Robin Bielman, author of Worth the Risk, has graciously answered your questions from last week’s post. There were so many, I heard rumor that she’d ordered a couple dozen cupcakes just to get through the task. Thanks again for playing along, Robin. This was fun, and I wish you huge success with your first book. Over to you:
Robin: Thanks so much for having me in your Hot Seat, Roben! It was an honor and a pleasure to be here. I totally needed a cupcake (or two) to get me through all the questions – thanks everybody for taking the time to stop by! And to show my appreciation… I’ve brought a cupcake for everyone!
Rachel: What came first, character or plot idea? When you sat down to write “Chapter One” was it all plotted out, or did you pants it? Did your characters surprise you in this book, and can you tell us how so, if so? Do you ever find it a struggle when switching between the two to find the write voice? Which did you write first, romance or YA? I see you married your high school sweetheart–how do you think that plays into your love of YA?
Robin: Hi Rachel! Thanks so much for starting things off! Dean came first. I’m a big fan of Outside magazine and I was reading an article about the Best Jobs when one on heritage protection really resonated with me. I decided right then I was going to write a story about a guy with that job, and who loved the environment more than anything else. Then I came up with Samantha – the girl from his past that he’s never stopped loving, and who makes him rethink his bachelor status.
I am a total pantser! I love sitting down to write and letting my characters lead the way. Since writing WORTH THE RISK, though, I do briefly outline my stories, just so I have some idea of where I want to go. But that often changes—and I love when that happens! I love when my characters take me in a direction I didn’t see coming. In this book, my characters didn’t surprise me too much, but I did add 10,000 words to the original draft after getting some editorial feedback from a different publisher and before submitting it to Entangled.
I wrote romance first. And yes, it is often difficult for me to switch between romance and YA. Because of that, I usually just work on one manuscript at a time. Meaning I’ll write a romance, then the next manuscript will be a YA. There have been times when I’ve got both going at once, but I can’t work on both on the same day!
I don’t know if marrying my high school sweetheart plays into my love of YA, but we’re both still very young at heart and we love telling our boys about our youth (and watching their eyes roll). I never thought when I was sixteen that the boy at my door would be the boy I married. Lucky for me, he still makes me swoon. J
Charlene: What’s your inspiration for this story? What other types of stories do you love to write and read? How did you hear about Entangled Publishing? Since this is your first book, how did you like working with an editor? What have you learned from the process?
Robin: Hi Charlene! Thank you for your questions! (And for so much more!!) As I mentioned in answering Rachel’s question, Outside magazine really was the inspiration for my story. It’s a fantastic publication—perfect for a girl like me who dreams of traveling and doing the things they write about.
I love reading romance and YA (in all genres), urban fantasy and women’s fiction. As far as my writing goes, I write contemporary and paranormal.
I heard about Entangled Publishing via a class I took with Savvy Authors. I signed up for a month long editing class (called Editpalooza) and had the wonderful pleasure of working with Libby Murphy. Libby is an editor at Entangled and she rocked! Her guidance and advice and the lessons put forth by Liz Pelletier (Liz is the founder of Savvy Authors and Entangled Publishing, among many other things!) were incredibly helpful. After the class, I submitted WORTH THE RISK.
I LOVE working with an editor! My editor, Adrien-Luc Sanders is beyond awesome. I’d always dreamed of working with someone who got me, but helped make my writing and stories stronger, and he’s done that. I hope to work with him for a long, long, long time! I was also very lucky to work with Stacy Abrams when Adrien was out of commission for a few weeks due to illness. She was amazing, and I loved how she could change just one word in a sentence and make all the difference in getting my meaning across better. I’ve learned so, so much from both of them! And Adrien has been extremely patient and kind with all my questions and goofiness. I’m sure my newness has made him chuckle once or twice.
Roben: How long have you been writing? How many manuscripts have you completed?
Robin: Hugs, Roben! Thank you again for your wonderful kindness and having me on your blog. I’ve been writing fiction for five years. I’ve got two single title romances and a couple of category romances that are the very first things I wrote. I plan to dust them off sometime soon and revise them now that I’ve learned so much more about the craft of writing. I wrote them just to see if I could actually write a book from start to finish. And I’ve got two YA’s, well, three actually, if you count my first one, which needs some major revising, but again, I just wanted to try my hand at writing YA.
Maggie: How do you like working with Entangled–I’ve heard great things about this newbie publishing house. What is your writing day like?
Robin: Hi Maggie! Thank you so much for being here! I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to work with Entangled! They are fantastic. Everyone from the management to editors to publicists is incredibly nice and gracious and willing to help however they can. And the other Entangled authors are so supportive and friendly that I really feel like I’m part of a family.
I work part-time, but when I have days off, a typical writing day looks like this:
1. Wake up and do the mom thing. J
2. Run on the treadmill while watching TV shows I’ve recorded and think about my story. Shower.
3. Arrive in office/writing cave (named Maui) with a cup of café mocha in hand. Open laptop.
4. Check email. Tell myself not to go on the Internet! Go on Internet. Lose an hour or two because I’m just darn slow when it comes to the Internet. Check email again.
5. Open word document, read the few previous pages to get back into a groove. Smile because, wow, I write pretty well. OR frown, because, wow, I suck. Revise if necessary. Remind myself to Keep Going.
7. I usually set a daily word count goal for myself, so until that is met, repeat #4 and #6
8. Breakfast food for dinner if word count is not met. (Cereal, eggs, toast, frozen waffles, etc.)
9. Thank my family for being so understanding and promise them I will make a real dinner that involves meat and potatoes.
10. Help with homework if necessary, write if necessary, eventually land on the couch with my hubby to watch some TV. J
Lynne: What is your take on the level of sensuality for YA books? Do you fade to black? Have the character live out consequences?
Robin: Hi Lynne! Thanks for your YA questions! I’ve read the whole spectrum of sensuality in YA books, and I love it all. I’m pretty open minded and have always had very frank and honest conversations about sex with my kids, so sex in YA books is okay with me. I know that’s not the case for everybody. In my YA’s, I don’t fade to black, but I’m definitely not super detailed. I really think the level of sensuality depends on the theme of the book. And it’s important to remember that emotions usually play more heavily into sex for teens than the physical aspect. Honestly, I’m still sort of feeling my way with this. I hope I’m getting in right in my novels, but I know I’ll benefit greatly from an editor’s help. I do think characters need to face the consequences of their actions—that’s what makes for some of the best stories, isn’t it?
Anne: As someone who is always looking for new ways to make it all work – writing, a life, work, etc. – how you do it while also juggling roles of Mother and Wife as well? Do you ever have issues in changing hats or voice?
Robin: Hi Anne! Thanks so much being here! I fail spectacularly and thankfully my family loves me anyway. My hubby has been the biggest supporter of my dream to get published. I honestly wouldn’t be here without him. He’s super dad, super coach, and super husband. One thing I always try to do, though, is sit down as a family for dinner – even when it’s breakfast food. Talking about our day and being together without any distractions, even if it’s just for twenty or thirty minutes, helps keep us connected. My hubby and I also plan date nights! Oh, and since cupcakes seem to be my middle name, I’ll share with you that a couple of months ago we did our own version of Cupcake Wars with my younger son and I pitted against my hubby. The kitchen was a disaster, it took forever to make cupcakes from scratch, and my hubby kicked our butts. His whipped cream frosting was way better than our buttercream.
Aubrie: What are your favorite cupcakes?
Robin: Hi Aubrie! Thank you so much for visiting me here! I love this question! My favorite cupcakes are dulce leche or plain old vanilla (with rainbow sprinkles, please!). But I haven’t met a cupcake I wouldn’t at least share with someone!
Jennifer: What are you working on now and what do you hope your second published book will be?
Robin: Hi Jennifer! You are awesome to be here – thanks! I recently finished a second novella for Adrien and pitched him a third idea that he loved. The hero in my second novella is McCall, a character I introduce in WORTH THE RISK. The hero in my third novella is a character I introduced in my second novella. So I hope McCall’s story is published next! I’m also finishing revisions on my contemporary YA—a story I just adore.
Nina: Did you always want to be a writer or was it something that came to you later on?
Robin: Hi Nina! I’m so happy you stopped by – thank you! This is a hard question to answer because it took me a long time to give myself permission to think of myself as a writer and to try and get published. I’m not sure why. I think part of it was fear of failure. I think part of it was thinking I could never write good enough. And another part of me didn’t realize that deep down inside, what I really wanted was to be an author. My first jobs out of college were writing related. When I had my kids I stayed home with them and did some freelance writing. It wasn’t until a few years ago that a little bell went off in my head and I realized that I wanted to write romance. (I’m a late bloomer!)
Nan: Do you have an agent or did you sell your manuscript to Entangled yourself? And I also want to know, as everyone else does, how you make the transition between Romance and YA–is it hard to stay in one genre while your mind is busy in the other or can you compartmentalize?
Robin: Hi Nan! Thanks so much for being here! I don’t have an agent – yet. I’ve gotten close, though, and still hope to have one. The whole query thing is not my strong suit. I don’t mind writing queries. I’m just not good at sending them out. I’ve been fairly successful at getting requests when I do, and I keep telling myself the perfect match is out there, I just haven’t connected with him or her yet.
I think I’ve answered the romance and YA question – I need to keep them separate. Oh, especially because my YA’s are in first person and my romances are in third. (Except for the YA I’m revising right now – it’s in first and third and I so enjoyed writing it that way!)
Lisa: Are you still pinching yourself to be sure it’s real?
Robin: Lisa! You are so great to visit here – thank you! Yep! I’m still pinching myself. Especially when I saw my awesome cover! With my name on it!
Robin C: Music on or off while you write?
Robin: Hi Robin! I love that there are three Robin’s here! Thanks a bunch for stopping by! I listen to music a lot when I’m thinking about my story and jotting down ideas or notes. But when it comes time to actually write, I need it quiet.
Judy: In your experience is it harder to get a novella published in a world of mostly novels?
Robin: Hi Judy! Thank you for your question! Hmm…since my novella is being published before one of my novels, I’d have to say the novella is easier. J The market for novellas is definitely smaller, I think, but as a newbie it worked for me.
Annie: One of my hardest tasks is coming up with names for the characters in my books and a title!
Any tricks you can share?
Robin: Hi Annie! Thank you so much for visiting me here! I love coming up with character names. I actually keep a list of names that I like or that I overhear and like. All my characters are named before I start writing. And I have to have a title before I can start a new story. I don’t use any special tricks. Thankfully, a title usually just comes to me. Adrien loved WORTH THE RISK and my second and third novellas both have ‘risk’ in the titles, too.
Caryn: What’s next for you? Do you have any other books planned?
Robin: Caryn! My CP extraordinaire! Thanks for being here and asking me questions, even though you know the answers. I mentioned my contemporary YA already. I’m anxious to finish revisions on that. And my fingers are crossed for my second novella. Then I’ll jump into writing the third one. I’m really excited to write it, and the nice thing with novellas is they don’t take a ton of time to get from start to finish.
Beth: What was the cover artist’s motivation? Did you have any input?
Robin: Hi Beth! Thanks for being here! My editor, Adrien, is also a cover artist and he did my cover. When he told me he was designing it, I knew I was in very good hands! He captured my heroine, Samantha, perfectly!
Natalie: With characters named Samantha and Dean… I *have* to ask if you’re a fan of Supernatural?
Robin: Hi Natalie! Thanks so much for visiting me here in the Hot Seat! LOL! I love this question. Adrien asked me it, too. I am a fan of Supernatural, although I’m a couple of seasons behind. When I named my characters, though, the coincidence never occurred to me! Not until Adrien said something. I’ve always loved the name Sam for a girl, and to me Dean is just such a hunky name.
Phew! For a girl who doesn’t like to talk about herself, I think I did okay. Roben, thank you again for having me! I’ve had a great time! And thanks again to everyone who took the time to stop by and comment or ask me a question. I appreciate your kindness and interest very much! ~hugs!~
Their love was ancient history…until their paths crossed again.
Samantha Bennett put Dean Malloy out of her mind five years ago, when he broke her heart after a summer fling. But now he’s back in her life, and ready to steal a heritage protection contract that could make or break her career–if he doesn’t steal her heart first. Samantha’s vowed to hate him, but it’s more than anger heating the competition between them.
With sparks flying across the conference table and sizzling in every touch, Dean proposes a weekend liaison. Anything to have Sam again; anything to get her out of his system. But the unresolved feelings between them complicate both their personal and professional lives, and one wild weekend could turn into a disaster that would destroy the one job that means more to Samantha than anything. For a shot at love…is it worth the risk?