When did you first discover a love of writing? Is there a particular book that made you want to become a writer?
I would have to say that I discovered my love for writing at a very early age. When I was around nine, I began writing script/plays for the Youth and Sunday School programs at my church on the island of Nevis in the West Indies. Then later on, I wrote Christian songs that my brothers and I used to sing in church, and love poems that I shared with my closest high school classmates, and then with my co-workers once I entered the workforce—a strange combination, I know. I feel that I was born to be a writer.
Where do you get your story ideas?
I’m a character driven writer and I see people interacting in my head before I know the plot. A story may come to me in a dream or it might be triggered when I see someone doing or saying something out of the ordinary, or something quite simple. My inspiration for Erik, the hero in The Doctor’s Secret Bride came about at a funeral. I saw this sad man standing beside his wife’s coffin; he was holding a little girl’s hand, and I thought, “You poor, poor man, what happened to you?” My then precocious 5-year old daughter inspired Precious’ character. Michelle just fell from the sky, like an angel. She was an angel for both Erik and Precious.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received as a writer?
I took a creative writing class in college, where each student was required to choose an author as a mentor. I chose Jamaica Kincaid, specifically because she is also from the Caribbean, and of course because I admire her writing—it’s so direct and poignant and filled with facts and events about growing up in the Caribbean. I had the opportunity to meet her at a nearby college where she was conducting a reading of her latest book. When I asked her if she wasn’t embarrassed to write about the events about her childhood, she said, “You have to tell the truth.” Sometimes when I’m writing I hesitate during a scene because I feel that I might be pushing the envelope, but then I remember Ms. Kincaid’s words about telling the truth and I let my fingers fly.
Do you believe in Writer’s Block?
YES! I have writer’s block big time. It’s the most frustrating experience for writers to go through. At those times, I’ve learned to just walk away from the book for a couple days until my brain recharges.
What made you decide to self-publish?
After trying to be traditionally published for two decades, and being rejected time and time again, I finally decided that enough was enough. I had to make my own dream come true. I was inspired by Ruthie Cardello’s success as an indie author. Ruth and I met in 2010 at another romance author’s summer garden party and we were both trying to sell to Harlequin at the time. She went indie the next year and made the NYT Bestsellers List within a few months. I attended RWA Nationals in 2011 where several authors talked about their rejections, which led them to self-publish. Since Ruth and I wrote similar books, I thought I’d try my own hand at indie publishing. I went home, re-wrote The Doctor’s Secret Bride, and published it in June 2012. I’m so happy for all those wonderful rejections from New York, and I haven’t regretted my decision to self-publish, not for a minute.
Are there any self-publishing tricks of the trade you’d like to share?
If anyone needs a bag of tricks, it’s me. I would say, make a writing schedule, carve out a specific time during the day or night to write, and stick with it. Tune out the rest of the world and don’t feel guilty about it, or else writing will remain a hobby and never materialize into a business.
I recently decided to enjoy life, and improve and maintain my health, and so created a schedule where I write Mondays to Fridays and take the weekends off. I have a weekly quota of 5K words, which gives me a goal of 1K words a day. Once my daily writing goal is accomplished, I meet my walking partners (two former teaching colleagues) and we meet our daily goal of 10K steps. It’s great because it gives me time to socialize, which is very important for us writers who spend most of our time in solitary. On weekends, I do my house chores, spend time with my family, and just—live. The balance has done wonders for my moral, and for my writing as well. As for promotion, I’m planning to rotate the books in my series and put one on sale each month. I got that idea from Bella Andre at RWA 2015.
Now that you’ve finished the Billionaire Bride of Granite Falls Series, what’s next?
Loving Yasmine, the first of three books in the Beyond Granite Falls series, is available to pre-order now. Loving Yasmine chronicles the developing love between Robert Carter and Yasmine Reynolds, two secondary characters from The Doctor’s Secret Bride, Book One, from The Billionaire Brides of Granite Falls series. The Neglected Heir, and Desire’s Chase will be released in early 2016. After that, I will be starting my Island Brides series, set in the Caribbean. The sky’s the limit, I suppose…
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author, Ana E Ross, began indulging in romance novels at a very early age. By the time she was sixteen, she’d read every Mills & Boon, Regency, and Historical Romance novel in the library on her native island of Nevis in the West Indies. After thirteen years of teaching middle and high school Writing and Literature, Ana resigned from teaching in 2013 to follow her dream of writing fulltime. She now pens steamy contemporary romance novels featuring sexy alpha heroes and feisty heroines who challenge them within a hairsbreadth of insanity. You can follow Ana on her website, Facebook and Twitter.