I’m delighted to host Taryn Taylor, newly published author with Harlequin Blaze. She came up with a fun premise for her book, KISS AND MAKEUP, put it aside for a while, and fortunately for us, finished writing the story! In this interview, Taryn explains what happened after she got her yes and shares her advice for getting yourself to write when you don’t really feel like it. Just watch the caffeine drinks 😉
How long have you wanted to be a romance writer?
I have wanted to be an author since the second grade, and started dabbling in romance in about sixth grade, when all my stories were about my friends and whoever our crush du jour happened to be! I did not get serious about writing romance until a few years ago.
What inspired you to write this story?
KISS AND MAKEUP came to be because my last name is such a common one. I started wondering how often I’m standing beside other Taylors in line-ups and sitting next to them in waiting rooms. That was kind of the impetus for putting Ben and Chloe on a plane together and giving them identical last names. I thought it would be fun to explore a case of mistaken identities and the way it kept their paths–and lives!–crossing.
Describe your process for writing this particular book.
Harried! There were some long nights and a whole lot of caffeine involved in KISS AND MAKEUP. I am a notorious procrastinator, always have been, so that translates into me being kind of a feast or famine writer. Typically, I think a lot about the characters and plots at the beginning, and then it’s just a mad dash to write to the end.
How long did it take to complete?
I like to joke that it took me two years, and also two months. The first four chapters or so were something I just toyed with ages ago. I did the “same last name” meet-cute, and then I had no idea what to do with the two of them! So they sort of fell to the wayside in their unfinished state for a few years. When my friend encouraged me to enter Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest, it seemed like the perfect time to have another crack at my cynical YouTube makeup artist and my good-natured ad exec.
Was this the first book you had written?
This is the first category-length novel I’d ever written. When I resurrected Ben and Chloe, I realized they were kind of perfect set-up for a Harlequin Blaze! I already had them sharing a hotel room due to a clerical mix-up…the steamy scenes weren’t far behind. *wink*
How did you fit your writing into the rest of your life?
It’s not easy, I won’t lie. Sometimes after a rough go at the day job, turning on my computer when I get home is the last thing I want to do. But the book doesn’t get written if you don’t make the time. I wouldn’t flake out on my office job just because I was tired or I didn’t feel like doing it, and I try to approach authordom the same way. I’ve also started experimenting with writing in timed, 15-minute bursts, which has been working really well for me.
Were you involved in a writer’s group?
I’m a member of the RWA. If you’re thinking of writing a romance novel, I can’t recommend it enough. Such an amazing source of knowledge and resources, no matter where you are in your writing journey.
Who gave you feedback as you worked through writing the book?
I have some really great friends, some published, some not, who act as a support network and critique group, and I couldn’t do this without them. It’s really important to be able to share your work with people you trust, because it’s so easy to get story-blind. Sometimes you can’t see the mistakes–or the awesome!–through your tunnel vision.
Did you plan to pitch to Harlequin when you started writing the book?
I didn’t plan to pitch to Harlequin when I started KISS AND MAKEUP, which is funny considering how well I think it fits the Blaze line and has since its inception!
How did you submit to Harlequin?
I got my break through Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest, where I made the top twenty-five. I had to withdraw before the top ten were chosen, but they asked me to submit the book when I was able…and a few months later I got the call!
What did you do when you got the go-ahead? Who’s the first person you called?
I was at work when I got the call…which I let go to voice mail because I’m a notorious call screener and didn’t recognize the number. *headshake* So after I called Harlequin back and got the good news, it was family first. I called my parents and texted my brother…and then I called everyone else. Needless to say, I did not get a lot of work done at the day job that afternoon!
What happened between hearing your yes and getting the book to print?
Revisions and more revisions. The story underwent quite a few changes between my original submission and what ended up in print…thankfully! My editor was awesome to work with, and her suggestions were spot-on. I’m really proud of how it turned out.
What has surprised you most about this process?
That publishing is such a hurry-up-and-wait kind of game. You sort of have these fantasies that all the nail-biting when you’re querying agents and editors miraculously stops when you get published. It doesn’t. Editors are busy people. So are cover artists, and copy editors, and everyone else that helps turn a manuscript into a paperback on the shelf at your local bookstore. So I’m learning to just sit back, enjoy the process, and use the in-between times to write. Like with many things in life, the anticipation is what makes the payoff so worthwhile.
What would you change if you could?
What would I change about the book? Probably a whole lot. I’m notoriously nitpicky, always changing “the” to “a” and back again every time I reread a draft. For that reason, I have not reread KISS AND MAKEUP in print, and I’m not sure if I should…at least not for a few years! About the process? Not a thing. It’s been the most challenging, amazing, frustrating, turbulent year of my life, and I’ve learned so much about myself and my writing. I guess I might go back in time and tell past-Taryn not to consume her first energy drink ever during a looming deadline. THAT was a huge mistake. Even my eyeballs were vibrating. It was awful.
A hot shade of lipstick calls for a hot, sexy guy…
Makeup artist Chloe Masterson has a look for every occasion. Flying home for your sister’s wedding and family torture? Easy. Bring out the sarcastic wit and black eyeliner. Bonus—the look catches the eye of the corporate hottie sitting beside her on the plane. Turns out Ben has the exact same last name, and everyone assumes they’re married.
When they get stuck in a hotel room together, Chloe decides to accept the gift the Fates have bestowed upon her. (Tip: a bold lip color does wonders for seduction.) But as their lies begin to snowball, Chloe and Ben find it harder and harder to distinguish between what’s real and what’s all just smoky eyes and mirrors.
Taryn Leigh Taylor likes dinosaurs, bridges, and space, both personal and of the final frontier variety. She shamelessly indulges in cliches, most notably her Starbucks addiction (grande-six-pump-whole-milk-no-water chai tea latte, aka: the usual), her shoe hoard (I can stop anytime I…ooh! These are pretty!), and her penchant for falling in lust with fictional men with great abs (yum!)
She also really loves books, which is what sent her down the crazy path of writing one in the first place. You can connect with her at www.tarynleightaylor.com