Joining us at Booktastik today is romance author Ann Roth. Ann’s books mix a witty sense of humor with heartwarming and sexy romance. Her latest series, Calendar Guys, involves hot firefighters and their lucky women. She also has quite a number of books published through Harlequin, and with the amount of books she’s written, it looks like she’s keeping super busy.
Thanks so much for visiting us, Ann. You’ve written so many books. How many are out there, and how long have you been a published author?
It’s great to be here! My first book, originally published in 2000, was published by Harlequin. Recently, I rereleased it (A Place to Belong). It’s available at Amazon, iBooks, Nook, and Kobo. For a list of all my available titles, pop over to my website.
Did you start your writing life as a traditionally published author?
I wrote my very first story in the summer following second grade. That summer, Mom decided I should write before I went outside to play. Seems weird now—don’t most moms encourage their kids to get out of the house?
I worked on the story for quite a while. It featured a boy with a pet porpoise he kept in his swimming pool. No doubt, I got the idea to feature a porpoise from Flipper. Fast forward to decades later. A few days before Christmas, 1999, I sold my very first novel to Harlequin. Such excitement! Thanks to excellent editorial guidance, I learned tons about the craft of writing. I’m still learning. It’s a never-ending journey.
How long had you been trying to nab a publishing deal when you were signed?
I sweated and toiled for seven-plus years. Along the way, I joined Romance Writers of America (RWA) and a critique group or two, both of which helped me improve my writing. From RWA I learned about both the craft and the business of writing. I entered contests for unpublished writers, where I received helpful feedback. Most important, I wrote, wrote, wrote. At the time, we had three teenage daughters (I know!) and I worked fulltime. But I was determined to get published and managed to write 20 pages each week. A little on weekdays and more on the weekends.
Wow, you sure put in a lot of work. Congratulations on making your passion a reality through hard work and determination. Very inspiring!
How did you come up with the concept for a ‘calendar’ series? It’s a great idea!
Thanks! I can’t take full credit for that. I was telling one of my writer friends about a series I wanted to write featuring firefighters. They’re such heroes! I spent several days at two different fire stations, learning the ins and outs of what these guys do. (Both stations were open to hiring women, but qualified applicants are far and few between.) I thought firefighters fought fires, period. Boy, was I wrong! They also drive those aid cars that rush to the rescue, conduct inspections, teach classes, and on and on.
They are true heroes. And all right, maybe I developed a bit of a crush on one or two. (Be still my heart…) I mentioned all this to my writer friend, which reminded her of the calendars fire stations sometimes sell to raise money. I happened to have one. And I thought, that’s it! A series featuring the firefighters on a calendar.
What would you be doing if you weren’t writing?
I can’t imagine not writing. Writing is my passion, my love, and besides my husband and family, my life.
Who are some of your favorite authors and books?
There are so many! Here are a few, most of them romance: Susan Mallery, Jill Shalvis, Debbie Macomber, JR Ward, Sarah Addison Allen, Mary Kay Andrews, Madeline Hunter, Eloisa James… I could go on and on. I also like Frederik Backman’s dark humor.
Can you tell us about your Calendar Guys series, and which of your firefighters is your favorite?
How can I possibly have just one favorite? I love them all! 🙂 Each of the heroes is dealing with personal and sometimes work challenges. They’re single and believe they’re happy that way. Ha! The fun part is creating the perfect heroine for the hero. She’s strong, with her own issues and ideas, and usually the opposite of what he thinks he wants. Often, she feels the same way about him. Naturally, over the course of each story, that changes. I won’t lie—I make them both suffer. The payoff, of course, is a happy ending.
LOL! Cruel, cruel author ;).
When will the next one be out, and which month is this firefighter?
Currently, I’m working on Mr. July. I’m not sure when the story will come out, but probably not until 2018. When I finish his book, I plan to polish and rerelease some of my previously-published novels.
I’m not a fast writer, at most putting out 2-3 books per year, sometimes less. I send out monthly newsletters with updates and freebie offers. To sign up, head on over to my website or my author Facebook page.
Did you have to do a lot of research for this series?
Before I started this series, I did a ton of research. Some of it online. I also spent several days at two different stations, where generous firefighters showed me around, let me handle the equipment, explore fire engines and aid cars, and answered my never-ending list of questions with patience and real-life examples. From time to time, I send them emails with new questions.
Do you plan each book, or are you a pantser?
A bit of both. As for planning, I start each project with a detailed description of the hero and heroine. Who they are, what happened in the past, their goals and why those goals matter, and the conflict that stops them from getting what they want. At the same time, I complete a form that lays out what happens and when.
Sounds good, right? As it turns out, no matter how much thought, effort and time I put into those pre-writing tools, things change. That’s where the pantser part of writing comes in. As the characters evolve into real people (to me they’re very real!), they disagree with my plans for them and take the story in a different direction. Not totally different—I know where they’ll end up—but the route changes. Over the years, I’ve learned to give them the reins and hang on for the ride.
What does your daily routine look like?
I start each day at the gym. I like the way a good workout makes me feel, plus it’s a great health benefit. I do a quick check of email, etc., and sometimes touch base by phone with a writer friend. Then I write until my brain shuts down (writing is hard work!), with breaks for lunch and an afternoon walk. The walks are great. Not only do I get outside, I also work out plotting problems.
Sounds like my ideal day :).
Some authors prefer to write in their own study and some prefer a café. Do you prefer to write in private or public?
I mostly write in my office, which is in the basement. But now and then, I go out for coffee and write there. Mostly I use my computer, but writing longhand is a great way to switch things up. It’s amazing what comes out!
Some authors get their imagination happening by walking, taking a shower, or wait till they’re falling asleep. If you need inspiration, where do you find it?
I fill my creative well as often as possible by getting away from writing. Meeting friends for coffee or meals, seeing a play or movie with my husband, and taking vacations. I read all kinds of things, which is great for stimulating the creative juices. Oh, and cooking. I love to cook, and somehow making a great meal or a sinful dessert helps fill the creative well.
When do you think the Calendar Guys series will be finished?
Good question. Given that I’m not the fastest writer and may need occasional breaks from the series to work on other projects, it could take a few years.
Can you tell us about some of your other books?
To date, there are some 32 books (although one is a novella), most of them romance. Two are women’s fiction novels, which I rereleased last year. For a list of available books and more information, check out my website.
Wow, that’s a lot of books! I bet your fans are very happy they have so much of your work to read.
If you could visit anywhere in the world for a week, where would you go?
I love to travel. My husband and I try to visit other countries every year or so. We’ve been to Mexico, Greece, Canada, Italy, Spain, Japan, Israel, Palestine. In January, we visited Cuba. What a great experience!
Out of all the books you’ve written, which one is your favorite?
Usually the book I’m working on.
Where can our readers find you on the net?
Thank you so much for joining us, Ann. You’ve accomplished so much as an author, and it sounds like you’re going to accomplish a lot more. It was a pleasure getting to know you!
Readers, if you want to check out Ann’s wonderful and sexy firefighter series, click on the book covers below to get to Amazon. We also recently featured Mr. January, which is FREE. Click here to check out that one too :). All Ann’s books are available at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble & iBooks.
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