I met today’s Guest Blogger at the RT BookClub Convention last year in Chicago. I was teaching plotting to aspiring authors. Robyn was a stand-out student (she wears these really sparkly reading glasses — I love a gal that can work bling!) in the program and later pitched a book to me over breakfast one day.
By the end of the breakfast, we were well on our way to being BFFs. Robyn, like me, has never met a stranger — also something I like in human beings in general.
Anywho, she sent me the book to read. After I scared my cat off my lap by laughing so hard and snorting my Pepsi Free up and out my nose, I knew Robyn had IT. She’s a natural born story-teller, funnier than all get-out, my new BFF, and I am happy to say, now a published author. [Yes, I offered for the book on behalf of Liquid Silver, but Kensington beat me to her. Maybe next time.] — Monette Michaels
MM: I know you are also an actress, what drew you to writing books?
Robyn: I was a professional actress for over 20 years and now I’m a soccer-mom/dance teacher/romance novel writer!! I find most artistic processes similar, whether it be writing, acting, cooking, drawing … I think visually and stories are like large puzzles to me. Putting the pieces of the puzzle together is what thrills me most. It doesn’t matter if I’m playing the character or creating her and building her out of words; it feels the same to me.
Writing makes sense to me. I’ve always written (I have boxes in my attack full of the beginnings of the “great American novel”). I just never got my crap together enough to finish a book until last year! And I gotta say, very little, besides my family, has made me as happy as writing has.
MM: Your trip from aspiring writer at the RT Convention in 2012 to a published author in 2013 was meteoric. Do you have any tips for wannabe writers?
Robyn: Yes, lie. Big, fat, hairy lies lead to two book deals…. Here’s my story (don’t try it at home):
The crazy, mixed-up tale of how my first book came to be – also known as, WTF? I’m getting published
I’ve been asked how I got published. The answer is simple…I lied. That’s right, I lied.
I wouldn’t recommend it, although it worked for me. It certainly could have blown up in my face, but whether it was sheer will and determination or dumb luck, I’ll never know. Here’s how it went…
I pitched a very unfinished novel (as if it were done) to major NY publishers and agents at a writers conference in Chicago. I was shocked, delighted and appalled that everyone I pitched to asked for a full manuscript. After a brief and hopefully unnoticeable panic attack, I very logically explained to them that I needed to get the book professionally edited (real meaning–write it) and would have it to them in three weeks. What the hell did I have to lose? My sanity had been gone for years.
Having been an actor for umpteen decades came in handy. Clearly, pretending to smell delicious imaginary aromas in commercial auditions and becoming one with my inner lawn gnome in acting class, made my fear of telling ginormous lies nonexistent.
The next part of the story goes like this…I went home and wrote it. I didn’t sleep for three weeks, my family ate a lot of peanut butter and jelly, and no one in the house had any clean underpants. I loved every minute of it. I ended up with several offers and went with a two book deal with Kensington Publishing.
That’s my crazy story, but the real answer to getting published is to write. Just write. Every day. Every writer I’ve had the good fortune to know says the same thing. Oh, and read…tons.
Writing groups are a great idea too. I promised myself I would join RWA (Romance Writers of America) when I got three quarters of the way through my first novel. That would be my wa-a-ay too long (150,000 word) paranormal romance that everyone and his mother rejected. Joining RWA was one of the smartest things I did. There are local chapters in cities all over America. I was such a nervous wreck about going to my first meeting with real writers that when I couldn’t find a parking space, I turned around and drove home.
Thankfully, I grew some bigger testicles and went to their next meeting. I met some of the neatest and most generous women. My unpublished status and huge pile of rejection letters were greeted with similar stories that made me gasp, laugh and cringe (all at the same time). I learned to embrace my rejections, look at my writing with a more critical eye and grow thicker skin. In this group of amazing women, I found critique partners, cheerleaders and friends.
It’s empowering to be with others who share your passion, no matter where you are in your career. I highly recommend it.
I do believe writing the book of your heart (i.e. my grossly overwritten vampire tome) is important, but knowing what’s marketable is not stupid. I wanted more people than just my mom to read my books! So I just kept at it, read industry blogs and entered contests…
Oh, and I lied.
The publishing industry has changed and continues to change. With digital reading devices now in the game, viable options for writers are endless. I have extremely talented friends who publish traditionally through NY and equally as talented friends who are publishing independently. Many writers are doing both, very successfully.
The bottom line is that you have to write a good book and then you have to never give up. And while you’re ‘never giving up,’ you have to write more good books. It’s a wonderful thing to have a job where you can work in your underpants.
Writing may seem like a solitary sport, but it’s not. A critique partner, other writing friends, spell check, Coke® with extra ice in a Styrofoam cup and a great editor are just a few of the things I think every writer needs.
So that’s my story. I’m not sure how good the lesson is, but the ending is happy. I love happy endings.
MM: Your first book, How Hard Can It Be?, is pee-your-pants funny. Why choose romantic comedy as a genre?
Robyn: Because I love it, and it comes naturally for me…makes sense. I would marry it if I could, along with paranormal romance and hot spicy erotic romance.
MM: Is there one particular thing that you find challenging about writing?
Robyn: It used to be my typing skills, I have none. I have kicked myself in my own ass repeatedly for the last year because I didn’t take typing in high school. I now have my own method, which makes my kids laugh and gave me f#@king tennis elbow…. I suppose the thing that gives me angina now would be dealing with social media. I kinda suck. I have sent things out into cyber space thinking they were going on my Facebook page (I still have no clue where some of that stuff landed). If writing books simply involved me in my underpants in front of my computer making up stories, I would be happier, but alas that cannot be…..
MM: What do you do to get in the mood to write?
Robyn: Luckily I am always in the mood to write. My problem is finding a way to get in the mood to fold laundry and pay bills….
MM: What is your favorite thing about writing as opposed to acting?
Robyn: I like the solitude of writing. I like creating the whole world and being men and women (and sailor-mouthed old ladies…read my book)
MM: Some of your characters are, shall I say, out there in a funny and profane way. Are your characters a reflection on you or anyone you know?
Robyn: Probably me, much to my mother’s dismay! Yes, I have a potty mouth, BUT I’m a nice girl, loyal friend and a kick ass contract gin rummy player.
MM: Do your characters talk to you?
Robyn: Constantly and I talk about them as if they are living breathing people. My husband had to ask me the other day if the conversation we were having was about real people. I smiled, shook my head, chuckled, and told him no. At least I didn’t think so. He’s an actor, so we have a bit of trouble with fiction and reality in our house.
MM: Who are some of your favorite go-to authors?
Robyn: Too many to name. I am a voracious reader, but some of my faves are; Jeannine Frost, Thea Harrison, Michelle Rowen, Chloe Neill, David Sedaris, Jane Austin, and of course, Monette Michaels!
MM: What are you reading now?
Robyn: Believe it or not, I’m reading the Anne of Green Gables series. I adored these as a kid and my daughter is reading them for the first time. I got jealous, so I joined her! We’re now having awesome mommy-daughter discussions on Ann and Marla and Diana and Gilbert!!!
MM: What is your guilty pleasure?
Robyn: Really great erotic romance, like Cherise Sinclair’s books, and Black-Raspberry Chip Ice cream.
MM: Dark or milk chocolate?
Robyn: Dark, but I prefer salty or any with jalapenos on it!!
MM: Favorite writing attire?
Robyn: T-shirt and sweatpants. If it’s hot, I like my hubby’s boxer briefs and a t-shirt.
MM: Thin crust or thick crust pizza?
Robyn: Thin crust and it must have jalapenos!
MM: Silk nightie or flannel Pjs?
Robyn: No Pjs at all…
MM: Smart geeky guy or alpha-male with six-pack abs?
Robyn: Combo and he must have a great ass and killer eyes.
MM: If you were a supernatural creature, what would you like to be and why?
Robyn: I’d be a very hot, immortal shape shifting vampire who could fly. I feel that would cover everything, and I’d have a larger pool from which to find a hot sexy, toe curling, sex bomb of a mate.
MM: Your first book, How Hard Can It Be?, is out this month. Tell us a little bit about it.
Robyn: The back cover blurb does a good job, so here it is….
What happens when an accountant decides to grab life by the horns and try something new? Apparently a pirate named Dave, a lot of pastel fleece, and blackmail—just to start with…
Visualize and succeed, Oprah said. I was sure as hell trying, even if my campaign to score a job as the local weather girl had ended in a restraining order. Okay, TV was not my strength. But a lack of talent has never stopped me before. Which is why I’ve embarked on a writing career. I mean, how hard can it be to come up with a sexy romance?
Leave it to me to wind up in a group of porno writing grannies who discuss sex toys and apple cobbler in the same breath. Also leave it to me to leak an outlandish plot idea to a bestselling author with the morals of a rabid squirrel. And only I could get arrested for a jewelry heist I didn’t commit—by a hunky cop whose handcuffs just might tempt me to sign up for a life of crime. Maybe I’ve found my calling after all…
MM: Are you working on another book?
Robyn: The sequel to How Hard Can It Be? is done and with my publisher at Kensington. It should be out late Spring or early Summer. I have a young adult called Hell On Heels is in its final stages, and there is a redneck vampire series living in the warped recesses of my brain. Oh shit, I’m also writing the screen play for How Hard Can It Be? It’s been optioned for a movie! Squeeee!!
MM: Where can your readers reach you?
Robyn: At my suite in Hell (kidding)
At my website: http://www.robynpeterman.com
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/robynpeterman
Or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
To buy How Hard Can It Be?, either go to my website or use these direct links!!