H is for Hero

A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775cThis month, as I did last year, I’m participating in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge.  The first post is A, the next is B and so on every day this month, except Sundays.  Last year, my theme was Scotland.  This year, my theme is The Writing Life.  Check back here every day this month to follow along and find out what I’ve learned in the last year.  For instance:

H is for Hero – Who is the hero of your story?  In Romance, the convention is to have a hero and a heroine (or a hero/hero or heroine/heroine, or hero/hero/heroine … you get the idea), both of whom get relatively equal time in the story.  Romance is written from the hero’s and heroine’s point of view.  The reader sees what they see, hears what they hear, knows what they know.  Often, those are the only two viewpoints in a story, but sometimes the antagonist (the bad guy) or an important secondary character gets a few scenes, too.

securedownloadRomance readers love an alpha hero – large and in charge describes this type of man.  But beta heroes have their followers, too, who prefer the more sensitive, cooperative male.  Heroines, thankfully, have gone from simpering, empty-headed missies the hero must save to kick-ass women who can not only take care of themselves, they often save the hero, or work side-by-side with the hero to resolve the conflicts in the book.  While the definition of hero, especially the alpha variety, hasn’t changed much in Romance novels, the definition of heroine certainly has.

G is for Genre

A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775cThis month, as I did last year, I’m participating in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge.  The first post is A, the next is B and so on every day this month, except Sundays.  Last year, my theme was Scotland.  This year, my theme is The Writing Life.  Check back here every day this month to follow along and find out what I’ve learned in the last year.  For instance:

G is for Genre – What is a genre?  The dictionary definition goes something like this: a category of literature or other forms of art or entertainment, whether written or spoken, audial or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria. In other words, it’s the type of book you’re writing, whether it’s a mystery, a western, science fiction, or some sub-genre of romance (e.g., science fiction romance, historical romance, contemporary romance, etc.).

Traditionally, publishers liked nice clean divisions between genres.  Well-defined genres make books easier to shelve and to market.  But there are some authors (me included) whose books cross genres.  Mine are Scottish historical paranormal romance.  Say that six times, fast!

Red BooksCrossing genres makes marketing more of a challenge, though digital booksellers can get around that with well-chosen keywords, but it also provides opportunities to reach more readers.  My readers might like historical romance, or Scottish historical romance, or paranormal romance, psi-focused science fiction or even fantasy, but they find elements of their favorite style in my books.  So my readers come from all of those preference groups, not just one.

The secret is out.  As writers find their readership expanding, crossing genres is becoming more common.

F is for Finish the Damn Book!

A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775cThis month, as I did last year, I’m participating in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge.  The first post, on April 1, was A, the next is B and so on every day this month, except Sundays.  Last year, my theme was Scotland.  This year, my theme is The Writing Life.  Check back here every day this month to follow along and find out what I’ve learned in the last year.  For instance:

F is for  – Finish the Damn Book!  If you’re like the majority of would-be authors, you’ve started and abandoned many manuscripts.  Starting a book is like starting a love affair.  It’s all mystery and excitement at the beginning.  The possibilities seem endless, and at the beginning, they are.  But like any love affair, the fireworks fade.

Therein lies the rub.  You get confused, lose your focus, your characters don’t cooperate and your plot (if you even have one) seems trite, or it’s going nowhere. So what should you do? Get over it.  Break ranks with the wanna-be’s and finish your first draft.

You’ll have accomplished what 90 percent of writers fail to do.  And if you succeed in editing, polishing, submitting and getting published, you’ll join the elite ten percent of the ten percent who finished their draft. Congratulations!

Easy-reading-is-damn-hardA quote attributed to Nathaniel Hawthorne says “Easy reading is damn hard writing.”  It’s true.  You can’t escape doing the work.  But type “the end” on the last page of that finished first draft, second draft, or polished manuscript and you’ll find out that it’s also amazingly rewarding.  Go ahead.  Do it.  I dare you!

E is for Ergonomics

A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775cThis month, as I did last year, I’m participating in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge.  The first post is A, the next is B and so on every day this month, except Sundays.  Last year, my theme was Scotland.  This year, my theme is The Writing Life.  Check back here every day this month to follow along and find out what I’ve learned in the last year.  For instance:

478px-Alphanumeric_keyboardE is for Ergonomics – Face it.  We spend hours in the same chair, staring at the same screen, typing on the same keyboard.  Sitting in the same position.

Can you spell repetitive stress injury?

Unfortunately, I can.  I’m battling carpal tunnel syndrome and ulnar (elbow – funnybone) nerve damage from my dedication to BICHOK (Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard) and a tendency to lean on my left elbow.

Do yourself a favor and get away from the desk every once in a while.  Stand up.  Move around.  Forget the big, wooden executive desk and get one that you can adjust up and down.  Ditto for the chair.  You’re an author.  These are your tools, just the same as pen and paper.  You’re going to spend hours a day for (probably) the rest of your life with them, so get the best you can afford and remember to take a break — often.

D is for Draft

A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775cThis month, I’m participating in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge.  The first post is A, the next is B and so on every day this month, except Sundays.  Last year, my theme was Scotland.  This year, my theme is The Writing Life.  Check back here every day this month to follow along and find out what I’ve learned in the last year.  For instance:

9678365189_6288a55d46_mD is for Draft, First Draft  – What takes a lot of time and effort, and possibly blood, sweat and tears, not to mention a martini or six? Not Bond, James Bond.  It’s draft, first draft.

Trust me, it’s going to hurt.

In fact, there’s an excellent chance your first draft is going to suck.  You won’t want anyone else to see it.  You’ll wonder what you were thinking, calling yourself a writer.  That’s okay.  Once the first draft is done, you’ll have a better handle on the size and scope of your story, the personalities of your characters, and what you need to add and delete and change.  Then, you can transform that hot mess into a fabulous book.

It’s all in that much-maligned first draft.  Write on!

Image courtesy of Shawn Budemer/Flickr

C is for Collaborate

A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775cThis month, I’m participating in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge.  The first post is A, the next is B and so on every day this month, except Sundays.  Last year, my theme was Scotland.  This year, my theme is The Writing Life.  Check back here every day this month to follow along and find out what I’ve learned in the last year.  For instance:

C is for Collaborate – You know the old saying: A rising tide lifts all boats.  It’s true for authors, too.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe more we collaborate and cross-promote by tweeting, re-tweeting, joining book release parties on Facebook, and so forth, the more our reach grows.  I’ve gained new readers that way, and I’m sure my readers have found some new authors, too.

If you wonder why you would want to help your “competition,” think again.  Readers love similar books.  Mysteries, contemporary romance, historical fiction, even Scottish historical romance.  Once they’ve read everything by their favorite author, they go looking for similar books.

Don’t pass up an opportunity to cross-promote.  Retweet other authors.  Participate in online book release parties. Create opportunities for other authors by hosting your own online party and inviting them to “appear” to talk about their new book, run a contest and give away a prize.  If you’re not sure who else your readers would enjoy, ask them.  Or explore bookstores to see whose books are similar to yours.  You never know how many great authors, great stories, and new readers you’ll find!

B is for Burr

A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775cThis month, as I did last year, I’m participating in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge.  The first is A, the second is B and so on every day this month, except Sundays.  Last year, my theme was Scotland.  This year, my theme is The Writing Life.  Check back here every day this month to follow along and find out what I’ve learned in the last year.  For instance:

B is for Burr, or Brogue.  That lovely Scottish accent that sends chills from our fingertips to our toes.  What is it about rolling Rs vibrating from deep in the chest of a male speaker?  Whatever it is, we can’t get enough.

B1895_HighlandHealer_DAudiobooks to the rescue!  Highland Healer came out in audiobook format just last month.  When I listened, I was amazed at what a different experience hearing the story gave me, instead of reading it.  You can find out for yourself at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Tantor, and Audible.

A is for Advertise

A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775cThis month, as I did last year, I’m participating in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge.  Today’s post is A, tomorrow’s will be B and so on every day this month, except Sundays.  Last year, my theme was Scotland.  This year, my theme is The Writing Life.  Check back here every day this month to follow along and find out what I’ve learned in the last year.  For instance:

A is for Advertising – you can’t be successful as an author these days without tooting your own horn.  It’s tough, and it’s especially tough for those of us who were taught to do our best and count on someone else to notice. 

Very few authors can just put books out there and make it in today’s market.  So we advertise.  

imageFor example?  Today, I have a Special Sneak Peek up on RomCon for your reading pleasure – including an excerpt.  If you haven’t read The Healer’s Gift (A Highland Talents Novella) yet, take a look.  You might win a copyIf you’re intrigued and can’t wait to see if you won, you can get it from Amazon.

Love That Scottish Burr? You’re In Luck!


486078_348901101886782_1994720705_nDo you love the sound of a Scottish accent? Can you feel those r-r-r-r-r’s rolling off the tongue and across your skin? Especially if the speaker is hot, male and wearing a kilt? 
You’re in luck! Highland Healer is now an audiobook! You can get it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Tantor.com and audible.com — today!

The Healer’s Gift Early Release Day!

It’s Early Release Day for The Healer’s Gift (A Highland Talents Novella)!  Coira’s story is available exclusively on Amazon (Kindle) for the next 90 days.  Read an Excerpt from my latest addition to my Highland Talents series!

imageCoira MacDugall paid with her life for her attack on the Highland Healer.  But her victim did more than heal Coira’s fatal wound that awful night.  Now drowning in the unwelcome emotions of others, Coira wonders if her new empathic ability was meant as a gift or a curse.
Logen MacDugall must discover who killed three previous lairds if he hopes to survive for long in the position. He believes Coira’s new sense can help him root out the conspirators, but after her disastrous time in the Highlands, the last thing she wants is to get involved with another laird.
Logen must help Coira gain control of her talent in time to save him and their clan from those intent on destroying MacDugall. Can Coira accept that this laird truly loves her?  Or will her memories lead her to madness again?

 The official worldwide release day will be 2 July, when it will become available in Ebook format to B&N (Nook), Kobo, AllRomanceEBooks, iBooks, and The Wild Rose Press, and In Print from Amazon and The Wild Rose Press. 

Release Day!

It’s release day for the Highland Healer audio book! Now you can hear those lovely Scottish burrs instead of just imagining them!
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When do you like to listen to an audiobook? Driving? Exercising? Dreaming?

You can get the audiobook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Tantor Media, Audible.com and probably a few more places I haven’t found yet.

Love That Scottish Burr? You’re In Luck!

Do you love the sound of a Scottish accent? Can you feel those r-r-r-r-r’s rolling off the tongue and across your skin? Especially if the speaker is hot, male and wearing a kilt?

486078_348901101886782_1994720705_n

You’re in luck! Highland Healer has been produced as an audiobook and comes out on 3 March. You can preorder it at Amazon and at Barnes & Noble right now.

Cover Reveal: BATTLE CRY

I’m thrilled to welcome my friend and fellow Wild Rose Press author, Melissa Snark, to my blog today to share her gorgeous new cover for her upcoming release.  Take it away, Melissa!

BATTLE CRY by Melissa Snark

A Victoria Storm novel

#3 Loki’s Wolves series

Genre:  Paranormal/urban fantasy

Coming in June 2014  * * *  Add to your Goodreads Shelf

“We meet Valkyrie Victoria Storm in the middle of a blood bath, and we did continue on from there. I must say Melissa Snark has all the makings of an awesome story teller.”

Gloria Lakritz, Sr. Reviewer and Review Chair for the Paranormal Romance Guild

“A definite must read for anyone who enjoys urban fantasy.”

Lisa Lester, Fight For Your Write Blog

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better…

 

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War with human hunters has devastated the werewolf pack of Sierra Pines. Only Valkyrie Victoria Storm and a handful of female wolves still live. With her mate dead, there is no one to protect her or her unborn child. An unwelcome attraction to a hunter complicates her life even further.  She reluctantly agrees to attend peace talks with Jake Barrett, the notorious Hunter King, a man who believes she murdered his son.

Hunter Sawyer Barrett has been trying to kill Victoria Storm for so long, he doesn’t know whether he loves her or hates her.  Desperate to end the war he started, he’s willing to take chances with everything but his heart, but he harbors a deadly secret he’s determined to keep.  

When peace talks fail, Victoria does the only reasonable thing an angry Valkyrie can do: she kidnaps her worst enemy and makes her escape in a fire engine red convertible muscle car. All along an ancient evil plots the destruction of wolves and hunters alike.

Add BATTLE CRY to your Goodreads Shelf

THE CHILD THIEF (LOKI’S WOLVES #1) is free on Amazon and Goodreads.  

MelissaSnark author photo

Melissa Snark is a paranormal and romance author with a particular interest in werewolf and Norse mythology. Her Loki’s Wolves series combines elements of both in a contemporary fantasy setting. She lives in Northern California with her husband, three children and glaring of cats.

Connect with Melissa

Website

The Snarkology

Email:  melissasnark at gmail dot com

Facebook

Twitter: @MelissaSnark

Goodreads

Amazon Author Page

SALE! Get HIGHLAND HEALER for $2.99

To celebrate the release of my sizzling new Scottish romance, HIGHLAND SEER (Highland Talents #2) on Kindle, HIGHLAND HEALER (Highland Talents #1) is now on sale for $2.99!  Get them both and enjoy action, adventure and  romance in the highlands of Scotland this weekend!

HIGHLAND HEALER

HIGHLAND SEER

Six Sentence Sunday Snippet #20

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Revisions are done on the second book in my Highland Talents series, Highland Seer!  I sent them back to my editor on Friday, so I’m hopeful that Highland Seer gets into the queue for a fall release, and that I have a new cover to debut soon.

In the meantime, here’s another snippet from Highland Seer. This follows soon after last week’s snippet.  Enjoy!

The Lathans have found a clan in trouble.  There aren’t many fighting-age men left, and no one to train the younger lads.  Donal is determined to find a solution to this problem, but he’s got his work cut out for him.  The half-trained young man who is as close to a master of arms as the MacKyrie’s have finds Donal and Bram working with the  younger lads and takes offense.  Donal challenges him to show his stuff, but Micheil isn’t inclined to treat it as a demonstration.

Enjoy my Six Sentence Sunday Snippet!

Micheil growled an oath and shoved through the crowd into the circle.  “They’re too young to take up fighting,” he argued.  “No one would accost them.”

“Were those lads on the whisky wagon too young to be waving their dirks at brigands armed with claymores, then?”

That stopped Micheil in his tracks.  He drew his weapon.

Donal grinned.  “That’s better.  Let’s dance, shall we?”

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The Sunday Snippet group is on Facebook!  Click on the banner at the top of this post to find the links to the other authors participating.

Highland Healer is now available in both print and ebook formats from Amazon,  The Wild Rose Press, Barnes and Noble and other retailers.  Highland Seer will be released later this year.

Six Sentence Sunday Snippet #19

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I’m so excited!  I signed the contract last week for the second book in my Highland Talents series, Highland Seer!  This past week I worked on revisions, which I plan to return to my editor in the next two or three days so that Highland Seer can get into the queue for a fall release.

The Lathans have found a clan in trouble.  There aren’t many fighting-age men left, and no one to train the younger lads.  Donal is determined to find a solution to this problem, but he’s got his work cut out for him.

Enjoy my Six Sentence Sunday Snippet!

Donal had collected sticks and wooden swords lying about in the dirt.  He gave one to each lad, paired each lad with another, then ordered, “Show me what ye can do.”

Their enthusiasm for sparring didn’t surprise him, but their lack of skill did.

“Do ye think to defend yerselves or yer mates like that?”

The lads stopped what they were doing and stared at him, wide-eyed.  “Aye,” a brave one answered him.  “We’ll defend our clan to the death.”

“Then die ye will, laddie, unless ye learn how to fight.”

 

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Highland Healer is now available in both print and ebook formats from Amazon,  The Wild Rose Press, Barnes and Noble and other retailers.  Highland Seer will be released later this year.

Six Sentence Sunday Snippet #18 – Whisky

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I signed the contract this week for the second book in my Highland Talents series, Highland Seer.  So that’s where today’s snippet is from.  

The Lathans have rescued old men and lads who were attacked by bandits bent on stealing their wagons loaded with kegs of whisky.  Returning the wounded MacKyries home to be cared for, the Lathans are angry that their  laird would send his clansmen out so poorly guarded and with bounty guaranteed to draw thieves.

Enjoy my Six Sentence Sunday Snippet!

“Can we be sure of our welcome here?” Jamie asked quietly.

“We’re bringin’ home their whisky and their menfolk,” Donal groused.   “The laird’s gratitude had better include answering a few questions, like why we’re havin’ to bring home his wounded.”  At Jamie’s raised eyebrow, he continued.  “Once they ken how charming we are, there shouldna be any problems.”

Jamie grinned and shook his head.

Behind him, Bram choked back a laugh and began coughing.

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Highland Healer is now available in both print and ebook formats from Amazon,  The Wild Rose Press, Barnes and Noble and other retailers.  Highland Seer will be released later this year.

Six Sentence Sunday Snippet #17 – Visitors

I enjoyed a visit from a long-time friend this week, so this snippet is about a visitor Toran receives – a new friend and ally. As the old saying goes, there’s good news and bad news…

Enjoy my Six Sentence Sunday!

Toran stood with fists on hips as Angus approached. “What brings ye?” Toran asked. “Is there more trouble?”  

“Aye,” Angus answered. “And good news, as well.”  He dismounted and handed the reins to one of the lads who stood by.

Highland Healer is now available in both print and ebook formats from Amazon,  The Wild Rose Press, Barnes and Noble and other retailers.  

Six Sentence Sunday #16 – Sunday Snippets

This week, I spoke on a panel about writing love stories and love scenes at the Writers Guild of Texas in Austin with Tracy Wolff, Mari Mancusi, and Shawnna Perigo.  It was so much fun, I’ve decided to share a bit of a love scene here today.

Enjoy my Six Sentence Sunday!

He had to prove to her that he was serious about a future with her. “To become my wife and the lady of my clan.”

“What?”

Toran glanced quickly around, but no one else seemed to have heard her startled exclamation.

“There will be time, lass.  All ye need.  And when ye find that ye are ready, we will marry.”

Highland Healer is now available in both print and ebook formats from Amazon,  The Wild Rose Press, Barnes and Noble and other retailers.  

RWA Online Interview With Willa Blair

Note:  This article used with permission by RWA Online, Chapter #136 from their January/February 2013 issue of LoveBytes.

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Interview with Willa Blair

By Karen Jones

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Willa, would you tell us a little about Highland Healer?

In 1513, Scotland’s King, James IV, led most of his nobles, lairds and their heirs to their deaths at Flodden Field just over the border in England. Afterward, most clans were led by younger siblings. And many clans near the border suffered so many losses that they broke up. Highland Healer takes place three years later, in 1516, when a lowlander army made up of broken men tries to conquer the highlands.

HE NEEDS HER FOR HIS CLAN.

HE WANTS HER FOR HIMSELF.

CAN HE HAVE BOTH?

Toran Lathan never expected to become Laird, and never expected to meet a woman like Aileanna Shaw. Her healing ability is just what his people need, but Toran cannot resist her beauty. Yet will loving him destroy her ability to heal?

Aileanna Shaw has a healing touch – and a special talent she must keep secret. Stolen from her home by a marauding army, she’s kidnapped again by the Highland Laird she heals. Is she a prize of war, or the prize of his heart?

While Toran battles the invading lowland army, he also battles his desire for Aileanna. And Aileanna must decide if she can trust her secrets to this fierce warrior who needs her talent, but wants her love.

How did you come up with the idea for Highland Healer

I saw the opening scene in my head: a woman standing in a tent while a big man is carried in on a makeshift stretcher. At first, I didn’t know if it was going to be a fantasy, an otherwordly scifi/fantasy or set in the highlands. But once I had a page or two written, I knew.

Why did you decide to make it part of a series? 

The time period following Flodden is so chaotic, especially in the highlands, that little of the history remains. The new king was a toddler, the Queen Mother was Henry VIII’s sister, and the Regent preferred to spend time in France. All of that gives me a spare scaffolding, if you will, of the historical record for me to build stories upon. And several of my secondary characters cried out for stories of their own. Book 2 is written and with my editor. I’m writing Book 3, and there are at least 3 others I’m developing ideas for, perhaps more than that.

What was it about your book that made your editor want to buy it?

You’d have to ask her that question. She loves Scottish historical romance. The changes she requested were minimal, so she must have liked the story and my voice.

What was the most difficult aspect of writing Highland Healer?

Finding the right time period. The vision I had of the opening scene could have taken place in any period of Scottish history when bladed weapons were still the only game in town. I definitely did not see firearms in my world.

How much research did you conduct for Highland Healer and what was the most interesting thing you did while conducting your research?

I read a lot, googled a lot, bought some Scottish history books, studied castles (and thought about ones I’ve visited in England), looked at pictures, and played with a few time periods until I settled on the post-Flodden years. The upside of the time period is that there’s not much historical record of life in the highlands. That’s the downside, too. I’m eager to walk the ground – go to Scotland and literally make it part of me – breathe the air, eat the food, see the sights. Maybe this coming spring or summer. I think being there will improve the sensory detail of my books, as well as the sense of place – and time.

Why did you decide to write a historical with a touch of paranormal?

I grew up reading science fiction. In my favorite books, psi talents played a role. I thought it would be fun to explore them in my own writing – and it is! Added to that, psi talents such as healing, precognition, dowsing (i.e., water witching) and so forth have a big place in highland myth and legend, and remained respected there much longer than elsewhere in Britain.

What is your process for writing a book? For example, are you a plotter or a pantzer

I started life as a pantzer – visualizing a first scene and then running it with it. That and the fact that I was still working my day job meant that Highland Healer took more than a decade to write and sell.

Book 2, Highland Seer, was finished and sent to my editor in less than a year because I decided to try to outline the book before I wrote it. It worked like a charm. That’s not to say that I stuck completely to the outline – I did adjust when the characters led me onto a new path. I got to know the characters as I wrote and they showed me how they wanted to react to the situations I put them into – sometimes not in the way I intended.

I tend to write sequentially, at least in the first draft. As I’m editing, I may decide to add a scene here or there as something occurs to me that needs to be addressed. I think I’m plot driven by training – my long-time critique group is made up of authors I affectionately call “plot-meisters” who have years of experience and hundreds of books published.

Do you use any techniques, tools, or aids to help you write?

Synopsis and outline. Keyboard and computer. Kidding. No, I don’t use Scrivener or anything like that – although I do have a trial copy of it, I haven’t figured it out yet well enough to want to take the time to use it. I need to get one of my writer friends to walk me through it.

How do you make time to write?

I have an advantage in that I retired from my day job, so I can focus on writing. Anyone who knows me knows I am NOT a morning person. So in the morning I do email, social media promo, etc. I’m more productive in the afternoon and evening. But I rarely get to write in the evening since my husband does deserve some of my attention.

When you are writing, who is in control? You or your characters?

At a macro level, I am. At a micro level, I’d say the characters are. They sometimes surprise me. They show me sides of themselves that I didn’t suspect or expect.

Who has had the most influence on your writing?

My critique group, first and foremost. They’ve taught me plot, conflict, point-of-view, layering in senses and emotions, pretty much any aspect of the craft you care to name. I think my voice was greatly influenced by sci fi writers such as Arthur C. Clarke, but I’m a voracious reader, so there’s really no telling. The RWA chapters that I belong to have also been terrific resources, offering classes, speakers and camaraderie with other writers who are at different points on the same path I’m walking.

Have you had any “ah ha” moments as a writer?

Absolutely. When I finished the first draft of Highland Healer. I finally realized what it felt like to complete a book. It had taken me a long time to do that. And it’s a powerful feeling, much more powerful than you’d expect if you haven’t gotten there yet. I put it right up there with any “rite of passage” you care to name.

What advice do you have for other writers?

I have total sympathy for writers who can’t seem to get to “The End,” but I have to say, Do It. Yes, you’ll have tons of editing in your future. Your first draft won’t be pretty – or publishable. But that’s what editing is for. What’s the famous Nora Roberts quote? Something like this: I can edit crap. I can’t edit a blank page.

Why did you decide to become an author?

I always saw myself as a writer. I used to play my 45 of the Beatles’ Paperback Writer over and over. (Now that I’m in TX, I need to play the flip side, Rain.) I won a national essay contest in the 7th grade – there was only one winner per state, and I was it for Florida. I still have “books” I started in long-hand, in pencil. They’re getting pretty faded, but every once in a while I look them over. Not bad for junior high and high school. College killed my writing, as did climbing the career ladder, especially in those years when my commute was 100 miles a day. One of the best things anyone ever did for me was during that time, when the leader of our critique group gave me permission not to write. That was a relief. It was more than I could handle then, but until she absolved me, I still felt guilt-ridden that I wasn’t producing.

Why did you decide to become a romance author?

I have to say that I stumbled into it. I thought I’d write science fiction. But a mentor at work was the writing partner of the woman who runs the critique group I belong to and she introduced me to it, and to Washington Romance Writers. I’ll be forever grateful that she set me on this path. So I joined RWA and except for several years where my day job left me too worn out to write, I never looked back. Then I discovered Catherine Asaro and Linnea Sinclair. I see some SFR books in my future, too. RWAOL, Celtic Hearts and the local chapter SARA, are all terrific. Romance writers support each other in ways other genres can only dream about.

Would you tell us your story of getting “the call?”

It wasn’t a call – it was an email. But it was breath-taking, nonetheless. I do seem to recall copious amounts of champagne being consumed that evening. I did get “the call” when I finaled in WRW’s Marlene contest. All I can say about that is that now I know what actors feel like when the Academy calls to tell them they’ve been nominated for an Academy Award. I only regret that my husband arrived home after I hung up the phone. He didn’t get to see my face as what the caller was telling me finally penetrated my brain.

What was the most exciting thing that happened to you after you signed your contract – besides receiving your first check as a published author?

It’s a tossup between getting the first cover (fabulous!) and the final galley, complete with ISBN numbers, cover, dedications, and all that stuff. There’s nothing like seeing your words in a format that looks like a book, even if you don’t have an actual paper book in your hand yet.

If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing?

Getting more exercise? Volunteering at an animal shelter? (Don’t tell my husband. I could be a crazy cat lady if it weren’t for him.) Becoming a not-so-famous artist?

How does your husband feel about having a romance writer for a wife?

Judging by the fact that he’s always telling people about my book and the latest news about how it’s selling or what else I’m working on, I’d say he’s okay with it.

What are you doing to promote your book?

Right after I signed the contract, I settled on a pen name and cleared it with my publisher, started a FB author page, set it to tweet, and started getting the brand out into cyberspace. I always comment on blogs as Willa Blair, for instance. I’ve been blogging on my website/blog as well as guest-blogging, joining group marketing pages on Facebook, and so forth. I’m going to participate in a group book signing with my local SARA chapter in February and may do some on my own.

What support are you receiving from your publisher, Wild Rose Press?

They’ve been terrific. Besides fabulous cover art and editing, they send their books out to a lot of reviewers. They’re quick to answer questions about marketing, business, or whatever a first-time author like me needs to know. And they do a retreat at a ranch in Bandera, TX every other year that is tons of fun, and a great opportunity to meet other Wild Rose Press authors and other editors. Or just to have time to write, away from everyday distractions like TV, phones and family.

What books can we expect to see in the near future?

Book 2 in the Highlands Talent series is Highland Seer (working title). It will, I hope, be available in 2013. Book 3: Highland Troth (working title) and others will follow as long as TWRP and my readers want to buy them.

Is there a question you would like to answer but it wasn’t asked?

Yes, my question is: What are you doing to give back to the Romance community for the support you’ve gotten over the years?

I’m happy to say I am giving back as best I can. I mentor other authors, I’ve started an in-person critique group here in TX to supplement the online critique SARAs were doing, and help run the SARA website and write blog posts, mostly on craft, for it. I’m not an official officer in my local chapter, and frankly, I prefer that. This way, I’m free to meddle (kidding) as ideas and opportunities come to me. I’m helping a couple of days a week with WRW’s twitter account, retweeting interesting and useful tweets. I’ve gotten a lot of whole-hearted help along the way. I owe it to the romance community to give back. And to write!

Author Bio

Willa Blair is the award-winning author of Highland Healer, her debut novel, the first in a series set in the 16th century Highlands, when the old ways, and old talents, still shaped events. She always wished she had several psi talents, such as reading her husband’s mind, cleaning house by simply thinking about it, and flying. But alas, no. So she endows her characters with special talents and lives vicariously through them. She loves reading and writing romance novels set in the past, present and future.

Book

Highland Healer, Wild Rose Press, January 4, 2013, Print ISBN 978-1-61217-678-9, Digital ISBN 978-1-61217-679-6

Web Site

To learn more about Willa Blair and her writing, visit her at her web site http://www.willablair.com

About RWA® Online

RWA® Online is proud to have been the first electronic chapter of Romance Writers of America®. We know that the writer’s life can be a lonely one and it doesn’t help when the closest chapter meeting is a hundred miles and two weeks away. Our chapter was created in 1995 specifically to take advantage of the emerging capabilities of the world wide web to bring romance writers together through virtual instead of only physical meetings. We are now over 250 members strong and growing every day.

Our chapter resources are available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! All you need is an internet connection. We offer critique groups, plotting sessions, and lots of support and advice on your writing career. We understand the need to vent over a rejection letter and we celebrate your contest wins and manuscript requests and contracts right with you.

Chapter Features:

  • 24 hour access
  • Bulletin Board Discussion Forums (no email loops!)
  • Monthly Discussion Topics
  • Workshops – FREE for chapter members!
  • Plotting and Critique Groups or Partners
  • Private Chat Area and regular chat sessions
  • January Jump Start Jam and KIA Marathon
  • Love Bytes – Chapter Newsletter
  • Published Author Only Forums
  • Published-author blogging at The HEA Café, which is open to the public
  • Publishing Spotlight with visiting editors/publishers
  • And much, much more!

Membership is open to members of RWA. To learn more, visit us at http://www.rwaonlinechapter.org/