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 cliché, 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.
MAKING WAVES BY TAWNA FENSKE – IN STORES AUGUST 2011
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