Q: The journey to publication is a unique experience for every writer. What was your journey like?
I’ve been writing for publication since I was twenty. I wrote for magazines, and was blessed to have a successful career. On the side, I wrote children’s books and had a picture book contracted. Eventually, I landed at The Walt Disney Company as an editor, but living on the East Coast with a base office in L.A. wreaked havoc on my family life, so I quit.
Having been a romance reader, writing romance became my focus two and a half years ago. I found the Harlequin message boards, where I met my critique partner, jumped into So You Think You Can Write, and figured publication was mere months away. *unhinged laughter* I had no clue! While I was fortunate enough to receive personal feedback from editors and agents, rejection hounded me. My rate of submission remained slow for two years. Then, my critique partner gave me a writing/submitting schedule, and within months, I had my first contract.
Q: Can you describe your writing process?
In a perfect world, I’m a pantser, but with the house full thanks to summer vacation and three series to complete, I have to be more deliberate. I’m now a reluctant plotter. I write 2,000-3,000 words a day, failing miserably some days. I also send the manuscript chapter by chapter to my critique partner for feedback. When the story is complete, I let it sit while I plot the next project, and then I do a complete read preferably in one sitting before I revise.
Q: Can you tell us a little about your newest release?
I love this book! I grew up in musical theatre, so the heroine’s dream of opening a community theatre resonates with me. I’m also a sucker for the girl from the “wrong side of the tracks.” But I think what I love most about this book is it turns an arranged marriage on end. We’ve all read about the hero and heroine being forced to marry for whatever reason, and then they fall in love. Well, this story is what happens when someone has the guts to stand up and stop the loveless marriage in the first place. It’s set in a quaint town with a cast of colorful characters, and features a hero who looks every bit as good in construction boots as he does in a suit and tie.
Q: Why do you write? Why romance?
If I didn’t write, I’d simply be crazy. People have been having full conversations in my head since I was a child. I’m pretty sure hundreds of years ago I’d have been committed by now. Why romance? Because I’m here (on this planet, in this body) to be happy, and love makes me happy. I want it to make other people happy, too.
Q: Where do you find inspiration for your stories?
Music is my greatest influence. For example, Crashing the Congressman’s Wedding was conceived while listening to a popular song. I kept wondering who would stand up and stop a wedding, and the story was born.
Q: How do you balance your personal life, daily commitments and writing?
Following a strict schedule works best. My kids are old enough to fend for themselves, so I put a lot of responsibility on them. They know Mom is behind closed door writing from 8:30-3:30, and barring bloody emergencies, they need to work things out on their own. This allows me to focus on my family life once 3:30 rolls around. I also refuse to write on weekends, UNLESS I’m behind in word count with a deadline approaching.
Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring romance authors?
Absolutely. Don’t get so caught up in the world of writing that you lose sight of who you are and what you want to accomplish. There’s so much “writing for market” and wanting “this, that and the other thing” that it can be crippling. I have to remind myself daily I’m doing this because 1.) writing is my sanity, and 2.) having readers talk about my books is fun!
Q: What's next for you? Can you give us a “sneak peek” at what we can expect to see from you in coming months?
It’s a busy year! My next book releases in September (and then three more before the year is through). Change My Mind is the second book in my Kemmons Brothers Baseball Series. Here’s an honest-to-God sneak peek:
Nel scanned the article, catching sentences here and there about a self-made man who acted as agent to his sons’ baseball careers. She wasn’t interested. She didn’t care how he got his money. She only cared that he made enough to buy a keystone property that was now on her radar to sell.
“I bet one of these sons owns it now.” She toggled back to the tax assessment page. “Greyson.”
“Weird name,” Rena said.
“I don’t care what his name is. I just want to know if he’s selling.” Nel typed the name into the search box and waited for the page to load. “The lumberjack I talked to today wasn’t much help in the way of information, and I totally…”
Six thumbnail images topped the search results page. In all but one shot, dark, familiar eyes stared back at her.
“You totally what?” Rena nudged her. “You wanna get with that?” She whistled. “Because I do. I would strip…”
“Rena,” Nel interrupted, raising a hand over her shoulder for emphasis. “That’s him.”
“The lumberjack. I mean he has a thick, nasty beard now, and he was wearing a stocking cap instead of a ball cap, but those eyes…” Her gaze settled on the pale curves of his lips. “And that mouth…” she swallowed something uncomfortable… “It’s definitely him.”
Great teaser, Elley! :)
And just for fun... Q: What are your favorite television shows and/or movies? Why?
I watch Downton Abbey, Nashville and Hart of Dixie. My favorite movie is Midnight in Paris, but I like anything where people fall in love and make me laugh. I’m serious about my happiness, and I try to feed it anyway I can. The Downton season finally nearly chased me away. *cries* I don’t do sadness (at least I try not to).
Thank you so much for having me!
Thanks so much for visiting with us, Elley.
Crashing the Congressman's Wedding is available for pre-order at Amazon and iTunes. Don't forget to leave a comment for a chance to win an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of Crashing the Congressman's Wedding. For more information about Elley, visit http://elleyarden.com or find her on Twitter and Facebook.