Thursday, May 7, 2009

Let's Get Sassy With Renee Knowles

Learning the ropes of writing is a daunting task. Right, newbies? We get words like "craft" and "voice" knocked over our heads so much, I'm amazed half of us aren't suffering from the 'parrot effect.'

The parrot what?!

No hand sanitizers needed. TPE is a common syndrome. Typically appears after a crtique group session where new writers can be heard chanting: "Craft and voice. Craft and voice... Arrgh!"

Well, today is our lucky day. Sassy and Sizzling Romance author Renee Knowles took time out of her busy schedule promoting her new release COURTING TROUBLE to offer up a change of pace. Besides writing romance, Renee penned a "How To" on the 'Nuts and Bolts' of the publishing industry called SAVVY BUSINESS SKILLS FOR WRITERS.

I asked Renee to give up the goods for us. So, kick back and scroll!

1) When you write, do you often have multiple MS’s going at once?

I am a Gemini. The sign of the twin. Always needing new challenges. LOL. Enough said. But, seriously, I do often have more than one MS going at the same time. Usually they are in more than one genre, as I find it hard to concentrate on more than one project if they are both in the same genre.

2)What is your opinion on contests? Should writers enter contests while in the throes of writing their book?

Contests are full of pros and cons. If you are entering them for feedback, you might end up being led astray. I would suggest finding a great critique group instead. Though you certainly can receive good feedback from contests, it is hit or miss. One rule of thumb I try to us is this: if several people are saying the same thing (i.e. your heroine is not sympathetic, or you have a plot hole, etc.) then you might want to pay attention.

But, on the other hand, I am a fan of contests. Especially if you are in the “really close” to selling stage and want to get your work read by an editor or agent. I have several friends who have sold this way.

3) To Agent or Not To Agent- That is the question. - What do you suggest?

It depends on what you want from your career. If you are looking to break into category romance or a small press/e-pub, then I would say it isn’t worth it. But if you are looking for single title success, I would try agents first before moving on to editors. It’s always better to have someone in your corner if you can.

4) Is Networking (joining groups, blogs, FB, Twitter, etc.) worth the added time for new writers?

This is a question I might have answered differently a few months ago. I do believe it’s a good idea to start building a name before you’re published—whether that means staring a unique blog and website or writing articles. But, until you’re contracted it might not be necessary to Tweet or get an author FB or MySpace as your pen name, brand, or genre could change.

So, think carefully about where you spend your time. Learning the craft is likely the best place to concentrate. Though I would get your domain names as soon as possible (for author name and any pen names you might use).

5) Tell us about your book SAVVY BUSINESS SKILLS FOR WRITERS. What was your inspiration?

SAVVY BUSINESS SKILLS FOR WRITERS was inspired by the fact that many writers I know, while fabulous at craft, have a harder time with the business end. This is the first book in a series on developing business skills to grow and thrive in the challenging publishing industry. Make no doubt about it, to agents and editors writing is first and foremost a business. Publishing generates billions of dollars every year. How can a writer find their slice of the pie? That's what this book will help you accomplish.

Of course, having a salable project and great writing ability is ultimately what will sell your book or article and keep your readers coming back. Yet, in this competitive time, you need more. You need an extra edge. Building your business skills will make you shine to editors and agents and help you build an audience. This is what will set you apart from all the other writers who haven't been savvy enough to learn the business end of writing. SAVYY BUSINESS SKILLS FOR WRITERS discusses how to creating a dynamic career plan, networking and promoting on a budget, shining at a writers' conference, time management, and no fear public speaking.

You can read more here:

6) Your book new release COURTING TROUBLE has been nominated for Best Novella of ‘08 by LASR. Did you think CT would achieve such a coup? What keeps you going?

My Regency historical romance Courting Trouble is one of those stories that write themselves. The characters spoke to me and the readers have really responded to them. I adored writing their story.

Here is the blurb for the book:

Lord Anthony Darby is determined to marry a wife with an exemplary reputation. Then he sees his childhood companion, gorgeous, scandalous, Lily Kennyon again.And all he wants is her in his bed. He decides to avoid her. Until her father makes him an irresistible offer: he'll sponsor Anthony's entry into an exclusive club, if Anthony will accompany his outcast daughter to society events.

Can Anthony resist Lily's sensual lure? Or will his hunger make him lose control?

Lily has always rued her impulsive nature. Never more than when her defiance led to an accident, which paralyzed her sister. Afterward, she decided if her sister would never marry, neither would she. Yet she wants to experience lovemaking. So, when Anthony courts her, she devises a plan to seduce him. But she fears she's falling in love. Then she discovers Anthony's attentions were all part of a pact with her father…

You can see more here:

What keeps me going? Lots of sugar and caffeine! LOL. No, really, it’s the passion for the craft. I love writing and I love storytelling. In this fickle business, you really better have writing in your blood.

7) What is next for you?

I am currently writing an inspirational romance targeted for Harlequin’s Steeple Hill Love Inspired Line.

Here’s a blurb:

Max Tierney shook the dust of the small town of Dawson Falls from his shoes when he left for college after his best friend died. Now,a decade later, his father’s illness forces his return. When he finds sweet Jillian Bennet, his late friend’s younger sister, meddling in his father’s life, he doesn’t appreciate the intrusion. Jillian has grown up, and though her nurturing demeanor and beautiful smile catch his eye, Max wants to be left alone to care for his father so he can get back to the life he loves in the city.

Jillian’s secret childhood infatuation with Max blossoms into full-blown attraction when she sees him again. But he’s returned harder than ever and more determined to leave Dawson Falls for good. She has a five-year-old daughter to raise and a family business to run. She doesn’t need Max’s cold shoulder. Two years had passed since her husband’s death, and visiting with old Mr. Tierney, a former preacher, has helped her end her grieving and discover her faith again. As the days go on, sparks of compassion emerge from behind Max’s cool veneer. But does Jillian have the strength to help him heal old wounds and find a permanent home—and love—in Dawson Falls?

I'd like to thank Renee for her wonderful advice and contribution of her time to helping new writers. And THANKS to everyone popping in and catching up. Hope today's post offers a respite from the ever lurking (yet slightly commical) parrot effect. If not, try a few shots of Parrot Bay Rum and call me in the morning.


Eliza Knight said...

Wonderful interview Renee and Sarah! Renee's "Nuts and Bolts" book is fantastic! And Courting Trouble is definitely a keeper!

Can't wait for your inspy!!!


Renee Knowles said...

Hi Sarah and Eliza! Thanks for having me today, Sarah!

This blog is a fabulous idea for newbie and seasoned writers alike. I appreciate being asked to guest here.

I am going to be closing on our old house today and doing some furniture shopping for our new one, so I will be in and out today. But I will be checking in periodically.



Ashley Ludwig said...

Renee - I'm so excited for your current WIP! Sounds excellent. Are you planning a pen name? or is that a hush hush thing?

I also loved your idea about writing different genres when you are doing more than one WIP. I have two very different projects going right now and was trying to figure out if that is such a good idea. First time I've tried that. :)

It's great to see you - hope all's well, and LADIES!!!

If you haven't read Courting Trouble, you're in for a REAL treat. I loved this story, the characters, and the setting. Beautifully told.


Helen Hardt said...

Renee, hon, always great to see you! Courting Trouble is fabulous, and your Savvy Skills series is bound to be a hit. Sarah, thanks for spotlighting Renee!

Savannah Chase said...

what a fantastic interview...I will have to make sure to check out some of Renee's work...

Nicole McCaffrey said...

Great advice, Renee and the Savvy Skills book sounds like a great idea.

Renee Knowles said...

Hi Ashley,

Thanks so much for stopping by! And thanks for the compliment on Courting Trouble!

I would write the inspy under another pen name, I think :)

Thanks again,


Renee Knowles said...

Hi Helen,

I always appreciate your support! Thanks for commenting and the great plug for CT!!



Renee Knowles said...

Savannah and Nicole,

I appreciate you taking the time to read the interview. Thanks for your comments!


Sarah Simas said...

I'm late getting here! Why does real life get in the way?! LOL

But THANK YOU so much Renee for being here today. And thanks, Eliza, Ashley, Helen, Savannah and Nicole! (WOW! What a line up of super-stars!) *heehee*

You ladies rock!

Cari Quinn said...

Great to see you here, Renee! You know how much I loved Courting Trouble, and I'm eagerly anticipating whatever you write next, whether it's fiction or non-fiction. :) Best of luck with your inspirational!

Kaye Manro said...

Better late than never... This is a wonderful interview, Sarah. And Renee's advice in N&B is great. I will be sure to read her romance too!