From Sarah, With Joy

Writer querying two novels and some other word babies. I tend to effervesce.

New post every Monday

Monday, May 30, 2011

Interview with romance author Roni Loren

So excited to have with us today fantastic romance author Roni Loren. She wrote her first romance novel at age fifteen, has a masters degree in social work from LSU and lives in Dallas with her husband and son. Her debut novel, CRASH INTO YOU, will be published by Berkley Heat January 3, 2012!

What is your writing schedule like?
My son goes to preschool four hours in the morning now, so I try to get most of my writing (and blogging) done during that time. This is a relatively new development. My first book was written whenever I could snatch a bit of time, which often meant I was writing steamy love scenes with Barney on TV in the background. Very sexy. :)

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always had an elaborate imagination. When I was eight, I spent like six months sleeping on the couch instead of my room because I was convinced my room was haunted and my stuffed animals were possessed. But I really took a true interest in writing when I hit high school. I was super shy and my dating life left a lot to be desired, so I started channeling that angst into stories. At fifteen I wrote a full length novel. It was horrible. All the male characters were named after members of New Kids on the Block and the heroine was named Love—because subtlety was my strong suit. But it was fun and kept my brain occupied when I was bored in class. I even remember buying a copy of Writer’s Market to find out how to query it, lol. I never did, but it was a good learning experience nonetheless.

How do you typically come up with ideas and develop them into a story?
This is always a tough question to answer. I’m not sure where the ideas come from. The littlest thing can spark that muse. I know for the book I wrote before CRASH INTO YOU I got my inspiration after going to a Buckcherry concert and deciding I needed to have a (fictional) affair with a rockstar, lol. (That book, for the record, is still under consideration with a publisher so not out anywhere yet.) For CRASH, I think I pulled a lot of my inspiration from my social work background and experience working with a few clients who’d suffered traumatic experiences. (My heroine in CRASH is both a social worker and a rape victim.)

What is the story behind getting Crash Into You accepted for publication?
While I was waiting for a publisher to get back to me on the rockstar story, I decided to try my hand at an erotic romance idea that had been nagging my brain. I really was doing it on a let’s-see-if-I-can-pull-this-off whim. I didn’t really think it would be THE book. So I wrote it with less restriction than I had given myself for previous books. I mean, what did it matter? No one would probably ever see this. I broke all kinds of rules. For instance, every other chapter in my book happens ten years earlier. It’s literally two stories being told—one about these this couple’s past and the other about their present. So *gasp* half the book is (shh..don’t tell) backstory. But anyway, I had fun, I finished the book in about six months and then I started thinking I could actually query this baby. I was proud of it. The story was good. I loved my characters. So I decided to go for it. Now I had to decide who to query.

A few months before I had finished it, I had been contacted by a friend (Natalie Bahm) who I’d met through blogging. She had sent me an email letting me know that her agent was looking to take on more romance authors and Natalie had seen some of my excerpts on my blog so she “knew I could write” and had thought of me. She told me that she’d be happy to give me a direct referral to her agent, Sara Megibow of Nelson Literary. Another of Sara’s clients, Miranda Kenneally, who I’d met through Twitter also offered to refer me. Well, at the time, my book wasn’t ready and though I could’ve rushed it, I didn’t want to blow my chance sending something that wasn’t there yet. So I told her that I didn’t have anything ready right now, but would in a month or two. Natalie said she’d give me the referral whenever. So when the time came, she did. I sent Sara my query and first 3 chapters and less than a week later, she asked for the full. A few days after that, she emailed me with all her notes she had for what she’d want changed and then asked how I felt about those. I loved her notes and we set up a phone call to discuss representation. I immediately could tell that we had a shared vision for the book, so I accepted her offer. Two major revisions later, we went out on submission to ten editors. Two weeks after that, Kate Seaver at Berkley Heat/Penguin made us an offer! They were my top choice and I was over the moon. Negotiating happened (and I learned why it is VITAL to have an agent) and the rest is book deal history. J

Who are the authors that inspire you, and what have they taught you about writing?
Oh, too many to list. But I can say that my 5th grade teacher read Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time to us and that was the book that made me want to be a writer. I loved the idea that you could be swept into a whole new world.

What most attracts you to the life of a writer?
So many things. Besides the obvious things like working from home in my pajamas, I love being my own boss and setting my own schedule. Most of all though, I feel blessed that I’m actually getting paid to do something I adore. I get to follow my dream every day and that is the most amazing thing I can think of.

What do you consider the hardest thing about being a writer, and how do you deal with
it?
The hardest thing is that it’s a solitary venture much of the time. Blogging and tweeting and going to writers’ meetings help with that, but being a writer can give you cabin fever sometimes. I also think it’s a job where you have to know how to manage your money. It takes a while to build up a career that fully supports you. The process is slow, the money is slow, so you have to be in it for the long haul and accept that (except in rare circumstances) it’s not an overnight or even over months/years kind of thing.

What's the best writing advice you've ever gotten?
I don’t know who said it to me first, but I think the best advice I’ve gotten is to be fearless and to trust my instincts. I tend to lean on the nitpicky, obsessive side (we’ll call it conscientious), so I can overanalyze things to death. And when I do that, I risk pulling back in my story, trying to play it safe. But every time I’ve done that, the feedback I get is “why didn’t you do this here” or “you need to amp this up here” and it’s always what my first instinct was—the choice I talked myself out of. In fact, I almost didn’t write CRASH INTO YOU because I had never written something erotic and I was like—ooh, I don’t know, what will people think and can I pull this off and yadda yadda yadda. Well, I went with my gut and that ended up being the story that landed me the agent and the book deal. So be fearless. Follow the muse and your gut.

Why do you blog? What advice would you give to other author bloggers?
I started blogging because I’d heard that’s what you were “supposed’ to do. I honestly never thought I’d stick with it. I’m the girl with stacks of journals with two entries in them. I had never really committed to something the required such a regular writing schedule. But then I started blogging and, miraculously, people started reading and I met these amazing writers who were going through the same things I was going through. Meeting other writers was like finding natives from my home planet. So I think those connections are what excited me to continue doing it. Now I’ve blogged for two years. I blog five days a week: three at Fiction Groupie where I focus on writing topics and two days on my website (www.roniloren.com) where I have a little fun posting pictures of hot men (i.e. character inspiration) and talking about things more related to romance. I’ve gained a nice following and have gotten a lot of exposure and as you saw in the earlier question—blogging helped land me my agent, so I’m a big fan of blogging, lol.

What are the themes you tend to write about, or genres you tend to write in?
I’ve written YA, contemporary romance, and now erotic romance (with suspense elements), so I’ve been a bit all over the place. But every story I’ve written has been a romance. I really don’t think I’ll stray from that. It’s the heart of what I want to write and what I like to read. I also tend to deal with themes of forgiveness, redemption, and finding one’s true self. My background and degree are in psychology/social work so I can’t seem to resist writing emotionally complicated characters with psychologically difficult backgrounds. I like to explore the darkest corners of people.

What do you hope readers will take away from your books?
Wow, that’s a loaded one. I want my readers to feel like they’ve been on a satisfying emotional journey—one that tugged at their hearts, made them laugh a little, and got them to go hunt down their significant other and say “How you doin’?” I want them to walk away from my books and have my characters stay with them because that’s what my favorite books do for me. I rarely remember specific plots, but when I can remember a great character (Jamie in Outlander, Eric in the Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood books, Rose and Dmitri in The Vampire Academy series) then I know that book is a winner.

Thanks to Roni for a fantastic interview, she's given us some great ideas and advice. Make sure to check out her blog and we wish her the best with the upcoming book!

Sarah Allen

p.s. I'm guest blogging today at Pimp My Novel, in case you wanted to check it out. It's an article I posted here a couple months ago called '5 Tools to Carry in a Conspiring Universe.

25 comments:

  1. Great interview! I really love that your debut novel was one you wrote just to see if you could. It's such a wonderful example of trusting your instincts and writing what makes you happy, because you never know where those stories might take you. And the new cover is gorgeous by the way. Saw a peek of it on your blog.

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  2. Thanks, Janice! Glad you like the cover! I'm in looove. :)

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  3. Great interview, Roni. I LOVED A Wrinkle in Time as a kid too. Still one of my favorite books. Can't wait until I can have my own official copy of CRASH INTO YOU. Still one of the sexiest books I've ever read.

    L'Engle FTW!
    Tiffany!

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  4. Hey, Roni!
    I didn't know you went to LSU. We lived in Terrebonne Parish for three years.

    And I'm a huge Jamie fan, too.

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  5. Great interview!
    Congrats on your success, Roni. It's so awesome to have been able to follow your journey through your blog, and I know you've inspired so many.
    I canna WAIT until Crash Into You comes out. I think I'm actually going to go into a real live book store and buy and copy made from paper *gasp*!

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  6. Thanks for the best advice ever: be fearless!

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  7. I love the comment, 'finding natives from my home planet.'

    What a nice road to publication and your book comes out right before my birthday, how handy! Good luck Roni!

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  8. Awesome interview. I love that you were inspired by A Wrinkle In Time. I've only just read it and I can see why it inspired you to become a writer.

    Thank you, Roni and Sarah.

    Ellie Garratt

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  9. Oh wow. I saw your guest post on Pimp My Novel, Sarah, and I clicked through to your blog. And then I was really confused, because I also subscribe to Roni's blog, but I *knew* I didn't click through to read her interview (saving it for later).

    Plus, I'm an alum of the Y, too!

    Cool!

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  10. Great interview, Roni! Thanks, Sarah. I just signed up to follow your blog. Roni, you were so encouraging that I want to jump back into my story, making sure, this time, to BE FEARLESS & TRUST MY INSTINCTS! Congratulations on all of your success. I'm pumped to read one of your books!!!!

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  11. Fab interview Roni! Loved the point of "trusting your instincts" !!
    And your cover is smokin' hot! Can't wait for your book to be released !!!

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  12. I love when Roni talks - I'm a lifetime fan!

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  13. Thanks for a great interview, ladies! After following your blog for several months, Roni, it's nice to hear more about your journey to publication. I look forward to the release of your book!

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  14. What a wonderful interview! I liked A Wrinkle in Time too; it's one of the few books from my childhood that I still like to reread from time to time.

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  15. Awesome interview ladies! Love hearing about what inspires writers, I also engjoy ' exploring darkest corners of people'. Congrats again Roni, loved the cover of your book and looking forward to reading it!

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  16. Great interview! I love reading writers' success stories, how they came up with "the" idea and how they landed their agent.

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  17. Fantastic interview. I have that stack of journals too. I never thought I'd stick to blogging, but here we are!

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  18. Loved your comment about writing steamy scenes with Barney in the background. I have four-year-old twins so my writing life has some similar features! I'm new to blogging too, so I found your story very encouraging.

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  19. Awesome interview!! Roni is awesome!! Awesome cover!!!! LOL!! So much awesomeness! ;) LOL!!

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  20. Tiffany, aww, thanks. I just can't wait to read YOUR book. :)

    Caroline, I didn't know that about you. My hubby is actually from Houma. :) I grew up in the New Orleans area.

    Christine, Wow, waiting for a paper copy, that's high praise! :) Thanks so much!

    Diane, Thanks! Glad it resonated with you. :)

    Catherine, Definitely an excellent idea for a birthday present, lol. Thanks!

    Ellie, My 5th grade teacher read A Wrinkle in Time to us at the end of each school day (it wasn't on the lesson plan) and it totally hooked me on reading.

    Jordan, thanks for stopping by! :)

    Patti, Thanks so much and glad the advice makes you want to go back to your book! :)

    Ju, thanks so much! Glad you like it. :)

    Sophia, You are too darn sweet. :) Thanks.

    Jillian, thanks so much! :)

    N.W., I haven't read it in a while, but I've already bought a nice copy to pass along to my kidlet when he's old enough.

    Talei, thanks so much! :)

    Danielle, thanks for the comment! :)

    Anne, Lol, good to hear I'm not the only one with the unfinished journals. (Maybe we just discovered that fictional characters are way more interesting than ourselves, lol.)

    Cody, Whew, twins. I bow down to you. That's a lot on your hands. And yes, as a mom, you just fit in writing wherever you can.

    Stephanie, LOL, thanks! You're awesome too!

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  21. Sarah, Thanks so much for having me here at your blog! :)

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  22. Thank you everyone so much for your comments, and thank you THANK YOU to Roni for the fantastic words of wisdom and advice :)

    Sarah

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  23. The "story behind" answer is particularly pleasant to read. She wrote how she liked, with less attention to affectation, and it paid off. Wonderful!

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  24. Great interview! NKOTB, hee hee! I had a couple of abortive stories with characters named *cough* Axl and Duff and... *coughcough*.
    Loved hearing your writing history!

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  25. Great interview! A Wrinkle in Time was also one of my first book loves.

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I absolutely love hearing from you! Thank you so, so much for your thoughts and comments, they really do make my day. Consider yourself awesome. Also, I do my best to respond to every comment within 24 hours, so I invite you to come back and continue the conversation :)

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