Friday, October 10, 2008
FEATURED AUTHOR: Dara Girard
Dara Girard is an award-winning author of novels that feature strong heroines, family dramas and romance. Her writing has been praised for its deft plot twists, witty dialogue and humor.
In July 2008, Power Play was released. This is the first in her miniseries The Black Stockings Society about four women, one club and a secret that will make their fantasies come true. Her latest release in the series is A Gentleman’s Offer, October 2008.
Dara is also the author of an award-winning non-fiction book for writers, The Writer Behind the Words (Ilori Press, 2007). Dara lives in Maryland.
A Gentleman’s Offer
Dog groomer Yvette Coulier dreams of living the life of the wealthy clients she services. When she gets a mysterious invitation from the Black Stockings Society and receives a pair of sexy sheer stockings, she wears them to work the next day and catches the eye of Nate Blackwell…
Nate, eager to leave the spotlight, sees this sexy siren and makes her a deal: he’ll introduce her to the rich she longs to rub shoulders with if she lets him pose as her valet. But soon these two have to find the courage to stop pretending and be real.
What would you like your readers to take away from your book?
A Gentleman’s Offer is the second book in my Black Stockings Society Series about four women, one club and a secret that will make all their fantasies come true. When I write, my main intention is to entertain. From this story, I hope readers take away that if you’re willing to take the risk to go after what you want, wonderful things can happen.
What did you learn while writing this book?
I learned the history of hosiery. We have to thank Englishman Reverend William Lee for creating the stocking industry in 1589 by inventing the knitting machine. Although there is evidence that stockings date back to 280BC they were hand knitted and his invention not only allowed an industry to bloom but expanded the types of stockings to cotton, wool and silk. The queen was so protective of Lee’s creation that death was the punishment to anyone who tried to smuggle it out of the country.
I decided to select stockings as a theme for the series because they are an ultimate feminine item that is sexy and powerful at the same time.
What is the hardest part about the writing business?
Keeping sane. Really. It’s a crazy business and there’s a reason the industry is known for having alcoholics, crazies, divorces, alienation, jealousies and suicides. Fortunately I’ve never faced any of these misfortunes, but for those who like a well-ordered life stay away from the writing business. There’s no regular paycheck and there are a lot of ups and downs. But to put it plainly, the hardest part about the writing business for me is maintaining the balance between being a creative person and a business person.
Authors have to wear two hats. On the one hand, as a writer, you write the story alone and it’s all about creativity; however, once the manuscript is completed you’re thrust out of your solitude into the crowd. You have to deal with many other people-- your agent, editor, publisher, publicist, sales team, booksellers, readers, etc…
Successful, healthy authors learn how to maintain this balance. You have to prioritize what you want from your career and what you’re willing to sacrifice. It’s a personal choice.
What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?
It’s funny you should say that because I rarely meet non-writers. Eighty percent of the population wants to write a book and/or be published. What would I tell them and the few non-writers out there? That writing is a passion and ideas aren’t books. Ideas are worth about a penny because everyone has them. It’s not about a one sentence idea or even a page. It’s how you write the story that counts. How you turn that idea into a 300 page novel that people want to pay for. That’s impressive and that’s what writers do.
Our theme this month is THE BUSINESS OF WRITING. Most new writers don’t know about the business side of writing, what advice can you offer on this important part of writing?
I wrote my book The Writer Behind the Words: Steps to Success in the Writing Life specifically to answer that question. Aspiring authors need to know that they are entrepreneurs with a product (a manuscript) to sell to a buyer (publisher). They may decide to hire a middle man (an agent) or go directly to the buyer. Therefore they need to do their homework and find out how their product can benefit the publisher/editor or agent. How does their product make an editor or agent’s job easier? For example is their manuscript free of errors? Well formatted? What the publisher or agent is looking for?
People who succeed in any business tend to be problem-solvers. They don’t point out obstacles they create solutions. Be the problem-solver. Start a new trend if you don’t like what’s out there; add a new spin to a dying market. Publishers need books that will make them money. Be the author who can do that. Give them books that they can market and sell.
If you don’t care about making money then you’re free to write whatever you want and self-publish. You’ll save yourself a lot of heartache and rejection, plus it’s an honorable tradition.
What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?
I rarely look back. I sent out my first manuscript when I was twelve (I know it sounds crazy, but I was very ambitious) and didn’t get a contract until thirteen years later. I’ve made mistakes, but they made me wiser so I don’t regret them.
Too many aspiring authors know too much about the industry and don’t want to make any mistakes so they don’t take risks. But if they follow all the rules they can’t uncover new worlds or go in fascinating new directions. Many manuscripts are well-written, but they’re flat, without passion because the author is too worried about outside influences (what their critique group thinks, what their grandmother will say). Trust your instincts and if you fall down, get up and write about it. Every experience is a chance to grow.
Was there ever a time in your writing career you thought of quitting?
I’ve never wanted to quit writing, but I’ve often wanted to quit publishing (especially during that thirteen year stretch before I got a Yes). Publishing can have its hassles--the rejections, the revisions, the publicity etc… but I love what I do and can’t imagine doing anything else. Fortunately, I have a support system that helps me keep my sanity in this crazy industry. I tell aspiring authors to make sure they have someone who truly believes in them when they can’t believe in themselves. If that person isn’t around, then have one good enemy. I would suggest they read Holly Lisle’s excellent article “One Good Enemy” where she shares how an enemy led her to writing success.
Do you have any advice for the aspiring writer?
Buy The Writer Behind the Words or get it from the library. I put a lot of personal information into this book with the sole intention of providing constructive advice and tips for aspiring writers. But, if they don’t want to buy the book, they can go to my website where I have several articles posted. My one advice is to stop the excuses and keep writing no matter what. You’re not going to live forever so go after what you want now.
What is the best lesson you have learnt from another writer?
I learned that you have to have a life beyond writing and never confuse your work with your self worth. I knew a writer whose entire life was focused on her career—how well her books were doing, her reviewers, her competitors, her covers--and she focused on this at the expense of her marriage, her health, her friends and life in general. She’s no longer writing because she crashed and burned. Because I started early, I know that I can only write the best books I can and once it leaves me I let it go because I can’t control the rest. My writing career is what I do, not who I am.
Five questions about books:
One book you’ve read more than once.
Only one? That’s a painful question to ask a reader like me. Hmmm…Tim by Colleen McCullough
One book you couldn’t put down until you finished.
Again only one? The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas
One book that made you laugh.
Anyone but You by Jennifer Crusie
One book that made you cry.
I don't read books that make me cry, plus I'm not much of a crier.
One book you wish you'd written.
None. I'm an avid reader and take off my writing hat when I read. So I read with pleasure and no envy for another author's gift.
How can readers get in contact with you?
They can reach me by snail mail at: PO Box 10345, Silver Spring, MD 20914,
email: contactdara (at) daragirard.com or sign up for my newsletter by visiting my website: http://www.daragirard.com/.
DARA HAS DONATED A COPY OF HER BOOK TO A LUCKY READER. LEAVE A COMMENT FOR A CHANCE TO WIN.
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