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RWF: What do you think helped you get from unpublished to published?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



Advice on Attending RWA Nationals with Heather Burch

Hello ladies!

I’m looking forward to meeting some of you at the conference in Orlando in July! I made a quick note of a few things that might help you along your way. These are things I’ve learned over the years. I attended my first RWA national conference in the early nineties. Now, I haven’t been every year, but I’ve got at least ten RWA national conferences under my belt.

Here are my helpful hints…

Luggage Hacks

Before I leave for conference and even before I pack my suitcase, I try on each outfit. Then, I take a snapshot on my phone. Now, the arduous job of packing has just been made simple! I even get an idea of which outfit I’ll wear each day. At conference, all I have to do is refer to my photos and BAM! There’s my clothes, shoes, and accessories all in one place.

HeatherBurchblog1       HeatherBurchblog2


Pace Yourself

There’s so much to see and so much to do. But it will be around for the entire conference. You don’t have to get everything in on the first day.

Make a Plan

Whether you are a paper copy note maker or a tech savvy schedule maker, you need a plan before you go. Yes, it will change. But it’s worth the time and effort to have something to glance at. RWA provides a lovely schedule when you arrive, but let me tell you, it can be overwhelming. Go to the website and check out the list of workshops far in advance. If a few of them really speak to you, make a note so that when you get the copy of all the events, you’re not overwhelmed. In past years, I believe RWA even sent the schedule ahead of the conference. Still, I try to familiarize myself by spending some time on the RWA website.

Make Time for Friends

Every year, I look forward to just sitting and catching up with my writing peeps. Whether you drink or not, the hotel bars (especially lobby bars) are a great place to connect. Whenever I have downtime, I just make a loop through the bars and sure enough! I run into friends.



Attend the Parties. Go to the book signings.

One of the things I love most is the signings that feature specific publishers. An entire row of authors will be there signing complimentary copies of their newest releases. It’s a book lovers’ heaven! I will be signing on THURSDAY morning at 8:30-9:30 at the Montlake and Lake Union signing. If you make it to that one, I’ll sign a copy of my book for you! Plus, I’ll give you a hug just for reading this article.



Wear Comfortable Shoes

You will walk and walk and walk. Make sure your feet aren’t screaming by noon. Do your footsies a favor and wear shoes that are already broken in and comfy on your feet.

Don’t Forget to Join the Conversation!

Are you on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram? Use the #RWA2017 hashtag on all your upcoming conference related tweets. And while you’re there, find me and let’s start a conversation.

Heather Burch pic for blog post

A little bit about me…I write for Lake Union Publishing (Amazon’s women’s fiction) currently. I’ve also written for Montlake (Amazon’s romance publisher) and I’ve done four books for Harper Collins. In 2014 my novel One Lavender Ribbon was named one of the year’s most quoted books by Kindle readers. My Montlake and Lake Union books are translated around the world. All in all, it’s been an incredible adventure and at the very heart of it is community. I couldn’t do what I do without the amazing writer friends I’ve made. I owe so much to RWA and my fellow authors! I’m a member of Tampa Area Romance Authors, my local chapter of RWA. I hope you’ll find me on social media so we can get connected and start visiting about the conference!

You can see all of my books on my website

Interview with Tina Newcomb

Tina Newcomb pic

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.

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.



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 Kristi Rhodes

Kristi Rhodes pic

Welcome Kristi Rhodes to the blog today.

RWF: Would you say you write Women’s Fiction or Romantic Women’s Fiction?

KR: I pick Romantic Women’s Fiction — where Romance and Women’s Fiction are intertwined. My books are set in places with turquoise waters and palm trees. They’re also light-hearted, a treat for foodies, funny, and follow a love story, as well as the heroine’s journey.

RWF: Do you write in other genres?

KR: My first book, that is unpublished — but not abandoned— is Romantic  Women’s Fiction/Family Saga. I also write short stories in Middle Grade and Romance.

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

KR: Currently my MS is finished and I’m querying. The title is The Tropical Transformation of Joanie Weston and it’s a Romantic Comedy/Romantic Women’s Fiction about a woman who’s on her 25th wedding anniversary vacation when her husband drops the bombshell that he’s gotten his secretary pregnant. The couple agrees that time apart might make their long marriage salvageable but complications arise when she stays in their tropical cottage, takes a job as a maid and is courted by the hotel handyman. Meanwhile her husband can’t seem to keep his car from driving to his questionably-pregnant-and-highly-persuasive secretary’s house.

RWF: What are your favorite books to read?

KR: My favorite books to read are funny, romantic & tropical. Also, I’m addicted to writing books from craft books to creating-the-best-author-blog books. Plus, I can’t put down nature books. Well, come to think of it – I pick up lots of Carl Hiaasen titles. Then there’s the large number of Kristan Higgins novels crowding my shelves. Okay, I love wonderful books, period.

RWF: When writing do you read in the genre you’re writing in or something else?

KR: A lot of times, I’ll read non-fiction that is related to the book I’m writing, like about the culture and geography of the region, or cookbooks from the area.

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

KR: The theme that runs through my books is that women can do and overcome anything — especially with humor and in the sweaty tropics.

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

KR: I read lots of non-fiction – nature books, motivational books, memoirs, cookbooks, and travel books. Books are an amazing way to get a glimpse into something or somewhere I’d like to explore. For example, I just bought two books on raising chickens. I love the idea, but I’m a little impetuous, so I bought the books to get the real dirt/chicken poop. After skimming through the books, I found out they’re wonderful to have, but lots of work. I’ve yet to purchase a chicken —but it’s still on the radar and so far I only have thirty dollars invested in the idea.

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

KR: I feel like I learn more from a local workshop – because I can ask questions, take notes, and feel comfortable to talk to presenter after class.  The next would be the online classes – I picked online second because sometimes I overbook my time with them and am rushed with other obligations. Also, I’m not as comfortable reaching out to the presenter. Last on the list is a writer’s craft book – because there’s no one to ask questions or bounce ideas off. The positive is that I can go back and read over sections in a craft book.

RWF: Where do you find inspiration?

KR: Inspiration for my MS, I find from life, loves and whatever stirs passion inside. Inspiration for working relentlessly towards a better MS and writing career, I find from other writers in RWF and other RWA chapters. Also helpful are other writing groups, reading writers’ blogs and writing books.

RWF: Do you have a job outside your writing?

KR: I work part-time care giving and volunteer in the schools and for two writing organizations. Plus I have a husband, a highschooler, a college guy, two black cats, a black guinea pig, and a fourteen year-old Jack Russell at home.

RWF: How do you fit writing into your life?

KR: I fit writing into my life by waking up early to organize what I’d like to work on then trying to fit it into the spots I reserved. Sometimes it works, and sometimes not so good.

RWF: How do you fit editing into your writing life and the one you actually live in?

KR: I work with a critique partner, so I need to have my materials ready for our weekly meetings. Also, I follow the same method as the question above. Scheduling like crazy and fitting things into small time spots.

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

KR: I’m a combo pantser and plotter.

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?

KR: I try to plan my writing time, but it’s always a juggling act.

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

KR: The stories I write focus on the woman, but romance is an integral and wonderful part of her life.

RWF: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo?

KR: I haven’t done NaNoWriMo yet, but I’d like to participate this year.

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

KR: I first create/discover a character.

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

KR: I like to write at home, unless I’m writing a first draft. For that I go to the library and spend a couple of hours at each sitting furiously writing down the story as it comes.


Kristi Rhodes has been the Treasurer for RWF since January 2016. Her current MS, The Tropical Transformation of Joanie Weston, was recently selected as a finalist in the Women’s Fiction category of the WisRWA Fab 5 contest. In her spare time, she loves to cook and entertain, especially using tropical ingredients. Foodies will enjoy the references sprinkled throughout her work. Contact Kristi through her website, on Twitter or on Pinterest.



Interview with A.M. Wells

Brenda Willis, AM Wells

Today we have the pleasure of hearing from author, Brenda Willis, writing as A.M. Wells.

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

AM: Women’s fiction with some romantic elements.

RWF: Do you write in other genres?

AM: Yes. My first published work was a short erotic novella for Red Rose Publishing. I’ve also self-published my short story romances.

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

AM: Not what, but who. Dyanne Davis. She was the first person to tell me I had a voice, that I was a writer and I should write. She encouraged me to submit my work and to keep on submitting to publishers and agents.

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

AM: First, celebrate. You did good. Next, put it away for at least thirty days. Start on your next great manuscript. After thirty days, come to that manuscript, print it out, and just read it through.  Once you’ve done all that, now begin the second draft/edits.

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

AM: Congratulations. Enjoy the moment. Tell me about your next book.

RWF: What are your favorite books to read?

AM: Women’s Fiction, Fiction, Graphics Novels, Romance, Sci-fi.

RWF: When writing do you read in genre your writing in or something else?

AM: Something else. I just finished reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Love it! I’m also enjoying Kresley Cole’s IMMORTALS AFTER DARK series.

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

AM: When I was teenager and into my twenties, BC (before children) I would read a lot of biographies/memoirs. These days, my non-fiction reading consisted of books on craft. Stephen King, On Writing; Cathy Yardley, Rock Your Plot, and Write Every Day; and GMC by Debra Dixon.

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

AM: Online class, because I can go at my own pace.

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

AM: Shameless pantser.

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

AM: The woman’s journey.

RWF: Where do you find inspiration?

AM—Movies, 1930’s and 40’s. Music. TV Commercials. The News. Listening to friends, family, co-workers relate stories. Taking a walk. Life.

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

AM: The character.

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

AM: Motherhood. Grief. Second chances. Humor.

RWF: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo?

AM: Yes.

RWF: Do you have a job outside your writing?

AM: Yes. I work as an IT Support Specialist.

RWF: How do you fit writing into your life?

AM: I’m up at 4:15am every morning and I write for at least thirty minutes before I head off to day job. I also have a notebook with me, to jot down ideas or plot points.

RWF: How do you fit editing into your writing life and the one you actually live in?

AM: I printout then reread what I’ve written and work on edits in the evenings.

RWF: Do you plan your writing time?

AM: No

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

AM: I just go with flow.

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

AM: At home.

RWF: Do you have a new book out?

AM: No. But I am hoping to self-published more of my short stories soon.

RWF: What was your last published title?

AM: Christmas Hearts.

RWF: Want to tell us about your book?

AM: It’s a short sweet office holiday romance story.

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

AM: My current WIP is about a woman, who after seven years of non-wedded bliss, decides to leave her serial cheating husband. The story is her journey of rediscovering herself, while finding though she can love again, true happiness come within one self.

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

AM: Self-published

Brenda, thank you for sharing your time and a bit of your writing journey with us.

About Brenda

Brenda Willis writing as A.M. Wells writes contemporary women’s fiction with romantic elements.

Brenda lives in Athens Georgia and is employed as an IT Support Specialist. In addition to writing, she is an avid reader and artist.

You can find on the web at




Interview with Leigh Duncan

Leigh Duncan2 RWA

For this week’s interview we are happy to have Leigh Duncan. 

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

LD: Romantic  women’s fiction, definitely.  I love, love, love providing my readers an emotionally satisfying ending and the HEA (happy ever after) they’re looking for.

RWF: Do you write in other genres?

LD: I’m focusing on Women’s fiction and Contemporary Romance for now, but I do have a Paranormal story or two that I’m saving for later.

RWF: Do you have a new book out?

LD: I’m super excited about the launch of my brand new series, The Orange Blossom series, this summer.  These stories revolve around a small, fictional town and the women who call Orange Blossom, Florida their home.  In Butterfly Kisses (now available for pre-order), Justine Gale returns to Orange Blossom after a ten-year absence.  She’s desperate to sell the citrus grove she inherited from her uncle in order to provide medical care for her seriously ill daughter.  But (there’s always a but, isn’t there?) her efforts are stymied by her first love…who adamantly opposes selling the land that supplies the lifeblood of Orange Blossom.

RWF: What is your last published title?

LD: Pattern of Deceit, a romantic women’s fiction suspense, released in October 2016, and The Growing Season, a contemporary family saga, released last June as a three-part serial.  Part 1: A Time to Uproot, is perma-free at all the major e-vendors.

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

LD: At this point in my career, I’m focused on indie publishing.

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

LD: Learning the craft.  The first time I entered my work in a contest, the judge marked “POV” all over my manuscript.  I had no idea what she was talking about!  It took hard work and determination to improve my skill set.

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

LD: Don’t be afraid to re-write.  If an editor suggests a change, take a big breath and do it!  I believe it was Cherry Adair who said, “Of course you can change it!  It’s fiction!”

RWF: What are your favorite books to read?

LD: I love reading the kinds of books I write—stories where strong women face and surmount overwhelming odds to reach their HEA.

RWF: How do you fit writing into your life?

LD: Five years ago, when I was on a serious deadline and distractions at home were keeping me from buckling down, two writer friends and I started meeting at our local library several times a week. We’d get there when the library opened, snag one of the small study rooms (our library wouldn’t let us reserve them), open our laptops, turn off our cell phones and write until everyone had put down 1,000 fresh words.  Then, we’d break for lunch and come back for a second session in the afternoon.  That system worked so well that, after we added a fourth member (and outgrew our study room), we moved to our dining room tables, where we still “camp out” two or three times a week for Writers Camp.  In the first year, the four of us wrote one million words and published 14 books. Five years later, Writers Camp is still going strong…and I’ve written and published another twelve books.

RWF: Thank you, Leigh, for sharing some of your writing journey.


Leigh Duncan is the award-winning author of more than two dozen novels, novellas and short stories. Her first full-length book, The Officer’s Girl, was released by Harlequin American Romance in 2010. Leigh went on to write seven more books for Harlequin, including the highly acclaimed Glades County Cowboys series, before she began writing the more complex, heart-warming and emotional stories that have resonated with her readers. An Amazon best-selling author and a National Readers’ Choice Award winner, Leigh lives on Central Florida’s East Coast where she writes women’s fiction and contemporary romance with a dash of Southern sass. Contact Leigh through her website (, Facebook (LeighDuncanBooks) or on Twitter (@leighrduncan).