My next guest author is a woman I have a great deal in common with although I’ve never met her in person. LaVerne St. George writes in several subgenres of romance and has been writing since she was a child, just like me. But there I go getting ahead of myself again! Let’s peek at her official bio and then we’ll get to the interview.
Award-winning author LaVerne St. George has been writing since elementary school, but when she received a college care package from her aunt including Kathleen Woodiwiss’ The Flame and the Flower, she caught romance fever and never looked back. She’s known for her delightfully satisfying romances with sweet intensity and her believable characters. A librarian by training and a consultant for over 15 years in the pharmaceutical industry, LaVerne’s instinctive answer to almost any question is “Let’s go look that up!” She grew up in Western Pennsylvania and has either lived in or visited 40 of the 50 United States (guess what’s on her Bucket List!). A fan of sea turtles and happy endings, she now lives with her husband in the piedmont of North Carolina halfway between the ocean and the mountains, just where she likes it.
Betty: How many books have you written and published?
LaVerne: I’ve written four books, traditionally and self-published. I also self-published a book in a chapter-a-month format which didn’t work out very well. Romance readers, of all genre readers I learned, prefer to binge in their reading and aren’t very patient. I reformatted that book into a submittable manuscript, and it’s now being considered by several traditional publishers.
Betty: What genre(s) do you write in and why?
LaVerne: I write historical, contemporary, and paranormal romance, all either sweet/warm or Christian inspirational. I write sweet/warm stories (defined as either the bedroom door closes or we join the lovers in their emotional reaction to lovemaking) because I love reading books where the tension comes from conflicts and attraction that lead up to the ultimate sexual union. Some of my characters have shown themselves to be people of deep faith or broken faith. When that happens, I develop the story into an inspirational romance.
Betty: What themes or motifs did you use in your recent release and why were they important to your story?
LaVerne: There were two themes I wanted to explore in RESTORE MY HEART. One is the fact that Christmas, for many people, is filled with sadness and painful memories. It takes real effort to overlay the older memories with new, brighter ones. In this story, Jeff has been more successful at this than Sally. The second theme is the critical role our childhood plays in shaping how we will approach relationships in later life. For Sally, her fear of abandonment has interfered with her friendships and finding support from Jeff helps her to move forward.
This is Book 3 in my contemporary romance series Pittsburgh Connections. It stands alone very well; readers won’t need to read the previous books to enjoy this one.
With an alcoholic mother, Sally Meyers never celebrated the holidays. Her father and all the men who followed abandoned her, leaving her broken-hearted before she knew what whole-hearted felt like. Despite this rocky start, Sally has built a successful professional life but guards her heart against romance and love. Enter appealing newcomer Jeff Campbell, a traveling restoration craftsman, just the wrong type of guy for her. In the hours of striving together to meet holiday deadlines, Jeff reveals himself to be both attentive and trustworthy. Maybe he could be the right man for her after all. Longing to believe in the miracle of Jeff’s love, Sally drops her guard. When he leaves for his next project, her biggest fear is that he’ll never come back.
Betty: Do you have a “day job” or do you write full time?
LaVerne: Great timing on this question. I’m in the middle of a huge transition. I’m selling my consulting business to my partner, and as of January 1, 2020, I’ll be writing full time. I’m excited and thrilled and scared all at once. It’s a dream come true!
Betty: Do you have a specific place that you write? Revise?
LaVerne: I do have a home office where I can have quiet and solitude to write first drafts, characters sketches, make content edits, and add to my “idea factory.” But I’m finding that I like to mix it up. I write and revise at my local library, at a table in my living room, on my back deck (lovely woods out there), at coffee shops, empty classrooms at church, and I do keep an office-share space for business activities and for writing.
Betty: Do you have any writing rituals while you write? Did you have a special drink, or music, or time of day that you gravitated toward?
LaVerne: My best writing time is in the morning, and I’ve made some changes in my schedule to make that happen. I love brewing a mega cup of “cocoa coffee” – rich, dark Kauai Coffee with a good portion of milk, raw sugar, and a heaping tablespoon of baking cocoa powder mixed in. Yum! I love writing to instrumental music (song words get in the way), most especially favorite movie scores like “Gettysburg,” “The Last of the Mohicans,” and “Robin Hood” (Kevin Costner version).
Betty: Do you have a structured time to write or is time more fluid/flexible? Do you have to write between family obligations or do you set aside a block of time?
LaVerne: I took the “Chunky Method” course from Allie Pleiter last year, and it really helped me structure my writing time. I learned that I can write about 1½ to 2 hours; then my brain fogs over. This is my “chunk,” and I happen to be a “big chunk” writer since this is about 1450 words. I have scheduled 7 of these chunks during the week and maneuver the rest of my obligations and schedule around those. So far, it’s working well.
Betty: What comes first when you’re brainstorming a new story: setting, situation, characters?
LaVerne: Any of the above. I’ve created stories from a spark from and expansion on all of these. The most important next question is always “What if?”
Betty: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)? Why or why not?
LaVerne: I do if I’m in the right spot for a particular project. If I’m on an editing deadline, then no. But if I’ve got to fill up pages quickly for a first draft, then I dive in. I’ve participated before, and it kept me on track, so I’d recommend it.
Betty: When you’re writing, do you read in the same genre as your work in progress or something else?
LaVerne: Always something else. If I’m reading in the same genre, the words and the style get in the way. And if I’m reading a fabulous author, I can have a “crisis in confidence” LOL. Really don’t want to be creating when I’m thinking “I’ll never be that good!”
Betty: What is one recent struggle you’ve experienced in your writing?
LaVerne: Understanding the difference in the energy I use for writing versus the energy I used for consulting. In creative work, like writing, I learned that the energy comes from the same pool as the energy for making any life decision. And that my writing job requires time for recharging. I’ve banged up against “decision fatigue” (yes, it’s a true psychological issue) and was frankly baffled. I never had trouble with this in my consulting, so this fatigue was new to me. I’m learning how to manage my creative energy better.
Betty: Any hints of what you’re next writing project might be?
LaVerne: I smiled at this question because it will depend a lot on when a traditional publisher will offer me a contract on the projects now under consideration. When a contract comes in, I’ll be working on that project – a warm Regency spy novel, an inspirational about the US Life-Saving Service on the Great Lakes, and/or a sweet Regency for Harlequin. As I’m waiting, most likely, I’ll work on the next book in the Pittsburgh Connections series. This will be Peter Jameson’s story. He’ll move on from his experience in Book 1 to meet a young fabric artist in Michigan whose work he’d like to sponsor. Juliana, hoping for success with her art, fights to keep her past a secret, especially from the attractive Peter, but the past catches up with her and threatens the new love they’ve found.
Betty: What are your keeper books? How often might you reread them?
LaVerne: My keepers come from all over the romance genre and span back into the 1970’s. I also have a few paranormals, science fiction, non-fiction, and mysteries which have made my list. I have a tall bookshelf of those books which touched me emotionally, made such an impact on me, that years later, I can still see the whole story in my head. I’ll choose a Keeper to read when I want to relax with old friends, when I need inspiration for my own writing, when I crave a reliably wonderful story. You can find my keepers listed on my Goodreads Keepers bookshelf.
Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?
LaVerne: My advice comes in a handy acronym: WELL. Write, Edit, Learn and Listen. WRITE whenever you can. Make time for it. My favorite writing quote comes from Nora Roberts: “I can fix a bad page. I can’t fix a blank page.” Then EDIT. Edit again. And again. Don’t be afraid of the changes; that how we all get better. LEARN your craft. The best writers say they are always trying to improve. Attend writing craft classes. The Romance Writers of America and its chapters provide ample opportunities to learn. LISTEN deeply. Listen to readers, editors, and agents who read your work and give you feedback. Don’t argue, don’t justify. Listen and consider that at least some of that feedback will make you a stronger writer.
Thanks for joining me today!
So there you have it, some great advice and stories to enjoy from LaVerne St. George. Thanks to her for stopping in today to share her writing process and inspiration for her stories with us.
I’ll have another author interview on Monday as a special shout out to a fellow Common Elements Romance Project author. Stay tuned for more on her story and writing process.
In the meantime, thanks for spending some of your valuable time with me. Happy reading!
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