WRITE QUESTIONS: Carrie Lofty

December 31, 2007 at 3:03 pm 7 comments

We have another WRP author today, Carrie Lofty. So without further ado…

When did you start writing?

Like many authors, I’ve always written something–childhood stories, short teleplays in high school, my master’s thesis–but I didn’t start writing toward publication until summer of 2006.

What was the defining moment that made you sit down and write a book?

My husband was away for a summer internship in Virginia during 2006, while I stayed at home in Wisconsin with our (then) 2- and 3-year-old daughters. Evenings were strange without him there, and I needed to define a space just for myself to manage the stress of sudden single parenthood I also read about the RWA conference in Atlanta and wanted to be there. I didn’t know how–not at first. So I sat down, opened an old folder with research and 1/3 of a novel, and sat down to finish it.

What made you take yourself seriously?

I knew that no one else would take my endeavors or my career aspirations seriously until I did. What family member is generous enough to support a romance writer who isn’t committed? The genre has enough roadblocks and negative stereotypes as it is So I decided the first step toward being taken seriously was to devote time and energy toward completing manuscripts and learning all I could about the industry.

What did you learn about writing that shocked you the most?

The business side, definitely. How much time do authors spend in self-promotion, always trying to get their names out? It’s intense I had an image hermits locked in their basement, working feverishly on their next release. But authors are diverse, motivated, and terribly business savvy. I had to run to keep up. In addition, I always assumed–as most people do, I’ve learned–that publication equals money. After all, a novel can take a long time to hone and create. So the rock star image of writers as divas with cabana boys faded very quickly. What I discovered about myself, then, was that the money didn’t matter as much as the satisfaction of realizing a long-term goal in a very difficult business.

What sub-genre(s) did you gravitate to when you first started? Is it the same as now and why do you think it’s changed or stayed the same?

As a subgenre, historical romance is my first, my only true love. I began reading them in the early 90s and continue straight through to today. In fact, I think my love of historical romance dovetailed with my fascination with history in general, propelling me to my dual bachelor’s degree in English and history. Then when I got my master’s in history…well, I’m stuck.

What advice have you gotten that you live by?

Lynn Viehl (Paperback Writer) is an amazing person for giving advice. She’s very, very straightforward. Basically, it all comes down to butt in seat. You can fiddle and revise and edit until a story just dies of its own boredom, but a daily word count is essential to getting through to the end. I read her advice when I began writing seriously and took it to heart.

What advice would you give a newbie (if it’s not the same as above)?

A combination: first, take yourself seriously. Make goals. Treat this as a business. If you don’t, no one will–and believe me, active support from friends and family is essential. They’ll keep you sane and grounded, but they won’t get behind you until you make that commitment of time. Second, butt in seat. Set that daily word count and stick with it. The Muse who twangs you on the head with brilliant prose is a myth. The Muse who works through tough spots even when she’s sick or thinks every word is terrible–she’s the one you want on your side.

What’s you’re writing process? Has it changed since writing your first book? Are you a panster, plotter, some where in between? What gets the story idea to book for you?

I write monstrously terrible first drafts. Truly shudder-worthy. In the old days I would revise and edit until I liked each sentence in a new scene before I moved on to the next. So slow Never finished So now I trust that what looks and sounds and feels terrible now will be much better after I revise. I don’t revise until the first draft is done. I’ve had whole subplots and random characters just disappear mid-book, but I don’t go back to edit them out. Save it for revisions. As for pants vs. plot, I must say that my research dictates much of the early feel and idea for a story, but the characters can still surprise me and take the story in unforeseen directions. If that doesn’t happen, the story isn’t as much fun.

What keeps you writing?

I’ve seen rough, terrible ideas emerge from my head and sit on a page like lumps of lard. Then I’ve seen those lumps take shape and get better and better with time, revisions, patience, hard work. And when I go back and read those finished stories now, I still get goosebumps. I wrote that? I wrote that And then I want to do it all over again.

Do you have a support system? Did you have a writing community? What valuable lessons have you learned from them?

My first line of support is my husband. He’s never read my books and knows very little about the community. He’s there for me, not an angle or a networking connection. I vent to him all the thing I can’t say to anyone else Then I have my chapters: Chicago North, Wisconsin, and Hearts Through History. Chicago North has been particularly wonderful, folding me into their membership in no time. Absolutely wonderful support. My online community, mostly a series of blog friends, are also a great resource for ideas and atta girls. But my biggest writing support network is the Online Romance Writers Circle, a critique group I joined just after completing my first manuscript. They’ve been so generous and instrumental in making my work what it is today.

Define success for yourself?

Meeting my goals every day. Balancing my career with my family. Receiving a fan letter. Holding my book in my hands and putting it on my bookshelf–I’ll sit right between James Joyce and Elizabeth Lowell. How cool is that??

What’s your comfort reads?

Susan Wiggs, Loretta Chase, Laura Kinsale, Elizabeth Lowell, Lisa Kleypas, Teresa Medeiros, and a few old keepers from the 90s: Janis Reams Hudson, Robin Lee Hatcher, Kathryn Stone. Outside of modern romance I love revisiting Dune (Frank Herbert), A Tale of Two Cities, the Brontes, and Jane Austen.

Who are you reading right now?

I’m in the middle of two: Tempted Tigress by Jade Lee (Dorchester; 2007) and The Daddy Spell by Patti Ann Colt (The Wild Rose Press; 2007). Jade and I have teamed up to submit a workshop proposal to Nationals, so I wanted to read more of her work, and Patti is one of authors in the Online Romance Writers Circle. She’s the first of our group to be published. So proud

What book(s) that makes you want to write better (or stop writing because you’ll never be that good)?

In romance, it would have to be works by the fave authors I mentioned above. I adored Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase. Flowers from the Storm is powerful enough to break anyone’s heart and put it back together again. And one of my oldie favorites, Santana Rose by Olga Bicos, is a masterful blend of romance, history and intrigue. Gorgeous stuff. Outside of romance, I am humbled and awed by Ian McEwan’s Atonement and Helen Dunmore’s The Siege. My brain hurts when I read their stuff–it’s just too, too good.

Plug away…

I was born in California, raised amongst Hoosiers and Buckeyes, and found the love of my life in England. After earning my master’s degree with a thesis on Old West legends, I was excited to learn other parts of the world have history too—and then set about researching it all, from Salzburg to the Caribbean. Two daughters and a half-dozen moves later, my family and I have settled just north of Chicago.

Please visit my website for more information on my work, including excerpts and book trailers. I can also be found every day at my personal blog, Salome’s Corner, and several times a month at the multi-author blog I founded, Unusual Historicals.

My first published work of fiction, a time travel called Sundial, is a December 2007 release from The Wild Rose Press, winner of the Through the Garden Gate short story contest, Vintage category (1950s-60s).

Amber Schulman stepped into a lush English garden in 2007, only to arrive in breathtaking Sorrento, Italy—in 1958. The only person who understands her confusion is fellow time traveler Mark Lacey, a New Yorker who comes from the land of cassette tapes and Reaganomics. His dark, world-weary eyes beckon her with secrets and sensuality. But why does he seem so familiar?

Trapped in the past since he was a teen, Mark wants nothing to do with another whining newcomer. But the blue-eyed Aussie might be able to answer the one question that haunts him: Do I ever get back to 1987? From soccer to samba to sex, Amber tempts him with a zeal for life and love, pulling him free of his lonely isolation.
But getting home may prove easier than they imagined. How will their love endure when Amber returns to her time—and Mark to his?

My first published novel will be What a Scoundrel Wants–a hot, swashbuckling romance that picks up Will Scarlet’s story where the Robin Hood legends leave off. Look for it in December 2008 from Kensington’s Zebra Debut.

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Entry filed under: Write Questions.

916 WORDS… I DON’T DO RESOLUTIONS

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Miss Mae  |  December 31, 2007 at 11:36 pm

    Hey, Carrie,

    Great interview. You are one interesting lady!

  • 2. Barrie  |  January 1, 2008 at 12:18 am

    Fun interview, Carrie and Melissa. I definitely agree with treating all this like a business. Happy New Year to you both!

  • 3. Daisy Dexter Dobbs  |  January 1, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    Wishing you a Happy New Year, Mel, filled with joy and happiness; the comforting warmth of love; good health and wellbeing; the delight of true friendship; and enough of whatever you want and need to fulfill your deepest dreams and desires.

    Thank you for enriching my life this past year. May all your dreams come true in 2008!

    From my heart to yours,

    –Daisy

  • 4. Mel  |  January 2, 2008 at 2:41 am

    I think for me the business side suprised me. I was flying high after getting the contract offer and then bam.

  • 5. Mel  |  January 2, 2008 at 2:42 am

    Thanks, Miss Mae for coming by.

  • 6. Jennifer Elbaum  |  January 2, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    Great interview!

    Happy New Year!

  • 7. Mel  |  January 2, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Thanks Jennifer. I’m booked until March. When that time comes around and I don’t have any new authors to interview. I might just get desperate.

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