Tag Archives: Kristan Higgins

Kristan Higgins – Until There Was You

Until There Was You

NYTimes Bestselling Novelist & 2x RITA Award Winning Author Kristan Higgins has generously agreed to answer a few questions for us.   Kristan, thank you so much for taking the time!  Let’s just jump right into things.

How do you battle the doubt monster?  The Doubt Monster is the nagging feeling while writing that your prose is terrible, you plot is silly, your characters are insipid and no-one in their right mind would read this drivel, let alone buy it.

I love and embrace the Doubt Monster. It took us a while to fall for each other, but because I am old and wise now, I’ve come to learn that the DM and I are actually meant to be together. He lets me know when I need to rethink a plot point or adjust a character, back off or tone down or beef up. That being said, I try to ignore the DM during the first draft. Experience has shown that while first draft may indeed suck, it doesn’t mean the final product will. So I try to barrel through that part of writing, then fling open the doors and let the Doubt Monster have at it.

What story haven’t you told yet that you want to tell?  What is holding you back?

I have an idea for a murder mystery based on a love triange I watched unfold. It would be very dark – the main character wouldn’t be a likable person. I think the lack of an 8th day in the week is holding me back…I’m under contract for the next three years, so until I have a little more time, that project will stay in the old noggin (where it may well be forgotten).

What is the most surprising thing that has happened in your writing career?

Winning the RITA Award twice. That was just stunning. Truly stunning.

What would you do if you couldn’t be a writer any longer?

I’d be a pastry chef. Or the taster for a pastry chef.

They say that every author has a partially completed, quite-possibly-terrible half a story shoved in a drawer somewhere.  What is yours? What is it about? What makes it terrible? Would you ever consider picking it up and finishing it?

Oh, yes, I do. My now-infamous 93-page outline of a historical romance set during the Potato Famine in Ireland.  Po-Fam romance, I think they call it. Oh, lordy, it was so bad! The hero loves—truly loves—the heroine because she’s Terribly Beautiful, and though she hates him with every fiber of her being, she nonetheless falls for his Irresistible Charms. Stop laughing. It had its moments. Not very many of them, but one or two. Your question about would I ever finish it up made me laugh so hard I choked on my coffee.

How do you come up with your shtick?  For instance, a lot of your books take place in New England, so they have a distinctive flavor (like Red Sox/Yankees rivalry)

Do I have a shtick? I never really thought about it…that stuff is pretty innate to who I am. You really are a product of where you’re from and who your people are, I think. I do love baseball and welcome any chance to type the words “Derek Jeter.” I pride myself on my bad date scenes and sometimes call upon boyfriends or not-boyfriends of old for my material. But the shtick part…I think that’s organic. Every writer has their own truth. That sounds terribly profound, doesn’t it? Somebody, write that down! I must remember it! 

Please tell us about your upcoming release. I hear there is a biker dude named Liam. Did you spend a lot of time hanging around biker bars for research?

The bad boy of Bellsford High returns to New Hampshire after eighteen years. Now a widower with a teenage daughter, Liam is somewhat surprised to find what a long memory the town seems to have. Posey Osterhagen, once a classic teenage misfit, worshipped Liam Murphy from afar, but even from that distance, she managed to have her heart squished to a pulp by his careless ways. Now he’s back, as irritatingly attractive as ever, and while Posey wants to stay well away from him, she can’t help wondering if fatherhood has changed him, or if he’s the same arrogant guy he was back then. How’s that sound?

As for hanging around biker bars, yes, I did. A certain guy named Scar gave me invaluable input on super-hot men, and we toured the country on his custom—oh, hang on, that was just a dream I had. No, unfortunately, most of my research came from one very happy ride on the back of a Harley, two episodes of American Chopper, and a lot of time on the Internet.

What was your biggest misstep in your writing career so far?

Oh, gosh. Maybe it was the time when the head of HQN Books called me to say congratulations on hitting the New York Times bestseller list, and I hung up on her because I thought she was a telemarketer. (True story.)

Do you have a word related pet peeve?

Yes! Yes I do! I have hundreds, probably thousands. The misuse of the word “would” is one. If I would’ve known Scar was single, I would’ve given him my number. Makes me cringe. Also, when people use “I” instead of “me.” And “whom” instead of “who.” Also…oh, wait a sec, I’m being told that’s enough. Sorry. My mother’s an editor. I have issues.

What is your junk food of choice?

Anything bright orange—Twinkies, Cheetos, Cheezits, those strange little cornucopia things you could put on your fingers…

What’s the most dangerous or risky thing that you’ve done?

Said ‘yes’ to my boyfriend of six weeks. Worked out okay, though…we’ve been married for 20 years now.

What is your guilty pleasure? Remember: this is a ‘G’ rated blog! 🙂

America’s Next Top Model. That show is like crystal meth for me. So stupid. So shallow. Miss J? What the heck, right? And how could anyone use the word ‘smeyes’ and still have a job? But I love it. Heaven help me, I love it.

Kristan and Scar

About Kristan:

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author and two-time winner of the Romance Writers of America RITA© award, Kristan Higgins has been called “a rising superstar in contemporary romance” by USA TODAY; “one of the most creative and honest voices in contemporary romance” by Romance Junkies and “the easiest of all my three kids to raise” by her mother. My One and Only received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, and Kirkus Reviews named All I Ever Wanted as one of the best romances of 2010. Her latest book, Until There Was You, was released on October 25, 2011.

Find Kristan here:



Say “hi” to Kristan and feel free to leave a comment.

Do All Roads Lead to Kristan Higgins?

Happy Wednesday!  Suze here, shoving V out of the way so I can share a guest with you today.  As part of our continuing theme of finding a writing community, please welcome Connecticut Chapter of Romance Writers of America (CTRWA) Membership Chair/Secretary, Jennifer Iszkiewicz, who writes erotic romance under the name Mara McDaniels.  Here’s what Jennifer has to say:

Jennifer Iszkiewicz writing as Mara McDaniels
Several years ago, there was an article on Kristan Higgins in the Record Journaland my friend and coworker brought the article to work for me.  “I just thought you’d be interested, since I know how badly you want to write,” she said.  “Hooray and thank you!”  I replied.

Admittedly, I didn’t know who Kristan was at the time but the article discussed her trajectory  from copy editor to on-the-rise romance goddess, as well as her participation in a local writing group, the Connecticut Chapter of Romance Writers of America – CTRWA.  As it turned out, the group met once a month at the hotel right next door to where I was working!

“This IS serendipitous,” I thought.  “After months, years, of writing with only my closest friends as sounding boards, could this be the group of peers I’ve been looking for?”

It was.  Though walking into that first meeting was bloody nerve-wracking, Kristan, as acting President, and everybody else in the group of about 30, put me at such ease that I knew I was home.    Shirley Webb invited me to sit with her in the restaurant and they all took an interest in what I was doing!  I learned that Shirley wrote Young Adult, while another preferred Paranormal.  The fact that I talked about erotica and didn’t cause anybody to blush like a vestal virgin was very reassuring.

CTRWA took precedence on my calendar and I set off for the meetings, knowing I was going to learn more about writing than my pea-sized brain was equipped to handle but I went anyway!  Through rain, sleet and snow…  Eventually my enthusiasm landed me on the Board of Directors and I’m proud to say I’ve been part of the decision making for a group that has grown to over 100 and is truly committed to seeing its membership succeed in their writing endeavors.  A success for one is lauded by all.

What started out as a reprieve from my solitary writer’s existence means much more, years later.  It allows me to commiserate with fellow writers over the trials and tribulations along the road to publication, while introducing me to cool people from all over the state (and beyond) that I wouldn’t have met otherwise.  I have participated in the mentorship program, met Eloisa James, pitched my babies to editors and agents and made great friendships that extend beyond monthly meetings.

If you haven’t found a local writer’s group or started a critique group with a few like-minded people, I encourage you to do so.  Just when you think you’ve hit the wall or may go numb trying to come up with another way to describe (blank) –  think Gene Rayburn from Match Game —

somebody always has a nugget to get you over that hump.  Or, they imbibe you with enough chocolate and/or booze that you forget you had a problem in the first place!   Happy Writing!

Thanks, Jen/Mara! Scribe followers, what other professional organizations do you belong to?  Do they complement your writing? 

A Place in the Sun

Goddess of the type...This week the Scribes are sharing what joining a writer’s organization means to us. Please stay with us all week to see our stories.

This year I became a writer. What makes one a writer? I don’t know. For everybody it’s different. But for me I became a writer when I decided to stop sitting on my hands and get my work out into the world.

I had no idea how to go about that. I did a little research discovered that no, I could not just send my manuscripts off to the big six and expect a book deal. (Sigh.) I also learned that a literary agent might be helpful but soon discovered that they weren’t very easy to get. So, for a long time I did nothing,afraid to send out my work for fear of rejection. I was at a loss. I took solace in reading my favorite authors and imaging that one day my book would be on a shelf near their’s.

Shortly thereafter I noticed that one of my favorite romance writer’s had the words RITA Award winner next to her name, actually many of my favs did. What the heck was a RITA? All I could think of my elementary school bus driver, who wore ice blue eye shadow and had a nasty smoker’s cough. So I googled it (Thank God for google) and discovered that a RITA is an award given out by the Romance Writers America or the RWA. An organization for writers? Sign me up! I joined, immediately forgetting about that new pair of boots I was salivating over.

I started getting their magazine (the RWR or Romance Writers Report) every month. Which I would read cover to cover, taking in all the advice my brain could hold. One month they announced the recipients of the RITA and in the contemporary section the winner was Kristan Higgins. I had never read her work before and thought the cover was cute so I ordered it, enjoyed it and put it aside. A couple of months later in the contest section of the RWR I noticed one called The Write Stuff  and after I stopped singing New Kids on the Block,(You got the right stuff, baby…) I entered. I needed feedback on my writing and knew that the winners of these contests got their work seen by an editor.I thought I would give it a shot.

Months later I got my scores back. One judge gave me really fantastic constructive criticism that got me thinking about my work in a way that I never thought possible. And when I scrolled down to see who this person was, it was none other than the fabulous, beautiful, awesome shoe wearing Kristan Higgins. I was so excited that I called my mom and told her about it.

To which she replied, “Who’s that?”

Putting aside my frustration with my mother’s lack of knowledge , I sent Kristan an email thanking her for her comments and asking her for some writerly advice. It was through her I learned of my local chapter of the RWA, an organization I never thought of joining. It was there I met fellow newbie and Scribe, J Monkeys, the mastermind of this excellent blog.

I was nervous at my first meeting. But when I walked through those doors I felt a type  kindness and support that I didn’t know was possible. I was always that kid who didn’t fit into one group. I never had a place where I felt I truly belonged but that all changed when I found them. For once I was in place where people wanted me to succeed and I wanted the same thing for them.

This is my love letter to them so to speak. So thank you to the President who loses so much of her writing time to make out chapter thriving. And thank to the Vice President who brings us the programs that make us better writers. And thank you to the author that introduced me to this group. And thank you to all the members who went out of their way to make me feel like I belonged.

So why join a writer’s organization? Knowledge. Support. Friendship. Who couldn’t use a little of that?

Your turn! Are you a apart of your local writer’s group? If not, what’s up with that? Share your thoughts, stories and comments. We love hearing from you.

Writing is a Business. Get used to it.

I recently read on one of my favorite blogs, Writer’s Guide to E-publishing, about D.D. Scott’s production schedule. Production schedule? Was I supposed to devise some master schedule? Well, I kind of have a plan, but nothing as well plotted and organized as D.D.s. That woman is a writing machine. Go D.D.!

For me, this whole indie publishing journey has been a whirlwind of learning new tasks. From creating a social media platform to budgeting, finding a good editor, designing cover art–the lists go on and on. I thought I’d done plenty of research to get me going, but nothing has prepared me for how much there really is to do–besides writing great books—a challenging feat in and of itself.

From the time I decided to indie-publish in May, to my September 24th release date for Heaven is for Heroes (Yikes! That’s this Saturday already), I had almost five months to prepare. I knew I would need at least that much time to take care of all the details I had on my list—now known as my production schedule. I feel somewhat prepared and hopefully have learned plenty along the way that will make future endeavors easier, but what I’ve learned is that a production schedule goes beyond a daily page count if you want to be published, traditionally or otherwise.

There is a reason traditionally published books take 18 months to get out onto the shelves. I haven’t even discussed getting ARCs to reviewers and the marketing and promotion that is required way ahead of time to actually sell the book when it does come out. Reviewers require three to six months advanced copies. This is not going to happen in my current plan. Reviews from big name reviewers cost money and most won’t even consider reviewing Indi-pubbed books. I’ll keep searching out reviewers, but in the case of my current book, I’ve asked readers right under my bio on the last page, “If you enjoyed this book, please go to Amazon.com and give it a review.” If they hated it, hopefully they won’t bother:)

 Contrary to popular belief, self-publishing doesn’t mean slapping a book up onto Amazon and setting it free. Although I’m pretty sure that many writers do just that. There is a dredge of terrible e-books out there that should never see the light of day and are keeping the e-book industry on the “fringes of acceptable writing society.” I don’t want mine to be among them, so quality for me is first and foremost. At the same time, production and creating a back list of books is the quickest way to find e-publishing success. So once again, I’m trying to find balance. On my current plan, my cyber bookshelf will have two titles for 2011 and two, possibly three, for 2012. I have committed to releasing On Thin Ice in December and Savage Cinderella in the spring of 2012. These are two stories I already had written and felt were more or less ready to go.  I’m not so convinced after my experience with HIFH and all the work that went into creating the cover, the book trailer, revising, editing, revising, editing, revising…oh, did I say revising? I dare you to find the one typo that I missed on the two hundred copies I’ve already had printed! My current WIP, 21 Days should be out in June and the first book in a dystopian trilogy I’m planning for next winter should be ready by November.

 To meet those deadlines, I need to create a very specific production schedule, get organized, stay focused, and write my little fingers off. The plan is to have five or six titles in my backlist so that the long-tail sales start to gain momentum and I’ll start to see my profit margin grow in the next year. My STG for 2012 is to make back my investment and cover the cost of my conferences. LTG is to make enough profit to hire help, i.e.: a publicist and personal assistant to handle marketing and promotions. For more details on my marketing plan, stop on over to Market Or Die  (MOD) where I’m guest blogging for Jennifer Fusco  (I’ve always wanted to be in two places at once—thank you cyberspace).

I had the good fortune of hearing Kristan Higgins speak at the CT RWA meeting this month about the “countdown to launch” and all the necessary and suggested steps to take in the final three months before a book release. The list is a bit daunting, but even more so are the details involved in each task. You have to have your team in place and create a schedule that includes deadlines that you can adhere to. Cover art should be done at least three months before book release. A trailer, if you do one, should be done 2-3 months in advance, and you need to give editing a lot of time and consideration. Hire a professional and expect that there will be a lot of back and forth revisions. This takes time. I have three months to get ready for the release of On Thin Ice. I believe I’m a bit behind on my production schedule.  I’m not whining—at least I hope I’m not—but I don’t want to sugar coat the work involved in self-publishing, and the necessity of getting organized. I happen to work really well with deadlines, so I create them and work my butt off to meet them, but there is a huge learning curve, way too much for one person to do, and a huge investment in both time and up-front costs, so–

 Today’s Scribe Secret: No matter where you are in your writing career, create a production schedule, set goals (short and long term), and treat your writing like a business. If you are working toward publication, this is the job. Are you ready?

Anyone who comments on both the Scribes blog and MOD will be entered to win a free e-book copy of Heaven is for Heroes. Contest runs until midnight Thursday, September 22nd. The winner will be selected randomly and announced on both blogs next Tuesday, September 27th.

Available September 24th
Heaven Is For Heroes out September 24th

Win a FREE e-book copy!

Available this Saturday on my website www.pjsharon.com or wherever e-books are sold.


Slow Dancing with Myself…

I think romance novels have ruined me for men. I’m not making it up. There is a study about this. Google it. Here is my story…

I picked up my first  novel at sixteen, a historical by Catherine Coulture. The plot was pretty typical for the genre but the hero… Well, he was dreamy just as all heroes should be. Sixteen is critical time in a girl’s life. The time where she develops her ideas of how men should act and what romance should be. And there I was reading romance after romance, seeing hero after hero saying beautiful things, doing wonderful things. It was then I began to think that sixteen year old boys were…. kind of dumb. And they were. My standards of what a man should be grew higher and higher. As I got older more things got added to my list. He should be tall, at least six feet, with a college degree and a solid Roth IRA. A six-pack also wouldn’t hurt. And then I was looking for that moment. That time when you see the man of your dreams across the room, your eyes lock and BAM! Kristan Higgins refered to it as Kablammy in one of her books. I wanted that. I was hoping for that. I was depending on that moment to start my happily ever after.  But has anyone really ever had that moment? Really? I thought I experienced it an early age. I was seventeen and working  as a cashier at a rest stop on  I87 when a state trooper walked in.  He was tall. 6’3 or 6’4 , with skin the color of a Hershey Kiss. He was built with biceps that could crack a walnut. He wore a gray uniform and a gun and his job was to protect and serve me. He smiled at me. Sigh. Boom. Bam. Kablammy. I was in love and it rendered me mentally handicapped because I could not utter two words in his presence. I can still remember the look on my coworker’s face. Never. Going. To. Happen. Sadly, she was right. But that man set the bar for what I thought all men should be.

Surprisingly, I didn’t find my dream man in college either because men in their early twenties can be… just as dumb as sixteen year old boys. And maybe, my standards were a little out there. It was then I started to write. Jennifer Cruise’s Bet Me caused me to fall in love with her hero and want to write my own. So I wrote about men who were good and sexy and successful. Men who had flaws, but the flaws were so gosh darn adorable no sane woman would care. Men that I would sell my mother to get all while my own search for the perfect man continued on in vain.

My mother hates romance novels(Gasp), says they give women an unrealistic view of love. She says the books that I love never mention anything about the gas that he passes, or the toe nail clippings that never seem to make it in the garbage. That they never detail all the real life mundane stuff that happens in a real relationship. She also tells me that the real reasons people fall in love are far different from those in a book. Friendship. Companionship. Trust. Mutual Respect. Support. She says it’s never all Kablammy and fireworks. She right. I hate it when she’s right.

Romance novels are an escape. In real life half of the world is divorced, spouses cheat, men clip their toes nails in bed.  Real life is real life and romance novels are romance novels. If all men were like that we wouldn’t have a need for them. So I am going to keep writing about men that any woman could fall for and develop crushes on the ones my author friends have dreamed up for me.  As for me personally, I’m recovering although, still secretly  wishing for that Kablammy. I’m learning that Mr. Right doesn’t have to be Mr. Perfect and if I want to perfect man I can just make him up.

Question.( I always give homework.) Have any of you ever experienced that romance novel kind of love?