Monday, September 6, 2010

Fun Interview With Rebecca!!!

Lindi here. It's September! In Georgia we are finally feeling a little cooler weather. We have been plagued by 90 degree days constantly over this past summer. It's finally going down into the 50's at night, which makes for some great mornings.

But, enough about the weather. Today we have an interview with Rebecca Syme. I met Rebecca at RWA in Orlando. You know how you just kind of connect with certain people? Well, Rebecca was that type of person to me. We just connected and were able to set aside some time to chat. What a blessing it is to have met her. She's started an amazing blog, New Kids On The Writers Block.

Rebecca has some really great things going on. I asked her a few questions so I (we) could find out a little more about her.

LP---Where do you like to write?

Rebecca---A couple of years ago, I bought this little green desk at a church rummage sale. It was a roughed-up (read: well-loved) antique old thing. I sit on a silver exercise ball, next to a window that faces the mountains, and write to blue sky.

I have a little sound system set up so I can play my Pandora. And each of my novels has a different Pandora station. I love making those. After I do some work with my characters, I pick a favorite song for each one of them (the hero and the heroine) and start a station out of it. Then, whenever I write in their pov, I play the station. My last hero (a big, tough smokejumper from Montana) liked "Way Out Here" by Josh Thompson, but his heroine (a city girl, a doctor) was an opera fan. But they managed to find their HEA, despite intense musical differences.

The other thing I need to have with me when I write is my board-o-junk. Above my little green desk is a board where I tack pictures of my setting, my characters, and things that remind me of my goals. While I'm writing a scene, I might print out a picture of a dish my character just made, or of a drawing a friend did of the clothes my heroine is wearing. Something visual, to keep me focused. I have, for instance, the cover of Louisa Edwards' book that she signed at RWA10 for me. It's a reminder that I want to be able to do that someday--to sign the cover of my book.

I print out whatever query or request is the most recent and post it on this board, as well. Right now, I have printed out the request for a full manuscript that I just got from Deb Werksman at Sourcebooks. She talked about what she liked about my pitch, my concept, and her hopes of being able to sell a book like the one I'm finishing. It keeps me writing through those tough times.

LP-- Do you have a specific time that you write better? Not so good?

Rebecca--I don't write very well in the afternoon. Mostly because I get tired and should be doing something else (like exercising). I tend to write the best very early in the morning or very late at night. Because I often have days that I can give completely to writing, this makes me need variety in my days. So what I generally do is write for an hour and then take a break, then write for an hour and take a break, etc. It helps me keep to a schedule, but also get my brain the rest it needs. I do a lot of #1k1hr on Twitter for the accountability, but there are times when I just have to stop writing because I can't do it anymore.

LP-- What type of books do you write.

Rebecca---I write mostly contemporary romance. The subgenre changes, depending on what I'm working on, but I tend to have a voice that's more suited for contemporaries. (I also SUCK at writing scenery details--how many different ways can you describe a building, seriously, it's a building... it's a big square with a roof--so if I stay away from historicals, I have to do a bit less of the stuff I'm not good at.) I'm in the middle of two series right now. One is (as I mentioned earlier) about a group of smokejumpers from Montana. That's where I live, so the research is minimal. The other is a series of foodie romances, mostly for a change, set in smaller towns.

LP-- I really want to know about foody romances!! Please tell.

Rebecca--Foodie romance is an emerging subgenre of contemporary romance. Generally, the books are about some sort of food professional. For instance, with the cupcake craze, pastry chefs are a hot ticket right now. But the key to making it a foodie romance is that the food is as important to the storyline as any other part of the book, and that the food plays some kind of a part in the characters' lives. My tagline, for instance, is "Finding a passion for food in every love story." Louisa Edwards recently published her "Recipe for Love" series, which are all foodie romances. Barbara O'Neal, who won a RITA this year, has a couple of foodie romances out. There are many foodie romances coming out now.

Calling it a "foodie romance" stems from the word "foodie", which is a designation for someone who wants to learn about and experience all aspects of food. You don't have to be a food professional to be a foodie, in fact, I know many who aren't and haven't ever been. But it's all about the full experience of food. From knowing the difference between a buerre blanc and a rue to knowing when artichokes are in season to knowing where the best Thai restaurant in Portland is, foodies want to know about and experience food. Their food quest is limitless, and they want good food to be a part of everything they do. Including their romance novels.

But the key to foodie romance isn't that it's set in a restaurant or a culinary institute or a kitchen. It's that you fall in love with the food as much as you do the hero and the heroine. Making food a character in the novel. Both Edwards and O'Neal do a fantastic job of this, so if you're interested to see it at work, check out their books. The book that O'Neal won the RITA for this year is outstanding for making food part of the love story.

If you're interested to learn more, you can poke around my blog, Romancing the Palate, or take the food writing workshop I'm teaching later this fall (which you can also find on my blog). There's a whole world of foodies out there, and I hope to bring them love stories that will romance their palate as much as their heart.

LP-- Tell us about New Kids On the Writers Block.

Rebecca--New Kids on the Writer's Block is a group writing blog that I founded. I spent the first eight months getting a following of people, blogging myself or talking about things that interested me. Once I got the followership up high enough, I offered it to a bunch of new writers as a platform to get their names out there and to talk about the experience of being a new writer. We're a diverse group of writers who all have one thing in common: we want to be published. So we talk about agents and contests, voice and character, our families, our schedules, our jobs... anything that's on our minds... with an eye towards being a resource for new writers.

Not in the sense that we're giving publishing advice, although we do sometimes give writing advice. But more as a place to just be honest about what it's like to be a new writer, struggling to become a published writer. My hope is to turn it into a place that everyone will know. Where you, as an established author, can say, "hey, I know this great, accepting place, where you can hang out online and talk to other aspiring writers, and feel like someone understands what you're going through." I'm hopeful that, as the New Kids get published, we can find more aspiring writers to take our places, and keep the blog as a place exclusively for unpublished writers to blog. Of course, we have published writers who read the blog, too, and they offer great advice. Some of them even come on to guest blog for us.

I wanted to do this because when I started off as a new writer and realized that I needed "a platform", I knew exactly how to go about it because I'd been blogging for years. But a couple of the people who joined RWA about the same time as me really had a hard time figuring it all out. They didn't think they had anything important to say, they didn't want the upkeep of their own personal blog, or they just felt like they didn't know what they were doing. And I thought, it would be a really great thing to have a place where some unpublished writers could all band together and support each other, and then turn it over once they had their own place to call home in the publishing world.

I really hope it will continue to be this. And I hope we can be a resource. There are twelve of us blogging now, and we cover a wide range of genres, experience levels, and interests. My hope is that every new writer can find something useful there, even if it's just our list of links or our Sunday Shout-Outs (my best-of list that I write every week). I have high Input, as a Strength, so I love to collect and distribute information, and to be a connector (that's my Connectedness, too, I suppose). I want us to be a resource, first and foremost.

And a fun place to be, of course. :-)

Back to Lindi here--Rebecca--what fun!! Okay, I just have to comment on a couple of things. I'm like you in that the a.m. is my best writing time. I have NO idea how you sit on an exercise ball and write. But I've never tried it, so I might. I love your habit of hanging the most current requests where you can see them. And the music for your hero/heroine.

And everyone really needs to check out New Kids On The Writers Block.

Also, another fun thing (which I mentioned in my post a couple of weeks ago,) is that my son works for Tom Colicchio of Top Chef. Check out Rebecca's foodie blog Romancing The Palate.

I loved hearing about the foodie romances. I've heard about them, and I love food, so I figured I would be a fan. And i am!

Thanks so much Rebecca for being our guest here on the F.A.I.T.H. blog. We really enjoyed having you! You are such a fun person and I look forward to getting to know you better and reading your books. This has been fun!!

Rebecca---Speaking of fun, thanks for having me, Lindi. This has been great! Didn't feel like labor at all. But that's the best kind of labor, right?


  1. I had no idea that the foodie romances were a new craze right now. Of course, I don't read as many contemporaries, but I do read them once in a while. Great blog, Rebecca! Lindi, great interview.

  2. Great job, ladies! Thanks for sharing, Rebecca.

  3. Great interview! Nice to "get to know" you Rebecca!

  4. Thanks, all! It was great to be gotten to know here on the FAITH blog. Love this place.

    And can I just say, Lindi is quickly becoming one of my favorite people on the planet. So far, I've met several of the FAITH women, and love them all!

    Thanks again for having me. I can't wait to have Lindi on my blogs when her book comes out. I'm so excited to read it!!

  5. Oh, and Jennifer, if you get a chance, read Camy Tang's books. I consider hers to be foodie books, although I'm not sure how she markets them herself. But the Sushi series... love it!

  6. Rebecca--thanks for stopping by. And again, the interview was great. And you are one of my fav people!! I know your time to sell will be soon, Miss Genesis Finalist. All the F.A.I.t.H. girls will be at ACFW but me---so make sure you meet up with them. I'll catch you next year there.

    And I have Camy's books. I'll have to remember that when I read them. Thanks for the heads up.

  7. Great Interview, Rebecca! You sound so fun and I can't wait to meet you at conference! Good luck with your new blog! I agree, when people "enter" this realm of the writing world, you have no idea where to start first. You want to be published, you want to have a "platform" but you don't know which way is up. Sounds like you've got a wonderful plan!

  8. Rebecca and I have a lot in common, but I didn't know how much until reading her interview! I too sit on an exercise ball to write most of the time. But mine is blue :-) I too see the mountains out my office window, but then again we knew we were both from Montana :-) But I didn't know she liked foodie stuff. I love foodie stuff and that's why I wrote a cookbook! I've thought about a foodie fiction book, but haven't really landed on one yet. I hope it hasn't faded by the time I do. I've enjoyed reading them and trying a few new recipes.

    Awesome to have you visit our blog, Rebecca.

    Thank you,

  9. Thanks, Lindi. I had a great time here. I hope we get to see each other again in NYC! :-)

  10. Hey, Christy! Great to see you.

    I actually won't be at ACFW this year. I know, as a Genesis finalist, I should really be there. But I just can't go. Our church is starting a fourth service that week, and I really need to be there, since I'm the worship pastor. :-)

    But if I am the runner-up or the winner, you'll get to see my beautiful (and very pregnant) critique partner standing in for me. :-)

  11. We do have a lot in common, Ang! :-) Maybe you'll publish a foodie romance, too, and I can have you on my blog again. ;-)

    Montana Girls Unite! :-)

  12. Hey, Rebecca! It's so great to have you here! I'm sorry I'm late. I've been revising a proposal ALL DAY! :) I'm determined to get this sent off to my agent asap.

    I'm actually a Food Network nut. Love just about all cooking shows. Have always collected cookbooks. I'll have to look up the authors you recommended! I'll also hope to see one of yours in print someday. :)

    Now, finally, to bed... (it's 2 am)


  13. Hey, Rebecca! It's so great to have you here! I'm sorry I'm late. I've been revising a proposal ALL DAY! :) I'm determined to get this sent off to my agent asap.

    I'm actually a Food Network nut. Love just about all cooking shows. Have always collected cookbooks. I'll have to look up the authors you recommended! I'll also hope to see one of yours in print someday. :)

    Now, finally, to bed... (it's 2 am)


  14. Rebecca, I love your name. I am also a Food Network fan and I love foodie romance books. My son's girlfriend is a smokejumper in Arizona. Her job is very interesting to me and I would love to read your book about smokejumpers when it's finished. Please let me know when published.

  15. Rebecca---I thought your were going to ACFW--Sorry I gave the wrong info out!!
    But a fourth service--that's amazing. And yes, you would need to be there. Wow!
    I think there are a lot of people who love the foodie romances. I didn't realize how the food was ingrained into the story, though. Another layer of the story.

    Ang--I did think about you when she wrote about the exercise ball. I thought you might have done that. It must be a Montana thing!!