“PRO” is a membership category of Romance Novel Writers of America created for writers who are actively submitting manuscripts and writers who have been published but have not yet met RWA’s requirements for PAN (Published Authors Network). The RWA PROs I have met are talented, focused and always willing to share what they’ve learned. They actively pursue their dreams and have much to offer.
Starting this Thursday and continuing weekly, I will, as we say in the Regency world, “make the introduction” to a Beau Monde PRO. I hope readers are as inspired as I am by these PROs. May these fabulous and dedicated authors appear on bookshelves, be those shelves digital or three-dimensional.
Miranda Liasson graciously agreed to join me as my first interviewee. Miranda has placed in some of RWA chapter’s most prestigious contests, including The Beau Monde’s Royal Ascot. Thanks for being here! To start, why don’t you tell readers a little bit about yourself?
I left a career in health care two years ago to write romance full time, but I’ve actually been writing since the age of twelve (my start was in Star Trek fan fiction!). I write in the Regency and early Victorian periods and have just started my fourth manuscript. One of the thrills of writing about the past for me is marrying something that really happened in history to a fictional world, weaving it in and trying to make it seamless. Although I think any historical writing is really tough because you have to be so accurate in all your details.
I agree. A historical writer has to be mindful of so many things from cultural attitudes to dress to word choice in narrative. Even a word as seemingly harmless as “mesmerize” didn’t exist in the Regency!
So, now that we know a little about you, how about letting us in on the twitter-pitch (approximately 140 characters or less) of your favorite finished manuscript?
This is for my Regency manuscript My Wicked Duke: When a former courtesan meets opposition in starting her school for underprivileged girls, she must rely on the duke who can bring it reputability—but demands for his services the one price she no longer wishes to pay.
Oh! I’ve read the first chapter of this manuscript and it’s very exciting. What to you love most about My Wicked Duke?
I have to say my heroine is one tough cookie. She’s had a really tough past and is a real survivor. But she feels unworthy of love, even though she secretly yearns to be loved and to belong somewhere.
Sounds like my kind of heroine.
Every once an awhile, a special experience comes along that expands our writing horizon. Will you describe an ah-ha writing moment you experienced and its trigger?
I read in Claire Tomalin’s biography of Jane Austen that Jane never had a formal portrait done (nor did her only sister, Cassandra, yet all their brothers did except George, who was handicapped). I couldn’t believe it! My husband immediately said, “Why don’t you write about that?” So I did, and put it in the context of a modern-day love story. The result was a short story called The Lost Portrait of Jane Austen, which is a finalist in the Jane Austen Made Me Do It Short Story Contest. I am proud of that story! (And you helped me with it—thanks, Wendy!)
Sure! I loved The Lost Portrait of Jane Austen, and I certainly wasn’t the only one. What did the experience teach you?
What this experience taught me was—pay attention to the things that resonate with you deeply. To me, writing is all about emotion and translating it onto the page.
That focus on emotion absolutely comes through in your writing.
Now, I’d like to head off in another direction. Writers, I think, are all readers at heart. What’s your favorite Romance and why?
Any Lisa Kleypas book gives me shivers. She has a way of making her stories so emotionally compelling and original that I simply cannot put her books down. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I’d have to say Seduce Me at Sunrise, Win and Merripen’s book (of the Hathaway series) struck a nerve with me. He’s a brooding hero with a tortured past, and she’s an invalid that leaves to become healthy—love those impossible loves!
I heard Susan Elizabeth Phillips speak at Nationals last year and I’ve been reading through her backlist and loving it. I greatly enjoyed Ain’t She Sweet? because it has Regency undertones and the heroine, Sugar Beth, is so incredibly flawed—don’t know how she pulled that off and made us love her.
I loved both books! Sugar Beth is unforgettable.
Thanks so much for agreeing to be my first interviewee for “In PRO-suit of Publication.” Before we wrap-up, do you want to share any other thoughts/advice on pursuing publication?
I think what I’ve learned so far is—don’t waste a year writing a manuscript if you don’t have a high concept idea. Especially in today’s market, it’s not enough to be able to write well. You have to back up your skills with an idea that is going to stand out in this very tough marketplace. I’m really crossing my fingers that the ms I’m working on now fulfills that criterion.
Also what I’ve learned is to seek mentorship. Associate yourself with people who are like-minded and be as aggressive or more aggressive in promoting yourself as you would in any career. That means taking the classes, finding critique partners, and promoting yourself using social marketing and media—all things that often put us writers out of our comfort zones. I began a blog a few months ago and am now exploring the Twitter universe.
And don’t just query agents—query tons of agents. Pitch tons of pitches. Be everywhere. That is what I’m learning!
Great advice! Thanks again for visiting.
Thank you, Wendy, for interviewing me. I’m honored!
If you have any questions or comments for Miranda, feel free to post. One commenter will win a .epub copy of Susanna Fraser’s A Marriage of Inconvenience downloadable from All Romance Ebooks.
Up for next week: Meet Mr. Bill Haggart….