My Writing Life – Tanya Anne Crosby
When did you first discover a love of writing?
Somehow, I think I’ve always known I would be a writer. I remember being 12 and getting my tonsils out and my father said I could have anything I wanted, thinking it should be ice cream. What I wanted was to move his typewriter into my room. I spent hours watching black keys smacking crisp white paper and was fascinated by every aspect of the act of writing. I would say all my reading material from the time I was a child had a direct impact on my desire to write and tell stories, but it wasn’t until I was in my late twenties that I read a book by Judith McNaught and decided that this was it for me–specifically romance. I love history, love a bit of mystery, but mostly, I believe no story is worth telling without love in some form. And by this, I don’t mean only romances are worth telling, only that love is at the heart of who we are as human beings and every great story revolves around the need to be loved, love, or even the lack of love.
What’s your favourite book?
It would be impossible for me to choose. As a teen I loved Frankenstein by Mary Shelly.
Where do you get your story ideas?
They literally come from everywhere: an article in the paper, an old couple walking by the beach, a mysterious box in the attic, an old letter. My favorite question ever is: What if?
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received as a writer?
Writers write. Do it every day. It seems simple, but this piece of advice has served me through twenty six years as a published writer. The more you do it, the better you get.
Where do you usually write?
I have an office, but I work on a notebook so literally anywhere I feel inspired.
Do you believe in Writer’s Block?
No. This is part of the “do it every day” advice I was given. What I find is that writer’s block only comes if I walk away and don’t come back to work for days. If I allow it to become a block, it will be, and then I’m even more reluctant to get back to it. However, an amazing thing happens when you just keep plugging away. You might write total crap on days one, two and three, but at some point, you get it. It’s way easier for me to edit myself than to get something on the page, but if I force myself to make writing a habit, there WILL be something to edit. I do set daily goals, but mine are modest. I can and have had 10k days, but I give myself permission to stop at 500 words for the day.
If there was one writer (alive or deceased) that you would love to meet, who would it be?
Shakespeare – I mean, he practically created a language. He also touched upon every story plot there is to be told. He got it- people, life, everything. I’d love to get into his head.
What’s your favourite literary genre? Any guilty pleasures?
I write romance because I love romances. I think I don’t like that phrase “guilty pleasures” because it implies we should be embarrassed to read the things we love. I don’t believe that should be the case, although I will admit that, for me, it’s far more often the marketing that makes me want to brown bag a book. Because I do believe there are deep-rooted gender aspersions that are still cultivated today by the market, and it’s not easy to overcome them. I also really love gothic reads, mysteries and science fiction. But I have a very wide reading palette. If it’s a great book, I’ll read it. Right now I’m on a Daphne du Maurier and Joyce Maynard kick, reading and re-reading everything they wrote.
What made you decide to self-publish?
Although my publishing roots are trad, I definitely do not consider myself either indie or trad. I guess the term hybrid author most applies to me. I don’t believe there is any one right path for an author to take and I do believe under the right circumstances traditional publishing is still a great option, although I know that doesn’t answer your question. I came to a point in the late nineties that I no longer enjoyed what I was writing. That, and life got in the way, so I took a break. When I came back to the industry, it was an entirely different world. I was determined to love writing again. For me that meant telling the stories I wanted to tell and that was far easier to do as an indie author.
Are there any self-publishing tricks of the trade you’d like to share? What rules of craft or promotion do you live by?
I have a lot of rules for myself, but none I feel apply to everyone, aside from the one thing we all know to be true: Write the best book you can write. But as indie authors we have a certain stigma to overcome without the benefit of the “gatekeepers.” It’s important to treat the final book product as professionally as possible – hiring great cover artists, great editors, and sticking to a tried and true editorial process. You can’t just throw a book up there. Even editors need an editor when they put on a writing hat. I know this, because I was an editor during my ten-year hiatus. When we make the decision to self-publish, it can’t be simply because we don’t want to be told what to write and when. We have to be willing to wear half a dozen hats, and it’s not going to be easy. You’ve got to be willing to write the book, then assume the role of copywriter, marketing professional, cover consultant, project manager, advertising exec, and a slew of others. Not to mention the editing and formatting. Indie publishing is not for everyone, and if it’s not for you, and you’d rather simply write, then trad is a good path, under the right circumstances. The great news is that there are more great choices available to writers than ever before.
What is the thing you love most about Indie publishing?
This is where I must confess I’m a control freak. It’s true; just ask my husband. I love being a part of every aspect of publishing. I think the culture is changing now, and I have truly loved my past editors, literally every one. (I was lucky that way.) But there was a certain amount of this business that we were not a part of, and I hated being in the dark. I love, for example, my relationship with Kobo, and feel very fortunate to be able to send an email to vendors and say, hey, this is working well, but how can I make it better? I love being able to control which cover I use where, and I love even the ability to grow my presence in audio and foreign markets. This year alone, I have something like 21 new foreign editions on the way, and I’m thrilled to be able to cultivate these relationships.
You’re known for your historical romances. Tell us about your latest series.
Historical romance is where I cut my teeth, so to speak. I found I loved the time period and my biggest series, The Highland Brides, brought me a very loyal readership. When I returned to writing after my hiatus, I wanted to give something to the readers who stuck with me so long. Highland Fire is the start of a brand new series, but it brings back characters from The Highland Brides, so in a sense, they are all connected. I got to write these new books the way I wanted to write them, and my readers have really embraced them. Highland Storm, book three, will be out late December.
Tanya Anne Crosby has written numerous historical romances, all of which have graced numerous bestseller lists, including the New York Times, USA Today and Waldenbooks and B Dalton’s Top 10. She has received high-level publicity in magazines, such as People, Romantic Times and Publisher’s Weekly, and her books have been translated into eight languages: Russian, Italian, Chinese, French, German and Spanish, Dutch and Portuguese.
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