world for a few hours is also very rewarding. We all need to escape sometimes.

What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as an author?

Persistence and resilience. You’ll hear a lot of no’s/rejections and get negative feedback, but you have to carry on.

What was the defining moment that you considered yourself an author?

The moment I finished my first complete draft, to be sure. Lots of people say they want to write a novel and lots of people start to write a novel, but actually finishing one is a rarer thing.

If you could choose anyone, past or present for a mentor, who would you choose?

Yegads. J.R. Ward.

With so many changes in publishing over the past year, where do you see the future of publishing going?

I think we’ll see all formats continue to be available for writers and readers in the future, but I also think we’ll continue to see the trend of author control and autonomy continue, which will probably force the publishers to offer more author-friendly terms to remain competitive.

Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one?

I do much of my reading on the Kindle app on my phone.

If you could have one special, supernatural power, what would it be?

Ability to move/travel anywhere just by thinking it.

What makes a man attractive to you?

One of the most attractive things about a man is the way he shows his love for his woman.

What is the most interesting thing you’ve ever done?

LOL. Um. *winks* I’ve done lots of interesting things. Traveled throughout Europe for 4 weeks with my husband before we had kids. Did archaeological work at the Jamestown Fort site the summer we proved the original 1607 fort hadn’t been eroded away into the James River. Met the U.S. president and took a picture with him in the Oval Office.

Where do you write?

Most days, I write at a Panera Bread with my best friend and fellow author, Lea Nolan.

How long have you been writing?

I started writing in 2008 after a brain injury left me with a new creative urge. My first book was published on April 20, 2011.

Okay, get ready, we have our rapid response portion. Don’t think about your answers, just say the first thing that comes to mind. Ready? 

Favorite color: Blue

Favorite number: Eleven

Favorite Actor: Channing Tatum. Heh.

Favorite Actress: I don’t really have one.

Wine or liquor? Wine

Tea or coffee? Tea

Decaf or caffeinated? No preference – caffeine has no effect on me!

Boxers or briefs? Boxers

Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate

Donald Duck or Goofy? Neither! LOL

Frozen (the movie) or Tangled? I haven’t seen Frozen yet but I loved Tangled.

Channing Tatum or Johnny Depp? Ha! I answered this already! ;)

Thank you, Laura! We’re all cheering you on, girl!

Want to meet or attend Laura’s workshop? Make sure you check out the information on our conference at http://www.njromancewriters.org and register come June 1st!

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