Welcome back to Creekside Café. There’s been a lot going on lately. Our town hosts an annual Fossil Festival and I was one of the old fossils hanging around. Just kidding, I hope, but my writers’ group, Pamlico Writers had a booth at the festival, and we had a float in the parade. It was a lot of fun but a lot of work.
Today I have the pleasure of visiting with my friend and fellow romance author, Davida Ann Samenski. Davida, or Dee as we call her, and I met online first with Book in a Week. I host a monthly writing challenge with the Heart of Carolina Romance Writers that allows me to get to know many of my HCRW mates. Dee was always winning the monthly challenge or a close runner up. Welcome Davida.
Dee: Thanks for the invitation but we finally did meet face to face at the Virginia Kantra seminar.
Sherri: Oh yes, you startled me, and I was so embarrassed I didn’t recognize you. I go to so few of the Heart of Carolina meetings, if it wasn’t for Book in a Week, I’d truly feel left out. How many books do you have out now?
Dee: I know how you feel. I hardly ever make it to a meeting, although I make it a point of attending the fall seminars the chapter holds. I currently have one book out, one in its final edit-mode and one just sold to Soul Mate. My plate is quite full.
Sherri: That’s fabulous, Dee. How did you get started writing?
Dee: I’ve read a few novels that I thought weren’t worth the wasted paper. I thought I could do it better and tried. I found out it’s not as easy as I thought. I started writing in 1992, trying to kill the time at work while answering the phones at the Marriott Hotel in Raleigh.
Sherri: I remember when you started doing Book in a Week you were on the graveyard shift, but you’re a fulltime author now.
Dee: I try to be. I’m published with Soulmate Publishing.
Sherri: Congratulations, it’s not easy to find a publisher willing to take a chance on a new writer.
Dee: I started writing my stories and joined RWA and HCRW, to help me fine tune my craft. I submitted to Harlequin Historicals a few times but was rejected. I hung my head and dragged my feet for a long time, then tried again, only to be rejected again. I don’t handle rejection well, but I do eventually drag myself out the dark place I like to hide in and try again. Finally, I pitched to an editor at the National Conference two years ago and she decided to take a chance on me. She’s bought three of my stories so far. I hope she never comes to regret it.
Sherri: But you love writing, even though sometimes it’s difficult?
Dee: It’s not as easy as I thought. Some stories play out in my head like movies, some are harder to interpret, but yes, I love being a writer.
Sherri: What is it you love about writing?
Dee: Making up stories and bringing them to happy conclusions, unlike real life.
Sherri: Yes, in romance at least, we can get our happy ending. Is that why you love romance?
Dee: I’ve always been a hopeless romantic. I could watch a tv show (soap opera) and see romances blooming long before the characters ever realized it themselves.
Sherri: What is the most difficult thing about being a writer?
Dee: Rewrites, edits and grammar.
Sherri: Oh yes, I am the coma-splice queen. My friend and editor even wrote me out a cheat sheet to help me. I’m using Pro Writer to help me combat some of my grammar problems but it’s still an on-going battle.
Would like something to drink? A coffee or something cold? I can wave over the new waiter I hired, he reminds me of a character from my novels. (Hey, it’s a virtual café, no sexual harassment, just a book boyfriend fantasy.)
Dee: I had a Jethro Bodine cup of coffee this morning, I usually switch to water but what the hey, I might as well have a glass of Southern Mother’s Milk, you know, Sweet Tea.
Sherri: I hate to admit this, I may have to turn in my Southern Lady card, but I do not like tea, sweet or otherwise. I will drink herbal teas both cold and hot, but I’ll only drink sweet tea under duress. (To the handsome waiter) I’ll take a large glass of lemonade and if you want to throw in a shot of Evan Williams Peach, that would be fine too.
Dee, were you born and bred in the south?
Dee: I was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland but currently live in Goldsboro, North Carolina.
Sherri: Have you ever been to the eastern part of the state where I live?
Dee: We’re about an hour and a half from the beach.
Sherri: Atlantic Beach? I’m about an hour away. Creekside Café, if it really existed would be on the banks of the Pamlico River near my home. We’re on the Innerbanks of North Carolina. We’re not far from the ocean by water but quite a ways by land. I love the beach but prefer the sound side where the waves aren’t as vicious.
Dee: I love going to the beach, in the fall, when its not so hot and its not so busy and the sharks have moved on to other climes. I love walking on the beach and collecting shells and wading in the surf, but never more than ankle deep. Although, my granddaughter has a bad habit of joining me in the sand and somehow getting completely drenched.
Sherri: There is so much about being a published author that other people don’t know about. Today’s author, whether indie or traditionally published is responsible for much of their own publicity and marketing. We have to edit and rewrite our work, often several times in order to please Beta readers, agents or publishers. Many of us design our own covers, websites and social media, develop our own Brand, as well as go out and do book signings and talks to help promote our books. Do you have any insights on promoting your books? What have you done so far?
Dee: I’d like to say I’m a master at marketing, but I’m pretty much a novice. I have no idea how to market my books and when I’ve asked for help, I get vague answers. I do have a website, but it’s boring and I haven’t kept up with it. And the website builder charges an arm and a leg to maintain it, so nothing’s been done. As for book signings, I did have one scheduled, but life got in the way and the responsibility of helping my elderly parents fell on my shoulders, so it was pushed to the back burner.
Sherri: What do you feel is your greatest strength as a writer, and what is your biggest weakness?
Dee: Some folks say I have strong dialogue and write compelling stories. My weaknesses are head hopping and research.
Sherri: I love research but that’s a sure-fire way of losing me down a rabbit hole. My husband does a lot of my research for me. He likes to look up weird things on the internet. Head hopping or leaping from one person’s point of view to another is difficult not to do, especially in romance. I mean, letting the reader know what each character is thinking in that moment is often critical to the story. If you’re a Nora Roberts fan, you know she does this, and it works.
Who are your favorite authors? What do you like to read?
Dee: I love historicals and contemporaries. I’ll read just about anything as long as it’s a romance. My all-time favorite authors are Jude Deveraux and Kathleen Woodiwiss. Their stories are the ones that first introduced me to romance. Of course, I’ve picked up a few authors along the years I’ve been doing this: Sabrina Jeffries, Virginia Kantra, Sylvia Day to name a few.
Sherri: My first romance novel was Kathleen Woodiwiss’ Shana. I think I was fourteen. It started my love for historicals and for years I didn’t read anything else. Jayne Ann Krentz, who also writes as Amanda Quick, and my librarian, Robina Norman introduced me to other subgenres of romance. JAK and our own, Virginia Kantra are the ones who inspired me to write contemporary romance. Reese Ryan helped broaden my view of the world and made it important for me to add diverse characters to my stories. I never expected to write romantic suspense but now I can’t stop the ideas from coming. I still want to write historical romance as well but for now, I’m busy with my contemporaries. What about you? What subgenre do you write and what do you hope to write in the future?
Dee: My current book, An Accidental Love Affair is a contemporary. And the story, soon to be published, His Misplaced Countess, is a historical. I write both, but my favorites are historicals. I am working on a contemporary that deals with childhood cancer, a little of blending reality with fantasy.
Sherri: Do you have any other hobbies or interest? Do these show up in your stories.
Dee: I like to visit historical places, North Carolina is full of interesting places to see and learn about.
Sherri: Are you one of those well-organized people? Do you have a certain time to write, check emails or visit on Facebook?
Dee: I usually try to make myself work on a chapter a day, but sometimes the lure of Facebook slots is too tempting.
Sherri: Our time is running out, is there anything you’d like for us to know before we say goodbye?
Dee: I’m always hoping for a good review. Come visit me at my website and say hi.
Sherri: Davida’s links are listed below, check out her books and her website and remember, if you love an author, leave a review.
Amazon Author Page
Davida’s Author Website