Maya Reynolds Tell All
ST: Good Morning! This week we have the mother of all bad girls with us, Maya Reynolds. Welcome, Maya, and thank you for visiting with us this week.
MR: Thanks, Sloane. I’m so glad you invited me. I love your site and your books. It’s a good day whenever you have a new release.
ST: I agree! Tell us about yourself.
MR: Well, I was born in New York City and grew up in Florida. I have a Masters in Social Work and spent years working on the Dallas County mobile crisis team (a terrific job for a writer looking for story lines). I live in a small town in Texas and work at a university in Dallas. I love to garden and work through my stories while pulling weeds or fertilizing my roses.
ST: Your debut novel, BAD GIRL, has just been released. Let’s show everyone your gorgeous cover. It was an exciting, hot read. I loved the book. Please tell our readers about it.
MR: BAD GIRL is about a woman named Sandy Davis. Sandy didn’t start out intending to spy on her neighbors in the high-rise across the street. It began innocently. But then, she couldn’t bring herself to stop. Night after night, she hid in the shadows of her balcony and peeped through each different window, watching people going about their lives, never realizing they were being observed.
It was just a game. No one had to know. Then one night came a phone call…
“You’ve been a bad girl.”
He calls himself Justice. He has a pastime too. Watching Sandy watch others. He has the pictures to prove it. Now it’s his turn to play–by making Sandy pay the price in exchange for holding on to her naughty little secret.
As the sensual dance between two strangers begins, so does Sandy’s fear that she’s moving closer to the edge of extreme desire–and inescapable danger.
ST: How did you come up with the story line?
MR: I was taking a writing class online and wanted to find an unusual story where the heat level would scorch the pages. I happened to see Rear Window on television, and it started me wondering what would happen if it was a woman spying on her neighbors–and what would happen if she got caught.
ST: And where and can we buy BAD GIRL?
MR: It’s on sale now. You can find it at bookstores like Barnes & Noble, or Borders, and at the online booksellers like Amazon.com or Powells.com.
ST: You have an agent. Was it difficult to connect with one you really wanted to represent you?
MR: I’ve heard it said that it’s harder to find an agent than it is to find a publisher. I don’t know about that.
I began writing BAD GIRL in February, 2005. I entered the first chapter in the “Just Erotic Romance Reviews” contest that summer. Raelene Gorlinsky of Ellora’s Cave picked it as second place winner and asked me to submit the full manuscript. The only problem was that I hadn’t finished the novel at that point. It took me several months to finish the story. In the meantime, I continued to query agents.
Having won that second place prize certainly helped me attract the attention of the agents I wrote. I had multiple requests to see the manuscript. Then, one of my critique partners met Jacky Sach of BookEnds at a conference and mentioned BAD GIRL to her. Jacky asked to see the manuscript. I called her, and we clicked almost immediately so the decision to go with her agency was an easy one.
ST: Your experience is a rarity. I’m happy for you, Maya. Hopefully we’ll see you tomorrow?
MR: I wouldn’t miss it.
September 25, 2007
The Write Side of Life
ST: Let’s jump right in, Maya. What made you decide to be a writer?
MR: I don’t know that there was ever an actual decision. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t reading or writing. I honestly think it’s in the genes. My father was a technical writer, and my mother was a huge reader so our family ethos included very positive feelings toward both reading and writing. My mom didn’t drive, but every week, she would put my younger brother and me in a wagon and pull it down the hill of Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey to take us to the library. We’d fill the wagon with books and lug it back up the hill toward home. It seemed completely natural to me to make the jump from reading to writing as soon as I could. One of my three brothers is now a well-known sports columnist with a major U.S. newspaper.
ST: How long have you been writing?
MR: Before I could physically write, I told stories. By the time I was ten, I was writing plays for my friends and brothers to perform.
ST: How many books have you written?
MR: BAD GIRL, the first to be published, was my fourth full-length novel.
ST: Which is your favorite and why?
MR: BAD GIRL, of course. LOL. In the very beginning, I got emotionally caught up in Sandy and Justice’s love story. It was quirky and unusual. They have very real, very honest feelings, and the heat level is off the chart.
ST: Do you find writing to be fulfilling? And in what way?
MR: I don’t know that I’d use the word “fulfilling.” Writing is necessary to me in the same way eating, sleeping and breathing are. Even when I’m not actually writing, I’m watching people, wondering what their stories are. Or I’ll hear a news report and think, “Wow, wouldn’t that make a great book?”
ST: What’s a normal day like for you?
MR: I get up at 5:00 AM and go straight to my study where my laptop is. I don’t even turn on a light; I like being surrounded by darkness with just the lighted screen in front of me. It helps me to focus.
I work until 6:45 when I have to get ready for work. I get to my office by 9:00, where I’m very busy so the time passes quickly. If I don’t meet someone for lunch, I read and answer emails.
I usually leave work around 6:00 or 6:30 (after the traffic dies down–I have NO patience for rush hour). I don’t push myself to write in the evenings although once or twice a week, I usually find myself in front of the laptop. I have a fixed goal of words per week. If I haven’t reached that goal by Friday afternoon, I write over the weekend. Even if I’ve reached my goal, I frequently find myself wanting to get back to the story at hand.
ST: You’re very dedicated, but with your busy life how do you find time to write?
MR: We make time for the things that are important to us. It’s a simple matter of triage–prioritizing things according to need. If writing isn’t in the top three or four on your list, you probably aren’t serious about being a writer. I’m VERY serious.
ST: Thanks for taking the time with us today.
September 26, 2007
Author, Author Tell Us More
ST: I know you’re really busy today, so let’s jump right in. Are there any quirks you have or do before or while you’re writing?
MR: I don’t know whether you’d call it a quirk or a habit, but I’m a compulsive editor. I always start a writing session by re-reading the last half dozen pages. It helps me get back into the story, and it allows me to clean up any errors. Every week or so, I re-read the entire manuscript from the start. The result is that I produce a very clean manuscript.
When I finish the story, I set it aside for a minimum of two weeks–preferably a month–to give myself some distance from it. After that time, I do one read-through for final edits and then I’m finished. I don’t spend more than a couple of days on that final read-through. By that time, I’m looking for continuity or logic errors. The grammatical stuff has been cleaned up long before that point.
ST: Who or what encouraged you to write erotica?
MR: I picked up Robin Schone’s THE LADY’S TUTOR about six years ago. I’d been away from the romance genre for a while, concentrating on mysteries and thrillers. I was blown away by how far romance had come. And I can remember thinking, “I could really get into writing an erotic romance.” It was another two years before I decided to try.
ST: Just how hot are your books, Maya?
MR: Let a reviewer answer that question. Lindy of Two Lips Reviews said: “I absolutely loved Bad Girl. I devoured it. In this, her debut print novel, Maya Reynolds has created characters with an intense chemistry and a plot that’s rock solid. Ms. Reynolds scores extra points for her exceptionally hot use of sex toys, too. At one point I thought to myself, “If this gets any hotter, my panties are going to melt.”
You can read the whole review here: http://www.twolipsreviews.com/content/index.php
ST: Where do you get the ideas for your novels?
MR: Everywhere. From television, radio–especially NPR–Internet articles and just daily conversation. I keep 3×5 cards. Whenever I have a story idea, I scribble it down on a card and file it in a small box on my desk. When I need inspiration, I flip through those cards.
ST: That’s an excellent tip. How do you research your books?
MR: I do whatever is needed. Internet research, interviews, and actual physical “Can this be done?” research. It’s one of the fun parts of the job.
ST: Who is your support group?
MR: I get professional support primarily from my critique partners: five women around the country. I’ve only met two of them in person, but we talk online all the time. I also belong to a group of terrific erotic romance writers. There were 25 of us who took an online class with Jan Springer in February 2005. We had such a great time, we formed a closed Yahoo group we called The Brazen Hussies. Since that time, more than 20% of us have been published–including you, Sloane, and me. 🙂
ST: Thanks, Maya, for sharing so much with us today.
MR: You’re welcome. I’ll see you in the morning.
September 27, 2007
The Soft Side of Maya Reynolds
ST: Hi, Maya. Tell us about your writing space.
MR: I write in the smallest of my three bedrooms, which I use as a study. The room was originally a child’s bedroom and, when I moved in, had Winnie-the-Pooh curtains. I liked the bright primary colors, so I kept the cutains where they were.
I have a friend who is an interior designer. Those curtains drive her to distraction. LOL. She gave me a beautiful set of rose, white and green draperies so I’d take down my Winnies. The drapes are stored in the closet, and Winnie-the Pooh still rules!
When my nieces were very young, I started a Beanie Baby collection for them. They outgrew the fad, but I still have the collection. I hung narrow shelves around the top of the room about eighteen inches below the ceiling. The Beanie Babies sit on those shelves.
I wanted a very long, functional desk so I bought a seven-foot butcher block kitchen counter that sits atop two-drawer file cabinets. I have a desktop and laptop computer and two printers on it. I also have a card table set up next to my desk where my research and manuscript pages are spread out.
There are three seven-foot tall bookcases that occupy almost all the wall space. There’s a smaller bookcase that holds a television and VCR, a rolling stand with my word processor on it, a fax machine and a shredder.
ST: Sounds like a fantastic work space! Now that you have the ideal environment, what’s your favorite part of writing?
MR: That feeling of excitement I have when my characters start doing unexpected things.
Once my characters become real to me, they also begin dictating the action. If I try to make them do something that isn’t in character, they balk. While it’s frustrating, it also pleases me because it means they’re more than just cardboard figures.
ST: What do you absolutely hate about being an author?
MR: The feeling that there is never enough time in a day. Between working full-time, writing, blogging, marketing BAD GIRL and just trying to live, it seems I’m always two beats behind.
ST: In your opinion, what’s the most important thing for a new writer to learn?
MR: The difference between writing for pleasure and writing professionally. When you write for yourself, you can be indulgent. You can leave scenes in because you love them. You can meander all over the place without getting to the point. You can fill pages and pages with narrative or backstory.
When you write professionaly, you’re held to a higher stand. Publishing is a business, and you must learn to treat it as such. You need to learn proper grammar, spellling and punctuation.
In the same way that a professional athlete is just a cut above a talented amateur, a professional writer must learn to be a cut above and amateur hobbyist.
ST: Excellent advice for new writers and a good reminder for established authors.
MR: Thanks! Now I have to get back to work, if you don’t mind. I’ll see you again in the morning.
ST: Sounds good.
September 28, 2007
Gazing into the Crystal Ball
ST: Hi Maya! Let’s show everyone the primo cover for BAD GIRL one more time.
ST: This isn’t something I’ve ever done before on this blog, but it’s necessary for me to comment here. I finished BAD GIRL last night and already miss the unique charisma between Sandy and Justice. It’s a HOT read with a perfect build-up and should come with a Satisfaction Guaranteed notation on the book cover. Maya Reynolds does not disappoint her readers.
ST: Please tell us about your blog and how you decide what to write.
MR: I blog every day at http://www.mayareynoldswriter.blogspot.com and have been doing so for over two years.
I post about a variety of things: writing, becoming a writer, books, movies and publishing news. If I’m having an especially good or bad day, I might talk about that, too.
I’ve been fortunate. Lots of nice people have joined me on my blog. I now belong to a whole community of readers and writers who share each others’ lives through blogging.
ST: What does the future hold for you?
MR: I hope more stories that turn into books. I love to write. I feel so blessed to have found something that I can enjoy doing until I take my last breath.
ST: If you had one wish that would be granted, what would it be?
MR: More hours in the day. There never seems to be enough time to do everything that I want to do. I love to garden, but my yard is looking a little scruffy right now. My beloved border collie died two years ago, and I’m finally ready to think about another dog, but it would be unfair to take one on right now when I’m so busy.
ST: How did you and your publisher come together?
MR: I signed with Jacky Sach of BookEnds Literary Agency in late December, 2005. Jacky marketed BAD GIRL to the publishers she knew were interested in erotic romance. Tracy Bernstein of NAL Heat (a division of Penguin) purchased the book.
ST: What’s in the works for the future?
MR: Tracy wants my next book completed before March, 2008. I have two more erotic suspense stories rattling around in my brain right now. I also need to do Leah and Theodora’s stories, the sequels to BAD GIRL. Over the next few months, I’ll work on all of them at varying times.
ST: Thanks, Maya, for spending so much time with us. It’s been a great week and I’ve enjoyed learning more about you. The very best to you in the future and keep us posted on your future releases.
MR: Thank YOU, Sloane. It’s been a fun week. I hope you’ll come visit on my blog one day soon. I want to hear all about your new publishers.
ST: Ooh, the temptation to brag is powerful. LOL. We’ll get together on that, Maya. Thanks for the invitation.