First off, what made you decide to try and be a published author?
I decided to try and become a published author because of my love for books and reading. I would read for hours, losing myself in the storyline created by some normal human being no different than me, and at the end I would wonder, “Why the heck can’t I do this?”
So, I started to write whatever came to mind whether it was a fantasy starring Unicorns or Gargoyles, paranormals with my favorites; vampires and werewolves, or just a sweet, everyday romance. Whatever it was, I was so happy to be putting to paper characters and worlds that I had created on my own and in my own head, and I loved it. It wasn’t until 2008 that I started to seriously look into becoming published, and in 2009 I sold my 1st full-length novel, a contemporary Romantica story titled, Night Angel and was under contract with Black Velvet Seductions. It was a very proud accomplishment for me.
(Starla) Congratulations on that first step in your writing career.
Being a writer can be a lonely prospect. Do you have cheerleaders supporting you as a writer?
My Aunt and husband are my biggest fans and supporters of my writing efforts and goals. My mother and grandmother (before they both passed away) always encouraged me to be creative and artistic all throughout my life. In fact, years ago when I was still a child and first talked about wanting to write a book, my mother ran out and bought a brand new Word Processor for me. I would sit in my room for hours typing up the stories and fantasies that popped into my head. Even though I’m older now and have moved up to a loaded laptop computer, I still have that Word Processor as a reminder that my mom believed in me, and that I could be a writer if I worked hard enough.(Starla) The memory about your mother and grandmother reminded me of my own early writing supporters, my parents (both also now passed away). They were amazing supporters at the time.
How and why did you decide to use a pen name? I use a pen name because I knew that I wanted to write “hot” stories and that many people I know would not approve, or understand, the need for the hotness. I wanted to avoid getting an undeserved reputation for the explicitness from judgmental people, and I also did not want to shut the bedroom door on my characters. I feel it cheats the reader out of the full aspect of their relationship. I mean, I’ve written and followed their lives through everything else, why not the bedroom too? Personally, I want to KNOW how the hero treats his heroine during those intimate moments, and in books that I’m reading how he treats her can make or break a hero for me. So, I felt a pen name was a good way to hide and also be able to write the stories I want to write, the WAY I want to write them.
I know I should not care what others say, but a pen name makes my writer life easier, lol.
What do you love about writing? Hate about it?
I LOVE the process of creating a story around two people and have them fall in love in the end. I love thinking up the trials and tribulations for them to face, whether it’s their personal backgrounds, past or current issues or abuses, or just some general misunderstanding that could keep the hero and heroine apart. I love the process of giving them those issues, and then helping them see their way through it to their happily ever after.
The main thing I hate about writing, and I think most other authors would agree, are writing up the darned formal Query letters and story Synopsis that every publisher has to have. Oh, I DREAD just the thought of those!
When do you get your best story ideas?
Most of my story ideas come to me in the middle of the night when I’m trying to sleep. Story outlines, character conversations, or scene snippets will suddenly pop into my head, forcing me to grab my bedside notepad and get everything down before they disappear back into the dark recesses of my brain. I have a bulletin board on the wall beside my bed that I pin all of those ideas to until they are needed.
(Starla) It appears that a lot of writers, including me, get story ideas or have epiphanies about some writing problem in the middle of the night.
Is there anything unusual about your writing habits?
Something unusual about my writing habits….hmmmm….I guess it would be my need for background noise. Specifically the background noise has to be favorite childhood cartoons such as Scooby-Doo, Flintstones, Smurfs, Thundercats, or Rocky and Bullwinkle, OR a favorite sit-com re-run such as Roseanne, Golden Girls, Ghost Whisperer, or Everybody Loves Raymond. Those are a few things that I have to have in order to focus. I’ll let the readers of this interview decide if that’s weird or not. :o)
(Starla) I also have to have background noise on, which my mind tunes out.
What do you come up with first in starting a story: Title? Characters? Plot? Setting? Conflict?
The characters always come first for me, specifically the hero and heroine, then next is usually the scene when they would first meet. Of course that scene changes several times while I’m creating their story, but those are the two things that come to my mind immediately. Everything else, the setting, resolution, sex, conflicts, etc, always come after those.
Do you have a writing schedule? How do you juggle writing, family, work, and life’s surprises?
Well, honestly. since I live alone (with my animals) and my husband works over in the Middle East, my writing schedule is pretty much whenever the inspiration hits me. I am lucky enough to have a husband that is very supportive of my writing goals, and wants me to be a success at it, so he works while I stay home and create. Sometimes I’ll stay up all night and all day when working on a book. I have plenty of quiet time and will admit that it’s an ideal situation for a writer.
Book titles: How important is a good working title to you the writer?
I cannot work without a title. I spend A LOT of time thinking of a title that suits the characters, story setting, or just a particular scene that might stand out. The title for Night Angel came about because of a scene near the beginning of the story when Nick first see’s Morgan. It’s nighttime, and she is sitting by a stream on his property. The moonlight is highlighting parts of her face and hair so that she looks almost ethereal, reminding Nick of a beautiful angel.
(Starla) I actually spend very little time coming up with the title, luckily. But I have to have it before I start anything to do with the book.
Are you a Plotter or a Panster?
I consider myself a Panster. I might have my basic outline and characters plotted out to begin with, but as the story progresses new ideas come and original ones get deleted. Plotting everything out and following a strict story formula would never work for me. It goes back to earlier in this interview when I mentioned how the characters take control and handle the story their own way. Writing by the seat of my pants can be frustrating, but it’s always a surprising journey. There were many scenes in the Night Angel rough draft that never made it to the finished product because they no longer fit. I have a notebook full of deleted scenes that I still hope to be able to use in other stories.
What makes a great book cover?
Personally, I love a man’s arms, hands, and ab muscles. Not the type of muscles that come from spending hours in the gym—those do nothing for me—but the type of muscles and physique that come from a life on a ranch, logging, construction, or just hard daily labor in general. A cover that highlights those features along, with a glimpse of dark beard stubble, IMO, is a nice one.
How do you deal with rejection?
I’m going to be honest and admit that rejection from publishers hurt, and I do tend to take it personally even though it’s not personal at all. I know I shouldn’t, but how can I not when I’ve invested so much energy, time, brain power, and snack breaks, into my storyline and characters. I want everyone to love them as much as I do, but the hard truth is that that is NOT going to happen, and that not many publishers will want my story. When I received rejection letters for Night Angel I had to keep reminding myself that there WAS a place in the publishing world for my story and to just keep querying and submitting my synopsis. Finally, acceptance letters started coming in from a few publishers. I chose Black Velvet Seductions because Laurie Sanders seemed so easy to work with and, as a new author, I needed someone like that for my first jaunt into the world of being a published author.
Now let’s talk specifically about your book from Black Velvet Seductions: NIGHT ANGEL
Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance
Publisher: Black Velvet Seductions
Buy Link: Amazon
Buy Link: Barnes & Noble
Was there anything that surprised you while writing this book?
Yes, how completely and utterly exhausting writing a book can be! Being all of those characters, having to detail their every move, every breath, gesture, thought, reaction, ways of thinking, etc was a major brain fry for me. And writing the sex scenes…phew! Talk about having to be technical and focus on every tiny detail. I know some readers probably think that writing sex scenes is arousing, but they aren’t, at least not for me. There’s just too much going on with figuring out what does he do next, what sound should she make, can that body part actually do that, etc… It’s all very…well, technical as I said before.
I was also really surprised by how much and how often the characters in Night Angel would take control of the story and go their own way with a scene, a reaction or conversation, or do something totally different than I had originally planned out for them.
An example from Night Angel would be Nick’s background and the reason WHY he ended up going to prison. The reason for that, which is now firmly printed in the book, was NOT what I had planned for him in the infant phases of the story. But, as I was writing and spending more time on his character, I came to realize that the background I ended up giving him was the ONLY one that would suit his reasoning’s, actions, and basically just him as a man, a horse trainer, and Morgan’s hero. So I’m happy with the background I ended up giving him.
Did you have a favorite character in this book?
There are two: Nick and his old Arabian horse, Sultan. That horse was fun to write.
Did you have a favorite scene?
My favorite scene (and I think it’s Morgan’s also, lol) is when Nick is working on fixing up Morgan’s barn, and she is watching him from her window when he suddenly pulls his T-Shirt off and starts wiping the sweat off of his abdomen. That image stays in my brain as clear as if I were writing the book and creating that scene all over again. :o)
Will there be any sequels to this book?
Since the release of Night Angel I’ve had many people ask if there would be a story for Jake, Nick’s brother. It surprised me how many women apparently fell in love with him while they were reading the book. Originally I had not planned on doing a sequel, nor a story for Jake, but the answer (finally) is, “yes,” there will be a sequel and it is in the works right now. I hope to have it ready for editing in a few months.
Scarred and with a permanent limp, Morgan moved to a quiet cottage in rural Montana wanting tranquility, solitude, a place where she could heal from the brutality inflicted on her by her late husband.
Ex-convict, horse trainer, Nick Evanoff didn’t need anyone, at least he never had.
Then he spotted Morgan sitting in a copse of trees, technically trespassing. One glimpse of her stopped his aggression cold. In its place lust rose; powerful, primitive, demanding. There was something else there too – need.
But Morgan was determined to have nothing to do with men, and to go nowhere near a relationship ever again.
Could Nick work the same magic with Morgan that he worked with the abused horses he rescued? Could he teach her that it was safe to trust, that sex didn’t have to be painful or humiliating?
The hammering stopped, drawing Morgan out of her bathroom and across her bedroom to the big picture window near the bed. From it she had a clear view of the barn and Nick working beside it. Dressed in his usual jeans and a T-shirt he was standing by the two wooden saw-horses Jake had put up the other day and was in the process of measuring a gap along the barn’s foundation. The same gap she had struggled with the other day. As she watched, helplessly admiring, he raised the hem of his shirt, displaying a set of abs that could have been carved in stone. Her fingers clutched the curtain, eyes glued to his deeply tanned six-pack, devouring him, tracing the rippling of muscles up the sides of his body as he stretched his arms over his head and, before her dumbfounded gaze, shrugged out of his shirt.
Morgan’s mouth went dry, her blood turning molten in her veins. A pool of creamy wetness centered itself between her thighs.
Naturally dark skin stretched tightly over wide heavy shoulders and a broad, ridged chest. Muscles rippled and flexed in his arms as he lowered the shirt to his side. His body was smooth except for a light furring of dark hair that covered his navel and disappeared into the waistband of his jeans.
Morgan’s brain ceased to function. If possible the man looked even bigger half-naked and had a body that would make a Greek God bow down and cover himself in shame. Awesomely commanding to look at, he would make any woman drool in an agony of lust and trembling need.
Morgan gripped the curtain in her fist, waiting for the habitual fear to surface, for Richard’s legacy of terror to take hold of her. Eyes following his every move she waited, but the panic never came, leaving her confused and wholly aware of her physical response to Nick’s body.
Seeming completely unaware that he was being watched, he rubbed the shirt across his abdomen and up to his chest and shoulders, wiping away the sweat as he went.
Her eyes followed every move, every dip and swell of muscle…and she finally saw that the tattoo on his arms were thick chains. Shaded black and grey they wrapped each of his biceps several times from his elbows to the tops of his shoulders, where they curved around and trailed down either side of his spine, ending midway down his back. Morgan stared, riveted as the chains flexed with each muscle. Her hand hovered over the window, her fingertips barely touching the cool smooth glass while unconsciously she caressed each link.
In another display of purely unconscious masculine power, he walked over to one of the piles of timber Jake had left and effortlessly hoisted at least ten of the long boards onto one of his broad shoulders, carrying them back to his work area.
Morgan let the curtain flutter back into place and just stood there, feeling faint, unable to get his image out of her mind. A pulse had begun throbbing between her legs, making her loins feel empty, unfulfilled and she shifted, squeezing her thighs together to try and ease some of the ache.
My God, she thought, I’ve never been this turned on in my whole life. And is the man could do that with just an innocent little strip tease, what in the world could he do if he ever actually touched me?
“There’s something between us, you know,” he said softly. He pushed her hair back and his warm breath stroked her temple, fluttering the baby-fine hair’s near her ear, “whether you or I want it or not. I’ve been fighting for weeks to get you out of my mind and nothing works. And the nights…you’re with me there too, sweetheart. I tried to leave you alone for your sake, but here you are…messing with me again.”
He eased his big body closer to hers, making her even more aware of the loose cage of his arms, of the hard metal at her back. Of how much she wanted him. He exuded raw masculine power but instead of being afraid of it, of him, she felt comforted…and she wanted more. For once in her life Richard wasn’t winning, and if this shivery, heated, flushed sensation running over her was anything to go by, then her body certainly didn’t feel threatened either.
Nick’s voice, low and husky, right above her brought her back from her inward examination.
“Trust me…” his head dipped and his lips smoothed over her forehead, then her temple, slowly to her cheekbone and down…She closed her eyes on a soft sigh when he reached the corner of her mouth. “I’m not going to hurt you, Morgan. All men aren’t monsters. There are some decent guys in the world and you’re going to have to trust one someday. It might as well be me.” Then he kissed her, not hard or demanding, but soft and slow, barely touching her lips with his. Teasing her before backing off.
Her heart ached, her body sizzled. How she wanted to believe, wanted to allow herself to just feel, for once, what it was like to be held tenderly. She wanted more of this, of what he was showing her right now…
AUTHOR CONTACT INFO
Website: In progress
Facebook: Michelle Renee Hiller Reeves
Amazon Author Page: Renee Reeves
Email: [email protected]