I know I'm in my own little world, but it's OK.
They know me here...


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

TOPIC: An Author's Life...with Valerie Parv

Being a published author is an ... involved ... process, and I take my hat off to those who've been in the business more than a few years now.

As a pre-pubbed author I was always curious about what happened once you received THE CALL and stepped into the world of publishing.

What did it involve? How did they handled the day to day pressures? Did they developed routines, set goals etc.? What did they like/dislike about the process?

So I asked my special guests these questions and many of them have offered some intriguing insights into their lives. Maybe they'll even give you a heads up on what to expect if you're thinking of entering the world of "getting published".

It's rather appropriate that I introduce today's guest on Valentine's Day - a special day for any romance author.

Considered one of Australia's pioneering authors in the romance genre, please welcome VALERIE PARV.

With 25 million copies of her books sold internationally, including many Waldenbooks bestsellers, it’s no wonder Valerie is known as Australia’s queen of romance and is recognised as the media spokesperson for all things romantic.

Already a successful writer of non-fiction, Valerie has made love and romance a career, with over 60 novels to her name. 
(See Valerie's booklist for a complete list of her books) Valerie’s short fiction is also regularly featured in national magazines.

A qualified trainer and counsellor, Valerie conducts seminars and workshops on creativity and all aspects of the writing craft based on her best-selling guides for writers: Heart and Craft, (Allen & Unwin, 2009) How do I Love Thee (Valerie Parv editor, Allen & Unwin, December 2009), The Art of Romance Writing (Allen & Unwin 1993, 2004) and The Idea Factory (Allen & Unwin 1995).

Valerie held Australia’s first romance writing workshop in 1988, which led to the founding of Romance Writers of Australia, and she has been a member ever since.

In 1994 the State Library of New South Wales, Australia, began to acquire Valerie’s papers for their collection and continues to acquire material from her.
"These papers detail the author’s career as one of Australia’s most successful writers in the romance genre and include manuscripts of her works and correspondence." [The State Library Collection, Annual Report]
This year Valerie moved to country NSW from Canberra where she was a volunteer guide at the National Zoo and Aquarium for 11 years. She draws on this and other aspects of her life for many of her novels, having spent almost 38 years happily married to her romantic hero, Paul, a former crocodile hunter in Australia’s tropical north, later a cartoonist and illustrator of many of Valerie's nonfiction books.

Valerie continues to write her page-turning novels because they affirm her belief in love and happy endings. As she says ...

"Love gives you wings, romance helps you fly". 
Author Facts 
Location: Country NSW.
Published Genre/s: romance and romantic suspense, non fiction, short stories and articles. 
Website: www.valerieparv.com 
First published in: 1979.
Number of books published: over 70, 50 are romance novels. Sales last estimated 29 million.

The Nitty Gritty
List up to 5 significant events in your journey to publication?
Writing a book about doing your own plumbing made me resolve to write something closer to my heart. Fortunately, my voice turned out to suit romance writing. I don't think a writer should try to change their voice to fit a market, but for me, this was a very natural fit.

Another major milestone was the passing of my husband and soulmate, Paul, in 2008, which knocked the stuffing out of me for some time. My writing has changed, as well. My Harlequin Superromance, WITH A LITTLE HELP, took my romance writing in a new direction, and I'm experimenting with others including flash fiction and possibly screenplays.

What resources/techniques/events did you find useful to develop your writing skills/craft?
There were almost no resources and groups when I started out, so I reinvented a few wheels without knowing it. The upside was not knowing how many romance manuscripts publishers were receiving, so I had no idea of the odds against acceptance.

Like the bumblebee which is not designed for flying, and flies anyway, I flew, thank goodness. My wings sag now and again, but basically I'm still flapping away. The idea is to keep learning, experimenting and growing.

Can you share the special moment when you received THE CALL?

Again, editors didn't respond by email when I was accepted. I got a snail mail letter which I picked up from reception where I had my office. I was the only person in the entire building. I remember my knees going week and the print blurring, then I called Paul from the switchboard. I had a deadline for The Changing Face of Australia, so I went to my office and wrote. The champagne came later.

How important is it to set career goals? Can you give an example of one you have for yourself?
As I say, I try to keep learning and growing all the time. No writer can ever know everything about the craft.

These days my goals are to use my blog, Facebook page and Twitter as effectively as I can. The great benefit is the amount of social interaction compared with the solitary life of a writer pre-social networking days.

My next goal is to publish a spec fic novel and write a successful romantic screenplay.

Can you describe your writing process/timeframe from when you start a new book to handing it in at deadline?
I gather you don't want the procrastination, the frustration, the conviction that every book beforehand was a fluke? They're regular parts of every writer's life.

The rest is what Bryce Courtenay calls "bum glue" - apply seat of pants to chair and get on with it. Talking about writing isn't writing. Research isn't writing. Putting one word after another, even when you think it's total drek, is what finally gets me there.

One of the things I found challenging about being a published author is the constant juggling of tasks ie. writing a book, editing another, planning promotion, writing the prosposal for another (and usually this all happens while holding down another job or dealing with family/life etc.).

What do you enjoy the most in the publishing process?
Without doubt the best part of the process is holding your new baby in your hands. You forget all the struggles, frustrations and fears, and just admire this wondrous thing you've created.

Any author who tells you they don't sneak peeks at the book to make sure it's real, and even read a few pages and marvel that they actually wrote those words is a dirty rotten liar. :-)

What do you least enjoy about the publishing process?
Least enjoyable is having to the work read over and over and over through the various editing and proofing stages until every bit of joy has evaporated.

These days that feeling tells me the book is ready to be released into the reading world.

What's the most memorable fan-mail you've received?
It was more a fan comment made at a Romance Writers of America book signing.

As I signed my latest for her, the buyer said she was stockpiling my books because she was having surgery soon, and they were her treat during recovery. Knowing you've helped someone through a tough time is amazing and humbling.

I also had many emails asking when Cade, the "fourth brother" in my Code of the Outback series, would have his story told. He finally had his day in a novella in "How do I Love Thee" an anthology published by Allen and Unwin.

Is there anything you think pre-publishers writers need to know about the business/industry before they're published?
Having a book published isn't the end of a road, but the start of a whole new journey.

A Bit of Fun
Favorite color:
hot pink.
Hunkiest hero ever: Hugh Jackman in Paperback Hero (sigh).
David Tennant comes a close second, the perfect Doctor Who IMO.
Most daring thing you've done in your life: Playing with the cheetahs at the National Zoo & Aquarium, Canberra, where I was a volunteer guide for 11 years.
Greatest love: Without question, Paul, my love and muse for 38 years.
Timeout/relaxation for me includes: Watching real estate porn, reading just about anything, collecting dolls house pop-up books and vintage paper dolls, and indoor/carpet bowling.
Special quote/saying you like: "I shall pass this way but once. If there is any good that I can do, or any kindness I can show, let me do it now and not defer it, for I may never pass this way again." I read this on a poster when I was a teenager, and have tried to live by it ever since.


  1. Hi, Valerie and Kylie.
    I was sorry to hear your other half is only with in spirit, Valerie, but well done you on 38 years! My husband and I celebrated our 27th six days ago. :)

    I'm not glad you still go through the 'my work is garbage' stage, but I am glad to hear that it seems to be a universal complaint for authors.

    We spent three wonderful years in Canberra and one year I bought HD the present of patting the King Cheetah. We were members of the zoo. Must have missed you though because I'd have buttoned holed you! :)

    Currently saving my pennies to do your online course.

    Thanks for dropping by Kylie's house for a chat. :)

    1. Sandy, I don't know any writer however multi-pubbed who doesn't go through that stage. Well done on patting the King Cheetah. I helped socialise them when they got to the zoo, meaning they jumped all over me till we calmed them down. *Waves to Wendy* Great to see you too!

    2. First off the mark, Sandy! THanks for welcoming Valerie to the blog with your comment and how jealous am I to hear that you got to pat a King Cheetah??? A LOT!!!!

  2. Oh I love that you say having a book published is the start of a whole new journey because it's so true! Great for us pubbed authors to remember too.

    1. Hi Wendy, thanks for dropping in and saying hi! :-)

  3. Wonderful interview! Thanks, Kylie :) and Valerie, I'm going to take this chance to say a huge thank you for the excellent advice (and humour) you share on your blog. You are both treasures!

    1. It's a pleasure to have such wonderful guests visit my blog - and yes, I agree, there is a wealth of advice & information for everyone! It's lovely to have so many guests to share their experiences.

  4. Aw thanks Jenny. I think Kylie mainly wanted an excuse to use Hugh Jackman and David Tennant pics on the same page LOL. Happy Valentine's Day too.

    1. And you'd be right about the picture excise, Valerie! :-)

  5. Thanks, Kylie, for hosting Valarie on your blog.

    Valarie, I shudder to think what might have happened if you hadn't been writing that book on DIY indoor plumping! And thank you for leaving us with such a beautiful quote at the end of your interview.

    Will either of you ladies be attending RT in Chicago? There will be a few of us Aussies there and if so, I hope to get the chance to say "Hi".

    1. Sadly, I won't be Fiona, doing a lot of travelling within Australia instead. Have fun.

    2. Hi Fiona! Unfortunately, I won't be making RT this year either. I will be at the RWAustralia conference in August though.

  6. Hi Valarie and Kylie =))

    Really enjoyed this post - and most especially the part about the journey just beginning once you're published (that's so right, and I'm just at the start of the road lol!)

    Valarie the love you shared with your soul mate brings a tear to my eye and I can only imagine it's one of the reasons the romance in your books is so real and honest =)))

    1. Thanks Mel, yes Paul and I had a wonderful ride. One of his sayings was, "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." :)

    2. I like that saying, Valerie. :-)

      Hey, Mel, thanks for dropping in. My guests for An Author's Life...have had some great responses to the questions. Lots of great advice and information.

  7. Appreciate your wisdom - your humanity shines through - and your good taste in men - your lovely husband and Mr Jackman!

    1. Rae, one of the joys of writing is being able to indulge ourselves...and call it research LOL.

  8. Valerie and Kylie, really enjoyed your post. It's fascinating Valerie to hear about your career journey...I really enjoyed your Super.
    Kylie, just bought your book from bookdepository. Looking forward to it!

    1. I'm flipping through Valerie's HEART & CRAFT - lots of gems in there from authors!

      Thanks, Karina - I hope you enjoy VB!

  9. You'll love it, Karina. Don't let her hear us but Kylie has a ton of talent, as well as a big heart with all the volunteer work she does.