Blog, Publishing, Romance

Tips on being a romance writer

I don’t have ALL the answers, but here’s what I’ve learned about being a romance writer.

Being a romance writer does require creativity. But, just like any other job, it requires some work. Here is what I’ve learned during my journey as a romance writer:

  1. Do the research.

    Romance researchNo, I’m not suggesting you do THAT kind of research. Surely you know enough about sex to get through a rough draft of sex scenes. And if you don’t, just fake it till you make it, like you did with that one boyfriend who thought the clitoris was a kind of dinosaur. What I’m suggesting is basically a professional form of eavesdropping. Observation and attention to detail are your best friends as a romance writer.

    Study couples—how they interact, how they speak, their body language, how they fight, and most importantly, how they make up. Take notes (discreetly) in your phone of phrases or actions that resonate with you. But don’t go too far. You don’t want to be that person dictating the scene in a coffee shop like a nature documentary narrator. The people around you are your greatest inspirations. Use them. You may even interact with them. If things go further than that, remember to use protection and at least offer breakfast in the morning. Yeah, baby!

  2. Grow some balls.

    Become your book characterThis is figuratively, of course…because…eww. I mean that the publishing world can be a tough place. If you’re a timid introvert who would rather die than socialize and promote yourself, this is going to be difficult. Of course, romance writers are notorious for living in their pajamas for days at a time—greasy hair pulled up in a knot, surviving only on peanut butter crackers and room temperature coffee—so that they can make deadline.

    But there comes a time when you have to put your big girl panties on (and pants too—sorry not sorry). You have to become that outgoing, social butterfly you’ve always avoided. If you have to, create an alternate persona for these times. Make her anything you want her to be, like a character from your book. Let her wear glasses or sexy underwear, whatever works. You’re the author; write your character’s personality. Inside, you can still be the hot mess that you’ve always been. But outside you’ll need to be a bad ass, confident writer with a tough veneer and a killer vocabulary.

    Once you’ve mastered this technique, it will also come in handy when you’ve got to face your five aunts who read your books and want to discuss blow job techniques over Thanksgiving turkey and green bean casserole.

  3. Don’t ever apologize.

    Love your smutMany times, the romance genre is dismissed as fluff. “It’s just smut,” they’ll say. When my first book was published and I told people I was a writer they would ask, “What do you write?” I would always look at the floor and mumble “romance novels,” in a quiet voice that was contrite and begging not to be judged. Right away this sent the message that I was insecure about what I wrote. That wasn’t the case at all! But our misogynistic society told me to be ashamed of romance, and so I played my role perfectly. Until one day, I realized… “I published a book! No, wait! I published THREE books! That is nothing to be embarrassed about!”

    There was a whole epiphany that followed with lots of internal monologue. There may have been dancing, a chorus of “I am Woman,” and maybe a crotch grab or two. I knew there was nothing to apologize for. I am proud of my books. I work hard. I invest time, heart and soul in everything I write. And it took me a while, but I know now that no one can tell me how to feel.

  4. Be original.

    Be a romance writerSomeone once told me that there are no original ideas anymore. I call bullshit. Sure, art inspires other art, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t original. A lot of things happen in real life that readers would be quick to call out as “unrealistic” in a novel. That’s where things get tricky. Keep your stories fresh and inventive. Find a balance between what works for your characters and what works in the world you’ve created. Sure, there are tried and true (and predictable) formulas that work for some authors (cough-Nicholas-Sparks-cough).

    But what works for one book writer, doesn’t necessarily work for you. If your story is reminiscent of others, then find a unique way to tell it. Don’t ever, ever, ever write to create a bestseller. Just when you think you’ve written an amazing new release of what’s trending now, the trend will change. Then you and your novel are left behind. Plus, if you’re writing just for the money… you’re in the wrong business. Most of us still have our day jobs. Basically, write for you!

  5. Make friends.

    Romance writers networkIt is a great time to be a romance writer. The romance genre is filled with authors of every race, sexuality, gender, and background. It’s so easy to find people to connect with. With the wide world of social media, it is easer than ever to stalk—I mean befriend—your favorite authors. Of course there are divas who exist in every profession. But I promise, most of us are super nice.

    Those who have been in the business for a while are almost always willing to offer advice or answer questions. It’s rare to find such a large group of women who empower and encourage each other so freely. You will find a reliable network in the romance writers’ community. Build your tribe and work to be a contributing member. These are friendships that will last a lifetime.

  6. Have fun.

    Romance writers' partyLastly, don’t take everything so seriously. Writing is a job, but it is an exciting one. It is something that makes you giddy when you sit down and get to spill your brain onto a keyboard. It grants us a high, an adrenaline rush, just to be doing what we love. And if it doesn’t, then you’re not doing it right.

    Learn about my next sexy adventure in Chaos and Control.

 


Season Vining is the author of romance novels, lives in the dirty South, has sriracha in her purse, needs more shoes, and doesn’t give a shit about the Kardashians. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads.

Beautiful Addictions, Novel

Beautiful Addictions has arrived!

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This story started its journey three years ago. From one scene, to a list of characters, to many pre-readers and even more revisions, one contest, two connections, and a title change, Beautiful Addictions has seen some action.

When I learned that it takes a year to go from accepted manuscript to a book on the shelves, I was surprised. I also thought, “How on earth am I going to wait a whole year?” So, you can imagine my excitement when St. Martin’s came to me with the idea to release the e-book first, and the day before my birthday! My response? Hells yeah!

So, the day has finally arrived. Beautiful Addictions is now out in the (digital) world. It’s my first novel, a piece of my heart, a cast of voices living in my head, and something I’m absolutely proud to call my own.

Beautiful Addictions, Novel

Cover Reveal!

The cover art is finally here! I worked closely with my editor, Rose, to get this cover put together. And when I say “worked closely,” I mean annoyed the hell out of them. St. Martin’s was very open to my ideas and suggestions and after a great collaboration and some compromise, we have this gorgeous cover to show you! Shit. Just. Got. Real.

So, what do you guys think?

beautifuladdictions

P.S. Here’s the link to St. Martin’s Heroes & Heartbreakers reveal of my cover!

Beautiful Addictions, Novel, Publishing

What I’ve learned about publishing so far…

Summer rolled in, and with it came scathing temperatures and almost daily thunderstorms. For me, it also brought a few lessons about the publishing and writing process.

Soon... ish.Soon. The word soon in publishing generally means three to four months. In an industry where it takes a year for a manuscript to become a novel on bookstore shelves, I suppose this makes sense. Though it doesn’t make it any easier to stomach when you’re experiencing soon for the very first time.

Rough Draft. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve written a rough draft, so imagine my surprise when I finished the first version of Book Two only to find that it was terrible. After a mini freak out, a Route 44 Diet Coke from Sonic and a bag of pretzel M & M’s, I was able to talk myself off the theoretical ledge. Of course the rough draft sucks. Of course it doesn’t compare to the finished manuscript I just finished editing. I put my heart and soul into that rough draft, but the rest of the recipe has not been added. Blood, sweat, tears, battle wounds and a sacrifice of personal hygiene must all be applied to that rough draft before it can grow into something I’m proud of.

cat beardDistractions. I write a sentence and then think, “Is that realistic? I should research that.” Then I proceed to my favorite search engine where I ask a simple question and get 600,000 simple answers. This leads to that, leads to something else and before I know it, I’ve been looking at cat bearding photos for an hour. I’ve learned of software that helps with cutting out distractions, but since I have zero self-control when it comes to this, I find turning off my modem and hiding my phone works just as well.

Twitter. As far as writers go, Twitter is the motherland. It is so easy to post follow me, buy this, read that, enter this contest, or check out my review in less than 140 characters. There are authors who strictly post self-promotional things. These get a bit boring and I find myself skimming over them. It garners an “I only want to talk about me” vibe that is off-putting. Other authors do well by mixing their “buy my book” posts with links to helpful articles or fun facts about reading and writing. These are my favorite. Lastly, there is the author that doesn’t need or doesn’t care for book promotion. They want to use their thousands of followers as a collective BFF to share things in their personal lives, photos of their new puppy or even political rants. I can’t say I blame them, because when’s the last time you had over 10,000 people in one place who actually want to hear what you have to say?

Overall, it’s been a fun three months since landing my book deal. I’ve learned so much about the process and have so much still to learn. I look forward to the journey and I’m glad that you guys are coming along with me. Write on!

Publishing

Agent? Check. Book deal? Check. Check. Check.

The same day that the lovely Rachel Ekstrom became my agent, we received our first offer from St. Martin’s Press. After three days of negotiations, going back and forth over these rights and those rights, I accepted their offer with slack-jawed amazement and terrifying excitement. Synchronized squealing and an animated happy dance followed.

St Martin's Press

After coming back down to earth, I sat and marinated in the details.

  • THREE book deal
  • Great contract
  • Retain audio rights
  • Publish every 6 months
  • 6 FIGURE ADVANCE

That’s it. No pressure. Hahaha. With such a generous advance and a quick publishing schedule, I’m leaving my day job to focus on writing. It’s exciting and so, so scary. But if this isn’t the time to follow a dream and take risks, then when is?

The craziest part of all this, is that within TWO WEEKS of meeting these ladies at the Jambalaya Writers Conference, I had a book deal. Thanks to Rose, from St Martin’s, and Rachel who believe in my writing and are already working so hard.

I keep asking myself, “Does this really happen to people?” The answer is, “Yes. It happened to you. So get writing!”