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Friday, February 20, 2009

Getting to Know Loretta

Hello all you Historical Hussie readers. I’m a little wind-burned, a whole lotta butt-weary, and still trying to shake the chill from my bones from my recent motorcycle trip to St. Augustine, Florida. While riding along and thinking about the plot line for my next novel, something hit me in the top of my head. KAPOW! No, it wasn’t seagull, it was my internal conscience reminding me that my blog was due, and geez, I hadn’t even thought of a topic. I could tell you about St. Augustine. It’s a town filled with wonderful history, but I’ll save that for another time. Instead, for those of you who don’t already know me, I’ll introduce myself.

First, I’m Loretta Rogers, and you’ve just learned that I ride a motorcycle. While I’ve given up my own bike, these days, I’m content being the passenger. The other thing about me is that for Avalon books, I write under the pseudonym-L. W. Rogers. The reason being is that men traditionally don’t buy/read Westerns written by women. So, shh! Don’t tell.

I write Westerns (think Louie L’Amour, Zane Grey, Cotton Smith), and I also write historical Western Romance. While I do write in other genres, I’ve always felt that I was born in the wrong era. Setting my stories in the old West allows me to live vicariously during that time period.

One of the difficulties I find in writing about the old West isn’t the subject or the time period, but the research. As a retired language arts/social studies teacher, I have a passion for history, so I tend to get so caught up in the research that find myself delving into topics that have nothing to do with what I’m writing. If I’m not mistaken, that’s called procrastination. One of the most interesting bits of research I’ve come across recently, is the reason sane women in the 1800s were put into insane asylums and the other was why women in this same time period became prostitutes.

I treat my writing as a business. I write every day, approximately 8 hours a day. When the story is flowing, I might put in 12 hours. When I’m on deadline, I’ve even awaken at 4:00 in the morning, still in my typing chair. On those hectic deadline days, my husband comes in and gets me out of my office for fear that rigor mortis will set in. One of the coolest things about being a writer is going to work in my pajamas. I don’t do that often, only sometime. Seriously, the best perks about being an author (besides getting publishing contracts) is doing book signings and giving writing workshops. I enjoy chatting with people, whether they buy books or not, and of course, being a teacher, I like sharing what I’ve learned about writing with aspiring writers.

One thing that has surprised me the most about writing is how much time is required to market myself and my novels. Marketing goes beyond having a nice website. And marketing isn’t for the faint-of-heart. Marketing is a balancing act between how much time to allow for blogging, answering and reading emails, creating book trailers, traveling to book signings, finding time to work on a new novel, and meeting editorial deadlines for galleys on contracted novels, and somewhere in all that madness still find time to do housework, buy groceries, pay bills and breathe.

I’m often asked if I’m a plotter or a panster. I think I’ll coin a new phrase and call myself a, planster, because I’m a little bit of a plotter and a whole lot of panster. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term-panster-it’s someone who has the story in their head, sits down and writes it from beginning to end. Who/what influences my stories: characters or plot? It depends on the type story I’m writing. Westerns are plot driven with fast-paced action, while Western romances are character driven. Which do I like the best? Hmmm! Regardless of whether it’s plot or character driven, I tend to like whatever I’m currently working on, the best.

When aspiring writers ask for advice, I usually tell them to read, read, read books in the genre in which they are interested in writing. Recently, I had occasion to attend a workshop given by Joan Johnston. She reaffirmed this advice. In fact, she said it takes about ten thousand hours of reading books in a person’s selected genre to know what works and what doesn’t work, what makes that particular book a best-seller and what makes the reader want to throw a book against the wall. The next piece of advice is to grow a thick skin. The averages of getting a rejection letter the first time submitting is greater than getting that first contract. Rejection letters tear a hole in your pride. You have to learn not to take it personally. Next, set that old manuscript aside and start a new project. Once you’ve completed and submitted the new project, then go back and revisit the old one. Sadly, I know people who after thirty years are still writing that same old tired novel. If you expect to get published, you have to write, rewrite, edit, perfect, know the publishers’ submission guidelines and get your manuscripts in the mail or in today’s world of modern technology sent off by email attachment. Then after you’ve chewed on your fingernails for a while, spent a few hours praying, and a couple of sleepless nights fretting about did you get everything right, get busy writing another story.

A little about my projects—The Twisted Trail, a “Cracker” Western published by Avalon Books released April, 2008, and my newest Western, Brady’s Revenge will release October, 2009. It is slated to be Avalon’s lead novel. Also published with The Wild Rose Press, Isabelle and the Outlaw, a time-travel, historical western romance novella, released December 2007, has been recontracted to release in April 2009 in the Through the Garden Gate Anthology print edition. Also a novella, McKenna’s Woman, a historical western romance will release in June 2009 as part of the Outlaw’s and Lawmen Anthology print book. Currently, I’m working on a new L. W. Rogers Western for Avalon Books.

I think I’ll close out this lengthy biography by sharing the most unusual way I came up with how to kill off a character in a story. In Westerns, people tend to all die the same way: gunfight, shot in the back, trampled in a stampede, an arrow through the heart, etc. Well, I had a villain who was so despicable that he deserved to die a horrific death. I just couldn’t come up with anything original and really gruesome, until. . .I was watching Paula Deen on the cooking channel. She was creating a dish where she poured brandy into a hot frying pan. The fire flamed up and looked as if it had consumed my television screen. That’s when I had my “Aha” moment. But, you’ll have to wait until Bannon’s Brides is published to find out exactly how I used whiskey to set the villain ablaze. And once the novel is published, I’m going to send Paula an autographed copy.

Now that you’ve gotten to know me, I hope you’ll come back and visit Historical Hussies often.


Helen Hardt said...

Hi Loretta, what a fun post! It's always great to learn more about other authors. My husband and I take motorcycle trips, also. I've never had my own bike. I love riding behind him. It's a chance to hang out together and watch the beautiful countryside.


Emma Lai said...

Thanks for the sharing your story, Loretta!

Mary Ricksen said...

My husband and I used to ride on his bike, I sure miss the wind and the fun.
You may or may not have been a weed, but at worst an exotic one!

Anna Small said...

Enjoyed your post, Loretta! I also visited your website and left a comment.

David said...

Hey Loretta. I am so glad to know a published author that was a pleasent individual in high school. After all those years of teaching you vetured out into a whole new territory - and I am honored to read your stories. As a man I don't really care for mushy romance novels, but adventure in western stories also tell a lot of history. WOW! You're on my LIST!

Weyman said...

Hi Loretta, WOW, not bad for my old High School and Jolly Corner City Friend. I'm with David as far as Romance novels goes, I like action. Maybe one of your novels could be in the line of Lewis & Clark, now that I am in Montana. Good luck with all of your books.

Loretta said...

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to get to know me. And a great big howdy to David and Weyman, former classmats. I appreciate everyone's comments.