Saturday, August 26, 2017

Spotlight: Starting Over: Rick (w/ Interview)

Starting Over: Rick
By Barbara James

Published: Aug 4th, 2017

Blurb From Goodreads:
It is orientation week at Wilder University.
Annelise Perigault has just started college and is away from home. Living on her own for the first time, she struggles to navigate the social landscape. All sorts of groups seek to draw her attention, but she is drawn to the conservative-leaning student groups for a sense of belonging. That is where she believes she will find like-minded young women, those who hope to graduate in four years with their "Mrs. Degree."
Rick Santelli has just started college as well. He is a returning student, however, after spending nearly a decade in the Coast Guard. Now serving in the Reserves, he is older than most of his freshman peers. Struggling to find his place as well, he is definitely interested in dating, but he can't believe how quickly things are developing with Annelise.
Meeting up during orientation, they will grapple with controversies that draw them closer together and create a strong foundation for a healthy long term relationship. Taking place over six years, the story shows the ups and downs of life, love, dating, and the importance of finding the right person.
Though this is a sweet and closed door romance, there are frank discussions of sexuality.

 About the Author:  
Barbara James is the pen name of an author who lives in Brooklyn, New York.  An avid romance reader and a former academic writer, she became inspired to write her own novels.  And what an amazing journey it has been.
Author Interview: 
1. Are there any authors who as people, or through their works, that inspire you to write?
2. What are some of your favorite books, and why?
3. Do you have a favorite book or movie character, if so why do you like them?
4. What's your favorite part of writing? Least Favorite?
5. One tip you want to share with new authors?
I recently spent time updating my Goodreads page to include the names of authors whose works inspire me, and as I thought about it, the characters in the books I like all share certain traits in common.  I recalled Stephanie Laurens' Bastion Club series, Lisa Kleypas' contemporary series, the Travises, Grace Burrowes' Lonely Lords series, and Elizabeth Hoyt's Maiden Lane series. These characters were my favorites, and so I found myself reading their books and then re-reading them at a later date.
The heroes of the novels were highly competent men in the world of work. They had great families and friends. They were experienced with women. Everything was great, but something was missing.  They were adrift in that their relationships with women didn't fulfill them emotionally.  It was something they were actually aware of, or something acted as a catalyst that brought them face to face with their reality.  I especially liked when the heroes were introspective enough to realize that they needed to do something about their lives.
In addition, I like how these authors work through a series, because we are often on our journeys with friends and relatives who share our growth and experiences.  We help each other, give advice and act as a sounding board.  That is what these authors write about.
But the real catalyst for me to begin writing came when I started reading books by Amber Belldene.  She is an Episcopal priest and a romance writer. I am Episcopalian, and once I began reading her "Hot Under Her Collar Series," I thought, "I get this, and perhaps I can do it too."  
Her heroines are Episcopal priests, which is an anomaly on so many different levels.  First of all, the default image of a clergyperson is a clergyman, and our default understanding of a priest is a celibate Catholic man.  But they are young Protestant women, and priests, but with no obligation to celibacy.  If anything, they are encouraged to date and marry.  
Since Amber is occupying that niche, I don't need to join her, but some of my characters are Episcopalian. Annelise, the heroine of Starting Over: Rick, is a college student raised in a conservative Episcopal family. Her mom is happily married, a middle aged woman pursuing a second career in ordained ministry. Annelise doesn't rebel against her family, but she rebels against the prevailing culture. She goes away to college, and she is insecure, because she realizes that her perspectives on dating and sex are different from those of her peers. She is religious, but she is not a prude.  She wants to date and find her husband in college, but many of her peers want to hook up and avoid serious relationships. She is afraid she won't find what she wants, and she knows that wanting to be serious at a young age could leave her vulnerable.
For the hero, Rick, the catalyst for change was a realization that he was spinning his wheels in both his work and dating lives. He had been in the military for ten years. He was in his late twenties, and he was ready for some major life changes. He went back to college; his challenge was in finding a girlfriend who would be on board with what he had in mind, to be serious.
Thus the adventure begins.  Even though religious themes are addressed, the reader need not be a person of faith in order to relate to the story.  At the same time, Episcopalians and Anglicans will understand the faith aspects, and some lapsed Catholics as well.
My favorite part of writing is the thrill I get in being creative.  The whole writing process is fantastic... from the first conceptualizations, to the writing, editing, until the very end, when it is published.
The challenging part is that as a self-published author, all the work that would usually be done by a publishing company, has to be done by me:  finding editors, proofreaders, graphic designers, and developing a marketing strategy.
One tip for new writers is to remember the importance of community, that there is a lot to learn in community with other writers, and that it is important to seek out those connections.  For me, it was the Romance Writers Association and Goodreads.

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