Monday, January 30, 2012

Interview with Harlequin Superromance author Rogenna Brewer

From her first Superromance in 1999, Seal It With A Kiss, to her latest release, Marry Me, Marine, Rogenna Brewer's uniformed heroes and heroines have gripped the hearts of readers. A navy heroine herself, married to her very own navy hero, Rogenna masterfully draws on her experience to create characters and stories that are true to life.

But she's also skilled at giving life a twist, as you'll find in her soon-to-be-released paranormal ebook series. Read on to find out more...and to see what brides and ghosts have to do with one another ;). Leave a comment and you'll be entered in a chance to win her entire My Marine Trilogy!!! Rogenna rocks!

1. Okay, Rogenna. Down to business. I remember when my local library switched from index card catalogues to computer catalogues. I think I hyperventilated, LOL. But the computer chip was planted so-to-speak. You're not only a successful author, but an experienced bookseller, reviewer and librarian. Given your experience, what changes do you see local libraries taking on in order to survive the rise of the e-book era?

Publicly funded libraries are having to do a lot more with a lot less. I'm fortunate to live in a large metro area where libraries have adapted with online browsing, interlibrary loan, eReaders and self checkout. Gone are the dark oak shelves and stiff back chairs in favor of floor to ceiling windows and media centers with modern decor. You can even get a cappuccino in the coffee shop at my local library. 

I see the modern library as a hub of digital information.  But libraries are having a hard time convincing publishers to let them lend ebooks.  Check this out from PW:  Digital Book World: New Retail Channels, The Library e-Book Wars and Bundling      

2. Speaking of e-books, you have several anthologies coming out this spring. Your experience in the Navy has made you famous for writing true-to-life heroes and heroines in uniform. I do mean famous! Just last month, Superromance Mitzi's Marine was mentioned in the Time Magazine article: Veteran Affairs: For romance readers - a hardy man is good to find. Congratulations! Your e-books, The Bennett Brides (March 2012) and The Bennett Ghosts (April 2012), delve into the historical and paranormal genres. Have you always wanted to navigate different romance genres, or did something more recent inspire these books?

My only claim to fame is that I'm still hanging in there after a career full of ups and downs .    

The Bennett Books started with a manuscript in which the heroine inherited a wax museum, and then the wax hero collected dust while I went on to write other things. I tried to sell the story as a contemporary, but realize now it was always a paranormal. The research lead to an equally dusty historical and over time those two books became interconnected trilogies simmering at the back of my brain.

One day I realized I had more unfinished manuscripts than published books.  Ideas are easy, writing is hard.  I don't know when that switch first flipped, but trying to write with my critical left-brain is not working for me. 

Left brain thinking is good for reevaluating a writing career, however.  That's when I decided to take a step back and finish everything I'd ever started.  I miss writing for the sheer joy of it.  And my older manuscript reflect that joy. 

The Bennett Brides is an anthology of three historical novellas. Or as I like to call them, historical romps.  They're fast, they're fun and a little sexy, but not erotica. In Fall From Grace a cattleman gets tumbled for the payroll by a debutante posing as a soiled dove. Only Hope pairs a outlaw with a suffragette lady lawyer. And all bets are off in For Love of Honor when a gambler turns a gold digger (as in gold miner) into a lady. 

Fast forward to the present. In The Bennett Ghosts anthology, three siblings inherit a ghost town. In A Will of Her Own the heroine gets stuck with the wax museum, complete with a real live handsome hunk squatter and his look-a-like ghost. Meanwhile, her brother doesn't stand A Ghost of a Chance in turning the town into a gambling mecca. And the old mine becomes a time portal for her sister and a time traveling gunslinger In the Nick of Time

3. More and more print authors are publishing e-books, either through an e-publisher or on their own. In your opinion, is this wave driven by a 'jump-in-or-be-left-behind' phenomenon, financial goals, or fear of an unknown future (ie. dividing one's eggs)?

I'm always behind.  But, yes, there's that fear of being left out entirely.

For me it's just come to the point where I'm tired of hearing, no thanks. My ideas are a little off norm and that makes them hard to fit into any basket. I was writing Navy SEALs long before I sold. I was writing light paranormal while there was an explosion of dark paranormal. I'm done chasing the market for little to no money.

What if, and isn't that the basis for any good story, authors could weave their own baskets. That's what's happening here. There are opportunities for authors that didn't exist before. I designed the covers for The Bennett Brides and The Bennett Ghosts myself. I can oversee every detail of these books. 

I'm willing to take a risk that the books I want to write will find an audience. And while I'm testing the waters with The Bennetts, that doesn't mean I plan to leave my loyal Navy SEAL readers behind.  I'm also working on a new Super as we speak, and I just got the rights to use secondary characters from my first three Supers. Which means I can publish a couple of SEAL books I've been sitting on for twelve years.

4. For every future there's a past, and we'd love to hear about The Call story that started it all for you!

You mean the call that almost wasn't? It was June 1, 1998. I got an email that Friday from an editorial assistant telling me to disable call-blocking for a call from the senior editor of Harlequin Superromance on Monday. Does anyone even remember call blocking? Well, I NEVER used it after that Friday. 

As you can imagine it was the longest weekend of my life. I didn't dare get my hopes up, yet I did.  And come Monday morning, I waited and waited and waited. Because the email said the editor would be leaving for a two week vacation, I made myself call the Toronto office just before close of business, after waiting all day by the phone. 

I was a nervous wreck. Got the editorial assistant, got transferred to the senior editor, and then got disconnected. So I called again. Got the editorial assistant again. She told me Paula was on the other line trying to call me back, but not to hang up because Paula was coming to the phone. Then Paula Eykelhof came to the line and bought my book and I can't remember a  thing after that. Except, when she asked what pseudonym I'd be writing under, I said I'd be writing under my own name. And she said, "Well, we don't have one of those (Rogenna) so I guess it's okay." 

5. Would you say your experience in the Navy has influenced the way you write in terms of plotting, pantsing, discipline etc...or are you a writing rebel?

Defiantly, the Navy influenced my writing.  But in subject matter only. 

But I'm more of a panster than a plotter. I see stories in my head like movie trailers. I can rewind, but the stories are ever changing so I want to get them down on paper as soon as possible or I may not remember that bit of dialogue that sounded so perfect the first time I heard it. Sometimes I get the gift of the whole story straight through from beginning to end. While other times the story needs to gel before it comes together.

I'm disciplined when it comes to putting my butt in the chair. But I'm all over the place when it comes to writing. I've tried different plotting techniques with varying degrees of success. But I can't say I've ever written two stories using the exact same method twice. I still fell like I'm trying to figure it all out.       

6. In both of your latest Superromances, Mitzi's Marine and Marry Me Marine, your heroes suffer physical disabilities after having served their country. I love it when a wounded hero finds a way to love life, a heroine, and himself again. No doubt, the wounds suffered by these men (and all who serve) run far deeper than the physical, and I think the awareness your books bring to this issue is wonderful. What type of research, psychological or otherwise, went into these stories?

It took me years to write Mitzi's Marine. I'd read an article, right after the war started, about our wounded being shipped home in the dead of night to Andrews Air Force Base. According to the reporter this was to keep them out of the public eye and their numbers vague. Anyway, he got my attention. I'd been stationed in DC and knew the base well.
I felt a calling to write a wounded warrior, but took my time answering it. Because sometimes we write to heal ourselves. So I spent a year asking everyone I trusted if they could love an amputee hero.  Of course, they answered, yes.  But I needed more time to come around. I wrote The Marine's Baby first, while my one-legged hero stayed in the background. I started doing research, read some real-life accounts of wounded Marines, and got to know my hero a little better. And then I started to write.

There were times I felt I didn't do Bruce justice. But I really did fall in love with him in the end. Nash from Marry Me, Marine came easier. After I got the idea, I googled and even found a real-life account of a Navy SEAL who'd lost an eye in Iraq. 

7. On your website, you mentioned that your word of the year is 'remarkability'. List three ways you think a writer should use this word to inspire a successful 2012 writing year.

"Remarkability:  Do what you do so well that people can't resist telling others about you."  ~ Walt Disney

1) find your niche. 2) write to your strength. 3) you can tweet, or you can give others something to tweet about.

8. Other than not quitting, what's the one piece of advice, or perhaps the one thing you wish you'd known, that you'd like to share with aspiring authors?

I could tell you, but you wouldn't believe me :)  There's a whole journey before that first sale, remember to enjoy the ride.

9. Now for a little fun :) Do you have any quirky writing rituals? What's your favorite deadline crunch time snack?

Years ago I convinced myself I needed an electric pencil sharpener before I could write. Then I sharpened a bunch of colorful pencils, lined them up on my desk and still couldn't write. I don't really have any quirky rituals. I surround myself with quirky things, though. There's a frog that sits atop my computer. I have a bouquet of flower pens. And an oversized wine glass that say, "instant diva."

I find writing by a timer useful and reward myself with stickers.

My favorite crunch time snack is Wheat Thins and diet Dr Pepper. And that's why I have to diet after every deadline.   

10. Fill in the blank: Rogenna Brewer was voted most likely to.........

...never get published, that's for sure. I wrote the JROTC newsletter in high school and my math teacher used to find all the spelling errors and typos that made into the final edition and hand it back to me corrected. While my typing has improved some, my spelling has only improved with spell check.

LOL, Rogenna. You showed them all! And I love stickers, Dr. Pepper and frogs too :)...real frogs...but I'm assuming the one atop your computer isn't real (although it'd make a great excuse for any typos, LOL ;). Thanks so much for being here today, Rogenna.

GIVEAWAY: Everyone, Rogenna has generously offered to give her entire My Marine Trilogy (which includes The Marine's Baby, Mitzi's Marine and Marry Me, Marine) to one 'super' lucky winner! All you have to do is leave a comment and you'll be entered in the drawing. The winner will be announced here this Thursday, February 2nd.

BLURB: Marry Me, Marine

Operation marriage has to be a go….
Like any good mother, Angela Adams wants a better future for her little boy. And the one way she can provide that is to enlist with the Marines. Unfortunately, there needs to be a husband on the scene for that to happen. Fortunately, her recruiter connects her with Henry “Hatch” Miner—a wounded former Navy SEAL willing to help out a fellow soldier. Problem solved.

But marriage, even to a stranger, is complicated. Especially when beneath the gruff exterior, there’s a man with a heart of gold. It doesn’t take long for Hatch to prove he’s a good dad…and has the potential to be an even better husband. Suddenly Angela has a hard time convincing her heart this is a temporary operation!




Don't forget to comment for a chance to win her marine trilogy!


  1. Morning all;

    I'll be checking in throughout the day!

  2. Good morning! I love your call story! Yeah, not too many Rogennas. :)
    About the whole ebook thing. I know my library is having trouble getting more ebooks, which is a shame because the demand is there.

  3. Hi, Rula and Rogenna,
    I like the thought of doing something so well that people just have to share it with others. Sounds like your ideas come fast and furious. Wishing Rogenna success with all her projects.

  4. Hi Jennifer;

    I'm a recent ebook convert. Have yet to borrow an ebook from my library. But I know the demand is there.

  5. Reward yourself with stickers? I hope they're X-rated :) Nice to meet you.

    Hi, Rula!

  6. LOL-Carol, they're G rated. But they make me smile as did you.

  7. Hi Jennifer, JL, Carol and Rogenna.

    You know, there's just something about stickers LOL. I haven't used them as self-rewards (though I'm keen on the idea ;), but I'll take them any way I can get them. There's something oddly satisfying about peel and stick. I had a friend who needed to do a mass mailing (for work) and I quickly volunteered to help put the sticker address labels and stamps. Hey it was fun chatting while putting stickers on :) Must be why I like post-its ;)

  8. Great interview Rula and Rogenna :) I always like to learn more about authors that I like to read. Rula you have a knack for asking good questions and Rogenna, you did a great job answering them!

  9. Oooh, I love me some hot SEALs.

    Love the covers. And I totally agree about the wonders of today's city libraries. I love being able to put things on hold online. :D

  10. Hey Snookie! Thanks, and it's so great to see you over here :) Rogenna had me completely absorbed reading through her answers...and same goes for her books!

    Hi Stina! I love the covers too. All of them, but there's something about Marry Me, Marine that makes me believe the models were actually in love. I just love the way they're looking at eachother. Adorable and loving in a very 'I'm so into you' way :)

  11. Oh, my gosh, I didn't realize, Rogenna, that you've been working on historical and paranormal ebooks! They sound delightful--I'm in! :-) I'm so glad you've rediscovered your writing joy. I'm another Wheat Thins fan--though my drink of choice is Diet Pepsi. Thank you for the fun interview, Rula and Rogenna! Hey--R&R! :-) Please count me out of the giveaway since I already have 2 out of the 3 books and I'll soon have the third.

  12. Hi Kathy, Nice to see you here :)

    You too, Snookie! I too, was very impressed with Rula's questions and found myself digging deep for the answers.

  13. Stina; any Navy SEAL lover is a friend of mine .

  14. Rula;

    One of the reasons I love stickers, aside from being fun, they're inexpensive which makes them perfect for daily rewards. Of course meeting bigger words count goals are deserving of bigger prizes.

    I love the cover for Marry Me, Marine (fyi, the backward flying flag means forward progress :)

    Good night. Thank you for having me. And thank you everyone for stopping by.

  15. Hey Kathy! Like the R&R LOL. My name isn't common either :)

    Hey Rogenna, I didn't know that about the flag. Interesting and cool! It has been great having you here and getting to know you better. Thanks and best wishes always.

    It's not too late to leave a comment and get entered in the drawing everyone :)