I’m so thrilled to host Stanalei Fletcher, Romantic Suspense author who just released Dead Reckoning, her second book in the Northstar Security Series. Stanalei’s books are filled with high-tech, high-stakes intrigue and dangerous romances. Visit her Headquarters at http://www.stanaleifletcher.com/index.html to learn more!
In this interview, Stanalei shares her experiences writing with a small press and encourages writers to continually work on their craft. Clearly, she has done that; she has been a finalist or won first place in over 15 contests! Wow!
What made you decide to write romance novels?
I love to read, but I’ll admit that I didn’t like reading when I was a kid. It was more fun to be outside, playing Cowboys and Indians, or Army, or reenacting scenes from the Wild Wild West TV series. (Yup, just dated myself.) But then I found Alistair McLean, and suddenly a new world beyond comic books and the Weekly Reader stories opened up to me. I “saw” things in my head as I read, and my imagination took off. I soon began reading other authors, some who wrote romance, because the one thing I wanted more of in McLean’s books was for the hero and heroine to have more time together.
At the time, Romantic Suspense wasn’t the genre it is today…so I decided to write one. And I learned that I loved the process of creating characters who could act out the stories in my head, who could have the heart-pounding thrill of the chase and still feel love for the partner by their side. I was hooked. Writing romance is in my bones.
What was your biggest challenge when you were trying to publish your debut novel?
My biggest challenge publishing my debut novel was the endless queries and rejections. At the time, publishing meant hitting up the big New York houses, the agents and editors who were the gatekeepers. Getting them to even look at the submission was a challenge.
That isn’t so much the case now, and although I believe the gatekeepers have a purpose, I’m grateful for the smaller presses who had the vision to open their doors to authors whose stories don’t fit the expected niche. In addition, today’s writers have extraordinary opportunities with self-publishing.
How have you dealt with rejections as you have published more?
Even after publishing my first novel with a small press, I continued to shop my romantic suspense series to New York houses. I received some encouraging feedback but no offers. I even considered self-publishing. However, my experience with the small press that published my debut novel was amazing, and I chose to reach out to them again. They contracted the first book in the series and agreed to review all the stories. My editor at The Wild Rose Press has been an awesome advocate of my work. She is a gem to work with.
What would you have done differently if you could start all over again?
I don’t think I would have done anything differently, other than maybe had the courage to start sooner. In the mid-70s computers didn’t abound as they do now. I couldn’t afford to purchase a typewriter, so I wrote longhand in pages and pages of notebooks. My boys were young enough that I could work when they went to bed. Then as they grew and as other life experiences crowded in, writing took a backseat until the kids were grown.
Can you imagine having a different career? What would it be?
I can’t imagine having a different career. I do have a “day job” that continues to help pay the bills, but crafting stories, giving my characters challenges to overcome and to grow seems to be something I’m inherently wired to do.
How has your life changed as you have published more books?
Life hasn’t changed all that much as I publish more books. It’s busier with keeping up with promotion and marketing, but my writing schedule is much the same as it was when I started doing this as a career.
What is the single most important thing an unpublished writer should do to get published?
The most important thing an unpublished writer can do is learn the craft. A quality story gives your readers an experience they can get no other place. Story will take the reader on a journey away from their cares and world-weary day. It’s not about the accolades or your name on the cover. It’s about the reader.
What is the single most important thing a newly published writer should do?
LOL – see the above answer. Continue to learn the craft. Get better with each book. Keep the quality in your prose. I often tell my editor: “I’d rather have it right than fast.”
Where is the best place to go for writing advice?
If a writer hasn’t joined an organization that can help with resources and networking, I would highly recommend looking into joining one. Romance Writers of America has so much to offer and there are many local and online chapters for connecting with writers on a more intimate level. But there are other writing organizations for other genres, too. Find the one that fits your needs. Even if you only participate for a couple of years, it’ll be valuable time spent.
I have shelves of books on writing, craft, publishing, and all the stuff in between. But if I had to pick one book that I continue to read over and over again, it’s Dwight V. Swain’s TECHINQUE OF THE SELLING WRITER. So many other craft books quote this book. As I grow and learn and practice my writing, I find that this book offers something for every level of my progress.
A more recent acquisition for me is THE ART OF WAR FOR WRITERS, by James Scott Bell. I wish I had read it at the start of my career. But it’s never too late. Right? None of his advice is really new to me, but he presents it in such a simple, concise way that it’s easy to understand and implement.
What is the best writing advice you have ever gotten?
I’ve received so many gems of advice over the years, but the one that resonates the most with me, the one I continue to remind myself when I sit down at a blank page…”It’s about the reader.”
Do you have a favorite debut author? If so, who?
Now that I’m published, one of the drawbacks is my limited time for reading. As a result, my TBR list is very long and by the time I read a debut author, she may have several books out. That said, even though Jennifer Beckstrand only came on the scene in 2012, she is fast becoming popular in the Amish Romance genre. This genre is so different from what I write and I love how Ms. Beckstrand writes a riveting, but sweet romance.
DEAD RECKONING – Northstar Security Series, Book 2
Egan Maddox isn’t sure he’s the right man for the job when Northstar director, Byron O’Neal, asks him to find his missing daughter and protect her from an unknown danger. Egan’s never shaken off his attraction to Kellee O’Neal, and hiding away with her could be more trouble than this former Navy SEAL can handle.
Kellee is lost, with no memory, and believes someone wants to hurt her. When Egan appears and seems to know her, he convinces her she’ll be safe with him. As her memories resurface, she turns to Egan for comfort, and her youthful crush transforms into a womanly passion she can’t deny.
With the Russian Mafia closing in, Kellee learns her entire life has been a lie. How can her love for Egan be enough to help her navigate the murky waters of her past and prove that her heritage doesn’t matter as much as the woman she’s become?
DEAD RECKONING is available at these locations:
Stanalei’s love of writing stems from reading favorites such as Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Barbara Cartland, and Alistair MacLean. She has over twenty years of training in the martial arts and holds the rank of Sandan, a third-degree black belt, in Aikido.
After a taste of life on both U.S. coasts, she now resides in the beautiful Rocky Mountains with her hero, who is also her best friend and husband. Together they enjoy the open road astride a Harley, visiting museums and exploring ghost towns. You may visit Stanalei at: