Roni wrote her first romance novel at age fifteen when she discovered writing about boys was way easier than actually talking to them. Since then, her flirting skills haven’t improved, but she likes to think her storytelling ability has. If she’s not working on her latest sexy story, you can find her cooking, watching reality television, or picking up another hobby she doesn’t need–in other words, procrastinating like a boss. She is a RITA Award winner and a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.
1.What got you into writing / what made you sit down and actually start something? I wanted to be a writer from early on because reading was my favorite thing to do as a kid. I wrote my first novel at fifteen, which was really thinly veiled New Kids on the Block fan fiction, but it planted the seed. I ended up going to college for a more “practical” profession, getting a masters degree in social work. But after working in the field for a few years, I had my son and decided to stay home. A few months into stay-at-home motherhood, I got the itch again to write because I needed something just for me. I’ve always been someone who needed a project to focus on and writing was a nice break in the day from all the mom stuff. I didn’t expect it to turn into my dream career. 🙂
2.What is a usual writing day like for you, how is it structured? I’m kind of obsessed with productivity techniques, so I’m always tweaking my process and trying to figure out what works best for me. But one thing I’ve learned is that I need a structured workday. After I get my son off to school, I spend my morning doing all the tasks that aren’t fiction writing (blogging, promo, email, anything having to do with the business) because I’ve learned that I’m a) not a morning person who can jump right into the hard stuff and b) my peak creative time tends to be late afternoon/early evening. So after lunch, I shut down the internet and write (or edit) for three hours until it’s time to pick up my son. Often after I pick him up, I’ll squeeze in a little more writing, but I try to wrap up by five and leave it for the day. And unless I’m right up against deadline, I try not to work weekends so I can reserve those for family time. Also, that helps me to not get burnt out.
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? All the time. I’ve learned that my creativity is on a pretty predictable cycle so I try to work with it instead of against it. There’s always one week a month where words just don’t happen. So I’ve learned to accept that and embrace that week to get all the nagging business tasks out of the way. But outside of that, if the words aren’t flowing, I find that I can usually get myself past the block by rereading what I’ve already written from the beginning. If that doesn’t work, it’s time to “refill the well” with reading or watching movies/TV shows. Writer’s block often shows up when I’ve worked too much and haven’t given myself time to read for pleasure.
4.Are you a plotter or pantser when it comes to writing a story? I’m a pantser. I do a lot of pre-work on my characters because I need to know them really, really well in order to start writing a story (I think that’s the former therapist in me), so I have a stack of worksheets I’ve made that I fill out for each character. But the plot is usually a loose idea that comes together as I write. I have to put together a brief synopsis for my publisher, so I have the premise at the start, but it almost always changes as I write. The last third of the book is notoriously hazy for me at the start. I have to tell my editor—the ending will be happy (because I write romance) but how I get there, what the black moment will be, etc. will probably change from what’s in this synopsis. Luckily, she’s okay with that. : )
5.Are you traditionally or self-published? Up until this year, I was about 97% traditionally published. But now I’m taking my erotic romance series indie. So next month’s release, By the Hour, will be my first big leap into indie publishing. But I’m still working with a traditional publisher as well. I have a brand new contemporary romance series launching in 2018 with Sourcebooks. So I’m officially hybrid now. I see benefits to both methods.
6. What was the publishing process like for you? Any advice to aspiring authors? I sold my first book in 2009 before self-publishing was a thing, so I went the traditional route of querying agents and then once I had an agent, we submitted to publishers. It was a long process and I didn’t get the agent and book deal with Berkley until the third book I’d written. But I’m happy that I had to go through that process. It made me a better writer. The first book I wrote in 2008 when I started writing again was pretty terrible. I’m really glad I didn’t have the option to self-publish it, lol, because I thought it was good at the time. So my advice for new writers is to not be too quick on the publish button. Just because your husband/mom/best friend love the book doesn’t mean it’s great. Don’t publish until you’ve had unbiased feedback and editing. And be willing to accept that the first book you write might be a “practice” book—which is an important step in the learning process and therefore not a waste of time. You want your debut to rock not just be passable.
7.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? Oh, so many highlights. Hearing from readers who love my books. Seeing my books on the shelf in a bookstore. Winning a RITA award (the “Oscar” of the romance writing world.) I love this job. : )
8.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us, including genre and targeted audience? My next release is By the Hour, which is the second book in the Pleasure Principle series (but can stand alone.) This is an erotic romance series set at an exclusive therapy institute, The Grove, where celebrities and the wealthy can escape for privacy when dealing with whatever issues they’re facing. The series follows the people who work at The Grove. So think Grey’s Anatomy meets Masters of Sex. In By the Hour, Elle, a brilliant doctor who has a reputation for being the hardest, meanest M.D. to work for on campus ends up tangling with Lane, The Grove’s cocky sex surrogate who is intent on pushing all of Elle’s buttons. This is an enemies-to-lovers story, and the target audience is romance readers who like their erotic romances full of smart people, hot banter, and sexy times.
9.What tip would you give to new authors when trying to build a fan-base / get followers and market their books? (What to do and what not to do.) With regards to social media, I say focus on the platforms that you enjoy, avoid constant promotional messages, and be authentic with how you present yourself. Though I’m on many social media platforms, I focus most of my efforts these days on my newsletter and website/blog. I work hard to make my newsletter one that provides useful/fun/interesting information to readers (organizational stuff, life stuff, book recommendations, etc.) and isn’t just there to promote my books. I’ve gotten a great response on that. Also, I was recently interviewed on a podcast about all of this, so if anyone wants a more in depth look at how to build loyal readers, you can find that interview here: https://cksyme.com/episode37/ And of course, writing great books builds a fan-base first, so that has to be the start and everything else the add on.
10.How long on average does it take you to write a book? On average, 4 months for a 100k word book, but it can vary. Some books fight me harder than others.
11.Tell us about the book cover/s, how the designing came about, whether you had much input etc. Coming from a traditional publishing background, I gave general ideas for the covers and got to provide input on the finished designs. Only once did I have to give an absolute “no” to a cover concept, so I’ve been lucky to get beautiful covers. My first erotic romance series (Loving on the Edge) has very understated covers, usually just a background texture and eye-catching color. The first book in the Pleasure Principle series, Off the Clock, is one of my favorite covers I’ve ever had. Very elegant but still speaks to the fact that it’s a sexy story at a therapy institute. (The cover the bottom half of a woman on a pretty couch with her shoes kicked off.) But By the Hour’s cover is the first I’ve had complete control over. I found the photo I wanted and hired a cover designer. I wanted a sexy guy but didn’t want him to be shirtless because, though I appreciate a hot shirtless guy as much as anyone, there are so many of those covers out there right now. So this guy with the dress shirt rolled up at the sleeves was perfect—sexy but still holding some mystery. I also loved that he has a wristwatch on, which speaks to the title and the “time” theme of the series.
12.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? I love to cook, travel with my family, and read for fun. I’m recently hooked on listening to podcasts (so relaxing!) And I also have an obsession with decorating my paper planner so that’s become a hobby, lol. (If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see all these things pop up weekly.)
Facebook handle: @RoniLoren
Twitter handle: @roniloren