I'm proud to introduce Historical Romance Author, Ruth Ann Nordin!
What is your favorite piece of writing? Why?
Romantic comedies because I love to laugh.
What inspired you to start writing?
I used to go to bookstores and libraries and not find anything of interest to read. I had a certain story in mind but couldn’t find it, so one day I asked myself, “Why don’t you just write the book you want to read?” And the rest is history.
How did you develop your characters? Which one is your favorite and why?
I start out with a vague idea of all of my characters. I know their jobs, what they look like, and their place in the story (ex. hero, bad guy, etc). I don’t outline or do character sketches like the people in my writing groups do. I don’t even follow what the books say. I just start writing and let the characters develop as they want to. Even if an author does develop their characters before they write their story, I think it’s important that the author is flexible enough to allow the characters to change if they want to. I’ve heard of authors who are so insistent that their characters will follow their guidelines that the story suffered for it. So flexibility is the key when it comes to developing your characters.
My favorite character of all the books I’ve written is Jake Mitchell from the romantic comedy An Inconvenient Marriage because he’s strong and bold but has a good heart underneath his hard exterior.
How much time do you spend writing?
It takes me 1-1.5 months to write a novel (70,000 – 75,000 words). When I am writing a novel, I spend about 4-6 hours a day/4 days a week writing. Usually, I do this at night after the kids are in bed. This is why I don’t get much sleep when I’m in writing mode.
I average three to four novels a year, so that gives you an idea of how much time I spend writing.
What do you do when you get a dose of writer’s block? Do you have any special ways of breaking through the barrier?
The best thing to do is to get away from the book and do something else. Writer’s block happens for good reasons. Mostly, it’s because the story is going in a direction it shouldn’t be. If I try to keep writing, it’ll end up being a bad book which I’ll have to go back and rewrite. (I’ve had to do redo two books for this reason.) I will never force a story again. Another time when writer’s block happens to me is after a burst of writing (say I do 10,000 words in three days). I’ll get drained. This, of course, leads to writer’s block just because I’m exhausted.
There are a few ways that I think a writer can break through the barrier: Do something else writing related. This is a perfect time to do edits and revisions of other works. I always have at least one book I’m editing while I am writing another for this very reason. I find editing is so logical that it relaxes the creative part of me, which allows my ideas to start flowing again. Another thing I do is blog because it requires me to keep writing something. I also bounce ideas off a friend who can be trusted to not spill the secrets.
Now, I have a friend who gets writer’s block when she talks about her stories while she’s writing them. This is the opposite for me. The more I talk about my works in progress, the freer I am. So authors need to keep in mind which way works for them. My ways of handling writer’s block doesn’t work for everyone.
How do you feel about negative reviews?
Well, I just got one during the process of answering these questions, so I can answer this while the wound is still “fresh”. It sucks, but then I have to realize that not everyone is going to love my work. People’s tastes vary so widely. Even the bestsellers get negative reviews.
Now I am coming back to this question two days after initially answering this because time allows a more logical perspective. I gave the negative review careful consideration. There was a dose of truth in it, but I realized that it was something that was needed for the story I wanted to write. I think the value of a negative review is that it forces the author to ask him/herself, “Am I happy with my book?” If the author can answer yes to that question, then shrug off the review and move on. The most important thing an author can do is write the book they want to read. I’m going to quote Bill Cosby here because it fits this so well: “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is to try to please everyone.” If nothing else, I need to be happy with my work. After all, I’m the one I have to live with all the time.
If given the opportunity, would you become a commercially published author? What are your thoughts on self-publishing?
Commercial publication is not for everyone. I know writers who strive for that goal, and I do whatever I can to support them. But it’s not my goal. I am surprised by how many writers have actually tried to talk me into commercial publication. I almost feel like they’re doing an intervention on me. For some reason, they can’t believe that any sane person would willingly pursue self-publication.
Like I said before, I started writing because I couldn’t find what I wanted to read in the bookstores or libraries, and I didn’t know where to even look on the Internet since it’s such a huge place. The commercial publishers do not publish books that are a cross between a Christian and secular romance. I’ve studied both publishing divisions and found neither gave me what I wanted as an author. I am right in the middle, and if I were to try for either side, my stories would have to be modified to please the publisher instead of myself.
That is what makes self-publishing an attractive alternative. I can write whatever I want without an editor coming in and telling me what to change. I do think the biggest downfall is that the self-published author gives up the prestige of saying a publisher took them on. Money and fame play a minor role since even commercially published authors rarely experience these things, and self-published authors have achieved the status that some commercially published authors can only dream of. In commercial publication, authors are expected to do their own marketing, so the playing field has been leveled for both self-published and commercially published authors.
The success of a book is going to depend on the quality of the work and the author’s ability to get it out there so readers know about it. Readers want the story. Few care how the books got published. This is why the only real downfall I see in self-publishing is the lack of prestige in writing circles. There is a stigma associated with self-publishing, but I think it’s getting to be less of an issue. The stigma used to bother me, especially since my main critics come from my own family and from some writing groups in the area. But now, I have gotten comfortable with what I’m writing and why I’m writing it. I’ve learned to drown out their voices because they still make fun of me. I know I’m on the right path for myself and that’s all that matters when you get right down to it. You just need to focus on the positives.
What are you goals as far as your published work?
Primarily, I publish my books so I can hold a paperback version of my story. As simple as that is, it’s why I self-publish and it’s why I will only write the story I am most passionate about. Any readers I happen to pick up are a wonderful bonus.
Would you ever sell the rights to your book/s?
No, but I can’t see a reason why that would even be an option. I don’t think my books will ever be made into movies.
Do you imagine your book being on screen (movie, television, etc.)? Who would you see playing your main characters?
I just answered this one. :-) However, I do often see my books as movies as I write them, and some of the people I have selected for the roles (luck them, hehe) are Jonathan Frakes (when he played Riker on Star Trek the Next Generation), Owen Wilson, Kate Bosworth, and Kirsten Dunst. (All in different books.)
Give us a brief synopsis of your book.
The one that is going to be released in October 2009 is titled His Redeeming Bride, a historical western romance. The main theme is redemption. It doesn’t matter what we’ve done in our past. It’s what we are doing now that matters. This is the romance part of the story between the hero who has a less than perfect past and heroine who has to learn to look beyond that past to see who he is now. The secondary theme is legalism versus grace in the Christian church. The third theme is what lengths a parent will go through in order to secure their child’s future. So you can see why my books are not for everyone. :-)
How many times did you read/edit before you were satisfied?
In all, I went through 8 rounds of edits.
Any future titles in the works?
I am working on another historical western romance right now. I plan to be done with the rought draft sometime in October. I expect the final product to be available in February 2010. In November, I will work on a romantic comedy which will be out sometime in the spring. I am currently working on novellas on my WordPress blog (http://ruthannnordin.wordpress.com/). This is my 500 words a day challenge. There is always something I’m working on, and I don’t plan on slowing down. Information about my past works, my current works, and future works can be found on my website http://www.ruthannnordin.com. There are free ebooks listed there as well (including mine).
Till next time