Today I am thrilled to host Ann Montclair, whose debut novel, The Billionaire’s Bauble, released TODAY from Soul Mate Publishing! I’ve already told Ann this many times, but I absolutely love her cover.
Let’s hear something about this new author: The Billionaire’s Bauble is my first published romance. I spent half a year writing two historical romances that I loved, but weren’t in publishable form. I “head hopped,” using multiple points of view in one chapter, sometimes on one page, and I gave voice to minor characters. Those aberrations were deal breakers for agents, editors and publishers. The stories were rich, and the characters were fascinating, but to revise point of view in 70k word novels is incredibly difficult. I decided to try contemporary romance, using what I learned with the historical manuscripts. I utilized only main protagonists’ points of view, and I moved my characters into the 21st century: I struck gold on my first try. The Billionaire’s Bauble was plotted in a week and written in four more. I spent a month tightening it, then sent it out and was offered a contract almost immediately. What a rush! Debby Gilbert at Soul Mate Publishing believed in my story, and it is available today! I also authored another contemporary romance titled One Wet Summer that Musa Publishing picked up. One Wet Summer is forthcoming in the middle of 2012. I’m currently working on a spin-off to One Wet Summer and am still trying to revise those historical novels! As for my personal life: I am happily married to a tall, dark, and handsome man, and am a mom to a couple of beautiful, talented children. I have a slew of cats and three dogs, and we live in the Finger Lakes of New York on acres of forest in a small cabin. I have a wonderful life, and I feel remarkably blessed. Thanks so much for having me as a guest on your blog!
It’s great to have you. Your story is fascinating. What is your work schedule like when you’re writing? I’ve got a very balanced writing schedule. I write in the mornings for several hours, take a break for lunch, get some exercise, and then write for a couple of more hours in the afternoon. I enjoy reading, watching TV, and cooking, as well, so I spend my evenings with those activities. I also revise while I go, so every morning I start with revisions and then move to generating more text. I average about 2-3 thousand words a day, five days a week. But I don’t beat myself up over a slow day. If I get 500 great words, but I work all day, I call it a win. My day job is English professor, but I am on academic sabbatical this year. Once I return to teaching, I will have to write in the evenings and on weekends. I expect my pace will slow, and I’ll probably only write one or two books a year. Summers are all mine, and we get a long winter break, too, so that provides a generous and accommodating schedule for writing.
An English Professor? I guess grammar and punctuation is no problem for you. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? I can’t end the work day with my characters in a bad place, physically or emotionally. I learned early on that I am utterly empathetic; I feel everything my characters feel, and if I stop writing with my protagonists in any kind of distress, I become depressed, worried, anxious–you name it—until I get the character to a better spot in my narrative. It took me awhile to figure that out, and I had sleepless nights and nightmares before I understood, “Oh, you’re freaking out about Sloane” (my heroine in The Billionaire’s Bauble). I’d get up, write her out of a jam, and feel so relieved. I can’t imagine writing a thriller or a really evil character because I’d probably suffer insomnia for a month!
I understand, I also hate leaving my characters in the a lurch. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books? I can now dispel the myth that writing is always fun, inspired, and rewarding. I thought of romance novelists as bon-bon eating, peignoir wearing, oversexed vixens. Nope. Though I do eat my share of chocolate, wear my PJs, and am happily married to my hero, writing is hard mental and physical work. Many days I wake up and would rather lie on the couch and read, but I sit my butt in the chair and work. Writing requires a work ethic like any other job. Plus, because there is so little chance for remuneration, a writer has to be dedicated to the craft. No one is getting rich quickly writing fiction. I’ve developed back strain and carpel tunnel syndrome because I spend so much time bent over a computer. First royalty check I get—assuming its big enough– I’m investing in an ergonomic chair!
Good for you. You might as well be comfortable while you become a huge success! What do you think makes a good story? Good stories are character driven. Look at the success of Philippa Gregory writing about historical figures we want to know more about. Diana Gabaldon has Claire and Jamie. Jackie Collins has the Santangelos. Lee Child has Jack Reacher. We love the pacing, the complexities of plot, the rich language, but we read those books voraciously because we want to understand those characters. Metaphor and description, as well as emotionally impacting plot, are crucial elements to storytelling, but when a writer follows the lead of interesting characters, just lets them tell their story, a reader is hooked.
I agree with that. My characters always surprise me with what they do and say. Do you love or hate writing sex scenes? I love writing sex scenes because I love reading them. If I am reading or writing, and I wiggle a little, I know it’s good. I learned everything I know about sex from reading romance. I don’t like pornography or voyeurism, but I do love experiencing lovers making love on paper. Thus, Sandra Brown is one of my idols. She can spend a whole page on one kiss. And no two kisses are the same. That takes real talent.
Ann’s book, The Billionaire’s Bauble is available here: Soul Mate Publishing