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Keeping It Real: An Interview with Romance Novelist Rebecca Goings

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Rebecca Goings lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband Jim and their four children, two cats, a dog, and a lizard. She home-schools her children and finds it to be one of the most rewarding things she's ever done. She also writes mainstream and inspirational romances in many different genres, from historical to contemporary, and fantasy to paranormal.

She has written more than 17 books, some of which have been published by Grace Publishing, Champagne Books, and Samhain Publishing.

Since its release on October 1, her latest novel, The B.E.A.S.T. Within has made it to the best-seller list on Fictionwise. It is also the top-selling book for Champagne Books.

Rebecca Goings spoke about her writing, the challenges she faces as a writer and how she deals with these.

When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

When I was seven years old. I was in the first grade, and the second graders came in to read some stories for us, ones they had written themselves. Well, their teacher had laminated the pages and put spiral binding on the books. They were so permanent that I wanted the very same thing.

When I was in the second grade, I wrote a little poem that won a place in a book called the Nevada Young Writers of 1983. I was presented this book at school assembly, and I even had my picture taken for the local newspaper. That was my first brush with "fame" as a writer, and I loved it. I wanted more!

After that, I was writing short stories and poems all through school, and I won a few awards. I even prepared myself in school by taking creative writing classes for my electives and a typing class to learn the keyboard. I've wanted to be a writer for a long time.

In the writing that you're doing, what would you say are your main concerns?

My main concern would have to be the promotion. It doesn't matter how well you write. If you don't promote yourself, you're dead in the water. It's hard to do effective promotion, as it costs money. So I'm constantly looking for other avenues to explore.

As far as my writing goes, I would have to say I often wonder how real I'm making my books. I don't want them to be cliched and I don't want the characters to come off as fake. I strive for realism when I write, but sometimes when you read your own book many times during your edits, you lose sight of what you're trying to achieve. This is why I have what's called a "crit partner," who reads my manuscript when I'm done and tells me of things that need changing or tweaking.

In the writing that you are doing, who would you say has influenced you the most?

The one author who influenced me to become a romance writer was Johanna Lindsey. The first romance book I ever read was one of hers, and after that, I strived to snatch up any book by her. She's definitely one of my favorite authors. She, along with Kathleen Woodiwiss and Jude Deveraux, are responsible for my love of the romance genre.

With regards to writing my heroes, I'd have to say my husband has influenced me the most in that department. My heroes all have qualities that he does, and even talk like him at times. The biggest rule in writing is: Write what you know!

How have your personal experiences influenced the direction of your writing?

In the same way my heroes are fashioned after my husband, I'd have to say that my heroines are fashioned after me in some way.

I grew up as a very self-conscious child. I was teased a lot, and felt like an outcast. I loved to retreat and be alone in my room. Even now, I have somewhat of a reclusive personality. So a lot of my heroines are self-conscious and the hero has a job in front of him to bring her out of her shell. Obviously, not all of my heroines are the same, but I guess, just like I stated above, write what you know.

What would you say are the biggest challenges that you face as a writer?

I hate talking about myself. I feel like I'm bragging, and I hate bragging. I don't like to tell people how wonderful I am. But you need to do this in order to promote. You don't have to be condescending when you promote, but you do need to have a certain sense of "this book is great, and this is why you have to buy it." So that has definitely been one of my biggest challenges.

I have a book in print now, and even approaching the manager at a bookstore to talk to them about ordering it for their shelves is a challenge for me. I've never been outgoing. So that's big a hurdle.

How do you deal with this?

I'll take a deep breath and do it anyway.

It's much easier to talk about myself online, because I'm not talking to people face to face. But if I do have to do some face-to-face promotion, I just have to calm myself down, usually give myself a pep-talk, wander the store for a bit, and then work up enough gumption to talk to the manager.

On top of being self-conscious, I'm also very shy. Not a very good combination when trying to sell something.

What's your latest novel about?

My latest novel is entitled In Your Arms. It is a Western historical set in 1875 Texas, about a woman who isn't your true beauty. Her sister is the one who catches the eyes of men. The heroine's name is Lissa Bloom, and she meets a man named Marcus McCaide. He's the one man who sees her and not her sister. But he has his own baggage, as there are things he's done in the past that makes him feel as if no woman in her right mind would ever want him.

So both of these characters are flawed when they meet, and the book revolves about how they deal with their growing attraction. They each need to get over their own insecurities before there can be a happy ending.

How long did it take you to write the novel?

Not long at all. About two months. I've had books run the gamut as far as how long it takes to write. From two weeks to eight years. It depends on how into it I am. If I love the book and the characters, they can tell me their story right away. Other times, trying to write a particular book is like picking the words from your brain with a red-hot poker. Despite being fun and challenging and an absolute blast, being a writer can be extremely hard, especially when your characters refuse to tell you their story.

In Your Arms was published as an eBook (an electronic book) in April of 2006. This book is published at Champagne Books, and you can go directly to this book's webpage.

Which aspects of the work that you put into the novel did you find most difficult?

It was a challenge to write a tortured hero. I felt so sorry for the guy! He wants Lissa so much, but knows he can't have her due to what he's done, and it's heart-wrenching to watch that, even when I know what's eventually going to happen. I wanted to make him happy most of the time, but I knew that didn't fit his character, so that had to be the most difficult thing.

I enjoyed the love scenes. And not just because they're the love scenes, but because they are so tender. And the things Marcus says to Lissa when they are together made me swoon while I was writing the story.

I really enjoy writing about the connection between a man and a woman once they've made love.

What would you say sets the novel apart from the other things you have written?

Well, this book is one of my favorites. I love it so much, because I love the hero. He's such a great guy, even though he thinks he's not. I've also brought the passion up a notch in this book compared to my others. And it's still successful, even months after its release.

I'm also planning a sequel to this book.

I mentioned above that Lissa has a beautiful sister, Shirley. I want to write a fun story about Shirley meeting the man who will "set her to rights" and give her a run for her money. I haven't started that project yet, but I will in the near future.

In what way is it similar?

In Your Arms is similar to my other books because it's a romance.

Really, most of my books are so different, that you have to just say they're similar because they're all romance. I have historicals, contemporaries, paranormals, suspense, and fantasies… Most of those books are contracted but not yet released. We'll see most of these books in 2007. I write all over the board with regards to romance. But I love the historical Western genre, it's my first love, so to speak, and so I'm definitely going to write more books set in the Old West.

Which themes will you be exploring in is your next book?

I'm glad you asked! My next book comes to eBook and print in October 2006 — just a few weeks away. It is the first in a paranormal suspense trilogy. It is about genetically created shape shifters, men who can shift into a specific animal at will.

The first book is entitled The B.E.A.S.T Within.

B.E.A.S.T. is the name of the agency that has genetically altered these men. The name stands for Bio-Engineering to Attain Shift Transformation. The first book follows Noah Carpenter, a man trying to escape the B.E.A.S.T. agency. They are not nice. They torture their experiments. This man can shift into a white tiger at will. He is on the run and meets a woman he falls hard for. But he's being chased by Tam, one of B.E.A.S.T.'s most ruthless shifters, a black panther.

You can find out more about this series by visiting my exclusive B.E.A.S.T. blog. There are two more books scheduled for release next year, B.E.A.S.T. of Burden (about a man who can shift into a wolf) in February 2007 and Nature of the B.E.A.S.T. (about a man who can shift into a cougar) in August 2007.

I'm really excited about these books. They will be published at Champagne Books, look for the first book, The B.E.A.S.T. Within, in October!

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