I am so excited and honored to host Robyn Carr this week. If you haven’t already read one of her more than 50+ (wow!!) books, you need to! Robyn is a talented storyteller who creates true-to-life characters with depth and heart. I wholeheartedly recommend Never Too Late and Four Friends; her Thunder Point and Virgin River series also get rave reviews. You can’t find a better source for honest and humble writing advice than this #1 New York Times bestselling author who first published 40 years ago!
What made you decide to write romance novels?
My love of reading them made me wonder – could I write one? And then, of course, just trying to write a romance brought a thrill of challenge and excitement.
What was your biggest challenge when you were trying to publish your debut novel?
Well, writing a good enough book, of course. One of the first things I learned was that it could take years to have a publisher accept a book. This idea that it’s difficult isn’t something that has just recently occurred – it’s always been so. You don’t wake up one morning with the ability to write well – you have to study and train and practice and keep trying.
How have you dealt with that challenge as you have published more?
My focus is always on the story and the readers, not on the lists placement or on awards or on money. I realized early on that the only thing I could really control was the writing. And no matter how much fancy marketing was involved, at the end of the day it always came down to word of mouth. When readers love a book, they become passionate about it and tell everyone they know! That’s what makes bestsellers, one book at a time.
What would you have done differently if you could start all over again?
I would have followed my instincts more and always written exactly the kind of book I wanted to read. When I did that I found my home, the writing style and voice that worked best for me. It wasn’t easy for me to sell at first but at the end of the day it made more sense than jumping from genre to genre to writing was happened to be selling at the time. It is easier to create a trend than to catch one.
Can you imagine having a different career? What would it be?
I’d be a singer – one little problem, I can’t carry a tune.
How has the market changed since you first published?
The market has changed a dozen times since I broke in 40 years ago! It’s like a moving target! Writers have to be flexible and always always always learning. When I started there was one romance publisher – Harlequin – and they had ONE American writer! Look at them now? I’ve been with Mira, a division of Harlequin, for 17 years! And Mira dominates best seller lists! And imagine my surprise when e-readers were introduced! I never thought that would catch on – readers LOVE printed books. Well, it now accounts for half the sales in most cases and I read about half my books on my electronic device! Change after change! And as professional writers, we have to keep up.
How has your life changed as you have published more books?
I’m busier, of course. This Q&A I’m answering? I’m asked to do this or write a blog or article or read a book for a quote or speak somewhere (and why is it never nearby?) every single day! I say yes as often as possible, taking care to be sure I’m getting my writing done first.
What is the single most important thing an unpublished writer should do to get published?
As tiresome as it sounds – learn to write well. Some of that learning comes from paying attention to rejection. If the new writer is impatient and after a few rejections just decides to self-publish, she’ll be missing out on the challenges and learning opportunities that come from editorial input. I’m not saying you should necessarily agree with every outside opinion; I’m just saying it’s important information and leads to the kind of questions (and answers!) that can create better stories. Sometime I’ll get five suggestions that I reject because they won’t work for me or my story, then the sixth comment or suggestion will resonate and make a huge and wonderful improvement.
What is the single most important thing a newly published writer should do?
Focus on the writing of the next book! Forget trying to find the perfect marketing scheme, write another book! And make the next book better than the last!
Where is the best place to go for writing advice?
An experienced published writer, or your editor, or writers’ workshops. Listen to or read interviews with experienced authors, listen to keynote addresses, go to conferences when possible.
What is the best writing advice you have ever gotten?
Write the book you most want to read!
Do you have a favorite debut author? If so, who?
I’m discovering new authors all the time, but some of them have been published for 20 years and I’m just finding them! I remember “discovering” Kristan Higgins, but I think she was on her 4th or 5th book!
Robyn just released her newest Thunder Point novel, Wildest Dreams.
Blake Smiley searched the country for just the right place to call home. The professional triathlete has travelled the world, but Thunder Point has what he needs to put down the roots he’s never had. In the quiet coastal town he can focus on his training without distractions. Until he meets his new neighbors and everything changes.
Lin Su Simmons and her teenage son Charlie are fixtures at Winnie Banks’ house as Lin Su nurses Winnie through the realities of ALS. A single mother, she is proud of taking charge and never showing weakness. But she has her hands full coping with a job, debt and Charlie’s health issues. And Charlie is asking questions about his family history—questions Lin Su doesn’t want to answer.
When Charlie enlists Blake’s help to escape his overprotective mother, Lin Su resents the interference in her life. But Blake is certain he can break through her barriers and be the man she and Charlie need. When faced with a terrible situation, Blake comes to the rescue and Lin Su realizes he just might be the man of her dreams. Together, they recognize that family is who you choose it to be.