In the Mind of Kerrelyn Sparks – 2015 PYHIAB Conference

On October 16-17, New Jersey Romance Writers will be celebrating our annual conference. We have a fantastic line-up of speakers and workshop presenters. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be highlighting our four special speakers who were kind enough to allow us to get to know them better.

First up is Kerrelyn Sparks. Kerrelyn will be giving a workshop at the conference and is our Keynote Speaker! World Building — Stop the World, I want to Make a New one! is one of many fabulous workshops we have scheduled.

For more information about the conference and to register, please go to www.njromancewriters.org.

Welcome, Kerrelyn!

How did you come up with the idea for “CROUCHING TIGER, FORBIDDEN VAMPIRE”?

I was intrigued with the character, Russell.  Not only was he transformed into a vampire against his will, he was also abandoned in a vampire coma for 39 years. So when he woke up, he had to adjust to being undead and also adjust to the fact that everyone from his former life was dead or gone. Crouching Tiger, Forbidden Vampire is the story of him seeking revenge on the evil vampire that destroyed his life.

I also wanted to match him up with a were-tigress. I’d never written a were-tiger hero or heroine before, so I was excited to do something new. I also love world building, and this gave me a chance to explore the were-tiger culture.

How much research did you conduct for “CROUCHING TIGER, FORBIDDEN VAMPIRE” and what was the most interesting thing you did while conducting your research? 

Some scenes from Crouching Tiger, Forbidden Vampire take place in Tiger Town in China, so I wanted to show the Asian influence on the were-tiger culture. There were also were-tigers from South Korea in the story. I watched hours of Chinese and Korean television shows, especially historical ones, so I could see the costumes and customs.

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?

For me, the characters always come first. Once I understand their GMC (goal, motivation, conflict) and what they want, need, and fear the most, the plot starts to take shape. I write sequentially, and I liken it to a road trip. If I’m driving from Houston to Dallas in the dark, I know I’ll eventually end up in Dallas, and I have a good idea what Dallas will look like, but I can’t see the entire road there. The headlights show what’s ahead for a short ways. So I can usually see a chapter or two ahead, but the rest is dark until I get closer and my headlights reveal it. Eventually I get close enough to Dallas that I can see all the lights, and at that point, I can speed toward the end!

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

One draft for me. But I cycle back over and over. For the first hundred pages, I start with page one and edit as I go till I reach new material. In that way, chapter one ends up getting revised a jillion times. Later on, I’ll go back about three chapters and edit until it’s time to start new pages. I can never begin a new chapter until I’m happy with the previous one.  I’m an odd combination of pantzer and perfectionist. In other words, I may not know what comes next, but it had better be great!!  This, of course, leads to major frustration, since it usually isn’t great. But I edit until I’m happy with it. Eventually, I reach the end of the book, and by then, the book is polished and ready to go straight to the editor.

How do you make time to write?

It’s my job so I just do it.  What is harder for me is making myself take time out to exercise.

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

I would say me, but then my characters start laughing at me.

Who has had the most influence on your writing?

My old favorites who taught me to love Romance have influenced me the most. Kathleen Woodiwiss, Amanda Quick, Julie Garwood, and Jude Deveraux.

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

I was in the kitchen folding laundry when the phone rang.  I don’t remember what I said on the phone. I was so stunned that I probably babbled like an idiot.  Even after I hung up, I stared at the laundry for a while before it really sank in.

Then I squealed and danced around the family room. Squealed some more.  By now, my son had wandered into the family room to see why his mother was behaving so strangely.

“I sold a book!”  I told him and squealed some more.

He watched me for a bit, then asked, “Does this mean you’re not cooking supper?”

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

I have lots of ideas!  The one I’m working on right now is a paranormal fantasy.  I also have a contemporary series in mind.  And I may go back to the Love at Stake gang every now and then.  I think it would be fun to jump into the future so that the children can be grown and take center stage.

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

Believe in yourself.  Every time I start a new book, I still panic and have to fight off self-doubt in order to get started.  And because I’m a pantzer, I don’t always know where I’m going, so I have had to learn to trust myself and believe that I will make it through to the end.

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

I think it’s a wonderful time to be an author.  We have a lot more choices available to us now than when I first started writing.  What I see in the future is authors having the freedom to do what they feel is best for them.  There are good things about both traditional publishing and self-publishing.  Most probably, authors will be trying to take advantage of both, and we’ll have more hybrid authors.

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

I don’t actually have an ebook reader.  But I have a Kindle app on my iPad.  I use that whenever I travel.  When I’m at home, I still prefer a paper book.  My eyes usually need a break after working on a computer most of the day.

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

I would have the power that I gave to one of my heroines in the Love at Stake series.  In Eat Prey Love, Caitlyn Whelan has the ability to learn any language after listening to it for a few minutes. 

What makes a man attractive to you?

Intelligence. Smart is sexy!!  A sense of humor.  I love a guy who makes me laugh.  Good character traits, meaning he’s honest, dependable, respectful, and honorable. A friendly face.  Long legs, broad shoulders, and you know the rest!

What are you reading now?

I’m reading a new author, Lenora Bell.  The book isn’t released yet, but the title is How the Duke Was Won.  It’s a delightful book, and I hope she’s very successful.

What is your favorite quote?

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

 How long have you been writing?

17 years.

If you were a millionaire would you still write?

Yes!

Cat or dog person?

Cat.

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: Green

Favorite number: 7

Favorite Actor:  Tom Hiddleston  No, Benedict. No, Chris Hemsworth. No, Tom.  Definitely Tom.

Favorite Actress:  Judi Dench

Wine or liquor? Wine

Tea or coffee? Neither. Water!

Decaf or caffeinated? Neither, water!

Boxers or briefs? Briefs!

Chocolate or vanilla?  Chocolate

Donald Duck or Goofy? Donald Duck

Frozen (the movie) or Tangled? Haven’t seen them!  I’m too old!

Channing Tatum or Johnny Depp? Johnny!

Want to meet Kerrelyn or attend her workshop? Make sure you check out the information on our conference at http://www.njromancewriters.org. Registration ends October 4th!

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2015 Put Your Heart In A Book Conference – Registration Now OPEN!

 

October 16-17, 2015

Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel, Iselin, NJ

http://www.njromancewriters.org/conference.html

The Early Bird gets the worm….or in this case…the Early Bird Pricing.

Don’t delay – sign up today!

 

Early Bird Prices – (June 1st thru July 31st)

NJRW Member $215; Non-member $240

 

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

NJRW Member $240; Non-member $265

 

Pre-Conference Workshop Fee – $45

 

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!

Kerrelyn Sparks – Keynote Speaker

Beth Ciotta – Luncheon Speaker

Julia Quinn – Special Presentation*

Margie Lawson – 3-hour Pre-Conference Workshop ($45) – Deep Editing Tools Rule!

* For first 100 registrants

Some things to expect:

  • Workshops for writers of all levels
  • Editor/Agent Appointments
  • Book Fair/Author Signings (a voluntary donation will be accepted at checkout which will go to Literacy Volunteers of NJ)
  • Opportunities for Networking

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

Agents:

  • Eric Ruben, The Ruben Agency
  • Marisa Corvisiero, Corvisiero Agency
  • Lisa Rodgers, JABberwocky Literary Agency
  • Sharon Pelletier, Dystel & Goderich

Editors:

  • Kerri Buckley, Carina Press
  • Elizabeth Poteet, St. Martin’s Press
  • Esi Sogah, Kensington Publishing
  • Amy Stapp, Tor/Forge
  • Harlequin Editors, TBA

… and more to come

Spectacular lineup of workshop presenters:

  • Sarah MacLean, PAN/PUB Retreat Kickoff Speaker
  • Kerrelyn Sparks, World Building – Stop the World, I want to Make a New one!
  • Beth Ciotta, Shutting Out the News: Letting in the Muse
  • Margie Lawson, Not Your Mama’s Character Descriptions
  • Christine Bush, First-Timer’s Workshop
  • Jean C Gordon, Gone in 60 Minutes: A Hands-On Synopsis Writing Exercise That Can Turn Your Idea Into a Fully Developed Story
  • Maria Connor, The Three Stages of Book Promotion: What You Should Be Doing When
  • Mary Behre, Writing Contests: How to Get the Most Bang for Your Buck
  • Victoria Pinder, Kristin Wallace and Rossie Cortes: Plot Your Way to Your Best Seller
  • Paula Scardamalla: Using Myths, Fairytales, and Dreams for Stories That Sell
  • Susan Meier: Building Blocks for a Great Book
  • Judi Fennell: The In-The-Know Guide to Indie Publishing
  • RoseAnn DeFranco: Using Humor to Add Emotional Depth
  • Laurie Cooper: What the EYE Sees – A Visual Approach to Book Marketing
  • DC Stone: Understanding Motives and Building Suspense from an Investigator’s Perspective
  • Nisha Sharma: Bollywood Basics: Romance Tips from the world’s largest film industry to help turn your book into a blockbuster
  • Eileen Dreyer: His Brain/Her Brain & Trauma or For Heaven’s Sake, Don’t Shoot Him in the Shoulder
  • Marlo Berliner and Brynn Chapman: Beating the Odds: Writing a YA That Sells
  • A. DePaul: His Eyes Are Blue Not Green? How to Keep Organized
  • Joanna Shupe: The In’s and Out’s of Facebook For Authors
  • Eliza Knight and Laura Kaye: S.E.X. – Writing the Sensual Evocative eXperience
  • Alice Orr: WE’VE GOT THE POWER!! How Choice Changes Everything About Publishing Today
  • Cyn Balog: The Evolving Face of YA: How the YA Market Keeps Changing
  • Diana Cosby: How to Research and Write Historical
  • Carol VanDenHende: Apply Professional Branding Frameworks to Your Brand as an Author
  • Terri Brisbin: Pretzels at 2am: Dealing with Life as a Glamorous Romance Author
  • Jim and Nikoo McGoldrick: 50 Shades of Literary Representation: The Tie That Binds
  • Dee Davis: From Desolate Moors to Dark Alleys: The Art of Writing Romantic Suspense
  • Nancy Herkness and Miriam Allenson: Critique Groups Rock! Build Your Writing Support Team
  • Eliza Knight: How to Be a Successful Self-Published Author
  • Ella Quinn: Regency Customs, Titles, and Manners
  • Laura Kaye: Lessons Learned from a Hybrid Romance Career…So Far
  • Sarah MacLean: Mastering the Art of Great Conflict
  • Kathleen Long: Fire Up Your Process with Creative Storytelling Techniques
  • Sally Mackenzie: Writing Series-Connected Books
  • Geri Krotow: Resistance: Defined, Identified, Beaten!

To register, click here!

If you have questions, please contact: Mo Boylan, NJRW’s 2015 Conference Chair, at confchair@njromancewriters.org or, Jenny Baskwell and Nichol Phillipoff, Assistant Chairs, at jenny.s.baskwell@gmail.com and ncphillipoff@gmail.com respectively.

For registration questions, please contact: Babette James, 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!

2014 Golden Leaf Contest Winners!!

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New Jersey Romance Writers is proud to announce the winners in our 2014 Golden Leaf contest!!

* Denotes NJRW members

Novella

Anything You Ask by Lynn Kellan*

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Romantic Suspense

She Can Scream by Melinda Leigh

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Historical

Love and Other Scandals by Caroline Linden

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Short Contemporary

A Groom for Christmas by Cara Marsi

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Contemporary

A Valley Ridge Christmas by Holly Jacobs

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Paranormal

Taste of Darkness by Victoria M. Noxon

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Romantic Elements

Bounce by K.M. Jackson

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Young Adult

Boneseeker by Brynn Chapman (tie)

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Second Verse by Jennifer Walkup* (tie)

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Best First Book

A Perfect Distraction by Anna Sugden*

A Perfect Distraction

 

 






Congratulations to all our winners!

 

Golden Leaf Spotlight on Best First Book: Anna Sugden

The annual NJRW “Put Your Heart in a Book” Conference starts tomorrow!  To help share our excitement, we’ll shine the spotlight on one of our Golden Leaf finalists leading up until the conference.

The Golden Leaf is awarded annually for excellence in romance fiction by authors who are NJRW members or in Romance Writers of America (RWA) Region One.  Winners will be announced during the NJRW Put Your Heart in a Book Conference award ceremony on October 17, 2014.

Spotlight on Best First Book: “A Perfect Distraction,” by Anna Sugden (Harlequin)

A Perfect DistractionIn the large sitting area of the suite, by the floor-to-ceiling windows, a group of women fluttered around a tall, dark-haired man like a flock of brightly colored exotic birds. That must be Jake Badoletti.

Maggie’s mouth went dry.

None of the photos had done him justice. She’d known he was good-looking, but that didn’t begin to describe the man in person.

Heaven help her, he was gorgeous!

Square jawed and rugged, with piercing blue eyes and a crooked grin. He was clearly a warrior of the ice, but his bro­ken nose and scars somehow added to his appeal and made him more intriguing. Unlike the hulking bodies of the thick necks, Jake had the firm, solid lines of an athlete in peak condition. Lean, corded muscle shaped the snug-fitting black shirt and faded jeans. Exciting and enticing, he brimmed with charm and hints of danger.

No wonder he had that reputation—any woman would have a hard time resisting the pull of this particular bad boy. Once upon a time, she’d have been in that crowd, fighting for his attention. Not anymore. Never again.

(Work is copyright of the author; may not be reused without permission.)

Good luck to Anna and all our Golden Leaf finalists!

Golden Leaf Spotlight on Best First Book: Maria Imbalzano

The annual NJRW “Put Your Heart in a Book” Conference is days away!  To help share our excitement, we’ll shine the spotlight on one of our Golden Leaf finalists leading up until the conference.

The Golden Leaf is awarded annually for excellence in romance fiction by authors who are NJRW members or in Romance Writers of America (RWA) Region One.  Winners will be announced during the NJRW Put Your Heart in a Book Conference award ceremony on October 17, 2014.

Spotlight on Best First Book: “Unchained Memories,” by Maria Imbalzano (The Wild Rose Press)

UnchainedMemories_w8038_750

Red. Hot. Sexy.

Like magnets, Clay’s eyes clicked on Charlotte, unable to repel the force holding them. Her chestnut hair was held up in a loose, sexy do that had him itching to pull the pins to release it. Her strapless dress showcased a long neck and creamy shoulders that called out to be kissed. His involuntary focus on her lovely traits throughout the evening had made him a rude dinner companion, unable to answer even the easiest of questions.

He had come here tonight to socialize with the powers that be at the hospital, to talk up the ER, to lay the groundwork for future requests. But his concentration had been directed elsewhere. Since he’d squandered his opportunity to network, he should leave. But here he was at the bar at ten-thirty, waiting for a scotch and soda. The band was heavily into their Motown set and many of the revelers packed the dance floor.

Across the room, Clay zeroed in on Charlotte talking to a group of men, her red gown like a flame in a sea of black. He smiled. She sure knew how to turn heads. His included.

(Work is copyright of the author; may not be reused without permission.)

Good luck to Maria and all our Golden Leaf finalists!

Golden Leaf Spotlight on Best First Book: Tanya Holmes

The annual NJRW “Put Your Heart in a Book” Conference is days away!  To help share our excitement, we’ll shine the spotlight on one of our Golden Leaf finalists leading up until the conference.

The Golden Leaf is awarded annually for excellence in romance fiction by authors who are NJRW members or in Romance Writers of America (RWA) Region One.  Winners will be announced during the NJRW Put Your Heart in a Book Conference award ceremony on October 17, 2014.

Spotlight on Best First Book: “Within Temptation,” by Tanya Holmes (Virtual Acquisitions)

Within Temptation - Tanya Holmes

Trace gave my hand a reassuring squeeze. “Remember, you’re the plane, but I’m the pilot. Stop steering and let me lead. When we’re out here, your body belongs to me.” His confident gaze captured mine. “This is about trust, okay?”

I nodded, trying to ignore my pounding heart. Trust wasn’t an issue when I was young and naïve, but now? To surrender control, even for something as trivial as a dance, was against my nature. Yet if I wanted to gain his trust, I had to give mine unreservedly. So I yielded, surrendering to him little by little, and once he’d taken full control, the change was extraordinary.

We began to move as one.

Where he led, I followed, easily reading his body language—be it a look, the angle of his shoulders, or the pressure of his touch. All these and many other nonverbal prompts conveyed where and how he wanted me.

(Work is copyright of the author; may not be reused without permission.)

Good luck to Tanya and all our Golden Leaf finalists!

Golden Leaf Spotlight on Best First Book: Maria K. Alexander

The annual NJRW “Put Your Heart in a Book” Conference is days away!  To help share our excitement, we’ll shine the spotlight on one of our Golden Leaf finalists leading up until the conference.

The Golden Leaf is awarded annually for excellence in romance fiction by authors who are NJRW members or in Romance Writers of America (RWA) Region One.  Winners will be announced during the NJRW Put Your Heart in a Book Conference award ceremony on October 17, 2014.

Spotlight on Best First Book: “Untangle My Heart,” by Maria K. Alexander (The Wild Rose Press)

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“Privacy is a hard thing to find around here, so you may want to lock the door. Especially when you’re wearing only a towel and my sister is on the prowl.”

“I’ll have to remember that,” Edward said, taking a step toward her.

“I’m sure you’re not accustomed to asking a woman to leave your room.”

He gave her an unapologetic grin. “No, usually not.”

“I guess it’s partly my fault. I told her I don’t have any claims to you. Apparently she took that to mean it was open season to pursue you.”

“Yet you stopped by. Why?”

“I wanted to thank you again for your help today. You dropped everything to come and help my family and that means a lot to me.”

He took another step toward her until he stood directly in front of her. “You mean a lot to me. I’d do anything I could to help you.”

She nodded in acknowledgement, not sure she could trust her voice to speak with him all but touching her.

“And you’re wrong about not having a claim on me.”

(Work is copyright of the author; may not be reused without permission.)

Good luck to Maria and all our Golden Leaf finalists!