I’m so happy to have author Judi Phillips visiting today. Her newest release, Ghost of a Chance, is available at Wild Rose Press. And she’s here to tell us all about it. Welcome, Judi !!
Thanks, Nina, for inviting me over. I love your work and this is a treat.
Mwahahahaha … you have no idea what I have in store for you. So here goes with all the personal questions …
Tell us a little bit about you and how you got into writing.
I have always had stories in my head, but had no interest in writing a complete manuscript on a typewriter (which may give you a hint about my age). When computers arrived with the magical cut and paste icons, it was all over for me. Within a month or two of my first job using a word processor, I was writing my first novel.
Please tell us about your newest release
Ghost of a Chance is the story of a mischievous little boy ghost, Edward. There’s Trace Hawthorn, the hero, a left-brained engineer, Wynter Storm, the heroine, intuitive but doesn’t want to acknowledge it, their matchmaking daughters, and their meddling mothers.
What was the inspiration for this story?
A comment made years ago by my daughter (10 or so then) and her friend who suggested it would be fun if I dated her dad (her parents had recently divorced) and that way they could be sisters. Made me think about matchmaking daughters.
Paranormal. Interesting. What’s your favorite genre to write?
My favorite stories to write are time travels. Love forcing either the heroine or hero to struggle with that fish out of water feeling. Also like writing contemporaries with a hint of mystery. And the hot stuff.
Oh, hot stuff, you opened that door. Now will you please tell us a little bit about your step into the world of erotic romance?
Ah, yes. Pepper Goodrich. She writes Saucy, Sexy Romps and you can check her out at her website. I can tell pretty much from the start of the story whether Judi or Pepper is writing. In fact, the story I’m working on now, I thought was going to be written by Pepper, but Judi took over from the get go.
You can find Pepper’s newest story, Meltdown HERE. There’s even a book trailer (done by the very talented DNK Productions oh, that would be me! Hee hee) …
Will you have more titles as Pepper?
Definitely. I have one completed story and at least a couple more in the works. Just need to find a home for them.
If you came with a warning label what would it read?
Very hot, but lots of fun. Very lighthearted. And hot. Remember, it’s written by Pepper.
Describe your writing space. Do you move around or always write in the same place?
My office is what would probably be the master bedroom in my house. It’s the larger room. About half of the room is where I write. My desk faces a window so I can look outside at the woods surrounding my house. Fun in the summer because I can watch the birds. Not so much fun in the winter as the snow piles higher and higher. The other half doubles as a guest room/research library. Bookcases line one wall, filled to overflowing with books on writing or on topics I write about.
In the summer, I grab my laptop and plant myself on my deck and that becomes my summer office. Love writing with the breeze ruffling the wind chimes and my little doggies snoozing as they soak up the sun. A glass of lemonade and my iPod and life doesn’t get any better than that.
What happened to the first novel you ever wrote?
Poor thing is keeping the dust bunnies company. I refer to it as my House Beautiful/Vogue story. Lots and lots of descriptions of what people were wearing and how the rooms were arranged. But I honed my writing skills with it, so it has a special place in my heart. But it will never again see the light of day.
You have a fulltime job. How do you fit writing into your busy schedule?
I try to get up early, but have been a slug abed lately. Need to kick myself awake because I have a deadline looming. I almost always write during lunch, going to a local food court with a fountain that drowns out most conversations. My iPod takes care of the rest. I can write a surprising amount in an hour. Evenings, I work on either editing my own stuff or doing critiques for my buddies.
Tell us about your writing process. Are you a plotter or pantzer? Do you have comfort drinks or snack foods. Any favorite music you play while writing?
Sort of both. I start out pantzing for about the first three chapters. Then, when I think I know the characters, I start working on character sheets, conflict and figuring out what’s going to happen down the road. One of the many problems with my first story was that it wandered all over the place and I had to keep bringing it back. Much easier, I think, if I know where I’m going in the first place.
The editing process is an important aspect of writing. Do you have a routine you follow when going through it?
One of the things I do is go through the manuscript and highlight problem words, like those ending in ly, just, that, was, etc. Some pages become a nightmare in yellow. I also print out the chapters with about a 3 inch margin on the right side, which encourages editing by giving me lots of room to make comments and add missing pieces. For whatever reason, my left brain seems to click on at night, so I find evenings the most productive time to edit, whereas mornings are good for creating.
A hot soak in the tub or a smokin’ BBQ with friends?
Which would I prefer? A smokin’ BBQ with friends, especially if they’re my writerly friends. Nothing better than hangin’ with people who understand that because I have stories playing in my head, I’m not necessarily crazy.
Judi, the voices in your head definitely don’t make you crazy … but they DEFINITELY make you a writer. *g* Thanks so much for visiting. The cabana boys would love to offer you a massage… ah, Judi. Oh, there she goes.
Well, if you’d like to find out more about Judi and her books visit her website. She’d also love it if you emailed her at JudiPhillips @ roadrunner.com (without the spaces). I’ll see if I can pull her from the cabana boys long enough to answer a few of your questions. In the meantime, why don’t you entertain yourself with the book trailer for Ghost of a Chance.
I am so pleased to welcome Kathy Cottrell, editor at The Wild Rose Press, as well as an author, writing as Kat Henry Doran. She’s
tied sitting in the chair across from me willing to answer a few questions.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you became involved with The Wild Rose Press.
I am a wife to one, mother of three, grandmother to two and the one to be named later. Back in the day I have been a nurse, educator, victim advocate, forensic nurse, and finally an insurance investigator. Currently, when I’m not writing or editing, I provide child care to my grandchildren and design and make custom order tote bags. I became involved with Wild Rose about two years ago when I was invited to take on the Last Rose of Summer line. We feature older heroines and heroes, those who, having been there and done that, now find themselves at a cross-roads. Do they sit and vegetate for the rest of their lives or begin a second [or third] chapter? It’s a fun job. Sometimes I think I’m a better editor than I am a writer.
What specifically makes TWRP a great publisher to work with?
All communications and work is done electronically. So . . . if I want to stay in my jammies all day, no one will comment on my choice of office attire. I can turn off the computer and go shopping for fabric and zippers and snaps if I want. I can take the job to my grand-daughters and take care of them while I’m reading manuscripts. It is the best of all worlds. Plus, I enjoy the opportunity to encourage authors to expand and grow. There is nothing better than that.
When someone is pitching to you, what gets you excited?
The combination of a great plot with interesting characters who face tremendous conflicts. In 2006 I attended the New Jersey conference. An author pitched me a story about a career officer in the military who has a one-night stand with some hunk. The next morning she discovers he’s the newly assigned NCO on her platoon. Twenty eight words. That’s all it took to demonstrate a heroine with a fascinating, occasionally dangerous job; great external conflict [officers consorting with enlisted personnel]; and a terrific plot. I came out of my chair, leaned over the table and begged her to make the heroine a few years older so I could justify bringing the story into the Last Rose line. It took her a few months to get the story ready for submission but I am delighted to announce “Soldier For Love” will be out in early 2009. I can’t wait. What a thrill.
Is there any genre TWRP is looking for in particular?
We accept all genres except women’s fiction. Before submitting, the author should review submission guidelines; it helps if they follow them! First and most important, the story must be a romance. We accept romantic fiction, from 3,000 to 100,000 words.
How do authors submit work to TWRP?
After reading the submission guidelines, the author should send a query letter, with a synopsis in the body of the email, to email@example.com. Rhonda Penders, head administrator at WRP, forwards the queries to the Senior Editor usually but not always on the same day the query came in. Rhonda then alerts the author who the query went to. Most Senior Editors attempt to respond to the query within 72 hours and we always request a partial [first 3 chapters not to exceed 50 pages]. Once the partial arrives, I read it. I read all partials for Last Rose. If I believe the story has promise, I keep it for myself [another of the perks of being boss] or assign it to one of three associate editors on the line. I try to make a decision on a partial within 60 calendar days, though often it is much sooner. Now, 60 days might sound like an awful long time, but I would remind folks how long they’ve waited to hear from one of the Big Houses in New York City.
If the author hasn’t heard from anyone within 30 days, they need to send another email to queryus@ and ask what’s going on. We cannot solve problems if we don’t know about them. I may be able to interpret patient complaints from a look or a moan or vital signs, I do not read minds. None of us do.
Is TWRP a print or electronic publisher?
We are both. Word lengths over 45,000 words will be available in print usually, but not always, 6 months after the book was released electronically.
Do you think this shirt brings out the color of my eyes?
Sorry, honey. As a nurse for 40 years, mustard yellow is NOT your color. Have you had your liver enzymes checked lately? How’s your gall bladder doing? (umm … guess I know where I’m headed after this interview.)
Besides being an editor, I know you are also a writer. Could you tell us a little bit about your books?
I started writing one day in 1984. I received a How Are You Doing card from a friend from back in my Operating Room days in the late 60’s. I sat down to write a response and . . . twenty seven pages later [this is not a joke] I realized I might have something going here. Now, that’s not to say any of the stuff I wrote was any good. In fact, my first book didn’t come out until 2004. I am not what you’d call prolific. My second book came out in 2007. Hopefully, my next will be out in 2009.
I tend to write romantic suspense. Even if it doesn’t start out that way, murder and mayhem creep in, often without my permission. I like to write about social issues. “Captain Marvelous” is about abuse of immigrant populations. “Try Just Once More” features a woman in recovery from alcohol abuse. “Mad Dog and the Archangel”, my WIP, a four part anthology with 3 other WRP editors, features a victim advocate/former activist nun and a con man.
If we asked your friends to name 3 personality traits about you, what do you think they would say?
Smart mouth who shoots from the hip, passionate about the denigration of women, devoted to her grandchildren. Currently I am involved in Panties for Peace, protesting human rights abuses in the Myanmar Republic [formerly Burma].
The editing process is an important aspect of writing. You have been on both sides of it. Which is more difficult for you, editing your own work or editing someone else’s?
I am blessed with two wonderful, talented critique partners, so changing my stuff is a cinch and editing their stuff is fun and exciting. If a WRP author is willing to listen and accept what I believe would work better for the story, editing is a joy. The author who, after signing that contract, turns into Godzilla becomes an experience in patience and fortitude [for me]. That’s not to say I’m averse to listening to the author’s ideas; they need to be a strong, vocal advocate for themselves. There are, however, a few WRP rules which cannot be broken: monogamy, heterosexual romance; no rape or child abuse as a form of titillation; no womens fiction; and a HEA ending.
A sunset dinner with someone special or a dinner party with friends?
Real life or in my imagination? Real life it would be a picnic with my family. Imagination would be the sunset dinner with Tom Berenger, Dennis Quaid, or Keith Hernandez. (*sigh* I like your choice of dinner partners … am I showing my age?)
Anything else you’d like to share?
Favorite authors: Vince Flynn, John Maxim and David Wiltse. Favorite fictional characters: Sirius Black and Brenda Lee Johnson. Favorite movies: Steel Magnolias, Miracle, and The Big Easy; Favorite TV shows: The Closer, In Plain Sight and Clifford the Big Red Dog. Favorite musical groups: ABBA, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons; the Eagles, and the BeeGees.
You can visit her at her website. But when I asked about a blog she gagged and said “ewww”. Then I told her I would like to friend her on MySpace, but she wasn’t quite sure what that was.
Well, the pool boys just delivered croissants and coffee and from the smile on her face and the way she’s flirting with the help … I think she’s willing to stick around and answer a few questions. Feel free to leave them in the comments. And if you’re with TWRP give Kathy a shout and tell everyone how much you love it over there! 😀