Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Please welcome romance author, Tawna Fenske, to OVER COFFEE. 

We all face adversities and in our lives which can truly impact on not only our life but our writing careers. I’ve always maintained that attitude is half the battle in solving the problems life throws at you, another quarter of it is a heavy-duty catchers mitt and a strong arm to either wrestle it into submission or throw it back. Tawna has perfected the clich√©, when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. I’m thinking she might want to follow the advice from gutsy Maxine, and add a bit of salt and tequila gold, too. 

Tawna shares how a comedy romance writer faces trouble. 

My thirty-second birthday left something to be desired. My cat died, my former publisher canceled the line scheduled to release my debut action/adventure novel, and my employer threatened to fire me for disobeying the company’s hosiery policy.

It’s OK if you laughed just now. I laughed, too, even while facing potential unemployment, a derailed writing career, and the challenge of burying a cat whose pronounced rigor mortis required me to dig a grave large enough for an NFL linebacker.

The fact that I could see the humor in what was arguably one of the lousiest days in my life is what nudged me toward writing romantic comedy. Well, that and a lot of wine.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that my ability to keep laughing was going to be tested again. And again. And again.

It took nearly three-and-a-half years after that point before my amazing agent landed me my current three-book deal with Sourcebooks for my romantic comedies. During that long and bumpy period before the deal happened, there were a lot of moments when my laughter was prompted mostly by the thrill of poking push-pins into the groin of my editor voodoo doll.

But after the book deal came through with Sourcebooks, my life was sure to be an endless stream of carefree laughter and cupcakes and puppies that never piddle on your flip-flops, right?


Over the course of the next twelve months, my marriage of thirteen years began a long, slow, painful swirl around the drain before finally being sucked into the crapper.

Ironic, really, to think I was finally making a name for myself as an up-and-coming romantic comedy author while enduring the least funny, least romantic year of my life.

But I couldn’t spend much time mulling that irony or stopping to wallow in my misery. I had a blog that sometimes saw 1,000 unique visitors a day, most of whom were expecting me to be hilarious and entertaining. I suspected daily recaps of my marriage counseling sessions might miss the mark in both categories.

I also had a new novel to write – the third in my three-book contract. I cringe now to recall how terribly melancholy the early drafts must have been. If you write morose literary fiction, it’s high praise when a critique partner says a scene moved her to tears.

If you write romantic comedy, it’s a sign you need to print out your manuscript, douse it with lighter fluid, and set fire to it in the front yard.

But I persevered, and I learned a helluva lot about my own capacity to take whatever life throws and me and keep going. Those blog readers showing up to see me crack jokes every day turned out to love me just as much when I finally shared news of the divorce.

Their support – along with support from close friends, family, critique partners, beta readers, my agent, editor, and random strangers who offered tissues and penis jokes – helped keep me laughing and plowing forward even on days when I thought I might win an award for being the least funny romantic comedy author on the planet.

I’d like to tell you I’m through the worst of it, but I’m pretty sure that would result in a piano falling on my head or a pack of rabid wolverines tearing through my bedroom door and chewing off my eyelids while I sleep.

But the one thing I know for sure is that I can take it – whatever the hell life throws at me, I’m ready.

And you can be damn sure I’ll dance on the carcass of whatever bad luck has befallen me and I will laugh my fool head off.

That’s a promise.


She always wanted to belong… Just not to a dysfunctional pirate crew… 

Juli has trouble fitting in, though she’d prefer to keep the reasons to herself. But when she mistakenly stows away on a ship of misfit corporate castoffs, her own secrets become the least of her concerns…

He knows plotting a diamond heist may be considered unusual behavior… 

But Alex isn’t feeling very normal when his unscrupulous boss kicks him to the curb. Meeting Juli doesn’t do much to restore normalcy to Alex’s life either, but it sure is exhilarating!As Alex and Juli bare their secrets—and a whole lot more—they find that while normal is nice, weird can be wonderful…Excerpt

BUY: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells Books 
Available in print or eBook

Tawna Fenske traveled a career path that took her from newspaper reporter to English teacher in Venezuela to marketing geek. An avid globetrotter with a fondness for the sea, she shares her heroine’s violent allergy to seasickness medication (though, sadly, has never stowed away on a pirate ship).Tawna is the author of the popular daily blog “Don’t Pet Me, I’m Writing” and lives in Central Oregon, where she is working on her next novel, Believe It or Not, in stores March 2012. For more information, please visit or follower her on Twitter @tawnafenske.


~Sia McKye~ said...

Welcome to, Over Coffee, Tawna. I have to say, I like your attitude. It's all too easy to retreat from life and do the whole "Woe is me." What you've accomplished isn't easy but it is admirable!

Jo said...

I am impressed, I'm a dedicated hider under blankets and hope it goes away kind of person, so anyone who can tough it out has my admiration.

Elle J Rossi said...

I LOVE this post. You've had crap thrown at you and while maybe a couple wads hit the mark, you've managed to clean it off and push forward. Perseverance at its best.

And I happen to love romantic comedies, so guess who just made it to my TBR list? I'm excited to dig in!

Unknown said...

My hats off to you, Tawna. Wow, what things you've had to go through. I love your positivity though and that, though you could have used your blog to write angry posts about your sucky life, you didn't. You kept your readers in mind. That takes a lot of courage. Congrats on the three-book deal. I hope you have a lot of success.

Hilary said...

Hi Sia and Tawna .. as Clarissa says above .. hats off to you .. not sure how you could keep the chippy lippy humour up .. must have been so challenging.

Still a lesson to us all .. we can do it - whatever is affecting us .. your book sounds fun .. and I'll be adding it to the list .. good luck with it all .. sounds like life is exciting and interesting now .. cheers Hilary


Thanks so much for all the kind words, everyone! I certainly credit my parents with giving me the ability to keep laughing in the face of adversity. At one point during some of the worst of this, my agent said to me, "I've always been impressed with your skill at dusting yourself off and moving forward -- I just wish it wasn't a skill that got tested so often!" True, but I like to think it builds character. Or gives me a good reason to drink wine, whatever.

Thanks for inviting me here!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Hilary, what a cute expression, Chippy-Lippy humor! Not one I've heard before but it fits.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Clarissa, isn't that the truth? I think we all could. I have a personal philosophy, you can cry over something and spend time going, oh, woe is me, or you can laugh. I hate crying and so I choose to find the humor in things. Kinda goes along with a favorite adage, Laughter is not only the best medicine, it's life's saving grace.

Thanks for stopping by.

BTW, Clarissa is running a series of articles on critiquing--good material! Just click on her name and it will bring up her Clarissa Blog.

Helen Ginger said...

The rabid wolverines had me laughing. If you can do that on the day my computer died, taking everything on it to hard drive heaven, then you are good!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Helen, that crack about the rabid wolverines had me laughing when I first read this.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Tawna, my parents were also proponents of taking things in stride, laughing where you could. It might take a bit of time to see the humor, and there might be a bit of an edge to it, but laughter sure helps, doesn't it?


Indeed! What's the expression? You have to laugh at yourself because you'd cry your eyes out if you didn't? Fortunately, I do a lot of stupid sh*t worth laughing at :)


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I don't feel like I've faced anything now!

C.H. Admirand said...

Hi Tawna...Sia stopped by the Casablanca Blog today and told me you were blogging here.

I'm so glad I came over, I'm on deep deadline and didn't have a chance to stop by when you were at the Casablanca blog the other day. :(

Thank you for sharing a truly inspiring story. I've always felt that life is definitely not for the faint of heart. My mom swears that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Hmmm...not sure about that though. :)

Congratulations on the three book deal with Sourcebooks!!! I absolutely love working with Deb and everyone involved in the process of taking a manuscript and turning it into the final product. ;) Dominique Raccah is a genius!

Welcome to Sourcebooks!
C.H. Admirand


Thanks for the welcome, CH! You weren't in New York for RWA Nationals, were you? I'll confess, I've forgotten who all I met at the Sourcebooks author dinner, but I don't think I had the pleasure of making your acquaintance. I adore Deb and Dominique and Danielle and everyone else I've worked with at Sourcebooks. I feel very lucky to be part of the team!


Tonya Kappes said...

I agree with you. I've had a lifetime of obstacles that have left me laughing through my writing journey, but thanks to my parents I have been able to laugh and smile all the way through. If would be miserable!! I only hope I've instilled that into my four boys!

Melissa/welachild said...

Look up laughter yoga on YouTube! That's some funny stuff. Laughter IS the best medicine.