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In The Mind of Sandra Pesso – 30 Years of Happily Ever Afters

This week we’re jumping over the hump with our featured workshop presenter, Sandra Pesso!

Sandra will be giving a workshop at our conference in October. Work Your Social Media Platform Like A Rock Star! is just one of many fabulous workshops we have scheduled.

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

Please welcome Sandra!

How did you come up with the idea for Colors of Us?

The idea for my new release was born from a self-portrait created from friend and blogger, Michelle Willis.

How long did it take you to write Colors of Us?

It took me about six months to write. However, I also spent a lot of that time outlining the rest of the books in the McAvery Brothers series.

How much research did you conduct for Colors of Usand what was the most interesting thing you did while conducting your research?

I always do extensive research for each of my stories. Colors of Us is based in the trendy SoHo section of New York City so I spent much time there to nail the setting as accurately as possible. One trip was made to confirm which streets are paved and which still have the original cobblestone. Here’s a little known fact, I shot the background photo used in the background of the cover of Colors of Us.

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

I’ll answer this with Ernest Hemingway’s quote: “The first draft of anything is shit.” I think of a rough draft as an artist’s sketch. The general idea is there but it’s still just ordinary. Layers of emotion and scene progression are necessary for the story to come to life and become extraordinary.

How do you make time to write?

My best friends are coffee and under eye concealer.

Who has had the most influence on your writing?

It’s not so much “who” as “what” has the most influence on my writing. I tend to find inspiration in the vibe of everyday life. Music, locations, even weather create and grow characters and plotlines.

What advice do you have for other writers?

Finish your book! So many writers ask me for advice on getting published but don’t have a finished manuscript. There’s a reason most publishers won’t commit to a book until it’s finished – it’s hard to finish! Take your book to completion, even if it’s not perfect. The exercise of writing a book from start to finish will help you do it again and again.

Why did you decide to become a romance author?

It’s all about the HEA, baby!

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

Honestly, the royalty check is just the icing. The most exciting thing about being a published author is hearing from readers who have dedicated their precious free time to read my work. Really, how awesome is that?

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

The heroine of Colors of Us is a survivor of sexual assault. However, Colors of Us is not a story about sexual assault. It’s about moving on, healing and beating down the demons that hold us back. But most of all it’s a romance complete with an HEA because with ugly comes beauty and with hurt comes healing. I hope that message comes out loud and clear

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

Don’t write for the trends. Write for yourself or choose a reader and write for that person. You can’t be everything to everyone.

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

My grandmother.

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

I read from my iPad’s Kindle app.

Tell us your latest news.

I’m taking Michelle, Hunter and the McAvery Bar crew on the road! I have a mini book tour planned and will be visiting Maryland, Las Vegas, and a few New Jersey locations and events.

What is your favorite music?

My current musical obsession is Ed Sheeran.

What is your favorite quote?

“Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing.” ~ Georgia O’Keeffe

If you were a millionaire would you still write?

Definitely.

Cat or dog person?

Dog.

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: Red

Favorite number: 11

Favorite Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio

Favorite Actress: Emma Stone

Wine or liquor? Martini, please

Tea or coffee? Big fan of both

Decaf or caffeinated? Is this really a question?

Boxers or briefs? Boxers

Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla

Donald Duck or Goofy? I’m more of a Pluto gal.

Frozen (the movie) or Tangled? Haven’t seen either…I’ve been writing!

Channing Tatum or Johnny Depp? Oooh…I have to go with Depp.

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

Registration closes October 4th!

Sandra Pesso

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NJRW Presents: “ANONYMOUS AUTHOR”

ANONYMOUS AUTHOR is NJRW’s way to give Editors and Agents the opportunity to listen to your work and possibly request your manuscript based on your writing. How many times have we all thought, “If only Editor/Agent X would just look at my manuscript?” Here’s your chance. Let your writing speak for itself.

We all know how important it is to make a good first impression. Manuscripts are no exception. Seasoned editors can usually tell from the very first page whether they’re holding a potential winner in their hands or just another candidate for the “reject” pile.

This is your big chance to find out what impression the first page of YOUR story makes with professional editors and agents.

The incomparable Anne Walradt, “The Voice of Romance” for the NJRW Golden Leaf awards ceremony, and published author and musical theater actress, RoseAnn DeFranco, will read aloud your first page (up to the first 200 words) of pre-submitted entries and the editors and agents will respond with on-the-spot, CANDID, UNCENSORED gut reactions.

Readings are “anonymous”—we will not identify the author or title of the manuscript. However, we strongly encourage you to include the market/genre (Ex: Paranormal, YA, Romantic Suspense, etc.). If an editor or agent requests a manuscript or partial as a result of the reading, you will be notified by the moderator after the session.  

 

Here’s How to Participate in NJRW’s ANONYMOUS AUTHOR:

 

First, you must be a registered attendee of the conference to participate. Attach up to the 200 words from the first page of your manuscript (Note: the words “Chapter One” or “Prologue” do not count in the total) to an email with the subject line “NJRW ANONYMOUS AUTHOR Submission.” Send it to Kiersten Hallie Krum at kiersten@kierstenkrum.com—be sure to include your contact information in the body of the email. (Please send first 200 words as a Microsoft Word attachment and format as follows: Double-spaced, in an industry-acceptable, READABLE font, or I’m going to roll my eyes and consign your entry to the bottom of the stack.)

 

Entries will be accepted after 5:00 AM on Monday, September 15th and up until 11:59 pm, September 30th. (If any entries are received prior to September 15th they will be rejected and invited to resubmit during the submission time.) Submissions will be numbered in the order they are received and will be read in that same order. Due to time constraints, we may be unable to read all the entries submitted, so get yours in sooner rather than later! This session may be taped as part of the conference program.

Remember—entries may be no more than the first 200 words from the first page of your manuscript! If any entries are longer, the moderator (me) will get to decide at what point Anne or RoseAnn stop reading instead of you. Please be mindful of that and make sure you stop in the place you believe will make the editors and agents beg for more!

 

 

Good luck to you all!

Kiersten Hallie Krum, Anonymous Author Chair

kiersten@kierstenkrum.com

In The Mind of Kristen Painter – 30 Years of Happily Ever Afters

This week we’re jumping over the hump with our featured workshop presenter and editor, Kristen Painter!

Kristen will be giving a workshop at our conference in October. Worldbuilding Through a Series is just one of many fabulous workshops we have scheduled.

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

Please welcome Kristen!

Why did you decide to write paranormal romance and urban fantasy?

It’s what I liked to read and the kinds of stories that have been in my head.

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 plan for major events, then I write toward them, always sequentially.

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

Nope. Just my brain.

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

One dirty draft, two – three revisions and then I’m pretty much done.

(Lucky girl!) What advice do you have for other writers?

Read as much as you can.

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

Probably signing books at New York Comic Con.

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

Sleeping more.

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

A new paranormal romance series that’s (hopefully) a little on the funny side.

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

Develop a thick skin.

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

I already have one but I can’t tell you what it is or I have to kill you.

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

Besides being warm and sunny, Florida is home to more romance writers than you can shake a stick at.

How would you describe yourself in five words?

Sarcastic, loyal, impatient, funny, tall.

If you were a millionaire would you still write?

Yes. I need shoes. A lot of shoes.

Cat or dog person?

CAT. We have six. There is no other option.

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: Purple

Favorite number: Seven

Favorite Actor: Cary Grant

Favorite Actress: Katharine Hepburn  

Wine or liquor? Vodka, but not often

Tea or coffee? Coffee      

Decaf or caffeinated? yes

Boxers or briefs? Neither

Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate

Donald Duck or Goofy? Agent P

Frozen (the movie) or Tangled? Neither. The Incredibles

Channing Tatum or Johnny Depp? I’m more a Vin Diesel kind of woman.

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

Registration closes October 4th!

KP-small2

In The Mind of Angela James – 30 Years of Happily Ever Afters

This week we’re jumping over the hump with our featured workshop presenter and editor, Angela James!

Angela will be giving a workshop at our conference in October. Your Copy Editor is Not Your Proofreader: Understanding Editor Roles & How to Hire the Right One is just one of many fabulous workshops we have scheduled.

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

Please welcome Angela!

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

I wish I had a superpower that would tell me where it’s going. Publishing is in an incredible state of change, it’s impossible to predict (it’s always been impossible to predict). I think the only true thing that we can say about the future of publishing is that there will still be publishing and people who want to read great books.

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

See the above question.

How would you describe yourself in five words?

Dedicated. Smart. Humorous. Strong. Adaptable.

What are you reading now?

I read over 300 books a year, my answer to this will have changed by tomorrow. My current genre obsessions are sexy contemporary romance, dark erotic thrillers, and fantasy romance.

What is your favorite quote?

My favorite quote is in picture below.

angela james funny

<laughs!> What’s your favorite place in the world to visit?

Italy. I fell in love with Italy when I was there in 2013. I loved everything about visiting there, all of the different parts of it I visited, including the language (which I absolutely don’t speak more than 20 words of). I can’t wait to go back.

Who’s your favorite hero?

I think I’m a cliché by saying this, but Roarke, from the JD Robb In Death series.

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

Nalini Singh, Shannon Stacey, JD Robb, Jayne Castle, Ilona Andrews, Julie James, Kristen Ashley

What’s your biggest dream?

The late Kate Duffy, who was last an editor at Kensington, made a tremendous impression on me and it’s really my dream to someday know that I made enough of an impression on the industry that people will remember me positively after I’ve left it.

Cat or dog person?

I have 2 dogs and 3 cats, I think I qualify as both!

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: Favorite anything questions are hard for me because I rarely have a favorite anything! I like to spread my love around 😉

Wine or liquor? Both, why choose!

Tea or coffee? Tea

Decaf or caffeinated? Decaf. I gave up caffeine 6 years ago. I know this seems impossible for someone working in publishing, but it’s true.

Boxers or briefs? Boxer briefs. I love a man in boxer briefs. But if my husband is reading this, then I mean I love you in boxer briefs, honey.

Chocolate or vanilla? Is it ice cream? Neither. I’m not really a fan of ice cream but if I eat it, I prefer something like mint chocolate chip or butter pecan.

Donald Duck or Goofy? Donald Duck is possibly the most annoying, self-indulgent character Disney ever created.

Frozen (the movie) or Tangled? Frozen. It makes me laugh because my 9 y/o is totally over the soundtrack so we randomly sing snippets of “Do you wanna build a snowman” to her when she least expects it.

Channing Tatum or Johnny Depp? David Beckham. (Ha! Me, too!)

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

Registration closes October 4th!

Angela James

New Jersey Romance Writers PYHIAB Contest Finalists!

Without further ado, and in no particular order, the finalists in the 2014 Put Your Heart in a Book contest are…

 

Historical

Laurie Benson – Sex, Lies, and Portrait Painters*

Marnee Bailey – A Dangerous Chemistry*

Lesli Lent – Dreamer

 

Paranormal

Christy Gronlund – Shadow Dancer

Alleyne Dickens – Stalking Horse

Helen King – Stealing Ever After

 

Romantic Suspense

Brooke Kaylor – Gun for Hire

Helen Jones – Fatal Deadline

Ottilia Scherschel – Daring the Dragon

 

Contemporary Series

Debora Noone – The Prince’s Son

Sophia Bennett – Everything You Want

Tanya Angler – Mistletoe Misgivings

 

Single Title Category

Margaret-Mary Jaeger – Cooking with Kandy

Jennifer Sanchez – First Blush

Adriana Anderson – Blank Canvas

 

Young Adult

Jessica Ruddick – Birthright

Julie Glover – Sharing Hunter

Ann LaBar – Prom Theory

 

*denotes NJRW member

 

Congratulations! Have you registered for this year’s conference? For more information on how to, please find us at http://www.njromancewriters.org.

In The Mind of Nancy Herkness – 30 Years of Happily Ever Afters

This week we’re jumping over the hump with our featured workshop presenter and fabulous romance author,Nancy Herkness! Nancy will be giving a workshop at our conference in October, Sell Your Book, Not Your Sould: How to Write a Commercial Book of Your Heart, 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 Nancy!

How did you come up with the idea for the Whisper Horse series?

I grew up in a small town in the mountains of West Virginia, so that seemed a natural setting for my series. Thinking of my younger years reminded me of my pony Papoose, who was my constant companion back then. So I decided to put horses in my series. As I strolled down memory lane, I remembered telling Papoose all my troubles, especially when I was an angsty teenager. I always felt better after I did. That was where I got the idea that in my fictional town of Sanctuary, people find a special Whisper Horse who helps share their burdens.

What was it about your book that made your editor want to buy the first Whisper horse novel TAKE ME HOME?

Hmm, that’s a good question. I’ll have to ask her. LOL! I do remember her mentioning she was blown away by the pacing and the emotional depth. She loved the payoff of Claire and Tim’s first kiss after all the build-up.

What was the most difficult aspect of writing your most recent release THE PLACE I BELONG (coming June 3rd)?

I hated how much I had to make my chef hero Adam Bosch suffer. He’s a recovering alcoholic so he had a dark road to walk before he could believe himself worthy of Hannah and Matt’s love.

How much research did you conduct for THE PLACE I BELONG and what was the most interesting thing you did while conducting your research?

My research encompassed three major elements: veterinary medicine, alcoholism, and being a chef. Quite a mix! Researching what it was like to be an executive chef was the most fun. I was forced—forced!—to eat at the fabulous Barcelona Wine Bar in Greenwich, CT, where my critique partner’s son is the area director. I sat at the chef’s table and peppered the poor head chef with question after question as he was handling all the crises of a busy night’s business while serving me exquisite food. I was so stuffed by the end of the night that I practically rolled home.

Why did you decide to write contemporary romance?

While I love reading historical romance, I like the edge that contemporary romance offers. And I’m much too lazy to do all the research required to be historically accurate.

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 pants. I start with the two main characters, their conflicts both internal and external, and an ending scene. I think about those three elements a lot before I write a single word. Then I sit down at the computer, type Chapter 1, and go straight through from there. Although it sounds very logical and efficient, I take many detours and sometimes get lost which is why it requires a good nine months for me to write a full-length novel.

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

Chocolate, a thesaurus, and walking the dogs. Chocolate is self-explanatory. The thesaurus is a necessity because my mental retrieval system is not what it used to be; I know there’s a perfect word for my sentence but I have to see it to remember it. I walk the dogs to get my brain unblocked. Literal forward motion seems to help when I can’t figure out what comes next. Physical movement breaks through the psychological barrier.

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

My first draft is very clean, but as my critique partners will tell you, I generally need to amp up the conflict because, as I mentioned in question 3, I am soft-hearted when it comes to my characters. Those conflicts are what generally gets added during revisions.

How do you make time to write?

When I had children at home, I wrote every morning right after I dropped them off at school. Now that my daughter and son are both out on their own, I appear to have more time to write, but feel like I have less. I blame Facebook.

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

Writers are control freaks so I am almost always in the driver’s seat. However, there are a few wonderful moments when a character shows some new facet of himself or herself I wasn’t expecting. Sometimes that takes the plot in a new direction. Those are gifts from the Muse and to be honored.

Who has had the most influence on your writing?

My college creative writing teachers, who were all working poets. They showed me how to handle criticism constructively and without taking it personally. They also taught me that it doesn’t matter what I think I said; it only matters what the reader thinks I said.

What advice do you have for other writers?

Read both in your genre and outside it. Absorb the structure of story into your bones so it comes to you without conscious thought. When you set out on the first draft, have fun and write it just for yourself. You can think about pleasing editors, agents, and readers when you do the revisions. Finish the book; it’s amazing how many people don’t. Then write another one. If you want to succeed as a published author, you have to be able to produce good books regularly.

Why did you decide to become a romance author?

I fell in love with Mr. Rochester in JANE EYRE at an early age, then moved on to Georgette Heyer and Kathleen Woodiwiss. Romance has always been my comfort read. When I commuted to New York City, I read romance on the PATH train, running through all my favorite authors rapidly and finding it difficult to discover more good romances. So I decided I would write the kind of romance that I wanted to read.

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

I was in the car with my husband and two children, driving south to celebrate Thanksgiving with my extended family when my cell phone rang.
Back then, only the babysitter called my cell so I had to really dig to the bottom of my pocketbook to find it. When I answered, I was shocked to hear my agent’s voice. She told me Berkley wanted to buy A BRIDGE TO LOVE. I have no idea what I said in return, but after I got off the phone, there was a lot of “I can’t believe it!” and hyperventilating. My children were young and had no idea why mommy was behaving so oddly. It was a grand Thanksgiving.

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

Walking into my local Barnes and Noble and seeing my book on the shelf was a major thrill. It made the whole publishing experience concrete. My husband took a photo of me standing next to my book right before a Barnes and Noble clerk told us photography was not allowed in the store. To this day, that rule puzzles me.

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

Dancing with the New York City Ballet. (If only.)

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

That publishing is a strange combination of commerce and art. You have to write great books that are also commercially viable. I’m giving a workshop called “Sell Your Book, Not Your Soul” about combining these two aspects of publishing because that was one of the hardest lessons for me to learn.

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

If only I had a crystal ball! I think more and more books will be published, by publishers large and small and by authors themselves. Therefore, the name of the game will become that awful word “discoverability”. Anyone who figures out how to make their books stand out from the crowd will be successful. So I’m always trying to imagine what that amazing new marketing idea will be, because it changes all the time.

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

A Kindle Paperwhite. I love it because I can enlarge the print and read easily after a long day at the computer.

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

I snorkeled with sea lions, penguins, and hammerhead sharks in the Galapagos. The coldest and scariest thing I’ve ever done is fall out of the raft while whitewater rafting in Alaska. I’m not really an adventurous person, so those two situations were way out of my usual comfort zone.

Tell us your latest news.

My second Whisper Horse novel COUNTRY ROADS was nominated for a RITA™ award! Right after that, I signed a two-book deal with my publisher Montlake Romance for a new series about three sexy billionaires who meet in an exclusive New York Club and make a wager about finding true love. It was a good couple of weeks!

What is your favorite quote?

My favorite writing quote is by Jack London: “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

Where do you write?

I write in a small room on the third floor of my house, right up under the eaves. I call it my garret, as in artists starving in their garrets. It has a lovely arched window that looks out over my backyard. The rest of the room is a mess.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing all my life, but I date my writing career as beginning the year I sold A BRIDGE TO LOVE, so that would be 2001. It was published in 2003. Boy, was that a long wait!

If you were a millionaire would you still write?

It’s a terrible addiction.

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: Purple, it’s regal.

Favorite number: I’m a writer so I have favorite words, not numbers.

Favorite Actor: Tommy Lee Jones.

Favorite Actress: Cate Blanchett.

Wine or liquor? Champagne.

Tea or coffee? Peppermint tea.

Decaf or caffeinated? Decaf.

Boxers or briefs? Boxer briefs.

Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate, preferably dark.

Donald Duck or Goofy? Never been a classic Disney cartoon fan.

Frozen (the movie) or Tangled? Frozen.

Channing Tatum or Johnny Depp? Hugh Jackman.

Want to meet or attend Nancy’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 Leigh Duncan – 30 Years of Happily Ever Afters

This week we’re jumping over the hump with our featured workshop presenter and fabulous romance author, Leigh Duncan!

Leigh will be giving a workshop at our conference in October, A Walk in the Plot, 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 Leigh!

How did you come up with the idea for The Bull Rider’s Family?

A number of factors came together when I started working on The Bull Rider’s Family.  First, readers loved, loved, loved Rancher’s Son, and I received quite a few emails and letters asking for more stories set on the Circle P, the ranch Seth Judd managed. At the same time, my editor wanted me to stretch a little by writing a series. In Rancher’s Son I’d given Seth and his wife, Doris, five grown sons. At the time, I didn’t know why that was important, but I fell in love with these five tall, dark-haired former rodeo stars the moment they appeared on the page at their father’s funeral.  And I knew, starting with Colt, they each deserved to find love and begin new lives on the spread their family had ranched for four generations. 

How long did it take you to write The Bull Rider’s Family?

According to my contract, I should have 4 months to write each book.  But edits on the previous book eat into that…a bit.

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

The Bull Rider’s Family combines many of the key ingredients our readers expect to find in Harlequin American Romances.  It’s a family-centered story, set in a small town (or, in this case, on a ranch), and—bonus!!—it features hunky cowboys.

I love hunky cowboys. <g> What was the most difficult aspect of writing The Bull Rider’s Family?

Getting the details right, I guess.  Which is why the answer to the next question was so important.

How much research did you conduct for the Glades County Cowboys series and what was the most interesting thing you did while conducting your research?

I’ve lived in Florida most of my life, so I already knew a lot about the Sunshine State.  But working on Rancher’s Son and the three (so far) books in the Glades County Cowboys series meant learning more about cattle ranching.  Did you know Florida is the 3rd largest beef-producing state east of the Mississippi?  Neither did I, when I started Rancher’s Son.  Fortunately, my cousin, Paula Crews, owns a ranch in South Florida.  Visiting her, listening to her stories and spending time caring for her cattle, that was by far the most interesting—and best—research I did for The Bull Rider’s Family.

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 never was much of a Sunday driver. I’ve always had a destination in mind before I slipped behind the wheel.  I approach writing in much the same way.  Before I open my laptop, I break out character and outline sheets.  I know all the major plot points, the twists and turns when I start working on that first scene. There are still surprises.  A hero who finds his life purpose in helping a kid play baseball.  A heroine who chooses what’s best for her children over her new love.  Enough surprises to keep me and, I hope, the readers, turning the pages.

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

One of the great things about writing for Harlequin is their fantastic editorial staff.  Each book goes through at least three edits:  a revision, which addresses the broad-stroke problems, like a black moment that really isn’t; a line-and-copy edit which takes a very close look at word choices, sentence structure and flow;  and a final pass, called Author Alterations, to catch any errors that crept in or got overlooked during the previous edits.

How do you make time to write?

When I worked full-time and had children at home, I’d set the alarm for four a.m. and write for a couple of hours before the rest of the house stirred.  Once my kids were out on their own and I didn’t have to work outside the home, I wasn’t prepared for how difficult it would be to carve out writing time.  It seemed like everyone expected me to run their errands since I wasn’t “working.”  Fortunately, I have a great group of writing friends—Roxanne St. Claire, Kristen Painter and Lara Santiago—and we were all in the same situation.  Together, we started Writers Camp.  We meet three or four times a week at each other’s dining room tables.  There are rules!  No cell phones, email or on-line shopping.  No lunch until everyone at the table has written 1000 words. We routinely work until 5 each day and have produced more than 30 published books in the past three years.  No matter what your circumstances, it takes dedication to be a writer. 

What advice do you have for other writers?

Soooo much advice.  First, get serious about writing as early as you possibly can.  Don’t wait until your kids are in school…or are grown…or you have more time.  Like with any career, it can take years to build a successful track record and following in writing. Every year you let slip by without finishing your book is a year you can’t get back. Don’t. Wait.

At the same time, don’t be in too great a hurry to publish.  Learn the craft. Enter contests.  Get feedback.  Don’t assume the editor who rejected your work is off her rocker and self-pub, not until you’ve take the time to learn the craft. Rushing to publish a story before every word sparkles only hurts you as a writer.

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

There are so many “firsts” after you sign your first contract.  Your first book signing—mine was at Turn The Page Books with Nora Roberts! The first time you see your book on the shelves—hubby took pictures!  Your first fan mail. The first time you win a contest as a published author.  Recently, I was buying some cookie mix at a craft fair, and the owners of the booth recognized my name.  Now, that was the most exciting moment I’ve had in a long time. 

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

They are my most ardent supporters.

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

Look for The Bull Rider’s Family from Harlequin American Romance in May 2014.  This is the first book in the Glades County Cowboys series and takes readers back to the Circle P Ranch they first fell in love with in Rancher’s Son. The next book in this series, His Favorite Cowgirl will be available in October, followed by Rancher’s Lullaby next spring.   

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

I think I’m pretty safe in predicting that, no matter what else changes, talented writers who take the time to learn the craft and perfect their work will find a publisher.

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

I recently traded up from my dependable Nook to an Ipad Air. This way, I can have my Nook and Kindle, too, through apps.  

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

Oh, I don’t think I’d like one! No skulking around as the Invisible Gal, listening in on conversations or reading the minds of those around me.  I’d probably hear or learn things I didn’t want to know.

I see your point, although in my 9-5, that’d make life easier! <g> What are you reading now?

I run the Romance Readers Circle at my local Barnes & Noble, and this month’s selection was Crazy Thing Called Love by Rita finalist Molly O’Keefe.  Loved it!

What is your favorite quote?

As a writer of women’s fiction, I might not save the world, but I might save one woman for one afternoon.   –Barbara Samuel

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

Wherever my children and my husband are.

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

Roxanne St. Claire—I think I have everything she’s written

Kristen Painter—love her urban fantasy!

Lily Everett—she’s a great story teller

All the Harlequin American authors

Cat or dog person?

Dogs.  I don’t have one now, but wish I did.

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

One of the best days in planning a new book is the day I determine what the hero and heroine look like.  For me, that involves combing through photos of actors, actresses and celebrities until I find just the right “look.” Previous heroes have included Patrick “McDreamy” Dempsey, Ian Somerhalder and Blake Shelton. 

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: Seven

Favorite Actor: Timothy Oliphant

Favorite Actress: Meryl Streep

Wine or liquor? Wine, a dry red

Tea or coffee? Both

Decaf or caffeinated? AM or PM?

Boxers or briefs? They both have their good points

Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate, unless it’s Haagen-Dazs

Donald Duck or Goofy? Goofy

Frozen (the movie) or Tangled? Tangled

Channing Tatum or Johnny Depp? Dr. McDreamy

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

Leigh Duncan