Rebecca E Grant
Rebecca E. Grant believes that love is unstoppable! For Rebecca, writing women’s fiction with wonderfully erotic elements is a little like cooking. First, she likes to lay her hero and heroine out gently on a well-oiled surface, take some seasoning up in her hands and smooth it into them until they’re so flavorful they’re ready to pop. Then she lets them steep awhile in a nice marinade. When they are at their most succulent, sometimes she will put them in a slow-cooking oven and turn them over and over, and other times she’ll toss them on a blazing grill to sizzle. Either way, at some point in the story, they are going to devour each other!
Currently an innovative educator with a PhD in organizational development, Rebecca lives in Minnesota on the edge of a wetlands, where wild turkeys and other creatures teach her balance and renewal. She loves the four seasons, long walks, early mornings with a steaming cup of coffee and late nights filled with stimulating conversation, a bottle of amusingly insouciant wine and good friends.
Rebecca began writing women’s fiction in April of 2009. Liberty Starr is her first published romance.
To find out more about Rebecca, visit her online at: http://www.site.rebeccaegrant.com/
Please tell our readers and members a little bit about yourself?
Awhile back I had a significant birthday (never mind which one ) and a friend said “You’re so serious so much of the time, Rebecca. Do something special to celebrate you.” She then suggested I have my horoscope read. I laughed and agreed to it because it felt like a fun, adventurous thing to do—even if it was a bit silly.
Knock me over with a feather—it was an amazing experience and the first of many steps I took to get to know myself better—to help me remember who I am—because in our ‘hurry-up-competitive-goal-oriented’ world it can be so easy to forget. One of the most important things I remembered is that I’m a romantic.
The first time I saw the snow-covered Rockies I was nearly knocked out by what a romantic backdrop they made. (I may have been slightly influenced by the fact that I was utterly in love at the time.) Then there’s the White House. The first time I saw it I was struck by the romanticism of the many lives—leaders—drama—and life-changing decisions that structure has given shelter to (again, quite possibly I was influenced by the tall drink of water whose arm was around me at the time).
Even as far back as when I was six or seven and tried on my first pair of roller skates—the kind that clipped to the bottom of my shoes—I was instantly enamored with them because I realized just how fast those skates would take me down the street to see Kenny, the love of my life.
Is it any wonder I write women’s fiction and romance?
You have a new release coming out with Carina Press. How was your experience with this new ePublisher that is a division of Harlequin?
Carina Press has to be the best experience any author can have. Let me give you a couple of examples of what it is like to work with them.
First, they responded to me before their published deadline. I wasn’t sitting around wondering… “should I follow up with them?”
When Angela James called me, she was warm and personable. She made me feel wonderful about my book, and very special as an author. I was momentarily overwhelmed thinking, “Holy cow, they chose my book!” It took me a moment to process. I remember Angela said something like, “Everyone here just loves the book.”
I swallowed hard trying to catch up. “Everyone?”
“Oh yes, we were talking about it at dinner and everyone loved it.”
“Dinner? Everyone?” (still processing )
Working with my editor, Jessica Schulte was such a positive experience. First, she has a great sense of humor. She was endlessly patient and responsive. I really felt like I had a partner. She was professional yet friendly. She suggested changes but left the writing to me. At one point she advised me to remove a character from the story because that character was actually a distraction. I might have really struggled with this except that Jessica had already demonstrated such skill. I knew I could trust her judgment. Of course, she turned out to be right!
I’ve spent the last twenty years as an innovative educator working to bring online education from ‘the shadows’ into the light of day. So, I know what it’s like to introduce something new to the world. I’ve also worked with a number of start-up organizations and they all have one challenge in common—overcoming poor communication because they’re moving so fast.
Carina Press is the first new organization I’ve seen that not only understands the importance of relationships and communication, but they actually deliver it. For example, they gather their authors together about once every two months or so to share information and facilitate a sense of author community. Carina has demonstrated to me that they recognize how important it is to build something together.
I just can’t say enough great things about them. Don’t even get me started on their cover art! Every cover I’ve seen is just yummy!
What other projects do you have in the works?
My erotic novella, SWEET COERCION is coming out in December. I have two books out to various pubs right now. One is NAKED HOPE, a contemporary romance involving a psychologist, a concert pianist who is also an international heartthrob and his ten-year old daughter who suffers from traumatic brain injury.
The second book, WILD THE WIND, is a historical romance with erotic and paranormal elements that was inspired by the legend of ‘the lost colony of Roanoke’ where entire colonies disappeared in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. It is a sweeping epic and the first of an ongoing series.
Currently, I’m writing WOLFE’S DEN, a story that takes place in both 2010 and 1256. The book has erotic and paranormal elements, star-crossed lovers, covers a span of more than 700 years, a sexologist, and a highlander who keeps sweeping me off my feet
What inspires you? What were your writing influences?
My number one inspiration is the reaction from readers. After all, they’re the experts when it comes to knowing what they’re looking for, and what feels satisfying to them.
I also have a wickedly coy muse who teases and tempts me with the ideas she whispers into my ear.
I’ve been fortunate to have friends who believe in me, and mentors who did not hold back. For example, there are two authors, Ana Seymour and Kathleen Eagle who not only inspired and influenced me, they rescued me from what I’ll call ‘writer’s oblivion’ where I would have remained if they hadn’t been both generous and direct.
I met these two women while taking their class, “How to write women’s fiction and romance”. That class literally changed my life. It was tough to hear all the critique, and even tougher when they explained to me that while they loved my story line, I wasn’t ‘there’ yet as a writer because my style was too stiff (years of academic and business writing had rubbed out my spontaneity).
Then one day in class they talked about the difference between romance and erotica. Suddenly, my wicked little muse (I love her by the way) began to whisper all kinds of things into my ear. I was sitting in the back of the room when she said, “You could write erotica. It will act as a lubricant, and your voice will stop sticking.”
My eyes popped wide and I nearly choked because (as you’ve probably guessed by now) if I was a stiff writer, the probability that I’d be comfortable writing erotica was a long shot. But that voice was indubitably my muse—and who was I to argue with her?
Two days later, I found a private corner. There, hunched over my computer I wrote a short piece of erotica as a writing exercise…
… and then a longer one, and an even longer one. Every sentence shocked me. Not because I think there’s anything wrong with erotica, but because I had no idea it was in me… and there was nothing stiff about my writing … at least not about the dialogue anyway!
What still cracks me up is that the erotic story I wrote when I was working to loosen my voice landed me my first publishing contract.
After I got the hang of erotica, I developed an approach to writing romances that is not as graphic as erotica but is steamy enough to send you to the shower (or else I haven’t done my job!).
What helped you make the decision to become a romance writer?
Well, the truth is, it took me a long time to embrace my desire to be a romance author. What actually happened was this.
I was a closet writer. My friends like to tease me because they know me to be fiercely private, yet over the past year I have begun writing about the one thing that gets attention from the masses faster than anything else: sex, with love being a close second.
Yet, even though these things are uppermost in our minds—or at least up there with the uppermost—we don’t go around telling business associates and casual acquaintances about our love lives or our sexual fantasies… even though we all have them, right?
We don’t rent out billboard space to announce our latest lover, or go on Lenno to talk about the Kama Sutra position we discovered that drives us wild.
For all that sex and love demand so much of our attention and hold our curiosity, it’s still very private.
That’s why I was a closet romance writer.
It all began one day about twenty years ago, when I hopped up out of bed and decided to write a romance novel. (Like it’s that easy…) Only two people knew I was writing romances. So, I wrote in secret. The story just poured out of me, and when I was done I called it When the Time is Right. I sent it off to a number of publishers and received a fistful of rejections. Not long ago, I ran across a musty-smelling copy of that old manuscript and laughed all the way through it because it was so genuinely awful. Really, the only thing to do was enjoy how sweetly terrible it was, and be grateful that no publisher had ever thought ‘the time was right’.
A few months later, I (secretly) wrote a second novel, Maestro’s Melody. This one was only slightly better than the first but I loved the story so much, I tried to get it right for about five years, but couldn’t. So, not only was the time not right, but the melody was flat as well.
Well, life happened and one day the calendar told me that twenty years of family, friends, education and career had come and gone. I had long since abandoned the idea of ever becoming a romance author—it had been fifteen years since I’d even thought about it. Then one day a year ago last April, the urge snuck up behind me and caught me in its net once again. Intrigued with this long lost idea, the first thing I did was (secretly) rewrite Maestro’s Melody and give it a new title.
All these years later I was still writing in secret for two reasons. First, I didn’t know if I could produce a book that was worthy of the romance genre. Second, for so much of my life, I thought one of the most important things—perhaps the most important thing—was to be taken seriously—and that no matter how much I wanted to write romances, it was not a serious undertaking.
I thought that, right up until one of my test readers sent me an email. In it she wrote:
“Your writing opened my mind and heart to new possibilities and opportunities. Your story delivered personal life messages to me. It reminded me to stop being so stubborn, to allow myself to be loved, to live with passion, and that it’s ok to open up my heart. You never know where it might take you.”
Well, I burst into tears because in that moment, I knew that not only did I want to write romances, it was a very serious undertaking, and I was finally able to say out loud to others, “I. Write. Romances. They’re intimate, hot, tender, and where appropriate, not so tender. They’re filled with intrigue, laughter, hope and provide an opportunity to disappear into the sheer fantasy of the moment. To marvel at the miracle of love, and the way one human body folds into another.”
It took a reader to show me that doing what I love to do most—what never feels like work—is not only meaningful to me, it’s meaningful to others as well.
So, this is why I said earlier that it’s the readers who inspire me most.
I want to say just a little bit more about this question. It’s my personal belief that every human being is authentically unique. That we each have something extraordinary to contribute to this world—something no one else can do—and if we don’t do it, the world will never have it. It will be lost forever.
I’ve had any number of philosophical discussions with people about this and know many believe that if one person doesn’t do X, someone else will. To this I say, very likely so. But it will be someone else who does it… and so it will be different.
So, to be perfectly honest, I believe my decision to become a romance author was made before I ever stepped into this lifetime. I wrote a creative nonfiction book a couple of years ago titled ARIANA SINGS. In it, I talk about my journey to find my voice—to discover my authentic self, and my belief that we are who we are, and do what we do, because we made a contract before we came into this world to give the world something, as only we can.
Writing romances is one way for me to fulfill that contract. It allows me to be me.
What is the hardest part of being a writer? The easiest?
First, the writing. I said it doesn’t feel like work—and it doesn’t. But it does mean l-o-o-o-o-o-n-g hours at the keyboard grappling with ideas and images until they play well with the story.
Another challenge is the competition for attention. Books have to compete with so many other forms of entertainment and relaxation.
Of course, then there’s the challenge of attracting readers, publishers, and agents. With the advent of computers, email, and the Internet it’s so easy for people to write—including me. I can’t imagine writing a book without a computer. More and more manuscripts are created and presented to publishers. That slush pile is gigantic.
The easiest part of being a romance author is being in harmony with mind, body and spirit. When I do what I love, I experience joy. I have to believe that joy is passed on to others through the story.
What is the biggest misconception about romance authors that you’ve come across?
So, this won’t be original—every romance author experiences this. Almost the first thing people ask me is “where do you get your material?” and then they look at me as if I just spent the night before doing all the things I write about in my book.
I should have such an exciting life!
Being an author is all about listening to my imagination and being able to go there in my mind and heart. Sure, we write about what we know, as any good writer should. So, for example I’ve never been to Istanbul (is it still Istanbul?) or studied that country, which means I’m not going to write a story with that setting. But I don’t have to do the rough and tumble with the cowboy in my story in order to write about love, or love expressed through sex, or sex-just-because-there-was-no-way-not-to-in-the-moment—without experiencing every single detail for myself.
Still, if people want to think that I lead an amazingly exotic life with endless nights of sexual bliss, I can only smile and think that perhaps in my next life, maybe I’ll sign up to do just that J.
Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring writers?
Well, I still consider myself to be an aspiring writer. Without plunging you back into my personal philosophy too deeply, I believe that every author, no matter how many times she or he has been published, is still an aspiring author, because we write to please for our audience. To give them something special, wonderful, fulfilling, memorable.
My best advice is the same thing every author ever said to me. Keep writing. Don’t give up. It’s easy to be distracted by other story ideas. For me, it’s usually about 40,000 words into a manuscript and other ideas begin to tempt me. I have to keep saying to myself “don’t do it! Don’t let yourself be distracted. Make a note of the idea and keep working the current story.”
The other bit of advice I would offer is simply this: be open to feedback. Seek it out, but be careful that what you’re really seeking isn’t a pat on the back.
The class I mentioned earlier was all about being able to embrace critique. Every time I left that class my wounded ego would say to me, “What a load of crap. Don’t listen to them.” My ego wanted me to lick my wounds. And believe me, I did. But usually about halfway home I would say, “Great that you believe in me ego, but I have to kick you to the curb because you would keep me writing the same way, and I didn’t go to this class to learn how to keep writing the same way. I went to class to learn how to become better.”
As an educator, I can’t count the number of times students have come to me asking for feedback. Every student needs (and deserves) encouragement. But so often, they come seeking only a pat on the back and aren’t looking for ways to improve at all.
We can’t learn anything new if we’re not open to critical feedback.
Any last words for our readers?
Yes. Back to my personal philosophy for a moment. I think it’s important for every romance writer to know why they write romances.
I told you earlier that I wrote in secret because I was immature, I lacked wisdom, I didn’t believe in what I had to offer, and I thought writing romances wasn’t a serious undertaking. All of that is true. But the overarching reason I wrote in secret was because I didn’t understand why I wanted to write women’s fiction and romance.
Here’s what I finally figured out. It’s my belief that in today’s world where fear and obligation so often define our priorities, we ache to remember love—to remember what it felt like the first time the object of our desire reached out to brush the hair from our face—what it feels like to be so wholly in the moment, nothing else matters except the transcendental, extrasensory experience romance evokes. There’s nothing like it.
As a romance author, every day I have the privilege to write about the human body and the human heart—how they respond to love, to desire, to joy, to pleasure, to sadness, to hope. And every day I believe more firmly that love is unstoppable!