For immediate release! On January 29, Boroughs Publishing Group will release a double-stacked Valentine’s Day compendium, Sealed With a Kiss. (Available now for pre-order in multiple digital formats.)
~ ~ ~
As readers of this blog may be aware, last year I started writing romance under the pen name, Becca A. Miles. My project is a romantic suspense series, set in Wilmington, N.C., which is one of my favorite places to vacation. This Valentine’s Day, one of my stories, “Sweetheart,” a novella that follows up my debut novel, Negotiating Her Release, will be available as part of a two-story collection with Marilyn Baxter’s “The Last Take-Away.” I’ve invited Marilyn to join me as we talk about our stories.
MARILYN: The Last Take-Away is contemporary romance and tells the story of both the hero (Drew Paxton) and heroine (Maggie Sullivan). Because my editor liked the story so much, she’s asked me to develop this into a series, so it’s the beginning of the larger universe of St. Magnus Island, a small fictional barrier island off the coast of Georgia.
BECCA/IS: I love the idea of a novella that introduces us to a larger world. That is one of the reasons why I enjoy reading romance–in many cases, authors write not just books, but whole series, that allow the reader to spend time in the worlds that they love. My story, “Sweetheart,” is a romantic suspense that takes the characters from my first book, and puts them in a new predicament. It also introduces a few more of the characters that I’ll be sharing with readers in future stories. For example, there are two characters who seem like total and complete opposites. But here’s a romance pro-tip: If a character declares that another character is absolutely, totally, and definitely “Hot, but not my type …” well, I’ll let you be the judge.
I came to writing romance first as a reader who enjoyed the genre, but didn’t have much luck getting any ideas off the ground. Luckily, I had a mentor, romance author Emmy Curtis, who saw promise in my other writing and encouraged, bribed, tricked, and offered me resources to start plotting and creating this series.
MARILYN: My first published work was in my ex-husband’s government agency’s professional journal. He was a federal auditor, and we were gypsies living all over the southeastern US for the first two years we were married. I wrote a humorous article about living out of a suitcase for the southeast field office newsletter, and the regional manager liked it so much he sent it to Washington, DC for inclusion in the national journal. I even got a nice plaque from the Comptroller General of the United States! Fast forward to the early 2000’s. I read in spurts in the years after college (Stephen King, Robert Ludlum, Sidney Sheldon, Belva Plain to name a few) but in 2004 I discovered romance, and oh my gosh, I was captivated! I especially loved category romance and devoured them. I got to know a couple authors online and was asked to work for a now-defunct website as a reviewer. A couple of those authors (one of whom is a brainstorming partner) encouraged me to write. I dabbled and dawdled and took five years to finish my first book. And a month after I finished it, my marriage fell apart. It’s hard to write happily ever after when your own has ended. But fast forward again a few years, and Boroughs had a novella contest I was a finalist in, and they not only published my novella but invited me to submit a full-length novel. That novel was the five-year endeavor. And I haven’t looked back. Also, in and around the romance, I began writing for the confessions and romance magazines (True Confessions, True Romance, True Story) and sold about 50 stories and features to them before they closed shop last year.
BECCA/IS: One of the ways that I began to get a handle on how to write was to review the various romance novel tropes, and see which ones spoke to me. With a background that includes military service, a degree in criminal justice, and an interest in politics and high stakes, it seemed that romantic suspense was my most natural genre, and the alpha male/law enforcement/military was one of the tropes I was drawn to–with a twist! I love it when my male and female characters both live in that world. I also really enjoy opposites attract, friends to lovers, and character in peril, especially when they save themselves with the support and love of the other character. Surprisingly, my first novel, NHR, also uses a virgin trope. I’m not sure why that spoke to me, but I hope that people give it a chance!
MARILYN: I love marriage of convenience, friends to lovers, jilted bride and accidental pregnancy. Least favorite? Uhm… I haven’t read one yet I didn’t like. Some are just more favorite than others.
After we talked about tropes, I asked Marilyn, what’s the most challenging thing about writing romance?
MARILYN: EVERYTHING! I hear people say “I could write that,” and I want to challenge them to do it. Creating a world and relatable characters with good motivation and conflict isn’t easy. Or it isn’t easy for me. Then you have to put it all together into a compelling story. But struggle as I might, I always love the end result!
BECCA/IS: I don’t have much to add to that!
So what’s coming up next for us?
MARILYN: In addition to writing for Boroughs Publishing Group, I also write for Amazon Kindle Worlds, specifically Roxanne St. Claire’s Barefoot Bay Kindle World. I’ve had two BBKW novellas released so far and my next project is another one to be released in July of this year. It will feature a trope I haven’t tackled yet – the billionaire hero. And I have no idea who he is yet. ACK!
BECCA/IS: I’ve just submitted another novel in the series to Boroughs, and am currently working on researching and plotting the next book in the series. It’s been challenging, because I’m working on spending more time in my characters’ heads–and one of them is a serial killer! My goal is to share more of these stories, including writing more holiday-themed novellas, as they are just so much fun.
~ ~ ~
If you enjoyed our conversation, please stop by our Facebook release party on Tuesday, January 30, from 5-10 pm! There will be some terrific authors present, awesome prizes, and much fun to be had. Also, you can check us out online, drop us a Tweet or a Facebook comment–we’d love to hear from you!
Visit Marilyn Baxter at her Web site: www.marilynbaxter.com,