How long have you wanted to be a romance writer? When did you decide to write a book?
I first through about writing a romance novel in my twenties but had no idea where to begin. It took me twenty years to work up the courage to begin writing fiction. I started writing in 2012. I wrote one chapter and stuck it in a drawer. Then, in the summer of 2014, I took the chapter out of the drawer, decided it was a snooze-fest and rewrote it. I kept writing, a thousand words a night, and wrote what became Hot Shade.
What inspired you to write this story?
I wanted to write a story set in Florida, that reflected the unusual and odd things that happen here. I was also inspired by the true-life story of an Italian journalist named Roberto Saviano. He wrote an expose on organized crime in Italy and is now under police protection. After I read his work, I wondered what his life was like under those stressful circumstances. He was in his twenties when he wrote his book and my imagination wandered. What was it like to be on the run from the mafia? Did he have a girlfriend? What would happen if he fell in love with a young American journalist? That was my spark.
Describe your process for writing this particular book.
I am a reporter with The Associated Press by day, so I write for a living. When I’m finished writing journalism I come home, make dinner, spend time with my husband and our dogs, and then around 8 p.m., I sit and write 1,000 words. Every night. More on weekends. Usually they aren’t great words, but I try to get a very rough draft down first, and then go back for several rounds of polishing.
How did you make time to write?
I gave up television, frivolous internet searches and near-obsessive exercise and discovered I had lots and lots of time.
Who gave you feedback as you worked through writing the book?
I began writing in July of 2014 and in August, I was fortunate to enroll in a Media Bistro class on romance writing. Author Susan Squires was the teacher and because there weren’t many people in the class, she ended up critiquing many pages of my manuscript each week. I was so lucky! Then, I entered the first chapter in Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest. Through that, I connected with another contestant on Twitter. Her name is Kat Faitour and she’s now my critique partner — and while neither of us placed in the contest, we’re both published. I also get feedback from another critique partner, Tina Ellery, who I met on an RWA forum.
How many submissions did you send out?
I submitted to both agents and editors and received many requests for full manuscripts. I was rejected by a dozen agents and 10 publishers. In the end, I had two solid R and Rs and four offers from publishers. I ended up going with Boroughs because I wanted to work with Chris Keeslar, the editor.
Did you work with an agent? How did you find him/her? In what ways did the agent help with the process?
My agent, Amanda Leuck of Spencerhill Associates, was a guest speaker at my local RWA meeting. She is an invaluable partner in the publishing process and helps with everything from navigating contracts to giving me feedback about manuscripts.
What has surprised you most about this process?
As a journalist, I am used to things happening very, very fast. I am surprised at how long the publishing industry takes. The entire process has taught me PATIENCE, which is not typically my strong suit. I consider this a good life lesson.
I’m also surprised at how much fiction writing has helped me in journalism. I’m now observing more details and working those into my news articles. I’m thinking about how to amp up conflict in my articles, as well.
Romance is the last thing on reporter Skylar Shaw’s mind, and all she wants is to work hard and move on from her small-town newspaper job in Florida. A recent college graduate, Skylar’s all alone in the world. Her family is dead, she’s miles from where she grew up and she’s struggling in her career. And she’s sworn off men since breaking up with her abusive ex-boyfriend.
But when she meets a rich and mysterious Italian while covering a story, her carefully constructed plans for the future are blown to bits. Luca Rossi is gorgeous, funny and brilliant, and she’s determined to uncover his secrets.
After a lonely year on the run from the Mafia, Luca will do anything to possess this vulnerable American beauty. Luca’s got a dark past, though, and he’s reluctant to share it with anyone — much less a gorgeous woman who asks lots of questions.
Soon erotic nights will bleed into dangerous days, and nowhere will be safe from the heat.
Leo Villeneuve is a wounded Afghanistan war veteran who is trying like hell to avoid his pain—and his past.
He returns to Florida in hopes of healing. On a sun-kissed beach he runs into Jessica Clarke, the one woman he’s never forgotten. Their attraction for each other burns as hot as the summer sun, but Leo’s got secrets he can’t reveal. Because, if he does, he’ll risk the one thing he can least afford to lose: Jessica’s love.
A book about first love and second chances. And unforgettable passion.
Tamara Lush is an award-winning journalist with The Associated Press.
She first started writing in grade school, penning elaborate stories inspired by Raiders of the Lost Ark. After completing her undergraduate degree at Emerson College in Boston, she began her reporting career at a small, weekly newspaper in Massachusetts. Her work has appeared in The Village Voice, People Magazine, The St. Petersburg Times, The Boston Globe and USA Today.
When Tamara isn’t writing or reading, she’s doing yoga, cooking for her Italian husband or chasing her dogs on a beach on Florida’s Gulf Coast. She loves connecting with people on social media.