A Chat with Hybrid Romance Author Audra North

AudraNorthOur guest on the blog is Audra North, contemporary romance author of more than twenty romances, including the Stanton Family series from Entangled Publishing, the Hard Driving series from St. Martin’s Press, and the Pushing the Boundaries series from Samhain Publishing. She’s the owner and publisher of Pink Kayak Press, which focuses on the publication of diverse romance works. Winter Rain, a Pink Kayak Press anthology, won a gold medal in the 2015 Independent Publisher Awards. Audra enjoys speaking to writing groups and at industry conferences. She’s also an avid jogger and loves running marathons. She has three children and lives with her family outside of Boston.

Cara: Welcome, Audra! Tell us a little bit about yourself and your writing. What made you want to write romance?

Audra: I’ve been reading romance for nearly 20 years and it’s the only genre I’ve consistently loved. When I had my second child and quit my job, there were a lot of quiet hours for the first couple of months of his life, and I decided to fill them by trying my hand at writing one of the books I loved so much. It probably helps that we don’t watch TV in my house… those long hours required some project to make them pass more quickly!

Cara: For a lot of us romance authors, it all started with our love of reading. What do you like to read?

Audra: I love to read contemporary romance, historical romance, and nonfiction books. I love parenting books, books about marketing, and books full of interesting anecdotes about the history of an object, such as Salt by Mark Kurlansky or Color by Victoria Finlay.

Cara: Tell us about your path to publication. Do you have an agent?

Audra: I do, and she’s amazing. Courtney Miller-Callihan of Handspun Literary is my agent and has been for two years. She does a stellar job of placing work at traditional pubs and is really supportive of hybrid authors and self-publishing, as well. Not many agents are like her and I’m really lucky to have her on my team.

Cara: When you sit down to write, do you plot your stories or wing it?

Audra: I plot plot plot! I have a heavy writing schedule with a mix of traditional books and self-published ones, so I have to have an efficient plan for writing in order not to fall behind. That includes detailed plots for my works.

Cara: In today’s crowded marketplace, discoverability is all-important. How much promotion do you do?

Pushing Her Luck 1600x2400Audra: I used to do only a little promotion, like a couple of blog posts and release day tweets. But since I’ve started self-publishing more, I’ve learned a lot, and now I understand just how much is required. It’s a lot more than I was doing, I’ll tell you that! I recently hired a PR firm, Barclay Publicity, to help me. The Barclay team has been doing such an amazing job, and I’m so happy to finally have that part of my career moving in the right direction.

Cara: What’s next for you?

Audra: I have a book out on June 14th from St. Martin’s Press. Crossing the Line is the third book in my NASCAR-inspired series. The second book in my Lucky in Love series is due out later this year, and I have a women’s fiction project in the works that I’m hoping to wrap up by the end of the year.

Cara: Wow, 2016 is a busy year for you! Thanks for taking time out of your schedule to chat with us. Good luck with all your releases!

A Chat with Romance Author Heather McGovern

We’ve got Heather McGovern on the blog today, chatting about her newest novel, her path to publication, and the power of perseverance.

Before we dive into the interview, here’s a bit of background on Heather:

image1Mild mannered corporate employee by day, glitter-throwing author by night, Heather McGovern grew up thinking she’d either be a herpetologist – frog scientist to be exact – or Wonder Woman. Born in the Upstate of South Carolina, she moved to Charleston to attend the College of Charleston and graduated with a BS in Biology. After realizing she didn’t want to work in a lab or go to college for 8 more years, she moved back to the Upstate. She still lives there, in the Magical McGovy Forest, with her husband, son, and plenty of pond frogs. If she’s not working on a computer somewhere, she’s playing superheroes with her son, and he always lets her be Wonder Woman.

Cara: Welcome to the blog, Heather! Let’s start with the basics. What genre do you currently write, and have you considered other genres?

Heather: Contemporary Romance. I started off as a Paranormal Romance hopeful and a few PNR ideas still simmer in the back of my mind. I’d also love to write YA at some point – when there are 28 hours in a day.

Cara: What made you want to write romance?

Heather: Without question: the HEA and the sex. Real life, and all of its adulting, is hard work. There’s nothing like settling down with a story that gives you hope and warm fuzzy feelings at the resolution. Tack on the love and sultry sex scenes, and how is that not a win/win? I started reading romance novels to help cope with or escape the every day. Then I realized I wanted to write these stories; give back to others and maybe make their lives a little more enjoyable.

Cara: I agree with you completely about the HEA…and the sex too, of course! Do you belong to a critique group?

Heather: I do. I have 3 amazing Critique Partners who I can call on, depending on schedules and levels of desperation. I strongly recommend every writer find the right CP. CPs don’t have to come in groups. None of my CPs critique for each other, but I read for them and they do for me, and we’re all friends. The right match is vital. CPs are the life partners of the authoring world. Mine are stuck with me forever, because there’s no way I’m letting go.

Cara: The right CPs make this crazy business bearable, don’t they? Tell us about your path to publication.  What have you published to date?

Heather: A long and winding path to be sure. I began writing back in 2009, but then I was pregnant and all writing and plans for publication went on pause. I started back up in 2011, working on a Paranormal series. While chipping away at that, a friend and I co-wrote a m/m contemporary (just for fun) and submitted it to several digital houses. Turned out, they all wanted to publish it. We went with Loose Id and it was a wonderful decision. We now have 2 books out with LI, under the penname Sam Morgan, and another coming out sometime later this year. As for my solo-career, I stopped pursuing Paranormal and began writing Contemporary Romance. I queried and found my agent, Nicole Resciniti, and in 2015 she sold my Honeywilde Romance series in a 3-book deal to Kensington Publishing.

Cara: Congratulations, Heather! Tell us about your latest book.

image1-1Heather: A MOMENT OF BLISS comes out August 16, 2016. It’s Book 1 in my Honeywilde series, about the three Bradley brothers and their adopted sister, who inherit the family’s mountain resort on the brink of failure. The Bradleys grew up in the shadow of their parents’ tumultuous relationship, so as they work to save Honeywilde, they’re also working to save each other. A MOMENT OF BLISS is the story of Roark, the steadfast and responsible, if cynical, oldest brother who was forced into being the family leader at too early an age, and Madison, a no-nonsense event planner who has to pull off the perfect celebrity wedding if she’s going to survive on her own. The two are strong willed, lightning-in-a-bottle personalities, but they must lean on each other in order to have the wedding of the year and any hope at happiness.

Cara: Sounds like a fun series! Before I let you get back to writing it, can you share some advice for aspiring writers?

Heather: Never ever give up. Ever. The craft of writing is a joy. It’s a journey that will introduce you to amazing people and experiences. You’ll discover things about yourself and learn more about your inner workings than you probably wanted to know. The job of being an author is tough. Gird your loins, and then go ahead and gird them even more. Publishing, marketing, sales, and the whole business end of writing is a wild ride that can whittle away at your confidence. Don’t let it. Find a way to persevere and find people who will take the wild ride with you. Together, you can remind each other to never give up. EVER.

Cara: That’s good advice, Heather. Thanks for sharing it and for stopping by the blog. Good luck with your new series!

Keep up with Heather on social media:

Website: heathermcgovernnovels.com

Facebook: Facebook.com/Heather.McGovern.Novels

Twitter: @HeatherMcGovern

As a regular blogger: badgirlzwrite.com

A Chat with Elia Winters, Author of Geeky, Kinky Romance

Cara: Our guest on the blog today is erotic romance author Elia Winters, who presented our chapter’s April workshop on Romance Tropes and Feminism. Before we get down to chatting, here’s a bit of background on Elia.

Elia Winters has always been a New England girl. Although she spent much of her childhood in Florida, she returned to her home state of Massachusetts as a teenager and has remained in New England ever since. She was blessed with an artsy, creative, somewhat quirky family that nurtured her eccentricities and helped shape her into the sassy woman she is today.

Elia holds a degree in English Literature and teaches at a small rural high school where she runs too many extracurricular activities. She balances her love of the outdoors with a bottomless well of geekiness; in her spare time, she is equally likely to be found skiing, camping, playing tabletop games, or watching Doctor Who.

A writer all her life, Elia likes to dabble in many genres, but erotic romance has been one of her favorites since she first began sneaking her mother’s romance novels. In high school, she kept her friends entertained with a steady stream of naughty stories and somehow never got caught passing them around. Her erotic fiction and poetry have been published online at Clean Sheets and Scarlet Letters under a different name. She loves BDSM erotica and men who can use semicolons.

Elia currently lives in New England with her loving husband and their odd assortment of pets.

Cara: Thanks for joining me today, Elia! With your eclectic—and geeky!—background, what made you want to write romance?

Elia: I didn’t set out to be an erotic romance author. I have been writing novels since high school, writing across multiple genres, with multiple failed attempts at publication (which I’ll get to in the next question). At the same time, though, I’ve held a great fascination with romance. I used to sneak my mother’s romance novels and became adept at skimming through them for the sex scenes and then replacing them exactly as she’d left them. I started writing my own steamy scenes at about the same time. These became very popular with my friends: we’d pass them around at school – Catholic school, of course – and somehow never got caught. Even so, I didn’t think about writing a full-length romance novel until my tenth year participating in National Novel Writing Month. I decided that year, I’d write a book just for me, something that catered to all my kinks. Ironically, once I finished that book, I realized it was my best book so far, and I set about publishing it.

Cara: Another NaNoWriMo success story—I love it! Tell us about your path to publication. What have you published to date?

Elia: If you only look at my first published book, my road to publication seems very straightforward, even enviably so, but there were many failed publication attempts beforehand. I started trying to become a published novelist in high school, back in the days of paper submissions and SASEs, a lot of money in postage, and endless rejection letters. I wasn’t querying agents, back then, but only publishing houses that took unagented submissions. When that didn’t work, I queried agents, to again receive many polite replies of “no.” I stopped trying to publish for a while, then, and began writing for me, only for fun. I participated in National Novel Writing Month year after year, wrote a novel for my undergraduate capstone project, and finally managed to draft a novel that I’d been trying to write for years, a high fantasy called Finding Frost. Over the next few years, I revised that novel in my spare time while continuing to draft new novels. I gave it to beta readers, revised endlessly, and finally polished it as much as I could. Then I began querying it to agents. In the meantime, I wrote Purely Professional, my “just for fun” BDSM erotic romance. I kept getting rejections for Finding Frost, and the more I worked on Purely Professional, the more I realized that my other novels just weren’t very good. It was a difficult realization. My high fantasy couldn’t hold the attention of beta readers, it was fairly derivative, and it didn’t have any kind of spark. I set it aside, and mostly for curiosity’s sake, started looking for agents who represent erotic romance.

When I found Saritza Hernandez, I knew I wanted her to be my agent. She was every bit as geeky as I was. As “the epub agent,” she was focusing on digital publishing, the preferred format for many readers of erotic romance. She had a small client base that she clearly cared about, and she wasn’t afraid to take chances on non-mainstream titles. I started following her on Twitter to get a sense of what kind of a person she was, and everything I saw made me want to work with her. I polished Purely Professional for a year. After I had edited it, I sent it to my beta reader, Wren, who wrote back right away. She said, “I’ve been binge-reading this since you sent it. They’d be crazy not to take it.” With that vote of confidence, I polished my first five pages, my synopsis and query letter, and sent them to Saritza. She emailed me back two weeks later and requested a full manuscript. I got the email while checking my phone in bed at midnight and couldn’t stop screeching and flailing. I sent her the full manuscript, and six weeks later, she called and offered representation. A few months later, once I’d completed more edits, she began shopping it around, and it was picked up right away by Harlequin’s Carina Press line.

Since then, I’ve published Playing Knotty with Simon & Schuster’s Pocket Star line, Combustion with Samhain, and I have a trilogy releasing this summer from Pocket Star again.

Cara: WOW! Congratulations on your perseverance, and on all your success. Your writing schedule must keep you chained to your keyboard. Do you have a favorite place to work? Any writing rituals?

Elia: I sit on the couch with my laptop to work. I don’t have a desk anymore, so the couch is my desk. Since my husband likes to keep the television on in the background for noise, and I can’t write with TV noise, I put on my headphones and listen to classical music. I have an instrumental playlist on Youtube that I listen to on loop. Other than that, I don’t have any specific writing rituals. I just sit down, plug in, and type.

Cara: Tell us about your latest book.

Elia: I’m really excited about the trilogy I have coming out this summer from Pocket Star, the “Slices of Pi” series. The books follow the adventures of employees at PI Games, Players Incorporated, a game design company out of Tampa, Florida. The trilogy epitomizes my brand of “geeky, kinky romance” better than any of my books so far. In the first book, Even Odds, Isabel Suarez decides to forego her straight-laced professional persona and let loose at a gaming convention, participating in a risque scavenger hunt and having a weekend fling. What she doesn’t realize is that the man with whom she has her fling, Caleb Portland, has just been hired as creative designer at her company, and he can’t bear to tell her. When they end up coworkers, they have to find a way to work together professionally, but their chemistry will not be denied. Even Odds will come out July 4th, Tied Score on August 15, and Single Player on September 26. All books are available for preorder now.


Cara: You’ve had an interesting path to publication, and now you’re on a roll. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Elia: Write what you enjoy reading. Don’t write for the market, or for what you think will sell. If you write what you love, your passion will come through in the book, and your audience will come. Plus, you’re going to spend so much time reading your book over and over that if you don’t enjoy it, that’s a lot of time to be miserable.

Cara: That’s great advice, Elia. Good luck with your upcoming series, and thanks for stopping by the blog!

Frankie Bailey on Writing and a “Day Job”

FBailey-1CRRWA is thrilled to welcome our own Frankie Bailey to the blog! We’re so glad she could take a few minutes out of her busy schedule (check out her many accomplishments in her bio below and you’ll know what I mean by busy!) to stop by and chat about making the writing life work when you also have a “day job” that you love. Take it away, Frankie!

One of the facts of a writer’s life is that it takes time. It takes time to come up with an idea, time to do research, time to do the first draft and all of the revisions that follow. Time to design a marketing plan for each book and implement it with website building and updates, book launches and talks, Skype chats with book clubs and newsletters to readers. Time to become a better writer by reading books about writing, attending workshops, and joining a critique group. Time to network and build friendships with other writers. Time to blog and tweet and keep up with Facebook. Time to find and maintain a relationship with an agent and/or editor. Time to do all the other things that have to be done if books are to be written and sold and readers are to discover what you’ve written and come back for more. Time that you don’t have that much of if you have a life and people in it.

If you’re a writer who also has a “day job” – as most of us are – you get occasional panic attacks thinking about all of the things you need to get done. Especially if that day job is more than just a job, but also happens to be a career that you enjoy and are trying to build and maintain. One of my favorite fantasies is about having a housekeeper, a no-nonsense woman who would come in a couple of times a week and keep my domestic ship in order. She would cook my meals and pop them into the freezer to heat and eat. She would whisk away the dust and scrub the floors. She would make sure the pet cover on the armchair Harry, my Maine Coon/mix cat, likes to sleep on is laundered and that the fur he sheds doesn’t find its way into corners and under furniture. She might even play with Harry when I’m around and he wants to nap – all 16 or 17 pounds of him – on my lap while I’m at the computer.

Of course, I would also have a part-time personal assistant who would take my books back to the library before they’re overdue, buy the printer cartridge I’ve been trying to find the time to pick up, make sure I can find one ink pen in a house full of pens that seem never to be there when I need one. She would keep my calendar and prepare my schedule. She would send me an email at the beginning of each week reminding me what I need to get done at work and at home – the deadlines coming due, the commitments I’ve made. She would have me so organized that I would have nothing to do but get my work done. I would have time to relax and do things like read the Thursday and Sunday newspapers that I subscribe to and often end up scanning before tossing them into the recycling bin on garbage pick-up night.

If I had these two capable, efficient women in my life – being sexist here and specifying women because I occasionally tumble out of bed and stagger to the computer and end up writing much of the morning clad in my bathrobe – I would be much more productive. I suspect I would also be more successful because I would have time to write more blogs and develop more ideas and actually send out that newsletter I’ve been trying to get around to since last year. But the best part would be that I would be able to curl up on my sofa and read and think without feeling guilty about not doing the laundry.

Fortunately for my sanity, my two careers – academic and mystery writer – overlap. The first book I wrote after graduate school was a nonfiction book about mystery/detective fiction. That brought me back to my roots (a double major in Psychology and English at Virginia Tech). After writing that nonfiction book, I tried again to write a novel. But my earliest effort at writing fiction had been as a teenager. Like most writers, I grew up reading. One of the books I plucked from a library shelf was by a mystery writer named Richard Martin Stern. I was delighted to discover that he had a mystery series with a racially/ethnically diverse cast of characters in a terrific New Mexico setting. I wrote to say how much I loved his books. He wrote back to thank me for writing (I still have his letter), and that was probably when I began to think about being a writer. I sent in an application to the Famous Writers School (unknown to my parents, who actually allowed me to enroll in the correspondence course). And then I went off to college and after that three years as an Army food inspector. I was stationed in Seattle, and in the evenings, I would come home to my apartment, pop a frozen dinner into the oven, and sit down to write. I wrote two novels, both romance suspense. I finished both, did first revisions, and then I got out of the Army and came immediately to Albany to grad school. It wasn’t until years later, back in Albany as an assistant professor, that I turned again to writing fiction. When I was doing research for my nonfiction book about black characters in crime fiction, I joined Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime and began to meet other writers. I joined a local writing group. I began to think about what I would write if I tried my hand at a series. That was when I realized I had loads of material. I study crime. I wanted to write mysteries. My first book and the series that followed featured a crime historian, and the plots were often inspired by real-life crimes.

Since that first book came out fifteen years ago, I’ve written four more in that series and two short stories. I have two books featuring a female police detective. I’m working on an idea for another series and on a historical mystery/thriller. I’m also busy with academic research and writing.

And I keep hoping that one day soon I’ll be able to afford a housekeeper who will come in and cook and tidy, and a part-time assistant who will keep me organized.

But, on the other hand, I sometimes get my best ideas while washing dishes or wandering the aisles of the supermarket. I could get organized and use modern technology to keep up with what I need to get done.

If only I had the time to get organized . . . that’s a writer’s life. We all know it well.

what the fly saw(1)Frankie Y. Bailey is a criminal justice professor at UAlbany (SUNY), as well as the author, co-author, or co-editor of a number of non-fiction books. She’s also the 2010 recipient of the George N. Dove Award for her research on mystery and crime fiction, and she’s been nominated for several other awards, including the Edgar, Agatha, and Anthony, and is the winner of a Macavity Award for African American Mystery Writers (2008).

Frankie has five books and two published short stories in a mystery series featuring crime historian Lizzie Stuart. One of the short stories (“In Her Fashion”) was published in the July 2014 issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. The Red Queen Dies (Minotaur Books, September 2013) was her first book featuring Detective Hannah McCabe in a near-future police procedural set in Albany, New York. A second McCabe book, What the Fly Saw, was published in March 2015. Frankie is a former Executive Vice President of Mystery Writers of America and a past national president of Sisters in Crime. She is currently at work on a nonfiction book about dress, appearance, and American criminal justice, as well as her next mystery novel.



Lonnie McManus Shares Her Inspiration and the Best Writing Advice She Ever Got

Today I’m sitting down with long-time CR-RWA member Lonnie McManus to talk about why she loves writing romance, and why she thinks CR-RWA is a great resource for writers at all stages of their careers.

Cara Connelly: Hi Lonnie! You’ve been a familiar friendly face at CR-RWA ever since I joined back in 2010, and I’m so glad to have this chance to find out a little more about you. For starters, I’m wondering how you got involved with the chapter, and what it means to you.

Lonnie McManus: I joined CR-RWA in 2003. I was looking for a writing group and saw an announcement in our local newspaper about the chapter having a meeting and decided, after checking it out, the chapter was just what I was looking for. I’ve learned so much over the years from fellow members, the monthly workshops, and had the opportunity to meet with well-known authors and industry professionals who’ve always been willing to share information about writing and the publishing industry. I can’t stress enough how much the chapter can help both the beginning author and the seasoned pro through the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas and news.

Cara: I couldn’t agree more! What got you started writing romance?

Lonnie: I write romance because I love the genre. It has so many opportunities to write any type of story you want, from contemporary inspirational to science fiction to mystery. It seems like there is a spot for everyone. Plus I a love a happy ending, something you don’t always get in other genres or even in real life.

Cara: What type of stories do you write?

Lonnie: I write romantic suspense with paranormal overtones. I’ve tried writing historical as I love the genre but keep slipping back into suspense and the paranormal. I think it’s because I’ve always wondered about things that go bump in the night and I love thrillers.

Cara: Can you tell us some of your favorite authors, and any who’ve inspired you along the way?

Lonnie: I’ve been inspired by a diverse group of writers, from Dean Koontz who told me “Lonnie, May you always have a silver bullet when you need one” in a letter. I always read the awesome storyteller Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb to study character and story development. I love Robert Crais and Michael Connelly who have let their characters grow throughout their various series. I especially like JoAnn Ross, Karen Robards, Amanda Quick, Eileen Dreyer and Kristan Higgins for their wonderful stories and interesting, layered characters.

Cara: So many of my own favorites are on that list! How about writing advice? Have you gotten any that stuck with you?

Lonnie: The best writing advice I ever got was from agent Steve Axelrod during a CR-RWA panel discussion. Someone in the audience asked him how valuable was it to attend lots of conferences to listen to other writer’s workshops. He said in his opinion the best thing you can ever do for your writing is to sit down and write. The only conference he recommended was RWA National and that was for networking. Nora Roberts always says pretty much the same thing—“Sit your butt in the chair and write.”

Cara: Great advice, indeed. Thanks for sharing it, and for taking the time to answer my questions today. I know you’re busy revising your paranormal thriller THE LAST DARK ANGEL for submission. I was lucky enough to hear you read the opening pages, and I can’t wait for the rest of the story!

Good luck with revisions, and thanks for stopping by the blog!


2015 Wrap Up — Another Great Year For CR-RWA Members!

I’m once again honored and privileged to share the success of the authors in the Capital Region RWA chapter. We had another fantastic year in 2015. I’m truly amazed at this hard-working group. Most of our forty members reached some goal for the year, whether it was word count, attending the National Conference in New York City, or publishing their first book. I couldn’t be more proud.

Our word count totals were truly amazing. Collectively, we wrote over two million words from January to December. Forty percent of our writers individually penned over a hundred thousand words—a remarkable accomplishment for anyone. Seventy percent of the group completed a manuscript. Two of our members, Jenna Kendrick and Kari W Cole joined the PRO community, and two, Autumn Jones Lake and Marie Lark joined PAN.

Fifty-three percent of members had new book releases—actually eleven contracts were signed and nineteen books were released. Yes, nineteen.

Check out these covers!

The Lady Who Lived Again - CoverThomasine Rappold’s debut novel, The Woman Who Lived Again, was published in November. Congratulations to her on this achievement.
MMBCoverJenna Kendrick also had a debut shorty story, Make Me Believe, released this year. Congrats, Jenna!
His ContractRebecca Grace Allen released her first full-length novel, His Contract, this year. She also released a novella, The Hierarchy of Needs, in July 2015.
Seven Nights of SurrenderWhen the stars alignThrough the static 
Jeanette Grey had a great year, releasing three books including her premier paperback, Seven Nights of Surrender. Through the Static and When the Stars Align also were published this year.
ML_third take is the charm_coverlgMarie Lark released her third book, Third Take is the Charm, in August this year.
Strength from Loyalty - CopyTattered on my sleeveAutumn Jones Lake had two books released this year, Tattered on My Sleeve and Strength from Loyalty. She also contributed to two anthologies, Rev the Engine and Pink: Sexy and Hot for a Cure.
Winnig the Teacher's HeartholidayHome comingJean C Gordon had two titles released this year—a Christmas tale, Holiday Homecoming, and Winning the Teacher’s Heart. Both books are part of her Donnelly Brothers series.
ready to rockCara Connelly released the contemporary romance novel The Wedding Band and the novella The Wedding Gift, and also self-published her first book, the Golden Heart winning prequel to her Save the Date series, Ready to Rock.
9781432831141_p0_v1_s192x300-125x193-1Glen Ebisch released his sixteenth book, The Bad Actor, in July.
Hope Dawns EternalJulie Lomoe, one of our newer members, released her book, Hope Dawns Eternal this year.
Put a Ring on itKA Mitchell’s latest title—her twentieth book–Put a Ring on It came out in September.

In other news, our own Anna Bowling also had a stellar writing year. She sold over twenty-five articles, twenty-three of which were about the romance writing industry.

Last but not least, Kari W. Cole cleaned up with contests this year. She won the Daphne du Maurier in both the paranormal category and overall. She also won the Paranormal category for Toronto Chapter’s The Catherine, achieved second place in the Chicago North Chapter’s Fire & Ice and Northeast Ohio’s Cleveland Rocks.

Congratulations to all our authors listed here and those too shy to share their accolades. Thanks so much for letting me be a part of this chapter. Happy writing!

Christine Dreidel, CRRWA President

Glen Ebisch Waxes Philosophical on Writing, Rejection, and the Power of Persistence

Long-time CR-RWA member Glen Ebisch has an impressive battery of degrees, including a PhD in philosophy from Columbia University. After teaching philosophy for 20 years, he’s currently professor emeritus at Western New England College in Springfield, Massachusetts.

As if that isn’t accomplishment enough for one man, Glen has also managed to write more than 20 novels for adults and young adults, incorporating suspense, romance, humor, and mystery. His most recent book, THE BAD ACTOR, came out in July from Five Star Publishing. He kindly agreed to share some of his wisdom and experience with us.

9781432831141_p0_v1_s192x300-125x193-1Cara: Welcome, Glen! Can you start by telling us about your path to publication? What have you published to date?

Glen: I began over twenty-five years ago writing YA mysteries. I had five of them published rather quickly, which gave me a deceptively easy picture of publication. When the YA market shifted to horror and the supernatural, I found that my type of story no longer sold. After several failed attempts, I spent the next decade concentrating on my academic writing.

About fifteen years ago I decided to try my hand at adult novels and began writing romances for Avalon Books. After writing three romances, I switched back to writing mysteries, and had five published by Avalon. When Avalon was bought by Amazon, I began writing mysteries for Five Star, which I do to this day. I will have my twenty-first book coming out next year.

Cara: You were one of the first people to welcome me to CR-RWA, always a friendly face. When did you join the chapter, and how has it affected your career as a writer?

Glen: I am a charter member of the chapter. Even though it is quite a trip for me from the Springfield area of Massachusetts, I have found it very worthwhile. I enjoy meeting the people, especially those who are long-time members, and I find that many of the workshops and speakers present material relevant to mysteries, especially ones such as mine that have an element of romance. Since writing is by its very nature a rather lonely process, meeting with other writers is an important way to stay in touch and retain one’s enthusiasm.

Cara: I’m always interested in other writers’ process. What can you tell us about yours? Do you plot your stories or wing it?

Glen: The longer I write, the more time I spend plotting my stories in advance. I like having a detailed outline to return to each time I sit down to work. Since I also tend to be a bit too succinct in my writing, I find an outline helps me fill in the details. Discovering the rhythm of the book during the plotting stage saves me a lot of time in rewrites, which I now rarely have to do.

Cara: No rewrites? That sounds wonderful. I long to be a plotter, but I’m afraid I’m a pantser at heart, so for me, rewrites are where the story comes together. Do you have a writing schedule?

Glen: I am not always in the midst of writing a book, but when I am, I usually write in the morning. Now that I no longer teach full time, I exercise in the afternoon and read. Sometimes if I am really into my current writing project, I read over what I wrote in the morning and make changes. I try to keep enough balance that I can enjoy life as well as write.

Cara: You seem to have a measured and level-headed approach to this often-crazy writing/publishing life. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Glen: I would say that talent is only a small of part what’s needed to get published, and perhaps not the most important part. I’ve known many writers with more talent than I who have failed to get published. You also have to learn the craft, write what the market is looking for and be persistent. You have to be impossible to discourage.

Having said that, however, you also must have a balance between persistence and flexibility. If you have tried writing the same thing several times with no success, you should try switching, either within the genre or to a different genre. There comes a time when pounding your head against the same wall becomes counterproductive. You may not believe you can write anything other than what you have done, but most of us are capable of a greater range than we think.

Cara: How about rejection? We all have to deal with it. How do you handle it?

Glen: As I said, after an appropriate period of anger and mourning, I get back to writing. Most of us are good enough writers that rejection is simply an expression of an agent or editor’s opinion. You have to keep at it until you find the one with the right mindset.

Cara: Tell us what’s next for you.

Glen: My most recent book, A BODY IN MY OFFICE, is a change of pace. In the past my stories were about intelligent young women solving murders while trying to cope with their personal lives. My latest is about a professor of English who is forced to retire when his Dean brings in an academic star from England to teach his courses. When the newcomer ends up dead in our protagonist’s office, suspicion naturally falls on him. This is a story about an unemployed widower who must deal with his complex past, his conflicted daughter, his aging father, and his need to solve a crime. Although it may sound downbeat, it has considerable humor and some romance. It will be interesting to see if anyone wants to publish it.

Cara: It sounds terrific, Glen. I can’t wait to read it! Thanks so much for stopping by the blog.

For more info on Glen and all of his books, check out his website: www.glenebisch.com





Jenna Kendrick is in the House!

Today we’re welcoming CR-RWA’s own Jenna Kendrick to the chapter blog! Jenna writes male/male new adult and contemporary romance, which also happens to be her favorite genre to read. She began writing in college, but put it aside to work in a variety of other fields, including authoring numerous technical books under another name. Now she’s back to writing fiction, with three releases planned for 2015.

Cara: Hi, Jenna! I’m so happy to have you here on the blog! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your path to publication? And be sure to share some of your hard-earned wisdom about writing.

Jenna: Hi, Cara! Thank you so much for inviting me!

I joined CR-RWA in January 2007, soon after moving to the Albany area from Phoenix, Arizona. RWA has helped me stay connected to the romance writer community through multiple cross-country moves.

I wrote my first romance novel on a dare from a friend after a conversation about what we’d have done differently with a story by a favorite author. That challenge got me hooked on writing romance.

MMBCoverIt’s been a long journey between that first “under the bed” book and releasing my first short story, Make Me Believe, in July 2015.

I came close to a sale to a major publishing house only to find my book orphaned before the contract was signed. I even stepped away from romance for several years and focused on tech books, writing twelve books under my own name and ghostwriting many more. But I never stopped reading romance and feeling the pull to return to writing in my favorite genre.

I’ve spent the past year returning to my writing roots in romance. In addition to the short story, I released a novel titled Stuck with You in late October. I also have a novella entitled “The Eighth Night” coming out in November in the Home for the Holidays anthology, the proceeds of which are being donated to the Ali Forney Center to help homeless LGBTQ youth.

serious young man

When I first began writing, my stories featured male/female primary characters, but they always had LGBTQ secondary characters and often included subplots giving those characters their own romantic HEA. Those side stories tended to take on a life of their own, and I would sometimes find myself neglecting my original manuscript in favor of going down the rabbit hole with my secondary characters.

Reading my first male/male romance, Collision Course by our chapter-mate KA Mitchell, was revelatory. I had no idea I could turn the side tales I was crafting for myself into entire books that others might read! Writing gay romance has helped me discover my voice as a writer, and I’m happier writing in this subgenre than I’ve ever been.

If I could offer one piece of advice for other writers, it would be to write from the heart. Following trends or trying to force yourself to write stories for which you have no affinity makes for being miserable as a writer. And readers can tell. Find your niche, hone your craft, and write your book.

Fashion portrait of smiling male model in fur hat

Cara: That’s great advice, Jenna. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us. Good luck with your upcoming 2015 releases. We’ll be watching for more books from you in 2016!


Jenna would love to hear from you. Find her on Facebook at JennaKendrickAuthor or on Twitter @JennaKendAuth.