Author on the Couch: Shelly Alexander
This week on Author on the Couch, I conduct a session with…
GIVEAWAY! Shelly would love to give away a Kindle copy of Book 1 – IT’S IN HIS HEART and Book 2 –IT’S IN HIS TOUCH.
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Me: Tell me about an experience that had a profound impact on your life.
Shelly: Cancer. With three little kids and a husband that didn’t want to be a widow at 43, I was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer that had already spread. That makes a person rethink the path they’re on real quick. I’m fairly tough, so I survived. But I decided it was time to pursue one of my only unfulfilled goals in life. My husband made me buy my first laptop, and I started writing my first book.
Me: Well if you were going to put the brightside on cancer… It was the push you needed to become a writer! And look at you! Three books published!
What personality trait of yours helps you most as an author?
Shelly: Determination. Once I set my mind to something and I want it badly enough, I don’t give up. Ever. I think becoming a published writer is more about persistence than anything else. So for those of you pursuing publication – stick with it and never, never give up on your dream.
Me: What personality trait of yours hinders you most as an author?
Shelly: I’m very methodical and can only do one thing at a time. I’ve never been very good at spinning a lot of plates, and in this business you have to wear different hats. It’s not just about the writing. It’s about marketing and networking and improving our skills. It’s about writing a new novel at the same time we’re editing a completed one and writing proposals for future novels. So when I’m in the middle of writing a new book and edits for a book I’ve already turned in hit my in box, and it’s also time to start marketing a book that’s about to release, it’s somewhat overwhelming for me.
Me: Amen to that! I’ve been overwhelmed for about six months straight. Too many balls in the air and I’m just learning how to juggle them all. It’s one thing I didn’t really know about the publication process.
What was your high point as a writer—a time when you were happiest, on cloud nine, flying high? What happened?
Shelly: The biggest moment in my career (thus far) was the day I received the email from Montlake Romance saying they were interested in publishing my books. I literally didn’t think I was reading it right. I stopped before I was even finished, started reading it over again, stopped again before I was finished, then called one of my close friends that had just signed with Montlake and screamed into the phone something completely incoherent. I’m sure her eardrum still hasn’t recovered. And then I finally calmed down enough to actually finish reading the editor’s email.
That was an extraordinary day, and I still smile and get all warm and fuzzy inside every time I think about it. I hope that feeling never goes away.
Me: What was your low point as a writer?
Shelly: Learning to juggle a burgeoning career, a household, family obligations, kids, keeping the quality in my marriage, a family business, health and exercise, and spending time with friends has been my biggest struggle as a published writer and has brought me to some very dark moments. I do have a lot of support from my husband and kids, but I still don’t stay on top of things the way I used to because I’ve got deadlines to meet. And since I’m not a multi-tasker, that makes it even harder.
Honestly, I’m not sure I’m over it. I’m trying to prioritize more, and I’m just dealing with it day to day as best I can. But one thing that has helped is I try to take breaks in between books. When I finish a book, I take several days to catch up on life, before I dive into the next one.
Me: Which of your characters are you most like? Why?
Shelly: Angelique from IT’S IN HIS TOUCH is definitely the most like me. She’s tough, stubborn, determined, and it took a really wonderful man to unlock the soft, loving side of her.
Me: How did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Shelly: Well, it started when I was three years old and I created an imaginary friend named Kiki…
I think that says it all. 😉
Me: That’s so cute.
How many books have you written? How long does it typically take you to write a book? What’s the most painful part of the writing process for you?
Shelly: I’ve just started writing my 8th book. Writing a book from start to finish has sped up over time because I’ve refined the process and found a combination of tools that work for me. Right now it takes me about 5 months to write a book.
The most painful part of the writing process for me is definitely the last act. I tend to have trouble orchestrating the ending during the first draft so that all of the loose ends are tied up and the resolution part of the plot unfolds in the right way or the right chronological order.
I tend to write it without a lot of solid scenes goals or direction. I’m just sort of feeling my way through it. Very little of that usually survives, but it’s almost like I have to go through that stage of suffering, just like my characters before I can figure the best resolution.
Me: How do you deal with rejection or bad reviews? What advice can you give others about how to handle rejection and bad reviews?
Shelly: Well, I doubt any of us really embrace rejection or bad reviews. I think it’s normal for them to sting a little. I don’t read reviews very often, but when I do I try to pick the ones I can learn from. The ones that really tell me something about why the story didn’t resonate with the reader. Those reviews can help me learn to develop better characters, or stop using repetitive phrases, etc.
Rejections and bad reviews are inevitable for every writer. So I give myself a little time to process it and then shake it off. I can’t move forward if I’m worrying about something that’s already over and done with.
Me: Tell me about your Contemporary Romance novel IT’S IN HIS SMILE
Miranda Cruz isn’t just the best darned waitress in town anymore; she’s Red River’s newest innkeeper. But first, she has to find the contractor who’s disappeared with her life savings so she can start renovations. Not so easy for a woman who never depends on anyone, especially a man. And when a gorgeous old flame shows up, the fire between them is reignited and threatens to send her dreams up in smoke.
Acclaimed environmental architect Talmadge Oaks returns home to Red River on family business. He plans to get in and get out quickly because a professional catastrophe is waiting back in Washington. When an unforeseen snag keeps him in Red River longer than expected, he finds himself entangled in the renovations of his late grandmother’s Victorian inn. Handy with a hammer, he offers to help the beautiful new owner, but his motives aren’t completely selfless. Will his secret demolish everything they are building? Or can their undeniable passion keep them together?
Me: Share a few your favorite paragraphs with us.
Shelly:My favorite passage in IT’S IN HIS SMILE is a scene between Talmadge and Miranda is toward the very end of the book. It’s been seven years of unrequited love, and they are at that crucial point where a final decision has to be made. It goes like this:
His lips were just a breath from hers. “I love you.”
Her eyes stung. “I’ve loved you for seven years.”
“Then give me a chance to love you for a lifetime.” He smoothed a finger across her cheek.
This passage is very special to me because when you’ve experienced true love, that special kind that only exists when you’ve found the one person that is truly your soul mate, the depths of emotion you feel for them is so intense that you can’t imagine a lifetime without them. I think this particular moment in the story is why many of us read romance to begin with. It’s THIS moment that touches us the most.
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Abbie Roads writes dark emotional novels featuring damaged characters, but always her hero and heroine a happy ending… after torturing them for three hundred pages. Her debut novel RACE THE DARKNESS is available for pre-order now.