I am delighted to host debut author Nicole Leiren, who just published her novel More Than One Night, the first of her Heroes of the Night series. The hero of her book, who was inspired in part by a man she met on an airplane, is a soldier who has to figure out whether he can open his heart and convince his heroine he wants more than one night. Nicole clearly loves her strong, brave hero, and on her website, she honors the real-world heroes who bravely serve our country.
In this interview, Nicole talks about how she started writing and shares the valuable advice she received from best-selling author Susan Elizabeth Phillips.
How long have you wanted to be a romance writer? When did you decide to write a book?
I’ve loved writing for as long as I can remember. Even writing essays in school was fun and I preferred that to tests ANY day! In the early 90’s, I discovered fanfic and had a fun time playing in other worlds. I met so many amazing people along the way as well. After many years of writing fanfic, I decided to create my own world and characters. My first book (a suspense with romantic elements) received great feedback from publishers, but because the suspense and romance were pretty even, it was a tough sell. I’m hopeful that it will be published soon as the characters are so much fun – I want everyone to meet them!! My next inspiration for a book came in the form of this contemporary romance series, Heroes of the Night, and I’m thoroughly enjoying every aspect of this series!
What inspired you to write this story?
I met a man on a plane trip from Chicago to New Orleans. He regaled me with his tales about life, love and his philosophy on women. It was very colorful and got me thinking. When we landed, I asked him if I could use some of the things he shared to inspire a character and he agreed. Once I met “Daniel,” the hero in More Than One Night, and then found the perfect woman for him, telling their story was so much fun!
Describe your process for writing this particular book.
I’m a task/goal oriented person. With a family and a full-time job, short term goals are a necessity. A year or so ago, I attended a meeting at my RWA chapter (Windy City) that was being led by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. To summarize, her advice was to set daily goals (whether it be an amount of time or a word count) and do that each and every day. She also cautioned to never confuse not being able to write because of family commitments or “life” with not writing because I didn’t know where my story was going. The latter isn’t acceptable.
For a few weeks, I had to make my writing time first thing in the morning (I’m NOT a morning person LOL) as I needed my internal editor to be asleep while I wrote. Sometimes, that’s the only way I can get through a troublesome spot in the story.
So basically, this book was written a thousand or so words at a time.
Did you work on simultaneous projects?
When I’m in the midst of writing a book, I can only write on that book. I have been balancing multiple tasks while writing book 2 (marketing and promo for my short story and book 1), but only write one book at a time. I’m too easily distracted to write multiple books at once.
How did you fit your writing into the rest of your life?
I am fortunate to have a very understanding husband. He’s been my real-world hero for over 26 years now and one of the things I love most about him is that he…Let’s me – be me. He knows that I have to write in order to keep some semblance of sanity in my brain so he graciously sends me upstairs after dinner with the claim, “Time for you to write, isn’t it?” My baby girl – who turned 25 this year – is also very good at pushing me forward and reminding me that I CAN do this. Their support – at every step in the process – has been critical and I love them both so very much for it. They treat fitting my writing into the rest of my life as a necessary part of my day to day activities.
Were you involved in a writer’s group?
I have the incredible fortune to be part of the Windy City RWA group. These men and women are nothing short of amazing in the amount of support, instruction and encouragement they offer to authors. Our group consists of everything from aspiring authors who are writing their first book to New York Times and USA Today best-selling authors. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t have made it this far, in this time frame, without them playing an active role in my life and career. I highly encourage any aspiring authors to find a group to be a part of – whether it’s online or in your community, they offer tremendous value and are well worth your time.
Who gave you feedback as you worked through writing the book?
I have a critique partner who has been with me since I wrote my first book. She writes romantic suspense and new adult. We have similar, but not exactly the same, writing styles so we are a good match. I always tell her that she helps “man up” my men!
What kept you going through the process?
My parents have always taught me to finish what I started – no matter what it was. So from the moment I typed the first words of the story, I knew I would finish it. Where it would go from there, I wasn’t sure; but, I knew I couldn’t stop until I typed “The End”
Did you work with an agent? How did you find him/her? In what ways did the agent help with the process?
I do work with an agent. Dawn Dowdle of Blue Ridge Literary Agency and she has been a God-send for walking me through this process. There are so many questions and having someone who understands and is patient with explaining is critical for a new author. She creates a very supportive, family environment in her agency and I feel very fortunate that we found each other. Ironically, she found me at an online course I was attending through Savvy Authors (another great resource for authors) called “How to write your hook, pitch and query.” After I’d typed “The End” on my first novel, I realized I had NO idea what to do next LOL. I signed up for the class, which Dawn was leading. After submitting my pitch to the class, she replied that she was interested and said I could query her. Of course, I replied that as soon as the class was finished and SHE helped me write the query (which I ultimately submitted to her LOL) that I would love to do so. I submitted the query at the end of the class and she offered representation. I felt very fortunate to have been in the right place, right time and with the right story.
What happened between hearing your yes and getting the book to print?
This was a part of the process that was entirely new to me. From all the rounds of editing, to marketing and promo and everything else in between, I had no idea what to expect. As aspiring authors, we spend all of our efforts, really, on getting to the “yes.” Once that happens, it can be a little daunting. Thankfully, my agent (Dawn Dowdle) and Publisher (Gemma Halliday Publishing) are both amazing to work with and have endured my questions and conflicting emotions (excitement and nerves) with patience, grace and support. I am very fortunate to have had such an amazing group of people to work with.
What would you change if you could?
Not a thing! Everything that happens in our lives (success or failure) help shape the people we become. Because I’d dealt with failure and rejection along the way, success tasted so much sweeter. I’ve met amazing people in each of those steps and have always maintained a “learn something new every day” philosophy which I trust will make the next trip even more exciting and fun!
The Few. The Strong. The Brave.
Melodie Alexander, a children’s librarian, prefers to live life between the pages of a book. But when the death of her best friend prompts her to step out of her comfort zone, she finds herself directly in the path of self-proclaimed bad boy, Daniel Bresland.
Daniel knew how to be a solider. Life after war? Not as easy. He served his country in Afghanistan, both in the military and as a private contractor, but fighting the war came at high personal cost. Now he’s determined to keep his relationships “casual” in order to protect his heart and prevent anyone from getting too close.
A chance encounter between Melodie and Daniel on a flight to Dallas proves that opposites really do attract. But when scars from the past threaten their new relationship almost before it starts, Daniel must decide if he can risk opening his heart again to convince Melodie he wants more than one night.
If you love men in uniform and believe the night belongs to lovers, then The Heroes of the Night series is perfect for you! Stories of military heroes, sexy and flawed, and the women they love.
Nicole is a debut author with her contemporary romance series, Heroes of the Night. She has been an avid reader and lover of books from a very young age. Starting with Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, and The V.I. Warshawski novels, her love for mysteries grew and expanded to include romance and suspense. A Midwest girl, born and raised, her stories capture the love and laughter in her real world heroes and heroines.
Street Team: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Leirens.Lovelies/