Robin Shope’s interview

» Posted on Nov 18, 2008 in Blog | Comments Off on Robin Shope’s interview

If you want to enter the drawing for The Christmas Edition by Robin Shope, leave a comment with your email (I need this to contact you if you win) or email me at The drawing will end Sunday evening.

1. What made you start writing? I began writing in the 5th grade. I wanted to please my English teacher who lovingly cradled those essays in her hands as though they were valuable jewels. Hey, I wanted to be one of those jewels too. Sometimes the essays was about something funny. It made us laugh. I wanted to make others laugh. Another time we listened to a classmate’s heartbreak when her parents divorced. We cried. I wanted my words to make them cry. I saw the worth of writing. And as my teacher read through the best essays, mine was never among them. No, I never had my funny story or heartbreak read aloud in 5th grade for others to laugh or cry about. Not ever. Not once. Rejection came early. It didn’t make me give up. For some reason, it had the opposite effect. I became determined. I wrote and kept writing. I wanted to please through words. It wasn’t until college that my writing professor became somewhat impressed in my stories and gave me the direction I needed. I have been writing ever since. That is why I started writing. I can’t stop, it’s in my DNA.

2. How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?

I started writing in 5th grade so I have been at it a while. However, I became serious when, years later, my eight-year-old daughter won a national story contest and two years later had a book deal with her children’s book about adoption, A Bear Named Song. She spurred me on. I wrote articles. They sold. So I wrote short stories. They sold. So I wrote a book. It took a long time for that to sell…and then two more thrillers followed.

Now my fourth book, The Christmas Edition, is a contemporary romance and will be out by December. The next book in The Turtle Creek Edition series, The Valentine Edition, will be out by February 2009, more to follow. I never take success for granted. With every contract, I am thankful. Blessed beyond measure.

3. How do you handle rejections?
I watch America Idol. When the contestants do not get that coveted airline ticket to Hollywood, some leave with the words, “You will be sorry! I will have a top single and you will be so sorry and think about how you could have had me on the show! But it will be too late!” Of course, that isn’t going to happen. But still, those words do run through my mind when I receive a rejection slip. I want to say “You’ll be sorry.” Just kidding. I don’t think that at all. Rejection hurts. I hear people say it’s important to develop a tough skin. How do you do that? Please tell me. I have received enough rejection slips to wallpaper a house and still get teary-eyed when I get another. I am totally thin skinned so if anyone out there knows of a thick skin tactic, please email me after reading this and tell me what it is.

Those rejection letters all start the same way, ‘while we feel your manuscript shows merit, we have decided to go another way’. I talk back to those words, “So you think my writing is rotten, huh? I will show you!” So I sit back in front of my computer and work at improving my craft. I try to learn from rejection…and hey, editors don’t know everything (but don’t tell them I said that).

I have heard many people say that God called them to write. If that is true, and I have no doubt it is true, it should follow that some of us are called to read. On my last rejection notice I decided to be called to read. Then within hours I was back at the computer writing; called or not called, that isn’t the question. I just love writing! Crafting my plot, layering my characters, adding fun to the story. I just have to write. (It’s in my DNA, remember?) There are so many fabulous struggling authors out there. You just have to keep plugging. I am – therefore I write. (and I read, a lot! More than I write.)

4. What do you write?
My short stories and articles are funny accounts about my life (see? I am making people laugh with my writing – my fifth grade goal.) People like to read about relatable tales. My first three books are thrillers – maybe not so relatable but entertaining for sure. I love a good mystery! I studied blood spatter, forensics, built an arsenal of professionals who I relied on to help me remain accurate. Then one day, I had an idea for a contemporary romance novel. It came so unexpectedly. It was so out of the norm for me to write about emotions, hurts, hopes and life when I was so used to writing about death, murder, and firearms. But it was a story I had to tell. It was totally relatable to every woman who has ever been in love. So I wrote it. Sent it in. Within a week a publisher offered me a contract for a series. Thus The Turtle Creek Edition series was born. The first book is The Christmas Edition, release date Nov. 21 for eBook and print. Next year watch for The Valentine Edition. They will be available at online stores. Print ISBN: 1-60154-330-1
Print ISBN 13: 9781601543301

5. What would you be doing with your free time if you weren’t writing? Probably cleaning my house. And I probably would take up gardening too.

6. What are you working on right now? Right now I am working on completing this contemporary romance series. I also am in development with a second romance series that I pitched to other publishers. Book one is complete with a synopsis for book 2. I must admit, its garnishing a lot of positive attention.

7. Do you put yourself into your books/characters? I think all writers put themselves into some of their characters so the answer is yes. In The Christmas Edition, I have a smattering of my personality in various characters. I am the romance writer that Ulilla aspires to be. I am Lucy with a past love experience that left her feeling deceived and empty, wanting to open up to love again but isn’t so sure she can. I am a bit of Monica who is so sure of love that she is a bit cocky. My characters have various traits of my personality at different stages in my life. (I did finally trust my soul mate and married him. We have been happily married for thirty-one years) I also incorporate some of own experiences in the scenes. I won’t tell you which ones. You have to guess and then get back to me on it.

8. Tell us about the book you have out right now.
Lucy Collins has given up on Christmas since the painful break-up with her fiancé. Things only get worse when a large newspaper is about to come to town and threatens the livelihood of their family run business, The Turtle Creek Newspaper. At the staff Christmas party, she makes a wish and what seems like the answer to her prayer walks in the front door to apply for the editor position, which they are hoping will bring new life to the paper. Not only is Joe McNamara a genius when it comes to the written word, but he is also gifted with ideas about keeping the newspaper afloat. However, Joe has a secret of his own that he is keeping from Lucy. If she finds it out, then what looks like a promising relationship will unravel, but it’s Christmas time, the season of rebirth and miracles. Will the spirit of celebration be enough to heal two hearts? Or will the reality of deception make this the worst Christmas of all?

It’s a sweet love story. Right now with so much sadness and hatred going on in the world I wanted to write something that was healing and hope giving.

9. Do you have any advice for other writers? My advice is simple; know your audience and genre. If you are like me, you enjoy various types of music, and your reading tastes run the gamut from fiction to nonfiction to children’s books. Many new writers, including myself, started out writing anything and everything . . . that is not so bad, and quite energetic for an aspiring author. But when we become serious about being published then writing takes on a whole new meaning. Pick one genre that you feel most passionate about and learn it.

That means read that genre. Study it as though you are preparing for a college exam. Take notes on how the characters are developed, when the problem occurs, how a hook is used, what about the story keeps you right on turning the pages. Better still, write down what you don’t like. Writing takes work. Writer Loops are filled with the same type of questions from aspiring authors all asking the same basic questions such as I am writing a book for young adults. Can anyone suggest a good author for me to read? I shiver when I read that and not in a good way. Their shelves should already be filled with the likes of Jean Craighead George and Cynthia Rylant.

A good mystery book was all I ever used to pick up. I read them voraciously before I even considered writing them. Because of that passion I decided to craft my own thriller filled with DNA, and fiber evidence. It took root and everywhere I looked I saw a potential story. I worked at a rough school with at risk kids. One day a student attacked me with a metal door. I was asked to write out the police report detailing what happened. My principal at the time knew my love for setting up a story scene and told me to try to keep it under forty pages. Honest.

By the time my third book was published, I had acquired a bevy of forensic experts that I consulted. I also bought an underground book of how someone can acquire a new identity and studied that for my fourth mystery book, Wildcard, which is coming out 2009.

Yep, mystery writing was my genre. Then the unthinkable, the unexplainable happened. A publisher asked me to write a romance book set at Christmas time. I bit back my laughter. After I agreed I went into shock that lasted for several days. What did I know about romance? My opinion of romance books up to that point was; woman falls in love with man. Man falls in love with woman. A problem arises that causes the woman and the man to break up. Woman cries. Man sulks. Woman and man get back together. The end. What to do? The only thing I could. I turned to Lifetime TV for help. The romance kind. And watched a weekend worth of sweet, very romantic stories, and I took notes. On Monday I headed to the library and checked out best selling romance authors.

Ooou, I soon discovered that romance is ripe with emotion and conflict. And dark villains. So I wrote my Christmas book and sent it to the publisher. A week later I signed a contract for a five holiday book series.

10. How important is faith in your books? It’s the cornerstone of my stories. If I want to be preached at, I’ll go to church therefore I do not write in your face Christianity. I think that turns people off, sinners and saints alike. It has to be natural. Let it flow. Be natural. Show that Christians are flawed and have their own issues. The Bible says it rains on the sinner and saint alike. But we have a God who answers prayers and leads the way. That is the difference.

11. What themes do you like to write about? Presently its romance. I hope people will pick up my book and fall in love with the hero, wishing they were my heroine. I believe in heartwarming stories that makes you feel good. Having said that, I must admit I also have a mystery coming out in 2009, Wildcard as well.

12. What is your favorite book you’ve written and why? My favorite book is this book, The Christmas Edition. Its fresh. Written by me, with all my ideas. It takes place in a lovely fictitious Wisconsin town during my favorite holiday, Christmas. It’s a time of year when miracles come true. There is nothing like the Christmas spirit. I tried to capture it. The book is ripe with a regional theme.

13. What is your writing schedule like? I am the Special Education Coordinator at a county school for troubled teens. I also have a husband, two grown children, and am involved in church. We welcome our first grandchild this spring. As with everyone, time is precious. Every spare moment I have, I write. I get up early and write. I write during my lunch break. I write as soon as my husband goes to sleep and write late at night. (Okay, I confess, I drop the ball when it comes to cleaning the house, but I figure it this way, the dust will still be here tomorrow…the exact words I need won’t be.) Sometimes I have to say no to friends. There are tradeoffs. Each writer has to do what works for them but this seems to work for me pretty well. I also sometimes write on the back of a receipt stopped at a red light. I haveta use every moment.