WRITE QUESTIONS: Loretta Rogers

February 11, 2008 at 3:12 pm 7 comments

I put on my old reporter hat so this interview runs long. But without further ado…

When did you start writing?

For 25 years, I taught writing to sixth graders and freshmen college students. When I retired, I decided to practice what I’d been teaching. I actually got serious about writing four years ago.

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

My defining moment for getting my butt in the chair and fingers on the keys was when my husband said he wished I’d stop talking about writing and actually write a book. So, I did.

What made you take yourself seriously?

Instead of letting rejection letters get me down, I decided to celebrate them. Each rejection meant I was one step closer to getting published.

Tell me what else made you realize that your were going to be writer despite the naysayers, rejections, and other pitfalls that comes with writing.

I’m the oldest of five children. My father never seemed to be proud of my accomplishments. When I told him that I was writing a book, his comment was, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” I think my writing and getting published is wanting to prove to my Dad that ‘Yeah, I did it, and here’s the proof.’ My biggest regret is that my first released book, a TWRP novella Isabelle and the Outlaw will never be published as a print book. So, I have nothing to put in his hands. However, when my Avalon hardback, The Twisted Trail releases in April ’08, you can bet I’ll deliver the book in person. As to other pitfalls–I’ve endured snide remarks such as, “How much did you have to pay to have your book published?” and, “Any dummy can write a romance novel.” It’s water off my back–they’re the dummys because I’m counting my cash from my book sales.

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

With two published novels and an option novel, I learned how important it is to be organized. I’ve learned that getting published is only the tip of the iceberg. With it comes reading contracts, developing marketing strategies, booksignings, public appearances, sleepless nights, and scrambling to meet deadlines. I’ve learning to love hot dogs, Campbell’s soup, and grilled cheese sandwiches. (Because that’s all my husband knows how to cook). I’ve learned that non-writers don’t have a clue as to how much work goes into writing a novel. And I’m trying to learn to say, “No” to junkfood and “Yes,” to exercise in order to stay healthy, so I can write many more novels.

What sub-genre(s) did you gravitate to when you first started?

I started out writing sweet contemporary romance. Then I tried romantic suspense. Neither of those novels are published. Is it the same as now and why do you think it’s changed or stayed the same? I switched to writing Westerns because somehow writing about horses and the old West is a better fit for me. The dialogue and the characters in Westerns come easily. I’ve plotted out three more Westerns, and as long as I can continue getting published in that genre, I’ll stick with it.

What advice have you gotten that you live by?

“Think like a winner, Act like a winner, Be a winner!”

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

My advice to newbies is: Writing comes down to momentum. When I start a draft, I write every day so the story never leaves my head. And it can leave your head if you take even a weekend off. Write every day to keep the story spinning in your mind. If you’re going to be a writer, then you must write. Set aside one hour every day, or write one page per day. But, Write.

What’s you’re writing process? Has it changed since writing your first book?

Since emails tend to be my biggest source of procrastination, I read and answer all emails, first. Then I open my WIP and read (only) the last chapter written to get back into the story. I rarely read from page one to last page written because my internal editor kicks in. I write 6 days a week–sometimes 8-12 hrs per day. I treat my writing just like I treated my job (before I retired). Of course, going to work in my pajamas is one perk I didn’t have when I was teaching.

Can’t agree more about the PJ perk. Now tell me are you a panster, plotter, a little bit of both? Also what gets the story idea into a book for you?

You might say, I’m an planster. I do character charts, research setting, get a general idea of the plot and then sit down and write. As I write, I get ideas about the book. I jot the ideas down. Sometimes I used them, sometimes not. And as weird as it may sound, I very often dream my scenes. See, told ya, it was weird

What keeps you writing?

I’m happiest when I’m writing. It seems I have all these stories in my head and they’re all clamoring to get out. It’s either write or sign up for a long stretch in the looney-bin.

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

Several years ago, I joined my first critique group. It was the group from “Hell.” Without going into detail, I almost stopped writing because of all the negative remarks I received on (anything) I wrote. Every so often that doubt creeps into my mind.

Did this experience cure you of writing communities?

My experience has made me a little gun-shy of joining another critique group. I do belong to Tampa Area Romance Writers, and though not a critique group, the classes and guest speakers at our monthly meetings has taught me so much about writing. I have a wonderful critique partner. She lives in Nova Scotia and I live in Florida. We critique by email. We’re honest in our comments and suggestions, but never are we harsh. We work well together. She was already published. We’ve worked together for three years and in that time, I’ve published with Avalon, The Wild Rose Press and Dorchester media.

Define success for yourself?

In my wildest dreams, I would never have thought I’d sell two books in the same year. My Western novel, The Twisted Trail, published by Avalon Books is scheduled for release April, 2008. Avalon also optioned a second Western novel from me. I was one of the Garden Gate winners sponsored by TWRP. Isabelle and the Outlaw will release December 2008. I won the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Writing Award in 2003.

What’s your comfort reads?

My comfort reads are novels by Kathleen Woodiweiss, Rosemary Rogers, Debbie Macomber and Virginia Henley.

Who are you reading right now?

Currently, I’m reading Book Two of The Kincaids-Praire Thunder by Taylor Brady

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

I think its the big fiction novels by writers such as John Grisham, Nora Roberts, Stephen King, Amy Tan that make me think that my writing is trivial compared to theirs. What books make me want to write better is some of the cookie-cutter romance novels I’ve read. Change the characters names and the setting and the plot is the same. I want to write novels much better than those. I want to write novels so the story lingers with the read after they closed the book and set it on the shelf.

Plug Away: You can learn more about Loretta Rogers at: http://lorettacrogersbooks.com/index.htm

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Entry filed under: Write Questions.

FAMILY REVISIONS MAKE YOU A REAL WRITER

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Patricia W.  |  February 11, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    Loretta, congratulations on your success. Seems like forever since you first announced your sale to Avalon over at Truewriters but the time has finally come. Can’t wait to read it because I haven’t read a western romance in some time now.

  • 2. Vicki  |  February 11, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    Hey Loretta (waving)

    Great interview. I’m waiting for the day I can work in my pj’s. 😀

    I’m so excited for you and can’t wait till your book comes out. WhooHoo!!!

  • 3. Clover Autrey  |  February 11, 2008 at 7:46 pm

    Great interview, Loretta. You have a lot of good advice.

  • 4. Miss Mae  |  February 11, 2008 at 10:23 pm

    Good interview, Loretta. Congrats on the pubbed books!

    MM

  • 5. Susan Macatee  |  February 11, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    Great interview, Lorreta!

    I found myself nodding in agreement to a lot of your answers.

    Congratulations on all your books and keep writing!

  • 6. booklady  |  February 12, 2008 at 1:19 am

    That was a great interview! Inspiring. I did just want to shake your dad and all those other naysayers, though. Please, please tell me that you have plenty of people in your life who support your dreams. It sounds like your husband does, at least. I hope that there are plenty of others, too. And good for you for having the results to prove that you know what you’re doing!

  • 7. Anonymous  |  February 12, 2008 at 6:24 am

    Well Well Well Loretta – You shine, Girl…what a lovely sense of humor you have and yet your words are poignant. You leave me with inspiration. And never mind your Daddy, as long as your husband has faith, Go Girl! (Still I know how you feel, you want to show them all) AND YOU CERTAINLY HAVE. More good luck to you. Joan

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