Hello Seekerville, Sandra here with Carolyn Hughey, a friend I met at the Tucson Festival of Books. Like me, she wrote for Avalon and now publishes with Montlake Publishing. She writes romance under her own name and writes mystery using the name K. T. Roberts. Please give her a warm Seekerville welcome.
|Carolyn and Sandra selling books at the Tucson Festival of Books|
When Sandra Leesmith invited me to the Seekersville blog, it felt like I had won the Academy Award. It is truly an honor to be here.
In the midst of so much bad stuff happening around us today, it’s nice to have a place to go to escape into an author’s world if only for a brief spell.
So my question is this? Can a humorous contemporary romance author write some serious drama in a mystery? Yes, I can!
I know you’re going to laugh at this, but I actually began writing for therapy! Yep, that’s exactly what I did. When one of my friends read what I’d written, she wanted to know more and encouraged me to finish the story. And so it began. Two years later, I submitted my first manuscript to Avalon Books only because I was looking for a rejection so I could flaunt the title of PRO as a member of Romance Writers of America. Well, I got the title all right and a contract for Cupid’s Web. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Now seven years later and I have nine books published, and another ready for release in September.
So how did I do it? Well, there are no shortcuts.
I studied every book I could get my hands on, took every workshop and even some college courses. When you want something badly enough, the only answer is doing the hard work to get there. In other words, there are no magic pills for achieving your goals. As much as I’d like to tell you to twitch your nose like a witch and pretend you have magic powers, it ain’t happening until you do the work. But you know that. Your parents drummed that into your head from early childhood. It’s an inescapable fact.
I wrote my first story as a pantster. That means: by the seat of my pants in author talk. Actually, the story came easy to me because it had been in my head for a long time. I knew the opening and the ending, and had absolutely no idea about the middle. Cupid’s Web is about a young woman who wants to establish her identity and begin to build a life for herself in New York, away from her well-meaning mother who believes all women should be married and having children.
And then, I attempted my second book and thought I’d do it the same way. Unfortunately, or maybe I should say fortunately, because I learned a valuable lesson, I struggled. When I complained to my engineer husband that the story wasn’t coming easy, he gave me a lecture on outlining. Well, I made a feeble attempt at it, and showed him what I came up with. He just shook his head and insisted I needed to do more. I yes’d him to death and continued on my merry way until I found myself finishing one chapter and staring at the screen trying to figure out what I should put in the next. Ha! That’s when I decided hubby was right and I made a concerted effort to develop a map of my story. Now, I wouldn’t write a story without an outline. Like the experts say, if you don’t have a map of where you’re going, how are you going to get there?
Once you submit that first story, understand that as a writer we face many challenges and the big ‘R’ for rejection is just a fact of our lives. Don’t let the fear of rejection steal your dream. Sometimes, if the publisher is nice, they’ll tell you what you did wrong instead of sending you the standard rejection. So think of it as a learning curve. And let’s face it if you were starting a new job, it would take you a while before you knew what you were doing. So, if this is your dream, you must do it. It’s all a learning process of finding what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes rejections have nothing to do with whether you’re a good writer or not. But I must admit, the first rejection is the hardest. At first, you’re insulted, then you’re sad, then anger sets in like rigor mortis. How dare they?? My best advice is to develop a thick skin, file the rejections in the round file, and move on.
In the alternative, if you’re tired of the publisher rejections, why not try the self-publishing route? I have several author friends who are self-published and now NY Times best selling authors. A friend of mine, Marie Force, is doing an amazing job with her self-pubs, and even bought a house with her profits. And, as a matter of fact, actually turned down a contract from a publisher because she was making more money from her self-pubbing. There is nothing wrong with self-publishing, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! Let me say that again, There is nothing wrong with self-publishing. Just make sure you have someone to edit your work before you post it. If you have a good story, regardless of who published it, readers will buy it. I honestly do not think readers’ check to see who the publisher is before they’ll buy it? I’d be shocked to find out otherwise. What they want is a good, well-written story that entertains and offers them an escape. That’s all it takes.
And now I come to my journey as a mystery writer. After several contemporary romance, I wanted something that was meatier in substance. Law fascinates me. The fact that I have a sister who was in law enforcement for thirty-six years, operating uncover for the New York Port Authority makes my stories that much more authentic and gives me a front row seat into its operation.
The first story in my Kensington-Gerard Detective series entitled The Last Witness, took me six years to finalize and it stems from a conversation I had with my daughter. Fascinated by the story, I decided to use that as the basis for the tale.
Book One in the Gerard-Kensington Detective Series
Two crimes...one crime scene...one vanishing victim...
NYPD detectives Tate Kensington and Zachary Gerard are convinced one killer is at work, but proving it seems an impossible feat until a pre-teen prank blows the case wide open. These detectives have their own pasts to haunt them - Tate's ex-flame is now her boss, and Zach's estranged father is counsel for the defense. Complicating things even more are death threats, witnesses going AWOL, and an increasing attraction neither of them can keep denying. Can the pair put away a killer on a paper-thin case? Or will their disappearing Jane Doe prove to be...THE LAST WITNESS....
My heroine, Detective Tate Kensington, is modeled after my sister, Jessie, and she’s a complex character. But isn’t that just the way life is? Life isn’t all peaches and cream—it’s reality, so why make your characters any different? They need flaws just like we have. Makes for a lot of interesting conflict.
My recent release, Elusive Justice is an awesome story. Okay, I know that sounds egotistical, but if you don’t love your work, how can anyone else love it? Of course, you must also be objective about your work. Look at it honestly to determine.
Here’s the log line: What if a missing piece of evidence in a seven-year old cold case is the resolution to solving a crime?
Book Two in the Gerard-Kensington Detective Series
Two detectives, two cases . . . seemingly unrelated until a baffling discovery entwines them forever . . .
Tate Kensington thought she was out of homicide for good. Missing Persons is hard on the heart, but it gives her the resources and spare time she needs to help a young girl desperately searching for her beloved brother.
Meanwhile, with a murder case that has him stumped, Zachary Gerard is beginning to resent all the time Tate's been devoting to her pet project instead of him. Zachary's murder victim is turning out to be way more than anyone ever suspected, and the red tape isn't making this case any easier.
When it suddenly becomes clear that the two cases are not as independent as Kensington or Gerard thought, secrets long buried will be revealed, and the pair will team up once again on the hunt for . . . Elusive Justice.
I have two series and I’m about to start a third. Keep in mind that readers love series. Why? Because the characters become good friends and they want to know what happens to them from one book to the next. So keep that in mind when you’re starting your writing career or writing a series.
In closing, I hope I’ve given you a little bit of a glimpse into the world of an author. But before I leave, I’d like to give you a tip about how I remember all those pertinent details of my characters for my next book? I use 4X6 index cards and file the card in a box under the alphabetical tab so that whenever I need it, its right there at my fingertips. Things like the main characters’ physical features, what street they live on, places they frequent, and anything else that you think you’ll use in the next book. Try it. You’ll be amazed and thrilled you found a way to keep track!
I am delighted to have been here with you today. To show you my gratitude, I am giving away a digital copy of Elusive Justice to one lucky winner who’ll be selected at random. And if you enjoy the book, I’d love a review on Amazon.
I’d love to hear from you. I also hope you’ll stay in touch. Stop by my website to check out my books, as well as my blog. You can find me at http://carolynhughey.com, my blog at http://carolyn-hughey.blogspot.com. I can also be reached at http://scribblingdivas.com a blog with five of my author friends.
Before we go to comments I want to add an answer to a question I had for K.T. Roberts. My question was How much romance do you include in your mystery?
In Book One, it's 80/20, Book Two is 70/40 but I believe the actual formula is 70/30 in order to be considered a romance.
Thanks Carolyn for joining us today. If you have any questions feel free to ask in the comment section. I have plenty of Chocolate Velvet coffee and today have a platter of fresh sliced fruits and Krispy Kreme donuts. Enjoy.