It's always a pleasure to welcome a fellow Georgia Romance Writers' member to the blog. Stephanie is a long-time contributing member extraordinaire. If you've never had the pleasure of sitting in on one of her workshops, you've really missed out! To keep up Stephanie and her wonderful books, check out her website. Now for a little background on our guest.
Stephanie Bond was seven years deep into a systems engineering career and pursuing an MBA at night when an instructor remarked that she had a flair for writing and suggested that she submit to academic journals. But Stephanie, a voracious reader, was only interested in writing fiction. Upon completing her master's degree and with no formal training in writing, she started writing a romance novel in her spare time. Two years later in 1995 she sold her first manuscript, a romantic comedy, to Harlequin Books. In 1997, with ten sales under her belt to two publishers, Stephanie left her corporate job to write women's romantic fiction full-time. With over 40 novels to her name, Stephanie now writes a sexy mystery series for Mira Books and romantic comedies for Harlequin Books.
Stephanie, you do strike me as Superwoman, simply because your publishing schedule this year is just amazing. Having sat in on a couple of your workshops, I know that what created that back-to-back appearance of so many works to be released this year was really experience, planning, and fervent diligence - not super powers. But, if you could have a super power, what would it be and why? And, what is your personal kryptonite?
Stephanie: LOL, I think the Superwomen out there are the ones who write with kids at home! If I do have a super power, I guess it would be multi-tasking. (Which most women excel at, out of necessity!) I’m a big believer in the “chipper” philosophy, that is, chipping away at all the things that need to be done little by little until they’re finished. Being a full-time writer is like running your own business. You’re the Director of the Production Department, which is responsible for writing and post-writing activities, such as reviewing line- and copy-edits and page proofs. You’re also the Director of Marketing & Publicity, which is increasingly time-consuming as new social media platforms emerge. And don’t forget about being Director of Research & Development, which is responsible for coming up with fresh, new product lines! To run your business, you have to devote a certain amount of time to each area. I don’t work in every department every day, but over a seven-day stretch, I try to visit every department at least once. So as the weeks go by, every aspect of my business gets a little bit of my time—which is better than manically jumping from one to another as crises emerge.
My own personal kryptonite? The phone! There aren’t words to describe how much I hate to hear the phone ring. When I hear that awful trilling noise, it’s like a drill into my brain, disrupting my thoughts, screaming, “Pick me up! Pick me UP! PICK ME UP!” It just feels like such an intrusion to me. Maybe some of the reason I hate the telephone is because my home phone number is similar to a local credit union, so I get about 2 dozen wrong numbers in an average day. And my business phone number is one digit off a local CVS Pharmacy, which is good for another half-dozen wrong numbers a day. I’d change the numbers, but in Atlanta, chances are good my number will be close to SOMETHING that’s just as busy. Some days I just turn off the ringer. I own a cell phone only because it’s practical…but the phone number is written on a piece of tape on the back because I use it so infrequently. The phone will consume your time if you aren’t careful—your day will simply evaporate. When I was a teenager, I thought my grandfather was crazy for not having a phone. Now I think he might have been the wisest man who ever lived!
Can you tell us about your releases this year? I, for one, am anxiously awaiting your next three Body Movers books, back-to-back in April, May, and June. But I see you also have 2 Blaze novels, stories in three anthologies, and an e-novella coming up!
Stephanie: Bear with me—last year was a crazy-hard writing year, but that means I put a lot of books in the pipeline for 2009:
Books 4, 5, and 6 in my Body Movers humorous mystery series, 4 Bodies and a Funeral, 5 Bodies to Die For, and 6 Killer Bodies, will be released from Mira Books back to back in April, May, and June. The in-series trilogy will feature a serial killer called The Charmed Killer for his signature of placing a charm in the mouth of each of his victims. (I love the charm bracelet covers for these books!)
April will also see the release of More Than Words, Vol 5., which is a special collection from Harlequin featuring 5 novellas inspired by the works of 5 wonderful charities. My novella, “It’s Not About the Dress,” features a bride who goes undercover as a volunteer at a clothing bank to try to recover her perfect wedding gown that was inadvertently given away, and learns something about herself in the process. All proceeds from the book will go back into the More Than Words program, which provides grants to worthwhile charities. This gift-size G-rated hardcover is perfect for Mother’s Day!
I contributed to 2 anthologies that will be released in July: In Sand, Sun…Seduction!, a woman’s attempt to meet her boyfriend on a remote desert island where he’s supposed to propose is thwarted at every turn by a sexy guide who seems to have his own agenda in the novella “Enticed.” (Harlequin) And in the mystery and suspense hardcover from Harper, Two of Deadliest, I join 25 other authors in a collection edited by the wonderful Elizabeth George. In my short story “Bump in the Night,” a woman is suspected of murdering her ex-boyfriend when he’s found dead on her couch!
Rounding out the year, I’ll have three connected projects in October, November, and December: In the October Blaze, Seduction by the Book, a group of women form an erotic book club, then use the lessons in the pages to seduce the man of their dreams! The organizer of the book club has her own story in the e-novella “Too Hot to Print” in November, and the one remaining (and most reluctant) member of the group visits Christmas past, present, and future in A Long Winter’s Night, a December Blaze. (I really love doing connected projects!)
You know that I’m obligated to ask you about Body Movers Carlotta and her love life. All of our readers would spam me if I didn’t. So, three hot men in her life with no clear frontrunner. Are we going to see her make a choice in one of your upcoming releases? Oh, and if you want to tell us who, we promise just to keep it here among ourselves…
Stephanie: Poor Carlotta…three gorgeous men at her beck and call…if only we were all so lucky! I hope that readers will be patient with Carlotta as she “tries on” the men in her life. She missed out on so much in her twenties while she raised her younger brother, she just doesn’t know how to handle all the sudden attention from Jack, the sexy cop, Coop, the hunky body mover, and Peter, her first love. Each guy offers something different—she just doesn’t know what she wants. Plus, after all she’s been through, she deserves to have a little fun and be the center of attention! As far as which guy she’s ultimately going to pick, Carlotta hasn’t told me yet!
With the kind of adventures that Carlotta usually experiences, like that last hanging off the Fox Theatre balcony at an Elton John concert, what can she possibly get into that will top that?
Stephanie: I can let you know that in one book she has her cake and eats it, too (literally)…and there’s a mysterious stray cat who wreaks havoc with her life…and in one book Carlotta gets a little over zealous with a stun baton! Wesley, too, will have his share of ups and downs in the spring trilogy.
Are we going to get any more Body Movers after 6 Killer Bodies in June? It strikes me, mathematically speaking of course, that there are a lot more numbers out there available for those of us who love to read this series.
Stephanie: That remains to be seen—I’m hoping that there will be at least 2 more books in the series, but ultimately, that’s up to readers! If they keep buying, I’ll keep writing!
Stephanie, what sparked the idea for your Body Movers series and what did your editor/agent say about it at first?
Stephanie: I’d had the idea of a body-moving duo for a while—years, in fact. I could picture the woman being very girly because I liked the juxtaposition, but I couldn’t come up with good motivation for a girly-girl to do something so…icky. There are easier ways to make money, after all. And I didn’t like the idea of her moving bodies to help out a boyfriend—there should be limits to what a woman will do for love! Then I wrote a book called Party Crashers for Avon, and I created a secondary character named Carlotta Wren who worked at Neiman Marcus. When it was revealed in that story that she had actually raised her younger brother and that he was in trouble with loan sharks, a light bulb went on in my head: A woman would do almost anything for a beloved brother, especially if she thought it would help him get on a straight and narrow path. I had my Body Movers! I pitched the series idea to my editor at Avon, but she wanted me to keep writing humorous romantic suspense novels with a resolved romance in each book, versus having the romance arc over several books. So I arranged a meeting with the senior editor of Mira and pitched her the idea over coffee at a conference. She liked it, and later said she bought it because of the sister-brother relationship.
Several of my blog sisters, and others I’m sure, would like to know how to convince others that writing is actually work. They say it is especially hard when they are unpublished and without an income to show for their efforts. How did/do you handle that subject?
Stephanie: First, know that others will take their cues from you. You have to protect your work-time and treat writing as a business. Do you have a place set aside just for your writing? A computer that you share with no one? Do you make time to attend writers meetings with no apologies to your family? Are you keeping good financial records and working with an accountant to write off expenses even before you begin earning money? And think about the way you communicate with others. Instead of saying, “I’ll be working at home today,” you might say, “I’ll be in my home office today.” Change your voice message to say that you’ll return calls after office hours. If your kids and spouse constantly interrupt you, post “quiet” hours on your office door and keep it closed. You can try to train your friends and family not to intrude on your work time, but the truth is your writing isn’t as important to them as it is to you—they’d rather you be doing things for them! So it’s up to you to learn to say, “Go play quietly by yourself for one hour.” or “Hon, can you pick up dinner on the way home?” or “No, I can’t volunteer this time.” It’s up to you to make sure other people don’t spend your time.
Looking back, are there any things you would have done differently at the beginning of your career if you’d had the benefit of hindsight?
Stephanie: Hm…I don’t think so. I believe that every step leads you to where you are, and any missteps I’ve made have been great learning experiences. All we can do is make the best decisions we can with the best information we have at that time and place. And learn how to rebound, reinvent, and regroup. Remember—people who seem to move through life with confidence aren’t confident about the outcome of a decision; they’re confident that they can deal with the outcome, good or bad.
By the time this interview comes out, you will have run a half-marathon. Tell us about your running. And how have you found the time to train while writing?
Stephanie: This will be the third year that I’ve run the ING half-marathon in Atlanta. First, let me say I’m not a natural athlete or a great runner. I’m short and I’m slow. But I’d always wanted to do something to challenge myself physically, and frankly—there’s no skill to running. It’s all about endurance, just putting one foot in front of the other. I can do that. And my readers are great to pledge $13.10 ($1 for every mile I’ll run) to First Book. In return I send them a “Bond Girl” T-shirt or an autographed book. So I raise a little money in the process, and having their names on my jersey gives me extra incentive to finish. The first year, I was running on a sore calf muscle that I’d pulled 2 weeks prior. About 2 miles in, I pulled it again…but I looked over and saw a woman running on a prosthetic leg and I thought, if she can do it, so can I! It was a slow, painful run, but I finished. Last year, I was in much better shape and had trained well, so it was a faster, healthy run. This year….well, I haven’t trained as much as I should have, so I don’t expect to make good time, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is finishing and keeping THIS body moving for a good cause. Writing is so sedentary and so stressful, I’ve found it’s really important to incorporate exercise into my life as often as I can. To that end, I intend to run the ING every year!
Thanks so much for having me at Petit Fours and Hot Tamales!
Thank you Stephanie! Readers, if you have questions for Stephanie or comments, she will be checking in throughout the day to respond to you.
And now for the bonus: Stephanie is giving away one copy of her newest release, 4 Bodies and a Funeral to one lucky reader who leaves her a comment or a question. So get busy, people! If you have any problems logging in to Blogger, please click on the Anonymous option and leave your name inside the comment. Comments will be taken until midnight EST. Check back with us Saturday morning for our winner's name.