I’m having a battle of conscience with my membership in Romance Writers of America. On the one hand, there is nothing they offer that I use. I don’t read the RWR (for various reasons that are really dumb, still, I don’t). I don’t visit their website. I can’t enter their writing contests because I am considered published and can’t enter their Golden Heart, but my e-books are only “sorta” published and don’t qualify for the RITAs. I don’t go to National convention, but this has to do with finances and health issues, otherwise I would go there. I’m not part of their PRO loop because I wasn’t “fed” by things that went on there. So, I know, you’re wondering why I bother.
Well, this is where the dilema kicks in …
I LOVE going to conferences, most of them sponsored by RWA chapters. I adore the writers that belong to the Maine chapter of RWA. And I am also part of the suspense chapter of RWA, Kiss of Death. These small chapters support and feed me… replenish me when I think my writing has sucked the marrow from my muse. And an agent mentioned that belonging to writing organizations (not necessarily RWA) shows you are serious about writing as a career.
Now RWA is very smart. You can NOT belong to any of their chapters unless you are first a member of their organization. Okay, that makes sense though it really irks me. Which means I fork out big bucks so I can hang with some local romance authors who totally understand how difficult it is to become and remain an author.
This weekend I am hanging with my homegirls at the MERWA writer’s retreat. Boo-yeah! Really, I can’t even begin to tell you what these conferences do for me. They are worth every penny as I chat about writing and learn from authors who have walked this path before me. It’s refreshing.
I am really hoping to return refreshed and rearing to start a new project which has kind of stalled. So for now, RWA gets my hard-earned money so I can enjoy the company of some amazing authors.
I know, it’s not unusual for me to have some eye candy around to entertain my visitors. So what makes this Monday so special? I actually know this guy!
Roscoe James is a friend of mine who is also published with Liquid Silver Books. We tripped into the place together and have been helping each other stumble through the publishing maze.
Roscoe was born along the dusky red banks of the Ohio River. He grew up in a sleepy little town in southern Indiana where the sounds of cicadas and whippoorwills marked the arrival of summer and cruising the town square on a Friday night was a rite of passage. From law enforcement to the hallowed corporate halls of two Fortune 500s he draws from a deep well of life experience. With Spanish as his second language and the day-to-day of living in one of the largest cities of culture in the world, RJ infuses his stories with a raw reality that makes the characters memorable forever.
I love Roscoe’s writing. I pulled him over here to introduce him and his writing to you. And like all my guests, I’ve got him tied up with my trusty whip handy if he gets out of line. But from the smile on his face … I’m thinking he’s not seeing it as a punishment. 😀
So Roscoe, we’ve been hanging around together at Liquid Silver Books for what, a year? nine months? something like that. How’d you find your way there?
Right, well, you know, I’d been driving around for about four years trying to find the place. You know us guys – keen sense of direction and all that. Then I had to buy gas and, well, before you get the wrong idea, I didn’t ask. I don’t want any misunderstandings. I think some guy walking by just happened to….(Don’t worry, dude, I didn’t actually think you asked for directions.)
Yeah, I can see you’re not buyin’ it. Okay, a year and 9 months ago I decided I was going to get serious about something I’d been doing off and on since 2000. Writing. So I did what most people do that are cursed with great resolve and very little natural ability. I wrote. A lot. I managed to put together two full length novels (which will remain unnamed) and I shopped ’em around to agents and brick and mortar publishers. Yeah, that was a heady experience. Let me tell you. I don’t think I’ve banged my head against a brick wall so many times in so little time before in my life. Then I got smart. I put the books on a floppy and threw ’em in my desk.
Then in January of 2007 I came across Flash Fiction Sunday at the Liquid Silver blog. Hey, I’m a guy, flashing comes natural to us. (For those uninitiated, flashing is actually 100 word vignettes … yeah, Roscoe was just a little confused.) Anyway, once I got my coat back on I realized what a great opportunity it was to actually write. And I did. I met several authors, had a lot of fun, someplace in there I lost a kilt. Still haven’t found that. (I sooo did not take his kilt … well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!) And the rest, as they say, is history.
Well, there was this really great rejection letter I received from Tina…
Okay, so I’m glad you brought that up. (Ahhh, a little erotic humor!) Anyway … most romance writers have the whole indoor plumbing thing going on and you … well, you’ve got all these dangly bits. What made a man decide to write romance?
As long as you’re bringing it up let me, ah, get it straight (punzzz intended)… indoor plumbing, outdoor plumbing. Well, as a matter of fact, even here in Mexico we stopped using outhouses and porta… oh, right, got’cha. Listen, before we get to that… I just wondered. You haven’t seen a kilt around anywhere? Just asking. (*whispers* Don’t tell him it’s in the closet with all the rest of the ones I stole.)
Pretty simple. I like it. I don’t know of a writer that isn’t writing what they like. I’m no exception. A well written romance is probably the most difficult genre to write. Learning about a city you haven’t visited because you want to include it in a book is pretty simple. Search it on the internet, take notes, look at a few pictures, and you’re done.
But writing the intricacies, nuances, and emotional depth of a relationship and making your reader feel that relationship – live it – that’s the ultimate challenge in writing. And, when you get right down to it, romance is the oldest genre in creative writing.
Okay, you’re smirking. Alright, I admit it. Tucked between Hunt for Red October and Matrix (all of em) you’ll find Notting Hill, You’ve Got Mail, and What Women Want on our video shelf. (I’m telling you ladies … this guy’s a romantic.) And beside my collection of Cussler, Grisham, and King you’ll find Roberts, Coulter, and D.H. Lawrence.
So, really, why not?
I love writing my hero’s POV. But then I’m a woman trying to get in a man’s head and other women are reading it and probably have the same perspective of the male species. So it’s hard for me to screw that up. You on the other hand, are a guy getting in a woman’s head. We’re convinced men have no clue about us. How do you manage to write from your heroine’s perspective … or do you?
Good question. Ya got another one in there? No, just kidding. The answer is simple. I’m sure I’m not. Not yet. I don’t believe there are many authors out there that get it all right the first time out. There’s nothing more sobering than picking up one of your first writes eight years later. Well, we won’t go there. Actually, I avoided that problem with my first two books (Deer Run Falls and The White Swan). I was sure I couldn’t even come close. In those two books I focused on something I thought the female reader might find just as interesting… if not more so. Both books are written from the hero’s point of view. And in both I tried to give the reader two things. His thoughts, reactions, and feeling. And something just as important – his perception of the actions and reactions of his heroine. Okay, I may not have done a perfect job but I think the hero’s voice is unique in both books.
In Forever’s Not Enough, future fantasy SciFi, I made my first attempt at the heroine’s voice. That book explores both the heroine and hero’s POV.
Do I have an idea what my heroine’s (and women in general are thinking)? You’d have to ask my readers (and my wife). Will my idea of both POV’s change with my writing? Sure. Because I’m here to write for my readers and last time I checked, most of them are women.
I loved writing my first novel, but it is true, a good writer is always improving. I thoroughly enjoyed Deer Run Falls, but absolutely fell in love with the second book in your Mississippi River Tales series, The White Swan. Tell us a little bit about those books.
Deer Run Falls was my first foray into the romance genre. It’s a hero’s point of view (POV), blackmail to murder, greed and money, with a twist and a surprise. All set in the lush lap of southern comfort. Doesn’t sound like much of a romance does it? Well, I needed to put the hero in a bind so he could be saved. Can’t really say much more without giving the whole thing away.
The single POV came from this great rejection letter I received from Tina Burns, then acquisitions director of Liquid Silver Books. Aside from the total lack of romance in the rejected book (well, it was written 8 years ago as a thriller, give me a break) she commented on my head hopping. Yep, it was a problem. So I set out to see if I could even write a single POV book. Gotta tell ya, it is a challenge. There are moments in any situation where changing characters makes things so much easier to explain. Less words. Clear and to the point. The real skill is bringing all that to light without the POV character being directly involved in the action. So, anyway, that’s how Deer Run Falls came about.
The White Swan was a completely different story. I grew up along the red banks of the Ohio. Speed boat races in Madison Indiana. River boat rides and races from Louisville to Cincinnati. Summer water skiing up and down the Ohio. Bike (as in motorcycle) trips through the Mark Twain National forest. Well, and one other little thing. Just a detail. Family lore has it that on my mother’s side of the family I’m related to a real, honest to goodness, pirate. We won’t go there right now but The White Swan was my attempt at bringing all those things together. If you haven’t been on a midnight dance cruise on a riverboat and you get the chance I highly recommend it.
And I did one other thing with The White Swan. I dabbled in a period subplot. The hero’s line is traced back to Jean Lafitte, the gentleman pirate, late of New Orleans. The research was a blast and while quite real, so little is known about him that you’re left with this really great framework to hang dramatization on. The hero, Nash Fross, is heir to a shipping fortune and all that implies. I needed a match and a motive in the heroine so I created Teresa Holloway – Pulitzer winner and investigative reporter. Her cover to get close to the hero is to do a feature piece on the revival (or demise) of luxury riverboat travel on the Mississippi. Of course, her true motive is a little different. Let’s just say that the reader should pay close attention to the Lafitte subplot.
They were both great writes, but The White Swan was fun as well.
I’ve also read Forever’s Not Enough, the first story in your Galactic League of Planets series. It was a wonderful read about a feline-type heroine. Could you tell us a little bit about how this came about and what we can expect next?
After two contemporary romance novels I wanted to try something different. One Sunday hanging out in flash (I don’t recall who was running it) I flashed on a topic I normally wouldn’t touch. Fur. I think it was actually fur and feathers. So, not wanting to have a non-flash Sunday I started the story of Princess Peenzan of the planet Meline. I know, corny – Meline – feline. And yes, humanoid with a few cat characteristics.
All this takes place within the framework of the Galactic League of Planets. GLOP. SciFi and future fantasy. I’ve finished the second in the GLOP series – Bastina’s Necklace. Both explore our galaxy in the 24th century when the earth has melted down into one country, one state, all run by the Corporation. Nine other planets have been discovered with humanoid like beings that are intelligent. Every book has a sub plot about the Corporation trying to dominate the galaxy through dastardly deeds but the real story is always love. Love in all the wrong places at the most inopportune moments between the least likely pair.
And Forever was really a fun write. Gotta say, I love world building.
Okay, so a little bit about Roscoe James the writer. Give us some juicy details about you. Your writing schedule, your habits … and come on, dish on some of those dirty secrets.
Me? As in moi? Yo? No me digas… well, I’m a voracious reader. Some of my favorite works include – Twist Off, Channel Up, Channel Down, Mute, Hot Wings Included, Two For One, Cherry Flavor (we won’t go into that one), and my all time favorite… Oh, wait, you mean big things, important things, life forming experiences. (Anyone ever tell you that you think like a guy sometimes, Roscoe? Damn, will you share that remote? *grabs remote and handcuffs him to the chair* And really … a little more info on that “cherry flavor” thing would be nice … no? Fine, continue…)
Let me think. It takes me a minute to get the creative… ah, sorry. To dig all that stuff up. Okay, a few things. I was diagnosed mildly dyslexic at the age of 6. By the fifth grade I had not read a book. Not one. Then my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Norsworthy (I think she must have been 80 – I’ve always had this thing for older women) got me interested in a book. And I read it. Bet you can’t guess which one. Anyway, after that first book, I’ve always been reading something. I joined a book club for kids and never looked back.
Most of my childhood was spent in a small town of 3,400. I took French in high school (the language… c’mon Nina… sheesh … hey, Roscoe, you’re the one leading “me” astray … can I help it if my mind goes to the gutter when you’re around? Okay, so you’re talking about French, sorry my dirty mind interrupted.)
Well, anyway, I pretty much flunked out of that one. It was decided a second language was not in my future. I only mention that because I had no idea at the time that I’d end up living in one of the biggest cities in the world speaking a language not my own.
I play the guitar – jazz, blues, and flamenco. I play at a few other instruments. Scuba dive (well, used to, haven’t for a few years), snow ski, oh, and I write.
The routine. Well, the writing routine is, well, pretty routine. I write fulltime. Monday through Friday you’ll find me sitting at my desk tapping away. I write anywhere from 3,000 to 6,000 words a day once past the first chapter. (The man puts me to shame with that daily word count. It appears I only “play” at writing full time. *g*)
I go start to finish. Kinda get it all on paper, put it away for a week, then get it out and read.
Married with a great son. You know, chip off the ol’ block. All that stuff. (And his wife is already marked for sainthood putting up with this man! *vbg*)
What? The book? Why, Treasure Island, of course.
All his books are available through Liquid Silver Books.
Oh, here comes Roscoe’s usual bevy of beauties to help with cocktail hour and a few man-studs to round out the group. Of course the kilt ‘n dales will be here shortly. So why don’t you stay a few minutes and party with us? And by all means … ask the man a few questions! 😉