Today I'm talking with my friend and critique partner, Randy Jeanne, about her first book which was released at the beginning of the month.
Randy Jeanne prefers traveling to far off lands over toiling at the dreaded day job; alas, pesky bills seem to get in the way. So instead, she daydreams−creating people to meet, places to go, and things to do. Her philosophy about writing and life are the same: keep things light and the personal baggage to a minimum. You won't find brooding heroes or tragic heroines in her stories, but you might get a chuckle or two.
As a lifelong serial dater, she loves to share misadventures−er, successful tips−with readers who, like Randy, are looking for love and laughter.
Vonda Sinclair: Please tell us about your book, Stealing Amy.
Randy Jeanne: Amy Harrington can't believe her identity's been stolen--after all, who'd want such a pathetic life? But when repercussions threaten her mother's social standing (God forbid!), Amy goes after the thief herself. The chase leads her to the land of Mariachis and Margaritas where she snags a job with Nick Cavenaugh--a straight-arrow kinda guy who's doing some life-reclaiming of his own.
Amy neglects to come clean about her real name, who she's after, or why she's really in Mexico because...what Nick doesn't know can't hurt him...can it? Stranded in a steamy jungle, she's about to find out.
Amy may be after the woman who stole her life, but will Nick end up stealing Amy's heart?
VS: What do you wish you’d known before becoming published?
RJ: Have you got an hour? Okay, probably not. Thankfully, prior to getting published, a great group of seasoned writers with whom I'm on-line gave me lots of tips. Also, I've been lucky enough to attend several RWA conferences at which I've sat in on workshops that educate budding writers about what to expect. HOWEVER, having said that...I wish I'd known in a more visceral way (!) what self-promo is all about. I mean, sure I knew that authors are expected to invest time and money in putting themselves out there. But I didn't realize how hard it would be to shift gears and "sell myself." As writers, we're so used to it being all about the writing, but once you sell, it's almost anything BUT about the writing. It's about websites, myspace pages, creating video trailers, blogs, and the zillions of loops....don't get me started on the zillions of loops!...It kinda reminds me of a line from "Putting It Together" (a song in the musical Sunday In The Park With George) where he's singing about all the stuff an artist does so that "you can go on exhibition--" and he stops and corrects himself: "so that your WORK can go on exhibition." I feel his pain! :)
VS: What is your writing process or method?
RJ: You name it, I've tried it...or will try it in the future since I'm not overly satisfied with my process. But here's what I can't change: I'll never be one of those writers who plots everything out, makes detailed outlines, and does a 20-page character chart before she starts writing. Believe me, I've tried, and even though I'm not a structure-oriented person, I truly wish that when it came to writing I could make an exception! Alas, I have to accept my limitations, and go with my constraints. Which means, I usually start with a premise--and hopefully, a commercial hook. In the case of Stealing Amy, I was intrigued by identity theft and the havoc it plays with people's lives. At the time, I was also reading a lot of chick lit, so when it came to creating the heroine, I thought--why not someone who's at a point in her life where she's not sure getting her "identity" stolen's such a bad thing? Once I have a vague notion of the character's starting point, I can figure out where she needs to be at the end--in other words, what emotional change she needs to go through to live "happily ever after." In Amy's case, she had to realize how much she valued who she was as a person. After I had a sense of her character arc, I set about creating the scenes (the plot) that would get her from A to B.
VS: What element of this story was the hardest for you? Your favorite?
RJ: The emotional stuff is always the hardest, because despite the way I answered the previous question, I'm really more of a plot-driven writer. And really, for the first time, I had to ask myself the all-important question: what makes two people fall in love? Think about it. That's a very difficult question! It can't be just the chemistry. It can't be just the physical attraction. And how do you weave it into the story so that it's believable? I went back to something I learned at a workshop given by author Tami Cowden, and that was: 1. Respect, 2. Trust, then 3. Love. At a minum, you really gotta have that logical progression in a growing relationship. With that in mind, I wrote scenes in which Amy learned to respect Nick for the very traits she initially thought she detested, and vice versa. As a matter of fact, that formula generated lots of ideas for plot points and scenes. Still...the actual writing of emotional scenes doesn't come easy to me--as you may remember from the beginning of this interview, I'm all about the light and humorous, but I'm learning!
I suppose I could say that the emotional stuff was also my favorite...because it was immensely gratifying to see my hard work pay off in something I was proud of. There's a scene at the end of Stealing Amy where Amy and Nick make love, and I wrote it not as a physical scene, but as an emotional one, and I was extremely pleased with the way it turned out.
VS: Thanks Randy, this was fun! I appreciate your being a blog guest!!!
RJ: Thanks for having me as a guest, Vonda! Next time, will there be coffee and chocolates?
VS: Yes ...and margaritas. :-)
Visit Randy's website at www.randyjeanne.com and her blog at http://randywrites.blogspot.com