Friday, May 20, 2011

Interview with Charlene Roberts

Today we are honored to have with us the very talented author, Charlene Roberts.
Please give us your website addy, a list of your books and a short bio.
Hi everyone!
Under Cover of Night and A Gentleman’s Savior
I live in Toronto, Canada. I’m a former member of RWA, although I’m considering whether to rejoin especially as the Canadian Dollar is doing so much better! Lol 
I currently work in the consulting business, but used to model, dabbled a bit in film and want to compete in a fitness model contest.

How do you usually come up with a story idea?  Dreams?  Writer’s journal? Eavesdropping on conversations?  Newspaper?
Most of my ideas come from movies and television shows—I like the ‘what if’ scenario and go from there. Other ideas come from books. What I’ll do is combine an idea from a couple of books and see if a story is born (that’s how A Gentleman’s Savior evolved). I’ll even get ideas from watching documentaries—like the shows on the history of different countries. I’ll look at the scenery and sometimes an idea will pop up.

Who or what inspires you when your creative mojo is lagging?
I’ve been going through serious writer’s block for weeks now. Most times, my motivation comes from reading my Yahoo group members’ talking about their contracts. At other times, I’ll read a book to get the juices flowing.

Who is your Yoda—your seasoned mentor?
I have several! Lol The first one was Catherine Witmer, who I had met when I first joined my writers group. Unfortunately she passed away last year and I miss her terribly. Next is Chris Szego. She runs a fantasy / sci fi store called Bakka Phoenix Books; she either offers encouragement or a kick in the ass! Next is Saozinha Medeiros, who’s working on her writing and we support each other. I can’t tell you how inspiring it is to write when you have friends to support and motivate you!

What importance do you place on writing workshops?  What workshops would you recommend to us?
I love workshops; problem is, I can’t find the time to participate like I used to. If an author wants to write a particular type of book but has no experience or wants to do more research, a workshop on that subject is important. For example, I needed to learn more about a heroine that could fight. I found a workshop on martial arts fighting and using guns. The host was a well of information, and was more than happy to answer the questions I had.
I love workshops! (Think I said that already) J

What person would you like to thank for inspiring you in your writing aspirations?  How did this person help you?
The first person to help me is Michelle Phillips. From a personal story, my ex-boyfriend had moved far enough for our relationship to be deemed long-distance. I didn’t have anything to keep my occupied until Michelle told me she was working on a novel. Since I could type twice as fast and I needed to stay busy, I typed it for her. As I read her story, I thought ‘Wow, I should give this a try.’ Michelle took me to my first writer’s meeting and I was hooked ever since. I wrote manuscripts that I enjoyed creating and had supportive colleagues who would critique and assist in shaping my stories.

Have you ever used songs for inspiration?

Not really; sometimes a song will help in writing and fleshing out a scene.

Do you play music when you write?  If so, what kind?  Or, do you have to have silence or background noise to set your writing muse free?
Sometimes I’ll listen to those Nature soundtracks, but I prefer them without the background music. I have a ‘water’ and a ‘thunder and lightning’ CD that I find really helps me to relax and concentrate.
My background noise is the darn highway! Although I have to say that after awhile, it sounds like static and I can ignore it.
Silence has never worked; I don’t know why. I think when it’s too silent, I have to fill it up with noise, which keeps me from writing.

Do you read in a different genre than you write?  If yes, why?  If you read in the same genre that you write, do you feel that it influences your writing in any way?   
I definitely read different genres; I’d be bored to death if I had to stick with the same genre to read. I find reading different books helps to broaden and stretch your writing skills. And I also find that ideas pop up from reading different things
Reading in the same genre that I write can sometimes influence the way I might think of something. I try to keep the writing mine, without it looking that I might be lifting ideas from a book I’m reading. There are so many ideas out there in books, and by playing the ‘what if’ scenario, an author can come up with some very clever plots!

What is your process from idea to first draft?
Oh man, I’m a ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ kind of writer! I rarely plot out my story from start to finish. I’ll put together a bare bones synopsis, then go for it! It seems to work the best for me. If a spend a lot of time plotting, then I find all kinds of questions and problems, and the book never gets started.

Have you ever given assistance to a struggling new writer?  Has another writer ever come to your aide?  How?
If anyone asks for help, I give it. I had so much help during my start, it only seemed natural to give back what I could. Whether through answering questions, or pointing an aspiring writer in the right direction with regards to research or another author who may have a better answer than me.
I have asked for help when looking for a critique partner. I know that reading a manuscript and evaluating it takes time, so I always like to offer my help as well.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishments in your career so far?
OMG, getting published! Seriously, I had been writing for over ten years before my first book was contracted. I love creating stories; at first, it was what I would call a serious hobby, especially as I find that my full-time job gets in the way. But when I received the email from the editor saying ‘Congratulations, we want to offer you a contract’, I was in 7th heaven!
If you won the big lottery, what would you do with the money?  Would give any of it to charity?  If so, which one?
I’ve got this one planned out. First, I would disappear; I don’t want ANYONE to find me. My family and close friends will get their share. As for charities, the World Wildlife Fund. They need to get the message across that killing an animal to extinction is going to leave the world unbalanced. Next would be a charity to help women overcome poverty and work for themselves. And I would donate money to organizations that help children find loving homes. If I have anything left over, I would donate to the Japan crisis, then advise them to find cleaner, safer forms of renewable energy.

What is the best advice you want to give to a new writer?
DO NOT GIVE UP! Writing is a hard business; don’t let anyone else tell you different. Sure, you’ll see that some authors get published with their first book after spending less than a year writing it, but believe me, it takes work, just like any other job.
Find a genre that you love to read and try writing your own story. I like a variety of genres and I’m willing to write them. However I had discovered that historical is not my strength, even though I love to read them. I don’t think it’s the details and the research; I just don’t have that certain ‘knack’ in putting a historical together. I love romances and erotica too, but I decided to try something a little different; an urban fantasy that has no romance in it.
Do your research when you’re ready to shop your manuscript. Don’t send it out to just anyone; make sure your choice of agent or publisher wants to see the manuscript that you had spent time and energy on.

If you could choose an animal for a mascot, what animal would it be?  What do you admire about this animal?  Do you feel you have qualities similar to this animal?  If so, what are they?
I am a feline fanatic. I love cats, big and small. I admire them for their independence, their strength, their grace, their silence. I would say that the independence and strength mirror my qualities. I’m silent when I need to be. As for being graceful, man do you see how cats move? I can only hope to achieve 1/10 of their gracefulness.

If money, education and fear factors were set aside, what three careers would you like to attempt other than writing?

1.       I’d like to work at a gym. I want to inspire people to care about their health. I admire my personal trainer, because he cares about how people feel and what they want to accomplish. I would like to do that.
2.      An environmentalist. We only have one world. I want to protect it and advise people WHY we need to protect it. Although talking is only one aspect of it, I would show people why we need to protect it. Words seem to only go so far.
3.      Wellness spa owner. I want to provide a peaceful place where one can relax and forget about the crazy outside world.  Yeah I know, there are plenty of wellness spas out there, but I would make mine affordable.

If money, talent and fear were no object, what big adventure would you like to have?

I remember reading about a company that offered around the world trips by luxury ship. The trip lasted for 5-6 weeks. I’d love to do that, except that I would want the ship to offer extended stays at ports of call.

What characteristics do you like to instill in your heroes? What characteristics do you feel are necessary for a good heroine?

As much as I’m an independent kind of girl, I love Alpha heroes. The thought of strong men protecting their women sort of makes me a little like Jell-O inside. But they also require a bit of tenderness to them too.

As for heroines, they have to be able to look after themselves, but not be ashamed to ask for help when it’s needed. I like my heroines to stand up to their hero too. Pushovers need not apply in my stories!

If you had the power to change two things in the world, what would those two things be?

Get rid of the wars; they’re stupid, waste of money and innocent people get killed. Why do we have wars anyway? We’re the only species on this planet that does this!

Our dependence on non-renewable resources--we as humans are so much smarter. Why can’t we work with the world we live in and it and yourselves happy and healthy?

If could have a super power for a day, what would it be?  Why?

Gosh, I’d love to fly. I want to see this whole world. I’ve watched it on television; now I want to see it with my own eyes. And that sounds ironic, considering that I don’t like to fly in planes. But I want the ability to go where I choose, when I choose.

A Gentleman’s Savior
Charlene Roberts

When Stephanie’s art teacher issues a challenge—create a painting based only on the torso of a human sculpture—she decides to paint a Regency lord. But with his muscular body, longer hair and a few well-placed scars, Stephanie’s lord is definitely no Regency dandy. Her best work ever, the painting stirs an obsession Stephanie can’t explain. Not content to wait for the next class, she visits the art center, just to get a peek at her lord. She touches the painting…

And suddenly finds herself in a bedroom in 1817 London, her lord standing behind her—very real, very naked and very ready to end Stephanie’s sexual dry spell.

Before she can say “ton”, Stephanie’s indulging her desires with Gabriel, dressing in the height of Regency fashion and meeting the Prince Regent. But life in 1817 isn’t all tea and crumpets. Stephanie soon learns she’s reliving her past life—one that ended tragically. Thrust in the middle of a sinister plot, she must save the prince, save Gabriel…and if she’s luckier this time around, save herself.
London, England, 1817
Friday evening

“My love,” murmured a low voice.
Stephanie stood absolutely still, waiting until her eyesight adjusted to the dimness. She stood in front of a mirror and saw her wide, frightened gaze staring back at her but nothing else. “Who’s there?” she whispered.
A low, sensuous chuckle. “Oh, I think you know,” said a deep voice. “You enticed me back to the house, remember?”
A slight scraping of metal on metal and a flame grew brighter in an oil lamp. In the mirror’s reflection, Stephanie gasped as a naked man stood behind her, his skin gleaming in the lamp’s warm glow.
As she slowly looked at the reflection of a four-poster bed, the man’s clothes strewn across the floor, she felt a nauseating lump grow in her stomach.
Stephanie could just glimpse a dark moustache and beard, trimmed to accent the man’s sharp cheekbones. Long, dark hair, slightly disheveled, covered his shoulders. As for the rest of him—she knew what to expect, but still experienced the heated flush that overwhelmed her face as she took in the full sight of hard, muscular flesh. She couldn’t see his eyes but she knew their color—the color of the lush green grass she had painted weeks earlier in her landscape painting.
Stephanie closed her eyes, believing it was all a dream.
“Is something amiss?”
She shook her head, opening her eyes. “No, I’m fine.” And taking a deep breath, Stephanie turned around.
His stance, the way he looked at her with that smile…
His eyes.
It was true.
She was inside her painting!


Tina Donahue said...

Congrats on your release, hon - looks wonderful! And good for you for hanging in there and getting pubbed. You're an inspiration to all aspiring authors. :)

Delaney Diamond said...

Months ago my local RWA chapter had some speakers conduct a workshop and they explained the "what if" method. It forces you to think outside the box and try to create more interesting characters and plot.

Congrats on achieving your dream of getting published.

Sarah J. McNeal said...

I understand what it's like to go through writer's block. I had the story half written when it hit and I just coudn't seem to motivate myself. I crawled through it word by word. What did help was a workhop given by RWA on procrastination and Writer's Block. Now, if I stumble, I set the timer for ten minutes and it usually is enough to get me started.
I wish you great success with your book, A Gentleman's Savior.

Fiona McGier said...

Charlene, I type fast also. Did your mother make you take typing lessons so you'd always be able to support yourself as a secretary if need be? (grin)

Good for you for persevering! Congrats on being published, and good luck with many sales!

Rawiya said...

Wonderful interview, Charlene. Continued success in your writing and congrats on the release!

Charlene Roberts said...

Hey everyone! OMG, I've been so busy with the EDJ that I had completely forgotten about my post! Talk about "loser!" lol I need a new job...

Tina, it's been hell on earth sometimes, but I'm glad I stuck with it!

Delaney, I figured that most common plots are redone with a slight twist to them. I wanted something different. I love "what ifs" - you can come up with some really fascintating ideas!

Sarah, writer's block is the bane of a writer's existence! If I was on deadline, I'd be screwed! lol I'll have to look up that workshop and see if it'll help me out. I'm pushing through a new manuscript, but it's a struggle, let me tell ya.

Fiona, I took typing classes in high school! Nothing to do with my mom. I did it so that I could type my essays. Never thought it would see me through my various jobs and writing. A handy little thing to learn, typing! lol

Rawiya, thank you! I'm a slow writer, but perseverence always wins!