Long and Short Reviews welcomes Norah Wilson whose latest book Every Breath She Takes releases today. Norah will give one lucky commenter the choice between an electronic box set of her Serve and Protect series (3 books) or her Vampire Romances (2 books) in the e-format of their choice. If the winner prefers print, they can received their choice of a print copy of the first book of either series.
Every Breath She Takes is actually a reissue of her award-winning Lauren's Eyes, a western-set, sensual romantic suspense with paranormal elements. Norah had set out, quite cynically, to write a cowboy story after her police detective romantic suspense novels couldn't find a buyer.
"At the time, the collective wisdom was that cowboys, babies and brides sold. Well, I couldn’t write babies or brides if I had a gun to my head, so I settled on cowboys. Looking back, it makes my laugh how cynical I was about the decision. You know what’s coming next, right? As I started to research my subject, I fell in love with cowboys, and in particular, my hero. It may have started as a calculating exercise, but it finished as a labor of love," she admitted. "Here’s something else you won’t read elsewhere. I tried selling this story to the category market. I got a nice rejection that praised the writing, but highlighted a number of reasons why it wasn’t right for that market, including sexual elements they found 'disturbing'. Wha? My nice vanilla romance? After I had time to absorb that, I decided I had to go after the single title market. And I took those 'disturbing' sexual elements and ran with them. If that element made it 'wrong' for the category market, perhaps it would make it 'right' for the ST market. It did."
Norah literally grew up reading romances. She was reading at an early age and after she had consumed all the Nancy Drew books and the boy's adventure books, there wasn't anything left in her house to read except romances.
"I don’t think anyone realized I could actually read and thought it was cute," she said with a laugh. "I can’t tell you how many words I came to understand from the context but had no idea how to pronounce (impetuous, arrogant, etc.). I continued reading romance through adulthood, although I turned to spicier stuff than my mother read. Finally, at about age 30, after another particularly disappointing read, I decided that Icould write a better romance than that author. I then set about trying. What I learned was that it took a whole lot more skill than I then possessed to write even a bad romance. I think my apprenticeship was about 10 years long!"
She admits that those first ten years could almost be thrown out because she made every mistake in the book.
"A good romance is practically seamless. When you’re immersed in it, you should barely be able to see the author at work. My early efforts were Frankenstein-ish," she admitted, shuddering.
Norah is currently working on a romantic suspense proposal, but she wanted to keep that under wraps for right now. She preparing to release, however, a number of YA paranormal titles with her writing partner Heather Doherty.
"This series (The Casters) is so amazing! We believe in it so much, we splashed out for PhatPuppy covers for the whole series. We also have a third installment to our self-published Dix Dodd Mystery ready to go, but our agent is shopping it to a few key publishers. I cannot wait to get it out there! It’s so funny! I hate to keep Dix fans waiting."
Norah's favorite author is Anne Stuart. Not only did reading her books give Norah great pleasure, but they also taught Norah a lot and influenced her own writing.
"Whether it’s historical or contemporary romantic suspense, she does it so freakin’ well!" Norah told me. "I think I’ve hunted down and read everything on her backlist, which is pretty substantial after the long career she’s had. I actually met Anne in Halifax where she did a bull session for the RWA chapter there (Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada) where we got to ask absolutely anything about the publishing industry. Her frank answers were very educational. She also talked about how she approaches writing romantic suspense. I must have absorbed a lot of her philosophy through osmosis, because I recognized some of her techniques as ones that I use."
Other authors she's been influenced by are Linda Howard and her approach to romantic suspense, Tami Hoag, and Suzanne Brockmann.
"Those are the influences that were swimming around in my head when I sort of solidified my approach to RS," she said. "I do read thrillers and mysteries and the occasional police procedural, but when it comes down to it, I’m all about the romantic suspense."
"Do you hear from your readers much?" I asked. "What do they say?"
"I do hear from readers a fair amount. (But never enough! WRITE ME!) What they say depends on the genre, of course. I’ve had people write to tell me that they read one of my romances while sitting at their mother’s sick bed in hospital, and how it saved their sanity to be able to escape completely into the world I created. Sometimes they email me to say that my romances give them hope that there might be a hero like that out there for them. Sometimes they just say they love the smexy and to keep it coming. With the YA, it tends to be young budding writers with questions. And with the Dix Dodd mysteries, it tends to be accounts about laughing out loud on the subway or go-train or, drawing sidelong glances from their fellow passengers," she said with a big grin.
Finally, I asked, "What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?"
"I think the advice I’d give now is quite different than the advice I would have given just two years ago. Today, I think the biggest risk for new authors is rushing their stuff to market. It’s incredibly easy for anyone to self-publish. It’s a viable, vibrant, wonderful, game-changing option, and authors of every stripe – unknowns, mid-listers and bestsellers – are taking advantage of it. But it’s almost too easy. In my day (and doesn’t that make me sound like a dinosaur?), we cut our teeth by submitting our stuff to contests and editors and agents, and we honed our skills from the feedback, which was sometimes kindly and sometimes brutal. But today, if I wanted to, I could write a 10K short story in a day (with lots of espresso), buy a pre-made cover, and slap it up on all the available platforms by nightfall. The question is, should I? Even with 20 years of writing under my belt, my answer is an emphatic no! I need critical feedback. I need an editor. I need a copy editor. For a work of that length, I might be lucky enough to find a pre-made cover that’s close enough, but normally I would commission a cover. And I would pay a formatter to format it to display to the best advantage. To the new writer I would say, find a critique group. Read how-to books. Read in your genre. Read outside your genre. Study the craft. Even if you don’t want to court a traditional publisher, enter contests. Refine your work based on feedback. When you reach the level that you finalling in contests or getting near misses from agents and editors, that’s when you should start thinking about self-publishing your work, not the day after you typed The End. "
About the Author:
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Veterinarian Lauren Townsend’s psychic ability didn’t just earn her pariah status in her hometown; her “freakishness” cost her a fiancé and her faith in love. But after foreseeing a murder – through the killer’s eyes – she is compelled to trace the victim to a sprawling ranch, never imagining what waits for her there...
Cal Taggart’s life doesn’t need any more complications. His stubborn determination ruined his marriage and now it just may cost him his ranch. But then beautiful Lauren enters his corral – and Cal wants nothing more than to protect her. They can’t deny their intense attraction. Nor do they want to. What begins as a fling with no strings attached become a fight for survival – and for true love.