Is reading your chance to escape? Do you love to disappear behind a book? If so, Tammy Andresen is your kind of woman! Here she gives honest insights into her journey to publication, from stay-at-home mom in search of intellectual stimulation to published writer.
How long have you wanted to be a romance writer? When did you decide to write a book?
This sounds corny but I feel like writing romance chose me, instead of the other way around. I was a middle school English teacher and wanted to write a young adult novel, but the stories that kept bouncing around in my head were all romance stories. I finally took one of those story ideas and began writing. Lily in Bloom is what came out.
Describe your process for writing this particular book.
Lily in Bloom was a huge learning process for me. I had an idea, and I thought it would be the first half of a novel. When I actually began writing, it was about 18,000 words- not even a quarter! Right then I realized this was going to be way harder than I had ever imagined. I went back to brainstorming and then I reworked the book. I think I have edited this story four different times. I am so proud of the end product, but it was a long road.
How long did it take to complete?
Two years for writing and another year in the publishing process.
Did you work on simultaneous projects?
When I was writing this book, the answer was ‘no’ but now I do. Editing can take a long time, so when my editor had the book, I would work on my second novel.
I was recently asked to write a novella for a boxed set that had a strict deadline. All three projects are in various stages of completion, so I move from one to the other. I was worried that the projects would suffer but I am finding that I can come back to a project with fresh eyes after taking a break. I remove some of my emotional attachment to the story and think about what is best for that story and not what makes me happiest.
What was the rest of your life like while writing the book?
Reading was always an escape for me. I loved to disappear behind a book. When I had children, I decided to stay home with them. It was a wonderful decision for my family, but I felt my brain was sorely lacking in stimulation that not even reading could cure. I decided that writing was the way to work my brain back into shape. I would put the kids to bed at night and pull out my laptop. It was time just for me. I still love to disappear behind a book, but I now share that reading time with writing time.
How did you fit your writing in?
Some things had to go. Television took the biggest hit. I watch very few shows and even fewer movies. I bought a really tiny laptop that can travel with me. If the kids are playing in the sandbox, I pull my computer out to write for half an hour while they build castles.
Who gave you feedback as you worked through writing the book?
I didn’t ask anyone for feedback while I was writing. Only my husband and my mom knew that I was even attempting to write my first novel. I was really afraid I wouldn’t finish or I wouldn’t like the end product. I actually didn’t share with anyone until it had been accepted by a publisher. You can imagine my friends’ and family members’ shock!
How many submissions did you send out?
Only four or five. I know that isn’t how it works for everyone, and I feel very lucky.
What happened between hearing your yes and getting the book to print?
More than I ever imagined! As a first time author, I thought the hard part would be completing the manuscript. Once it was written I thought getting it accepted by a publisher was the hard part. But once Lily in Bloom was accepted, I came to realize that publishing was the most labor intensive part of the process.
The first major piece of publishing is editing. Lots of authors don’t like editing, I love it. With every change I make, I feel the story growing stronger. But it can be really challenging to take a comment from your editor and actually make it work in your story. I would read a comment like, “Eric is not likable in this scene. Make your readers love him.”
I would reread the scene and realize that my editor was right. He was acting like a jerk. But the question then is, how should he act? How can I make him nice and still move the story forward? I would often have to set my laptop down for an hour and really think on how to make that change.
The other piece that I never imagined was how many times I would read and reread my book. To move it from manuscript to novel, I think I have read it at least 20 times from start to finish! I love this story but at one point I declared, “I never want to read it again!” Just kidding. As my first book, it will always be special to me.
Lily Carter has one chance to save her family from destitution. She must marry.
The real question now is who? Lily longs for one man, but her attempts to attract Eric Sampson are foiled at every turn. Eric can’t see a future when he’s still tangled in his past, and Lily is forced to consider other suitors despite loving Eric.
When one suitor comes forward who could threaten Lily’s well-being, Eric must set his doubts about marriage aside to protect her. But events have been set in motion neither of them can stop. Will his past destroy their future? Will it destroy their very lives?
Tammy Andresen lives with her husband and three children just outside of Boston, Massachussetts. She grew up on the Seacoast of Maine, where she spent countless days dreaming up stories in blueberry fields and among the scrub pines that line the coast. Her mother loved to spin a yarn and Tammy filled many hours listening to her mother retell the classics. It was inevitable that at the age of 18, she headed off to Simmons College, where she studied English literature and education. She never left Massachusetts, but some of her heart still resides in Maine and her family visits often.