Interview with Virginia McCullough

Virginia McCullough pic interview

Today we have with us author, Virginia McCullough.

RWF: Would you say you write women’s fiction or romantic women’s fiction?

VM: Originally, I called my work family drama/love stories, and then as the term women’s fiction became the term of art, I realized that my books fit the current definition of romantic women’s fiction.

RWF: Do you write in other genres?

VM: I also write romance, and just had a Harlequin Heartwarming release, GIRL IN THE SPOTLIGHT, book 1 of my Two Moon Bay series. I plan to submit another proposal for a second series. I’d like to try my hand at historical novels as well—we’ll see.

RWF: Are you traditionally published, self-published, or both?

VM: My fiction career is now hybrid, like my nonfiction career has been for many years. I like the idea of publishing both traditionally and independently.  I think indie publishing is a great development for writers because it removes the power of the “gatekeepers.” Like everything else, publishing has changed enormously since I first started writing. Although indie pubbing has its problems, the technology of publishing has been a great equalizer.

RWF: What do you think helped you get from unpublished to published?

VM: Having an agent helped me. I know that’s not always true for series romance, but that’s how it worked out for me. With my indie novels it was a case of “if not now, when?” I’m not getting any younger! Looking at the question in a broader way, I’d say love of the writing process itself is critical to establishing a long writing career.

RWF: Do you read non-fiction? What kinds?

VM: Since my career has been fueled by writing nonfiction (mostly as a ghostwriter and coauthor), I’m drawn to nonfiction…history, current issues, memoir, biography.

RWF: What are your favorite books to read?

VM: I read a lot of women’s fiction, and I find myself drawn to novels with multiple women characters who are sisters or friends—those beach reads we all seem to like. I also like the WWI and WWII eras and other 20th century period fiction. And family sagas.

RWF: When you write, do you read in the same genre you’re writing in or something different?

VM: I pretty much read the same types of books all the time. Whatever strikes my fancy at the moment.

RWF: Do you first come up with a setting or character for your story idea?

VM: It’s happened both ways for me. I like water settings—islands, waterfronts on lakes, rivers, oceans, so all the ideas that come to me seem to fit into one of those lovely environments.

RWF: Do you have a running theme?

VM: Well, my brand is hope, healing, and second chances. That covers a lot of ground. The books always involve a family, sometimes friends, and some of the time what I call the “special child,” meaning the child whose birth changes everything forever—of course, that’s universal, but I like to explore it. In a few of my books, the child drives the story, whether a primary character or not. In AMBER LIGHT, for example, a pregnancy results from date rape and the narrator’s life is profoundly changed. What does she do and how does she manage? In GIRL IN THE SPOTLIGHT, the child relinquished for adoption ends up driving the story many years later. In ISLAND HEALING, a 13-year-old ends up being the catalyst for healing on many levels in two families. In all the books, the characters have a wound to heal and in the process they gain their second chance, not just for a romantic relationship, but for happiness in life.

RWF: Where do you find inspiration?

VM: From all of you! And from every person who ventures into the creative life. Other people’s writing-life stories inspire me to keep trying to get better.

RWF: Which do you feel you learn more from – an online class, local workshop, or writer’s craft book?

VM: I’ve learned so much from all three methods I can’t say one is better than the other. I think one of the great pleasures of RWA National is choosing the workshops! And I sign up for online classes, too, but many decades ago, I started my writing career based on what I learned from craft books and writers magazines.

RWF: Do you prefer to write at home or go somewhere to write?

VM: I work at home most of the time, but I sometimes hide out at the library or a café for a change of pace, and often to jumpstart a project by jotting notes and just free-form writing about the situation or setting. I believe a change of scene can work wonders for the creative brain—it can wake it up.

RWF: How do you fit writing into your life?

VM: It’s always a balancing act, writing and editing my work versus and editing and coaching for clients. It’s really about scheduling. But my kids are grown, so my time is my own. I know this isn’t a popular position among romance and RWF authors, but I really like living alone. I enjoy—even crave—solitude. But I’m not isolated. I love my close circle of friends—many of whom are my colleagues in the Wisconsin chapter of RWA. Other friends are located across the country in the various places I’ve lived. I love to travel, and I’ve always been active in various social issues and causes, too, so I have to protect writing time.

RWF: Do you have a job outside your writing?

VM: I’ve had my nonfiction ghosting/editing business virtually all of my adult life. Coaching came more recently. I had to make it a priority to carve out time to learn how to write fiction. It never would have happened otherwise and it took a fairly long time to learn basic craft. Today, I do less ghostwriting, and more ghost-editing and coaching. So, like all small business owners, which is what writers really are, I’ve always worked on a schedule. I like to work days—I’m not sharp at night.

RWF: Are you a plotter, panster, or combination of both?

VM: A combination, I think. I like to know where I’m going in a general way, and I often make a lot of notes about characters and conflicts, but I’m not good at detailed outlining. I like surprising developments.

RWF: Are the stories you write based more on the woman’s journey or more on the romance?

VM: I tend to think of the woman’s journey and the romance is a part of that. (I may enjoy living alone, but I like some romance, too.) Even with traditional romance, I think about it as a journey of two characters.

RWF: What would be your number one tip you’d give to someone who’d just finished their first manuscript?

VM: When you think a manuscript is finally done, read it aloud and you’ll catch all kinds of small things, especially repetition and awkward phrasing and dropped words. I also believe in entering contests to get feedback and to get work in front of agent/editor judges.

RWF: What advice would you give an author who has just published her first book?

VM:  I still need so much advice I’m not sure I’m qualified to give it out. But I know I can’t do everything myself—VAs and Author Assistants are one of the new cottage industries for writers—along with formatters, cover designers, and so forth.

RWF ~ Thank you Virginia for sharing some of your thoughts on writing.

Virginia McCullough considers herself incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to write the stories of her heart, including GIRL IN THE SPOTLIGHT, the first book in her Two Moon Bay series for Harlequin Heartwarming. (Book 2, SOMETHING TO TREASURE, is scheduled for release in January 2018). A three-time Golden Heart finalist, her award-winning romance and women’s fiction titles include THE JACKS OF HER HEART, AMBER LIGHT, GRETA’S GRACE, THE CHAPELS ON THE HILL, and ISLAND HEALING.

Born and raised in Chicago, Virginia has lived in six states and U.S.V.I, and currently calls Green Bay, Wisconsin home. She started writing nonfiction, first articles and then books as a ghostwriter and coauthor. She’s written well over 100 books for physicians, lawyers, business owners, professional speakers, and others who have information to share or a story to tell. Her coauthored healthcare books include THE OXYGEN REVOLUTION, written with Paul Harch, MD, a pioneer in hyperbaric medicine.

Virginia’s books feature characters who could be your neighbors and friends. They come in all ages and struggle with everyday life issues. The mother of two grown children, you’ll find Virginia with her nose a book, walking on local trails or her neighborhood streets, or she may be packing her bag to take off for her next adventure. And she’s always working on another story about hope, healing, and second chances.

 

Interview with Author, Tina Newcomb

Welcome to our series, Interview with an Author. We’ll introduce members of RWF at all stages of the writer’s journey. 

Come join us, learn about the wonderful writers who are a part of Romantic Women’s Fiction a chapter of RWA.

Today we meet Tina Newcomb.

RWF:  Would you say you write women’s fiction or romantic women’s fiction?

TN:  I write sweet contemporary romance/mainstream with romantic elements (I know that’s a mouthful, but it’s the closest description I can come up with). I am working on a women’s fiction novel that I hope to pitch at RWA in 2018.

RWF: Want to tell us what you’re working on?

TN: I’m working on a series set in a fictional town of Eden Falls, Washington. I’ve finished five books and hope to complete at least one more by the end of 2018. I plan to self-publish this series (one book a month) starting in July of this year.

RWF: What are your favorite books to read?

TN: When I have time to I read, I turn to women’s fiction. Just a few of my favorite authors are Karen White, Barbara Delinsky, Sarah Addison Allen, Barbara Claypole White, and Barbara O’Neal.

RWF: Do you have a running theme for your books?

TN: Each book in my Eden Falls series is loosely based on different occupations. Book one is about a flower shop owner who uses the Victorian language of flowers to build her bouquets. This art is mentioned in each book.

Eden Falls has small town charm where smiles are frequent and a helping hand is always near.

RWF: Which do you feel you learn more from – an online class, local workshop, or writer’s craft book?

TN: I think I learn more from local classes or those I attend at the RWA Conference. I don’t have enough discipline to follow through with the online classes—I would rather be writing. I have a whole library of craft books that have never been opened.

RWF: Where do you find inspiration?

TN: I find my inspiration while traveling. I usually start with a setting and add characters. My husband and I take a two-week driving vacation every year and I always come home with a rough outline for a book. The series I’m working on came after a trip through Washington State. My women’s fiction will be based on an island we visited while in Maine.

RWF: How do you fit writing into your life?

TN: I write six days a week. Even if I can only edit a page or two, I make time to sit at my computer and write.

RWF:  Are you a plotter, pantser, or combination of both?

TN: I’m a pantser. I know the beginning of my book, I usually have an idea for my black moment, and I know how it will end, but the middle is a total mystery until I get there. I’ve tried to outline and plot several times, and I’ve tried several different methods, but I end up frustrated.

RWF: Do you plan your writing time? Or do you go with the flow of family to-do’s and work out your writing in between?

TN: I watch my grandson during the day, so I have to work around visits to the library, or the museum, bike rides and trips to the park. I wake up early and try to write an hour before he comes. I also try to get in an hour or so after his mom picks him up in the afternoons.

RWF: Are the stories you write based more on the woman’s journey or more on the romance?

TN: I believe my stories are based on my character’s journey whether male or female. I sprinkle romance in and I always have an HEA.

RWF: Do you prefer to write at home or go somewhere to write?

TN: I write in my office, on my bed, or in the family room.

RWF: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo?

TN: I love NaNoWriMo! I’ve participated twice and completed both projects I started. Having only thirty days, really pushes me and keeps me focused. I do have to plan a rough outline (eyelid twitches) for NaNo.

RWF: Do you first come up with a setting or character for your story idea?

TN: Setting always comes first.

Thank you, Tina for sharing your writing time with us.

Tina Newcomb pic

About Me

I was born and raised in Utah on the foothills of the spectacular Wasatch Front, where life as a kid was magical. Summers were spent hiking or swimming in the neighborhood pool, winters were for sledding down mountain hills. I acquired my love of reading from my parents. My mother was a librarian and stacks of books were always close at hand. I wrote my first (more than three page) story in fourth grade. Tobie, my heroine, bravely solved The Mystery Behind the Iron Door. I took writing classes in college and stories began to develop.

I moved to Memphis, Tennessee as a young mother and lived there long enough to learn “Bless your heart” is almost always followed by an insult, fried chicken is a staple, and any measurable snow will, most likely, close the schools for days. I do miss the dogwoods in spring and the smell of barbecue permeating the air at Memphis in May.

My pen and paper were put away as adult life and motherhood took precedence. Three kids later, I wrote my first novel, but had no idea what to do with it. It ended up in a box on a shelf. Numerous years later I came across the manuscript in a closet. I pulled it out, dusted it off and started all over again.

I now live in beautiful Colorado with my (amateur) chef husband. Six of our eight kids and one of three grandkids live nearby.

Fun Facts:

  • I have the most loving, generous, PATIENT husband in the world.
  • I’m grateful for my kids.
  • I adore my grandchildren.
  • My mother introduced me to The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart.
  • My father introduced me to non-fiction.
  • My favorite author is LaVyrle Spencer.
  • Crazy as it sounds, I love to clean.
  • My favorite ice cream is pralines and cream.
  • I don’t have a favorite color or a favorite flower.
  • My least favorite flower is a sunflower. (I know, I’m damaged).
  • I love Bear Lake, Utah, raspberry shakes and Miami, Florida strawberry shakes.
  • Country is my music of choice.
  • My favorite season is spring (closely followed by fall).
  • Chinese or Mexican food? Don’t make me choose.

www.TinaNewcomb.com

www.facebook.com/TinaNewcombAuthor

www.twitter.com/TinaNewcomb

www.pinterest.com/tinanewcomb

www.goodreads.com/tinanewcomb

 

 

Writing Romantic Women’s Fiction with Joan Leacott

“So, what do you write?” asks an author at the Desert Dreams conference in early June.

Uh…. Don’t you hate the way that question puts you on the spot? “I write romantic women’s fiction,” I reply.

“Uh… what’s that… exactly?”

As the current President of the Romantic Women’s Fiction Chapter of RWA, I should know. Right? Well, I can’t answer for the entire chapter, but this is the way I write romantic women’s fiction. Your mileage may vary. 😉

The Romance Continuum

At one end, you’ve got the straight-up romance focused on a couple and the ups and downs of their love. On the other end, you’ve got pure women’s fiction about a woman’s journey through life from chaos to serenity.

Romantic Women’s Fiction (RWF) has both a romance and a life struggle with the romance taking the lead.

Complex Lives

As in real life, a woman in RWF doesn’t live in a vacuum. She is surrounded by her family, her friends, her community. Relatives demand her time and affection. Friends share secrets and worries. Volunteering adds more pressure. And let’s not forget her work. Who has time for romance? Everybody!

My heroine Cathy in Above Scandal returns home to care for her sick mother. Across the street from her mother lives her old flame, the unknowing father of her daughter. The secret baby trope tangles with the child-as-parent syndrome.

Multiple Points of View

I love writing from the perspective of more that one character, the usual case of pure women’s fiction, or two characters as in pure romance. My secondary characters range in age from ten (Hayley in Above Scandal) to seventy-four (Horace in Sight for Sore Eyes) and share point-of-view with my main characters.

Complex Plots

Events are never as simple as they appear. Are they?

Sub-plots involving secondary characters braid with the romance plot to raise challenges for the main characters. Hayley’s out to find her father all by herself and Horace is trapped by his matchmaking scheme for his grandson.

Small-town Flare

All my stories take place in my fictitious town of Clarence Bay. Because it’s based on a real nearby town, authenticity is a twist on a Google search away. In Sight for Sore Eyes, Emma owns Finn’s Fine China and Gift Shoppe. The model for her shop is Huckleberry’s.

A small town isn’t a necessary element of RWF. That’s just me. 😉

What about You?

Complex, intriguing, authentic. Do your stories sound like my stories? Then I’d say you write Romantic Women’s Fiction. Welcome home!

Curious about Romantic Women’s Fiction? Join our RWF chapter party at Nationals. Chapter membership not required. All are welcome.

About Joan

Joan is a renaissance woman.

She is skilled in many arts—sewing, knitting crochet, cross-stitch, painting, and piano. The skill favored by her husband and son is cooking, especially pumpkin pie. She spends her winters in Toronto attending plays, ballets, aquafit and yoga classes. Whew! Her summers are spent on the shores of Georgian Bay relaxing on the deck with a romance novel and a glass of wine.  After she’s done her laps in the bay and installed the Seadoo battery. Whew! When does she have time to write her multi-generational contemporary romance novels? In every moment left over!

Stormy Wedding, her series of five short stories all taking place on the same four days in an ice storm is scheduled for release on October 11, 2017. Her online course Mastering Word for Fiction Writers is scheduled for release on July 20, 2017.

Visit her website at www.JoanLeacott.CA to read excerpts from Above Scandal and Sight for Sore Eyes. Find her on Facebook or Twitter. Sign up for her newsletter and get a free short story, the charming Second Chance Dress.

 

Interview with Author, Kristi Rhodes

Welcome to our series, Interview with an Author. We’ll introduce members of RWF at all stages of the writer’s journey. 

Come join us, learn about the wonderful writers who are a part of Romantic Women’s Fiction a chapter of RWA. Continue reading “Interview with Author, Kristi Rhodes”

Interview with Author, A.M. Wells

Side view of authoress with paper and typewriter

Welcome to our series, Interview with an Author. We’ll introduce members of RWF at all stages of the writer’s journey. 

Come join us, learn about the wonderful writers who are a part of Romantic Women’s Fiction a chapter of RWA. Continue reading “Interview with Author, A.M. Wells”

Interview with Leigh Duncan

Side view of authoress with paper and typewriter

Welcome to our series, Interview with an Author. We’ll introduce members of RWF at all stages of the writer’s journey. 

Come join us, learn about the wonderful writers who are a part of Romantic Women’s Fiction a chapter of RWA. Continue reading “Interview with Leigh Duncan”

Interview with Author, Judith Keim

Welcome to our series, Interview with an Author. We’ll introduce members of RWF at all stages of the writer’s journey. 

Come join us, learn about the wonderful writers who are a part of Romantic Women’s Fiction a chapter of RWA. Continue reading “Interview with Author, Judith Keim”