Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wednesday Wonder Writer - Devon Rhodes

It's baaaaaaaack!

I am thrilled to announce the reintroduction of the Wednesday Wonder Writer blogs. This will be a regular Wednesday feature and I have some really exciting authors coming up, including a few who've been Wonder Writers in the past and have consented to be grilled again.

This excitement begins this week with the fabulous Devon Rhodes. I can't even begin to tell you how wonderful she is! I'm so happy she agreed to join me today. So without further ado... the interview:

Devon, thank you so much for joining me today. I'll start out easy. Author’s lives intrigue readers and other writers. Tell me about your typical daily schedule.

Since I’m a SAHM with a first-grader and the three-yr-old, I don’t really get typical, but I’ll play along! I’m pretty useless until the second cup of coffee kicks in, so mornings are spent catching up with e-mails and blog posts, monitoring pirating sites (grrr!), and touching base on all my pages and groups.

I also do proofing and editing during the day, but save all my writing for at night, after everyone is in bed. Need quiet to be creative! Very hard to write sexy when a toddler is trying to feed you string cheese. I generally write from around 9-10 pm until about 2 am. Occasionally I’ll get a hunk of weekend time if my hub takes the kids somewhere, and I treasure those.

That's quite a schedule! Do you have a pre-writing routine to prepare yourself to get down to business?

Gotta have a cup of coffee or other drink handy and have correspondence caught up, else it will distract me. I tend to work myself into it by rereading the last bit to get myself in the mindset of where I left off. I also like to have photos that resemble my mental image of my characters. So I’ll flip through stock photo sites and blogs until I find them...a tedious chore, going through all that eye candy.

Before I start a new manuscript, I pre-format for whatever pub house I’m writing for, and try to get the blurb written. I’ve found that it’s much harder to come up with the blurb after the story’s written. Don’t outline, just can’t write that way, wish I could.

Lately I’ve been working on sequels, so I go back and reread the first books as often as I need to get the characters cemented in my head.

What’s your writing style? Slow and steady? Quick and prolific? All over the place?

I write in bursts, so very little one night, tons the next. I’ve had zero days and over 10K days. Just depends on how cooperative my muse is being. Something that I’ve found helps is having more than one manuscript open, so if I get bogged down with one story, I can pop over to the other one. This way I’m not wasting writing time banging my head against the wall. My last three stories were written in tandem with others.

Do you have difficulty keeping your story details separate when you’re writing in tandem?

Story details, no. I can compartmentalize those pretty easily, each story is very individual to me. What probably helps there is that I don’t write the same sub-genre at the same time. For example, right now I have three manuscripts open: an angsty m/m contemporary, a sexy m/f story, and a humorous paranormal. So if I’m not in the mood for angst, I can work on quirky. If the woman isn’t ‘talking’ to me, I can work on manlove. Character details are the one thing that I sometimes have to go back and check. (Hmm, what color were his eyes again?)

You mentioned you don’t outline. Do you have some sort of plot in your head when you write or do you write the book in total ‘panster’ fashion?

I usually start each story with a specific scene in my head and go from there. I don’t have the patience to wait and think through the whole story before I start putting it down... when inspiration hits, I write. So I’m usually playing catch up by getting the first scene down and, then think... so what happens next?? Guess that makes me a panster at heart! That said, now that I’m writing more, I do find myself thinking beyond the current scene for a better sense of pacing.

are you working on now?

Along those lines, I honestly have three (main) works in progress right now! The first (working title is Too Tempting) tells the story of Andy, the sexy neighbor from Remarkable Restraint in the Games In The Dark antho, and Jesse, Geoff’s old love from Silver & Gold. It will be my first full-length novel, so I’m taking my time in writing so I can capture their true story.

I’m also working on Killian & Brie’s story (Vows & Vamps) in the series which began with A Pint Light. I had originally had their story next in the series arc, but made the decision this week to torture them do them justice by writing Aspen’s story (Locke, Stock & Barrel) first. So Brie and K get to simmer for a bit, however they do both have big roles to play in LS&B first.

And for fun, I’m writing a sexy short older woman/younger man romp, Sex On Sabbatical, which is my first hetero story since my very first manuscript. Quite a change of gears from all the m/m I’ve been writing! Had to research girl parts, lol!

What’s your favorite genre to write? Obviously I love writing m/m romances. I also really like writing paranormal and futuristic since you can get very creative with ‘reality’.

I find a lot of authors like to read outside their chosen genre. What do you like to read?

I tend to stick within the erotic romance field since so many fab writers I know are constantly adding to my TBR list! Darn them! And besides writing, I also proof and edit, so I read a LOT of e-rom!

In real life, I’m part of a book group, and we do a variety of fiction from classics to bestsellers. And I love history, non-fiction or fiction.

Do you have a favorite author or someone you look up to in the industry?

I am constantly amazed by the wonderfully supportive community of authors out there in the erotic romance industry. It’s so very hard to come up with a favorite!

Two mentors whose writing I love and who both took me under their wing very early on, well before I was published, are Shawn Lane and Ava March. They were (and continue to be) so encouraging and willing to take the time to help me grow as an author. Ava is an absolutely fantastic beta, really dissects my manuscripts and is brutally honest with her critiques as well as liberal with her praise. I keep telling her she should really be an editor, lol!

You’re writing several sequels. Do you find them easier than the original story?

Wimpy answer here, yes and no. Yes, because I’m working with ‘people’ I’ve worked with before. Just like in real life, the devil you know and all that.

But in some ways it’s more difficult since you have strictures, plot limitations which simply aren’t there in original works. You also have to balance not retelling everything and boring those who have read the first book, with making sure new readers aren’t lost.

I do love sequels, both reading and writing. Love the never-ending story! Just like life.

Tell me your writing story…when did you decide this was what you want to do? How long did it take you to get “the call”? When were you first published? Etc.

I’ve been reading since I was in preschool, and always had my nose in a book and head in the clouds. But I went the sensible route in college when all the adults in my life steered me away from a ‘useless’ liberal arts degree, and instead I ended up with a BS in Health Administration.

I had a very high stress and demanding upper management position that I ‘retired’ from when I had kids, and at first I loved being a SAHM. Boredom eventually set in, I started an online resale business. I noticed how print erotic romances held their value, and of course had to read them between buying and reselling.

Yep, you guessed it. The old ‘I could write better than that!’ scenario.

So, shortly after my 39th birthday last spring, I opened my first manuscript. Going back now to reread, it is SOOO bad. But the chief editor at a big pub house in our genre liked it enough to write me a very detailed revise and resubmit letter, and I was on my way: 39 years of creativity spewing forth.

The next manuscript was a futuristic m/m/f ménage I was inspired to write after reading Kate Pearce’s Simply Sinful. Peter and James’ super hot scenes were my first exposure to manlove, and I was floored and inspired! Also got an R&R from a different publishing house for that story.

Third time’s the charm. My third story was Remarkable Restraint, a m/m, BDSM-lite short story I wrote for Dreamspinner’s anthology submission call. Sent that off and proceeded to cough up A Pint Light.

I wrote APL in two days right before leaving on a three-week driving trip. I saw Total E Bound’s call for submissions for the Voracious Vamps collection three days before the due date, so initially I passed over it. But later that night, I started thinking about the vampire genre and how dark and serious most stories are...wouldn’t it be fun to write a light-hearted campy vamp story? Just like S&G, the title popped into my head first, and then the full story. I wrote like a fiend, 12K in two days, alongside packing and cleaning and closing the house down.

I got back from that trip after driving 1600 miles in two days (with two kids), and there in my inbox was the contract for Remarkable Restraint from Dreamspinner. I was just over the moon. That was a busy week, deciding on a pen name (harder than it sounds), buying my domain, all that jazz. Then exactly a week later, I got the offer from A Pint Light from Total E Bound. Two contracts in one week. It was just amazing.

How many books have you had published and for whom?

My current releases at Dreamspinner Press are Remarkable Restraint in the Games In The Dark anthology, and my latest release, Silver & Gold.

I have A Pint Light at Total E Bound, and two more upcoming releases with them in the next two months: Rough Riders in the Gaymes anthology, which I share with some fantastic authors, and just signed the contract for A Detour Home in February.

What’s your latest release?Can you tell us about the book and how you got the idea?

Silver & Gold
came out on December 1st at Dreamspinner Press. Last fall, I saw the call for submissions for their holiday collection, and for some reason the song from Rudolph popped into my head. I could immediately envision ‘Silver’, Geoff Radcliffe, an older man painfully aware of his gray, and ‘Gold’, Abe Golden, the hot colorist who refuses to do his hair. The hilarious scene in the salon between Abe and Geoff’s assistant Kimberly came to me first and I just ran with it and built the story from there.

What’s your writing space like?

Spent way too many years as a desk jockey to associate one with creativity, so I write in my favorite old hotel castoff chair and ottoman tucked in the corner of the guest room/office upstairs. It’s relatively quiet up there, good feng shui placement, and I can either lean back with laptop on lap, or sit criss-cross-applesauce with the laptop on the ottoman.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

In between injuries, I love to run and play tennis. Busy being a mom 24/7, of course! And that’s all I have time for.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers?

Here are the blurbs for my next two releases:

Rough Riders
in the Gaymes Anthology
Coming in January 18, 2010 from Total E Bound

Playing by different rules can lead to heartbreak, but changing the game plan can be the tiebreaker.

Luke Briscoe has a good reason to stay in the closet with his team, the Rough Riders. Bitter past experience has taught him to be cautious around athletic teams. But after Mario, his teammate and lover of ten years, leaves him, tired of the secrecy, Luke is forced to confront his fears, especially since the sexy and confident new member of the team, Derek Grimm, has no problem with being out and proud.

Derek has wanted Luke from the first moment he saw him. But he knows the timing is all wrong, and vows to let Luke have the time he needs to recover from his breakup. As time goes on, though, Derek becomes frustrated with Luke's determination to stay in the closet. Derek and Mario are out, and the team is fine with it. Why is Luke still holding back? Derek wonders if any amount of time will ever be enough. Maybe it's time to try a different game plan...

A Detour Home
Coming in February 2010 from Total E Bound

The road to love is never smooth, and when Jon pushes Cameron away with his demands, he thinks he's lost his chance forever.

Jon has held his love for Cameron in check, waiting for his late-blooming friend to grow up. Then one college summer working road construction, they are forced to share a bed, bringing them closer than ever before. The dark nights spent in each other's arms reveals their mutual attraction, but Jon pushes too far, too fast.

Cam has looked up to his best friend Jon for years and trusts him completely. He enjoys the gentle loving they share but when Jon wants to go further than he's ready for, Cam balks, and Jon's thoughtless reaction costs them their friendship.

Years later, Cam needs a friend, and Jon returns home to lend his support. Has there been too much water under the bridge, or will they both finally be ready to embrace the love they once lost?

Last questions…
Coke or Pepsi? Caffeine-Free Diet Pepsi

Bronte or Austen? Austen...would love to get Darcy and Bingley together. Sigh.

Star Trek or Star Wars? Star Wars..Han Solo was my first crush.

Team Edward or Team Jacob? Team Jacob, love those shifters, so buffed and animalistic, rowr.

McDonalds or Burger King? Neither, but hard to avoid with kids…gotta give the edge to McD’s for the crispy fries.

Thank you Devon for joining me today! I've enjoyed learning more about you. Your books look great!

Here's where you can find Devon:

Weekly Blog
GLBT Bookshelf


Devon Rhodes said...

Thanks Brynnie for having me on! You rock! And as a reader, very glad you are going to be around your blog more often!

Happy to answer any questions out there..ask away! ;)

Bronwyn Green said...

Fantastic interview ladies and I adored A Pint Light! If you're looking for a fresh voice in vampire romance - Devon Rhodes is it!

Molly Daniels said...

Yay...WWW is back! Excellent interview ladies:) Devon, how do you function with such little sleep? Or do your little ones sleep in? When my kids were that young, their nap time was my writing time.

Devon Rhodes said...

Thanks Bron! You're a one-woman cheering section!

Hi Molly, good question. I've always had insomnia, so now I'm putting it to good use during the week. I always play catch up by sleeping in on the weekend when I don't have a kid to get on the bus. :) And since my hub has to get up for work anyway, he takes morning duty some days. Thanks for asking! Ah, nap time. I remember those days!

Kate Pearce said...

Great interview :)

Devon Rhodes said...

Thanks Kate! Always great to see you, and love the opportunity to give you props for my intro to manlove! :)

Ava March said...

Fantastic interview, Devon!

And thanks, girlie! You know you're fabulous, right? ;) You're also an awesome friend and very talented author, who truly deserves all her success.

Oh, and I'm so on Team Jacob with you. All those muscles make me giddy. LOL

wren boudreau said...

Great interview! I really enjoyed Silver and Gold. I love being able to laugh a bit when I read!

Devon, I'm curious - you don't plot out your stories, but write more in scenes. Do you ever write disparate scenes that you then have to connect together? I'm thinking about my next writing attempt and have a bunch of scenes in my head, but no overarching plot. It's a little frustrating and as a result I find I'm having a hard time just getting started *grr*

Devon Rhodes said...

Hi Wren! So good to see you, ironic too, I just bought Ice Cream off LI last night!

Oh sure, I have to figure out a way to connect the dots. I do write scenes out of order (as I said earlier, in S&G the salon scene was the first I wrote, ended up being the second chapter) And sometimes not every scene ends up in the book after all.

When I wrote S&G, I had a big 2K scene around the whole 'mistake' with the twink. I think it was the third scene I wrote, well before I had the whole storyline thought out. But when I was reading it later, even before I knew where the book was going, I was uncomfortable with how major of a presence that character had become.

Ava confirmed my feeling it didn't belong and suggested I cut out the whole scene (OUCH! Mean Beta!! But still love ya!) It had a much more powerful resonance in hindsight, and was definitely the right move.

You probably have more of an idea about a storyline than you realize at this point. What I would do is start really digging into the most clear scene. My bet is that as you write, you will see what needs to happen next and down the road. Rinse and repeat with each of your scenes! Don't be afraid to let go of something which doesn't fit. And enjoy the results! ;)

Devon Rhodes said...

Hey Ava, thanks for stopping by! No new news to you, I'm sure, but glad to have you with me on Team Jacob. ;)

wren boudreau said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Devon. You're probably right - the whole bull by the horns thing.

I'm thrilled you bought my book *stupid grin*

And yeah, I'm all Team Jacob, too, even tho' I read the books...

Lisabet Sarai said...

Hi, Devon,

Hm, I've never thought about writing the blurb before the story. However, I just started using photos of characters as a writing prompt, relatively new idea.

Your ability to work on multiple stories at the same time amazes me. I really have to focus to make progress.


P.S. It's a good thing I wasn't being interviewed. I would have had no idea what Brynn meant when she said "Team Edward versus Team Jacob" (although from context I'm guessing the question relates to Twilight). Just out of the loop I guess!

Devon Rhodes said...

You're welcome Wren, I'm looking forward to read it!

Hi Lisabet! Glad you had time to swing by, even though you're so busy launching your own new blog!

I used to wait and blurb after, until I started thinking about what a blurb is...basically the whole thing boiled down to the bones. Which is where we start with a story idea anyway, so why not write it then? (Don't have to restrip it later--saves a step, it seems to me)

And yes, pictures are helpful! All the eye candy I supplied with this post took their turn inspiring me..(from the top)..the young version of the two guys in February's release, A Detour Home..the redhead is my vamp, Killian..the head shot is Justin from Remarkable Restraint..and the guys in the shower is a scene in Rough Riders, my January release.