I’m so excited to host author Penny Harmon today. She developed a fabulous premise for her recently published romance, and she has since published Fallen For the King, a second Rocky Isle Romance. In this interview, Penny inspires other writers to keep writing while sharing her experience publishing independently.
How long have you wanted to be a romance writer? When did you decide to write a book?
I started reading my mother’s romance books before I was twelve years old and I was hooked. I’ve wanted to write a romance for as long as I can remember. I’d been a web content writer since 2006, but in 2012, I decided to sit down and write a romance. However, after unexpectedly getting custody of two grandchildren, ages 6 months and almost 3, I put that book on the backburner. In December of 2015, I took it out and finished it. The minute I finished that one I started writing “I Saw Him First”.
What inspired you to write this story?
I actually came up with the basic idea a few years ago. I have a great set of friends and, honestly, if we had had the availability of cell phones and texting when we were all young and single, I can guarantee we would have done something like Mallory and her friends do in I Saw Him First.
Describe your process for writing this particular book.
I started out with the intention of making this a standalone romance, but the story simply took over and it became a series. The original idea had Mallory and Megan fighting over Michael, but after I got to know the characters more, I knew they wouldn’t fight or ruin a friendship over a man. I was flying by the seat of my pants until I made the change. Once this happened, I created an outline and followed it as best as the characters would let me…it definitely made the writing process easier.
Was this the first book you had written?
No, I have written several before, but those were in my early days of writing. Someday, I may give them another chance.
Did you work on simultaneous projects?
With this book, I wrote and wrote until I had a completed project. I became obsessive about it as the excitement grew and grew each day, so I really didn’t have time or room in my brain for anything else.
How did you fit your writing into the rest of your life?
I have been a fulltime web content provider since 2006, so I am used to writing whenever I can squeeze it in. For the most part, my grandchildren have gotten used to me sitting at the kitchen table in front of the computer and they expect it now.
Who gave you feedback as you worked through writing the book?
My mother, who is eighty-two, and still an avid romance reader, has always been the one I turn to when it comes to writing romance. I am also lucky to have a sister who loves reading romance as much I do to help me out.
What kept you going through the process?
I realized that at 48, well, very close to 49 old, now is the time to do it. I stopped writing when my own children were small and finally said I deserved a shot at my dream. My grandchildren inspire me to be the best that I can be and I want them to be proud of me.
What made you decide to publish independently?
While I have never sent a romance book into a publishing house for consideration, I have sent in children’s book manuscripts. Honestly, I got tired of the waiting. Some say that it can take six months to be considered…others don’t even get back to you. I chose independent publishing for this reason and the fact that I remain in complete control of my writing…I guess that makes me a control freak. J
How did you decide to publish with Amazon?
I have always been a big fan of Amazon, so knew it would be the first place that I published if I chose the independent route.
What was the biggest challenge of publishing independently?
The biggest challenge for me is the marketing. I’ve never been the type of person to stand up and yell, “Look at me! Look what I’ve done!” However, with encouragement and advice from a lot of great friends and family, I’m making it work.
What were the benefits of publishing independently?
There are many benefits to publishing independently. You are in control of your story line, your characters, the plot, and the setting. You choose the price you want for the book. You choose the cover. You also get higher commissions than you would through the traditional publishers. However, the downside is that you also get to do all the work. You will be wearing many hats throughout the process, but this just makes it more interesting.
What has surprised you most about the process?
The biggest surprise to me was how stressful it was. Before I hit the Publish button, I went into panic mode. The “what ifs” kept running through my head, but finally, after staring at the button forever, I decided it was time to take the jump.
What would you change if you could?
If I could change anything, I would turn back the clock and start publishing my work much earlier. I’m having so much fun that I wish I would have decided to do this a long time ago.
What advice would you give aspiring writers?
I may sound like a Nike commercial, but just do it. I let the fear of letting others read my work get the best of me for too many years. Don’t let any fear, whether it is the fear of failure or the fear of success, stop you from living your dream.
Five single women living on an island off the coast of Maine. The men are few and far between, but the minute a good looking man comes in on the ferry, they all know about it.
When Mallory sees Michael when he gets off the ferry, the first thing she does is text her friends: I Saw Him First.
Michael is a writer who has come for peace and quiet to finish writing his novel. He didn’t expect to fall in love. As Mallory and Michael explore their new relationship, can they get past the differences in what they want and their two very different lifestyles?
Can love really conquer all?
Penny Harmon began writing at an early age and developed a great love of words over the years. After her children were grown, she took her writing more seriously and has published in both newspapers and magazines. In January of 2016, her first novella, Complicated Inheritance, was published and in March of 2016, the first book, I Saw Him First, of the Rocky Isle Romance series was published in February 2016. The second book, Fallen for the King, just came out in April 2016.
Penny lives in Maine with her long-time partner, Dan, two grandchildren, one dog, and two cats. She enjoys spending time with all nine of her grandchildren and enjoys working on DIY projects, especially those of repurposing.