Today’s interview, with Western Romance Author Loretta Rogers, is one that I hold dear to my heart. You see, I met Loretta in August 2012 at a workshop for SSRA at the Homosassa Library. She is one of the founders of SSRA, Sunshine State Romance Authors, chapter 225 of RWA. I was mid-way through my first draft of Gemini at the time. The workshop on plotting was all that I needed to know that I had found my home. Right here in Citrus County. Who would have thought that this NYC gal would launch her writing career here? Well, the universe, as I believe, works in wondrous ways. I began attending meetings, never missing one unless I was at a writer’s conference. The one point that Loretta made that hooked me was, “This group is not for the hobbyist. It’s a chapter of the most prominent writing organization in the world, RWA.” At these meetings, I learned exactly what I needed to do to continue on my journey into publication from querying agents and publishers, critiquing, beta-reading, pitching, social media and a whole lot more. I can honestly say that Loretta is one of the women that helped me become a multi-published author this year with Gemini coming out in May and Aries, in October.
Me: Loretta, thank you so much for spending time with me today. I know you’re busy getting in the final edits on your sequel to Murder In The Mist. This is a new genre for you, going into murder and mystery. What initiated this transition?
Loretta: Although I am an author, I am also an avid reader, and began to notice that the new books of some of my favorite authors seemed stale. Just like life can become mundane, authors often find themselves in a plot rut. Allowing this to happen is what causes many authors to lose their readership. When my publisher invited me to write a mystery novel, I felt it was the perfect opportunity for me to step out of my usual genre and shake up my writing comfort zone.
Me: So how did working in a new genre affect you emotionally? I know for me, writing thrillers and bad guys can keep me up at night. But crime thrillers is my specialty. You’re known for your fifteen other novels in Western Romance. What reactions did you notice within yourself? Would you continue in this genre?
Loretta: The villain in “Murder in the Mist,” suffers from paranoia schizophrenia. Getting inside this character’s head and staying in his head was not only challenging, but mentally exhausting. There were times when I even scared myself because of having to remain in the dark side of the villain’s mind for extended periods. Writing this novel made me wonder if I had a hidden dark side to my personality. However, as a former rape crisis/suicide prevention counselor, I drew on my training in not only psyche wards, but wards for the criminally insane, to help develop this character. Would I continue in this genre? As a matter of fact, once the finished manuscript was in my editor’s hands, she emailed to say the editorial committee wanted me to write a sequel to “Murder in the Mist.” Writing a sequel was another new challenge for me, but “Shadowed Reunion,” was born, and though it is a romantic suspense, there is plenty of intense action from rival drug cartels. I’m leaving murder and mayhem aside and tackling a new plot–a story that takes place in equatorial Africa circa 1890.
Me: When you began your writing career in 2007, what made you choose the genre, topics and settings in your novels? I love the cover of “Cowgirl Courage” with you on the horse. That’s thrilling to be one of your own cover models!
Loretta: Regrettably I don’t have the graphic. I never got it back from the publisher and when I inquired, they seemed to have lost it. I grew up in an era when cowboy westerns dominated the big screen, television, and books. Actors such as John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Audie Murphy, and Glen Ford were my heroes. So many authors that I’ve heard speak at conferences or workshops all said the same thing, ‘write what you know.’ I learned to ride a horse at the age of three. I knew about the old west, horses, cattle and weapons. The western genre was a good fit for me.
Me: And you are a fourth generation Floridian, too. When did you add the paranormal elements? I loved The Witching Moon and couldn’t put it down. The paranormal, which everyone who reads my blogs knows, is a strong influence in my work. How did you thread together the western and paranormal elements in the story that made it work? What did you need to pay conscious attention to?
Loretta: The Witching Moon evolved when a friend was telling a group of us about the ghost in her house. For all practical purposes it was a friendly spirit until she and her husband would argue, then doors would slam, pictures would fall off the walls, the lights would flicker on and off, and they would hear sobbing. As she talked, “The Witching Moon” materialized in my head. Incorporating paranormal elements into a western romance wasn’t difficult. The Native Americans were huge believers in the paranormal. The Apache had their ghost dancers, the Navajo had skinwalkers, the Comanche believed when a person died they would reincarnate through an animal, which is what happens in my newest paranormal western romance, “Cloud Woman’s Spirit. The most important areas I had to concentrate on in “The Witching Moon,” was making it believable when Sheen O’Reilly allowed the spirits of the dead seeking her help to enter her body; and when she was able to read the hero’s mind. In “Cloud Woman’s Spirit,” the biggest challenge was how to have Cloud Woman’s spirit materialize from the body of the appaloosa mare and then reenter so those scenes felt authentic and believable. I also had to figure out how to balance the western elements with the paranormal elements, and with the romance so that one component didn’t overshadow the other. Needless to say, writing hybrid genres is almost a litmus test for me i.e. can I do it, and can I do it well!
Me: Romance between the hero and heroine is the main plot in your novels. How would you describe your heat level and why did you choose to construct the relationship this way?
Loretta: Like any element in writing, there must be a balance. Too much sex turns off some readers, not enough sex isn’t appealing to another group of readers, so I opted for a ‘sensual’ heat level which is somewhere in between, and just spicy enough to titillate readers who lean toward the prudish side. I want readers from fifteen to eighty to enjoy the plot and theme of my stories rather than focusing on the sexual acts. However, when I have an eighty-three year old reader email to say she’d like to have sex with my heroes…well, what can I say? I’ve done my job as a creative story teller.
Me: You’ve been such a mentor to me over the past few years and have shared industry protocols more than most fifteen times published authors would. What tidbits could you share with our readers about getting traditionally published that they might not find on a Google search?
Loretta: There are those who talk about writing and there are those who write. For those who truly wish a career as a traditionally published author, my suggestion is to join a professional writers group to take advantage of the workshops and networking with other professional writers. A new writer must know which publishing path is right for them and know the advantages and disadvantages of each publishing venue. What Google won’t disclose is the many writing is hours spent at the computer crafting fiction that reads like non-fiction; that writing is a sedentary career, so it’s important to eat healthy, to take walks, and to reward yourself, often. It’s important to keep the mind and body vitalized in order to write stories that will keep readers anxiously waiting to buy your next book.
Thank you for hosting me, Ronnie. I’ve enjoyed answering the questions. I wish you all the best in your publishing journey, because you are well on your way to success.
Me: Thank you so much Loretta! I’m sure our readers will love your candid answers and they’ll also appreciate learning what makes their favorite author, Loretta C. Roger tick!
A fourth generation Floridian, Loretta C. Rogers is an award winning bestselling author. She received her master’s degree in middle grades education from Georgia Southwestern University; and retired from the Tift County, Georgia, school system. Having begun her writing career late in life, she believes it’s okay to dream, but it takes work to make dreams come true. A multi-genre author, Loretta has published fourteen novels with one of New York’s leading publishing houses. Her books have won numerous awards, and she was once dubbed the female version of Louie L’Amor. Loretta is one of three co-founders, and past president of Sunshine State. She can be reached via her website , or Facebook.com/AuthorLorettaCRogers
Buylinks for Murder in the Mist
YouTube Link for Murder in the Mist
Loretta C. Rogers/Murder in the Mist/Excerpt, 261 words
“Mitch, line one. It’s Bryan Cole. Sounds urgent.”
He pushed the button. “Ranger Cole?”
“Got an emergency at Thunder Hole, and it’s a hellish nightmare.”
Mitch stopped smiling and listened. “Close off the area to spectators. We don’t need a panic. Don’t touch anything. Try to preserve the scene as much as possible. As for witnesses, isolate them from each other. It will keep them from feeding off each other’s recollections. Get them coffee, and pencil and paper to write down everything they can remember. I’ll get there asap!”
As Mitch hung up the phone, he issued instructions to Louise. “Call Dr. Musuyo, tell him he’ll need his forensics kit, an EMT, the ambulance, and to meet me at main entrance of the national park. Musuyo is to ask for Ranger Jane Dorsey. She’ll direct them to the scene.”
Louise adjusted the eye glasses that had slipped down on her nose. “What is it, Mitch? What’s happened?”
His voice brooked no nonsense. “In a minute, Louise. Right now, do as I’ve asked.”
He punched auto-dial for Laura’s number, and was relieved when she answered on the first ring.
“Hey, Mitch, I’ve been meaning to call and thank you for telling me about Elio–“
He didn’t have time for platitudes. He glanced at his watch. Eleven fifteen. “Friday, I’ll pick you up in fifteen minutes. Bring your camera.”
“Don’t tell me…another peeping tom report from an overly-excited woman who will probably change her story like the last two did.”
She heard his impatient sigh. “Worse. We have a body.”
Just for fun! Loretta and I at a Take Stock in Children event a Lecanto College, last March. She so graciously agreed to talk to the students about books and writing. Loretta and author Flossie Benton Rogers at a book signing. Flossie will be guest blogging here in a couple of week. SSRA member, Carol Megge looking for her next read!
So there ya have it! I bet you learned a lot about Lorettta C Rogers that you didn’t know. Please feel free to leave comments and ask Loretta questions.
The Sign behind The Crime,