Harlequin Desire author Reese Ryan to aspiring authors: “Above all, keep writing. Keep trying.”
Reese Ryan’s Seduced by Second Chances, out this month, marks the third instalment of Harlequin Desire’s continuity miniseries, Dynasties: Secrets of the A-List. Fellow Dynasties: SOTAL author Joss Wood caught up with Reese to discuss what made her serious about pursuing a writing career, working with other authors on joint continuity projects, and advice and challenges from the writing life.
Joss Wood: At what stage in your life did you become serious about pursuing a career as an author?
Reese Ryan: In my late thirties I was a freelance copywriter but I’d started to dabble a little in writing fiction again for the first time since high school. A fellow copywriter told me about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). That’s what got me thinking about writing fiction as a career again. And it’s one of the reasons I highly recommend NaNoWriMo to aspiring authors.
Joss: I think it’s really important to get the book finished and that’s why NaNoWriMo is such a great idea.
What do you find most challenging about being an author?
Reese: Time management and staying focused. Whether you write full-time or part-time, there are so many balls to juggle. With all the moving parts—research, marketing, website maintenance, networking, reader events, writers’ groups, social media and, of course, the writing itself—there’s a lot to manage. Couple that with being a person who is easily distracted and a procrastinator and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. So for the past few months, I’ve been experimenting with different project management systems specifically designed for authors.
Joss: I hear you about the time management and the balls in the air. For me, writing is easy, it’s everything else (promo, social media, etc.) that goes along with it that stresses me out!
In addition to your own series, you’ve written in continuities. How does the process work? What are some of the challenges?
Reese: In a continuity, a group of authors are given a “bible” that lays out both the overarching story for the series and essential details of each story in the series. It’s a fascinating process really. Four different authors, given the same bible, would write four very different stories. There’s a lot of room to make the story uniquely yours, as long as nothing is changed or left out that would negatively impact the other authors in the series.
There are lots of fun things about participating in a continuity, including getting to work closely with the other authors to make sure facts and characters remain consistent. But it can be challenging if there is something about a character or part of the storyline that just doesn’t speak to you.
Joss: We had so much fun on the Facebook group while working on this project. Honestly, if we were meeting for lunch to discuss this project, I doubt much would’ve been achieved.
How do you deal with characters or storylines that don’t necessarily speak to you initially?
Reese: Usually, it’s easy enough to work it out. Especially if it’s addressed early enough in the process. Discuss the issue with the project editor right away. Sometimes, it just helps to hash it out with the editor and get a better understanding. If there’s a hole in the plot, a character’s actions seem improbable, or there’s some other serious flaw in the story’s premise, the editor or perhaps the other authors involved can help brainstorm ways to overcome any obstacles.
Joss: Four heads are better than one!
What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Reese: Read widely, especially within the genre you hope to write in. Keep improving your craft. There are countless books and writing classes out there to help with any issue you might be struggling with. But above all, keep writing. Keep trying. If one method doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t matter that a famous author swears by it. Try something else until you find your groove.
Joss: What you said. And may I add that this is YOUR journey, so don’t compare yourself to anyone else. If you do, your head will explode!
What’s some of the best advice you’ve received when you were just starting out? Be sure to leave your comments below.