Author Spotlight: Roan Parrish

Howdy Folks!

Happy Monday to ya! I’m recovering from an awesome day at the Brooklyn Book Festival. My weekend went by quickly, but it’s always fantastic when I have the opportunity to pimp the romance genre and convert new readers. Special shout-out to all of the authors who came out to represent RWA NYC!

Okay, so if you follow me on social media, you know there are a handful of authors I unabashedly fangirl over and this week’s featured author is one of them. When I emailed her to ask if she wanted to partake in an interview, her response made my heart do little backflips. I’d been trying to figure out how to have a conversation with her outside of Twitter. I’m not usually awkward about asking people to do these interviews, LoL but I swear it took me some time to build up the courage to ask Roan. I squealed at my computer when she said yes. NO LIE!

I adore Roan’s writing style. As someone who also writes first person POV, I know all too well how challenging it can be to lure a reader in, but this woman does it flawlessly. FLAWLESSLY. 

If you haven’t read her work, I highly encourage you to do so! Get to know a little about this fabulous lady.


I always find author interviews kind of boring. We only get to see one side of an author, the polite side. If you had an evil doppelganger, what detail would they enjoy revealing about you to the public that people would find surprising and possibly questionable?

I get really strong vibes off of people, which means I basically decide whether I like or hate someone within three minutes of meeting them. I’ve always been that way, and people have told me a thousand times to wait to make a decision, or to be less judgmental. But it’s not a judgment—it’s not whether they’re a worthwhile human or not. It’s whether I enjoy being in their presence. And there are plenty of people I’ve met who are interesting, kind, generous, smart people who I’m glad exist in the world. And I still don’t like being around them.

A two-part question! 

(a) What’s the first thing you ever wrote and thought, “Hey, this is good!”

Almost certainly some terrible poem from when I was in elementary school.  

(b) What attracted you to writing romance? 

I started writing my first romance novel for a friend, but I quickly realized that I loved it. I’m moody as fuck and spend a lot of time thinking about feelings and about psychology and about people, so romance was a pretty natural fit, since it’s all about characters having feelings about other characters who are having feelings. And, at least in mine, someone is always moody as fuck.

What rap song can you recite verbatim while keeping your flow tight?

I don’t know that I would claim my flow is ever exactly tight but “Baby Got Back” is pretty firmly lodged in my memory forever. That’s basically the whitest answer ever, huh?

What’s your favorite vegetable?

I can’t think of a single vegetable I don’t like, in some preparation or another, so this is hard. I guess I’ll say onions, because they’re the base of so many different dishes. I am dissatisfied with this answer.

Finish this sentence: Sex is meant to be _____.

Consensual. Other than that, I don’t think there’s any one thing sex is meant to be. It’s as individual as the people participating in it.

If you had the ability to travel through time, what exact moment in your past would you relive again?

I can’t think of any that I’d want to relive and now I’m feeling like maybe this is a horrible indicator that I’ve never had a single moment of pure happiness in my life. But maybe it just means that I don’t like repetition? I had this same feeling when I first read Harry Potter and Lupin’s telling Harry that to conjure a patronus he needs a memory that is so epically happy and I was unable to think of any that I could use, and I just knew in that fateful moment when I needed a patronus I wouldn’t be able to conjure one! Not like I’m a horribly sad person or anything, I’m maybe just incapable of joy? No, no, I’m fine, everything’s fine.

It’s no secret I do these interviews because I have no shame when it comes to my fangirling, but who do you fangirl over?

Well, I’m a terrible fan because I find it deeply embarrassing and awkward to be the center of attention, so I go to great lengths never to do it to someone else. I love Rufus Wainwright’s music, and I’ve seen him at the opera several times and said nothing because, like, he’s at the opera, leave the poor man alone. So, yeah, at my most fannish, even if I do talk to someone, I just get overwhelmed and then say nothing. Seriously, it’s bad. I got a book signed by China Miéville once, and when it was my turn I just stood there in total silence because my internal monologue was: I could say how much I like his work, but what’s the point because he hears it all the time and a hundred people just said it. I don’t want to hold up the line, so I’m not gonna try and talk about anything of substance. He’s probably exhausted from all of this so I don’t want to ask any questions that would take a lot of energy to answer. There’s no point in introducing myself because I’ll never see him again … Et cetera. So, yeah, I said nothing, and it made him so uncomfortable that he started nervously denigrating his own handwriting and peering up at me like maybe I was some kind of assassin. Very. Awkward. Go. Me. (As it happened, I did meet him again about a year later and we talked for a while and he was totally lovely and everything was fine.)

But in terms of romancelandia people who I’d feel fannish about if I met them? Probably if I met Jordan Castillo Price I’d just stand there like a lump and in my head I’d be thinking But I love you.

What’s one thing you want the public to know about romance writers?

That there’s no stereotype: We’re not all romantic. We’re not all married. We’re not all single. We’re not all straight. We’re not all white. We’re not all happy. We’re not all swoony. We’re not all cynical. We don’t all think Jane Austen was the apex of literary achievement. We don’t all hate her.

Tell me about your writing process. Do you have a particular ritual that must happen before you get words on the page?

Nah, not really a ritual. Mostly, as I’m thinking about any project, I dump thoughts and ideas and chunks of prose into a Scrivener document for later. I have an app on my phone, Pensieve, that is just designed so you can type into it and it sends the words to your email. So, I do a lot of sending myself messages of tidbits and then putting them in the doc. By the time I get ready to plan what the story is, I have enough little tidbits that a lot of things about character have become clear, and once the characters are clear the story just kind of … is there. I love this quote from Thomas Harris: “To write a novel, you begin with what you can see and then you add what came before and what came after … It’s all there and you just have to find it.” That’s very much how it feels for me. If I start with one thing I can see about a character, then certain other things have to be true, or cannot possibly be true. Planning out the story is kind of secondary, because for me it’s all about character. If you really know your characters, you could write any story about them. It doesn’t really matter if they are a security guard working at a zoo who has to catch an elephant thief, or a painter staring out the window—you still know what they’ll do, how they feel, what they want.

Finish this sentence: People confuse sex with love because _____.

Probably, because we’re taught to. Our culture views sex as most acceptable within the context of love, so we’re taught pretty early that they’re connected. Then we’re left to figure out it isn’t true for the rest of our lives.

Out of all of the characters you’ve created, who would you say confuses sex with love? **I asked this because I’m selfish and I always want to dive into a character’s backstory. I love knowing what makes them tick**

Leo Ware, absolutely. At the beginning of Where We Left Off, Leo is a romantic who fundamentally believes that sex is an expression of love, or an indication of it. A huge part of his journey with Will in that book is coming to realize that even if sex and love are linked for him, that does not mean they’re linked for everyone. For Will, sex and love are not necessarily connected, so when he and Leo begin a sexual relationship, sex signifies very different things for each of them, and throughout the book, as they fall in love, it’s something they have to negotiate.

**Bonus Question**

Ever tried BDSM? If not, would you?

I have and I would.


Bio:

Roan Parrish lives in Philadelphia where she is gradually attempting to write love stories in every genre.

When not writing, she can usually be found cutting her friends’ hair, meandering through whatever city she’s in while listening to torch songs and melodic death metal, or cooking overly elaborate meals. She loves bonfires, winter beaches, minor chord harmonies, and self-tattooing. One time she may or may not have baked a six-layer chocolate cake and then thrown it out the window in a fit of pique.

She is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan of Handspun Literary Agency. 


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Books:

Looking to activate your one-click finger? Check out Small Change. I read this not too long ago and I looooved it. I’ve always been Team Ginger though. #biased


Literary Agent Spotlight: Latoya C. Smith

Happy Monday Everyone!

I’m trying to have an upbeat attitude; otherwise, I will start bawling, and I won’t stop. Today is September 11th, and while it’s a day that impacts our entire nation, as a New Yorker, it hits me particularly hard. I remember the events of that morning sixteen years ago as if it were yesterday. My heart goes out to those who lost loved ones. They are gone but never forgotten.

I also want to wish the people recovering from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma continued strength. It’s like we’re living in an alternate universe these days. Climate change is the real deal, and if we don’t acknowledge it and be proactive about combating it, I fear for future generations.

Anyway, enough with me being Debbie Downer. You know what keeps people happy during tough times? Books. So keep reading folks. Dive into those HEA’s and find your place of joy! #teamromance

Today’s spotlight features one fierce and fabulous lady. I first met Latoya at RT earlier this year. It was a brief interaction, but she later came to speak at my RWA NYC chapter meeting and of course I talked her ear off afterward (I can’t help my social butterfly tendencies, sue me). She’s also the recipient of the RWA NYC Chapter’s 2017 Golden Apple Award for Agent of the Year! Go, Latoya!!! *claps wildly* 

Get to know a little about this fantastic lady!


Everyone is asked this question. Librarians, bloggers, authors, no one is immune. *cackles

Since you’re my first agent/editor to be interviewed, you get the honor of being put on the hot seat too! I always find author interviews kind of boring. We only get to see one side of an author, the polite side. I’m sure the same can be said for editors/agents. If you had an evil doppelganger, what detail would they enjoy revealing about you to the public that people would find surprising and possibly questionable?

I have OCD, so I obsess about EVERYTHING, sometimes to the point where I have to sing or chant to get whatever the thought is out of my mind.

What attracted you to the literary world?

I’ve always been an avid reader since I was a child. A Scholastic kid all the way! Then Goosebumps, Babysitter’s Club, and on and on. So when I got the chance to be the assistant of a New York Times bestselling author, I jumped at the chance.

I know reading isn’t big on your list since you spend so much of your day staring at a computer screen but when you have time for leisure reading, whose writing do you fangirl over?

I am a fan of so many writers, styles, stories, etc. I am a true lover of BOOKS! However, yes, I do read a lot for work. So when I have time to read for pleasure, I try to shoot for anything in audio. Mostly fictional stories, particularly women’s fiction, romance, and thriller are my go-tos.

What are three quick tidbits of wisdom you’d give to a new writer beginning the query process?

RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH. You should always know your market better than anyone else; know what your competition is doing and taking notes; and assessing the analytics of your social media, sales, information, promotional efforts, etc. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help, especially from publishing professionals and other authors. And be ready to spend money to hone in on your craft. It’s worth it in the end!

What’s the funniest query you’ve ever received? You can give as much or as little detail as you’d like. 

I had someone query me as Jesus incarnate…

The first concert you ever attended?

Jodeci and Mary J. Blige!

Describe your first kiss in two words. 

Really short.

What do you think people misunderstand most when it comes to the romance genre?

They don’t understand its value–call it fake writing or not real literature. And yet romance outsells MOST genres in fiction.

If you could assume the identity of any living person before 1920, who would you choose? 

Madame CJ Walker. She made women feel beautiful and made a lot of money while doing it!

In life, we get caught up on significant events and never really take the chance to appreciate the little things. Is there a “little thing” you wish you had celebrated a bit more? 

Me! We often are so busy complaining or looking at the things that are not working out that we rarely take the time to appreciate the things that we love about ourselves and our lives. I am working on celebrating myself more and focusing more on the things I love, not the things that bother me.

**Bonus Question**
Ever tried BDSM? If not, would you? 

Not exactly. Not big on pain. However, I have tried handcuffs and candle wax. *There was a smirking emoji here* LOL, I felt you all should know that tidbit of information.


Bio:

Latoya C. Smith started her editorial career as an administrative assistant to New York Times bestselling author, Teri Woods at Teri Woods Publishing, while pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree at Temple University. She graduated Cum Laude from Temple in August of 2005. She then attained a full-time position at Kensington Publishing in March of 2006. In October 2006, Latoya joined Grand Central Publishing, an imprint at Hachette Book Group. For the span of her eight years there, Latoya acquired a variety of titles from Hardcover fiction and non-fiction, to digital romance and erotica. She was featured in Publishers Weekly and USA Today, as well as on various author, book conference, and book blogger websites. She is the winner of the 2012 RWA Golden Apple for Editor of the Year.  In early 2014, she appeared on CSpan2 where she contributed to a panel discussing the state of book publishing. From August 2014 to February 2016, Latoya was Executive Editor at Samhain Publishing where she acquired short and long form romance and erotic fiction. Now, Latoya provides editorial and consultation services through her company, LCS Literary Services. She is also an agent with the L. Perkins Agency.

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Editorial Consultations: https://lcsliterary.com

Queries: http://www.lperkinsagency.com/#home



Author Spotlight: Heidi Cullinan

Happy Tuesday, Peeps! 

Because of Labor Day, I delayed posting the author spotlight. I’m sure everyone was too busy enjoying BBQ’s and relaxing to miss it, LOL. In any case, I’m baaaaaack! ;-) 

Today’s spotlight features a lady I’m incredibly lucky to know. I first met Heidi last year at the Liberty States Fiction Writers Conference. In the year since we first met, she has taught me so much in regards to the business and marketing side of being an author. It’s rare to have someone be candid about their failures and successes. We’re all very guarded when it comes to displaying vulnerabilities, but Heidi has been amazing! Authenticity is an attractive trait to me, and I usually flock to other writers who don’t mind sharing their highs and lows. In the end, we all want to succeed and spreading knowledge helps us to reach our goals. Not to mention, she’s so damn supportive of me and my career. She gets massive ♥ for that!

Take some time and read a little bit about Heidi, she’s freaking fantastic! 

I always find author interviews kind of boring. We only get to see one side of an author, the polite side. If you had an evil doppelganger, what detail would they enjoy revealing about you to the public that people would find surprising and possibly questionable?

Um…well, since I’m not the evil doppelgänger, I’m not going to reveal that…

Honestly I don’t know that this is much of a surprise, but there isn’t much to reveal about me. I’m pretty straightforward, and I’m not full of secrets, interesting factoids, or even hobbies. For fun I’m a hermit and I work or research things. I’m bad about keeping my house clean, I’m behind in my correspondence, I don’t call my family or friends enough—normal, boring, and horribly uninteresting. My books, however, are a different story. I hope.

What’s one piece of advice you wish you received before you began your writing career?

I don’t feel like I’m missing anything, and I received good advice that I wasn’t able to hear until I’d lived enough live to implement it. The thing I crave most now is silence and space to explore my ideas, and it’s the thing I don’t have. This week, for example, what I want most is to not answer any email or be on social media and to just be in my own space—I want so much for a week like that, just a week, but it will be months, maybe a year before I can afford something like that. Just seven days! When I was unpublished, published authors told me to cherish that silence and that space to explore my ideas, but all I could see was the emptiness it held. I think this is one of those things where space is different depending on who you are when you try to fill it, but that’s the advice I think of a lot lately, to take advantage of that lack of activity and cherish it, not hate it so much, when you don’t have it. Yes, you want the activity, but if you have enough success it will eventually eat you too. Someday you will miss that silence you hate so much.

What are you most passionate about?

My readers. I’m not always good at talking to them, because I feel self-conscious, but my patrons have taught me a lot about how to behave, how to be gracious and comfortable with compliments (I would rather just talk about the work and the story, not myself) and have allowed me to give back too. But this year especially, with my wacky production schedule and so much upheaval, has taught me how much I value producing story for my readers. I always want to welcome new readers, of course, and this is my living, I want to make money, but I am grateful for and cherish forever the community which has somehow grown up around me. It makes me excited, and I want to keep making more story for them. But they’re so good, they yell at me to slow down and eat and sleep and watch anime too. I don’t deserve this, but I got it anyway.

If you could eat one food for the rest of your life what food would you choose?

CAKE. Cake forever. I mean, I’d be sick of it in an hour, but I’m assuming this scenario fixes that issue. Honestly I just love food, so I’d want to be able to eat without getting sick or fat, but if I’m picking one and not getting sick on it or of it, CAKE.

You write gay romance, and you also live in Iowa. Big city gal here! Born and raised in NYC. Are you open about your profession in your community? If so, how do you think you’re perceived? I ask because I have a skewed perspective. I doubt life in NYC is the same as life in Iowa. I’m curious as to what your experiences have been like. Romance writers already get slack but does writing gay romance add additional obstacles? Am I way off base here? School me, Heidi!

Well, Ames is pretty liberal, being a college town, and I’m basically a hermit. I think I know twenty people here well enough to have them over. But people receive me well when I tell them. They’re curious and excited. My piano tuner found out (I write under my legal name) and now gets excited whenever he sees me. I let it slip at Target to an employee (I forget how it was relevant, I was tired at the time) and since half the staff there is queer suddenly I’m the gay celebrity whenever I shop, which is actually disconcerting. There are a few other people here and there who know, but it’s fine. 

You’ve been a super fangirl when it comes to Yuri on Ice! Tell the people out there who aren’t familiar with the series what you find appealing about it.

Oh my god. How many hours do you have?

There’s so much going on. It’s the first major anime to have a queer romance in the story and then have a satisfying ending, to start. There’s another, No. 6, which also had a romance and a kiss, but the end was not as hopeful and I can’t rewatch it because the whole show is a little darker and the end matches. I don’t blame it, it’s the show, but it’s not Yuri on Ice. YOI is a sports anime, and it’s about overcoming your limitations, working with your rivals and coming to love them, meeting your heroes, falling in love, traveling the world—it transcends so many things, and it makes me so damn happy. I was in such a funk last winter, to the point I couldn’t write or even function, and that show pulled me out. It’s twelve episodes of joy. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Also, the POC quotient? There are a mere handful of white people in this show, and they’re all minor characters except for Victor and Yuri Pliesetsky, the love interest and rival respectively. The Asian characters, especially the lead, actually look Asian, not westernized. Plus you travel to China, Russia, Spain, see the food, the sights—the show runners traveled to all these places on their own dime and modeled everything off of photos and memories. They bled into this show, and this is the result. It’s just so amazing. You have to watch!

Favorite cartoon as a kid?

Probably Scooby Doo.

First car you ever drove?

Family car. It was some horrible station wagon.

Describe your worst date in three words.

Back of a bus. (Sorry, it’s four.)

Finish this sentence: If I could retire tomorrow I would _____.

Not.

**Bonus Question**

Ever tried BDSM? If not, would you?

Um, maybe? I did have someone flog me once, lightly, so I could know how it felt. It was over clothes, in a bar. I enjoyed it! I think I would be into it, but it’d have to be carefully done as my partner is not, and so it would take a lot of conversation and consent. And right now I am too busy and overwhelmed with life for fun, alas. I also worry because of my EDS (a condition from birth) it would be too easy for someone to hurt me without meaning to, or me knowing, so it would take a lot of research, which seems like more work and then I get tired thinking about it. I could be on the other end too, but that seems like even more work, and so, probably no. There’s no siren call, I’m just curious and always open to trying things.  

Bio:

Heidi Cullinan has always enjoyed a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. Proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality, Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights. She writes positive-outcome romances for LGBT characters struggling against insurmountable odds because she believes there’s no such thing as too much happy ever after. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys playing with new recipes, reading romance and manga, playing with her cats, and watching too much anime. Find out more about Heidi at heidicullinan.com.

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Books:

Looking to activate your one-click finger? Pick up Shelter the Sea

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