It’s been a privilege to get to know April Bennet on the Firebirds Yahoo Group. She’s fun and funny and I can’t wait to meet her in person in Anaheim. I’m so glad she agreed to join me for In PRO-suit of Publication, Regency GH Edition. Welcome April!

Thanks for having me, Wendy! I have been so glad to get to know you on the Yahoo Group and have loved reading your recent interviews with our fellow GH finalists. I am very much looking forward to sharing a chocolate martini with you and the other gals in Anaheim.

Thank you April! To start, can you tell us a little about yourself?

I live in Los Angeles, California, with my husband and two daughters, ages 4 and 7. At my day job I work on water supply policy issues. I am a former lurker, er, member of the Beau Monde chapter of RWA and fully intend to send in those chapter dues again. (I swear!) I began reading Georgette Heyer, Marion Chesney, and Signet Regency Romances when I was 13, and 30 years later I still adore romance novels set in the Regency period.

Regency does seem to become a life-long obsession *a-hem* love among those of us who read, research and write it. Now, I’m especially excited to hear the twitter-pitch of your GH finaling manuscript. Will you share?

A poor war hero jilts an heiress in the name of honor. When he returns years later with something to offer, will she be able to forgive him?

Awww, a man committed to caring for the woman he loves. I love him already! So, tell me, what do you love about this story?

The dialogue! I love to write dialogue and so made the hero and heroine witty and self-deprecating. They spoke to each other for hours in my head, and I tried to capture the most fun and interesting bits. I also love my cast of supporting characters, that simply had to have their say. There were moments during the writing of this story when my H and H could not get a word in edgewise.

Sounds delightful! Definitely a recipe for GH success. Where were you when you received the GH call?

When I entered the GH, it never occurred to me that I could be a finalist. I was looking for feedback in the form of the score you get at the end that shows you where you fall in the spectrum of entries. So, on the day of the announcement, I was at work as usual and completely oblivious that I could potentially receive some good news. In fact, I was so oblivious in general that I filled in my home phone number as my contact number on my entry form instead of my cell phone number. My husband received the call at home from Diane Kelly and relayed the message to me. I was able to speak to her later, but that first burst of shock had subsided by then, and I was able to pretend that I was both calm and sane. Actually, Ms. Kelly probably thought I had been sedated.

*Grin* I love that you weren’t aware it was ‘call day’! I actually shut off my phone, scolding myself for what I thought was false hope. I’m glad I turned it back on!

Can you share any ah-ha moments related to writing?

I entered the Emily Contest in 2010 and received two great scores and one low one. It took me weeks to fortify my confidence enough to read the comments from the judge who gave me the low score. However, I very much appreciated them, and so sat down at my computer and did my best to address some of the issues she pointed out. As I was revising, I realized that much of the first section of my story was told, not shown. Making that leap in understanding was huge for me, and I did extensive revisions as a result.

Oh I agree–low-scoring judges get disparaged, but I’ve received some of the most insightful comments from judges who gave me low scores. I’m indebted to contest feedback. Any other ah-ha moments?

A second a-ha moment has come recently. I did not query much before I was selected as a finalist in the GH. Since the GH announcement in March, I have sent out several queries in an attempt to leverage the GH Finalist “magic.” As of last week, all of those queries have resulted in rejections. Some of them were nice, some were very constructive, but they were rejections all the same. There was a definite sting in the vicinity of my heart and a small stomp on my confidence after receiving each one, but during this process something has become clear – even if I never publish a word, I will continue to write. It is just so darn fun.

The Ruby Slippered Sisterhood gave some stats in 2011 that surprised me. Only 15 sold their GH-finaling manuscript. However, the same post noted that, taken together, the Rubies had sold, published or contracted 80 books.

One thing I know for sure–if rejections toughen your skin and increase your resolve, you are on the right track. I revisit a blog post on Terrible Minds about rejection when I need a little boost. (Warning: the language is, um, intense.)

Onto happier thoughts. What’s your favorite romance?

I love Loretta Chase and think Your Scandalous Ways is her best book ever. I mean seriously – a spy and a courtesan in Venice? Yes, please! That is a definite go-to book for me. Sherry Thomas is amazing too, and Not Quite a Husband makes me weepy every time. And of course, I adore Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice is wonderful (duh), but lately, I have been going back to Persuasion again and again. There is just something so heart wrenching about Anne Eliot’s quiet loneliness and yearning that gets me every time.   Persuasion is such a wonderful story of lasting love. Any parting words of wisdom?

Put your cell phone number on your GH entry form!

LOL, April! Thanks for stopping by, It’s been wonderful having you.

Thanks, Wendy, for giving me this opportunity. I can’t wait to meet you and all of the other Firebirds in a few weeks!

Readers, leave a comment for April and you will be entered into a drawing to win a copy of April’s favorite book, Your Scandalous Ways.

16 Responses to In PRO-suit of Publication: An Interview with April Bennet

  • Ooooh! I love stories where the hero comes back to renew the relationship! So much fodder for angst and torment….

    Can’t wait to meet you in Anaheim, April!

  • Your story sounds marvelous! Definitely send out more queries, though. You’re on track, taking advantage of the GH momentum.

  • April, my background is in American history and archeology, and I would NEVER try to write in the Regency period, but I do enjoy reading Regency stories, especially the traditional style, and I admire those who know the period so well. (And as a West Houston member, I’m so glad the Emily helped you!) Looking forward to meeting you next week.

  • Congrats on your final and I love the sound of your book. A reunion story will get me every time!

    I’ve loved Regencies forever but couldn’t imagine trying to write one. Kudos to you ladies who take on the task and do it so well.

  • Great interview you two.

    April, your book sounds wonderful. Crossing fingers for a “yes” very soon!

    I look forward to meeting both of you in LA ;0)

    Tammy

  • Lovely interview, April and Wendy! (And I love seeing the Firebirds banner down at the bottom of the page!!!! OOOH….I can’t wait for Anaheim!)

  • Wonderful interview. Congratulations on your final and keep sending out queries.

  • Hi April. Lovely interview.

    Your story sounds great. I love the Regency period but would never try to write about it. I’ve always enjoyed Georgette Heyer, and adore Cotillion, which I think I’ve read at least twenty times.

    Looking forward to catching up at National.

  • Thanks so much, Wendy, for having me on your blog! Although that photo looks HUGE. I think I am going to probably pass out when I see it on the jumbotron in Anaheim.

    Eileen Emerson said… Ooooh! I love stories where the hero comes back to renew the relationship!

    You and me, Firebird Sister! I have found it challenging to balance the story of the initial relationship and the reunion. Do you tell the story linearly, do you share backstory gradually, or do you do flashbacks? It’s something I struggle with. Sherry Thomas is the master at interweaving her backstory with her present story. Still, as you mention, it’s a fun way to ramp up the drama.

    Anaheim is going to be such a great time. The Firebirds are truly an awesome group!

  • Ashlyn Macnamara said… Your story sounds marvelous! Definitely send out more queries, though. You’re on track, taking advantage of the GH momentum.

    Thanks for the encouragement. 🙂 I have already gotten so much from the GH experience. Several of the agent rejections provided some good feedback that I will use as I work on revisions moving forward. Only one rejection was a tiny bit soul crushing, but I am sure that my soul will bounce back after the conference. I think meeting other romance writers and sharing stories of our successes and our occasional soul-crushing rejections will be the best treatment ever.

  • Kay Hudson said…(And as a West Houston member, I’m so glad the Emily helped you!) Looking forward to meeting you next week.

    Kay, I really need to go back to those critiques and send the judges thank you emails. I will put it on my to do list because, yes, the Emily helped immensely!

    And thanks for mentioning “next week” and freaking me out because OMG is the conference really next week?

  • robena grant said…I’ve always enjoyed Georgette Heyer, and adore Cotillion, which I think I’ve read at least twenty times.

    Hi Robena! I have been re-reading Heyer now that they are in ebook format, and yep, she wrote some fabulous stuff. I’m sure that I’ve read Cotillion, but it was probably years ago, so I will have to check it out again. Her books definitely stand up to the test of time for me.

    One thing that could really be bad for me in terms of getting writing done is that they are just starting to issue those Signet Regencies in electronic format. Seriously…that is going to be dangerous. If no one hears from me for weeks, you know where I am – holed up in my bedroom, charging many dollars to my credit card, and re-reading every Emma Lange and Patricia Oliver Signet Regency ever written!

  • April,

    Great interview. Interesting information about the GH finalist and selling of their ms … and I love the fact that you didn’t think you’d get “the call”. Much sweeter that way. Hard to believe we’re only a week away.

    I also love witty self-deprecating heroes so we might have to fight for them … 🙂

  • Nikki,

    I loved your Rubies post, although I can’t believe you are using “Whazzup bitches” in your speech, because now I will have to rewrite mine. Maybe “S’up y’all!!!” could work too, or would it be considered derivative? Maybe a good old fashioned “Solid!” would work.

    Yep, I love the witty, self deprecating heroes. Bring on the wit and I am willing to overlook a few things. For example, I am a total fan of both Jaime and Tyrion Lannister (from Game of Thrones) because boy, can they bring the fun snark. So what if one has no nose and the other is in love with his sister? Minor details. 😉

  • Great interview, ladies! I also wasn’t expecting to be a finalist, and was quite brusque when I answered the phone that day. I assumed she was a telemarketer. Luckily, I didn’t hang up on her!

    Looking forward to meeting you next week!

  • Random.org has chosen #3–so Kay, you are our winner today!

    Thank you all for stopping by to comment and thank you April for being such a delightful guest.

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