Abby Gaines special guest

» Posted on Mar 14, 2008 in Blog | Comments Off on Abby Gaines special guest

Don’t forget if you want to be entered in the drawing for either Fully Engaged or The Diaper Diaries, please leave a comment with your email address or send me an email at The contest ends Sunday evening.

1. What made you start writing?
I wrote my first romance novel when I was about 16, because I loved writing and I loved reading romance. I also, for some inexplicable reason, wrote a science fiction novel back then… It’s embarrassing-but-true to say that one of the main reasons I started writing was because I thought I would become a teenage publishing superstar! Yes, I was very shallow…I still sometimes battle to get out of the shallows today….

2. How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?
I started actively pursuing publication c.2000. I’d been working as a freelance business journalist for 10 years while I looked after my kids, and was starting to get a little cynical about business. I wanted to write something that felt truer to me—even if it’s fiction!
I sold my first book in April 2006. By then, I’d completed six manuscripts, though the book I sold was actually the fifth one.

3. How do you handle rejections?
I still get plenty of practice at this! I submitted those earlier manuscripts a lot, so I have an awful lot of rejection letters from agents and editors.
By the time I sold, I can honestly say that rejections were, as they say, like water off a duck’s back to me. I’d gotten into a mode of just carrying on writing no matter what, so while the rejection stung on first reading, it was never going to stop me writing.
My advice is to learn what you can from rejections (this is something I’m still trying to do!). By all means rant against the feedback on first reading. But later, if you’re lucky enough to receive specific criticism of your work from the editor, come back to it with a dispassionate eye and see if there’s something you can learn. Of course, the first book I sold to Harlequin had already been rejected by a couple of other editors at Harlequin, so sometimes you just have to wait for the right person to read your book.

4. Why do you write?
I’m going to be very honest here and say…because it’s my job. It’s a job that I’ve actively pursued because I love to write, but I’m not one of those people who can say that even if no one was ever going to read my books, I would still write them. I just wouldn’t have the time! Or the leeway from my family, who have kindly tolerated my mental and sometimes physical absences from family life while I pursue my writing career. Thankfully, these days I do get paid to write romance, which means I can continue with the job I love.

5. What would you be doing with your free time if you weren’t writing?
Make me feel guilty, why don’t you? ☺ I would spend more time with my family. Or, more likely, I’d come up with some other crazy scheme, even crazier than writing books. I definitely wouldn’t do more housework!

6. What are you working on right now?
I have a book due to Superromance on March 15, so that’s consuming most of my thoughts! I’m also writing outlines for two stories for Harlequin NASCAR, which are sequels to my 2007 NASCAR release Back on Track. I can’t wait to write those stories.

7. Do you put yourself into your books/characters?
No, I don’t. My books tend to be about larger-than-life characters and situations, and my life is, well, pretty much life-size. I think if I put myself or my life into a book, I’d find it hard to get excited about writing it!

8. Tell us about the book you have out right now.
I have two books out this month. In The Diaper Diaries, from Superromance, philanthropist Tyler Warrington doesn’t do empathy—he writes checks. He has everything he wants—except the “family man” reputation that will win him a big-shot government job. So when a baby is left at his doorstep, it’s the PR opportunity of a lifetime! Then he makes the mistake of hiring do-gooder pediatrician Bethany Hart to look after the baby…
My other release is Fully Engaged (Harlequin NASCAR). The heroine, Sandra Jacobs, wants to save her PR firm from going bankrupt, which means she must find a sponsor for NASCAR driver Will Branch. But Will’s team owner, the notoriously aloof, very bossy and downright gorgeous Gideon Taney, has his own ideas about the team’s future.

9. Do you have any advice for other writers?
Keep writing, but if possible, try not to keep changing the kind of story you’re writing. It’s sometimes better to get really good at doing what you do before you try something else. Just because you didn’t sell your first effort, that doesn’t mean you won’t eventually sell that kind of story, if it’s what you love to write.
But do think about submitting to different markets. I’ve always written the same kind of story, but I had no luck selling to short contemporary series. When I targeted long contemporary (same story, but with a subplot added), I sold the first book I submitted.

10. What themes do you like to write about?
When I look at my stories, the common theme is: You can be loved just the way you are.
Obviously, that theme is present throughout the Bible—I believe that’s how God loves us. My characters realize over the course of the story that they need to change, but it’s loving and being loved that helps them make that transformation. I don’t write Christian fiction, but I hope this theme shines through.

11. What is your favorite book you’ve written and why?
Tough question! Married by Mistake (Superromance, April 07 was one of my earliest manuscripts, so it was joy to sell it a few years after I wrote it (though I had to rework it for publication). It’s the book that’s had by far the most reader feedback – a really sweet, feel-good story that’s also a bit quirky and unpredictable.
Having said that, my new book The Diaper Diaries has already had lots of great feedback from readers, and to me it’s quite similar in tone to Married by Mistake.

12. What is your writing schedule like?
Officially, I write when my kids are in school. But when I’m on deadline, like now, I write all hours of the day and night. When I’m writing new pages, I aim to write 10 pages a day. But I write a very bad first draft, so I always have a huge revision process.

13. You are participating in the NASCAR series for Harlequin. How has that been different from writing your Superromances?
My first Harlequin NASCAR book, Back on Track, was entirely my own story. This year’s books are part of a continuity series, so I was given the main characters’ details and some story elements that needed to be included. That was a bit scary, but I was really pleased with how the first of those books, Fully Engaged (one of this month’s releases) came out. The second book is still in the works.

14. How did you research your book for NASCAR?
I think a big part of nailing the NASCAR stories is understanding the ethos of the sport and the mindset of a race driver. I edit a speedway magazine as a summer job—it’s very different from NASCAR, but the mentality of the sport is the same.

As for the technical details…I watch races on TV, and last year I went to a race at Daytona, which was a great experience. And I have a very well-thumbed copy of NASCAR for Dummies!