My career as a newspaper reporter exposed me to the seedier side of life as a crimes reporter but it also allowed me to experience real happy-ever-after stories. All of my books, including “Crystal Clear Love,” have a thread of truth in them and are based on stories or people who touched me. Sometimes, it’s an actual story, with fictionalized details, or a real person, masked to avoid recognition.
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’d have to guess I was born with a pencil, crayon or pen in my hand. When my mother died, I found a drawer full of notes she saved, notes I’d written as a child, some on the double-lined paper with the dashed line through the center from grade school. My handwriting has improved since then! As for my ideas, my brain is always full of stories. I can’t sit in a restaurant without imagining the lives of the people around me and – sometimes – inventing the conversations they’re having. It drives my husband crazy.
When did you become serious about seeing your name in print and begin writing your first romance novel?
I graduated the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English and immediately began working as a part-time reporter for a tiny, weekly newspaper. I saw my name in print as my first byline and it thrilled me. I never grew tired of seeing my byline, especially on the front pages of two of the country’s top ten newspapers. My desire to see my name on a book cover took root in college after I read “The Flame and The Flower,” by Kathleen Woodiwiss. I knew then that someday, I wanted to write romance novels.
How long did it take you to complete your first manuscript? Did it fly from your fingertips, or did the story emerge slowly?
It took almost a year to write my first manuscript. The story floated in my brain for years so yes, it flew off my fingertips. But I knew nothing about the business of writing a romance novel so there was so much to learn. My first manuscript was single spaced – that’s how much I didn’t know!
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 learned to write on deadline, sometimes in the midst of chaos and drama. And I’m deadline oriented, an obvious result of my career as a news reporter. I set a goal to write 1,000 words a day and treat it like a deadline. It doesn’t matter if it’s quiet, noisy, in a room full of people with the television blaring or flying solo at my desk. I make my goal most days but I don’t beat myself up if I fall short. My characters encourage me to sit and write, which helps motivate me. They want their stories told.
Writers face many time-constraint challenges. What are some of yours? What do you do to overcome them?
I am a wife and the mother of an 11-year-old rescue dog, half blind and arthritic. Both my men seek my attention. While I enjoy the luxury of not having a day job, I still deal with running a household (laundry, cooking and the dreaded cleaning) and I am committed to exercise classes three times a week. Plus I have a social life and friends I don’t want to neglect. But I don’t neglect my characters either. They don’t let me. Setting a daily writing goal – and meeting it – helps keep me on track. I confess, when I take a Sunday off, I feel guilty.
What is the most thrilling aspect of the writing process for you?
Two things: Opening that first blank page and typing the first sentence of a new novel. And writing the story’s end – the last line. Both are a rush.
What aspects of the writing process do you find most difficult?
On days when I’m “in the zone,” so engrossed with my characters that nothing else matters, the most difficult thing for me is to stop. If only I didn’t have to shower, take time to eat and let the dog out!
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?
I’m a pantser. I don’t outline my stories ahead of time. Sometimes I’m only sure about how I want the story to open and how it will end. How I get from the first page to the last is often unknown, except for bits and pieces of scenes I know I’ll include. I rely on my characters to tell me what comes next and I fret on the days when it seems they aren’t sure either. My husband shakes his head when I make statements like, “Crystal and Mike just kissed goodbye at the airport and plan to never see each other again. I hope they reunite.”
Tell us a little about what you’re currently working on.
All of my books are about law enforcement because, in my mind, cops are the good guys. Thus far, my heroes have been the ones in uniform I’m working on a romantic suspense where the heroine is the police officer. And she kicks butt!
How about some faves of yours?
I’m always looking for better ways to do things. Have any suggestions for me or thoughts on the above comments? I’m giving away a free E-copy of “Crystal Clear Love” to someone who posts a comment today. Have at it.
Rena’s debut release with Soul Mate, Crystal Clear Love:
Crystal Kenethey’s safe, plain yogurt life turns upside down when she runs into her old love, Mike Perzelle. She’s struggled for ten long years to forget him and his betrayal, only to come face to face with him, and all the old questions and doubts, again. Mike destroyed Crystal’s trust in him and she walked away without a backward glance. But she always wondered if she’d done the right thing. She’s been playing the “What If” game for years, since no man has sparked the heat and passion Mikey could.
Seeing Mike again stirs those feelings she has long buried. She learns the truth about the incident that led to their demise and realizes she has never stopped loving him. She never gave him a chance to explain himself when the incident occurred, and now she’s too late. He’s carved out his own life in a new city and there isn’t room for her in it, not the way she wants. Mike is a man of honor and has promised another woman he will not abandon her, despite his own renewed feelings for her and the love he admits never died. Can there be a happy ending to a pivotal reunion ten years too late?
BUY LINK: AMAZON:
Rena, thanks so much for visiting with us today!
Rena is giving away an e-copy of Crystal Clear Love to one lucky commenter! Please include your email address in the comment to be eligible for the giveaway.