Today I’ve got Sloane B. Collins at the Blogathon! And she’s doing a fun giveaway, so stay tuned for that.
Great to see you, Sloane! Tell us all about you! What would you most like your readers to know?
I’m a fifth generation Texan, with roots that can be traced back to a spy in the Civil War. While I’m very proud of my heritage, I honestly think I’m a New Englander at heart. I want to live somewhere again that there are actually four seasons, not just winter then it jumps to hot summer for six months.
I’ve been married for almost twenty-seven years to my own hero. No kids, but we do have four cats who keep us on our toes. I’m an avid photographer and scrapbooker, as well as author, and my goal is to set books in every place that we visit. I love reading and writing in the Romance genre because I truly believe everyone deserves a Happy Ever After.
Are you one of those writers born with a pen in your hand and ideas flitting through your mind, or did your interest develop later?
I’ve always loved reading, and I think I’ve always wanted to write. It wasn’t until we moved to the Dallas area nine years ago that I joined Romance Writers of America, and the local Dallas Area Romance Authors chapter.
When did you become serious about seeing your name in print and begin writing your first romance novel?
I have about a dozen manuscripts started, but I committed to becoming published in 2011 when I was inspired to write a novel set in France. That novel was released this past November in ebook format, and will be releasing late summer in print.
How long did it take you to complete your first manuscript? Did it fly from your fingertips, or did the story emerge slowly?
I have a very demanding day job, so it did take me longer than I expected, but I still completed the book in about six months.
Tell us about your writing process. Soft lights and music? White noise? Child-and-pet confusion? Locked in a room alone? What sets your writing mood and pushes you forward?
I like to immerse myself in the story, so I have playlists for each book and use headphones to drown out the world. I also have my inspiration journals in front of me. I’ve started creating journals or scrapbooks with pictures that inspire the characters, settings, scenes, etc. It has propelled me into writing much cleaner descriptions by doing this
Literary Inspiration: throughout your life, what novels have lifted you, made you think, “Someday I want to create something like that . . .”
Little Women was a big influence on me – I really wanted to be Jo March, and write from the heart. Julia Quinn’s “What Happens in London” is a favorite, and I’ve read it so many times I can quote from it. In fact, I’m on the twentieth reading right now. I love the dialogue and the subtle snark the characters have.
Let’s talk about romance. How do you set the mood for your characters, what do you draw from that helps your H/H achieve oneness with each other? And how much conflict do you give them, along the way?
Ah, romance. The whole reason I write Contemporary Romance – because it’s all about love. I find pictures of people/actors who personify my characters, which makes them come alive. Then I put them in all sorts of romantic situations. But the inspiration comes from who that character is. For instance, Gigi loves pink roses, so Roman fills the room with them. Another character is not much of a cook, so to her, it’s romantic when her man cooks a special meal for her, drawing on her favorite foods. As for conflict, I’m all for keeping the peace in my own relationships…but in books that’s boring, so I’m learning to torture them as I write. <Grin>
What shining moment in your journey stands out the most as a real turning point for you as a writer?
While writing Love Redesigned, the character of Gigi’s best friend just walked onto the page – I hadn’t planned for him or anyone to fill that position, but there he was! It was so awesome to actually have that happen – I felt like a “real” writer at that moment. So from then on, when stories take an unexpected turn, I continue on to see what happens.
Five vital things surround you as you create. What are they? What makes them special to you?
• Playlist geared toward each book – helps me sink into the story and mood.
• A special item from the city/state/country my book takes place.
• Scrapbook I’ve created for each book – it’s a big visual inspiration.
• My kitties.
• Plotting board or rough outline so I know which direction the story needs to go.
Writers face many time-constraint challenges. What are some of yours? What do you do to overcome them?
Biggest time constraint for me is the day job. When I can, I try to write on my lunch breaks, or at least jot notes down for scenes.
What is the most thrilling aspect of the writing process for you?
When I’m in the zone writing, and I’m completely immersed in the story – the characters become so real to me, it’s like a movie playing in my head.
What aspects of the writing process do you find most difficult?
Discovering the GMC of the main characters – goals, motivations, and conflicts. That’s the part that makes books so interesting, and keeps the reader reading to the end!
How do you begin a story? Do you just sit down with an idea in mind and start writing, or are you a person who wouldn’t dream of starting without a detailed outline, character sketches, and pages of research data?
Honestly, I’m such an organized person that I set out as a plotter. But I found it more fun to “pants” my way through the story. I get to know my characters as well as I can ahead of time, and then start writing.
Tell us a little about what you’re currently working on.
I’m working on the prequel to Love Redesigned, as well as the sequel. I plan to have at least four books in the ‘French Kiss Connection’ series, but I’ve fallen in love with France, so I have another two book ideas I’m playing around with set in Provence.
How about some faves of yours?
My husband and I were adopted by a pregnant stray last year, and the day we brought her in to our home, she had three boys. We named them (well, okay, I named them) after characters in my favorite Julia Quinn book. My darling husband had lashed two boxes together, cut holes between so they had extra room, and padded it with towels and a quilt. As the kittens grew and started climbing out, we separated the boxes and they could use the “windows” on the sides to get in and out.
One day I saw two of the babies, one in each box, chattering to each other through those side “windows”. It instantly reminded me of “What Happens in London”, which if you’ve read the book, you know is how Olivia and Harry began their relationship. So, et voila, they became Harry and Olivia. However, when I took the kittens for their first shots a short time later, we found out that Olivia is actually an Oliver. (Side note: even after Googling “how to tell the sex of kittens,” I got it wrong.)
So Harry and Oliver are replicas of their tabby momma, and Sebastian is a gray tabby. We actually call him Scooter (since he was the first one to scoot around in the boxes), but his real name is Sebastian Gray, after Harry’s cousin in the book.
My favorite part of each day is when I go to bed, and Oliver plops down and curls up right under my arm. I love these babies and their mom!
Sloane’s debut release with Soul Mate, Love Redesigned:
Give American cake artist Genevieve Haywood a picture of anything, and she’ll turn it into a sweet and decadent creation. She’s not going to let hard work or competition stop her from opening her dream business. But when she’s hired as the cake artist for her cousin’s wedding in France, she never expected to run into the French fashion designer who broke her heart fifteen years ago.
Roman Duchaine is done with living life in the fast lane. Tired of being in the haute couture spotlight, he’s moved back to the small French village where he was born and raised.
Roman’s ready to settle down and have a family until the lost love of his life arrives for his cousin’s wedding. Seeing her reminds him just how devastating falling in love can be.
Their fragile truce is meant to last through the wedding, yet every second together makes their attraction and long-buried feelings undeniable. But old habits and hurts die hard, and while Roman is ready to weave their lives together, Genevieve can’t afford to lose herself in his shadow.
BUY LINK: AMAZON:
Sloane, thanks so much for visiting with us today!
Sloane has a great giveaway for two lucky U.S. commenters: e-copies of Love Redesigned. Please leave your email address in your comment to be eligible for the giveaway.