Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Women of Color in Romance with Rebekah Weatherspoon @WOCInRomance @rebekahwsm

Hey, everyone! Some of you may recognize Rebekah Weatherspoon's name from when I interviewed her last year.  Since then, she's published a few more awesome books (seriously, go read the FIT trilogy--hot!) and has been hard at work on a social media presence designed to help promote women of color in romance writing.

I'll stop chatting now and let her tell you a bit about it!

First off, congrats on finishing the FIT Trilogy and on the well-deserved awards it’s won. Sated was a fantastic book, and a fitting end. I loved the little bonus scene with Grant at the end, too. Woo!  *fans self*

How did you come to start WOC in Romance--the FB page, Twitter, tumblr, etc.?

I was seeing a lot of pushes and promo for diverse YA books, but I wasn’t seeing any place that was specifically set up for Authors of Color. I wanted to create that space.

Do you run the sites by yourself, or do you have help? If you’re looking for help running them, where should people contact you?

It’s 100% me. At this point I just need book recommendations and books to promo so if you know of WOC who’s books I should know about TELL ME!

Do the WOC in Romance sites promote other authors/works? Can people promote their own diverse romance books? How does the process work in case a reader wants to promote a book by a WOC in Romance?

Again the focus of WOC in Romance is to highlight romance novels by Women of Color. Anyone can suggest a book to me via email, twitter, facebook, or tumblr. The only criteria are that the author be a Woman of Color. The site is trans inclusive and open to non-binary and gender fluid folks as well.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to authors of color? Or WOC authors of romantic fiction specifically?  

Keep writing, keep writing, keep writing.

What does “diverse romance” mean to you? Does it just include authors of color and/or stories including people of color, or are LGBTQ authors and stories included in the definition? (Just curious! I’d love to hear your take on this.)

I actually can’t stand the world diverse because it centers everything on certain groups that aren’t even the global majority, but since we live in the Western world, I believe it encompasses all that are marginalized due to their races, gender, sexual orientation, sex, and physical capabilities.

That's a great point!

Why do you believe diverse romance stories are so important? 

Because people die over these differences and it’s our responsibilities as members of the media to portray a wide variety of characters to readers.

You just returned from RWA 2015—how was the experience?

I had a great time. It was like finally going into the office after working from home for 2 years. Except your office is a bar and you love all of your coworkers.

I can certainly agree with you!

Where can we find WOC in Romance on the interwebs?

Email :

Readers: you heard Rebekah! If you know of WOC who's books need to be promoted, let her know by contacting her at one of the links above. 

xoxo Sarah

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Land of Enchantment!

Happy weekend, everyone!

Sorry for the radio silence over the past couple of weeks--oh, who are we kidding? You guys are sadly used to me not posting things for long periods of time--but the reason for my not-posting this time is quite different.

We've moved clear across the country to New Mexico where my amazing hubs will be starting a new job soon! We're settled for now until we find a house we like.

New Mexico's state flag
Also, in other good news, I ordered a new computer! It should be here in the next few weeks (I hope). I can't wait, especially since the one I'm currently typing on sounds like a chainsaw and gave me a dire warning this morning when I turned it on. I think it knows its days are numbered...

I'm looking forward to getting back to work (both writing and editing) and also hunting down a romance writer's group here. In the meantime, I'm enjoying the lack of humidity and fabulous hair that goes with it. I know that sounds vain, but seriously--it's amazing.

Anyway, there should be posts coming up! Stay tuned.

xoxo Sarah

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Interview Time with Rumer Haven!

It's a very important day for Rumer Haven--her very first novel, Seven for a Secret, has its book birthday today! *cheers* 

In honor of that, she's going to tell you a bit about herself and her writings.

Take it away, Rumer!

You and I have been friends for a while, but tell these lovely readers about yourself!

I’m a Chicago gal living in London with my husband. Professionally, I started out in finance, but after pulling a 180 about a decade ago, I went from instructing how to write and critically read fiction to writing and editing it myself. As a daughter, sister, and auntie, I am crazy-close with my family, which is the major drawback of living overseas, but I love London, too, and travel a lot. Beyond that, I’m a sentimental schmuck, part-time hermit, and binge-watcher who is easy to amuse and difficult to offend.

No wonder we get on so well. ;-) Yay, for part-time hermits!

I always like to ask, what are your favorite and least favorite parts about being a writer?

I love that I can lose myself in a story that I create. Drafting is probably the best part, when I can just vomit out ideas as they come (and not worry about sippin’ a little wine in the process), but I enjoy revising, too, because it’s like sending a manuscript to the gym to get lean and firm—then off to the spa for a nice buff-n-polish! So being a writer is the awesome part; I don’t really hate anything about it other than not always having enough time to be one. What I do dislike, honestly, comes with being an author—the querying before publication and the marketing after. But I’m of course very grateful to have published work out there.

I hear a lot of authors say that--they dislike the "businessy" bits, but love the creative parts to being an author. It's like any job with unpleasant parts. 

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to other writers?

Just write. If you have an idea, write it down. If you don’t have an idea, write anything down until you find one. It’s the only way a story will ever happen and the only way you’ll get better at it.  

Do you prefer silence or to have music on when you’re writing?

Mm…both. I usually don’t listen to anything, but when I do, it might be classical without lyrics to distract me from the words I’m writing, or just something soft and mellow that filters into white noise after a while. To get in the headspace of a story, though, I also develop a little “soundtrack” for each manuscript that includes songs either directly mentioned in the story or that evoke the mood of what I’m writing. For instance, I listened to a lot of 1920s-40s jazz during Seven for a Secret, and for my latest manuscript, it’s largely British alternative rock, like The Cure and Joy Division. 

I'd have loved to have been a fly on the wall listening to the jazz while you wrote! Definitely sets the feel of the book. 

And a very happy one-year book birthday! How’d you get the idea for Seven for a Secret?

Why, thank you! I can’t believe it’s already been a year. They just grow up so fast…*sniffs*

I lived in an apartment complex exactly like Camden Court in Chicago. Someone told me it might’ve been a hotel built around 1920, so that got my overactive imagination going on who used to live there over all those decades. One unit became available because an elderly woman had died there. My friend moved into it, in fact, and his cat hopped around by the doorway just like Agatha. It was seriously creepy, and we later learned from the next-door neighbor that the old woman used to always stand by that door, peeking out at whoever was coming or going in the stairwell—so we wondered if maybe she was still there, playing with the cat! The neighbor guy was young, but he did maintenance jobs around the place like Leo and actually helped ready this apartment for my friend’s move-in. He said how it was difficult to paint the walls because they’d yellowed so much, and how the lady had newspapers and crap piled everywhere. So there ya go. Meet Olive.

I think Leo was one of my favorite characters, but all of them were great! It's interesting to pull from real life experiences when writing--and truth is often stranger than fiction.

I know you're busy, but what are you working on right now?

I recently finished maybe the one-millionth revision on a manuscript that I started over six years ago and had shelved to work on Seven for a Secret. It’s another ghost story, mostly set in present-day London and with the occasional chapter in Victorian times. I’ve also started on a sort of Agatha Christie-meets-Ghosthunters rom-com that’s been stewin’ in me noggin for a while now.

I adore that format--the mix of modern-day and historical. I can't wait to get my hot little hands on them! *makes Mr. Burns hands*

What have your experiences been like writing in different genres?

I write contemporary women’s fiction, with romantic, historical, and paranormal elements. A mouthful, I know. My reading interests definitely inspire this mixed bag, and the ideas I’ve had so far keep leading me to this hybrid. So I don’t deliberately pursue one genre versus another; I write the story, and it is what it is.

And maybe because the different genres are so interwoven and interdependent in carrying out these ideas, I haven’t encountered much difficulty shifting from one to the next. As a woman, for instance, I naturally gravitate to the inner landscape and journeys of my gender through women’s fiction, writing mostly from what I know and feel. And a lot of that is based in relationships, so there’s inevitably some romance. I also love past-present stories because I’m fascinated by the idea of different generations walking the same streets and living in the same house. So that causes the historical and contemporary to collide, and since I’m a big fan of ghost stories as well, that supernatural element is an ideal (and my favorite!) way to connect past with present.

I’m probably most challenged by historical fiction, though, as there are obviously limitations to what extent you can write what you know. It requires a lot more research, but that’s fun, because it satisfies the curiosities that make me want to write a story in the first place. It also gives me a chance to play around with voice.

What has been your favorite scene to write so far (in any of your books)?

Ooh, that’s a really tough one…but off the top of my head is the scene where Lon and Eva meet on the staircase in Seven for a Secret. I modeled the Hughes home on a real house that I always gawked at, so writing this scene let me finally go inside and indulgently host a small-scale Gatsby party there! I enjoyed observing all the detail through Lon’s eyes—including Eva. She starts out like some Old Hollywood screen siren with her seductive cock-tease, but then right away those two find such an honest, humble place with each other. That’s what I love about them from that point forward; no matter what ultimately happens between them, they’re friends first and foremost.  

That is a great scene. Very vivid. (Readers, you NEED to read this book...for serious.)

What scene gave you the most trouble?

Gotta be the opening scene of the manuscript I mentioned before, the one set in London. For years, I have written and rewritten and hacked out and put back in so many different iterations of it, trying to figure out what the hell the true beginning of the story is. I’ve finally got it sorted, though. What is now the first chapter was probably chapter three or four in the first draft. It took a long time before I could bring myself to chop out that amount of content, and most of it really is just…gone. I only extracted the barest, most essential bit of it to parcel back into the current version as backstory.

Where can we find you on the interwebs?

I’m here! I’m here! Come visit me!

Where can we find your books?

Oh, twist my arm…

Thank you so much for stopping by, my dear! And, lovely readers, I can't stress this enough--this book is a gem. Go buy Seven for a Secret by Rumer Haven today! 

xoxo Sarah