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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

TOPIC: An Author's Life...with Paula Roe

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".

Please welcome my next guest...

In PAULA ROE’s former (non-writing) life, she’s worked as a PA, office manager, software trainer and aerobics instructor and is an active RWAustralia volunteer and long-standing member (holding the positions of Secretary, Vice-President, Contest Co-ordinator, Conference Co-ordinator and Hearts Talk editor).

Her writing won and placed in various (MANY various!) US and Australian contests and as a published author she’s a RBY Award and Colorado RW Award of Excellence finalist.  Her books have been voted Favourite Category Romance of 2009 and 2010 and she’s also been nominated for Favourite Romance author of the Year with the Australian Romance Readers Association.

A Borders Books bestseller and Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice nominee, Paula is currently published with Harlequin Desire and designs websites on the side. 

Author Facts 
Pseudonym or Given Name on the cover? Why a pseudonym? For my straight romances, my real name.  For my erotic medieval/fantasy stuff, an aka.  Why?  Well, I have a small child and there are some weird people out there... 
Blue Mts. - Australia
Location: I live near the gorgeous Blue Mountains, west of Sydney.
Published Genre/s: Currently published in category fiction and non-fiction. 
Website: www.paularoe.com and the coming-soon www.pollyarcher.com for all the naughtier bits :-)
First published in: 2007 for books. Before that, I had a bunch of articles in Romance Writers of Australia’s monthly newsletter.
Number of books published: by the end of 2012, I’ll have 7 books out, but I’m aiming for another 2 novellas in addition to that!

The Nitty Gritty
List up to 5 significant events in your journey to publication.

  1. Reading my first hard-core historical romance, Captive Bride by Johanna Lindsey. Up until then, I was strictly a cats-and-horses kinda gal.
  2. When my best friend and I decided we should actually write an historical romance. It was very basic, filled with masses of clich├ęs and was never finished, but it got me hooked on writing.
  3. Getting rejected by Harlequin Temptation in my early 20s. Of course, I can now see exactly what was wrong with that manuscript but at the time I was gutted. But it also meant I was determined to get better.
  4. Joining Romance Writers of Australia after years of tinkering with writing but never actually doing anything about it, and subsequently meeting this amazing bunch of writers who were working towards the same things I was.
  5. The first writing contest I won – it meant I didn’t totally suck and other writers thought so too!
What resources/techniques/events did you find useful to develop your writing skills/craft?
The internet – great for researching stuff you have no clue about!

Without a doubt, contests. Not just RWA ones, but the US chapter-run ones, because I was targeting the American market.

I think it’s important to understand that not all judges’ suggestions should be followed. I was, for a time, a big crowd-pleaser – if one judge suggested a change, I’d immediately change it without understanding why or if I should.

I think as time went on, and as more people read my stuff, I got more confident with my voice and if any changes to my writing was needed.  That was certainly a big deal for me and, I think, for a lot of writers starting out.

When it comes to feedback, suggestions should always be a buffet, not a la carte - it’s ultimately up to you to chose what’s right for your story. 

Can you share the special moment when you received THE CALL/THE EMAIL?
It was an email :-)  I’d spent the first part of 2006 entering all RWA’s contests, some finalling, some winning and I’m pretty sure people were sick of hearing my name come up at the awards ceremony!

As a result of my Opening Chapter win and RWA Emerald final, my mss landed on the desk of Desire’s Senior Editor, Leslie Wainger.  After our conference – scattered with a lot of “why aren’t you published yet?'s  Keziah Hill encouraged me to email Demetria Lucas, the Desire editor who was reading it. A week or two later, on the 9th September, I got an email that started with “great news!”

And you know, as much as having a child is a joyful, life-changing event, the actual pushing one out into the world and the moments after where you’re completely out of it, in pain and just want to go to sleep really sucks.  I have to say, a “we want to buy your book!” email was a much more pleasant process ;-) 

Looking back over your writing career, how have you grown as an author?
I have learned A LOT since 2006 (wow, that’s six whole years!!)  First I’ve learned lots about the industry as a whole, which is always the first step in a writing career (“knowledge is power”!).

I’ve gotten better at plotting and discarding stuff I know won’t work for my line. I’ve understood writing techniques and why/when to use them to greater effect.

I’m getting better at editing – removing the scads of adjectives when one (or none!) will suffice.  And I can write really, really quickly when a deadline is looming :-)

How important is it to set career goals? Can you give an example of one you have for yourself?
I’m ashamed to say I haven’t done the career goals thing, just year-by-year ones, which I regularly list on my blog.

I really should, right, considering I’m writing different stuff and this year will be my 7th published Desire..?  But I can tell you this year I am DETERMINED to at least flesh out this medieval fantasy tome that’s been languishing in plot form for the last (ahem!) years. 

Can you describe your writing process/timeframe from when you start a new book to handing it in at deadline?
Usually the first meeting between my characters is fully formed in my head, and of course, I’ve had the go-ahead on a complete story synopsis, so my deadline is generally 6 months from initial submission to handing it in.  So now the fun begins – lots of daydreaming, going through old notes, scouring the internet for ‘character’ photos, then writing, writing, writing.

Then I get bored, then I complain about how much I hate the story, then I watch more TV/surf the internet.  I discuss some things with my writing group, the plot begins to take shape and I get those little sparks of insight into my characters and their actions/reactions.

Then suddenly, it’s 4 weeks until deadline and my boy gets sick, or has issues with school, or SOMETHING. And then I finish the book, reread it a billion times, then send it at midnight on the due date.

By this time I know there’s an issue or two still to be ironed out, and I call on my fabulous editor to “help me!!  Tell me what’s wrong with this - arrrghhh!!”

By the time I get his feedback we’re pretty much on the same track and there’s another bunch of edits to be done... Lovely, eh? 

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 proposal 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?
The final edits!  Knowing that throughout the process, the story has vastly improved and you’ve given it your all.  That and seeing the cover for the first time... as long as it’s a good one (and thank the Gods, I’ve been fortunate so far...)

I also love writing down dates on a nice clean calendar.  Is that odd?  Release dates, deadlines, weeks I’ve blocked off for writing, guest blogging. I love my Day Planner and my Mont Blanc pen :-)

What do you like least in the publishing process?
I’m not much good at waiting – for edits, for a cover, for the release date... 

What's the most memorable fan-mail you've received?
Actually, it was a response on a loop I’m on – a simple “you’re an idol of mine...”  Made my entire week! 

Is there anything you think pre-published writers need to know about the business/industry before they're published?
Knowing what to edit out of your writing and knowing what to leave in is a fine art that only comes from writing, submitting and assessing feedback.

Rejection can get very disheartening  - that whole, “thanks but we’re going to pass on this” without knowing EXACTLY what you need to fix really sucks.  So if there’s any way you can give up writing, then do it.  If not, then understand there are many paths to publishing and sometimes it’s one step forward, one step back.  Some editors will love your stuff, and some will hate it.

Oh, and reviewers have the right to their opinion as much as you have the right to ignore it :-) 

A Bit of Fun
Favorite color: blue.
Hunkiest hero ever: Hmmm... I ADORE the character of Seeley Booth in Bones.  So complex!  And you can’t go past Mal Reynolds (Firefly).  ::swoon::  Oh, and Vin Diesel’s voice just sends me to pieces...
Most daring thing you've done in your life: That’s legal? ;-)  backpack around Europe.  Live in another country.  Or possibly, ask a guy on a date.
Greatest love: My boy, my cats, that new-release rush, handbags.
Timeout/relaxation for me includes: Surfing the internet and watching TV.
Special quote/saying you like: There’s two: “A goal without desire is just a meaningless dream” which I have over my computer.  And one I made up:  “Stop complaining, put on your big girl pants and deal with it.”

12 comments:

  1. Great interview Kylie and Paula,

    “Stop complaining, put on your big girl pants and deal with it.” LOVE it!!!

    and I totally get the Vin Diesel voice thing, major tingley goodness ;p

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  2. Hi Cath!

    Fans of Vin Diesel's voice unite :-) Yes, it is a tingley thing, isn't it? (thinking about it now, I've got goosebumps!!) I also managed to work his sexy, sexy voice into my third book, The Magnate's Baby Promise. My heroine has good taste :-D

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  3. Great interview, ladies! I certainly don't mind me a bit of Vin on the side. He does have a very cool voice...

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  4. Great questions Kylie - great answers, Paula. Love, love seeing how other authors tick... (Though with Paula one never knows if it will be a bomb! It's never dull...)

    And putting dates down on a nice clean calendar page? If that makes you odd or a freak - then we should form a support group. I have three paper diaries, and I think I have 3 so I can write things in 3 times. I could make a carer out of filling in my diary...

    This was fun! Thank you and congrats to both!

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  5. Ha! That reminds me of that 90s song... tick, tick, boom! :-D Thanks for dropping by, gals :-*)

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  6. BTW serious loooove for that photo of David Boreanaz...

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  7. Vin's voice registers high on my melt factor scale too - sigh.

    Thanks for dropping in Kaz, Erica & Cath, and for keeping Paula company! Glad you all enjoyed the interview (and Mr.Boreanaz)! :-)

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  8. You forgot your love of all stationary Paula! Great post BTW :-)

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  9. I enjoyed reading more about you, Paula! And my, you do have great taste in hunky heroes - I especially loved Firefly and the Mal Reynolds character!

    Congratulations on seven books with Desire! And good luck with that Medieval tale - sounds like an interesting romp on the wilder side for you!

    :)
    Sharon

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  10. I have a love of stationary Paula too, but I need to exercise to stay healthy ;-)

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  11. Hi Paula
    Loved reading your interview. My favourite bit: Then I get bored, then I complain about how much I hate the story, then I watch more TV/surf the internet.
    Thanks for a really down to earth peek into a writer's life
    Smiles, Natalie

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