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ANNA: I once submitted a couple of chapters of an unpublished manuscript to a contest and had a judge tell me she hated the hero and heroine—couldn’t stand either of them.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.
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!
WisRWA members, Mia Jo Celeste, author of Other Than, and Barbara M. Britton, author of Providence and Building Benjamin, will be talking about book launch parties (both actual and virtual) at the June WisRWA meeting in Milwaukee. Jennifer Rupp asked them a few questions about their first year as published authors.
Jen: Brenda and Barbara, you’ve both released your debut novels within the last twelve months. Did it come as a shock how involved you would have to be in the marketing of your own book?
Brenda: Yes. Although I’d heard a lot about marketing, taken some classes and been a blogger for years, I was surprised about the time and financial commitment. That said, I like marketing—something I never imagined I would.
Barbara: Yes, definitely. Publishing has changed so much since I started my journey ten years ago. I knew I would have a hand in marketing my books, but I didn’t know I would be the driving force behind getting the word out about my novels.
Brenda: It varies. Usually I check Twitter and Facebook every couple of days and I’ve been trying to appear in cyberspace a couple of times a week, either on my blog or someone else’s. For me, it’s a lot like student teaching. Because so many tasks are new, they take longer to figure out and complete, but I’m sure that I’ll get faster and I’ll figure out which tasks are the most important to complete.
Barbara: I feel I do some sort of marketing every day because of social media. Certainly I am more involved right before, during, and after a release. With Pelican Book Group, I have an e-book release date that is different than my print release date. Twice the fun—and work. I would say my average is 5-10 hours a week.
Jen: Now that you’re a published author, do you write with more confidence?
Brenda: I hope the adage “practice makes perfect” works. Because I write more, I’m more comfortable writing and, God willing, my writing is getting better.
Barbara: Yes and no. I feel I have the basic craft of writing down pat, but doubts plague me as a published writer. I’m thinking my work isn’t good enough, or my success was a fluke. I have to silence those nasty voices and tell myself that I am writing solely for myself. If no one sees my book, that’s okay. I’ve enjoyed writing it and learning through my research.
To hear more from Brenda and Barbara, please join us at the Mayfair Mall (Garden Suites Community Room, Lower Level) on June 17 from 9-11:30 AM. It’s sure to be a great time.
It’s Promotion Thursday for May. Check out where you can find our WisRWA authors this month.
Tina Susedik is starting a new venture. She will be hosting her own radio show on Authors on the Air starting in June. Her show, “The Book Garden” will feature authors in both fiction and non-fiction. Authors on the Air Global Radio Network has sixteen shows running both live and as podcasts. Tina will be hosting her show twice a month, once as a live broadcast and once as a podcast. She will be looking for compelling, published authors to talk with her on “The Book Garden.” More information as to her start date will be forthcoming.
Stacey Joy Netzel will be participating in the launch party for her new multi-author Beach Brides Series. The launch party runs from 12n-6p EST/11a-5p CST, and Stacey will be co-hosting the hour of 3-4p EST/2-3p CST. Join in for fun, games, and a bunch of prizes!
Barbara M. Britton will be a panelist at the WEMTA Author Fair on March 19, 2017 from 11:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.at the Kalahari Resort in the Wisconsin Dells. She will also be at the New Berlin Public Library on April 1st, 2017 from 10:00 AM –1:00 PM their Local Author Fair. She will be celebrating her print release of “Building Building: Naomi’s Journey.”
Lois Greiman will be signing books and giving a workshop called ‘Writing From the Heart’ at the Rosemount Writers’ Festival in Rosemount, MN on March 18th.
The new year is here and that means the 2017 Fabulous Five Contest is open for entries! If you’re unpublished or self-published, polish your first 2,500 words and enter today.
First round judges evaluate the entry on the Opening, Characterization, Plot, Dialogue, Setting, and Style. In its 26th year, our contest is known for giving good, thorough critiques no matter what level of the writing journey you are at. The top five finalists in each category move onto the final round where their work is ranked by one editor and one agent. Final rankings are averaged and the winner of each category receives a beautiful Silver Quill Award.
The categories this year include:
For more information including the complete rules, score sheet, and how to enter, please see the Fabulous Five page. If you have any questions, please contact Molly Maka, Fabulous Five Contest Coordinator.
We all know what it’s like to feel lonely. You can be in a room full of friends and family, people you love, and still feel lonely. They can all be talking, laughing, having a good time, and you feel like you’re outside looking in through glass. Being lonely is not the same as being alone.
Being alone is taking a much needed break from everything outside ourselves. It’s going for a long walk. It’s reading a really good book without interruption or making a jigsaw puzzle while watching a movie marathon. We all need a day like this now and then, a day where we can shut out all the worries and concerns of our everyday life. Doesn’t matter how you unwind, the point is we all need to unwind…alone.
As writers we cherish our alone time, hoard it hungrily and protect it with the ferocity of a well-trained watch dog. This is the time we can most clearly hear our characters speak to us. This is the time we can let our muse take over our thoughts, the time we can allow our plot to percolate through our brains and out our fast-typing fingertips. Writers are by nature solitary creatures. Oh, we do seek each other out from time to time to compare notes, share tips of the trade, and to reassure ourselves that we aren’t truly alone because all mankind has succumbed to a zombie apocalypse except for us and we somehow missed it while we were being alone. It’s why I belong to a number of writers’ organizations and critique groups. These are the people who help me remember WHY I write. Conferences and workshops are an excellent opportunity to not be alone.
My Chippewa Falls area of WisRWA is sponsoring a one-day Fall Into Fiction Workshop, on Saturday, October 8th, and I’m looking forward to meeting others who feel the creative urge the way I do. I’m hoping to put some faces to the names.
Come join us at The Plaza Hotel & Suites, 1202 W. Clairmont Ave, Eau Claire to hear journalist, author, and editor Candace Havens speak. In the morning it’s about “The Book Map: Plotting Your High Concept Ideas,” and in the afternoon “Fast Draft and Revision Hell.” (We all know what that’s about, right!?) Arrive early and join us for book signings and a pizza party Friday night.
I hope to see you there, but hurry! Seats are limited and I wouldn’t want you to miss out on this wonderful opportunity to not be “alone” on October 8th.