Friday, February 26, 2010

A visit with NYT Bestselling author Jennifer Ashley

Since 2002, New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Ashley has published more than thirty novels in romance, mystery, and mainstream fiction under several pseudonyms. She writes as Jennifer Ashley, Allyson James, and Ashley Gardner for Berkley, Dorchester, and Ellora’s Cave. She is a multi-award winning author and in 2006 won the RITA-- RWA’s highest honor for published authors-- for her novel A Lady Raised High, published under the pseudonym Laurien Gardner.

Hi Jennifer. Thank you for being here today. Let’s start by telling us a little about yourself. Where are you from? When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Hi! I’m from Arizona, one of the most beautiful places in the world. When I was little, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I started reading at age five and figured out that novels were just make-believe written down on paper. Heck, I could do that, couldn’t I? I bought some brightly colored paper and started writing. I never looked back.

How long did it take for you to get published and what was the journey like?

In 1999, I attended an inexpensive “how to get published” seminar at the YMCA that inspired me to dust off the manuscripts I’d half-heartedly attempted to get published a few years before that, and really go for it.

Even though I didn’t quit my FT job, I decided right then that writing was my “real” job, and my FT job was just there to pay the bills. Changing that focus really helped me.

I knuckled down and wrote ms. after ms. I started finalling in and then winning contests. I started getting bites from agents and editors. Finally in 2002 (about 3 years to the day I attended the seminar), I was offered a contract by Dorchester. Later that year, Berkley offered me a three-book contract for a mystery series, and Dorchester offered me another 3-book for romances. After three years of work and rejection, I was multipublished in the space of a few months!

What authors, would you say, have been your biggest influences for you or your work?

Goodness, so many! My shelves overflow with books from authors I love: Terry Pratchett, Tony Hillerman, Elizabeth Peters, Donna Leon, Mary Jo Putney, Robert Parker, Patricia Briggs, Charlaine Harris… I learn from every author I read.

Tell us more about your book. What's it about and what inspired you to write it?

I have several releases this year: Pride Mates under the name Jennifer Ashley in Feb, which hit the New York Times list! In this paranormal romance, I introduce Shifters: shape shifters who have been outed and now are forced to wear collars and live in “Shiftertowns.” They’re not allowed to mix much with humans. I was inspired to write it because I speculated on what would happen if people found out shape shifters really did exist. What would they do? No, I mean really? The hero is a sexy, alpha male Shifter who goes up against a sassy, in-your-face defense attorney. This is the first in the series.

Next, Stormwalker, written as Allyson James, in May from Berkley. This book begins a new series set in Northern Arizona, in a small town where the paranormal is normal. Janet Begay, a young Navajo woman, comes to Magellan to investigate the disappearance of the police chief’s daughter. She’s a Stormwalker, able to channel the power of the desert storms to work magic. She has to deal with the handsome but by-the-rules sheriff, her mysterious shape shifter boyfriend, and her own mother, a hell-goddess from the world Beneath.

Third, Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage, a historical romance written as Jennifer Ashley, in July from Berkley. This book is the sequel to The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie. I continue the saga of the Mackenzie family by telling the story of Mac and Isabella, a legally separated couple. I loved writing that book—those two have history, chemistry, and emotion.

Do you plot your story before you write it or do you sit and let it flow?

I pretty much go with the flow. That said, I do have a good idea in my head what the story is about (and the main characters) before I start. I make notes to myself as I go along, to keep track of things. (For example, I might write in the ms [Janet talks to Coyote, Maya interrupts], but that’s about it.) The dialog, secondary characters, linking events—those just come out of me as I write!

Are there any current projects you're excited about and can share with our readers?

See above, where I talk about what’s coming out for me this year. I’m working hard on those three series.

Do you consider yourself eccentric as a writer? Is there something you must have or do before writing?

I probably am eccentric and just don’t know it. I find I do write best in certain places (a coffee house, my living room, the kitchen table; never at my desk). Plus the music keeps me in the flow. But I don’t have any specific rituals.

Do you write to music or the TV?

I put on my iPod listen to music without words. I love guitarists and listen to them almost exclusively (both electric and acoustic, mostly rock and jazz). The iPod also helps cut noise when I’m at a coffee house or somewhere writing.

When you're not writing, do you have any hobbies or interests?

I build and collect dollhouses and dollhouse miniatures. I love them! I’ve been doing that since I was a wee, small child.

Some people see writers as hermits, closed off in a room, clacking away at the keyboard until the final page is typed. Do you consider yourself this disciplined as a writer?

Yes, I do. I will shut off everything—the Internet, the phone, TV, radio—any distractions, and write. I like being comfortable (I sit on my sofa or in a booth at a coffee house, drinking iced tea), but I just write. I write anywhere from two to six hours a day and don’t stop until the book is done. Granted I always have tight deadlines, so I don’t really have a choice. It’s shut down and write or get behind. (I get behind anyway, but I’d get more behind if I didn’t become a hermit.)

They say you can learn a lot about a person by their surroundings. What does your work area look like?

It used to be a horrible mess until I realized that it depressed me. I went out and bought a brand new desk (I don’t write at the desk, but I do everything else there, like this interview), plus a seven-foot narrow bookcase with whicker baskets that fit on the shelves to organize all my junk. Much better! My desk is still not pristine, but when I need something, I can actually find it.

When I’m not on the couch or a coffee house, I write at my kitchen table (laptop batteries only last so long). The table is clear except for research material pertinent to the book I’m working on—maps, dictionaries, guidebooks, research books. I also have gems and crystals scattered about for luck and energy (amethyst, tiger eye, quartz). I usually clean up the table and put everything away once I turn in a ms. Then I dig out the research materials on the next one!

What do you consider your guilty pleasure?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer graphic novels (Season 8). But they’re written by the writers from the show, plus they’re beautifully put together, so it’s OK. Right? Also, the show Burn Notice. There’s something about snappy dialog and women who like to kick butt that appeals to me, I guess!

You’re going to be teaching two workshops at the Desert Dreams conference. Can you give us the inside scoop on what to expect?

The first class is called Which Press Is Right for You?

Many people think: “I publish a book, it’s sold in a bookstore, maybe I’m on New York Times!” Not necessarily. Getting your book into a bookstore and a chance on the lists is largely contingent on what kind of book you write, where you have it published, and in what format (hardback, trade, mass market, ebook).

I will talk about the large New York publishers, small press, and e-press (e-book originals), explain what kind of publishing experience you can expect from each them, and how you can use what they do to grow to where you want to be.

The second class is called One Book Published, Now What?

Authors might think that a contract to get their foot in the door is the ticket to overnight success. Sometimes an author’s first book catches fire and catapults them to stardom. More often, especially in romance, you get stuck in the midlist and might or might not even get offered the next contract. I will focus on how to build on what you’re given to reach the career you really want. In other words, I started at the bottom and made it to the bestseller lists. So can you!

Thank you again, Jennifer. It’s been a pleasure.

Learn more about Jennifer at her website:

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

An Interview with Multi-Talented author Connie Flynn

Connie Flynn is the bestselling author of ten romance novels including romantic suspense, romantic adventure, romantic comedy and paranormal romance. With the publication of the "fabulous" and "remarkable" Shadow on the Moon by Penguin/Topaz in March of 1997, critics called Connie Flynn "a talented writer" and "a rising star."

Connie began her career under the pseudonym of Casey Roberts and wrote for Harlequin Superromance. Filled with romance and suspense, these books received their own quiet acclaim, including a spot on the Waldenbooks bestseller list for her second book and a film option offer for her third. She went on to write two shorter romantic comedies.

A member of Romance Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, Connie is active in the local chapters of both organizations. She also teaches independent workshops and gives presentations to local writing on novel writing groups. Connie makes her home in Scottsdale, Arizona, one of the state's rare natives. Every summer she swears she'll move to a cooler climate. Then winter comes and she never wants to live anywhere else.

Hi Connie, it’s great to have you’re here. Start by telling us a little about yourself. Where are you from? When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I grew up in Arizona and it was a small hick town at the time. I miss that sometimes. I wasn’t very directed as a kid – I wanted to be a movie star until I realized they had no privacy, so after that I didn’t know what to be until I became a novelist. Someone once said that writers were frustrated actors . . . and maybe that’s true. Where else can I be anyone I want for several hours a day?

How long did it take for you to get published and what was the journey like?

My journey has been kind of crazy and it started with my selling my first novel to Harlequin and I have since published ten novels and two short stories. Currently, with teaching taking so much of my time, I’ve been working more on mystery short stories (fun and fast), but am also polishing up several books to take to market.

Do you plot your story before you write it or do you sit and let it flow?

A little bit of both. I honestly believe that although plotters come in all varieties, no one is truly a pantser. The only difference is that die-hard pantsers plot on the fly. Personally, the longer I write the less structured I am with the plotting steps. I tend to start with a general overview outline, but it most always has major holes. Then I write a chapter of two so I get to know my characters, then I plug the gaps in the outline. I prefer to know the ending well before I get. It keeps me from having that horrible “I’ll never get this done,” feeling and it saves a ton of rewrites.

Are there any particular authors who have influenced you or your work?

The horror writers – Stephen King, Dean Koontz, John Saul – influenced me greatly, which is probably how I ended up being a paranormal writer. But I also enjoyed Taylor Caldwell and Susan Howitz, and, of course, Victoria Holt and Kathleen Woodiwiss. You could say that I have eclectic tastes and that still holds true.

Do you have a favorite book or series?

I absolutely adore Tolkein’s Lord of the Ring series (I reread it twice). Currently, I’m a fan of the Harry Potter series and read everything that Kim Harrison and Charlaine Harris write.

Any current projects you're excited about and can share with our readers?

I’m dividing my writing time between mystery/suspense and paranormal and am working, somewhat simultaneously, on a series set in Las Vegas and a paranormal series.

The first concerns a female detective who tracks down criminals and wards off the attempts of the local police to discredit her while also dealing with a card-shark mom and the growing pangs of her teenaged daughter.

The paranormal series features a high-fashion model who must sacrifice everything to accept her true role among a race of inter-dimensional beings charged with preventing psychic vampires from draining human life essence.

When you're not writing, do you have any hobbies or interests?

I’m an artist – my education was actually in advertising art – and I still like to draw and paint, although I don’t find much time for it, it’s still an enjoyment. Most of my free time -- stolen time is probably a better phrase – is spent with my kids and grandkids and the good friends I’ve made over the years.

Do you write to music or the TV?

Music sometimes. TV never. I’m not crazy about having someone else’s words talking over the ones in my mind.

Do you consider yourself eccentric as a writer? Is there something you must have or do before writing?

I’d say I’m pretty ordinary. I don’t have any magic rituals or really weird habits despite the fact that I write about extraordinary people who do.

People tend to see writers as hermits, closed off in a room, clacking away at the keyboard until the final page is typed. Do you consider yourself this disciplined as a writer?

I’m not very hermit-ty, although your image looks familiar as my deadlines close in. I work always at being disciplined as a writer, but it’s never actually true until a deadline looms. The difference always amazes me because the day after I mail the manuscript I’m back to my hit and miss ways.

They say you can learn a lot about a person by their surroundings. What does your work area look like?

Oh golly, I’m in big trouble. My work area is crammed with piles of paper and I’m in the process of trying to put some order in the mess. Starting a writing school, teaching for the college, and writing my novels and short stories generates so much paper that I’ve run out of places to store it. Eeek! Help!

You’re presenting two workshops at the Desert Dreams Conference. Can you give us a bit of a rundown on what to expect?

The first class is called Building Characters Who Walk Talk and Breathe. It’s about what you do once you have those delightful core characteristics defined.

o How will your character respond if she gets rear-ended?

o If the hero kissed her without invitation?

o If her mother died?

o If she found out she was pregnant?

This workshop focuses on defining character core values and provides tools for getting those answers.

On Friday night, Linda Style and I will present Demystifying Plot and Subplot, which clearly identifies these often mashed together functions and show you where and when to use each.

I’ve enjoyed speaking with you today, Connie. Is there anything you'd like to add?

After adding Bootcamp for Novelists Online Teaching to my current Phoenix College teaching schedule, I’m finding very little time to write. Teaching is rewarding and my students never fail to delight me, but it’s the creative process that really sends blood racing through my veins, so I’ve decided 2010 is my year.

I’m determined to take more time to finish my own projects.

Learn more about Connie at her website:

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Two For One Interview Today

I'm happy to present to you not one but two wonderful authors scheduled to speak ata the Desert Dreams conference this April.

Donna Hatch is a bestselling author at Wild Rose Press for two consecutive months for her Regency romance, The Stranger She Married. She was also a finalist in the Golden Quill Contest, recognizing outstanding published authors. Her current novel, The Stranger She Married, and novella, Trouble Hearts have both received four and five star reviews across the board.

Vicki Gaia picked up a pen and wrote her first story after she opened her art gallery. Since she didn't have time to create artwork she wrote short stories instead. She’s a computer geek, loves to read graphic novels (favorites right now are Birds of Prey, Batman and Nightwing), watch Japanese anime, and play on her PS2. Her iPod is her best friend when she needs to blot out the world. History is another one of her passions and she loves the excitement of discovering an interesting tidbit or strange event about the past. Her formative years came on the cusp of the Sixties generation, and influenced her way of perceiving life, politics and social issues. Her female characters are free-spirited, fiercely independent, and live on the edge of what was considered sociably acceptable.

Hello Ladies, thank you for spending the day with us. Let’s start by introducing yourselves. Where are you from and what did you want to be when you grew up?

DONNA: I am a native of Arizona and I’ve lived here most of my life. When I was a child, I wanted to be a ballerina, an actress, and an author. I took ballet lessons, was a drama geek in school, and now I write, so I did them. Sorta.

VICKI: California but I really love living in the desert -- even the hot, hot, hot summers! I wanted to be a mermaid when I grew up!

Musicians often note the musicians who influenced them. What authors have influenced you and your work?

VICKI: I don't have a favorite author. I read so many books and genres that it's impossible to point out any one author as an influence. I do love a good murder mystery and would love to write one some day.

When you're not writing, do you have any hobbies or interests?

DONNA: I love love love to read! I also sing, play the harp, ski - both water and snow - and play with my children. And as cheesy as it sounds, I love more than anything to just hang out with my husband, dancing, going for walks, or just cuddling.

VICKI: Yep, too many. My husband and I love to travel and we try to plan a vacation overseas at least every two years. We are going to Japan this May. I love Japanese modern art, anime and yaoi, and I can't wait to eat their sushi :) I also enjoy dinner with friends and family. It must be the Italian in me.

Do you have a favorite book or series?

DONNA: I love anything by Lynn Kurland or Julia Quinn and I am currently working my way through everything by Sharon Shinn and Georgette Heyer.

VICKI: I read murder mystery series. Lately, I'm into the Maise Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear.

Tell us more about your book. What's it about and what inspired you to write it?

DONNA: Here’s my elevator pitch for Book One of the Rogue Hearts Series, The Stranger She Married: Torn between a disfigured war hero with the heart of a poet, and a handsome libertine who may not be all he seems, impoverished Alicia must marry by the end of the month. Despite a murder threat looming over her, learning to love the Stranger She Married may pose the greatest danger of all…to her heart.

My inspiration sorta came from Phantom of the Opera. I like to do the ‘what ifs.’ What if the Phantom wasn’t a killer, what if he was just misunderstood? That kind of thing. This story sort of evolved from that, only there are no phantoms or operas.

VICKI: I have switched genres this last year. I decided to focus on a paranormal romance involving angels and priestesses set in contemporary San Francisco. I've always been fascinated with ancient sites, history and mythology. I needed a change from writing historicals and a new challenge. I also write male/male fiction under another pen name and had three books published this year: two paranormal and a contemporary.

How long did it take for you to get published and what was the journey like?

DONNA: I’ve been writing since I was a child so it’s been a long road in that regard. But since I finished this manuscript and began actively looking for a publisher, it took about a two years to get a publisher.

VICKI: It took me a few years to get published. I'm still learning and the publishing industry is changing as rapidly as the music industry had a few years ago. It's an exciting time to be an author but also frustrating as well. It's best if I concentrate on writing and perfecting my skills.

Any current projects you're excited about and can share with our readers?

DONNA: I’m very excited about book two of the Rogue Hearts Series, The Guise of a Gentleman which is coming in April 2010. A perfect English lady meets an unforgettable man who is gentleman by day, a pirate by night. Her quiet world is shattered when she is dragged into his world of violence and deceit. She may not survive the revelation of his past, or still love him when his secret is revealed. To quote Jennifer Ashley, "Combining Jane Austen with swashbuckling adventure, The Guise of a Gentleman is a fine specimen of pirate romance!"

I also have a fantasy coming soon called Queen in Exile about the last surviving heir to the throne who must place her life and the fate of her kingdom into the hands of a trained killer.

VICKI: I've been busy writing sequels - a M/M vampire romance and a shape shifter romance. I also need to get back to my 'angel' paranormal which needs polishing. I finished it a few months back and haven't been ready to look at it again. I have a fantasy series brewing in the back of my mind, but I have so many projects I'm not sure when I'll get to it.

Do you plot your story before you write it or do you sit and let it flow?

DONNA: I usually have a vague idea of where I’m going, but mostly I let it flow. I had to develop my heroine but my hero pretty much stepped off the page fully developed.

VICKI: I sit down at my laptop and begin to write a few chapters, then I plot. This causes more editing but it's the way it works for me.

Do you write to music or the TV?

DONNA: I sometimes listen to instrumental music, but nothing with lyrics or a drum beat; I have to totally ignore it or it’s too distracting.

VICKI: I usually have my iPod blaring when I write. I put it on shuffle - and believe me - it's an eclectic mix of music. From Queen to Andrea Bocelli to the music of Hildegard von Bingen!

People often think of writers as hermits, closed off in a room, clacking away at the keyboard until the final page is typed. Do you consider yourself this disciplined as a writer?

VICKI: No, no, no...I can never be a hermit. I do some of my best writing at my neighborhood coffee house where I know everyone there! I have a hard time sitting down for any length of time to write...that's just not my personality. I write in spurts but it seems to work for me, and I can't beat myself up over it. It's just how I am. If I tried to write so many words a day, or so many hours a week, it would take the joy out of writing, at least for me. That isn't to say I'm not disciplined when it comes to my editing deadlines. I'm a stickler for being on time when it comes to working with my editors.

Do you consider yourself eccentric as a writer? Is there something you must have or do before writing?

DONNA: No, I pretty much write whenever I can squeeze in a few moments and I’ve learned to tune out the chaos around me. And with six children, believe me, there is plenty of chaos at my house.

VICKI: I guess friends have called me eccentric before but as far as my writing? I have to begin each new book by cleaning my desk off - then I buy myself a folder for my notes. Not sure that's really eccentric?

They say you can learn a lot about a person by their surroundings. What does your work area look like?

DONNA: I carry my laptop around with me and work wherever I am.

VICKI: Okay...let's see...I have a fairly large office space painted in a calming Cape Code blue with a textured rice paper arch. Lots of artwork on the walls, a globe, two chairs that were in my family for over fifty years - (now upholstered in purple and maroon), desk with my files, laptop and iPod speakers, and bulletin boards behind my desk crammed with postcards, pictures, story ideas including a giant poster of Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin (AZ Cardinals wide receivers). And, of course, bookshelves, one displaying my goddess collection.

What do you consider your guilty pleasure?

DONNA: Chocolate! Okay, really, anything sweet and decadent. I have an equal opportunity sweet tooth.

VICKI: My Nespresso machine!

Can you tell us a bit about the workshop you’ll be doing for the Desert Rose Conference?

DONNA: It’s called POWER EDITING. Vicki and I put this workshop together to help you discover how to pump up the tension and create page-turners. You’ll learn fresh editing techniques to strengthen each scene. You'll find rhetorical devices you can apply in your work immediately. You'll also discover how to deal with backstory, identify disposable words, how to turn clich├ęs into a twist, and back loading. All these tips and tricks will give you power to throw your best emotional punches and create stories that will keep your readers enthralled.

Thank you very much ladies. It’s been a pleasure.

You can find out more about these lovely ladies by visiting their websites.

Donna Hatch:

Vicki Gaia:

Thursday, February 18, 2010

An inside guide to author Tina Gerow

The Desert Rose Chapter has sought out the best of the best for our April conference and we didn’t have to look too far beyond our own back yard for some of our talent. It’s a pleasure to introduce you to our own Tina Gerow.

Tina has always had a passion for romance and anything paranormal. And even in school, was encouraged to put her writing skills to good use, but always with the admonishment to ‘stop writing the weird stuff and tone down the sarcasm.’ But what fun is that?! So, in 2003, she finally decided to try her hand at writing a novel, but still firmly embracing the ‘weird stuff and the sarcasm.’ Her first book, Into a Dangerous Mind, won the award for Romantic Times Best Small Press Contemporary Paranormal for 2006.

If you’re not familiar with the name Tina Gerow, then perhaps you’ll know her best as Cassie Ryan. Since 2006, Tina has published several books under her penname Cassie Ryan, including the popular Maiden series, the Seduction Series for Kensington’s Aphrodisia line and the upcoming Sisters of Darkness series with Berkley.

Tina/Cassie is an Arizona State University alumnus and a member of the Romance Writers of America. She served as past president of the local Valley of the Sun Romance Writers Chapter and is an active member of the Desert Rose chapter. She’s an active speaker on a variety of subjects including promotions, character creation, goals & motivation and more. She lends her expertise to other RWA chapters as well as the Romantic Times Booklovers convention where she serves on paranormal and erotic panels.

Tina/Cassie lives in Arizona with her husband Jon, her son Darian and two feisty tabby cats. When Tina isn’t spending time with her family, she’s usually writing, or participating at some various and sundry writer’s conferences, workshops or meetings.

DRose: Hi Tina! We’re so glad you could join us. Let’s start by telling us a little more about you. Where are you from originally? When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Tina: I was born in Ohio, but grew up in Phoenix and have been here most of my life minus a ten-year stint in Houston after college. I always wanted to be a teacher, and then when I got so involved in band starting in the second grade, I wanted to be a band director, which I actually did for a while before I got pregnant with my son. But then life happened and I ended up a writer J and I absolutely love it!

DRose: Musicians often note the musicians who influenced them. What authors would you say have been your biggest influences?

Tina: This would be a very long list if I answered in full, so I’ll just give the highlights. When I was younger I read authors like Anne McCaffrey, Piers Anthony and anything else I could snag from my brother’s bookshelf. He was big into reading sci-fi and fantasy and I found that I loved it, too. As a normal teenage girl I did go through a phase of reading some of my mom’s romances, but the big thing at that time was the helpless heroine and lots of forced sex – I kept yelling a the books, “Kick his ass! You don’t need his help! Save yourself!” so that phase didn’t last long for me. I replaced those with an eclectic mix of books like memoirs, popular fiction and classics like Shakespeare, Jane Austin, Poe & Dickens. Basically anything and everything I found interesting. Then as I got older I found Nora Roberts who brought me full circle back to the romance genre. Her heroines were strong women who wanted partners, not domineering men, they were smart and funny and I enjoyed reading about them, as well as about the very strong men who were a match for them. (The Born in Series I still read once a year!) Then in my early writing years I read writers like Cheyenne McCray, Jennifer Ashley, Lora Leigh, Christine Feehan & Sherrilyn Kenyon. Every one of those writers and the many I’ve discovered who aren’t listed have influenced my work. I think every book you read becomes part of you…and all those wonderful authors’ works are now part of me.

DRose: Do you have a favorite book or series?

Tina: This changes depending on what I’m reading and my mood. I would say I should attend reader’s anonymous – but it’s a habit I don’t ever want to be rid of!

DRose: Tell us more about your book. What's it about and what inspired you to write it?

Tina: My latest release is called Trio of Seduction. It’s the third book in the Seduction Trilogy through Kensington Aphrodisia. The trilogy is about two races of otherworldy witches who use sexual energy as life force. There’s a civil war on their utopian world and the losing faction is banished to earth, but not before stealing the crown princess, who is just a baby. Book 1 (Ceremony of Seduction) is about the prince of her erotic dreams finding the princess and bringing her back home to try to save her planet. Book 2 (Vision of Seduction) is about the Seer who tells what must be done to institute an ancient ritual to bring their world back to full health – and also her romance with a very hunky prince! Book 3 (Trio) is the culmination of the story as well as the romance between the Healer and her very own hunky prince. It’s a very fun, sexy, smoking-hot read and it was a blast to write.

DRose: Anyone who has set their sights on a career as a writer knows how difficult it can be. How long did it take for you to get published and what was the journey like?

Tina: I started writing for publication in August 2003. It took me eleven months to write (and rewrite 11 times with the help of my critique group), Into a Dangerous Mind, which went on to be a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Winner in 2006. After 69 rejections, I got “the email” in October 2004 from a small press who published that book and several others. Then in 2006 I got “the call” from Kensington about a little partial I sent them that had turned into Ceremony of Seduction. And now currently I’m writing for both Sapphire Blue Publishing as Tina Gerow and Berkley as Cassie Ryan.

DRose: You’re quite the busy writer. I can almost imagine you chained to your chair for days on end. Would you say you’re this disciplined as a writer?

Tina: I don’t have that kind of time. I have to take writing time where I can get it, which I do suppose takes a lot of discipline. That and I have to stop every hour or so and do something else – even if it’s just a bio break and walking away from the computer. As well as writing, I’m also the Co-Owner of Sapphire Blue Publishing, which takes up a good chunk of time, and I work 20 hours a week at Starbucks so we can have health insurance. That and, it’s a really fun job that gives you free caffeine! J So, life is a constant juggle to keep all of those, as well as time with my family and downtime, in balance. But it allows me to write and work within the industry I love, so I’m very thankful.

DRose: Do you plot your story before you write it or do you sit and let it flow?

Tina: I’m a combination pantser/plotter. I usually sell off proposal, so I have to come up with an idea, then a synopsis, then the first three chapters. If that sells, I usually have a general idea in mind as well as the ending, but it’s far from plotted. I definitely eek more onto the pantser side of things J

DRose: Do you consider yourself eccentric as a writer? Is there something you must have or do before writing?

Tina: I wish I had some fun, eclectic answer for this. But I can write anywhere and at any time. I grew up in a rather noisy and boisterous household and now I have a 15 year old, so I can tune out the world (much to my husband’s frustration). Although in a perfect world – I’d love to have a nice hot, venti chai J

DRose: Do you write to music or the TV?

Tina: I have several movie sound tracks with no words. (If it has words I end up typing the words…lol!) On my current play list are Harry Potter (all), Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Mummy (all), The Rock, Pirates of the Caribbean (all) and Van Helsing. I’m always looking for more – but those are great “mood” music.

DRose: Are there any current projects you're excited about and can share with our readers?

Tina: I recently signed a two book deal with Berkley for another Seduction Series J This one is about four succubus in Hell’s version of the Witness Protection program. The first book in the series is called Seducing the Succubus and is due out November 2010. The second book, which I’m currently writing and doesn’t have an official title yet is due out April 2011.

DRose: When you're not writing, do you have any hobbies or interests?

Tina: Writing used to be my hobby/interest and then I turned it into a career J Lately I’ve been a bit too busy to do much in the way of down time. But I’d say reading, travel, time spent with friends and family and some occasional hot baths with a book are my biggest stress relievers.

DRose: They say you can learn a lot about a person by their surroundings. What does your work area look like?

Tina: Lately it’s either a squishy chair at Starbucks with a hot chai beside me and my headphones in, or it’s me in my recliner at home, a glass of ice water next to me and whatever chaos-state my house is in around me. I use an online thesaurus and dictionary so I don’t really have a lot of “stuff” I need to write other than my laptop.

DRose: What do you consider your guilty pleasure?

Tina: Watching TV – shows like Dr. Who, Torchwood & American Idol J

DRose: What can you tell us about the workshop you’ll be presenting at the Desert Dreams Conference?

Tina: My workshop is an Erotic/Paranormal workshop. When they asked me for this subject, they said, “Since you sell well in both genres, this might be a great topic for you.” J So, I’m going to be speaking on some general things to keep in mind in those genres as well as some tips & tricks. Although I think the questions are always the best part of any workshop – because you’re answering what they really want and need to know.

Thank you so much for spending the day with us, Tina.

You can learn more about Tina and Cassie and her works at her websites.