Today I am pleased to have an interview with author Serenity Woods. We met in cyber space last year and have forged a link, even though I live in the UK and she lives in New Zealand. The wonder of social networking!
Serenity has had several publication successes. Her paranormal Black Hawke Down was published in e-book by Noble Romance in February 2011, followed by her historical Surrender Your Heart in March 2011. She has sold a contemporary romance to Samhain Publishing White-Hot Christmas, which is due for publication in November or December 2011. Readers in the UK may have come across Serenity’s My Weekly Pocket Novel Bohemian Rhapsody.
Her contemporary romance SomethingBlue has just been released. I can’t wait to read it. Serenity has kindly donated a Pdf copy of Something Blue to be sent to a winner chosen at random from those commenting below by 10 June 2011.
Details of Serenity’s publications can be found on her website here. You will find lots of generous advice about editing on her blog here. I asked Serenity a few questions.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve been writing for a long time—since I was fifteen, in fact (I’m 41 now). I’ve always written romantic short stories, mainly because the short story market is so limited. However, I wrote novels in a variety of genres, from historical to fantasy to thrillers. I never had much luck getting agents or publishers, though, and last year, when I turned 40, I decided if I really wanted to be a writer, it was time to knuckle down and sort myself out. I’d won nine competitions over the years, so I thought I must have some talent. I decided to concentrate on romantic fiction because I’d had some luck with my short stories and seemed to have a knack at portraying relationships. Another deciding factor was that, because the genre is so popular, many publishers—especially e-publishers—accept un-agented submissions.
What do your family think about your work being published?
Do you ever get writer’s’ block and if so how do you get through it?
I can tell you with absolute authority that writer’s block does exist. I’ve had it less since I started writing romance. Before, I would often get frustrated because I couldn’t decide what to write, i.e. what genre, and that problem has lifted since I concentrated on romance. Occasionally I get stuck with a book where I realise a plot thread isn’t working, and with my novel No Lies in the Bedroom, I got two thirds of the way through and realised I’d written the dark moment too early, and got stuck. I went on to write another book (Seven Sexy Sins) before I came back and re-wrote No Lies. Both books have since gone on to final in the Harlequin Mills & Boon Great Beginnings competition run by the Romance Writers of New Zealand (RWNZ), and No Lies in the Bedroom came top in the rankings, so it shows that just because you get stuck, it doesn’t mean the end of the book. The top six stories are now being judged by a Mills & Boon editor, so I’m hopeful that maybe she might request a full of one of mine.
My only advice to someone stuck with a plot is either a) keep writing, writing through the pain! Just get words on the page, and hopefully you’ll write through the bad patch, b) jump ahead to another scene you may have in your head, and go back and fill in the bit you missed later, or c) work on something else and let the difficult bit stew for a while.
How do you feel about your work being labelled erotic?
Lol. It makes me smile.
I’d never written a sex scene up until last year. The first long romance I wrote, Bohemian Rhapsody, for My Weekly Pocket Novels, was going to be a sweet romance. But when I neared the end, the characters got to the bedroom and, well, I couldn’t stop there J (They actually cut the juicy bit, lol, but they edited it nicely, so I didn’t mind.) I so enjoyed writing the sex scene that I knew from then on I wanted to write erotic romance. After saying that, I had huge fun with Something Blue, which has lots of kisses, but nothing racier than that.
I’ve yet to have anybody criticise me for writing about sex, but I’m sure it will happen somewhere along the way. But I’m prepared to defend it. My characters are always monogamous and they usually end up getting married. The sex is always fun, loving, and gentle; I don’t believe in one character making another feel humiliated or embarrassed (other than in the teasing kind of way). All I can say is that there’s so much unhappiness, misery, and sickness in this world, I don’t see the problem in bringing a little more romance and sex into it.
And if you don’t like the books, don’t read them. J
What would be your best tip for newbie writers?
Don’t give up! The biggest thing I’ve learned over time is that there is no ‘magic button’ in writing. I read so many books on how to write, looking for the ‘secret’, but there really is no one thing you can learn that will get you published. It’s a series of things: learning grammar and how to spell so you’re writing is readable and flows easily; learning how to plot so you have peaks and troughs in your storyline; learning how to write believable characters and dialogue; all this comes over time, the more you read and write. The only real secret, as Superromance writer Katrina Bliss puts it, is Grit. Determination. Call it what you will, it’s basically sheer stubbornness. They say the main difference between a published writer and an unpublished writer is that the former never gave up. I actually think the percentages are something like this: 40% talent, 20% patience and 30% determination. Oh, and 10% luck. And maybe the patience should be slightly higher.
Just keep writing, and keep getting your work out there. Enter lots of competitions – I’ve entered hundreds, and the day you get placed in a comp, even if it’s only shortlisted, gives you such a buzz it’s unbelievable, plus it’s a wonderful thing to be able to tell an editor. Get yourself a critique partner if you can – I wouldn’t be without mine. I met Ruthie (www.ruthieknox.com) on the Harlequin Forums, and we hit it off immediately. We exchange chapters as we write them, and it gives me such a boost when she comes back and says she’s falling for the hero! Try to write every day if you can; set yourself a target, even if it’s only 500 words, and don’t leave the chair until they’re done. If you get stuck, write through it – just keep going, or jump ahead to the next scene and write that. Don’t give up!
Finally, could you tell us something about your new release ‘Something Blue’?
Of course! This was written as part of a call for a springtime anthology by Samhain Publishing. They’ve released it as an eBook, and will release it with another two novellas as a print book next year.
Here’s my blurb:
Josh Hamnett is Best Man at his mate’s wedding, and he’s determined that nothing’s going to go wrong on the big day. However he hasn’t planned on ex-girlfriend Kate Summerton appearing in the church, and he certainly isn’t expecting her to be the Chief Bridesmaid.
Josh and Kate’s break-up three years ago was so explosive that he can still almost feel the sting on his cheek where she slapped him so hard he saw entire constellations, not just stars. She was the love of his life, but he screwed it up and, after their monumental argument, he didn’t think he’d ever see her again.
Now he’s forced to spend the entire day with the woman who still haunts his dreams, who looks mouthwateringly good in her tight red bridesmaid’s dress. And to top it all, she’s not wearing any underwear. For a man with enough sex drive to power a small city, that’s not going to end well.
What ensues is a sometimes funny, sometimes poignant re-acquaintance of Josh and Kate as they gradually realize that they have both grown up in the three years that they have been apart, and yet the attraction between them hasn’t gone away…
This is from partway through the book.
Great reading about you my friend!
Thanks for sharing, and a Big Congratulations on all your success!
Great interview – thank you both 🙂
Great interview! Good luck with Something Blue.
Hi Ladies! And hi Morton! Thanks for having me on your blog. Wow, that's a big picture of me. I swear it still looks as if I have a glass eye 🙂
Thanks so much Morton and Serenity for the interview, and for giving me the chance to check out another author!
I'm particularly intrigued by the fact that she's not wearing any underwear. Don't know why though XD
Anywho, sounds like a great read Serenity!
Nas, Clare, Teresa thank you for commenting. The blog is creating a lot of interest.
Serenity – Thank you for agreeing to appear on my blog. Your photo is fine. Hope Something Blue is selling well.
Sarah – Serenity is to be admired for persevering with her writing and getting published. I need to take a leaf out of her book (sorry terrible pun).
Jenny – I'm intrigued about the underwear too. You'll just have to read it to find out!
Great interview! Serenity's writing is wonderful and I wholeheartedly agree about perserverance and patience… it's tough out there. Serenity didn't give up and is proof that determination is key – she also has a lot of talent – which helps!x
Good to read your interview and find out more about Serenity's writing. In need of perseverance advice – thank you.
I've befriended Serenity on FB as well .she is really, helpful and supportive. I love her writing, and the fact she lives in one of my favourite places in N. Z. Can't wait to go back there …. fingers x'd
Hi ladies, nice to meet you all. Yes, isn't determination a big part of writing? aka stubbornness. I have lots of that 🙂
Jenny, lol, the no underwear comment made me smile. Kate didn't want a VPL. She didn't realise Josh would be staring at her backside for most of the evening. He also stuffs confetti down her top 🙂
Trossachs… I'm guessing that's you, Mel? 🙂 *waves* Yes come back to NZ!
Great interview Morton / Serenity – some handy hints for us writers there. Oh and the best of luck with Something Blue too!
Very interesting – as always! Good luck Serenity.
Excellent. I think I need to go looking for Black Hawke Down and Surrender Your Heart!
…and I always wondered how people's relatives reacted to the erotic scenes – !
I was interested to read Serenity's thoughts on writer's block; I agree about getting stuck. I think of it as an amber light… or red, if it's really bad, warning that something in the plot needs a bit of unpicking before you can proceed. Excellent advice, too, about never giving up – that's the one all writers should take to heart.
Sue and Ellie – I'm working on the perseverance too!
Joanne – Yes I'm enjoying being friends with Serenity.
Serenity – Trossachs is Joanne! At least people seem shocked and interested in the underwear issue!
Xandra and Flowerpot – Thank you for coming over to comment.
Esmeralda – Do you write erotic scenes too? I've just written a bedroom scene and did have a little go at an erotic one. Incidentally this was while sat on the pool side during my son's swimming lesson and I was sat next to a particularly smelly man!
Chris – I think we all get the block every now and then, but it is good to have strategies to get out of it – Thank you.
Great Interview 🙂 Having just read Something Blue I can only say, go and read it! It's a fabulous story. I had to chuckle re the erotic love scenes. Not so long ago I *really* struggled with writing love scenes. But the more I write, the more erotic my writing has become and I know I've surprised some people. Heck I surprise myself at times 😉
Look forward to reading more of your work Serenity.
Hi Doris – Waiting for you to get published – your slot on my blog is booked!
Thank you to everyone who commented. Your names have all been put in my pink heart shaped bucket. I am going in serach of my eight year old who will enjoy picking one out. The winner will be announced shortly. Drum roll…..