During the run of its 30th season premiere SEX WITH STRANGERS, Renaissance Theaterworks will shine a spotlight on Wisconsin authors. On Saturday, October 28th the company will host a Mini Book Fair in the Studio Theater lobby of the Broadway Theater Center from 3pm to 10pm featuring members of WisRWA. As an advance introduction to the authors, Renaissance asked them questions related to the various issues and conflicts presented in the play SEX WITH STRANGERS by Laura Eason. Here is the third interview of the series.
Strong Men. Stronger Women
Mary Hughes is a lover of stories that crackle with action and love. A mother, a flutist, a binge-TV-watcher of NCIS, Elementary, and Wynonna Earp. She writes wickedly funny romantic adventures and scorching hot paranormal romances, fast-paced reads with challenging heroes— and resilient heroines who aren’t afraid of a challenge.
RTW: In the play, the character Olivia partially blames the failure of her first book on her editor’s choice in covers. How important do you think covers are to a book’s success or failure?
MARY: Oh yeah, cover art is vital. It’s the story’s clothes, the mood lighting, the rich red color that tells a consumer the story apple is ripe. Even the title font plays into the promise, flowing script for high fantasy, jaggy for a tale of suspense, quirky for comedy. It’s the first taste of what kind of story is to come, and make no mistake, we do judge a book by it!
RTW: Have you ever received a bad review? If so, how did you handle it? Did it ever discourage you or make you question your worth as a writer?
MARY: Yes, bravely on the outside and screaming on the inside, and yes. Anyone who says bad reviews don’t hurt emotionally is lying. Although some bad reviews are actually good for the author. A box set I was in had a two-star review complaining there was too much sex. The very next reviewer said (I’m paraphrasing), “I read the two-star review, and I’m so glad I did…because I love sex! I snapped this puppy up!”
RTW: What attracts you most about writing romance novels or the romance genre in general?
MARY: I love the spark that brings two people together. It’s so much fun watching them try to figure out what’s going on. I’m truly inspired by the work and the meeting of minds and hearts that goes into making a real couple. But when it comes right down to it, I love romance best because I’m a huge sucker for a happily-ever-after ending, lol.
Each month, WisRWA will announce the new books our members have published. We call it New Release Tuesday.
Congratulations to the following WisRWA members on their new releases.
Bad Boy Billionaire’s Lady (Billionaire Ever After anthology) by Mary Hughes
Night’s Caress by Mary Hughes
Kinky Briefs, Thrice by Seelie Kay
Joshua’s Prayer by Oliva Rae
During the run of its 30th season premiere SEX WITH STRANGERS, Renaissance Theaterworks will shine a spotlight on Wisconsin authors. On Saturday, October 28th the company will host a Mini Book Fair in the Studio Theater lobby of the Broadway Theater Center from 3pm to 10pm featuring members of WisRWA. As an advance introduction to the authors, Renaissance asked them questions related to the various issues and conflicts presented in the play SEX WITH STRANGERS by Laura Eason. Here is the second interview of the series.
Barbara M. Britton
Award-Winning Author of Romantic Adventures from Ancient Israel to Modern Day USA
Barbara Britton was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, but currently lives in Southeastern Wisconsin and loves the snow—when it accumulates under three inches. Barb writes romantic adventures for teens and adults in the Christian fiction and mainstream markets. She enjoys bringing Bible characters to light in her stories. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Romance Writers of America, and Wisconsin Romance Writers of America. Barb has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate. You can learn more about her books on her website.
RTW: In the play, the character Olivia partially blames the failure of her first book on her editor’s choice in covers. How important do you think covers are to a book’s success or failure? Have you always been happy with your editor’s choice for your cover?
BARBARA: Covers can make or break a book. Olivia is right! Most readers do not know that covers are specific to genres. Vampire romances will be shaded in black, white, and red hues and have a dark feel. I write Biblical fiction, so my covers are attractive women wearing head coverings. Also, the author usually has no say in their cover art. Gasp! I was fortunate that I love my covers. The president of my publisher designs them herself and she does amazing work.
RTW: Do you let other people read your writing before you submit it to a publisher or an agent?
BARBARA: You bet I do. Every writer should have one or more critique partners to review their work. Before an agent or editor reads a manuscript, an author should have beta-readers scour the entire manuscript for errors, plot holes, and character development. Its best to have several eyes on a story before it goes to a publishing professional. Writing contests are excellent sources of feedback too.
RTW: How important are reviews to writers and why?
BARBARA: Reviews help readers understand if a book will fit their reading preferences and that is beneficial. Unfortunately, the number of reviews a book receives has become the end all for getting books noticed by certain companies. Marketing tasks and creating discoverability have been added to the writer’s busy life. So, if you like a book, please review it. This leaves more time for a writer to write.
During the run of its 30th season premiere SEX WITH STRANGERS, Renaissance Theaterworks will shine a spotlight on Wisconsin authors. On Saturday, October 28th the company will host a Mini Book Fair in the Studio Theater lobby of the Broadway Theater Center from 3pm to 10pm featuring members of WisRWA. As an advance introduction to the authors, Renaissance asked them questions related to the various issues and conflicts presented in the play SEX WITH STRANGERS by Laura Eason. Here is the first interview of the series.
Author of charming tales of the Beau Monde.
Anna Durbin is the author of charming tales of the Beau Monde. Having grown up reading sagas of chivalry and romance, she began crafting her own elaborate stories in her imagination at a young age. It was only natural that she would one day write them down. Her first novel, King of Swords, was a 2012 Golden Heart® finalist. For more information on Kings of the Tarot series, visit Anna’s website.
RTW: In the play SEX WITH STRANGERS, the main character Olivia is wounded by a devastating review of her first book and abandons a promising career. Have your ever received a bad review? If so, how did you handle it? Did it ever discourage you or make you question your worth as a writer?
ANNA: I once submitted a couple of chapters of an unpublished manuscript to a contest and had a judge tell me she hated the hero and heroine—couldn’t stand either of them. In fact, she told me she hated them so much that she wouldn’t have completed reading the submission except that she had to fulfill her obligations as a judge. It was pretty harsh, but when I got over the initial hurt—because it did sting a little to have her be so nasty—I smiled. I laughed even, thinking that if I was able evoke that strong of a response (good or bad) from a reader, then I was able to hit them on some emotional level (good or bad) with my story. And besides, it’s all subjective. That same manuscript was a finalist in another national contest.
RTW: What attracts you most about writing romance novels or the romance genre in general?
ANNA: To me, romance is all about living vicariously through the heroine (or hero). If the author is very good, I feel transported into the story, into the very heads of the leading characters. It’s the greatest form of escapism that I can imagine and one that I enjoy immensely. Even more than a movie!
RTW: Have you ever felt dismissed because you write romance vs “serious” fiction? Have you ever been tempted to use initials to disguise your gender as a writer?
ANNA: I was at a non-romance writers’ conference a couple of years ago where everyone was asked at the beginning of the session what genre they wrote. And nearly everyone said “literary fiction.” When I answered that I wrote “romance,” the leader of the session gave me such a look of derision and outright disgust that I thought I might be asked to leave. As to whether I’ve ever considered using my initials to hide my gender, I haven’t, though I do think there is a bias among some readers of literary fiction that men are somehow “better, more serious writers” than women who write romance.
It’s Promotion Thursday for September. Check out where you can find our WisRWA authors this month.
Sandy Goldsworthy will be at 2017 Penned Con in St. Louis, MO September 29-30. Penned Con is a conference where authors and readers are brought together for the chance to mingle, have fun, and raise money for Autism. See your favorite author and meet some new ones at the 4th annual conference in this two-day event. For more information visit their website.
WisRWA is teaming up with Renaissance Theaterworks in Milwaukee to host a mini book fair on October 28th in and around the performances of Renaissance Theaterworks’ production of Sex with Strangers.
From Renaissance Theaterworks website: “When frustrated forty-ish novelist, Olivia, meets fast-talking, twenty-something, blogger and memoirist, Ethan – known more for his sexual prowess than his prose – she worries that she will become just another chapter in his little black book. Their funny and passionate union blurs the lines between rewrites, romance and royalties – proving you can’t judge a book by its author. Sex with Strangers was one of America’s top ten most produced plays from 2014-2016. In addition to playwrighting, Laura Eason is also a producer/writer for the Emmy Award-winning Netflix series House of Cards.”
Eight WisRWA authors will take part in the signing, and we’ll have other WisRWA members on hand to answer any questions about WisRWA that we can. The authors participating are:
Starting tomorrow, each week, we will feature a Q&A with one of the authors.
Sex with Strangers runs October 20-November 12, 2017 but WisRWA will only be there on October 28th. Come support local theater and local authors! For more information, visit Renaissance Theaterworks.
Hope to see you there!
Professional narrator and actor, Brian Gill, will be at our September meeting to talk about the audio book process, answer your questions, and give you a sample of how your work would sound narrated. So, bring a couple pages of your work-in-progress with you. I’ve known Brian for many years. He is an outstanding actor, excellent narrator, and a dazzlingly charming man. Please come and meet Brian at the MKE WisRWA meeting Saturday, September 16th at 9am in the lower level of the Mayfair Mall.
– Jennifer Rupp, Milwaukee Area Contact
What special skills do you think make you a successful narrator?
I’ve been a professional stage actor for over 20 years, which is a definite help. I’ve also always had a good ear for dialects and the ability to jump back and forth between several different accents quickly. That is immensely helpful when I’m narrating a book where the author wants a more neutral narrator voice (say for example my own with no accent), then I’ve got a leading man who is British, a leading lady who is French, and a foil who is older and Scottish.
Do you ever get to chat with the author about their vision of the characters?
I will usually receive a character breakdown which gives me the basics along with any tricky pronunciations. Usually all communications are through email, though there’s also been the odd Skype call.
Have you ever gotten completely lost in a story you are narrating?
There was one book I narrated called Wrong Place, Wrong Time by David Purlmutter that was a real nail biter. It was a true story about a hair-raising misadventure he got drawn into when he was a younger man.
I’ve found that all of the books I’ve narrated, which include fantasy, non-fiction, noir, and science fiction, share more in common from a narration point of view than differ from each other. I know that I’ll need to use my narrator/storyteller voice for the exposition, then pull out all the stops for the character voices, which includes sometimes an arsenal of accents. Other than that, it is “simply” finding the right tone, pace, and drive for the story telling.
Brian J Gill is a professional stage actor with twenty years of experience, ten of which as a member of Actor’s Equity Association. Gill has performed regionally and internationally and is currently working as an adjunct theatre professor. He collaborates with Griffin Audio Media to produce high quality audio books. You can hear audio sample of Brian J Gill here.
If you’re interested in learning more about Brian’s work and about audio books please join us in Mayfair Mall Community Room (Lower Level) on Saturday, June 18th at 9 AM. We hope to see you there!
by: Jennifer Rupp
Jennifer Rupp is the Area Contact for Milwaukee Chapter of WisRWA. She writes under the name of Jennifer Trethewey. Cassie Hanjian of Waxman Leavell Literary Agency in New York represents her Highland House historical romance series. Jennifer has placed in the SOLA Dixie Kane Memorial Contest, Indiana’s Golden Opportunity Contest, and WisRWA’s Fab Five Contest. She’s a member of Wisconsin RWA, a PRO member of RWA, Red Oak Writing Studio, and Wisconsin Writers Association.