Hearts Through History Romance Writers

Member spotlight on Tracy Koppel

Lea Goad: Hello Hearts Through History members, today I’m talking with HTH member Tracy Koppel. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you’ve been working on?

Do you write full-time or part-time?

I write part-time.

 What’s the hardest part of writing? 

  Keeping track of all the things one has to—the plot, the characters, the setting, the pacing, the word choices—so many details!

What’s your favorite historical movie?

I don’t have ranked favorites in any category.  I grew up loving Errol Flynn’s Adventures of Robin Hood and Douglas Fairbank’s Mark of Zorro, Start the Revolution Without Me, the Court Jester.  But there’s so many others I love, too, like Ever After, Braveheart, Amadeus, and The Sound of Music.

Who’s your favorite historical figure?

Right now I’m admiring Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Mary Wollstonecraft, Harriet Tubman and Florence Nightingale, who is so underrated.

If you could meet anyone in history, who would it be?

I don’t want to meet any of them—if I acted like myself, I’d break the social rules they follow.  Besides, I’d be all uptight and wouldn’t know what to say.

If you could time travel, what era would you visit?

I like my modern conveniences and modern medicine, so I don’t actually want to time travel.  If the question is what eras am I interested in?  The answer is too many.  I’m currently polishing a Regency romance, I’m revising an Elizabethan adventure, and I have a few other Regencies that I’ve started, as well as a few Medieval manuscripts I’ve started.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Turn off your internal editor and get something on the page. 

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

 When I was in middle school and had the opportunity to take a creative writing class.

Are there specific books or authors who have influenced you as a writer?

Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Suzanne Brockmann, Fred Shafer

Give us a brief rundown of your process. Are you a plotter, a pantser, or somewhere in the middle?

 I’m a panster.  I’ve tried plotting, I’ve taken classes in plotting, I’ve bought plotting software…I just can’t do it for drafting.  I have used plotting techniques as part of revising a completed manuscript.

After drafting a manuscript, I let it sit and work on other things for months.  Then I go back and revise, working with a critique group or two.  Then I share it with Beta readers.  When it’s as good as I can make it, I send it to a developmental editor.

Can you tell us a bit about your journey to publication? 

I wrote my first novel before I took any serious writing classes.  I thought I had something good, but then my mother gave it to a retired editor friend who hated it.  I started taking classes at the Graham School of the University of Chicago.  Those classes got me involved in critique groups where I learned about Off Campus Writers Workshop, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and other organizations.  Since then I’ve continued to take classes, attend conferences and workshops.

Over the years, I’ve lost my mother and father, plus both my in-laws.   Also, various circumstances combed so that I ended up home schooling for a few years.  Whenever things became too rough for me to continue working on whichever manuscript I was trying to finish, I’d allow myself to write whatever I wanted to write.  By now, I’ve started more manuscripts than I want to count.

When life settled down, I finished a manuscript and started pitching it to editors and agents.  As I struggled to learn all I needed to know so I could get my manuscript traditionally published, I was reminded that the “gatekeepers” often don’t do a good job of only publishing well-written and well-plotted books, plus the process takes a lot of time and they take a lot of the book’s earnings, so I decided to put my time and energy into learning self-publishing.  I’m currently working with an artist on a cover design, and learning about how to write great back cover copy.

Tell us about your latest release and what’s coming next for you. 

I have a story coming out in an anthology entitled Turning Points, which is due out in September 2021.  I’m also one of the editors of that anthology and part of the committee in charge of promoting it.

My first novel, The Orphan’s Gift, will be coming out soon.  I’d hoped for fall of 2021, but I’m doing so much right now to make Turning Points a success, The Orphan’s Gift might not come out until January 2022.  We’ll see. 

Facebook:  Tracy Forgie Koppel

Twitter:  @lynndarley

Instagram:  tracykoppel

Member spotlight on Grace Ann Kone (aka Blair Bancroft)!

Lea Goad (VP2 – Communications): Hello Hearts Through History members, today I’m talking with HHRW member Grace Ann Kone. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you’ve been working on?

Do you write full-time or part-time?
What’s the hardest part of writing?
Love it. It’s energizing even when I’m exhausted, though I no longer write at night, as I did when I was younger.
What’s your favorite historical movie?
The Vikings TV series, The Guns of Navarone, both Pearl Harbor & both Midway movies.
Who’s your favorite historical figure?
Julius Caesar, Franklin Delano Roosevelt
If you could meet anyone in history, who would it be?
Eleanor Roosevelt
If you could time travel, what era would you visit?
Regency England & Medieval England
What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t write long paragraphs.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
My mother was a very successful author of children’s books. It never occurred to me we could have two writers in the same family. I pursued a career in music, ended up editor of a small children’s publishing company, tried to write when my children went off to school. The result: my mother kindly telling me that perhaps I just wasn’t meant to be a writer. Children in college, home-bound with invalid husband, I tried again. A few years later, after reading one of my early works, my mother informed me I was a better author than she was. So definitely, I was a late-bloomer.

Are there specific books or authors who have influenced you as a writer?
I’ve been an avid reader since I was old enough to read, which covers a lot of influence from vastly different directions: Heinlein & Asimov to Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer. Later, Jayne Ann Krentz & Nora Roberts’s more serious books.
Give us a brief rundown of your process. Are you a plotter, a pantser, or somewhere in the middle?
I am a devoted “out of the mist” writer, frequently posting to my blog Mosaic Moments (Writing & Editing advice) that I can hardly wait to get to my computer each morning so I can find out what happens next. If I had to write a detailed a synopsis in advance, I’d know what was going to happen and lose interest in writing the book.

Can you tell us a bit about your journey to publication?
Slow, very slow. I started out writing Mainstream (historical) in an era when authors were supposed to make their bones by starting small, writing for Harlequin/Silhouette. (A genre of Romance I never, ever read.) Only with the advent of e-publishing & winning the Golden Heart did I finally get serious recognition. To illustrate my frustration during those early years, an RWA regional contest disqualified my Tarleton’s Wife entry. A judge contracted me privately to say that the person running the contest thought me guilty of plagiarism because no beginner could write that well. Sigh. (Tarleton’s Wife had an offer from one of the first e-publishers a couple of months before it won the Golden Heart. I still remember the gasp from the audience when I announced that at the Awards Ceremony.) At nearly the same time, I sold my first piece of deliberate fluff to Kensington’s Precious Gems. Tarleton’s Wife , now in something like its fifth incarnation (counting e & print), is still selling, twenty-one years after its debut in 1999. At a later RWA conference, the editor of Signet’s Regency series invited submissions, and I managed to corral my tendencies to serious historical novels long enough to write six traditional Regencies, one of which was nominated for a Golden Heart. In 2011, I entered the world of indie publishing and have never looked back. I love it.
Tell us about your latest release and what’s coming next for you.
I am currently absorbed in inventing a new Regency sub-genre – at least I think it is. With the deliberate intent of writing a Covid Blues-chaser, I have just finished Book 2 of the Matthew Wolfe series—the story of a young man in the Regency era, born in one of London’s rookeries, but clearly destined for better things. (There’s even a hint that his father might be heir to some small European country.) What is different about these stories is that, more like a mystery series, there is not an HEA romantic ending to each book, and each (until the last) is composed serial-style, ending with a cliff-hanger.

Blair Bancroft website: www.blairbancroft.com
Blog: https://mosaicmoments.blogspot.com
    Mosaic Moments specializes in Writing & Editing tips, particularly for newbies.
Facebook Author Page:  https://www.facebook.com/blairbancroftauthor
Twitter: @blairbancroft
Linkedin:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/graceann-kone-566b0430/

Member Spotlight on Alyson McLayne!

Minerva Spencer: Hello Hearts Through History members, today I’m talking with HTH member Alyson McLayne. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you’ve been working on?

Alyson McLayne: Hi everyone! I’m Alyson McLayne. I live in Vancouver, Canada with my prop master husband, my twin seven-year-olds (boy/girl), and my chocolate lab-cross named Jasper, who’ll always be a puppy to me. My amazing eighty-eight-year-old dad also lives with us, and I swear he has a more active social life than I do (all those lunches and dinners with the ladies!). Lastly, in case of late-night writing emergencies, I have several stashes of dark chocolate hidden around my house.

My main series is set in the Highlands of Scotland, and it’s called The Sons Of Gregor MacLeod. It’s published by Sourcebooks:

Five boys destined to become Highland Lairds are fostered together to become brothers. Darach, Lachlan, Callum, Gavin and Kerr fight for their clans, for each other, and for their own true love.

The first three books of the series, HIGHLAND PROMISE, HIGHLAND CONQUEST, and HIGHLAND BETRAYAL, are all out. The fourth book, HIGHLAND CAPTIVE (Gavin’s story), releases today! I’m thrilled to say, it’s getting great reviews, including my first starred review from Kirkus. Woo hoo!!

MS: Do you write full-time or part-time?

AM: I write full-time, although it often feels like part time because my kids are still young and I’m busy with them. When I got “the call” in 2016 they were only four years old. I’d been lucky enough to be a stay-at-home-mom until then, which allowed me to write when I wasn’t constantly feeding the little monsters. Seriously, we joke that my son is actually a Hobbit because he’s always asking for second breakfast and third lunch.

MS: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

AM: I’ve always loved to read, and stories have been tumbling around in my head for as long as I can remember. When I was nine, I wrote the first chapter of a book about an adventure I took with my talking dog and cat. Wish fulfillment at its finest! And I still have a book of poetry I wrote at that age, too.

MS: Are there specific books or authors who have influenced you as a writer?

AM: My love of Romance started because my mom read the Harlequin Presents line. I remember being fascinated by the couples on the covers of the books, and when I wasn’t pretending to be Sabrina from Charlie’s Angels or a horse named Lightning, I would pretend to be one of the girls on the Presents’ covers. At around thirteen, I started sneak-reading them. At one point I found a huge bag of Harlequin Presents in the basement, and I spent hours down there binge-reading. Shortly after, I tried to write my first romance about a dance teacher, who was mistakenly given incriminating evidence about a mob boss. When the mob boss comes after her, she runs to her ex-husband—a prosecutor—for help. Hmmmmm… that’s not a bad story idea at all!

My love of Highlander historical romances started with Julie Garwood. I’d already written several short contemporaries (targeting the Presents line) as well as several screen and teleplays. One day I was getting my teeth cleaned, and when the dentist saw the book I’d been reading, she started gushing about how I should read Julie Garwood’s books. I couldn’t reply much as her fingers and sharp, whiny tools were in my mouth, but I stopped at the library on the way home and picked up THE PRIZE and loved it. The rest is history

MS: Give us a brief rundown of your process. Are you a plotter, a pantser, or somewhere in the middle?

AM: I am definitely a plotter! I studied drama at university and part of that work involved analysing and dissecting plays. I also took acting and directing classes, which required me to delve deeply into character and individual scenes. Building a character’s backstory, figuring out their world view and motivations, and deciding what they liked and didn’t like was something I did in drama class long before I did it for my novels

Then, when I started writing screenplays, I learned about story structure and turning points, which are so important for screenwriting—for all good writing in my opinion (not that you have to be a plotter to do this!). Once I went back to writing romance, I applied everything I’d learned as a screenwriter to my novels. By the time I start writing, I have a detailed outline that keeps me moving forward but doesn’t stop me from changing things as the story progresses. But I ALWAYS write with story structure in mind, and I know the key, pivotal scenes that I’m writing toward.

MS: Can you tell us a bit about your journey to publication? 

AM: Ha! My journey was a long one—27 years—so buckle up! 

After my first year of University, my mom bought me a book that she found at the grocery store called How To Write A Romance And Get It Published (thank you Mom!). I read it immediately, and instead of getting a summer job that year, I decided to write a book for Harlequin Presents. That was in 1989—pre-internet, pre-email, and before it was easy to access information on publishing. I followed the directions in the book and mailed the printed manuscript to Harlequin.

And then I waited. And waited. Aaaaaaaaand waited! It felt like my manuscript had been lost in some kind of publishing black hole. Finally, I heard back…and I was told that they weren’t accepting manuscripts at this time. What a let-down! I didn’t write another book for over a decade. 

Fast forward through my university and screenwriting years (don’t get me started on trying to get a foot in the door with film and TV!), and I decided to return to my roots and focus on romance. I wrote and submitted numerous manuscripts in different subgenres. For a while I was even working with an editor at Presents—the team there liked my writing but the manuscripts were never quite right. At one point they told me I had a single-title voice. 

Um… thanks?

And then I got pregnant. By my third trimester, I felt too crappy to write, and all my momentum came to an abrupt halt. 

It took a while, but I slowly got back into writing, and in 2015/16 several wonderful things happened—HIGHLAND PROMISE was a quarter-finalist in Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest, Harlequin Historical contacted me afterward, asking to read the full manuscript, and then to top it off, I was nominated for the 2016 Golden Heart contest with my paranormal manuscript! 

Harlequin Historical eventually rejected HIGHLAND PROMISE, but they were interested in seeing HIGHLAND CAPTIVE (book 4 of The Sons Of Gregor MacLeod). I loved the entire series too much to break it up and didn’t pursue the opportunity, but maybe that signalled something to the universe, because not long afterward I submitted to Sourcebooks, and within a few months, I had a 5-book deal for the entire series! 


If you’re interested in my “Call Story” you can read it here on my website: http://alysonmclayne.com/the-call/.

MS: Tell us about your latest release and what’s coming next for you. 

AM: HIGHLAND CAPTIVE releases TODAY! This is book four in The Sons Of Gregor MacLeod and features Gavin MacKinnon and Deirdre MacIntyre. Here’s the blurb:

She’d saved his son. 
Could she save him as well?

Laird Gavin MacKinnon is a changed man—and not for the better. Ever since his young son, Ewan, disappeared two years ago, Gavin has grown callous and bitter. Scouring the countryside, his search leads him to a mysterious woman who maintains the boy is hers. He decides to take them both and ask questions later. 

Deirdre MacIntyre will go with the brooding laird if it will keep her son safe. Gavin has to admit that the beautiful lass has a bond with Ewan, and things aren’t adding up. When Deirdre’s clan comes to claim her under threat of war, Gavin has a choice to make: fight for her or let her go.

I’m currently writing book 5, HIGHLAND THIEF. In addition, I’m taking a really great self-publishing course because I have seven full and partial contemporary romances that, with a little (or a lot!) of rewriting, could make a fun, sexy series. And waiting in the wings is my paranormal romance series that I would someday love to work on again.

MS: What’s the hardest part of writing? 

AM: I don’t know that there’s just one thing, lol. Lots of things about writing and publishing are hard. Off the top of my head, and in no particular order:

-Deadlines are hard because we have all the other things to do on top of writing our books. 

-Self-doubt and uncertainty are hard…and more so now with all the extra choices and opportunities self-publishing brings.

-Working our butts off for not nearly enough financial gain is hard—whether you’re published or pre-published, Indy or Trad.

-Staying focused is hard. Squirrel! Or in my case…Internet!

-Being flayed alive on Goodreads is hard. 

-Writing day after day when the words aren’t flowing is hard.

But one thing is easy…the choice (or maybe not a choice?) to do this hard thing we love. 

I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

MS: Thanks so much for joining us, Alyson! You can find Alyson online at the following sites:

Website address: http://alysonmclayne.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AlysonMcLayne/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/alysonmclayne/?hl=en


Member Spotlight on Jane Rosebery

Welcome HTH Member Jane Rosebery!!!

Minerva Spencer: Before we start talking about your writing, tell us a little about yourself and what you write.

Jane Rosebery:  First of all, thank you for having me. I love reading the member spotlights and I feel lucky that I’m being spotlighted today. I love being a part of this amazing RWA chapter. I’m a bit of a non-traditional historical writer because my romances are set during the Cold War. I write about strong women who navigate a tumultuous and action-packed era. The current series I am working on is set between the 1950s and 1960s in various locations such as Washington, D.C., Berlin, Paris and Moscow.

MS: Do you write full-time or part-time?

JR: I have a full-time job, so for now I write part-time during my evenings and on weekends. However, in a way, my writing is full-time because I do devote many hours to it. I just don’t get paid for it yet.

MS: Who’s your favorite historical figure?

JR: I’m fascinated by Empress Elizabeth of Austria (Sisi). She was the Empress of Austria and wanted for nothing in life. Yet she was extremely unhappy. She wandered from country to country seeking happiness which she never found. She wrote romantic poetry and was more liberal than her husband, Franz Joseph I. She feared that someday the people would not want a monarchy so to protect her future she placed her money in a secret Swiss bank account. Sadly, she was assassinated in Geneva in 1898. As she always feared, the monarchy was abolished shortly after World War I.

MS: If you could meet anyone in history, who would it be?

JR: I’d love to have afternoon tea with Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte. She married Napoleon’s younger brother, Jerome. This really angered Napoleon and he forced a divorce on them. Elizabeth spent the rest of her life trying to fight for their son’s birthright. She divided her time between Europe and Baltimore, Maryland. Oh, if only I could be her confidante.

MS: If you could time travel, what era would you visit?

JR: 19th century Vienna. I would love to be transplanted into a Viennese Ball, wearing a sumptuous gown and a massive diamond tiara. Even my fan would be encrusted with jewels. Someone, please invent a time machine!

MS: Give us a brief rundown of your process. Are you a plotter, a pantser, or somewhere in the middle?

JR: I’m a plotter. To the point where I probably hinder myself with too much research, too much plotting, too much everything…

MS: What’s the hardest part of writing?

JR: The editing part.

MS: What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

JR: Nora Roberts said you should place your butt in the chair. So that’s what I do. I sit down and turn off all distractions and I write.

Thanks so much for joining us, Jane!

Website address: I can be found at JaneRosebery.com.

Feel free to join me over at Pinterest and on Instagram.

Member Spotlight on Riley Cole!

Minerva Spencer: Hi Riley and thanks so much for joining me today! Before we start talking about your writing, tell us a little about yourself and what you write.

Riley Cole: I’m a newly-retired psychologist who’s spent all her adult life living in Northern Nevada. Think high desert. Lake Tahoe. The rugged Sierra Nevada mountains. It’s gold and silver country up here. And of course, I write sexy, adventurous romances set in Victorian London. As one does.

MS: Do you write full-time or part-time?

RC: Full time. Since retiring, I’ve had the great good fortune to be able to hang out in my writing cave as much as I like.

MS: What drew you to write in the historical romance genre?

RC: Besides the outrageous fashions? I love witty dialogue and make believe. And the late Victorian Era is so full of invention and mysticism. And bustles.

Another thing that draws me to historicals is the distance from everyday life. While I’ve got adventure and fight scenes and villains in my books, I write light. After a career as a child psychologist, I want fun and adventure and entertainment. Thieves and rogues and parasols that conceal rapiers. That’s my kind of era.

MS: Are there specific books or authors who have influenced you as a writer?

RC: In this new millennium, I can’t get enough of writers who do wit and sparkle and characterization in wonderful ways… my paired down list of must-reads includes: Lisa Kleypas, Tessa Dare, Julia Quinn and Eloisa James. The authors who inspired me early on—who made me want to be a writer—have to include Amanda Quick, Mary Stewart and of course, Elizabeth Peters.

MS: Give us a brief rundown of your process. Are you a plotter, a pantser, or somewhere in the middle?

RC: I plot…kinda. My OCD side freaks out without structure, so I know how the hero and heroine need to change over the course of the story and I plot out the main beats of a story before I start writing. I use Scrivener & block out scenes in a general way. I know where the main story beats are going to fall, but I don’t worry about specifics. So I’ll know the hero and heroine need to have an argument in the next scene, but I don’t plan when or how or in what setting that’ll be. The scenes themselves never unfold until I actually sit down to write. …and then there’s no accounting for characters hijacking the plot. In every book I’ve written, a new secondary character has simply shown up. I LOVE when that magic happens. In my first book, Rejecting the Rogue, a little slip of a maid stepped in and announced herself halfway through a chase scene. She just appeared out of thin air. Now she’s one of my strongest ongoing characters.

MS: Can you tell us a bit about your journey to publication? 

RC: It’s been a long one. I had two contemporary romances published back in the Cretaceous period. (No, I’m not kidding—long before ebooks and Amazon and the dreaded FB). I had a third book under contract, but the line folded. So I put writing on the shelf and concentrated on the day job… Fast forward a decade or two…

Last year, I wrote the first two books in a series, intending to dive straight in to self-publishing. And then, just when I was drowning in the sea that is book marketing, I submitted my books to Marie Force’s Jack’s House Publishing. To my complete amazement (and undying gratitude) her company signed on to publish all 4 books in my series. Now instead of squinting over spreadsheets, I have the luxury of concentrating on writing. –And talking over my projects with someone like…Marie Force! Right???

MS: Tell us about your latest release and what’s coming next for you.

RC: The first two books in my Restitution League series are on pre-order now. Rejecting the Rogue launches on Nov. 13th and Seducing the Scientist comes out Nov. 20th. Books 3 and 4 will debut early in 2019.

Rejecting the Rogue:

Thieves make the best rogues. And the worst heartbreakers.

Philomena Sweet, Victorian London’s finest safecracker, knows it better than most. The worst rogue of them all, dashing jewel thief Spencer Crane, smashed hers long ago.

And now he’s back, fleeing danger from their past. Danger he won’t survive without her help.

She’d love to refuse. She’d kill to stab him with her parasol. But she can’t leave him for dead.

Spencer Crane would sooner steal costume jewelry than ask talented, wickedly bright Meena Sweet for help. He’s well aware she’d rather to dice him into small pieces. He might even deserve it.

But revenge stalks them both. He needs her artistry. She needs his skills.

Neither needs the desire that sparks to life between them.

While they dodge criminals, carriages, and the occasional flying cabbage, who will protect these two notorious thieves from each other?

—Meet the Restitution League—

They’re thieves. They’re rogues. They’re well-armed for adventure.

The crew of the Restitution League fights injustice while wrestling with love and desire and the occasional throwing knife.

One blazing romance at a time…

MS: What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

RC: When I was in middle school, Ray Bradbury came to speak to at our school. He told stories. Just stories. No videos, no music, no lighting effects. He just sat up on the stage in his maroon dad sweater and told stories about writing. And he held an entire auditorium of middle schoolers spellbound.

That was my first lesson in the power of story.

And he gave us a piece of advice that I’ve never forgotten. He asked the kids, “Picture a beautiful stage. The lighting is exquisite, the sets stunning. But no one comes out to speak. How long do you think you’d sit there? Now picture a dark stage. Just two chairs in the center. Two men sit down. They’re planning a murder. How long would you watch?” Every time I worry I don’t have enough description, I think of that story.

And a piece of advice I’d like to offer: If you’re new to writing, find a small group of critique buddies. Really. It may take some patience to find the right peeps, but I am here to say, I would never have gotten published without mine. Before I was published (the first time) I joined a group on AOL (remember AOL? Anyone?) I can’t recall the specifics, but we started out with 10 or 20 aspiring romance writers. After a few months, there were 4 of us left. We stayed together, polishing our work, for over a year. Every one of us ended up under contract. I have no doubt the ongoing feedback from people who knew my story–and where I was trying to take it—helped make that happen.

MS: Thanks so much for joining me Riley! If you’d like to learn more about Riley you can find her at the following links.

www. Rileycole.com










Member Spotlight on Minerva Spencer, HTH’s VP of Social Media

Greetings HTH Members!

This is Christy Carlyle, your HTH President, and I’m happy to introduce you to one of our board members, Ms. Minerva Spencer.

Christy: Before we start talking about your writing, tell us a little about yourself and what you write?

Minerva: I write Regency Era romance and my first book, DANGEROUS, came out June 2018. BARBAROUS, book 2, is coming out October 30, 2018.

I live with my husband, a bunch of rescue poultry, and 4 big dogs in the mountains of Northern New Mexico.

CC: Do you write full-time or part-time?

MS: I am fortunate enough to be able to write full-time.

CC: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

MS: I didn’t start writing until I was 45, which was five years ago. I’ve always had jobs that were writing intensive, but I never considered a career as a writer. I wrote my first book in my head on a 6 hour driving trip in November 2013. I suppose I’ve written about 22 books since then. So, the writing bug kind of bit me with a vengeance.

CC: What drew you to write in the historical romance genre?

Historical romance was the only kind of romance I’d ever read (mainly Heyer and Holt). I didn’t read a contemporary until a couple years ago–but I already love them!

CC: What’s your favorite historical movie?

MS: Huh. That’s a toughie. Either The Scarlet Pimpernel with Anthony Andrews or the version of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth.

CC: Give us a brief rundown of your process. Are you a plotter, a pantser, or somewhere in the middle?

MS: I am a complete pantser. I sit down in the morning and don’t know what I’m going to write until I’ve written it. I wish I was a plotter, I find being a pantser stressful on those days when I am not feeling “it” and the words aren’t coming.

CC: Can you tell us a bit about your journey to publication?

MS: As I mentioned earlier, I wrote my first book pretty quickly, over the course of November and December 2013.

I focused on writing and cranked out several books over the next few years. I had a real mental block about query letters and only sent out two between 2014-2017 and those were….bad. Very bad.

I joined RWA in 2015 and entered a lot of contests because I didn’t belong to any writing groups or know any other writers and nobody had read my stuff! I live out in the boonies so I didn’t go to an actual RWA meeting until 2017. I wish I’d gone earlier, but…..Also, I didn’t have beta readers until the summer of 2016 (and then I hit the JACKPOT with 2 awesome betas!!)

My beta readers held my feet to the fire in November 2016. They made me promise to send out query letters by the end of January 2017.

I sent out 5 letters in early February 2017–4 to agents and 1 to an editor–and received a 3-book offer from Kensington about 3 weeks later. DANGEROUS, the first book in The Outcasts Series, came out in June 2018.

I was, obviously, very, very lucky on my journey to publication.  

CC: Tell us about your latest release and what’s coming next for you.

MS: My next release is BARBAROUS, which is the second book in The Outcasts series. The series is set during the Regency Era and features older protagonists and also those characters who don’t always make it into traditional Regency.

He could be her ruin      

Hugh Redvers is supposed to be dead. So the appearance of the sun-bronzed giant with the piratical black eye patch is deeply disturbing to Lady Daphne Davenport. And her instant attraction to the notorious privateer is not only wildly inappropriate for a proper widow but potentially disastrous.Because he is also the man Daphne has secretly cheated of title, lands, and fortune.

She could be his salvation

Daphne Redvers’ distant, untouchable beauty and eminently touchable body are hard enough to resist. But the prim, almost severe, way she looks at him suggests this might be the one woman who can make him forget all the others.  His only challenge? Unearthing the enemy who threatens her life . . . and uncovering the secrets in her cool blue eyes.

CC: What’s the hardest part of writing?

MS: Having faith in my work. I worried about whether my writing was good enough before I was published and I still have plenty of moments of indecision. People criticize everything about an author–from her work to the author herself–and I’m learning quickly to develop a hard shell and only listen to people I know and trust.

CC: What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

MS: I don’t know who said this, but you can’t edit what you don’t write. That really keeps me going when I’m bogged down.

CC: Do you have any writing advice for our readers?

MS: I never give advice about what people should write or how they should write it. Writing is a highly personal endeavor for me and I assume it is for other people, too.

However, I would offer a piece of advice about the BUSINESS of writing. Never let other people rob you of your joy in writing. Don’t let them tell you what to write or what you can’t write. 

This business is utterly subjective and arbitrary. Just because you haven’t yet met your editor, agent, or fan-base yet doesn’t mean you aren’t a good writer. The publishing industry is a crapshoot and sometimes it takes a long time to find the people who love your work–but they are out there, you just need a chance to get your writing in front of them. 

CC: Thanks for joining us today, Minerva! You can find out more about Minerva at the following links.




Minerva, Viccus, and friends

Minerva Spencer was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. She’s lived in Canada, the US, Europe, Africa, and Mexico. After receiving her M.A. in Latin American History from The University of Houston she taught American History for five years before going to law school. She was a prosecutor and labor lawyer before purchasing a bed and breakfast in Taos, NM, where she lives with her husband and dozens of rescue animals.