Thursday, May 27, 2010

"Secrets" & "Serenade" ~ Erin Grace

Please welcome my special guest this week, the lovely Erin Grace who writes passionate historical romances for Lyrical Press!

Erin is generously offering one lucky commenter a copy of her recent release, Serenade!

Erin, so glad you could pop in today! Can you tell us a little about your two books, Secrets and Serenade? How did the ideas for the plots come about?
My first book 'Secrets' came to me in a dream - seriously.
With Serenade, I had this scene in my head about the heroine getting drunk in a tavern and liked it so much, decided to build a whole story around it....pity the actual scene was about halfway in the finished book, I had to come up with a beginning!

LOL! I'm looking forward to reading that scene :-) I love sale stories (ok I am just nosy!!) so can you tell us about your road to publication - and your call story?

I've been writing for about 2 1/2 years now, have always loved literature, but never attempted to write. What is more, before I wrote my first romance, I'd never read one in my life. One night, I dreamed of the story for Secrets and just couldn't get it out of my head.
Something was urging me to write it down - so I did.

For the next 6 weeks I sat at my keyboard for hours after work - sometimes til 4am - as the story simply poured out of me. But, being a serious business woman, I was embarrassed to tell anyone what i was doing. I 'buried' my file 8 files deep so no one could accidentally stumble across it and would click to another page whenever someone walked into my office.

But, my secret wasn't as well disguised as I'd thought. One night, whilst hammering away, my poor hubby stood in my doorway and asked 'Are you having an Internet affair?"
So, from that moment on I was outed!

Christina: OMG! Your poor hubby!

But, I really had no idea what I was doing and just started sending it to all manner of publishers hoping someone would tell me what to do next. Then, I contacted an author who pointed me in the direction of the RWA.

They matched me up with my poor, long suffering cp, who arrived on the scene just in time to catch me panicking as I got my first full request the very morning after I'd sent it away...and there was me, thinking I'd have at least weeks to polish, etc...ergh.
So, I finished the book in record time, sent it in, but had it turned down on the basis I had made a few 'beginners' mistakes (no kidding!), but, the editor was very kind and critiqued my whole first chapter for me, which really gave me some direction.

Then, over the next 8 weeks, I attended my first RWA conference, learned as much as I could from my cp and sent it out to other publishers. Four days later, just as I was shutting down for the night at 1am, an email from Lyrical dropped into my inbox. I read it. Re-read it. Got hubby to read it....then squealed so loud it probably woke the neighbours!

Do you write every day? Do you give yourself daily/weekly goals?

I really do try to write everyday, though my shifts are sometimes 10hrs long, then there's the kids, etc. I know it may sound weird, but I enjoy working on at least 3 manuscripts at the same time. For some reason, it helps me focus.

Goals can vary depending on priority. Deadline for production edits have to come first, but other than that, it depends on how my words are flowing. But, corny as it may sound, I live by the motto 'you can't edit an empty page'.

That's so true, Erin. Something I have to keep reminding myself!! So tell me, are you a panster or plotter?

Hmm...well, considering I enjoy writing synopsis' (try not to gag), I'd have to say I'm a plotter. When my ideas come to me, I always jot down the 'skinny' first. This is a bare-bones breakdown of the story as I see it at the time. Although I'm primarily a plotter, my ideas aren't set in stone and can change as the story developes.

I can see who to ask the next time I get stuck on my synopses!! What keeps you motivated when the writing gets tough?

Chocolate - and lots of it.

Christina: Yep, I'm all over that!!

Seriously though, this is one of the reasons I find having multiple manuscripts useful. If I get stuck on one, I usually find I can get into another...which inturn gets my mind relaxed and thinking. Quite often, once the pressure of 'writers block' is taken off, I'll stop mid-scene on another manuscript and cut back to the one I was having trouble with, with the perfect scene I needed.

I also find that at times the 'big bad blank page' can be daunting when you have so far to go and little concentration, so, I leave myself a little trail of breadcrumbs. How I do this is to go forward into the book whenever I have some great words or scenes I can use later, and leave them roughly where I think I'll need them. Then I kind of know where i'm heading, and if things have changed along the way, I can alter or delete the original scene waiting there.

Am I confusing anyone yet?

LOL, I love discovering all the different processes authors have! Is there any advice or light bulb moment you'd like to share about getting/being published?

I wish I had some profound or sage advice, but I look at myself as still learning. Although published, I realise that in this industry you're only as good as you're last book and the rewards aren't always what you hoped for. The moment you sign your first contract, that's when your education begins.

Quite often I'm told how lucky I was to be published so quickly, but I believe that luck is when preparation meets opportunity. So, no matter how hard it seems at times, just believe there is an opportunity out there waiting for you and be ready for it when it comes by.

Do you have critique partners (CPs)? If so can you tell us how you met up and your process?

I have several Critique partners, some of whom edit my work, whilst others read and give feedback. They are all wonderful! My first cp was, and still is, my 'goddess'. At the time, I didn't know why anyone in their right mind at the RWA would put me with an actual published author! I mean, how on earth could I possibly contribute anything of value to someones work who'd been published? I think in the first chapter she sent me, I built up the courage to tell her she made a spelling error, or something like that.

But, fortunately, she is very hands on and soon we developed a close relationship where we could be constructive, open and honest with our critiques, knowing the other wouldn't take offense.

Each cp has their own way of dealing with who read just love getting the roughs as soon as i've finished each chapter so they can follow the story (i've been in trouble for leaving them in suspense at, whilst the more full-on edits can take time. Meanwhile, I also try to critique their work and send back.

I don't know what I'd do without them.

Don't forget to leave a comment for Erin to go into the draw for a copy of Serenade!


Suzanne Brandyn Author said...

Hi Erin,
Congratulations on your release. Wonderful.

I don't know how your brain gets around three manuscripts at once. I have a hard time keeping up with two. lol.
That is some call story, talk about tense. :)

Can't wait to read this next one. Put me in the draw. Yah! :)

All the best,

Suzanne :)

Anonymous said...

Hello my lovely ladies!!
Great interview Christina. Congrats Erin on your release.
I'm lucky enough to have already won a copy of "Secrets" and "Serenade" but I wanted to drop in and say hi.
Tam :)

Mel Teshco said...

Hi Erin,
love your breadcrumbs idea. I jot down things I have to add in or need to think about at the end of my MS so I don't leave anything crucial out, guess that's my plotting (g)
Great call story BTW!

Mary Murray said...

Great interview, Erin and Christina! I don't know how you do it either, Erin, writing three stories at once. :) But it's working for you. Every story is wonderful and intriguing, and I love your characters!
Your lucky editor,

Anonymous said...

Hi Erin,
Great answers to interview questions...good questions Christina! I love your writing and find the characters live and breathe in my mind, the descriptions are so vivid, I can see it all as you write. I also have a copy of "Secrets" and "Serenade" and would encourage anyone who hasn't read them, to do so. I'm waiting for the next one!
Jo Duncan

Erin Grace said...

Thanks Everyone for dropping by - I'm really chuffed!. Isn't this a gorgeous site? Thank you to Christina for the opportunity. Can't wait to tell you all about my next release 'Fire of my Heart' which is my first dabble into paranormal...

Maggi Andersen said...

Your methods are rather like mine, Erin. Writing more than one story at once is a great way to break writer's block. While I'm working on one, ideas come for the other. Tom Stoppard once said that writing is like weaving the threads of a carpet together and that's the way you appear to work too.

Cathryn Hein said...

Hi Erin & Christina.

Sorry I'm a bit late catching up but I want to say how much I enjoyed this interview. I'm still smiling about your poor husband thinking you were having an internet affair!

Isn't it amazing how differently everyone writes? I'm very impressed with your ability to work on more than one ms at once. If I did that my brain would scramble.

Anyway, congratulations on the release of Serenade. Oh, and I love the title of your next one. Sounds very intriguing!