Secrets of a Wedding Night

Valerie Bowman: writing to seduce

Seducing readers to read your novel to the very end is a dirty business, one that is not for the weak-fingered.

Valerie Bowman, a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Finalist and author of  the historical romance novel Secrets Of A Wedding Night, seduces readers with strong plot. Some of her writing wiles are  preparing a strong story and character outline. This foundation leads to creating short and intense scenes in her chapters.

RWA really focuses on drilling this type of writing into its members heads. When I attend workshops, every workshop leader will chant, “plot, plot, plot.” They’ll shout even louder, “conflict, conflict, conflict.” It’s the blood a manuscript needs. Without it? Well, you can start opening bottles of wine and digging a grave.

Taking all that she has learned in RWA workshops, Bowman landed herself a contract with St. Martin’s Press.  In her author feature, she reveals some of the tools she used to entice readers to the final page.

Straight from the author’s mouth: writing to seduce

1. Can you tell us about Secrets of a Wedding? Why did you choose to write this story?

SECRETS OF A WEDDING NIGHT is a Regency romance novel. It’s the first story in my Secret Brides trilogy. It’s about a destitute widow who writes a scandalous pamphlet to thwart the marital ambitions of the marquis who broke her heart five years ago. When the marquis shows up on her doorstep and demands she write a retraction or prepare to be seduced, the fun begins!

I decided to write SECRETS OF A WEDDING NIGHT after I came up with the title, actually. It just came to me one night. I loved it. Then I had to think of a story that matched the title. So far, this is the only story I’ve written where I came up with the title first!

2. How long did it take you to complete Secrets of a Wedding Night? Can you talk about your writing process?

Let’s see. I began writing SECRETS OF A WEDDING NIGHT in July 2010, I believe, and I was done in time to enter the manuscript into the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart contest which closes around Thanksgiving. Happy to say, it was a 2011 finalist! I was so thrilled.

As for my writing process, it has evolved the longer I write. Basically, I need the general plot, characterization, GMC, character arcs, and turning points to be mapped out before I can begin. I type out roughly 40 chapter headings (I love to keep my chapters short [5-7 pages mostly] to write TO hooks) and then I type 1-2 sentences for each chapter directly underneath the heading, indicating what the scene will be about and ensuring each scene has a goal. Once I like the layout of the chapters, it’s just a matter of typing quickly.

“When I go back to edit, I spend time on the details”

3. Any editing tips? 

I’ve learned I’m a fast draft writer, which basically means when I’m typing that first draft, I don’t let anything stop me including word usage or historical research. I just type, type, type. When I go back to edit, I spend time on the details including burying my nose in the etymological dictionary online. LOVE that thing! Also, while I’m writing, I highlight anything I think needs more work in blue/bold text and then when I edit, it’s flagged for me to spend more time on it.

4. Who are some of your favorite authors and how have they inspired your writing?

Lisa Kleypas is one of my all-time favorites and she’s greatly inspired my writing. I was stuck in a snowed-in airport in February 2007 and had read all the books I’d brought with me. I found one of Lisa’s books in the airport bookstore. It saved me from a three-hour flight delay AND by the time I was finished, I was seriously inspired to write. Lisa was kind enough to provide a cover quote for SECRETS OF A WEDDING NIGHT and that moment, when I received her email with her lovely quote, was truly a dream come true for me. Seriously, I had a dream about it once. : )

5. What do you love most about the writing industry? What do you dislike? 

I love that it’s an industry full of people doing what they love. You don’t always find that in other industries. It’s really a passion for most people in the industry and that’s a wonderful thing to be a part of. Dislike? Well, I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of change (who is, right?) and the publishing industry seems to change on an hourly (I’m only exaggerating a little!) basis these days. It can be kind of overwhelming, but it’s also a smorgasbord of opportunity for writers.

6. Do you have any other books or new releases that you would wish to talk about? SECRETS OF A WEDDING NIGHT is part of a trilogy.

The second book, SECRETS OF A RUNAWAY BRIDE, will be released in Spring 2013 and SECRETS OF A SCANDALOUS MARRIAGE will be released Fall 2013. Some of my favorite characters from WEDDING NIGHT get their happily ever afters in the sequels.
7. If you could share one tip you learned with self-published and traditionally published authors who share the same dream of being a successful author what would it be? 

When I was a little girl, my mom used to quote some famous actor (though I’m really not sure who originated this quote and a Google search turned up a variety of supposed sources). “If anything can stop you, let it.” I adore this quote. And it completely applies to the publishing industry. You have to want it badly enough to just keep writing, querying, submitting, and writing more. No matter what.

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