IMHO welcomes debut author Annette McCleave, who will discuss this month’s theme, “Back to School: Surprising Things I've Learned from Writing/Reading Romance” in her own inimitable fashion. Annette is the 2008 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® award winning author of Drawn into Darkness, the first novel in a new paranormal romance series about Soul Gatherers--immortal warriors who battle demons to protect the souls of the dead.
Annette says of her award, “Winning that gold, heart-shaped necklace turned my world upside down. Only six days later, to my utter delight, I sold to NAL Signet in a three-book deal ... and made the leap from aspiring author to contracted novelist.”
But it wasn’t the first time she’d been recognized by RWA’s® Golden Heart contest. In 2005 she was a “Wild Card” finalist with me when one of her manuscripts was nominated in the Long Historical category (oddly enough, mine finaled in the paranormal category. Interesting that we both were eventually published in each other’s categories, hmmm?)
Bestselling author Sylvia Day says Drawn into Darkness is “a phenomenal debut!” Publisher’s Weekly says, “Swords flash, spells are cast, and twist and turns come head-spinningly quickly...Readers will hope for sequels..."
Their hopes will be rewarded. The second book in the Soul Gatherer series, Bound by Darkness, releases in May 2010. Annette will put a signed copy of Drawn into Darkness into the “Back to School” tote bag of love. A former marketing executive, Annette is now a full-time writer and mother of one.
(By the way, I love the tagline for this book: Desire be Damned. And check out the yummy video below.)
IMHO: Welcome, Annette! What is something surprising you’ve learned from writing romance?
AM: Thanks very much for having me as a guest on IMHO, TJ. It seems like only yesterday we were Golden Heart finalists together. Time flies doesn’t it? And here we are, another school season. Well, what I’ve learned from writing romance is the fine art of self-discipline.
Not so very long ago, I dreaded the start of the school year. For an author suddenly presented with the opportunity to reclaim daylight writing hours, that might seem odd. After all, most of us welcome the day school resumes and we once again have the house to ourselves. But I wasn’t always an author. My daughter struggled with boredom all through her early years in school, and the return of homework spelled nightmare to both of us. Her, because she had to do the work; me, because I had to hound her constantly until it got done.
I did my best to make homework time as game-like as possible, but it was a time-consuming and sometimes fruitless task.
Until I began to write. Then, every spare moment I had went toward my manuscripts. Mornings before my daughter woke up were, and still are, my most productive writing hours. Weekends were no longer weekends, they were extra writing time.
Yes, my daughter was jealous of the time I dedicated to my writing and, we had some issues with that in the beginning. But as she witnessed my unflagging devotion and my passion for writing, she grew to accept it. Even admire it.
The surprising benefit came via those extra hours I put in. First, leaving my daughter alone to complete her homework actually turned out to be a good thing. Unknowingly, I had been stifling her independence by hovering over her while she worked. Left alone, she actually accomplished more and felt better about what she produced. Her self-confidence blossomed. Second, witnessing my commitment to getting a book written—regardless of the day of the week and without a prod or threat—gave her an understanding of what it takes to complete a project. I can’t take credit for her current self-discipline—she is clearly her own person and she’s grown into a very responsible young woman—but I can say nagging is no longer necessary.
Now we both welcome the start of the new school year with a smile. Well, I smile. She’s just happy to see her friends.
IMHO: We’re still learning that particular lesson in our house, Annette, but maybe that’s the difference between having a girl and having boys. Ha!
Okay, IMHO readers, last week you told us what reading romance had taught you about yourself; this week, tell us what reading romance has taught you about the opposite sex. Heh heh. Remember what you’re playing for: the "Back to School" tote bag of love filled with signed books by Gerry Bartlett (she’s put in two), both Annette McCleave’s and my own (The Legacy) signed debut novels, as well as autographed novels from Ann Macela, Heather MacAllister, and Vicki Hinze. But wait! There’s more! If you are the lucky winner, you’ll also receive a $20 gift card from Barnes and Noble and a Magnetic Poetry Kit featuring “Mixed-up Romance Novel” phrases that you can use to express your inner romance novelist.
Without further ado (what is that, anyway?), you may begin commenting now. And remember, the more authors whose posts you comment on during the month, the more chance of winning. Contest rules are on my website. USA address only, please.