This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Bestselling author Sheila Roberts is with us today to talk writing romance, finding inspiration and one naughty husband whose general dislike for family gatherings at Christmas resulted in a Lifetime movie. Sheila’s latest festive novels, Nine Lives of Christmas, On Strike for Christmas and The Snow Globe, are out now.
Anywhere and everywhere! Things I read, snippets of conversation I overhear. (Be careful what you tell a writer. It could wind up in a book!) On Strike for Christmas was inspired by my husband’s naughty attitude one holiday season. After a gazillion years of hanging out with my larger than life family, he was not being properly enthusiastic about the upcoming holidays and I threatened to put him in a book. Of course, he thought that was hilarious and egged me on. From there I started thinking about how much women do to make the holidays happen for those we love and, often, how little help we get, and the book simply grew from there. I was surprised how many women it resonated with. Still, it was all in good fun, and once the book was made into a movie for the Lifetime Network here in the states, well, my husband was very proud of his naughty behavior.
Can you tell us a little about your average writing day?
One thing I can say is that I write five days a week. But so much more goes into a writer’s routine than simply writing a book. Writing is a business, and these days an author not only needs to write, she also needs to be her own marketing director and customer relations manager as well. That works great for me, though, because I love people and I really enjoy promoting my books as much as I enjoy writing them.
When you are writing, do you use any famous people or people you know as inspiration?
People I know often inspire me. The entire town of Leavenworth, Washington inspired my Life in Icicle Falls series. This is a town nestled in the mountains that is a very popular tourist destination town.Designed to look like a Bavarian village, Leavenworth offers charming festivals, great scenery and hiking and winter sports and fabulous shopping. Fifty years ago the town was on the brink of extinction. The railroad had been rerouted and that affected the timber industry. People couldn’t make a living and were leaving in droves. The town leaders and businesses got together and reinvented themselves, and the result today is the thriving tourist destination that draws people from, not only all over the country, but all over the world. I admire that kind of spirit!
What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?
That’s a hard question to answer! I’d have to say it’s a tie between The Help by Kathryn Stockett and The Apple Orchard by my friend Susan Wiggs. I checked out The Help from my local library and loved it so much I bought the book in hardcover. Such an interesting time, and the attitudes and behavior – hard for me as a modern woman to wrap my mind around. Susan’s book travels back and forth between current times and World War II and is simply fascinating.
I must say, my friend Debbie Macomber has been a huge inspiration. Her generosity and work ethic are truly impressive. And I really admire her business smarts. She’s a lovely person and she’s certainly been a wonderful mentor to me over the years.
Can you give us three book recommendations?
Yes! Georgette Heyer’s The Masqueraders (best romance ever!), Sentimental Journey by Jill Barnett, and The Snow Globe by… oh, that’s me! Well, what can I say? I really love that book. (Oh, let’s be honest here. I love all my books!)
What is your writing process? Do you plan first or dive in? How many drafts do you do?
I plan first. I like to have a map of where I’m going. I may take some side trips along the way, but I always know my beginning middle and end. That saves me from writing myself into a corner. I usually do two drafts and then several edits with my editor.
What was your journey to being a published author?
I came to writing via the music world. I’d been writing all my life, but I really wanted to be a songwriter and that’s what I focused on. I was simply writing novels for fun on the side. Imagine my surprise when one sold. That turned me in a whole new direction. I still dabble in writing songs though, and you can find one of my songs on Youtube. We wrote “Merry Christmas Mama” to go with my novel Merry Ex-Mas and then made a music video for it. One of the most fun things I’ve ever done!
What do you think is the biggest myth about being a novelist?
That it’s easy and anyone can do it. (Yes, anyone with a gift for words can do it, but it’s a lot of hard work!)
What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?
Learn all you can about writing. Buy books about writing, go to conference, study writers you like to read to see how they construct a story. Take time to master your craft and don’t be in a hurry to put your first book out there. Sometimes our first work isn’t our best work.
What are you working on at the moment?
Well, I’m busy enjoying seeing my latest book The Lodge of Holly Road on the shelves and celebrating seeing The Nine Lives of Christmas as a Hallmark movie, but here at my computer I’ve just finished up a summer read which should be coming out next August, and am now working on something for next Christmas.