Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Congratulations to Lindsay Pryor!!!

Photo: bayasaa
We are so very thrilled to announce that Hot Pink sister Lindsay J. Pryor has just signed a three-book deal with publisher Bookouture! Read all about Lindsay's exciting news here, and please join with us in extending your congratulations!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Mechanics on Monday: Backstory vs. TMI, by Natalie Charles

It's not easy being omniscient. When I set out to write a book, I know a lot about my characters and their baggage. From the very first line of the book, I know what secrets my hero and heroine are hiding from each other, and I know how these secrets shape their biases and interactions. I also know that I have to thread their secrets carefully into the narrative, slowly unraveling them rather than committing the dreaded Info Dump. Dumping information will slow down my narrative, after all, and discourage a reader from continuing with the story. Why read on if you know what's going to happen?

But Info Dumps aren't just bad form because they slow pacing. They're bad form because they're not realistic. They're socially weird, like that person you barely know who tells you about her embarrassing medical problem. I don't want to learn about anyone's gynecological history while standing in line for coffee, and my readers don't want to know in chapter one that my heroine really does want to fall in love, deep down, but fears rejection after her fiancé jumped into bed with another woman days before the wedding. That's all too much information for a first meeting.

Besides, let's get real: do any of us know, I mean really know, why we behave the way we do? Don't most of us react first and analyze later? To get a better perspective on my current work in progress, I started thinking about what I might look like as a romance heroine and how my backstory might read. My youngest brother is a childhood cancer survivor, and going through that experience with him has changed my life. His cancer was suspected of being environmental, so it's the reason I became a lawyer and now work in the public interest. It's the reason I ran two marathons and write even when I don't want to, because I saw my healthy, athletic brother's life change in an instant and I know I only have today. I'm sure that experience of visiting the children's cancer wing of the hospital—of seeing infants with tubes in them and hearing about a child my brother's age dying in the room next door—I'm sure that has affected me in ways I don't understand. It's colored my entire worldview and changed who I am. But I would never tell anyone about it unless it was relevant. It's simply too much information for a first chapter or a coffee line.

So let's go to my current work in progress, where I have a heroine who is genuinely warm, engaging and sensitive at her best and melodramatic and haughty at her worst. She is also fiercely independent, which can be either good or bad. Upon first meeting, my commitment phobic heroine may not consciously be aware of why she viscerally hates the hero. Rather, she will throw up defensive rationales that correspond with her worst tendencies: he's invading her territory, he's threatening her happiness, he's hurt her in the past and he's a big fat jerk. But then hero surprises her by being decent and by revealing a little bit of himself that changes her impression. When her initial theory of him fails, she is forced to look inward and to figure out how she could have been so wrong. This is when she realizes that she is very attracted to hero. All of her other knee-jerk reactions—he's a jerk, he's on my turf, etc.—protected her from having to deal with the real pain he stirred up: she is attracted to him, but her fiancé cheated and she doesn't want to be hurt again. That's the core of her pain, but it's not something that comes out until later in the book.

My point is that our real life baggage affects us in ways we don't always understand, and our responses as a result of that baggage are not always logical and orderly. People are complicated. The challenge of writing compelling characters is to make them human: to bring them on a journey in which they will come to understand their own history and how it has prevented them from being their best selves. Just as we don't always understand our responses to situations and people, our characters shouldn't, either. That's what will make them fascinating and wonderful and, ultimately, people we want to spend more time getting to know.

Friday, October 26, 2012

About Us: Tina Vaughn

Have you enjoyed getting to know the ladies of The Hot Pink Typewriter a little better? I know I have...except, now it's my turn in The Hot Seat, and I'm a little nervous. *gulp* So pull up a chair, grab some coffee or a cocktail, and let's chat. Just in case you need some incentive, I may mention Damon Salvatore and Daryl Dixon somewhere in this post. ; )

How and why did you get involved with The Hot Pink Typewriter?

Natalie Charles and Olivia Miles approached me (first through Twitter and subsequently emails) about this idea they had for a group blog. I was immediately excited to be included in this lovely group of talented authors I admire and respect. I also loved the idea of sharing our ups and downs, knowledge and experience and creating an atmosphere where we could meet and make new friends who enjoy reading and/or writing romance as much as we do.

What sub-genre of romance do you write and why?

I write steamy contemporary novellas and category-length romances, though I read across the romance sub-genres. I think I gravitate toward contemporary because of my years as a newspaper editor, where I focused on current events and pop culture. I just have to know what's going on now!

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? What prompted this interest?

I did. Some of my earliest memories are of reading fairy tales. But, while other girls my age pretended to be princesses, I wanted to be Lois Lane. I remember poking the lenses out of an old pair of sunglasses, wearing them and scribbling in a little notebook, then writing my stories on my Winnie the Pooh typewriter. Seriously, I was three or four at the time. I also had a weird obsession with red lipstick, but that's for a different blog post, I think.

Did contests play a role in your writing journey? If so, in what ways did you find them beneficial? And what, if any, were the drawbacks?

Yes. No Sweeter Love was actually published as the result of a contest. I didn't win, but the editor who was judging requested my manuscript. I also met a lot of my writing friends (The Hot Pink Typewriter ladies included) through online contests. Personally, I've not experienced any drawbacks with contests, but then again, I've never approached a writing contest as if it's a competition. Does that make sense? I can imagine contests being very frustrating if your only goal is to win – and then you don't. As long as a writer thinks of the contest as a learning experience and chance to network with other like-minded writers, then I don't see a drawback.

What point are you currently at in your writing journey?

 I'm still writing. Still submitting. Still sitting on pins and needles and obsessively checking my email inbox. Writing and publishing is such an exciting journey. I'm enjoying the ride.

Describe what makes a perfect hero for you. And what makes a perfect heroine?

I don't know why I think this is the hardest question. Ugh. I guess some of the basic must-haves for a perfect hero (at least for me) are strength, intelligence, wit and humor. Actually, those same characteristics apply to my heroines, as well. Together, I think they should bring out the worst and best in each other. Other than that, I just try to write characters that I can picture myself hanging out with. If I don't like them, who will?

What does HEA mean to you?

It means the hero and heroine are in love and will be together forever. I need more than the words “I love you,” though. When I'm reading, I need to feel that the relationship has been twisted, tormented and tested – that it went though an emotional zombie apocalypse and survived.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

All around me. People, articles, conversations I overhear, beautiful scenery, etc. You name it. A great story can be found anywhere you look.

Name your five favorite movies/books, or those that have influenced you the most and how.

Pride & Prejudice

Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, feminism, challenge to social conventions, a forbidden attraction, the crazy Bennet family and Pemberly. *sigh* What's not to love?

Jane Eyre

It's such a dark and passionate novel, and so progressive for its time. The push and pull of morality and sexuality, combined with the themes of gender and societal norms and expectations fascinates me. Every time I read Jane Eyre I feel like I'm reading it for the first time.

Gone With the Wind

I watched the movie before I read the book, and when it ended, I think I actually yelled at the television screen. I could not believe that Rhett and Scarlett did not get their happily ever after. I think I was severely traumatized and this could be the main reason I write HEA romance. I love the book, as well. There's a part where Rhett compliments Scarlett's eyes by comparing them to fish in fishbowls. I still die laughing every time I read that.

The Vampire Diaries

Teenage angst. Vampires. Love triangle. These books, but especially the television show, pushes all my hot buttons. Also, I have an unhealthy, and sometimes debilitating crush, on Ian Somerhalder as Damon Salvatore. Make of that what you will.

The Walking Dead

This is probably my favorite television show. Aside from the fact that I'm equal parts scared to death and fascinated by zombies, this is one of the best-written shows I've ever watched. Want a crash course in character development? Take a day or two to watch the series and take particular note of Daryl Dixon's character arc. I. Love. Him.

Tell us about your greatest writing challenges and how you work through them.

I'm a perfectionist. I also edit as I write. This really slows down the writing process for me and can be very frustrating. I also go through bouts of my writing is crap, though I try to keep myself out of the doldrums for any length of time, usually by enjoying a cocktail or two, eating some chocolate or reading a great book. There's nothing like a little break to get your creative juices flowing again.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

“Prove you were there.”
When I was first starting out as a journalist, one of my first assignments was to cover a high-profile murder trial, and I was scared. While writing my article, I double-checked all the legal terms and quotes. I meticulously fact-checked every piece of information I used in my story, then I submitted it to my editor. She said: “this is great, but (oh, the evil but) you need to prove you were there.”
“You could've written this from your desk,” she explained. “Show me you were in that courtroom.” And then I understood. I'd gotten so caught up in the black and white of the facts that I'd neglected the color. What were people actually doing in that packed courtroom that day? That little piece of advice always pops into my head when I'm writing. Have I set the scene? Have I used all five senses? Are the descriptions vivid and accurate?

What are your hopes and aspirations for your career?

The world is full of dark and depressing news. Fear and hate and worry. I want a reader to get lost in one of my books, forget their fears and worries for a little while, and smile.

Thanks so much for joining me.

Questions? Fire away.

I look forward to chatting with you.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Dude, that's so trope: by Tina Vaughn


I just hate that word. I'm not sure why. To me, trope sounds like some kind of teenage slang. *shakes fist* “Get off my lawn, you pesky kids.”

Webster's Dictionary basically tells me that a trope is a cliché. I know. I know. Maybe that's why I have a problem with the word. Trope, by its very definition, implies both overuse and unoriginality. (Gasp. The horror!)

You know what's pretty awesome, though? Among the many synonyms for trope and cliché, you'll find the word truism–and that, my fellow writers and readers, is why we love tropes, especially in short and category-length romance. A universal truth. An undoubted truth. Some situation we identify with and/or intrinsically know.

Some examples of romance tropes include, but aren't limited to: boss/employee, makeovers, amnesia, secret baby, accidental pregnancy, blackmail or revenge, marriage of convenience, fake engagement, etc.

If it helps, you can think of your trope as the hook of your story, the idea that attracts readers. And just because an author uses a trope, or several, doesn't mean a book will be predictable, boring or lacking in excitement and creativity. It's all in what you do with your plot, characters and conflict.

Readers love certain types of stories. I will devour a marriage of convenience or fake engagement story in one sitting. I've read hundreds of them. Maybe even thousands. But I never get tired of that trope, and other readers who are fans of certain types of stories, won't get tired either…as long as the writing is strong and original.

Think of it this way. Two nights per week my family eats chicken for dinner, and I'm in charge of the cooking. What if I all I did was grill some chicken breast and leave it at that? That chicken's pretty good the first night. Okay the second night. By week four, I can guarantee you my family, and my own taste buds, are rebelling. That's why I change it up. We have stir-fry, fajitas, pasta, burgers, gumbo and anything else I feel like cooking. We're still eating chicken, but I've changed the other ingredients.

Everyone's full, happy and looking forward to more. Isn't that exactly what we writers and readers want?

What are your favorite tropes to read and/or write?

Can you share some book recommendations?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

We're Having a Party-Congrats Jennifer Faye!!!


Jennifer Faye

has sold to Harlequin Mills & Boon Romance/Cherish!!!!!
Raise your glass and join us in a celebratory toast!
Congratulations Jennifer, we're so thrilled for you!!!!

Friday, October 19, 2012

About Us: Olivia Miles

Hello and welcome to the next installment of our About Us series. I'm in the Hot Seat today and I'm shedding a little light on my experiences, so thanks for stopping by!

How and why did you get involved with The Hot Pink Typewriter?
It started out as an idea between Natalie and me, and as we started more seriously discussing it, we got Victoria involved. Together, we thought of a few others we wanted to include with the specific goal of creating a diverse group of writers at various stages in their careers, who write different sub-genres of romance, and thus a blog was born. 

I’ve always been impressed by how supportive and close-knit the romance writing community is, especially when writing is such a solitary activity, and I was excited to have an outlet to get more involved with other writers.

What sub-genre of romance do you write and why?
I write contemporary romances and my first book will be released through Harlequin Special Edition. I love that this genre allows me to write about fresh, modern, strong heroines in "this could happen to me" situations.

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? What prompted this interest?
Always, and I think that's why I am still pinching myself that I actually fulfilled my dream. I can't say what prompted this other than the simple fact that I just always loved books and I wanted to have one of my own. I would always ask to go to the bookstore instead of the toy store, and we have pictures of me ripping open Christmas presents, clearly freaking out over a copy of Ramona Quimby, Age 8. (Like, screaming with joy.) I was writing stories as soon as I could hold a pencil, but I also liked the idea of having an actual book. I can remember writing stories and then binding them into some crude book form at an early age. It was always important to me to have that end product. I just loved books. I still do :-)

Did contests play a role in your writing journey? If so, in what ways did you find them beneficial? And what if any were the drawbacks?
Yes. The first book I sold (working title of ‘Twas the Week Before Christmas) was the winner of Harlequin Special Edition’s Happy Holidays First Chapter Contest. The contest win led to a full request and shortly thereafter, The Call. I knew as soon as that contest popped up that I had a story for it, but I entered with the hope of getting my work seen, so the outcome of the contest was very surprising. It was the first contest I ever entered, and I never expected to win.  

I also entered last year’s New Voices and SYTYCW contests, though I had to pull out of SYTYCW as I sold my other manuscript in the midst of the contest. Both experiences were very motivating and forced me to finish and polish a manuscript. There is also a great sense of camaraderie with some of these larger contests. I met many wonderful writers and friends through both contests, including dear friend and HPT sister, Victoria.

What point are you currently at in your writing journey?
I am currently learning the ropes of being a contracted author. I had always thought that once you sold a book, the journey was over. Now I am realizing that it is truly just beginning. I reached my lifelong goal, and now the real work begins.

Describe what makes a perfect hero for you. And what makes a perfect heroine?
I like my heroes to have a bit of an edge. I have always had a personal weakness for bad boys, and my dating history is living proof! There’s something about the transformation of a hero that gets me every time. 

I also like a really strong, modern heroine. I tend to write heroines who are down to earth, perhaps even slightly self-deprecating, women who I would be friends with in real life, and women who know what they want from their life - and that extends beyond landing a man. My heroines have dreams and goals, and they don’t toss them aside when the hero comes knocking. My heroines hold their own. They can take or leave a hero who is behaving badly, and maybe that’s a little incentive for him to try and step it up a bit and win her over.

What does HEA mean to you?
I like a satisfying ending in any book I read, and to me that usually requires characters to get what they deserve or to reach a realistic conclusion to the situation they created. In romance, the ending is obviously a happy one, and as a writer of romance, I feel it is my responsibility to make sure my characters are on a path that would make them deserving and capable of resolving their issues with themselves and each other so that they achieve everlasting love in a believable way. 

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Whenever I brainstorm a new project, I start with the characters, and so I think it is fair to say that they inspire me and guide the story. I take time in creating the hero and heroine, as well as side characters, and I think about their pasts, their interactions, and their personalities. From there I start asking myself how my characters would behave in different situations, and it tends to start falling into place. Often times a secondary character will inspire me enough to consider a spin-off story, as well.

Name your five favorite movies/books, or those that have influenced you the most and how.  

* Everwood. This show inspired me to write small town romances, with characters who all know one another, and a storyline that feeds off those interactions. I love the sense of community and the dynamics between the characters. There is a great sense of place which I strive to achieve in my own work.  

* Richard Yates. While not a fan of the HEA, I am forever impressed with his impeccable ability to capture the complications of human relationships, and his brave showing of raw emotion.  

* General Hospital. This is a true guilty pleasure, and I do not miss an episode. Ever. What I love about this show is that I never have to part with my favorite characters, and many have been with me since I was a toddler. It’s always sad to part with characters at the end of a book or movie, but with GH, I never have to. (I mean, even if they die, they usually find a way back eventually…)  

* Other favorite authors include: Joyce Carol Oates, Elinor Lipman, Tom Perrotta, Nicholas Coleridge, Marian Keyes, Zoe Heller, Rona Jaffe, and Maeve Binchy.

* For movies, I am a Woody Allen and Hitchcock fan, and I love mini-series, particularly North and South and Anne of Green Gables/Avonlea. I love romantic comedies: Anything from Nora Ephron is a huge hit with me. Same goes for Nancy Myers. 

Tell us about your greatest writing challenges and how you work through them.
I have always struggled with my own inner critic, and this extends beyond my writing, but can of course be crippling for a writer if you do not overcome it. Taking constructive criticism was therefore difficult at first given that I am so self-critical to begin with, but I’ve learned to embrace feedback because it always makes the final outcome stronger. I’m a bit of a perfectionist - maybe more of a control freak, actually - so it is easy to get caught up in everything I should have done better, but I am trying not to sweat the small stuff, not to be so hard on myself, and to just focus on putting out the best book I can each time. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
 "If you don't have dreams, they can't come true." My dad has always said this to me. If you want something badly enough, you just push through the tough times.What's the alternative? To give up?

What are your hopes and aspirations for your career?
For now, I am taking things as they come and enjoying every step of the journey. I’d like to see my career grow and advance, and I am constantly focused on moving things forward, but I am taking it one day at a time, as the saying goes…

Thanks so much for visiting with me! If you want to learn more about me, feel free to visit my website: www.oliviamiles.net.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Revisions: The Good, The Bad, and The Surprising by Victoria James

This last year has been an absolute whirlwind for me.  Since pursuing publication, I’ve always been able to create my own schedule.  Finding the time to write in between moving houses (more than a few times), babies, ‘real’ work, friends, family, and of course, my DH, was always a challenge-but I didn’t have to answer to anyone. 
My first set of revisions for my first Indulgence landed last month-with a loud thud.  That thud was the sound of my heart as it dropped to the ground-I had 2 weeks.  No big deal, right?  Well, I was juggling a few other projects at the time so the thought of jumping back and forth was overwhelming, even though I knew that’s just part of the job.  Everyone does it, it’s about time I learned too.  Throw in kids getting sick, DH and I getting sick, another set of edits, and two different proposals on the go, I was *slightly* freaking out.
But, I sucked it up, held my breath and opened the attachment filled with lots and lots of red, and blue and I think maybe brown.  And then I shut it.  After a few minutes (and maybe a few panicked emails to Olivia and Jennifer) I opened it again.  I forced myself to read the comments and take deep breaths.  I did survive...and here's the rundown on what I’ve learned the last month:

1)   Revisions aren’t just about what you need to change or where you went ‘wrong.’  They are about deepening the conflict, making motivations clearer, and putting your best work forward.  This is it, your last chance to add, delete, or change something before your 'baby' goes out into the world.

2)   Don't delete your playlist!  I create a playlist for each book I write.   This really helped me get right back into the ‘zone’.  I wrote this book almost two years ago.  It sold last January-but the second I put on the playlist for this book I was transported back and visited with my old friends.  It happens to be a Christmas book, so it was even more crucial to get into the Christmas mood right away.

3)   Editors actually write some nice comments in the manuscript :-)  Since this is such a solitary business, and up until a book releases, it’s very hard to imagine what people will find funny, or touching.  Seeing comments in the margin like LOL, YES! or LOVE THIS totally made my day.  And at a few points during the revising process when I was totally stumped, I'll admit I went back to those spots in the margins where those comments were, and they gave me the confidence that maybe I did know what the heck I was doing.

4)   I loved ALL the revision suggestions my editors gave me.  Yup.  Every.  Single.  One.  Now, maybe not initially, but they were so good and so true to my characters and my story.  I felt like they really 'got' my characters.  I know the book is so much stronger-and had it not been for my awesome editors-I don't know that I would have thought to make those changes.

5)  There’s a lot less cutting, and a heck of a lot more adding than I would have thought.  I was able to write new scenes-and I had so much fun doing it.  It’s a lot easier to write a few scenes about characters that I love even more now, than having to write the entire book! 

Now I'm off to well, tackle another set of revisions for my January book! 

Now that my release is about a month away, I have a new focus for my anxiety-release day and reviews!!!  I break out into a cold sweat just thinking about it...Maybe I’ll be back to write a post on that-if I survive ;-)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Helen Lacey Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations, Cathy Shouse!

You are the winner of Helen Lacey's November release, Marriage Under the Mistletoe!

Please contact Helen Lacey on mail@helenlacey.com to claim your prize!

Happy Reading :-)  

Monday, October 15, 2012

Q&A with Special Edition Author Helen Lacey

I am so excited to have fellow Special Edition author Helen Lacey in our hot seat today. And as an added perk, Helen is also giving away a signed copy of her upcoming release, Marriage Under the Mistletoe, to one lucky commenter, so be sure to chime in for your chance to win.

Q. Welcome, Helen, and thanks so much for joining us today. Can you tell us a little about your November release, Marriage Under the Mistletoe?

Marriage Under The Mistletoe is my second book for Harlequin Special Edition and continues with the lives and loves of the residents of a small Australian seaside town called Crystal Point

Q. Can you describe your writing process? Do you have a daily routine?

I’m now a full time writer and try to write every day. I’m not particularly organized in my process and am something of a pantser – but by the time I settle into writing a new book I’ve usually had it percolating in my head for six months or so. I write a brief outline and then get started. Ideally, I like to get at least six hours writing time in every day.

Q. You have a great fondness for animals. Can you tell us about your menagerie?

Yes, I do have something of a menagerie – eight horses (including a miniature pony who roams the back yard and watches TV through the window) , two dogs, three birds, two adorable Ragdoll cats and a house cow named Ginger. No goats or Alpacas yet, but I’m working on that one :-) . I’ve always had a strong connection with animals - and horses in particular – and I love the time I get to spend with them every afternoon. It’s all part of that work/life balance for me.

Q. Your love for horses played a large role in your first book. Is this an element readers can expect in your other books?

Hopefully, yes. It’s fabulous to be able to incorporate my horses into my stories – in fact, two of the horses in my first book Made For Marriage were actually horses I have owned. Because animals are such a huge part of my life, I love making them part of my character’s lives too.

Q. How do you balance social media and promotion with your writing schedule?

I try to keep the work at the forefront. There’s no point in doing a whole lot a promotion if the books don’t get written. In saying that, I did a book tour for the release of my first book and it was a lot of fun, connecting with readers and other writers. I’m on Twitter, have my own website and belong to a couple of other sites (Special Edition Authors & LoveCats Downunder) where I blog. Plus there’s Facebook and Goodreads. I will be doing some promotion for my next two books, but I always try to get my writing hours in for the day before I do anything else.

Q. Can you tell us about your journey toward publication?

I had a very long apprenticeship. I submitted my first completed MS to Mills & Boon way back in 1987 and sold to Harlequin Special Edition in 2010. It took many, many rejections before I sold to the line that has long been my favourite. A couple of years earlier I’d quit my day job and my husband and I had a ‘sea change’ of sorts, which gave me the time to really commit to the craft and work towards getting published. I worked with a freelance editor for over a year and jumped into the contest circuit, which led to signing with my agent Scott Eagan and then selling to Harlequin six months later.  

Q. If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring writer, what would it be?

Keep writing, don’t give up. In time you will find that one editor or agent who really connects with your story.

Q. Can you tell us about your next release and what you are working on now?

I have my third book in my series, His-And-Hers Family, releasing in January, and I am currently getting books five and six ready to submit to my editor.

Thank you so much for having me, it’s been great to be here. I have a signed copy of Marriage Under The Mistletoe to give away to one commenter.  

Marriage Under the Mistletoe, by Helen Lacey

Strong. Sensible. Dependable. That was Evie Dunn's type. Certainly not young, fearless gorgeous firefighter Scott Jones. She knew the wisest course was to keep her distance, but she couldn't resist the allure of a holiday fling. Now the widowed single mom found herself with an unexpected post-Christmas gift—she was having Scott's baby!

Scott came to Crystal Point to see his sister tie the knot, not fall for the alluring owner of the town's oceanfront B and B. He knew he was all wrong for Evie, but he would do anything to win her heart and build the family he'd always wanted. All he had to do was persuade Evie to take the biggest risk of her life…on love.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble 

And releasing in January... His-and-Hers Family, by Helen Lacey


Fifteen years ago, Fiona Walsh made a choice: to give her daughter up for adoption. But she'd never given up hope of meeting her little girl. So when opportunity for a reunion came knocking-in the form of her daughter's tall, dark and sexy uncle-she opened the door to her past...and found true love on her doorstep!

Businessman Wyatt Harper liked his life carefully ordered, with details falling neatly into place. As Cecily's guardian, her welfare came first. Yet his searing attraction to Fiona turned his entire world upside down-it was unlike anything he'd ever felt! This could be for keeps. But Wyatt had been burned before, badly. Could Fiona's tender ways win Wyatt's scarred heart-and make them into a family?

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

You can learn more about Helen on her website: www.helenlacey.com

The winner of Helen's autographed book will be announced tomorrow, so help us welcome Helen to The Hot Pink Typewriter for your chance to win:-)

Friday, October 12, 2012

About Us: Lindsay J. Pryor

Welcome to the next instalment of our ‘About Us’ series. This week it’s me squinting under the interrogatory Hot Seat light. Deep breath and here we go… 

How and why did you get involved with The Hot Pink Typewriter?
I received an invitation from Natalie Charles. She and Olivia had come up with the idea of doing a group blog and they wanted to represent a range of romance writers and sub-genres. I got to know Natalie after New Voices closed and we stayed in touch. Becoming part of a group blog was the perfect opportunity for me to make a commitment to ensure I kept myself ‘out there’. It’s also a great forum to promote other writers, share writing experiences and stay connected with the wider romance community.

What sub-genre of romance do you write and why?
I write under the broad sub-genre of paranormal romance. The current series of books I’ve written (the Blackthorn series) are dark and intense urban vampire thrillers. I love the creativity the paranormal genre allows. You make your own rules and your own possibilities. I’ve always been a huge fan of paranormal/sci-fi/horror so it was inevitable I’d write for the genre.

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? What prompted this interest?
Absolutely. I’ve always had a need to write. It was never an active decision. I think if you’re instinctively a writer, you automatically find yourself spending more of your free time on that than anything else. I resolved I wanted to be a professional author when I was 11 or 12 years old and
subsequently requested a typewriter for my 13th birthday. I was 19 when I started thumbing through The Writers’ Handbook. I experimented for several years with everything from scriptwriting to children’s stories to adult horror. I wrote my first paranormal romance when I was 17 because I couldn’t find those stories on shelves back then. I guess I always knew the direction I was going to take, even if it didn’t widely exist at the time.

Did contests play a role in your writing journey? If so, in what ways did you find them beneficial? And what if any were the drawbacks?
Apart from a couple of generic short story competitions a few years ago, New Voices is the only writing competition I’ve entered. I was fortunate to get into the Top 4 in 2010 and then repeat it in 2011.

I entered the first time to test if I had what it took to write romance. I’d been working on developing ideas for my Blackthorn series for several years in between writing outside of the romance genre. I was seriously worried my writing would be too dark and, as the competition editors described it, “edgy and quirky” to appeal to enough people to get the votes I needed in a competition like New Voices, but I was hoping I’d at least get some feedback. I was blown away by the response I got – not only the first time around but also to repeat it the second time. Doing well confirmed there was a place for me in the romance genre.

The other benefit was gaining the confidence to talk to other writers. Until then, I’d always felt really isolated because I didn’t belong to a writing group or forum or have critique partners etc. I was overwhelmed by how supportive the romance community is. I can’t imagine being without my writing friends now.

What point are you currently at in your writing journey?
With my voice not right for Nocturne, who I’d targeted through New Voices, I polished Blood Roses and Beguiling The Enemy (though it now has a new title!) and started subbing elsewhere. While waiting for responses from the two publishers I’d subbed to, I was contacted by another publisher who requested to see both manuscripts (which shows how important it is to get yourself out there and make yourself contactable). I was subsequently offered a three-book deal. There’s been a huge amount happening in the background but, all being well, I’m due to sign any day now. I’m incredibly excited and thrilled that this fantastic publisher not only wants my stories, but also wants to develop me as an author.

Describe what makes a perfect hero for you. And what makes a perfect heroine?
I like heroes in dire need of redemption. I like them to have their goodness buried deep under a mass of darkness that the heroine has to work her way through. I like it when doing the right thing doesn’t come easy, especially when it involves self-sacrifice that will make them vulnerable. I like a hero who has travelled a hard road and survived. Love doesn’t come easy to them so it makes it all the more intense when it happens. When my heroes fall in love, they fall deep.

I like my heroine’s traits to complement and also conflict with those of the hero. I like her to be able to hold her own despite her vulnerability. I like her to know her own mind. She’s empathetic, intelligent and resilient. She has to be the latter because I have a habit of putting my heroines in the middle of their worst nightmare and they have to be able to come out fighting!

I enjoy creating a set-up of forbidden love, so I know I’ve got the perfect match if, against the odds, my hero and heroine develop a respect for each other. The physical attraction should be natural and unavoidable, but I think love should be earned and the best thing about writing romance is taking the hero and heroine on that journey.

What does HEA mean to you?
HEA means being tried and tested, to have struggled and found every reason not to be together and have emerged from that deeply in love. From then on, whatever happens along the way, that path has been forged and it’ll always be there for the hero and heroine to find their way back to it if they ever get tested again.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
All over the place. I’m a human sponge. Quite often though I just sit down with a pencil and paper and have a line of thought that starts with: How can I make this really, really bad for my hero and heroine…

Name your five favourite movies/books, or those that have influenced you the most and how.
Only five? Heck…

  • The Lost Boys – This is still my favourite vampire film ever (closely followed by Daybreakers). When those urban vampires hit my screen, I was hooked. It got me seeing the potential of the genre in a whole new way.  
  • The Alien Quadrilogy – Ellen Ripley is the ultimate omega female for me (I’m not sure that’s a real term). What I love about her is that she doesn’t start as the heroine but grows and becomes it – albeit involuntarily. And the whole time she never loses sight of who she is. She’s strong, determined and never loses her compassion. She’s out to survive against all the odds.
  • Wuthering Heights – Of all the classics, this is my favourite. Emily Bronte is right up there with Mary Shelley for me. I loved the fact Heathcliff wasn’t a traditional hero, almost an anti-hero, but how Emily justified the heroine falling for him to the point where the reader is rooting for their relationship is just incredible. His love for Catherine was intense, albeit destructive, and I adored their passion.
  • Romancing The Stone – It’s my guilty pleasure. It’s just a great mix of adventure, comedy and romance.
  • Snoopy’s Guide to the Writing Life - If you’ve never read it, you must. It’s a fantastically candid and funny view of writing life. I often flick when I feel down or frustrated. I love Snoopy anyway and always have. A cuddly Snoopy sits on my desk typing ‘It was a dark and stormy night…’ Says it all, I guess.

Tell us about your greatest writing challenges and how you work through them.
I really wish I didn’t lack so much confidence. I end up irritating myself. But I guess that comes from years of never asking anyone to read what I’ve written and instead filling my head with perfectionist ideals. My confidence nearly stopped me entering New Voices on both occasions. Sometimes you just have to put yourself out there and deal with the fall-out – by that I mean rejection. You have to thrive on what you do and love your stories because sometimes that’s the only reward you get. I also think it’s important to measure your success as a writer by how many times you get up, not how many times you fall.

People’s perceptions of me through my writing worried me for a very long time and really hindered my creativity. I didn’t work through that challenge on my own though. One of the last things my dad said to me before he passed away was to be who I want to be, not who everyone else wants me to be. Seeing how short and fragile life can be can be a heck of a wake-up call to stop trying to please everyone and accept who you are.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Apart from the one I’ve already mentioned (oops), it’s to write what you want to read. Be passionate about your story and write it the way only you can.

What are your hopes and aspirations for your writing career?
To be given the freedom to develop as an author by writing the books I want to write. I’d like to maintain my supporters as well as keeping the next generation of paranormal romance fans interested in the genre. In essence, I’d like to keep writing publishable paranormal romance for many years to come and encourage more British paranormal romance writers to get themselves out there.