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22 April 2011

Welcome special guest: author Michele Zurlo

Today we have erotic romance author, Michele Zurlo, visiting. Michele, who also writes mainstream romance under Debora Ryan, is a wife, mother, teacher, and writer.  She says, “I have a ton of stuff to do every day, so writing is my escape.”

* So, Michele, what inspired you to become a writer?
It was more like an impulsive decision.  I won a laptop and I didn’t have the internet or games, so I figured I’d write a novel on it.  Before then, I always preferred reading to writing.  It’s a lot less work.  Now I find I write way more than I read.  It appeals to the control freak living in my head.
* When did you attempt your first story? What length was it? What's become of it?
Four years ago, I began writing Tomorrow Cries.  I completed Letting Go before I finished tinkering with Tomorrow Cries.  Letting Go was around 100,000 words.  Tomorrow Cries was originally 500,000 words, but I pared it down to 130,000.  I learned a lot about novel writing, like over-explaining and giving every tiny detail led to a slow pace and readers lose interest.  I lose interest pretty quickly if the plot isn’t moving, so I figure most other people do, too.  So I cut it down. Tomorrow Cries ended up being my 5th title published.  I’ve probably abandoned as many stories as I’ve read.  I’m very picky that way.
* How many stories did you complete before you sold your first?
Three.  I finished Letting Go, Hanging On, and Irrepressible Force before Siren contracted Letting Go.  I was still working with beta readers on Tomorrow Cries.  I think at that point it was a trilogy.  I am posting the first part of that trilogy as a series of free reads over the course of this year.
* What genre(s) do you write in? What drew you to write in it/them? What’s your favorite genre of all to write in?
I write romance, both erotic and mainstream.  I can’t help but infuse my stories with romantic elements.  Tomorrow Cries didn’t start out as a romance, but it definitely ended up that way.  Specifically, I write contemporary and paranormal, mostly because those are the two genres I prefer to read.
* What are the best and worst pieces of writing advice you ever received?
The worst advice I received was feedback simply saying it was good.  I knew it wasn’t good.  If it was good, I wouldn’t have asked for feedback. The best piece of writing advice came from Sharon Robinson (Jackie Robinson’s daughter) when she did an appearance where I work (also as part of the contest where I won my laptop).  She said she didn’t write a book until she was in her forties, and that it was never too late to fulfill a dream.  I guess when you grow up with a father who is such a fearless leader, you can’t help but be a little braver than the rest of us.  Her little nugget of wisdom came just before my laptop, and then it grew into something powerful inside me.
* How do you celebrate/deal with acceptance/rejection letters?
It took three years of submissions to get my first novel published.  Rejection letters, which came first and most prolifically, were things I mostly threw away or deleted.  Ones with specific feedback were helpful in the revision process.  It probably didn’t help that I had never read an erotic romance before writing Letting Go.  I’ve done a lot of market research since then, which has helped me to better target an audience.  Now that I’m established, that road is a lot less bumpy.  Siren-BookStrand has been good to me.  My last six novels were accepted within a matter of weeks.
* In regard to the book you’re promoting, which actor and actress do you envision playing the roles of your hero and heroine? If there’s a villain or other characters who are pertinent to the story, who would play those parts?
The villains in my contemporary romances are the main characters.  I firmly believe in the power of internal conflict.  People are their own worst enemies and create so many problems for themselves.  My heroines and heroes tend to be stubborn and strong, two wonderful traits that can really backfire on a person.  Time to Pretend is no different.  Daniel’s bull-headedness causes the majority of the conflict.  Both of the people he loves, Alaina and Evan, are more than willing to accept Danny as he is. During the novel, we get to see Daniel coming to terms with who he loves and what he really wants out of a relationship.
Truthfully, I didn’t imagine any actors or actresses as my characters.  In my head, that would tamper with who they are because all actors already possess a personality.  However, when I fill out a cover questionnaire, they want actor likenesses.  In Time to Pretend, Olivia Wilde comes closest to the way I imagined Alaina.  She’s a bit shorter and a little older, but she still has that same kind of sexiness that makes it so you can’t look away.
Daniel is somewhat close to Bobby Cannavale, but a little better looking, a little more suave and sophisticated.  I saw Evan on a gardening TV show.   When I first saw Scott McGillavray a few months ago, I actually wrote his name on a sticky note so I could put him down as Evan’s likeness.  Since I don’t know his personality or even the name of the show, I had no problem picturing him in my head as I finished writing the novel.

* Is it a stand-alone story or part of a series? If it’s part of a series, please list the order the books need to be read in for maximum reading enjoyment.
Time to Pretend is the 4th installment of my Awakenings series. The series follows a group of women as they discover what they really want out of life. 
The series, like a lot of things, was an accident.  After I finished Sabrina’s story in Letting Go, I found myself drawn to many of the peripheral characters.  I wrote s short story featuring Drew, which is available as a free read on my website.  Then I decided I wanted him to have more, so I gave him Sophia.  As I revised Letting Go, I expanded scenes with Sophia and Drew so that Hanging On would flow nicely from Letting Go.
While writing Hanging On, I fell for Daniel and I decided he needed his own story, preferably with the little spitfire with whom he had a really disastrous date.  Time to Pretend was a difficult story to write, mostly because Daniel wouldn’t cooperate with me.  Every time I sat down to write, he kept doing things that messed with my storyline.  While we fought, I wrote Two Masters for Samantha. That took about three weeks.  It was nice to work with such amenable characters, especially since I wrestled with Daniel for another four months after that.
I have ideas for two other series that I’d like to explore, so this is probably the last book in that series, at least for the time being.  Of course, as I write this, I’m already kicking around ideas for Stephen Galen (Sabrina’s old boyfriend from Letting Go), so who knows what’ll happen.
Each Awakenings story stands on its own.  You don’t have to read one in order to enjoy another, but it helps.  Here’s the list: Letting Go, Hanging On, Two Masters for Samantha, Time to Pretend.

*** Now for some fun info… ***
* What’s your favorite color?
Purple.  One of my friends on Facebook took a poll asking this question. We deduced that most people who went to my high school favor that color. It probably had something to do with the fact our colors were purple and white. We spent our formative years making positive associations with that color.  Now it’s the only color pen I’ll use.  Most of my clothes have some element of purple in them.  I’d like to streak my hair with purple highlights, but I’m too lazy.  Plus, I swim for exercise, so the chlorine will take that kind of color right out.
* Are you a morning person or night owl?
I am a morning person.  For some reason, my mind shuts down mid-afternoon and I’m usually in bed by ten, more often nine. Sometimes I go to bed before my kids.  However, I can get up at five a.m. and the words just flow.  I teach, and by 7:30, I’m usually standing in front of a group of sleepy middle school kids who wish I wasn’t quite so chipper. On the weekends, I get up at the same time and it gives me the opportunity to work when my kids and spouse are asleep.
* What’s your favorite day of the week?
Sunday.  No work, no obligations.  I can stay in my pajamas all day long.  I can watch TV, write, snuggle my kids, and take a nap.  Of course, in the summer, every day is like Sunday.
*** About Michele’s book… ***
Time to Pretend blurb:
[Ménage Amour: Erotic Cougar (older heroine) Romance, M/M/F, with M/M elements, sex toys]
One glimpse of Daniel DiMarco sets Alaina Miles’s hormones into overdrive, but she cannot act on her feelings. Not only is he ten years younger than her, he’s a notorious womanizer. When the tension between them escalates into one night of passion, Alaina takes it in stride. It’s a dream come true, but it’s only one night.
When a leak in her roof forces her to hire a contractor, Evan Carrico, Daniel’s best friend and secret lover, is the man for the job. It doesn’t take long for Alaina to realize that her attraction to Evan is much more serious than it should be.
As she falls in love with them and they fall for her, Alaina discovers their secret, but she wants to wait for them to build enough trust in their relationship to tell her themselves. When she stumbles upon them locked in a passionate embrace only hours after a tragic event, will the explosion destroy everything they’ve built?
Buy Link:

***Find Michele here***

Not only can you find out about all my books at The Steam Room, but I feature an interview with a new author each week.
This blog is devoted to my mainstream titles, and you can find chapters of Rhiannon Rising here as a free read.

Thank you for joining us here today, Michele! It was a pleasure getting to know you and your work.

1 comment:

Michele Zurlo said...

CR- Thanks for having me!
Michele Z.