Special Presentation Speaker: Holding Out For a Hero (First 100 Registrants Only) Presenter, It's Just Emotion Workshop Co-Panelist, What I Wish I'd Known Five Years Ago
Elizabeth Hoyt is a New York Times, USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of historical romance, including reader favorite, The Raven Prince. She also writes deliciously fun contemporary romance under the name Julia Harper. Born in New Orleans, but raised in the frigid winters of Saint Paul, Minnesota, Elizabeth was fortunate to travel extensively when she was growing up and lived in St. Andrews, Scotland; Oxford, England; and Kawasaki, Japan. She went to the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where she not only earned a degree in anthropology but also met Mr. Hoyt. Some years later, after a short pause to birth and raise two children, Elizabeth realized that she really wasn't qualified to do anything but Make up Stories and started writing.
Elizabeth now lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with three untrained canines, a garden in constant need of weeding, and, of course, Mr. Hoyt.
Is there a conference workshop you’ve attended that really helped you, or that you remember because it was something new or different, helpful or interesting? Oh, my goodness, lots! I really learned how to write with RWA and conference workshops. Deb Dixon’s GMC workshop was revelatory, Suz Brockmann’s on deep POV, Julia Quinn’s on dialogue. It’s really rather extraordinary, when you think about it, that we can go to an RWA con and get to be taught writing by top bestselling authors. Although I should add that some of the best speakers I saw weren’t published yet. People have a lot of knowledge to give.
What is the biggest challenge a romance writer faces in today’s market? Discoverability. Actually, that’s always been the big one, because people can’t pick up your book until they’ve either seen the book or heard of you. And, unfortunately, I don’t have a pat answer on how to get your name/book out.
Do you use a critique group/partner, beta reader(s), your editor and/or agent, or some combination for feedback? My manuscripts have always been read and critiqued by my former agent, Susannah Taylor. I’m very lucky that she was my first agent and that she gets my writing. She’s retired from the business now, but she still reads my manuscripts and will argue passionately about stuff. My current agent, Robin Rue, doesn’t read my books until they’re published, which is fine with me. She has other skills. ;-)
I’m also incredibly lucky to have a wonderful editor, Amy Pierpont at Grand Central Publishing, who is very picky and precise. She won’t send a manuscript to production until it’s in good shape and I like that. Amy’s been my editor since To Seduce a Sinner and we work well together, I think.
What methods of promotion have been the most successful for you? See the second question. It’s really hard to tell if a promotion has done anything. That said, I believe in giving away books. They’re my product, after all, and I’m confident that once a reader has sampled my writing they’ll want more.
What does your writing day look like? Do you have a certain time of day you write? How many days a week? A certain word goal per day? I’m terribly unorganized. I usually have a word goal-ish, and I usually don’t make it. I write, when I’m writing, pretty much every day. I’d like to say that I get all my writing done in the morning, but in reality I’m often up late at night when I’m on deadline.
Do you edit as you go or purge and go through after? Do you write multiple drafts or edit as you go, barely needing revisions when typing, The End? I write a very shitty first draft that often is almost skeletal. Send it to Susannah and Amy, get their feedback and then do an apocalyptic revision. I usually add 10,000-20,000 words in the revision stage, but that’s on top of cuts to the manuscript as well. Then sometimes I do another revision. And another. I think my record is four revisions?
I don’t especially recommend my process. ;-) What is your process for writing a book? For example, are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you start at page 1 and write your book sequentially or do you skip around? Do you start with your characters or the plot? Characters. I attempt to plot and will often have a lovely scene-by-scene outline. I never stick to it. I always write sequentially.
What are you working on this very moment? I’m attempting to sketch out a twelve-book new series. I’m spending a lot of time on Pinterest and I’m not entirely certain I can plot out twelve books, but it’s an interesting exercise. I’ll (hopefully) start writing the first book of the new series in October.
What was your most memorable pitching experience? I’ve never pitched which, thank God, because I’m terrible at trying to explain the complicated morass in my mind. I think I do a much better job actually writing the book. ;-)
Can you share with us a fan letter, email, or meet and greet experience with a reader that stuck with you? I had a lovely, very professional young woman come up to me at a signing and, without saying a word, burst into tears. She was excited to meet me.
What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as an author? To believe in yourself and your writing. No matter what happens in the market and with other writers, you need to know and understand your own goals and desires and stick to them. Because this is a business in which it’s easy to be swayed. To think: maybe I should try another sub-genre. Maybe I’m not good enough. Maybe that other writer who is doing X, Y, or Z has the secret recipe to success. Maybe I should change my writing/ manuscript so that my critique partner/editor/some random reviewer likes me better.
What skill would you like to master? Crocheting
What are some small things that make your day better? My husband bringing me coffee in the morning and my dogs sitting in my lap as I write.
Who’s your go-to band or artist when you can’t decide on something to listen to? Oh, gosh. I listen to music when I write so I have lots of favorites. Florence + the Machine?
What is special about the place you grew up? Snow.
What do you regret not doing or starting when you were younger? Playing a musical instrument.
Favorite food? Fish.
Would You Rather: Would you rather be transported permanently 500 years into the future or 500 years into the past? NEITHER!
Would you rather give up bathing for a month or give up the internet for a month? Oh, gross. The internet.
Would you rather have an unlimited international first class ticket or never have to pay for food at restaurants? First class, baby. ;-)
Would you rather have free Wi-Fi wherever you go or be able to drink unlimited free coffee at any coffee shop? Coffee.