Rebecca J. Clark, known to her fellow 2008 Golden Heart finalists as Becky, sold her finaling manuscript, Borrowed Stilettos, to The Wild Rose Press just two months after attending the Romance Writers of America® national conference in San Francisco.
Although she writes about stilettos, you won’t find Becky in them. Why? Her day job is fitness trainer and instructor, and heels just don’t cut it. She’s held positions prior to this one, which didn’t require stilettos either. Before being a stay-at-home mom for 12 years, she worked in graphic design and PR.
When I asked Becky to share an interesting fact about herself, she came up with something no other writer has shared. To capture the full flavor, I’ll quote her. “I love cemeteries. I’ve streaked through them, had pizza delivered to them, and played hide and seek in them. You’d think I was a paranormal writer, wouldn’t you?”
And now it’s time to learn more about this “author of sizzling contemporary romance.”
•Becky, your journey to publication is a story of perseverance. You wrote for 15 years before you sold. You started when your oldest was, as you called her, the “Alien Toddler,” and didn’t sell until she was an “Alien Teen.” How did you stay focused all those years?
First of all, thanks for having me here, Keli. And congratulations for the milestone of 10,000 hits on your blog.
Staying focused all those years was tough—I won’t pretend otherwise. I wanted to quit many times, but just couldn’t do it. Somewhere along the way, I realized I didn’t feel complete unless I was writing. Once I knew that about myself, I knew I could never give up. Ever.
This business is all about tenacity and perseverance … with a bit of luck and good timing thrown in. I used to joke that when the sun, moon and stars aligned, I would sell. Luckily for me, they finally aligned.
•How do you balance motherhood, work outside the home, and your writing?
I’ve learned to work in small increments, wherever I am and whenever I can. When I first started writing, I needed at least a two-hour block, and it had to be quiet in the house. Now, I’ve taught myself to write with my laptop in the middle of the living room with kids and hubby going about their normal, loud lives.
I also learned to prioritize. I don’t have much of a social life, and I don’t spend much time online (at least I didn’t before I got my contract. Now it’s all about getting my name “out there.”)
•You sold your Golden Heart finalist story just two months after RWA® Nationals. Did you receive The Call, or was it The Email, as I’m learning is happening more often these days? When it came, what was your reaction? Did your happy dance lean more to a mellow expression such as you teach in your Pilates classes, or did you jump about wildly and throw in some impressive moves more like you’d demonstrate to your Kickboxing students?
“The Email” just doesn’t have the same ring to it as “The Call,” does it? My reaction was a bit subdued. I was on the phone with my sister and checking email at the same time. When I opened up one from my now editor, I told my sister, “I need to hang up. I think I just sold my first book.” I was calm while she was freaking out on her end. I went up to my husband who was working at home that day, and said, “Get off the phone. Now. I just sold my book.” Again, I was nice and calm.
After so many years of hard work and frustration, when the big moment came, it was kind of surreal, like I didn’t know how to react. You think I’d be jumping up and down, screaming, crying, dancing around the room. Of course, I did do all those things later, after it had sunk in that I had finally, finally, FINALLY realized my dream.
•Your debut novel, Borrowed Stilettos, due to be released by The Wild Rose Press for digital download and paperback in 2009, has garnered some nice awards. What aspects of the story are you happiest with?
I love this story because it’s fun—it was fun to write, and hopefully it’ll be fun to read. One big-time agent (who ultimately rejected it) said she was smiling the whole time she read it. My editor said it was the most fun she’s had editing a book in a long time. Have I used the word “fun” enough? Fun, fun, fun. 🙂
•What gave you the idea for this story?
I grew up with a sister who I thought led a charmed life in high school. She was naturally thin and beautiful (and still is, which really ticks me off), a cheerleader, and very popular. She was your basic teenage nightmare to an insecure and shy little sister like me. On several occasions, boys acted interested in me to get to her. A few years ago, I told this to a writer friend, and she made me promise to put it in a book someday. (Thanks, Charli!). In my story, Audrey gets to change places with her sister.
•A book’s title is so important. Your debut novel was first known as Oops! Wrong Sister, which tells a great deal about the plot. Now, however, it bears the name, Borrowed Stilettos. When did the name change and why?
I’d originally written this story as a sweet book (ie: no sex) and had no luck selling it or placing it with an agent. About a year ago, I met with an agent at a conference and asked her advice about selling in this market. She told me to write hot. I’d always thought about making this story hotter, but you can’t just throw in a bunch of sex scenes and expect it to work. I had to change much of the plot, the characters, their GMC’s … basically, I rewrote the whole darn thing. It became a brand new book, thus the title change.
•The main character of Borrowed Stilettos is Audrey, half of a set of twins. She’s the mild mannered one, whereas her sister is flamboyant and yet cowardly. Which of these two characters are you most like?
I’m more like Audrey. I’m very sensible and practical; some people might call me boring. And I consider myself mild-mannered … although my husband of 21 years might disagree with that assessment.
Which did you find the most fun to write, and why?
I really enjoyed writing both characters. I like Audrey because she’s more like me, but she gets to do things and say things I never could. I like Ava because she’s so outrageous. In fact, I enjoyed Ava so much she’s getting her own story.
•Are you a stilettos gal, or are tennis shoes more your style?
I’ve never owned a pair of stilettos, and probably never will. I’m 5’ 8” and have no desire to be taller. Besides, I work on my feet at a gym, training and teaching fitness classes. If I ruin my feet by stuffing them into pretty but painful shoes, I can’t work. See? I told you I’m sensible (and boring). 🙂
•With Borrowed Stilettos sold, are you hard at work on revisions? Once they’re completed, what will you be working on? Do you have a work in progress, or has your editor at The Wild Rose Press suggested a possible new project?
I just sent in the first round of revisions to my editor this week. As soon as revisions are completely done, I’ll get a release date.
I have several works in progress. One is Ava’s story, which promises to be sexy and fun. And I’m in the middle of a single title contemporary romance with a touch of the paranormal.
•And now a question just for fun. If a generous benefactor financed a new fitness center and put you in charge, where would it be built, what type of classes and equipment would it hold, and what eats would you offer in the on-site café?
First of all, being in charge of a big fitness center would be my biggest nightmare. I could never be a manager of anything other than myself—even that is a stretch sometimes. I’m way too unorganized and right-brained to run anything … unless it was into the ground. 🙂
However, since you asked … I’d offer classes to teach people that fitness comes in all shapes and sizes. I’d also offer cooking classes to show that healthy eating can be delicious.
And the on-site café would offer just one food: chocolate. But it would be a new kind of chocolate that’s as good for you and as low-cal as broccoli.
It’s been great having you as my guest, Becky. And now, in closing, is there a final comment you’d like to make or a question you’d like to ask?
Question #1: What’s the most you’ve ever paid for a pair of shoes?
My answer: $50. Did I mention I was cheap?
Question #2: What’s the least you’ve ever paid for a pair of shoes? (Receiving them as a gift doesn’t count.)
My answer: $2.50 from the K-Mart clearance rack. What’s funny about this is I wore those shoes to an RWA national conference a few years back. I swear every time I was on the elevator, someone complimented my shoes. My cheap, little secret. 🙂
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