Rhonda James is an Amazon best-selling romance author who strives to create a book boyfriend for all her readers. Rhonda is married and lives in Michigan with her family. In her spare time you can find her talking to readers, cooking some new creation in her kitchen, or just spending time with her family.
Some of her guilty pleasures are mastering such things as Twitter and indulging in chocolate, she may do one more than the other.
1.What got you into writing / what made you sit down and actually start something? I have been writing for as long as I can remember. I wrote poetry for many of my school years, then, I penned my first (now well hidden) romance novel when I was 15. While my kids were little I always told them that I was going to write a children’s book. I even have the whole series mapped out in my head. But now that they are adults, and I have more time to myself, one day I found myself sitting at my computer and started typing and before I knew it I had written the first eight chapters of My Only Regret.
Once the ideas started flowing, I couldn’t stop them. I am very thankful for that.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you, how is it structured? Once I’ve had my coffee, and the house is finally empty, I turn off the TV that is turned up way to loud as my husband is partially deaf and I turn up my music. I prefer early morning or late night writing. I get most of my ideas while I’m sleeping, showering, or driving. All of these are not the most convenient times to be taking notes either! I always have a Spotify playlist that is geared toward the mood of the book. The hardest part for me is remembering to get up and move around. I often find that my lower back hurts from sitting all day.
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? I’ve only experienced true writer’s block one time. I had written my first book and it ended on a cliffhanger. The ending dictated what needed to happen in book 2 and that gave me a lot of anxiety because the couple needed to go through a nasty break up scene. I had fallen in love with this couple and I really struggled to tear them apart. I anguished over that scene for nearly three weeks without writing a single word. I was of the mind set that I had to write one chapter to the next. I have since learned that it’s okay to bounce around and write what you are feeling then go back and fill in the spaces between. But once I broke through that block I felt amazing and everything came together. It was probably one of the longest three weeks of my life!
4.Are you a plotter or panster when it comes to writing a story? Actually, I think I am more of a planster. I do a little of both. I usually like flying by the seat of my pants. I have found that certain scenes I write require more plotting and I really like that side of me, it tends to come out when I really need it, then chooses to lie in wait all of the other times. 5.Are you traditionally or self-published? Self-published
6. What was the publishing process like for you? Any advice to aspiring authors? For me it was an amazing experience. I had wanted to publish a novel for nearly 30 years before I finally swallowed my fear and dove in. The whole notion of sending my work to a publisher, only to have them reject it, scared the crap out of me. When I stumbled upon Amazon’s KDP I felt like I had just found the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. I went through Createspace for my printed material and they work in conjunction with Amazon. There was always someone there to answer all of my questions, and they have amazing tools on their site to help aspiring authors. I can’t recommend self-publishing enough for someone looking to dip their toe into the big scary world of being an author.
I think one of the biggest pieces of advice I could give to aspiring authors (besides telling them to reach for their dreams and believe in themselves) is to find a good PA and have them work to help promote you. Publishing the book is fairly easy, marketing your work and yourself is a whole other beast.
7.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? Well, first of all I am an avid reader. I have spent years with my nose in a book and falling in love with characters and the authors that created them. Now, with FB and our easy access to reach out and share our love for the book with the author I find myself thanking them and engaging with them. I always dreamed that one day my readers would reach out to me. With my latest release, Alaska or Bust, I have readers emailing and messaging me and telling me how this book touched them so deeply, or that they fell in love with Tucker and Gracie. I find myself crying tears of joy on a regular basis nowadays and I hope and pray that I never forget how amazing it feels right now. Although it is my goal to one day to be a well-known author, I always want to remain humble. I am, after all, a woman that has bad hair days and carries an extra few pounds. The only difference is that I get to create fantasy characters for people to fall in love with.
8.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us, including genre and targeted audience? Of course! This book is a bit of a jumble. At it’s core you have a romantic-comedy, but it is a tear jerker that seems to have left a few people a touch speechless. The characters each suffer a significant loss in their lives and embark upon a cross-country journey. Due to uncontrollable circumstances they end up meeting outside an abandoned gas station in Virginia and become travel companions. They listen to 80’s music, sing off-key, and make a point to stop at tacky tourist traps along the way. The each had a goal when they set off on their adventure, but falling in love was never a part of the plan. Here is the blurb:
Tucker Winslow and Gracie Madison, two strangers trying to survive a staggering loss. Both hop in their cars and set out on a cross-country adventure, hoping to leave the hurt behind. But, when Tucker’s car breaks down, and he is forced to hitchhike the rest of the way, fate intervenes. When these two meet, the bond is instantaneous. Their losses connect them in a way that’s impossible to ignore, and they form a friendship that helps soothe wounds that go far too deep to heal. They laugh, they cry, they blast 80’s music and sing off-key, and they stop at every tourist trap they can find along the way. Then, as it always does, one night their laughter turns to lust and they both give in, knowing it will change everything they’ve come to rely on.
Losing someone you know and love can be the hardest thing in the world. So why does losing someone you’ve just met, yet have come to depend on, hurt twice as much? Join Tucker and Gracie as they embark upon the adventure of a lifetime, and end up on a journey toward finding happiness in a world that was once filled with pain.
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.) Social media is your friend. Make sure you have a dedicated FB author page. Put together a Street Team to help promote your book/teasers. Have a Twitter account and Instagram, and use them. Set up a website to feature your work. My best piece of advice is hooking up with a great PA (personal assistant). You can find them on FB.
10.How long on average does it take you to write a book? Well, I write pretty quickly. My novels typically have a word count of 90,000. Word count is critical to writers. I used to think I had to focus on pages, but it’s all about the amount of words you have. I can usually have one written in two months time.
11.Tell us about the book cover/s, how the designing came about, whether you had much input etc. Being an Indie author I have complete involvement. I’m also blessed to have an amazingly talented daughter who is a graphic designer. Much to her dismay, I probably haven’t given her the freedom she needs to allow her creativity to shine. I am notorious for getting a cover idea in my head and I will search through hundreds of images trying to locate “the one”.
The cover for Alaska or Bust I told her what I wanted and walked away. When I came back to her workstation she had what I now believe to be the best possible cover for this book. I am in love with this cover.
Being that I am still rather new to the publishing scene, I am still learning the ins and outs of choosing the perfect cover for your book, though I do believe that I get better with every book I publish.
12.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? Aside from playing on FB with my PA’s and friends, I love to read and cook.