|Wendy S. Marcus|
What has the journey been like for you?
Wendy: It has been a busy few months. And thank you for hosting me on the 28th stop on my blog tour to promote my debut Harlequin Medical Romance, When One Night Isn’t Enough.
You're quite welcome. You've written a Harlequin medical romance. Where are the Harlequin publishers located for their medical romance genre?
Wendy: Actually, I write for the Mills and Boon offices of Harlequin which are located in England. Medical Romance has an international audience, and they’re wildly popular in France, England, Australia and New Zealand. As a result, when mingling with fellow authors and readers from around the globe I always have to keep in mind what time it is in other parts of the world. For instance, when I sit down at my computer at 7:15 in the morning, it’s 12:15 p.m. in my editor’s office. And when I’m ready to break for lunch, she’s finished with her day. And when I’m scheduled to blog at an Australian hosted blog, I need to make sure I’m available the night before U.S. time which is daytime the next day in Australia.
As far as my journey, I entered a Medical Romance online pitch contest around March of 2010. I was one of five winners and got to pitch my story to an editor. They liked what they saw and requested the full – with revisions. I got assigned my wonderful editor, and I went on to revise my story (actually re-write it…twice) for six long months before I finally sold in October of 2010.
Wow! People often think of writers as having ‘overnight success.’ How many years have you been working toward ‘overnight success?’ What galvanizes you to keep writing?
Wendy: In 2007, I started writing at night( while my family slept) after a full day of work at my full time job. I took a course on writing fiction at a local college and studied dozens of books and articles on craft. I also joined RWA and a local writers group. I have worked long and hard to get to where I am today. And I keep writing because characters keep popping into my head, and telling their stories is the only effective way I’ve found to get rid of them.
What inspired you to write medical romances? Speaking as a medical professional, how do you give your characters the depth and detail necessary for readers to want to cheer them on without the technical aspects of medicine and nursing interfering with the story? Was it difficult to get into character for characters from the medical world?
Wendy: I must admit, I didn’t set out to write Medical Romance. In fact, at the time of the pitch, I wasn’t familiar with the line and actually only did the pitch to get experience. You see, I’m a Registered Nurse. In keeping with ‘write what you know’ my hero and heroine were a doctor and nurse. But I’d planned to submit to the Superromance line of Harlequin. But when Medical Romance showed an interest in my work I set out to learn more about the line and found out they had some great authors over there. And now I’m one of them! (The Lesson: Always keep your options open, and make use of every opportunity available to you.)
As far as technical aspects of medicine, in Medical Romance, the medical action happens in the background. As with every category romance, the focus of the story is on the hero and heroine and the primary love story. Writing medical scenes requires a delicate balance. You need to infuse realistic medical jargon and medical setting information while not providing so much technical speak or gore that it pulls your reader out of a scene. Nurses and doctors are very comfortable in a hospital setting. Most readers are not. And since I’m a nurse, writing medical romance feels like a natural fit for me. Although, you don’t have to be a medical professional to write for Medical Romance.
Which is more important in your stories, character or plot or are your stories mostly character driven?
Wendy: My writing process usually begins when something catches my attention, and a scene pops into my head. I think about it. What came before it? What happens after? I loosely plot out a beginning, middle and end to see if my idea can sustain an entire book. Then I get to work on my characters. This is my favorite part. My editor requires a synopsis before she’ll give me approval to get to work on a new book. I don’t know why she bothers, because I usually stray from the synopsis by my second chapter. My stories are very much character driven. Regardless of what I intend to happen as I begin work on a book, the more I learn about my characters, the more real they become, they tend to take on a life of their own. They drive my story forward based on their decisions and actions, often in a direction different than what I’d planned.
In some of the reviews for When One Night Isn’t Enough, readers mentioned how effectively you write a scene and sequel and GMC for your scenes. Do you look at each scene and evaluate the goal, motivation and conflict?
Wendy: I love writers and their abbreviations. For longer than I’d care to admit, I had no idea what GMC stood for. (Goals, Motivation, Conflict.) Once I learned, my writing improved considerably. While I don’t specifically evaluate every scene for GMC, I do follow the rule that every scene must have a purpose for being there. What is my goal for the scene? What do I hope to achieve? What information do I want to convey? For me, GMC comes into play when I do my character outlines. That’s when I identify my hero and heroine’s goals, motivations, and conflicts. That’s not to say they’re set in stone. I’m constantly assessing my story to make sure my characters’ GMCs are clear, strong, and believable, and that they play out on the page throughout the course of the story.
If you could give writers one small piece of advice, what would it be?
Wendy: Just one? Wow, that’s tough. If I had to give one piece of advice (not including ‘never give up,’ because that’s a given), I’d have to say learn your craft. Take workshops, study books on the craft of writing, and read books in the genre you’d like to write in. Even though I wasn’t familiar with Medical Romance when I won the pitch contest, I read at least a dozen books from the line prior to getting started on revising my manuscript.
What is something you often see beginning writers doing wrong?
Wendy: Well, I can’t say it’s wrong, exactly, because sometimes it works…but I see new writers rushing to submit their work. I understand the rationalization; ‘It’s going to take the editor/agent months to get back to me anyway. Why don’t I whip up the first three chapters and send them out? Then I’ll work on the book while I’m waiting.’
I don’t recommend this because what if you’re unable to finish? What if the story takes a turn in the messy middle and it turns into something totally different than what you pitched in your cover letter? And don’t think this doesn’t happen because it does.
My suggestion: Write the book. From start to finish. Then polish the first three chapters and mail them out – if you’re sending to a traditional publisher notorious for their wait times. If you’re sending to a smaller or e-book publisher, you could hear back in a matter of days/weeks so you want to make sure your book is ready when you send out your submission.
Why? Because, if an agent/editor is interested in your work, you want to send out the full while it’s fresh in their mind. What if there’s a slot in the publishing lineup that your manuscript could fill….if only it’s ready when the agent/editor asks for it.
If the manuscript is done and polished to a shine that singes your eyeballs, and you’re still waiting…that’s okay. Get started on your next manuscript so you can sell them both at the same time. After I sold my book #1 my editor asked, “What else do you have?” Unfortunately I didn’t have anything suitable so I had to start from scratch. The best form of promotion is getting your next book out quick!
What’s next for you?
Wendy: Thank you for asking! The second book in my Madrin Memorial Hospital series, Once a Good Girl, is scheduled for release in the UK in December 2011 and in the U.S./Aus/NZ in January 2012. And the third book in the series, which I am in the process of finishing up now, A Nurse’s Not-So-Secret Scandal, is scheduled for a UK release in April 2012, with other release dates pending.
Finally, where can we buy your books and find you on the web?
Buy links for international readers are available on my website
Visit me on Facebook Visit me on Twitter Visit me on goodreads
Wendy: Now I'm happy to answer any additional questions you the readers may have for me, but I have two questions for you.
Are you familiar with Harlequin’s Medical Romance line of books? Do you enjoy watching medical drama on television?
One lucky person who leaves a comment will win a copy of the UK 2in1 edition of my book, which includes a complete novel by author Janice Lynn. So make sure you leave your name and email address here or after you read the excerpt. The more places you leave your name the more chances you have of being the winner.
And be sure to check back here on Friday, August 19th, when I’ll be back with an excerpt from When One Night Isn’t Enough. See you then!