Rhiannon Ellis is a writer of romance, paranormal romance and mainstream fiction. She is a voracious reader and researcher. Her debut novel Bonded in Brazil was released in March of 2011 from Camel Press. Her novella Dark Wolf Protector was also released in March of 2011, from Cobblestone Press. She is represented by literary agent Dawn Dowdle of the Blue Ridge Literary Agency. Rhiannon lives in Wisconsin with her husband and kids, where she continues to write amidst the chaos and interruptions that come with having small children.
1. Apparently your parents loved the Fleetwood Mac song “Rhiannon” as much as I do, since we both named daughters after it! Do you like the song? Or are you sick of it by now?
Yes, my parents loved the song and so do I. Then again, who can resist Stevie Nicks? I’d never get tired of listening to her unique voice or the songs of Fleetwood Mac. I do, however, get a little embarrassed when strangers sing the chorus of “Rhiannon” to me. I think they expect me to join in, lol.
2. How much writing did you do before having not just one, but two book contracts? Do you have any “First novels” stuck in the back of a drawer that will never see the light of day?
The two books I have published now are my 2nd and 3rd written. I wrote a “First” novel that did get agented but was ultimately never published. I trunked it but have recently decided to dust it off and start from scratch. I always believed there was something special about this story. It took me two and a half years after writing it to figure what that was, though.
I’m going through an interesting (to me) process of reworking the book now. I’m using the same characters and setting, but the plot is new. The old plot is being used as backstory. Of course my writing style has changed quite a bit—and improved!—so I must rewrite everything, even tidbits that I’m keeping from the old manuscript.
This book is like revisiting an old lover that I haven’t seen in years. There’s comfort and immediate intimacy, but it’s new again. The rediscovery has been meaningful for me…like falling in love all over again.
3. Bonded in Brazil and Dark Wolf Protector both came out in March of this year. How did it come about that you had two works come out from different publishers in the same month?
Ha! Dumb luck. Bonded In Brazil was contracted through Camel Press in November. My March release date was set shortly after that. I queried Cobblestone Press with Dark Wolf Protector, a paranormal novella, the week of Christmas. I got an offer a week later, on New Year’s Day. Their publishing schedule allows for 2-3 books a week, and it just so happened that DWP’s release landed exactly 7 days before BIB’s.
Double promo is—excuse my language—a bitch.
4. Congratulations on the contract for the sequel! How quickly did that happen?
Can you tell I’m a writing machine? Don’t worry. I get plenty of rest…I simply skip laundry.
I finished the sequel to Bonded In Brazil in February (I think) and sent it off to my agent. She responded rather quickly with a contract for representation. That’s the beauty of already having an agent—the speediness of the process increases exponentially.
I have, however, been through Query Hell before when submitting my first novel. Six months and a stack of form rejections later, I landed an agent.
5. How did you find your agent?
Probably like anyone else. I searched online, used many of the agent tracking sites available. I researched each one to make sure they were legit and not scam artists. Then I shot off emails and letters and hoped for the best.
6. I’ve seen a few videos that were made to promote a book, called “book trailers”. How did that come about in your case?
Books trailers are just another avenue to promote your work. Authors should take advantage of any opportunity to get their work and name out there. Books trailers are pretty nifty because a) they’re fun to make and b) they can be uploaded to YouTube, one of the biggest search engines available.
7. The VLog you filmed was so adorable! How can you work at all with such adorable distractions?
Ha! Thanks. The Vlog didn’t go as planned, but that’s motherhood for you. There’s always a surprise or change in plans.
To answer your question…I have no idea how I get anything done in this house. I do know something about myself and it is this: If I want something badly enough, I will get it. I’m not the type of person most people would describe as driven upon first meeting me because I’m not especially assertive or vocal about my dreams. I describe myself as quietly ambitious and unbending in my personal goals. I’m pretty sure it’s this mindset that forces me to get writing done amidst the chaos that is a 5 year old and a 2 year old.
8. What is your ideal writing environment? For example, do you prefer silence or background noise?
I don’t mind background noise at all. I do mind fighting, tantrums and incessant interruptions, which seem unavoidable most days.
9. Have you ever actually been able to experience the perfect writing environment?
10. You mentioned in a previous interview that you sometimes move back and forth between manuscripts. What is your limit when it comes to multitasking?
Usually two works in progress. Sometimes just one. I like having a little side project, like a novella, to give me a small break from my main work when I’m feeling burned out. It’s also nice change of scenery to be working on a contemporary romance and flip over to a paranormal romance.
11. Do you have your own set of rules to follow for how steamy a love scene can be? Are these rules influenced by publishers?
I stick to detailed sensual love scenes because that’s what feels natural to me. I also feel that it works with my writing style as opposed to explicit sex. I’ve never written a love scene that was targeted toward a publisher’s demands, although I’d have nothing against doing that if it’s required of me in the future.
In Dark Wolf Protector, for example, I think the lack of C words and the P word might’ve been all that kept it from being categorized as “erotic romance.” I could be wrong, though. Cobblestone, at the time of my submission, wanted “erotic romance” or “erotica.” I submitted DWP, got a contract and assumed that meant mine was “erotic romance.” However, they’ve since changed their guidelines and are accepting “sensual” heat levels, which is how they categorized DWP.
And here I’d thought I’d written smut. Darn!
12. What was your editing process for each book? How many people were involved? Was it different for the novel and the novella?
Bonded In Brazil was in a writer’s group, which helped me a great deal. DWP I edited on my own, with no outside help. My recently agent-contracted book was looked over by a few trusted and phenomenal betas.
I guess I’m an editing flake.
13. Were any changes suggested to you during this process that you were reluctant to make?
I had an extremely thorough editor for Bonded In Brazil, which the book probably needed since it was my first ever romance. She suggested lots of tweaks but no major rewrites. The “tweaks” however killed some of my babies, so I experienced some reluctance and irritation briefly.
Then, I told myself to get over it and moved on.
14. Many writers say they go through a stage when they hate what they’ve written. Did you ever feel that way about your work? If so, how did you get through it?
Oh, yes. I battle this constantly, mostly because I read my work with a critical eye until it’s done. Really done. Only then can I read and enjoy. Some people would go nuts with this mindset, but I need it to make me a better editor. Turn a negative into a positive, right?
15. In what ways do you use social media with regards to your writing?
I love social media! I use it mostly to promote my blog, which focuses on writing and publishing. Blogger, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, various forums and groups…all a lot of fun and full of people with whom authors can connect.
16. What is your favorite electronic or digital tool to use for writing?
Obviously, my computer ranks #1. I also love using my Kindle! Once I’ve edited the brains out of my manuscript, I’ll send it to my Kindle for reading. This format allows me to pick up on things I would’ve otherwise missed when reading off my computer screen.
17. What is your favorite non-electronic writing aide?
Do those exist? Umm…Play-Doh. It keeps my kids busy for a couple of hours when I need it the most.
18. For any readers who have finished writing their first complete romance novel, and are thinking about publishing, what would you say is the next critical step?
If they’ve finished editing, the next step is to write the very best query money can buy, send it out, and get to work on their next project. The next book is essential. That way, if nothing happens with the first, there’s something to fall back on.
I think a lot of authors make the mistake of putting all their eggs into their first-book basket. Nothing happens and they never write again. That’s just sad, and I’d bet we’ve missed out on tons of wonderful writers because of this.
19. What’s one question you wish someone had asked you in this whole round of interviews that no one has asked yet?
No one’s asked if they could do my laundry and housework for me. I’d like it if someone did.
20. When the day comes that you are presented with a prestigious award, who are you most likely to forget to thank?
My husband and children, first. They’re my everything and I doubt I could write books about love without having loved and been loved by these remarkable people.
Also, my mom, who homeschooled me and beat me with books until I learned to love them.
Rhiannon has been busy touring blogs and promoting her books! To learn more, see these links for other interviews and guest posts:
PRESS RELEASES & MISC.
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