Archive | April 2014

In The Mind of Jen Talty – 30 Years of Happily Ever Afters

This week we’re jumping over the hump with our featured workshop presenter, award-winning author Jen Talty with Cool Gus Publishing.

Jen will be giving one, two, three, yes THREE, workshops at our conference in October.  Building Your Author Brand, E-pub, POD, and the Future of Publishing for the Writer, and Sweet, Snarky, or Sexpot: What Makes A Good Heroine are just three 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 Jen!

How did you come up with the idea for Deadly Secrets?

The idea came while writing Dark Water. A character kept popping up in the story and I kept thinking, this guy has a secret. I just didn’t know the secret, but when I got to the end of writing Dark Water, I figured out what his secret was and that secret is now coming back to haunt him and the women he loves.

How long did it take you to write Deadly Secrets?

It’s in draft form and it took 3 months to write the draft. It will take another 2 months to make it shine.

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 a little bit of both. I write what I think I know about my idea, then I write the backstory, then I write the opening and the ending. Then I make an outline.

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

I’m a spreadsheet junky.

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

I write a rough draft, then edit it a couple of times.

How do you make time to write?

I write at nights and on weekends.

Who has had the most influence on your writing?

Everyone I meet.

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

The biggest ah ha moment I had was the very first time I heard my business partner present his Idea and Conflict workshop. I had a million little ah ha moments. It helped me focus on my weaknesses as a writer.

What advice do you have for other writers?

There are many roads to Oz and Oz means different things to different people. Never quit.

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

That’s easy, because I’m doing it. Five years ago, I approached Bob Mayer and asked him what he was planning on doing with his backlist. He shrugged. I told him all about how he could self publish. A few months later, we formed Cool Gus Publishing. It’s has been the best five years of my career. I’ve learned so much about this business and about myself. Its hard to balance the writing and Cool Gus and as we’ve grown its become a passion of mine that is as big as my passion for writing.

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

While there is a happy ending and a romance, I’ve got a creepy mind and my bad guys are oh so wicked.

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

That every author has their own unique situation. There is no “right” way to publish. No “one size fits all”.

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

Well, I am the luckiest person because I have that mentor in my business partner, Bob Mayer. I meet him at a conference his workshop just blew me away. I had read his books and loved them, and was honored he even spoke to me at the conference. From there, we talked business and formed Cool Gus. He’s quite brilliant on many levels.

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

Publishing is going to continue to change. eBooks will continue to grow. I think we will see a shift from mass market to Print on Demand books and the espresso machine. We’re already seeing that. Both self publishing and traditional publishing have their advantages and disadvantages. Discoverability is going to be a key factor in the future. Regardless, it’s a wonderful time to be an author.

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

Kindle!

What makes a man attractive to you?

Sense of humor.

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

Went to Australia with my daughter for 3 weeks. We saw more of that country than most who live there. It was amazing. I saw “The Rock”.

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

You don’t want to know about Rochester, NY.

What is your favorite quote?

“It’s been a hell of a day at sea, Sir.” From the movie Overboard.

What’s your favourite place in the world to visit?

Lake George, NY

Cat or dog person?

Dog

Okay, Jen, 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: 2

Favorite Actor: Paul Newman

Favorite Actress: Sandra Bullock

Wine or liquor? White Wine

Tea or coffee? Diet coke

Decaf or caffeinated? Leaded

Boxers or briefs? Both

Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate

Donald Duck or Goofy? Goofy

Frozen (the movie) or Tangled? Frozen

Channing Tatum or Johnny Depp? Channing Tatum

 

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

Jen Talty

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In the Mind of Bob Mayer – 30 Years of Happily Ever Afters

Last week our Conference Chair was away on her daunting task of Florida theme park visits, and alas, we missed a week of interviews. Don’t fret, because this week for our featured workshop presenter we have the awesome Bob Mayer from Cool Gus Publishing and NY Times Best Selling Author of his Nightstalkers series.

Bob will be giving two, yes TWO, workshops at our conference in October.  Write It Forward: Building a Career Plan for Authors and E-pub, POD, and the Future of Publishing for the Writer are just two 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 Bob!

How did you come up with the idea for Nightstalkers?

When I was in Special Operations, we were always wondering who was doing the really high speed stuff.  Then it turns out, looking back, we were the ones.  But I took it a step further and wondered what a unit that took care of things that go bump in the night would be like.  Sort of The Unit meets Warehouse 13.

What was the most difficult aspect of writing?

Everything about being a writer is great.  Except for the writing.  Balancing between the thriller aspect of the plot and the tongue in cheek tone.  In a way, I was going for a bit of the tone Jennifer Crusie and I used in Agnes and the Hitman.  A little bit of snark doesn’t hurt.

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

Basically my many years in Special Operations played a large role.  The most recent book, Nightstalkers: Rift, I based it right here at Write on the River, where I live.  A lot of the action takes place in the river right outside my office.

Why did you decide to write your genre?

I write in a variety of genres:  military thriller, science fiction, nonfiction.  I co-wrote in Romance.  I write about things that interest me.  I did a blog post about the four posts of my stories:  spec ops experience; history; myth & legend; and the mysteries of the human brain.

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 a mixture of both.  With over 60 books written, I trust my subconscious more.  I’m also fortunate in that my wife is a story streamer with the most extensive reading background of anyone I know.  I can bounce ideas off her and she always comes up with something better.

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

The only thing I’ve consistently used for every book I’ve written is what I call a ‘story grid’.  It’s an Excel spread sheet.  The columns from left to right are usually: chapter, start page, end page, date, time, location and then a brief summary of the action.  Each row is a scene.  I fill this out as I write the book because it allows me to keep track of the story.  I’m very bad with details, so the grid keeps me oriented.

How do you make time to write?

I’ve been writing full time for a quarter century.  Seven days a week, all the time.  The only issue now is that I also run my own company, Cool Gus, so that eats up a lot of time too.

What advice do you have for other writers?

I think it’s the best time ever to be a writer.  The only one who can stop you is yourself.

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

After sixty books, I’m doing something unique:  wrapping several of my series together.  I’ve already merged in characters from my Cellar Series into Nightstalkers, now I’m merging in characters and concepts from my Atlantis series into Nightstalkers.  When you have parallel worlds and time travel, you can do pretty much anything although it does give me a headache to keep track of it all.

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

Digital.  Everyone is saying digital has leveled out but those numbers, aka The Wire, are juked.  They’re ignoring the huge indie author movement.  The reality is shelf space for physical books is shrinking.  See many video stores around?  Yes, there will always be print books, but Amazon already sells 1/3rd of those.

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

I have a kindle, but I read mostly on my iPhone because it’s very convenient.  I always have my phone with me, so I always have my book with me.

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

I’d have to kill you, cut off your head, and lock it in a safe.  So I’ll pass.

(Laughing) Okay, well tell us a little about the state/country you live in.

I live at Write on the River.  Just outside Knoxville on a high bluff overlooking the TN River.  I’m amazed you can take a boat from here and make it all the way to the ocean.  Some day.

Cat or dog person?

Cool Gus says it all.

Fair enough. Okay, Bob, 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: 8

Favorite Actor:  Paul Newman

Wine or liquor?  Neither

Tea or coffee?  Both

Decaf or caffeinated?  Decaf in morning, caffeine in the afternoon

Boxers or briefs?  Not saying

Chocolate or vanilla?  Vanilla

Donald Duck or Goofy?  Neither

Frozen (the movie) or Tangled?  Haven’t seen either.  I like Despicable Me II

Channing Tatum or Johnny Depp?  Huh?

 

Want to meet or attend Bob’s workshop? Make sure you register come June 1st!

Bob Mayer

In the Mind of Sarah Younger – 30 Years of Happily Ever Afters

Since we’re celebrating our 30th anniversary, this year we’re looking to do things a little different leading up to the conference. We’ve invited our workshop presenters and speakers in to give us a bit of insight in their minds, and to, of course, learn about them!

For the first week, I wanted to introduce Sarah E. Younger, who is a literary agent with Nancy Yost Literary Agency. She’ll be presenting a fabulous workshop at our conference in October.  For more information about when registration opens and how you can get information on all our speakers, please go to www.njromancewriters.org.

Please welcome Sarah!

Why did you decide to become an agent?

I didn’t really decide to become an agent, it just sort of happened. I my path to publishing and agenting is one of those stories that is best told in person because of all the interesting twists and turns, but in brief. I had just started working at a textbook publisher in NYC, in marketing, and was fast learning that it wasn’t the type of publishing job I was meant for when my current boss (Nancy Yost) reached out to me. Another industry professional had sent her my resume and cover letter when they heard that she was going to be looking for a new assistant and after reading she contacted me and wanted to know if I was available for an interview. I said yes, and then immediately googled her and found that she represented authors that I had been reading for years. I went for the interview, and I have to say that I was very professional right up until the last five minutes, and that’s when I finally allowed my fangirl to surface. I might had said something along the lines of “Ms. Yost, even if I don’t get this job, I just have to say I am a huge fan of your list, I have been reading your authors for years and I even had to rebuy some titles so that I’d have them on my kindle.” Then she asked to see my kindle…I blushed and handed it over. And the rest is history; I joined NYLA less than a week later.

Why did you decide to become a romance agent?

I want, and do, represent romance because it’s what I love to read. I also love to read YA and some women’s fiction, so I rep that as well. However, I am a huge/superfan of the romance genre and industry. So, it’s makes up the majority of my list. Also, regardless of where I am, what I’m doing, what show I’m watching, or who I’m with I always try to find the happily ever after—much to my friends, roommates, and brother’s annoyance. They regularly hear phrases like “well Captain America would be my favorite superhero, but they killed off his girlfriend in the first movie, so Thor wins.”

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

My family is great, some times they don’t really understand what “agenting” is, but they are super supportive in that they buy my authors books. So, I call that a win.

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

I was super blessed to receive a travel scholarship in college that allowed me to design my own three-month trip through Europe. Of course I designed a “Literary and Dramaturgical Tour” that had me visiting the homes and cities where my favorite authors and playwrights lived and worked. I tell you this because interestingly enough the woman who provided the endowment, was Frances L. Phillips. Ms. Phillips did a number of wonderful things throughout her lifetime, she also just so happened to serve as the editor in chief of William Morrow and Company (now an imprint of HarperCollins) from 1931-1957. So, if I could have any mentor besides my current boss, I would love to go back in time to be mentored by Ms. Phillips.

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

I have a kindle, iPad, and an iPhone. And I read on all three.

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

That’s a tough one, but I’m going to go with teleportation. So I could work in the city, but live closer to my family. And then travel whenever and wherever I wanted to. J

What makes a man/hero attractive to you?

Selflessness, the desire to protect his heroine regardless of repercussions is extremely attractive. And then from there I can get extremely shallow…but I’ll stop while I’m ahead.

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

The most interesting thing about me, or that I’ve ever done, is probably my traveling. From Alaska to Monaco to the Isle of Skye I can say that I’ve been blessed to see more of the world and am a better person for it.

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

I live in New York City, not sure if you’ve heard of it, but it’s a pretty cool place.

How would you describe yourself in five words?

Loyal, Hardworking, Logical, Blushes-Easily, Ready-to-Laugh (The dashes make those one word, right?) (Lol, right!)

What’s your favorite place in the world to visit?

Scotland. Hands down, I loved visiting Scotland and would go back to visit in a heartbeat. Ironically, I have no Scottish romances. Huh?

Where do you read?

I read in bed most of the time, but other than that I read everywhere, subway, buses, cars, trains, planes, on the couch, in the house you name it I’ve probably read there. I have even read on horseback.

How long have you been reading romance?

Probably longer than I should have, but I’m not complaining. I remember discovering Ella Enchanted in the 3rd grade, and while that is a YA book it does have kissing and a happily ever after. From there I just didn’t stop reading, and by 6th/7th grade I remember putting in a standing pre-order at my local Walden’s Books for Stephanie Laurens’ Bastion Club series. (My mom had to approve, but I don’t think she knew exactly what I was reading.)

What comes first—characters or the plot?

Characters come first for me. I have to love them before I care about what they are doing.

Who’s your favorite hero?

I have too many favorite heroes to list. But to name a few…of course all of my author’s heroes, I mean seriously they are all #1 in my book. And now for a few others you all might recognize: Devil, Curran, Mr. Reid, Vlad, Mr. Impossible (lol), All of Robyn Carr’s Military Heroes, Mitch Lawson, Levi, several Chase’s, and …I’ll stop here. (I truly love so many, I can’t pick just one!!)

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

All of my authors. (Yes, I do buy their books, just one copy though. 😉 Then I have to say Stephanie Laurens, Robyn Carr, Kristen Ashley, Rainbow Rowell, Ilona Andrews, Shannon Stacey, Lisa Kleypas, Julia Quinn, Rachel Gibson, Sarah MacLean, Jeaniene Frost, Suzanne Enoch, Loretta Chase, Julie James…and so many others!

What’s your biggest dream?

I should probably list something professional here, but in truth my biggest dream is to find my own happily ever after. I keep telling my authors “if they write him he will come” so every time they introduce me to a new hero I get all excited. 😉

Cat or dog person?

I love both cats and dogs, but I’m a horse person. I grew up on a horse farm and I’ve had some of the most meaningful relationships with my equine companions.

Okay, Sarah, get ready. We’re going to do fast-track-trivia (I picked the dash habit up from you!). Rules are you have to choose the first answer that comes to mind. Don’t second guess it!

Favorite color: Blue tied between Carolina Blue and Navy Blue. (Used to be emerald green, and before that amethyst purple.)

Favorite number: 7

Favorite Actor: Thor –I mean Chris Hemsworth

Favorite Actress: Julia Roberts (she’s a classic)

Wine or liquor? Wine

Tea or coffee? Tea (though I also like lattés)

Decaf or caffeinated? Decaf, but not by choice.

Boxers or briefs? Boxer-briefs

Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla though I do love chocolate.

Donald Duck or Goofy? Neither. Mickey, but Goofy in a pinch.

Frozen (the movie) or Tangled? Frozen.

Channing Tatum or Johnny Depp? Channing Tatum.

Want to meet, pitch to, or attend Sarah’s workshop? Make sure to register come June 1st!

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