Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Interview

It's my turn for an interview. Enjoy!

1) How long have you been published?
I sold my first book on December 23, 1999. (At 10:39 am, but who remembers details like that? ☺)That book, Stranger in a Small Town (Special Edition), was a November, 2000 release. And a Romantic Times nominee for best first series romance.

2) What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?
Three things: 1. Join Romance Writers of America. The organization is the best around at teaching the craft of writing, explaining the business side of writing, and sharing information about the publishing industry. 2. You can’t learn the craft without plenty of practice. Write every day, even if you only have time for a paragraph or two. 3. Be open to suggestions for improvement.

3) What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
Memorable, three-dimensional characters that readers think about them long after they finish reading the book.

4) What's the strangest thing you've ever eaten?
We were in Italy last fall, I tried lardo, which is fried white lard flavored with salt and garlic. That may sound gross, but trust me, it was delicious. So tasty that I’m glad it isn’t served here. I’d be in big trouble!

5) What comes first: the plot or the characters?
As soon as I say characters, the answer will change to plot. LOL. In other words, it all depends… Sometimes a story idea begins with an interesting character and sometimes with an intriguing situation.

6) When you looked in the mirror this morning, what was the first thing you thought?
I recently completed a fabulous seminar sponsored by Wings (Google Wings, Eugene, Oregon). In it I learned tools for getting the most out of my life. Part of the seminar included writing a personal contract, which I repeat several times daily. This is what I thought about when I first looked into the mirror today. I’m happy to share my personal contract with you: I am a clear, courageous and beautiful woman, freely giving and receiving abundant love. So when I looked into the mirror, I saw a clear, courageous and beautiful woman open to giving and receiving the abundant love around me.

7) Describe your writing space.
We have a daylight basement. My office is there, in what was once someone’s bedroom. Nice, thick carpet, plenty of bookshelf space, and a bathroom across the hall. The windows are high up, so I can’t see out, but I do get plenty of natural light through them.

8) Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do about it?
I blogged about this last month! Luckily, I have never suffered writer’s block. Probably because I believe in taking time to fill my creative well often and in a number of ways. By shopping, meeting friends for coffee or lunch, seeing shows, traveling, and most recently, by starting salsa lessons with my husband.

9) What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?
If we’re talking fiction, there is no one particular book or author. In a way, whatever I read influences my writing. Even bad books, which make me determined to write something better. Good books push me to stretch my own skills.
If we’re talking nonfiction, there are several books that influenced me. Three are: Techniques of the Selling Author, by Dwight Swain, Scene & Structure, by Jack Bickham, and Goal, Motivation & Conflict by Debra Dixon.

10) What are you reading now?
The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir.

11) Do you re-read your books once they're in print?
Never! I cringe at mistakes that can’t be fixed.

12) What is your work schedule like when you are writing?
I write eight pages per day, pretty much six days a week. If I’m lucky enough to finish in two hours, I get the rest of the day off. If it takes 10 hours, oh, well. I track my progress on a spread sheet and give myself a smiley face for meeting my daily goal. Corny, but it works! I also pay myself $.25 per page, or $2 per day, putting the money into a box. Once I finish a book, I spend the money on something just for me, my treat for working so hard.

13) How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
To date I have sold 15 books. Because with every book my writing improves, my favorite is always the one I’m writing now.

14) Do you hear from your readers much? What do they say?
I get email mostly, but some snail mail letters. Writers tell me they love my stories. That my characters could live next door. People ask about books I have written before and when the next one will come out. They write to say they love my website—the color and the information. I appreciate every email and letter, of course!!

15) Tell us about your family and where you live.
I live just outside Seattle, Washington. My husband and I have three grown daughters and one three-year-old grandson.

16) Are you working on anything at the present you'd like to share? At the moment I’m finishing a proposal for a women’s fiction novel with strong romantic elements. As soon as I finish I’ll get to work on creating a proposal and synopses for a Harlequin American miniseries featuring four brothers.

17) Did you ever eat paste or Elmer's glue when you were a kid?
Once. That stuff tastes foul!

18) What did you do career-wise before becoming an author? Well… Several things. Before I got my MBA, I was a realtor and later a tax preparer. During my MBA, I worked part-time at Nordstrom. Try going to grad school, working part time, and raising three young daughters!! Thank goodness for my supportive husband. After I had my MBA in hand, I worked as a financial analyst in a large commercial bank, and later as a personal banker. Several years later I took a job as a trainer for large commercial banks. I taught several technical courses and flew all over the country, working for numerous banks. I loved that, but then my writing took off. And writing is my passion, so I followed my heart and left banking.

19) How has the American Romance line changed since you first began writing for it? The situations are more realistic and less fantasy. I love the sense of community and the quirky secondary characters found in Harlequin Americans.

20) What helps inspire you when you write? Do you have any 'rituals' (like music, candles, a favorite scent) that helps you find your writing zone? Sometimes I listen to music for a little while, but I always stop when I get into the writing. Other than that, nothing really. Mostly I think about whatever I’m working on all the time and can’t wait to sit down and get to work.

21) What do you want to know about the future? Nothing. It’s exciting to NOT know and let life unfold.

22) Can you taste the difference between Pepsi and Coke? If so, which do you prefer?
I never drink either. I prefer coffee, water, tea, and ICE, in that order. (With occasional wine, cosmopolitans, gin and tonic, bourbon and water or scotch and soda thrown in. ☺)

23) Have you ever made a crank phone call?
Of course! In grade school and junior high.

24) Who's you're personal hero--past or present? My husband. He’s a warm, loving man, not afraid to shed a tear now and then. (He’d die if he knew I shared that!)

25) What is your dream car? A Jaguar!!

26) If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be? I’ve been to Europe and parts of Mexico, but next I’d like to visit Mexico City, Spain and France.

27) If you were locked in a closet for one hour who would you want in there with you? Gosh, I don’t know. My husband, I guess. We never run out of conversation, and if we get bored talking… Ahem, I won’t go there. ☺

28) If you were stranded on a deserted island what kind of hero would you want with you--A Cowboy, a Viking Warrior, a CEO, a Forensics investigator, a Chef or an Accountant. And why? Since the island is deserted, I’m thinking a chef and accountant wouldn’t be much use. Or a Viking warrior. Now a CEO might know what to do to get us found. A cowboy might be able to wrassle up some grub and build a campfire. So I’ll go with the cowboy. ☺

Thanks for letting me talk, and until next time,
Ann Roth
www.annroth.net

5 comments:

Ellen said...

Thanks Ann for sharing information about yourself with us. I enjoy learning about my favorite authors.

Estella said...

Loved the interview. I enjoy reading about the authors whose books I read.

Ann Roth said...

Ellen and Estella- Thanks for the feedback. I appreciate that you're both enjoying the interviews. In the coming months, there'll be plenty more, so stay tuned. :-)

Trish Milburn said...

Fun interview, Ann. I like that idea of paying yourself for each page written. Okay, my first reaction to the lardo was "eww", but then I remembered how much lard I probably consumed as a child. My mom and both grandmas cooked with it. Hey, I am from the South, ya know. :)

Ann Roth said...

Trust me, the lardo was incredibly good. The only reason I tried it was because I decided I wanted to taste new things.

Yes, paying yourself is loads of fun. I just scheduled a facial for late September. By then I'll have enough in my "reward box" for the splurge.