Writing is My Life…Finally by Terry Spear

Happy Friday everyone! Casey here with a big welcome back to USA Today best seller Terry Spear! Stay tuned until the end of the post to read an excerpt and for a chance to win a copy of Terry’s latest book SAVAGE HUNTER.

Thanks to 7 Scribes for having me back! Casey asked me to talk about quitting my day job. So here goes:

In the beginning, like not quite during the dinosaur age, but close, when we were still submitting manuscripts on typewriters and there was no such thing as personal home computers or cell phones, even, I was writing stories for publication (children’s stories back then) and getting rejected. A couple went to senior editors, but still the rejections came.

Undaunted, I switched from children’s stories to western historical romance because I love westerns and I love romance and happily ever after. I heard that romances sell better than children’s stories unless you have an agent. And getting one is harder than getting published.

So I merrily went about writing my first historical western romance. And when I was done, I learned historical romances are hard to sell. Western romances are the hardest.

This taught me a couple of things. If I wanted to become a published author—and I did at that point beyond a doubt. I knew I would do anything to write the book someone wanted so that I could support myself with just my writing—I had to write. Constantly.

It taught me to take chances on writing for different lines that had recently opened up: Comedy Romance, Fantasy Romance, Bombshell, YA, you name it. Every time a new line with an established company started, I wrote a story for them.

The first time I got picked up, two of my YA were bought. The company paid advances, but then two years later, and only one month before my first book released, they closed the YA line. But it was a new line and they were buying. Until they closed it. I did keep the advances, so that was the good thing.

Then I got another break. Sourcebooks was one of those companies that had just started to request manuscripts. They had bought two historical romances written by NY Times bestselling authors. And then they picked up ME for Heart of the Wolf, urban fantasy romance.

I wasn’t the only one that was picked up about that time. Some of us are still with them from the beginning, and some are not. It was interesting when I went to Anaheim this year with the RWA Conference, I was one of their first authors, and proud to be. They gave me the break I truly needed when agents were rejecting me and when many of the NY pubs were saying—“close, but no cigar.”

With my 9th release, A SEAL in Wolf’s Clothing, Finn Emerson is one hot sexy SEAL wolf, I made USA Today bestseller in March!!!

But last year, I tried my hand at self-publishing. Remember all those books I wrote for publishers while trying to find a home for one? Tons and tons and tons of books? My critique partners who are still with me after eight years, used to joke that I would someday take a U-Haul truck filled with manuscripts and sell them all at once to NYC.

Well, it didn’t happen quite like that. I self-published 24 titles and for the first time in the years I’ve been published, I made enough to quit my day job. I’d been working 40 hours at the day job, and 40-45 hours in all my spare time before work, after work, and on my two days off trying to keep up with writing, editing, and promotions—all with the goal that one day I could quit and write all 80 of those hours per week!!!

And I did it. August of this year, I was writing full time and loving it.

It took me a lot of years to get here. Sixteen, in fact. The key to success for me was to keep writing. To never give up. I actually have 45 published novels or novellas out and many more that I’ve written that need major revisions before they’re publishable. And many more that I’ve started that need to be finished. So you see, all that time spent writing for all those years wasn’t wasted.

With any job, we have to be dedicated to it. I’ve treated my writing as a full-time job even when I had a full time job. I have goals I set, deadlines I have to meet. I had so many this past month, even without a full time job, I was having a time keeping up. I had a book due Sept 15, Oct 15, and 40,000 words worth of blogs due by mid-September.

I have another book I’ll need to be revising soon. It’s all doable. I set goals. I finished both of the other books early and turned them in. And then I began to tackle the 30 guest blogs. Four a day, in a week they’ll all be done.

And then? It’s back to writing.

Which is great! Because for all those years, that’s exactly what I wanted to be doing! Creating stories for the world full time.

In SAVAGE HUNGER, Connor Anderson has one goal, get Kathleen McKnight, former Army officer, back to civilization before his sister turns her! Everyone should have a goal, don’t you think?

What would you do if you decided Connor was just the kind of man you wanted in your life, but he wasn’t willing to turn you?

Thanks so much to 7 Scribes for having me here today, and one lucky person that answers my question will have a chance to win a copy of SAVAGE HUNGER.US/Canada Addresses Only.

Terry – thanks so much for being our guest today! Remember Scribes’ fans, answer the question for a chance to win a book!


About the Author

USA Today bestselling and an award-winning author of urban fantasy and medieval romantic suspense, Terry Spear also writes true stories for adult and young adult audiences. She’s a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves and has an MBA from Monmouth University. She also creates award-winning teddy bears, Wilde & Woolly Bears, that are personalized that have found homes all over the world. When she’s not writing or making bears, she’s teaching online writing courses or gardening. Her family has roots in the Highlands of Scotland where her love of all things Scottish came into being. Originally from California, she’s lived in eight states and now resides in the heart of Texas. She is the author of the Heart of the Wolfseries and the Heart of the Jaguar series, plus numerous other paranormal romance and historical romance novels. For more information, please visit www.terryspear.com, or follow her on Twitter, @TerrySpear. She is also on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/terry.spear .




SAVAGE HUNGER by Terry Spear

She heard something moving toward her from behind. The hair at the nape of her neck instantly stood at attention. Her heart was already tripping. She was afraid it was him—the cat with the deep, angry, growly voice. She knew the big cats moved silently through the jungle. She imagined the cat would appear before she would even be prepared to face him. And then what?

Turning slowly, she looked to see who or what it was. An armed man? Or a toothy jaguar?

She saw the most beautiful creature she had ever chanced to see up close—way too close. A huge jaguar. No fence or moat to keep him from her, like at a zoo. Her skin chilled, and her heart thumped erratically.

As much as she’d wanted to see one, she hadn’t quite thought to observe one like this. If he did belong to Connor, she didn’t see any sign of the man. Which meant this one could be a real danger.

In the back of her mind, she wanted to pull her camera out of her bag and take a picture, take a hundred pictures. That was just plain crazy. She stayed porcelain-statue still, afraid any sudden movement would trigger him to pounce. She had envisioned watching one swimming in a river or maybe drinking water at a riverbank. She’d thought she might catch sight of one lounging in a tree while she watched from a nice, safe distance, but not on the prowl like this while she was standing in its path.

Her heart still pounding out of bounds, she stared at the jaguar, which had the most beautiful golden eyes and matching golden body covered in large black rosettes. His belly was white and covered with more rosettes. His long whiskers bristled. He lifted his nose and sniffed the air, taking a whiff of her scent, she was certain, although there wasn’t a whisper of a breeze with all the vegetation surrounding them. Was he trying to smell just how tasty she might be? Despite the muggy heat, a chill raced down her spine.

His eyes were round, fully watching her as he stood frozen in place. His tail twitched, jerking back and forth in a tight motion, just like her cat’s would when she watched a bird on a tree branch near the living room window. Her cat’s eyes would be just as huge as the jaguar’s and her body just as tense, ready to pounce on her prey if she could have gotten beyond the glass windowpane.

Don’t move, Kathleen screamed silently to herself. He is curious. Just curious. You are not dinner.

Who was she kidding? All she could think of was the Indian word for jaguar, yaguar, meaning “he who kills at one leap.” Looking at the way that he was standing so still, she wondered if he was thinking about it. He wasn’t in pouncing form, crouched, ready to leap, but maybe he was waiting for her to run, offering more sport that way.

They would eat deer and tapirs. Why not a tasty woman?

Then to her shock, she heard another growl. This one came from behind her. Yet the jaguar was still standing in front of her, and he hadn’t made a sound. Her skin grew a fresh rash of goose bumps.

Maybe he wasn’t a he, but a she, and her nearly full-grown cub was behind Kathleen, coming for dinner. Or maybe this one was a he—he looked awfully big not to be, around six feet in length and weighing, she guessed, around two hundred and fifty pounds—and the other was his mate. How big was the other, then?

If they were mating, maybe Kathleen was needed to keep them well fed for another bout of tying it on. That didn’t improve her outlook on the situation in the least. The only thing she could hope for was that they had the hots for each other, and one human wouldn’t distract them that thoroughly. Maybe that’s why they had been roaring. As a love call. Or maybe he would think Kathleen was a threat to his mate.

She hoped both cats had recently eaten and that she wasn’t about to be on the menu.

He slowly walked toward her. She had to tell herself that was because the other jaguar was somewhere behind her with Kathleen inconveniently in between the two of them.

She wanted desperately to dash off. But she couldn’t outrun a big cat that could take her down with one leap. Not to mention that if she turned and bolted, she would probably run straight into the other jaguar.

She meant to glance behind her for a tree that she could reach and quickly climb, but when she looked over her shoulder, she saw the other cat. And her heart nearly stopped. Her breathing definitely did.

Smaller, though not by much, the second jaguar observed her with the same golden eyes and had the same golden coat with black rosettes and the same hungry look. This was so not good.

34 thoughts on “Writing is My Life…Finally by Terry Spear”

  1. Thanks, PJ! I was having a time getting relogged into WP! It’s taken years, but it’s been worth it! I just got an email from a friend of an editor who recently passed away, but he’d been the editor for a genealogy magazine that I sent several articles to. That was 9 years ago!That was before I began writing fiction full speed ahead!

  2. “Treat it as a full-time job even when you already have a full-time job.” That’s advice I need to hear over and over again. Thanks Terry! Congratulations on your success and best wishes for even more! 🙂

    1. Hey, Misha, thanks!! I hear all the time how authors quit their full time job to work part-time so they can write more and you know what happens? They fill it up with other stuff. Then they quit their part-time job to write full time. And you know what happens? They fill it up with other stuff. LOL 🙂 So for me writing was a full time job with hopes that it would be the ONLY full time job I had. 🙂 Now I spend 80 hours a week writing and promoting. Which I have strict weekly writing goal deadlines.

      Today I HAD to run errands in town. Which always feels like I neglected my writing. But here’s the schedule–went to 3 book stores and autographed the new release and all the wolf books they had. Took pictures to share on my blog. Bought some new fall clothes. (yes, it sounds like it isn’t writing related, but it was…I’m in the middle of trying to figure out which sweater goes with which blouse in the dressing room when my assist editor called. LOL So we talked!!!…See??? All writing related.) Oh, and then I mentioned to the clerk that I just autographed my books at the Books-A-Million and she got excited about them, and I gave her a book mark. So then she said her sister was reading my series. And then she called the other clerk over to see the book mark. And she wants to read them. So promotions….LOL

      Then I shipped books to winners, or book marks to fans, and two books to Australia! And then I went to the grocery store. Had to get potatoes. That’s the Irish blood in me. While there, I ran into a number of library patrons who I’ve made friends with over the years. Made plans to go to the zoo where I will take pictures of the jaguars. See? That’s future book material. Went to the garden shop to get plants. Okay, that’s my other love! And I can’t squeak out one thing that was promotion there….

  3. Terry, I am so happy for you I”m practically crying. You’re living the dream. Congratulations, my friend (says one of the close-to-original SB authors).

    1. Thanks, Judi. You and Cheryl are the remaining ones on the paranormal crew, aren’t we? Which makes us the 3 Musketeers, all for one and one for all!!! And thanks!!! I’m so thrilled. I loved working with the people at work and with so many of the patrons, but I love being able to write full time. I never thought it possible, yet I always worked toward that goal!

  4. Terry, congratulatiions on your book. I wish you much success. I write full-time and though I love it, it is a job. So I treated it as one with a schedule. I enjoyed your interview and admire your persistence.

    1. Thanks, Malanoutte, good for you!! It’s the only way to go. I know a lot of authors say their biggest difficulty is family, extended or otherwise, or friends who believe if you are not “away” at a job, you’re not at a job. My kids, when they were still at home, would talk away to me while I was in the middle of writing a scene. I’d nod and smile and then they’d say, “You’re not listening, Mom, are you?:

      LOL 🙂 It’s hard to write a book when you already have characters talking in your head when characters outside your head are talking to you, too. One has to be ignored. 🙂 For the moment.

    1. Thanks, Regina!! That’s so cool that you can too. I used to see how others, you know, the big hitters, were writing full time and that’s all they did, and I kept thinking that’s what I want to do!!!

  5. Terry, what a fascinating journey! As someone who follows the same path, I long for the day when I can write F/T as well. Congrats to you for perservering and continuing to write amazing books! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  6. I’m so happy for you, and really need to take your advice, and make my own schedule. I need to treat it like a full time job. I think it’ll really sink in when my two books (with editors now) are actually published!
    As for your question… I think I’d have to strip him and tease him until he just couldn’t deny me any longer! Chocolate covered strawberries anyone? Maybe whip cream…

    1. CT, you are too evil. He would be purring under your ministrations!

      But yes, definitely, give yourself self-imposed deadlines.

      1,000 words a day, 10,000 words by week’s end. If you make it, reward yourself with doing something fun. Finding that shifter to play with! If you do beyond that, reward yourself even more. 🙂 If that amount of word count doesn’t seem doable, make it whatever will, but also, I write mine on a calendar and at the end of the week, did I make it? Or am I going over or under? Why? Was it something I could have avoided or not? (New edits just came in on a book that I have to have done by this weekend and turn in on Monday so I can’t make my self-imposed deadlines for the new WIP–and that stuff happens and it’s okay. But it’s still writing related. :))

  7. You’re on of the hardest working most dedicated authors I know. And I enjoy your books so much. And in answer to your question. To get that Big sexy cat. I’d do whatever it takes. LOL!!

    1. Thanks so much, Janna!!! I remember sitting at a table during one of the RWA conferences before I was published and eating lunch with a NY Times Bestselling author! And thinking I had so far to go and not sure I’d ever make it even if I went all the distance. I remembered hearing another bestselling author give a talk about how she made friends with another new writer at her table, both of them newbies some years earlier, and how one of the women was a bestselling author eating at the table with them and they were afraid to talk to her. Both of the new writers made the list, the other that had made the list years earlier no longer writes. I always thought of that when I went to a conference and sat down to eat with others. That you never know which book, which writer will be the next big success story. And you could be sitting right next to her. Or YOU could be that person!!!

      Years ago, an author snubbed me because I wrote for a small house–my Highland romances, which have done very well! But we’d all been at this book signing and she was really friendly until she asked who I wrote for. Not the Big 6? She turned away from me and that was the last she would say to me. I’ve written for epubs, small press, larger press, and many bestsellers started out that way! I finally made a list. She never has. So we have to look at each writer as a potential bestseller and cheer them on and maybe they will cheer us on right back! 🙂 Thanks so much, Janna!

  8. Terry, I have to read your book. I must find out if they ate your heroine, or did they turn out to be house cats and licked her face instead of eating it? Thank you for sharing your story, I chuckled with the western romances being tough to sell after all you went through to write what you loved. I enjoyed your writing . . . of your life, leaving your job and writing full time. Good for you. You certainly are quite accomplished.

    1. LOL, Gailingis, Of course you have to read to find out. You never, ever know in a story what’s going to happen next! I was reading one where I knew the heroine was the heroine, until she died in the prologue. Huh? I remember an author being told that she couldn’t write a pirate story because it wouldn’t sell. It became a best seller, BUT she was already a well known author. 🙂 I’m just fortunate that I love reading all kinds of different stories and love writing them too so I could switch gears and do something else! Thanks again!!!

  9. I know I’m coming in way late…but congrats…you deserve it! Makes me realize just how lucky I am to write full time! It also makes me wish I’d submitted to Sourcebooks…LOL! You know, when I get back to the States, I’ll have you sign the book you mentioned me in!

    Again, congrats and good luck!

    1. Thanks so much, Lynn! You’re never too late to submit to Sourcebooks! 🙂 They have an open submission policy! 🙂 And then we’d be sister authors. And could get into lots of trouble! 🙂 Sounds good to me about the signing! 🙂 Thanks again!

  10. USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of urban fantasy and medieval romantic suspense, Terry Spear also writes true stories for adult and young adult audiences. She’s a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves and has an MBA from Monmouth University. When she’s not writing or making teddy bears, she’s teaching online writing courses or gardening. For more information, follow her on Twitter, @TerrySpear or check out her Facebook page.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.