Yesterday the authors nominated in RWA's Best First Book category discussed their debut books; today the interviews conclude with a look into their lives as writers. For example, a lot of "first" books – aren't, exactly. Read on, and leave a comment for a chance to win.
How you reacted to or celebrated your Rita nomination:
Viola Estrella (nominated for Angel Vindicated): I'm still in shock. aeriously, it's such a huge honor.
Kelly Gay (The Better Part of Darkness): The first call had me teary-eyed and laughing, but when the second call came in hours later, I sat there in shock. I thought there was some kind of a mistake, and ended up hitting redial to make sure. It was at this point I realized I needed a beer. And then I ordered a pizza. :)
Carla Capshaw (The Gladiator): I went to dinner with my family.
Kate Brady (One Scream Away): Dinner out. (I'll take any opportunity I can find to do that!)
Elisabeth Naughton (Stolen Fury): The day the RITA nominations were announced, my editor actually flew in to Portland for the Public Librarians Association Conference where I was speaking on a romance panel, so we got to celebrate the news together. That romance panel consisted of Christina Dodd, Nicole Burnham and Elizabeth Boyle – all NY Times Bestsellers and previous RITA winners/finalists. I felt like quite a nobody surrounded by such big name authors, so it was really cool to have John Charles-’from Booklist and the Chicago Tribune, who organized the panel-’introduce me to the room of 500 librarians and announce my double RITA nomination. It's a moment I'll never forget.
Lauren Strasnick (Nothing Like You): Massive shock and delight! Celebrated with good friend, Milly. We made school-cafeteria-inspired hard shell tacos with ground turkey and shredded lettuce.
Therese Walsh (The Last Will of Moira Leahy): My hands shook and I started to tear up; it had been such a long journey. A friend of mine-’Nat'l Pro Liaison, Cynthia D'Alba-’made the call too, which made it even more special.
Mary Brady (He Calls Her Doc): I started by contacting everyone I knew, then I bought champagne and drank it with my husband. When I got it, I wore my RITA pin everywhere. Now I just smile a lot.
Your oddest or most reliable writing ritual/habit:
Kelly Gay: Coffee and recliner are my most reliable rituals.
Carla Capshaw : I need lots of Coca-cola. It never fails me.
Kate Brady : I sit in a recliner with my laptop and furry friends, watching fictitious people run around in my mind and writing down whatever they say and do. If they stop, I take a hot shower to get them moving again. What's odd about that?
Elisabeth Naughton : Some days it's really not productive at all, but when I'm procrastinating, I have to win two games of spider solitaire in a row before I can start writing.
Therese Walsh : Lucky pencils.
Mary Brady : I use the stopwatch on my cell phone to keep me honest. The .01 sec moves so frantically it gives me the feeling of momentum.
Viola Estrella: I keep a notebook by my bed in case a scene comes to me before I fall asleep. It's incredibly annoying when brilliance strikes me in the dark of night and I can't remember a single thing about it the next day. I wrote the bones of a few scenes from Angel Vindicated by the light of the moon.
Writing advice you're glad you followed or ignored:
Carla Capshaw : I'm glad I listened to advice and learned the rules of writing before trying to break them. Of course, now I break them all the time. :)
Kate Brady : "Send it in!" I ignored that for a really long time before biting the bullet.
Elisabeth Naughton : The best piece of advice actually came from my husband, a non writer, and it wasn't really advice, more like an attitude adjustment. Every time I talked about writing and the long publishing process, he would always correct me. It was never "IF" I sold and was published, it was always "WHEN".
Lauren Strasnick : Be fearless.
Therese Walsh : I'm glad I ignored the advice about trends and didn't stress too much about where the novel would sit at the bookstore. I wrote the story I wanted to write, with parts family saga, romance, mystery, suspense and magical realism.
Mary Brady : First I followed it all and then I ignored it all and then when I mixed it up and added a little of my own, the combination clicked.
Viola Estrella: Detach your ego. The story isn't about me; it's about my characters and their journey.
Kelly Gay: To paraphrase Nora Roberts: You can fix a bad page; you can't fix a blank one. Great advice! I've learned to write through tough spots, and not get distracted by research and revising. Once I have my rough draft, that's when I slow down and start crafting and shaping…
Number of books you wrote before selling:
Elisabeth Naughton : Four.
Lauren Strasnick : Two (the 2nd sold).
Therese Walsh : I wrote Last Will once before, in a completely different form-’as a romance. I also wrote several picture book manuscripts.
Mary Brady : Oh, why don't you just ask me how old I am??
Viola Estrella: Five.
Kelly Gay: Six.
Kate Brady : Five. But almost no one knew. It was my secret hobby.
From your decision to write for publication to the sale call-’how long:
Therese Walsh : I started Last Will in 2002. One year to write it, another for editing, another still for agent hunting. Then I decided to throw it all away and start over, after several months of pouting. Same story, different genre. Another year+ to write, another to edit. It sold in 2008.
Mary Brady : See above.
Viola Estrella: About five years, I think.
Kelly Gay: About fifteen years if you count the moment I started writing with career intentions (first with plays and then screenplays). Five years from the time I decided to switch gears and aim for publishing a novel.
Elisabeth Naughton : Four years. It was five years from the time I started that first manuscript, but I consider that first book practice. I never tried to sell that one.
The moment you felt like a "real author":
Mary Brady : When I got my first diary and started writing.
Viola Estrella: From the first time I wrote "The End.
Kelly Gay: It was after my release. I'd seen my book on the shelf, had my first book signing, but it wasn’t until the 4th or 5th trip into the bookstore, that it hit me in a very quiet, accepting, emotional sort of way.
Carla Capshaw : The first time I saw The Gladiator on the shelf at the bookstore.
Kate Brady : When I got that first box of "real" books in the mail from my publisher. Ahhh!
Elisabeth Naughton : When I saw my book on the shelf in an airport. My husband sent me a photo from the San Francisco airport when he was traveling. Above the shelf it said "Famous Authors" and my book, Stolen Fury, was right there with all the big names.
Lauren Strasnick : Still waiting to feel fully legit. :)
Therese Walsh : Gosh, sometimes I still don't feel like a real author! But I'd say one cementing moment for me was the first time I saw the PDF of the cover.
Your favorite book when you were 10 years old:
Lauren Strasnick : Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
Therese Walsh : Pippi Longstocking.
Viola Estrella: I was obsessed with the Little House on the Prairie books.
Kelly Gay: The Black Stallion.
Carla Capshaw : Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein.
Elisabeth Naughton : Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. That girl got in so much trouble. I just loved her.
A book or author you recommend again and again:
Viola Estrella: Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris. I also love reading contemporary romance from a wide variety of authors.
Kelly Gay: The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley or Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.
Carla Capshaw : The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.
Elisabeth Naughton : Perfect by Judith McNaught. My all-time favorite romance.
Lauren Strasnick : The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Therese Walsh : The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon. In terms of romance, definitely Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale and Bliss by Judy Cuevas (Judith Ivory).
Mary Brady : Carrie Bebris, Pamela Ford Lori Handeland, Ann Voss Peterson, Laura Scott, Isabel Sharpe, to begin with. There are so many.
The RITAs will be awarded July 31st. Many thanks to all the authors for their time, and if you'd like a chance to win a book, leave a comment and mention which one you'd like the most. Not sure? Excerpts or blurbs are linked below.