Hello, Jean! I’m excited to be your guest. Marketing is my least favorite part of being published so with the September 3rd release of Fate Comes Softly, an anthology featuring three of my novellas, thank you for providing a list of questions!
((I hear you on the marketing part -- it's a lot of work!))
Tell us about what you write.
When I was in elementary school a teacher told my parents I was scatterbrained; that I tended to hop from one project to another. She said I always finished what I started but I should learn discipline to do things in an orderly fashion. Maybe that’s why I’m a multi-genre author, and maybe that’s why I write novels and novellas. If my muse wants a paranormal romantic suspense, or a historical time-travel romance, or a historical western with a regency flair then that’s what I write. By hook or by crook, somehow, several of my novels have made Amazon’s bestseller list.
I love this, Loretta, as I also hop around in genre and sub-genre! What drew you to writing?
My ability to tell stories began long before I was old enough to write. I didn’t grow up with loving parents or in a nurturing home. As a way to cope with abuse, I created several imaginary friends; some were human and others were animals. I could tell them my secrets without fear of retribution. I created imaginary worlds and mentally designed the perfect childhood. I was also a voracious reader. Books about faraway lands coupled with my imagination became the perfect escapism from an imperfect home environment. Little did I know that at that early age I would someday use my vast imagination to become a published author.
So you found inspiration in your own life?
I think most authors put a little bit of their personal selves into the stories they write. Because of my home life and then several years as a rape crisis-suicide prevention counselor, then 27 years as a teacher, I pull from those life experiences to create the characters in my books. I especially try to create heroines and heroes who rise up from the ashes, so to speak, who take control of their lives instead of wallowing in their misery. However, I once saw a billboard advertising a brand of cigarettes which inspired the cowboy western novel Brady’s Revenge written under the pseudonym L. W. Rogers (which I no longer use).
Tell us about your experience with the publishing process.
In my early years, I attended numerous RWA chapter conferences and pitched to agents and editors from major literary agencies and big publishing houses. I got so tired of hearing “we love your voice, we love your storytelling ability, we love your characters, but we didn’t fall in love with your story.” I had almost given up when I entered a contest sponsored by The Wild Rose Press to write a time-travel romance where the story began in an ivy-covered cottage in England. Wah-lah! My novella Isabelle and the Outlaw won in its category. It was published December 2007; and is now one of the featured stories in Fate Comes Softly. I count my lucky stars the day I became one of the roses in TWRP’s rose garden. In eleven years TWRP has published twelve of my novels, and now the Fate Comes Softly anthology that features three of my novellas: Saving Liberty, Isabelle and the Outlaw, and McKenna’s Woman is number thirteen.
On a side note, three of the largest publishers in the USA rejected my historical romance Bannon’s Brides. Imagine my glee when it was published by TWRP and made Amazon’s bestseller list in the USA and UK, not once, but twice.
Words of advice for fellow writers in the trenches?
Writers must also be readers. I’m not talking about reading just for pleasure; but rather reading to educate themselves on different writing styles—to see how POV is handled, how setting is integrated as part of the story, how research is woven into the plot so it doesn’t sound like encyclopedic regurgitation, and to pay close attention to how different authors develop their characters. Another piece of advice is to never fall in love with your words. Rewriting is the best part of writing. In the words of Stephen King—kill your darlings.
In the story “Saving Liberty,” Liberty Trivette makes a skillet apple pie with apples picked from Ethan’s orchard. Since she used freshly churned butter, apples off the tree, and made her own pie crust, I decided that for convenience I’d modify the recipe. I hope readers will enjoy Liberty’s recipe which is yummy and easy to make.
Oxford comma, yes or no? I’m a retired language arts teacher—yes!
Ice cream: vanilla or chocolate (or fill in a favorite flavor)? Butter pecan. Yum.
Coffee or tea or wine? Unsweetened tea—hot or cold.
What does your desk look like? I’m a writer. A messy desk is a sign of a creative mind.
What is your writing vice or must-haves? Total silence. I need to hear my muse.
Describe a perfect writing day. A perfect writing day is where the only reason I get out of my chair is for potty breaks, and someone else cooks the meals.
In an alternate reality, what would be your dream job (besides author)? I would like to be an ice cream taster (without gaining weight from all those calories).
Since I'm a hiker/travel-lover, what's your favorite place you've visited? It’s a toss-up between Scotland and lower Niedersachsen Germany. Both are beautiful and timeless.
You have a time travel machine. Do you go to the past of future? And where/when?
I would go back in time to visit places like ancient Egypt and the Roman Empire, and then possibly a little bit forward to the days of the old West before the Indian wars, and to the old South before the Civil War between the States.
What do you like to do when not writing? I like to sit in my recliner and watch DIY programs, and rest my brain.
Beach, lake, or mountains? No mountains for me. I’m afraid of heights. I live on a spring-fed creek, so the beach or a lake.
If you could meet one famous person, living or dead, who would it be? I’d like to meet Belle Starr, notorious outlaw. I’d like to hear the hidden truths that only she knows about her life.