HOW DO YOU PRONOUNCE YOUR LAST NAME?
Just like "Madeira" wine, but with an "S" on the end
YOU STARTED WRITING YOUR FIRST NOVEL WHEN YOU WERE 21. HOW OLD ARE YOU NOW?
I don't remember. When you get older, they say your memory is the first thing to go.
DOES YOUR PUBLISHER EVER TELL YOU WHAT TO WRITE?
No. The poor dears know it wouldn't do any good. People often ask me if there's anything else I'd rather be writing or "When are you going to write the book of your heart?" I can only reply with "I'm writing EXACTLY what I want to write and EVERY book has been the book of my heart at the time I was writing it."
HOW DO YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS FEEL ABOUT THE LOVE SCENES IN YOUR BOOKS?
I sweat blood over every love scene. Sometimes it can take me up to two weeks to write one. My husband always reads my books after they're published so one time after he'd just finished one, I asked him, "So what did you think of that love scene?" He just shrugged and said, "Oh, I usually skip over those parts." I wanted to lunge across the table and throttle him!
Someone once asked my mom how she felt about the love scenes in my books and she just smiled and said, "Oh, those are my favorite parts." And since my dad has been known to sell my books out of the trunk of his car and is the proudest papa you can imagine, I don't think he has a problem with it either.
I also attend an incredibly loving and positive church and not one person in all the years I've been published has ever said a negative word about my books. They announce my signings in the church bulletin. People pass books over the pew for me to sign before the sermon starts. Members come to my signings. Teachers swap my books back and forth at school. And when I went to my minister's house for a potluck, there on his wife's bedside table were all of my books!
CAN I SEND YOU MY IDEA/SYNOPSIS/MANUSCRIPT TO READ SO YOU CAN HELP ME GET PUBLISHED?
Please don't! I'm under a legal obligation to my publisher not to read any unpublished material. If I accidentally read something similar to what I was working on, it could destroy the work in progress and void my contract. I highly recommend that you seek out and join some of the local and national writer's groups available such as Romance Writers of America (www.rwanational.org). There's a plethora of information about writing and publishing available in libraries, bookstores and on the internet. You have to be willing to do your homework and educate yourself about the business just like I did. I can promise you that you couldn't possibly be any dumber about publishing than I was when I first fell off the turnip truck.
HOW DID YOU FIRST GET PUBLISHED?
I finished my first book, popped it into an envelope, and mailed it to Avon Books because they had published Kathleen E. Woodiwiss and Rosemary Rogers. After a year, they returned it with a nice rejection letter and profuse apologies for taking so long to respond. By that time, I'd done my homework. I revised the manuscript, then sent out query letters to 22 different publishers asking if they'd like to take a peek at the book. Some wanted to see three chapters. Some wanted to see ten chapters. Some never wanted to see me again. But within three months, I had a three book contract with Berkley Books. Several books and years later, I ended up right back at Avon where I'd submitted my first book!
HOW MANY BOOKS DID YOU WRITE BEFORE YOU SOLD ONE?
I actually sold my very first book. I always say that instead of writing ten books, I re-wrote that first book ten times. I was always willing to make any revisions that made it a stronger book and it was my willingness to revise and my skill at it that impressed that first editor enough to make the sale.
DID YOU HAVE AN AGENT WHEN YOU FIRST STARTED OUT?
No. I sold two books without an agent and then was able to get a marvelous agent. We've been together since 1990 and I adore her. It's definitely possible to sell a book without an agent, but if you're interested in a long-term career, then I'd advise searching for one. Always remember that NO agent is better than a BAD agent or even a perfectly nice agent with no clout in the business. And beware of unscrupulous predators, especially on the internet. It should never cost you money to sign with an agent. The agent should always receive HIS/HER commission from the sale of YOUR book.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE YOU TO WRITE A BOOK?
Anywhere from 5 months to a year with an average of 7-8 months. I ascribe to the Jill Landis theory of writingó"I can write a book in six months. It just takes me a year to do it."
WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL FAVORITE OUT OF ALL OF YOUR BOOKS?
No! Don't ask! It's too cruel! It's like asking someone to pick their favorite child. They might know but they don't want to say it in public <g>. It reminds me of an episode of ROSEANNE where Roseanne was going into each child's room at bedtime, giving them a hug and telling them, "You know Mommy has always loved you best."
I GATHER FROM SOME OF YOUR COMMENTS THAT YOU ARE A CHRISTIAN. HAVE YOU EVER FELT ANY CONFLICT BETWEEN WRITING EXPLICIT LOVE SCENES AND YOUR FAITH?
After much study on and struggle with this issue, I came to the conclusion that it's never a sin for an artist to try to depict life as accurately as possible, and that includes the sexual aspects of life. That would be like saying Michelangelo's David was "dirty and sinful" just because Michelangelo chose to sculpt the human body in all of its naked glory. Love scenes are no different from family scenes or conflict scenes or battle scenes.
If I'm going to make my readers a part of my characters' lives, then I don't feel comfortable showing them all other aspects of that life, then slamming the bedroom door in their faces. Many people who don't read romances don't get this, but romances are actually incredibly moral books. The hero and heroine generally have a monogamous relationship that always ends in a lifelong commitment, usually marriage. I've probably become a MORE moral person by reading and writing romance. I also don't feel like art is required to depict a perfect life. Every plot may not lend itself to marrying off the hero and heroine before they do the deed, but you'll usually find that while they're still basking in the afterglow, my heroes are already thinking, "Hey! I need to marry me that woman!"
I believe God gave me my talent and I believe he wants me to use it for good. When I recently received a letter from a woman who had just undergone a hysterectomy and was afraid she'd never again feel sexual desire for her husband again...until she read CHARMING THE PRINCE, it simply validated that belief. I will always respect the beliefs of fellow Christians who aren't comfortable reading or writing explicit love scenes, but I believe romances are beautiful and spiritual books that celebrate the best of what love has to offer and mirrors the love that God has for His children.
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