Archive | March 2015

Interview with romance author Jennifer Hayward.

Today, we have romance author Jennifer Hayward on the blog! Welcome, Jennifer, and thank you for joining us!

B - Jennifer - Wide Shot

AN: How did become a published author?

JH: Well, ages ago I wrote three chapters and submitted to Harlequin/Mills & Boon in London. A senior editor at the time said she liked my writing, but not to resubmit that particular story. Over the years I went to conferences and did online/offline courses that helped me immeasurably. I also read a lot of craft books. I had a few rejections on partial manuscripts from Harlequin during that time. The rejections hurt but I had some amazing mentors along the way and it kept me going, that and my love of writing. I finally had success when I submitted to a Harlequin pitch competition and finalled in that competition and was asked to submit three chapters. That manuscript was sitting on my editor’s desk when I entered and won Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write in 2012 for my first contract.

AN: What was that like when you got “the call”?

JH: The call was amazing because it was when I won So You Think You Can Write. The whole journey of the contest was a roller coaster ride and I was so excited and happy to win amongst all that amazing competition. The book I won with, The Divorce Party, is so close to my heart. The timeline for me getting published is hard to quantify as I started writing years ago but sporadically off and on. When I went freelance almost four years ago and really focused on the writing, I sold The Divorce Party about a year-and-a-half after that. It was the third full manuscript I’d finished.

AN: Tell us what a day for you is like, in terms of writing.

JH: I have always been very disciplined about writing. Even before I was published I would sit down and write for a whole afternoon or morning whenever I had my other work finished. Now I sit down with a cup of coffee in the morning and write until five or six or if I’m on deadline, maybe again at night. I generally write seven days a week when I’m writing a book as my head is so deep into it and I don’t like to lose the flow. I take breaks in between books. My husband built me a fab little desk in our sunny living room – I write there. I used to write in coffee shops but I got so caught up in what was happening around me I wasn’t so productive. Not sure it’s a quirk but I really LOVE coffee when I write. Oh and when I won So You Think You Can Write I had a lucky orchid on my desk so I always keep flowers on my desk!

AN: Was the publishing process what you expected it to be?

JH: I think it was really. There’s always things you learn as you go, but I think I had good mentors that gave me the inside scoop beforehand.

AN: Do you have any words of wisdom or advice for my readers hoping to publish a book? If you could go back and talk to yourself when you were just starting out, before you had any success, what would you say?

JH: My number one piece of advice is to allow your voice to shine. I didn’t sell when I wrote the books I thought my publisher wanted. I sold when I wrote with my full personality and love of the book engaged – I just put all of me down on the page – wrote the book of my heart. I didn’t get self conscious, I just lived those characters as if they were next door. Yes some lines have required elements but you have to be an individual within that line, bring something new to the table to sell. I would also say go to as many conferences, courses you can- learn as much as you can, take what works for you and let the rest go. There are so many great resources out there.

AN: Can you tell us a little bit about your latest/upcoming release?

JH: My new release is called The Italian’s Deal For I Do. It’s the kick off book for Harlequin Presents Society Weddings series. I truly don’t think I’ve ever had such a fun time writing a book and getting to work with other great authors in the series. There is such a soulfulness to this book for me, I just love Rocco and Olivia so much. I think the back cover blurb says it best:

The Italian's Deal for I Do

The Irresistible Italian: Married for Business 

He’s conquered global markets and immeasurable hearts, but to regain control of the fashion empire that’s rightfully his, Rocco Mondelli must prove his playboy days are over. His secret weapon? Supermodel-in-hiding Olivia Fitzgerald…and the power to ruin her if she refuses to play his loving fiancée!

But returning to the world stage revives Olivia’s old demons, and instead of walking down the aisle toward her gorgeous groom—she flees! The world holds its breath: Can the indomitable Rocco get his wayward bride to the altar on time?

The world’s sexiest billionaires finally say “I do”!

If you’d like a taste of the Society Weddings series I’ve written a prequel story that’s free on Harlequin’s website called Society Wedding Secrets. It’s a fun, debaucherous romp I hope you’ll enjoy!

You can find Jennifer Hayward’s latest book here:

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You can find out more about Jennifer Hayward here:

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Interview with romance author Rachel Brimble.

Today, we are lucky enough to have romance author Rachel Brimble on the blog! Thank you, Rachel, for being here with us!

Me - Ashford Aug 2014

AN: How did become a published author?

RB: My first book (Searching For Sophie) was published in 2007 after several years of rejections and rewriting. To be a published author takes a lot of hard work, determination…and a very thick skin. Once you have queried a book, try to forget about it and start writing your next one. You can never tell which book is going to make it and which isn’t, so it’s important to enjoy every part of the process.

AN: What was that like when you got “the call” for your first sale to Harlequin? How long did you write before you became published?

RB: It was fantastic! There was a lot of screaming and dancing, believe me J Finding Justice was my seventh full-length novel and when I was writing it I had no idea it would end up being the first of an ongoing series with Harlequin Superromance. Writing for Harlequin was, and still is, a dream come true.

AN: Tell us what a day for you is like, in terms of writing.

RB: I am lucky enough to be a stay at home mum to two teenage girls so I am able to write whenever the family schedule allows it. I treat my writing like a full-time job, so I am at the computer by 8.30am and work through to 5.30pm with an hour break for lunch. I also write as much as possible at the weekend…when my husband and kids aren’t looking, of course!

AN: Was the publishing process what you expected it to be? How did it differ?

RB: The publishing process was nothing like I imagined, lol! The biggest eye-opener was the amount of promotion involved and how many times you see your manuscript before it is published. Writing nowadays is about so much more than the actual writing – for any aspiring authors out there, be prepared to schedule editing and a hefty amount of promotion into your working day.

AN: Do you have any words of wisdom or advice for my readers hoping to publish a book? If you could go back and talk to yourself when you were just starting out, before you had any success, what would you say?

RB: The best advice I have ever received and like to pass on whenever I can is give yourself permission to write a “crappy” first draft. Once I followed this advice my daily word count tripled! Plan out your characters and an idea of where you’d like the story to go and then just write. Listen to the characters and follow their lead rather than push your ideas on them – go with the flow. You’ll be surprised how much easier the writing is and hopefully how much you enjoy the creative side. Once you have the words on the page and the draft is done, whipping it into shape is so much more enjoyable. At least for me, anyway!

AN: Can you tell us a little bit about your latest/upcoming release?

RB: My latest Harlequin release is CHRISTMAS AT THE COVE. This is my first Christmas story and the fourth book in the series – but all the books can be read stand-alone.

Cover 1

More family for Christmas?

Scott Walker doesn’t have time for a relationship. The sexy mechanic has career ambitions, not to mention a mother and three sisters to take care of. The last thing he needs is Carrie Jameson, the beauty he never forgot, arriving in Templeton Cove over the holidays with some unexpected news.

Scott still finds Carrie irresistible, and he’s not one to shirk responsibility. Scott’s issues with his own dad make the prospect of parenthood a minefield. But if he and Carrie can overcome their fears, this Christmas could bring them the best gift of all.

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You can find author Rachel Brimble here:

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Interview with Harlequin Presents author Michelle Smart.

Today, we are lucky enough to have Harlequin Presents author Michelle Smart on the blog. Thank you so much, Ms. Smart, for being here with us!

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AN: How did you become a published author?

MS: I became a published author because I was lucky enough to write a book that an editor wanted to buy! That might sound like a facetious answer but it truly isn’t – in this industry there is an element of luck in that you have to get your book in front of an editor who is grabbed by your story and especially grabbed by your voice. I’ve always been a bookworm and always loved writing but it wasn’t until 2008, when my hubby and I went to Rome for our Wedding Anniversary that the romance bug truly bit me again and I decided it was time to do the one thing I’d promised myself since I was a teenager – to write my own Mills & Boon (what Harlequin books are published under in the UK)! My first two submissions were rejected at the partial stage, my third involved an R&R on my partial, which was also subsequently rejected, but then with my fourth submission I was invited to send in the full manuscript. It went through three rounds of revisions but was ultimately rejected. However, the editor I’d been working with had complete faith in me and invited me to write something new with her guidance (that’s what I mean about an author’s voice having to grab an editor – if she hadn’t seen something in my voice she enjoyed so much, she would never have gone out on a limb to help me craft a story right from its conception stage).  This book sold within a week of me sending the full in to her!

I can’t speak for any other publishing house but with Harlequin there is none of the ‘it’s not what you know it’s who you know’ business. I didn’t attend a single conference or enter a single pitch contest before I was signed (although I did enter the Mills & Boon New Voices competition twice and got absolutely nowhere!). I got noticed through the slush pile. I love the slush pile!

 

AN: What was that like when you got “the call”? How long did you write before you became published?

MS: Even though I was working under an editor, The Call was the most enormous surprise of my life! I don’t think there can be a single author alive who, after submitting to Harlequin, hasn’t dreamt of The Call, myself included, but when mine came it took me completely by surprise. For a start, the book hadn’t undergone any revisions, plus it had only been on the editor’s desk for a week. However, my editor had been offered a new job working for Harlequin’s single titles, so sped-read mine and made the call on her last day working for the category lines. She called me at 5.15pm. I was lying on the sofa suffering from the flu (oh, woe is me!) and it was one of those crazy moments in your life where everything is etched in your memory but etched as a blur! It took me almost five years to get there but it was worth every minute of it. I now have the best job in the world J

 

AN: Can you tell us what a day for you is like, in terms of writing?

MS: I can only really write when the kids are at school so as soon as they’re gone, I’ll have a (very) quick tidy-up then sit on the sofa with the laptop on a cushion on my lap and get writing… Okay, I don’t exactly get writing immediately. There’s always a good hour of procrastination to be done first. I write until the kids come home and also often write in the evenings when they’re in bed. My only real habit (apart from hourly coffee) is that I need to listen to music when I write. As long as I have my earphones and some caffeine, I’m good to go.

 

AN: Do you have any words of wisdom or advice for my readers hoping to publish a book? If you could go back and talk to yourself when you were just starting out, what would you say?

MS: My words of wisdom really only applies to people wanting to sub to Harlequin’s category lines – read as many of them as you can! I devoured every Presents/Modern that released (I still do) because that was and is my absolute favourite category line. Also, don’t think about it too much: some hopeful category writers approach writing a category as if there’s a checklist that needs to be ticked off (yes, I am raising my hand up as being guilty of that when I started!). But my main bit of advice is the old adage of ‘practice makes perfect.’ The more you write, the more it becomes like second nature. Consume the books and then, when you sit down and write, let your characters consume you.

If I could go back in time and talk to myself, I wouldn’t say anything. The route I took was the right route for me. The rejections didn’t knock me back – I knew that I was on a learning curve and getting closer and closer to my dream, so those rejections just made me more determined to get it right.

 

You can find out more about Michelle Smart here.

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Her next Presents releases in May. You can pre-order it here.