Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Chat With Farrah Rochon

I'm excited to bring you an interview with one of my fellow authors who writes for Dorchester's African American Romance line, Farrah Rochon.

Farrah, thanks for stopping by my blog. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your journey to publication?

I usually think of myself as being a bit boring, but then again, I like boring. :) I am an avid sports fan. The start of football season is marked on my calendar in bold, red ink. I also love to travel. My favorite spots are Disney World, for obvious reason (who can resist that Goofy), and NewYork City. I would love to live there one day. I’m a huge Broadway fan.Wicked, The Color Purple, and Aida are my favorite musicals.

Of course, I’m also a ferocious reader. I’m currently seeking a 12-Step Program to help with my addiction to buying books, but it looks like I’ll have to start it up myself. It’ll at least put my Psychology degrees to good use.

As for my journey to publication, it has been a long, but fun one. I started my first “real” novel back in college at the urging of one of my professors (who happens to be the only grandchild of W.E.B. Dubois). I wrote on and off throughout undergrad and graduate school, but it was at the encouragement of a group of friends I met through my favorite author’s online message boards that I decided to try writing romance. The rest, asthey say, is history. It took five years and four completed manuscripts, but I would not take back a single thing along my journey to publication.

What’s been your most exciting moment since the release of “Deliver Me”?

That’s pretty hard to pinpoint. There have been so many great things over the course of the last year (my first booksigning, seeing my book inWalMart). However, I’d have to say the most exciting moment was this summer when over sixty of my closest friends (yes, I have over sixty close friends) flew in from every end of the U.S. and even from abroad to attend my first ever booksigning at the Romance Writers of America Annual Conference in Dallas. For years they’ve heard me talk about finally having my own table at the booksigning, and it meant so much to me to have them there. Everyone wore these smashing red Rochonette Fan Club t-shirts, and made a huge splash at the RWA Literacy Signing. It was phenomenal.

Tell us about your upcoming release.

I’m very excited about my upcoming novel, RELEASE ME. It is the second in my Holmes Brothers saga, and features the second brother, Tobias “Toby”Holmes and his childhood friend, former basketball-playing tomboy, Sienna Culpepper. Sienna is no longer a tomboy, and Toby is definitely startingt o notice her grown-up assets. The story is once again set in New Orleans and centers around an American Idol-type reality TV show.

After a serious car accident ends his professional basketball career, Toby decides to try his hand at the music business. As luck would have it, a scout for a new reality TV show shows up at a club where Toby’s newest client is performing and chooses her to star in the show. Sienna Culpepper works as a marketing executive at the advertising firm Toby chooses to help turn his client into a star. And, of course, she is put in charge of Toby’s account.

I absolutely love the way this story turned out. The fact that I have read it for pleasure—twice!--says a lot. :) Readers should enjoy seeing Monica and Eli from DELIVER ME, and the others from the Holmes clan. There is also a sizzling hot secondary storyline featuring Toby’s best friend, attorney and upcoming nightclub owner, Jonathan Campbell and Sienna’s sister, Voo Doo Priestess, Ivana Culpepper. The chemistry between these two is combustible.

Did your writing process differ between the first and second book?

My writing process has differed for every single book I’ve written. I’ve accepted that I don’t have a set writing process. Life always throws these curveballs that inevitably screw up my process, so I’m trying to learn how to be open to living an “adjustable” life.

Take for instance what happened when writing RELEASE ME. When I got to page 100, I had to put the manuscript aside in order to work on revising a manuscript that was eventually rejected by Harlequin. After mailing that other manuscript one Saturday, I was all set to get back to work on RELEASE ME that following Monday morning. The date: August 29, 2005. Instead of writing that Monday, I was bugged out in a hotel in Dallas, escaping Hurricane Katrina’s wrath.

I still keep a yellow Post-it note in my wallet, on which I had written my “to do” list for Monday, August 29th, as a reminder of how quickly your world can change. I went several months without writing a thing. Luckily, I never lost the passion I had for Toby’s story. It is my favorite novel so far.

What do you most want to achieve as an author?

My short answer: To write full time and not worry about a day job.
My shorter answer: To make people smile.

If you could offer one suggestion to aspiring authors, what would it be?

Don’t think things get easier once you’ve published your novel. Like many aspiring writers, I thought the hardest part of this business was finally getting an editor to believe in your work, and eventually buy it. I learn each and every day just how difficult it is to survive in this business. If you really, truly want to be a published author, be prepared for lots of hard work.

Is there any thing else you’d like readers to know?

Of course! Be on the lookout for my second novel, RELEASE ME, which will be in stores in early June 2008. Also, stay tuned to my website, blog, and/or MySpace page for news on upcoming releases, contests, appearances, and an excerpt from RELEASE ME.

Farrah, I've really enjoyed getting to know you over the past year. Maybe we'll get the chance to combine forces one day. Meanwhile, here's to continued success!

Live. Love. Dream.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Big Yawn

It’s cold outside. And snowy. It’s Sunday. My daughter’s going through her umpteenth recent growth spurt. My son has another day off school. My eldest hasn’t texted me in two days. My truck needs a good wash. My MAC lipstick better be in stock soon. I need about six hours on the treadmill.

So how do all these disparate details connect?

These are the things I noticed when I came off deadline and finally got some sleep last week. It felt a little like waking up in the morning and pulling back the curtains. Till then, yes, you know it’s morning, and yes, you know the street is probably quiet, which cars are usually parked there, what season it is, etc.

But once the obstruction is removed and you can actually see outside, well, then you notice that the people across the street got a new car, the trash collector left your recycle bin unemptied and, based on the car in the driveway, the girl next door seems to have a new boyfriend. That’s how I feel today: like welcome back to the world!

I remember reading once that Will Smith said his first marriage fell apart while he was making Six Degrees of Separation. He talked about being so into his role that the movie consumed him. He also said he learned from that experience about acting, family, priorities.

Well, I don’t have the option (or desire) to completely ignore my family while I’m working on a book, but I can pretty much tune out every thing else. That would include my body’s need for nighttime rest. I’ll admit that the most sleep I’ve had in the last two years was this past Christmas when I had the flu for four days.

Ask yourself (I do): Does Toni Morrison sleep? Does Stephen King sleep? What about L.A. Banks or Tanarive Due? How long? How often? Do they sleep better now with some measure of success behind them than they did in their early years of hammering out manuscripts and soliciting sales?

I know I shouldn’t, but I do consider seven or eight hours of lying down doing nothing to be a luxury. Never mind a friend who told me that you’re supposed to protect sleep the way you guard your health. Or the studies (and I always read them out of guilt) that link lack of sleep to difficulty losing weight, propensity for diabetes and just plain falling asleep all day. I feel like sleep is the sacrifice – not pounding the keyboard until 2 or 3 a.m.

Producing pages = realizing my dream.

Thus it was with my latest project. I was asked to turn around 25,000 – 30,000 words in about five-six weeks. That’s quick for me when I factor in a full-time job, kids/family, holiday hassles. But I wasn’t about to say no. I had a proposal for another project that I was wrapping up and was determined to get that out of my hair first. Polishing and perfecting that other piece ate up about 10 days. Then I dived in.

Me being me, I divided the challenge into bite-sized goals. One thousand words a day and I’d make deadline with time for self-edits and revisions before mailing the work off.

Okay, so it kind of went according to plan.

When I was a couple thousand words off target just before Christmas, I figured I could make it up – really come close to finishing – while I was on vacation over the holidays. Ha!

So, except for those four critical days I spent in influenza’s fever-induced haze, I was kicking butt and taking names. But I had to push into overdrive once I was well. Which meant back to four hours of sleep at night and carrying my laptop from room to room at home to write something at any available opportunity.

Five nights ago, I finished – revisions and all. At 4:12 a.m. Then there were the perfunctory details like a cover letter and mailing prep. Anyhoo, I went to bed around 4:45. And got up at 7:30 for work when my husband came in the room and said, "Hey, it’s late!" Ugh.

That goes down as my worst non-sleeping offense. My family, in the meantime, has shown the utmost patience with my dream. They seem to understand -- though during weeks like these I think I push the empathy envelope pretty far. I try to find ways to make up for my tunnel vision between projects and hope the attention I give them has a halo effect – that they forget mommy was ever bad.

Maybe if I didn’t function so well while sleep deprived, I wouldn’t do the whole non-sleep thing. But, honestly, I think that even without a day job, husband and kids, I’d spend that much more time writing – but I still wouldn’t sleep.

Nothing beats the feeling of typing THE END.
And starting all over again.