Jill Sorenson Interviews Suzanne Brockmann, Part I

passionandperil Not too long ago, I wrote a piece discussing how, among other things, I wished that I could see more authors speaking publicly and candidly about books and the romance genre. Now we here at AAR are very happy to be running this interview between Jill Sorenson and Suzanne Brockmann(whose works will be appearing together later this month in Passion and Peril) in which they talk about writing and a variety of topics in romance. – Lynn

(JS) Thanks so much for agreeing to this interview! I’ve enjoyed so many of your books, especially the Troubleshooters series, and I’m very excited about our upcoming release, Passion and Peril. It’s a dream come true to get bundled with you.

(SB) Thanks, Jill! I’m jazzed about this 2-in-1, too! I think it’s a really fun pairing!

(JS) I wanted to interview you for a couple of reasons. We have a book to promote, so there’s that. You’ve also been a huge inspiration to me, and I thought you might have some helpful insights for anyone interested in writing diverse characters.

Let’s start with secondary characters. I loved the geeky teen romance in The Unsung Hero. The drunken hookup between Sam and Alyssa took my breath away. I’ll never forget Jules and Robin’s first kiss. You have a knack for creating a strong supporting cast, and sometimes I’ve been more invested in them than the main players. Readers have said this about my books as well. Do you think writers should try to limit the influence of secondary characters? Continue reading

Readers Who Write

writing Reading and writing come hand in hand. I don’t know many readers who don’t like writing, or writers who don’t like reading. I am certainly a reader, but I hesitate to call myself a writer. I took several creative writing classes in college, and while sometimes my reviews are the only things I can complete, I write frequently.

Many writers have written about writing. Ernest Hemingway has a number of melodramatic lines, my favorite of which is his oft-quoted quip, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” I am not a particularly blood-sweat-and-tears writer. I have no desire to write poetry or prose ripped from my soul; I just want to write something worth reading.
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What’s in a Name?

plume During an e-mail conversation about the AAR poll, one person asked a question about 2011 debut authors. Several of us threw out some names of people we thought were first time authors, only to be informed that while a certain book is the first book released under this particular pseudonym, the author has a long history of published books. Then I discovered that a book that I requested to review by a new-to-me author was in fact an author that I read before. It was discouraging in a way because I didn’t finish her last book, and had I known that this was a pseudonym of hers, I wouldn’t have requested this book. So that got me to wondering how relevant pseudonyms are in today’s environment.
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Getting Out My Red Pen: A Grammar Rant

redpen Everyone has pet peeves. Mine are mostly grammatical. Confusing homonyms (your/you’re, they’re/their/there, etc.), overuse of ellipses, and comma splices are all things that make my eyes twitch when I’m reading something, whether it is a Facebook status, article, billboard, or book.
Luckily, published books are generally pretty well edited. A few mistakes may slip through, but they’re minor. As the daughter of a copy editor, I have both an appreciation for correct grammar and spelling, and also an understanding of occasional human error. A typo rarely bothers me. But mistakes en masse? Poorly edited writing can shape my opinion of the work and its author.

You might have heard about Jacqueline Howett, a self-published author who would have remained under the radar, had she not lashed out at a reviewer in a bizarre, profane, and ungrammatical fashion. Authorial professionalism is a topic for another blog; what I found most interesting about this particular review was not its reaction, but the reviewer’s justification for giving The Greek Seaman two stars. The plot and characters actually sound quite interesting. Big Al, the reviewer, called it, “compelling,” “a good story,” and suspenseful. What killed it were the typos and grammatical errors.

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Fries, Chips, Pommes

Love_Actually_colin Most people I know have seen the movie, Love Actually. Remember the part where Colin decides to try finding love in the USA? After he gets to Wisconsin, Colin meets up with Stacey, Jeannie, and Carol-Anne, “three stunningly attractive women who fall for his Basildon accent”. Actually, that swooning over accents is sort of me. I could easily sit around playing “you say tomato and I say tomahto” for hours. And with books, I get to indulge in an variation of this fascination.

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The Mighty Pen

20081111-fountain-penThrough a series of circumstances not worth relating, I currently find myself without a computer at home.  It particularly hurts for my  work as a teacher, as I often do mounds of paperwork and plan many lessons whilst ensconced in bed, and I find myself staying in school a lot later than I want.  What it also means, however, is that my recent contributions to AAR have been handwritten.

I wasn’t always so reliant on computers.  I’ve always written a neat hand and still do, and, while my school notes weren’t copperplate, they were a right sight clearer than most.  Being a visual person, when I went to university I found brainstorming by hand most productive, after which I would write the first draft on a computer.  But gradually I eliminated the first step, brainstorming as I wrote my first draft, and the keyboard, rather than the pen, became an extension of my thoughts.

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The Language Barrier

When I was a kid, I apparently had a remarkably sheltered upbringing compared to my peers. One day in second grade, my friends were all atwitter over a certain entry on the bathroom wall. I don’t remember the entire thing, but I do remember seeing one word there that I had never seen before in my life. My friends all seemed to know what the word meant and that it was very bad. I had no clue what it was, and aside from the badness of it, no one could really enlighten me. I clearly remember reading the sentence out loud, trying to guess the meaning of the word from the context of the sentence, just as we had been taught in class. However, as I was sounding out the word “F-U-C-K” in a search for meaning, the teacher walked into the girls’ room – and I got pulled off to the principal’s office so fast that it felt kind of like flying!

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