Author on the Couch: Terri Osburn
This week I’m conducting a session with…
GIVEAWAY! Terri is giving away a signed copy of MY ONE AND ONLY to one lucky person who shares this post and leaves a comment. Be sure to tell us that you shared it!
Me: Tell me about an experience that had a profound impact on your life.
Terri: When I was six years old, my parents bought their first house. Until that point, we’d lived in the upstairs apartment of my maternal grandparents’ house. This house was out in the country but in a quaint neighborhood where everyone knew each other. It was old and drafty. The floors sloped down (which made roller skating in the house even more fun.) And I loved it. Every bit of it, including the scary, dank basement. (Though I avoiding going down there at all costs.)
But when I was eight years old, my parents lost the house (gotta love that 80s recession) and we returned to living on top of each other in my grandmother’s tiny abode. For years, I prayed for another house. Prayed that things would get better, but they didn’t. Now, looking back, I realize that I had a safe, clean house with a neighborhood full of friends and plenty of food to eat. But when you’re 12 and sleeping on a couch, you don’t see all of that so clearly. Anyway, I think I’ve spent my entire adult life looking for a home. And maybe that’s why where my characters live their lives matters so much to me. In many cases, I help them find their place in the world, just as I’m looking for mine.
Me: Those experiences as children really do impact our adult lives–and subsequently our characters lives.
What personality trait of yours helps you most as an author?
Terri: Tenacity. Hands down, that’s it. If you’d have told me before I signed my first contract exactly how quickly I would go on to write my novels, I’d never have believed you. From my 2nd release on, I’ve written every book in 12 weeks or less. Last fall, I wrote one in a month. Just before completing this interview, I wrote one in 21 days. For the record, I don’t recommend trying that. And as a fortunate aside, I love the book I just wrote. LOVE it. Come this November, I hope others will, too.
Me: Hats off to you! Wow. Twenty-one days to write a book. I need to learn that skill.
What personality trait of yours hinders you most as an author?
Terri: This one is probably obvious after reading the previous answer. Procrastination. I have a minimum of six months to write every book. And yet, my brain seems to think we should wait until the deadline is mere minutes away. Almost literally. And after every book I say I will not put the writing off like that again. I’m still determined to beat this. Eventually.
Me: What was your high point as a writer—a time when you were happiest?
Terri: When my first book launched in the spring of 2013, it did fairly well, especially for a debut author, but I certainly didn’t set the world on fire. And then, in the summer of that year, that book became a Kindle Daily Deal on Amazon and shot to the top of the rankings. ALL of the rankings. I saw my face floating on the Amazon Author rankings list with the likes of George R.R. Martin and Stephen King. I hit #1 on Amazon for all Kindle books. Not romance, but all books.
That was a really fun ride and the moment I knew I might get to keep doing this. It’s a little bittersweet now, though. Because neither the New York Times or USA Today bestseller lists refuse to acknowledge books published by Amazon Publishing imprints (I’m happily with Montlake Romance,) I sold enough books that one day alone to hit very high on both lists and yet can’t claim the honor. I did hit #10 on the Wall Street Journal, which was very cool. And all this fun led right into the Romance Writers of American national conference in Atlanta that year. I smiled through every minute of that conference, riding my chart topping high.
Me: Wow. That feeling has got to be amazing! What was your low point as a writer—a time when questioned your path?
Terri: By January of 2013, I’d written two manuscripts and both had received rejections. Not hundreds, but a few for each. I knew that the second story was much better than the first, but I also knew I had a long way to go. I remember telling a friend that I had another couple years to work before I’d be ready to publish. At least two to three more manuscripts most likely.
And then March came around and the fabulous Jeanne Adams called to tell me that I’d finalled in RWA’s Golden Heart contest. For those who don’t know, that’s sort of the romance world Oscar for unpublished manuscripts. Which goes to show, I didn’t know squat.
I couldn’t count the number of moments between 2006 and 2012 when I thought I was wasting my time. I wasn’t a writer. What did I think I was doing? And then I’d remember the years and hours I’d put into learning how to write. How far I’d come. I’d read a page of my work and see the improvement. See the potential. You really have to be determined to do this. A willingness to never stop learning helps as well, but flat out belief is what will keep you going.
I’m not starry-eyed enough to believe that everyone who puts fingers to keyboard will go on to publish. But I know without a doubt that all those who take their fingers off the keyboard never will.
[Tweet theme=”basic-border”]#Author @TerriOsburn chats about writerly highs/lows and gives some great advice. via @Abbie_Roads #amwriting http://wp.me/p5h5aN-wa[/Tweet]
Me: What’s your writer’s mantra? Why does that mantra speak to you?
Terri: This one is fun. Embrace the woo-woo. The fact is, no book gets written without a sprinkle of magic. And I don’t mean wands and bee-shifting and time-travel. I mean the magic that happens when characters take over and they say things that you had no idea they were going to say. When you’re typing away and you *think* that you’re the one writing the book, but in truth, you’re simply the person taking dictation.
Sometimes you’re in the shower and you exclaim, “It isn’t him it’s her!” Or you’re watching a TV show and blurt out, “Of course! It has to be someone she already knows.” Call it what you want, but I call it woo-woo. I embrace it. I believe in it. I trust it. The woo-woo knows. I love the woo-woo.
Me: I love the woo-woo. It’s one of the funnest things about being a writer.
What’s the worst piece of writing advice you were ever given? How did you get beyond it?
Terri: Very early in my writing endeavor I attended a workshop in which the presenter’s warned us never to use the word “was”. Like. . .ever. Have you ever tried to write a book NOT using the word “was”? I do not argue that this word should be used in moderation and that any effort to dance around it and find a new or different way to say the same sentence often results in more active and powerful writing. However, you cannot throw the word out entirely. That’s lunacy.
But, newbie that I was, I believed this presenter, and then didn’t write for months. Completely shut me down. That actually happened quite a bit when I first started out. No matter how many disclaimers you read that not every rule/suggestion/tip is for every writer, when you’re new, all you hear is “I’m doing this all wrong and I should stop now.”
Me: Ha. Terri! Maybe we saw the same presenter. I struggles with that one too. I got all caught up in trying to NOT use the word ‘was’ that I couldn’t even tell the story.
Tell me about your Contemporary Romance MY ONE AND ONLY (Ardent Springs book 3)
As far as Dr. Haleigh Rae Mitchner is concerned, Cooper Ridgeway is more suited to a superhero cape than mechanic’s overalls. It’s just like Ardent Springs’s most upstanding resident to rescue a pregnant, homeless teenager and bring her to Haleigh’s delivery room. When they team up to help the new mother and baby, Haleigh is determined not to cross the line with Cooper. Not only is he her best friend’s brother, he’s a guy who deserves more than Haleigh’s checkered past could ever offer.
At first glance, Haleigh is no longer the girl Cooper pined for in school. The sleek, professional OB-GYN seems more out of reach than ever for this small-town mechanic. But the more time he spends with the complicated woman, the more he wants her. Who better than Cooper to prove to her that nothing is beyond fixing? Especially in Ardent Springs, a town that’s tailor-made for second chances.
Me: Share with us a favorite paragraph or two.
Terri: This is one paragraph that I’m very proud of. Cooper’s heroine Haleigh has a checkered past and doesn’t think much of herself. She also doesn’t think he should be with her because she could mess up again. This is what Cooper very adamantly has to say about that…
“Do not believe for one second that this isn’t real. What happens in that bedroom upstairs is something I’ve never had with another woman. When you’re working beside me in the kitchen, I can’t imagine a day when you won’t be there. After you leave in the morning, I smell your scent on my pillow and think about the next time I’ll get to touch you. Nothing has ever been this real for me, and I know you feel it, too. I know it every time you arch against me, every time you smile at me over your coffee, and every damn second that we’re apart. If I’m your drug, then you’re mine, and I refuse to give you up.”
My love for this paragraph likely has much to do with the character who speaks the words, but besides that, it’s the sentiment that gets me. He’s strong and determined and says exactly how he feels while still being manly and oh so delicious. Perfect example of the woo-woo mentioned above. This was all Cooper, and very little me.
Don’t forget to leave a comment and share this post in order to be eligible to win MY ONE AND ONLY.
*If you’re a writer, what’s your writer mantra?
*What’s your life motto?
*What’s the worst piece of advice you were ever given?
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Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/1c1SWeh
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Abbie Roads writes dark emotional novels featuring damaged characters, but always gives her hero and heroine a happy ending… after torturing them for three hundred pages. Her debut novel RACE THE DARKNESS is available for pre-order.
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