I’ve had several writing friends involved in the Romantic Times American Title contest and this year is no exception. I’d like to welcome Marie-Claude from my RWAOnline chapter to my blog and let her share some of her experiences with you!

1. How long have you been writing?
About 15 months now. I’ve been writing my journal since I am a kid. But I started my first novel (my American Title entry- ANCIENT WHISPERS) in September 2007. It took me about 6 months to complete.

2. What did it feel like when you received the call from Romantic Times that you were one of the finalists?

It was actually an email, which is good because I would have been speechless on the phone! It was a strange combination of relief, awe and disbelief. I haven’t done too well on the RWA contest scene, so when I got asked for a partial for the American Title V contest, I got a little glimpse that maybe there was hope for me. I got great validation at that time. I honestly didn’t think I would final. I was so new at this (still am). But to have an editor choose my entry really gave me the push that I needed to continue pursuing publication. It might not happen right away but I now believe that there is a chance that it may actually happen if I work hard at this.

3. What was the hardest portion of the contest to prepare for?

I entered American Title on a whim. I had my first 50 pages ready because I had submitted them to other contests, and entering American Title was free. The full manuscript was done, but not perfect. It was also too long by 6000 words. I had ten days to polish it. I worked non-stop 12 hours a day while my two boys were at home for school summer holidays. It was quite a challenge. I sat down outside with my laptop in my garden chair for hours while I watched them play with the kids next door. And I’d be working early in the mornings then late at night LOL.
So preparing that full manuscript for an editor what the hardest thing I ever did since I started writing.

4. How has it affected your home life? Is everyone behind you or looking on in bemusement?

A bit of both. At first, of course everyone was very happy for me. Now, I suppose my husband is the one looking on in bemusement because I am so busy and tend to neglect things at home. My kids are the sweetest, because at their age, they believe everything is possible. My mom is probably my strongest supporter and is passing bookmarks to everyone she knows in my hometown of Quebec, even though she’ll never be able to read the book because she doesn’t speak English. She took her whole computer to the mall to get it fixed just so she could vote for me in the first round.

5. How do you feel about promoting yourself? Does it come naturally to you?

It is really hard to promote hot air. I have nothing to offer but the promise of a book. So that is hard. I am naturally very shy. But I have worked hard over the years to overcome my shyness by working with the public. I worked for 15 years in the fitness industry, first as an instructor and then as a fitness manager. I learned quite a lot of promoting tips from that experience.
I have to stretch my imagination and skills and do fun stuff, like the book trailer. I have good computer skills so I focus my promotion efforts online. I’ve come to accept that all I can do is ask politely if people want to help me. Most people have been very generous with their help.
How do I feel about it? Well, I realized that it is a part of the whole business of publishing. I much prefer writing of course. But, I am glad to have the opportunity to learn promotion now and find way to make it less painful for me.

6. What has surprised you most about this ongoing experience?

The number of people who are willing to help. I didn’t realize that I would get so much support. Sometimes I have friends that I suspected would vote for me but they go a step beyond and ask all their friends. I also made some great new friends online with whom I now chat regularly. I have met so many great people.
I am also pleasantly surprised to see how I have become so close to the other American Title contestants. It is a strange experience and only those who live it can truly understand. We talk almost daily and share our good and bad news. I am very lucky to count them as my friends.

7. Where do you see yourself writing-career-wise in five years time?

I am not getting any younger, so I have a definite plan of what I want to accomplish in 5 years. I cannot control if I sell or not, but I control what I write. I have 2 manuscripts and a novella completed so far. In 5 years, I want to have at least 10 more manuscripts, each submitted to a series of agents and publishers. I have a list of paranormal romances that I plan to write, including a few that are the sequels to ANCIENT WHISPERS. I also have two planned urban fantasies, one that should be completed in 2009. I’d like to try a few more novellas. I might change direction slightly towards more erotic romance or perhaps historical paranormal.
If I haven’t sold or make some sort of progress in 5 years, then it would be a cross-road for me to maybe change genre all together. I have a children chapter book outlined already and I am big fantasy geek.
Regardless of what happens, I know I’ll be writing, maybe get my stuff spiral-bound at Kinko then stashed in the basement to read when I am really old!
I promised my boys a bunch of books for them to read when I am gone 

Thanks Kate for having me today. Always a pleasure.

Marie-Claude 


And here’s some more information about Marie-Claude’s book, where to vote and other stuff-I’m so impressed she made a book trailer 🙂

You can now vote for best hero/heroine in the American Title V at:

Here is a quick mini-blurb of ANCIENT WHISPERS:

ANCIENT WHISPERS is a dark romance set in Rhode Island and inspired by the poem Evangeline (Longfellow, 1855). It is the tale of an immortal bold sorcerer and his quest to be reunited with the fiancée he lost tragically during the Acadian deportation in 1755.
It is a fast-paced story filled with tortured heroes, intense emotions, dark desires and realistic Pagan rituals, and which brings to light the history of Cajuns and Acadians.

Here is the link to my book trailer on youtube: (I made it myself)

Wishing you all the best in the next round-the story sounds fabulous! Now everyone go and vote!!
Kate x