Adventure into Romance with Shelley Munro
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A Heart to Heart with…Shelley Munro

(This article first appeared in the April 2004 issue of Hearts Talk, the newsletter of Romance Writers of Australia.

The journey of one of our talented New Zealand members – Shelley Munro – is stuff dreams are made of. She talks about her wonderful news with Hearts Talk editor, Paula Roe.

Hearts Talk: You’ve had an incredible 2004 so far. Tell us about your successes.

SM: I’ve sold four books this year!!! It’s amazing, and I’m still pinching myself. I find myself in the middle of the supermarket or at the queue at the bank with a big, dopey grin on my face. People must think I’m weird. The first sale was a paranormal in January to New Concepts Publishing. Then in February came the sale of a romantic suspense to Wings ePress. During the first week in March, I sold a historical to Medallion Press. That was a Thursday and I sold a paranormal romantica to Ellora’s Cave the next day. I’d ring up my husband and say, “I’ve sold a book.” He’d say, “I know.” And I’d say, “No, I’ve sold ANOTHER book.” That was when I was coherent and he could understand what I was saying! I think he found some of the calls a bit difficult to comprehend!

Hearts Talk: Tell us about the publishers who had the good sense to offer you a contract ?

SM: I’ve sold a paranormal (untitled as yet) about a fairy colony in New Zealand to New Concepts Publishing (release date May 2004), a romantic suspense called LANE’S LOVE CHILD to Wings ePress (release April 2005), and a paranormal to Ellora’s cave called TALKING DOGS, ALIENS AND PURPLE PEOPLE EATERS (release Sep 2004). My fourth sale is to Medallion Press. They’re fairly new but have signed writers, Nan Ryan, and Shannon Drake to write books for them. I’ve sold a historical set in 1720 England to Medallion.

Hearts Talk: So how long had you been writing? Any encouragement during those years (i.e. ever felt the desire to chuck it all in)?

SM: I’ve been writing for six years. I lost count and thought it was five but it’s actually six. Yes, there have definitely been times when I thought about stopping. Last year, I had something like 13 rejections. A girl on one of the writing lists I’m on said something I’ll always remember. She said she always keeps hope in the mail. i.e. she always had more than one submission out so that if they rejected her there was another one out there to pin her hopes on. I thought that was a great idea, so last year that’s what I did. I had four different manuscripts in various stages of development. I finished them, edited them and sent off either queries or partials as applicable. I kept a list of publishers that would fit my work and when I received another rejection, I worked my way down my list firing off another submission. I also entered competitions and queried a couple of agents so I had plenty of hope in the mail!

Hearts Talk: Who/what is your support? Friends, family, crit group?

SM: My biggest supporter is my husband. He’s always believed in my dreams, believed that I could do anything I set my mind to. With encouragement like that I had to keep going! I have a critique partner in Canada whom I met over the net. She’s great, and I wouldn’t be without her help and support. I’m a member of several writing groups – Romance Writers Australia, Romance Writers of New Zealand and Romance Writers of America. All these groups have given me knowledge of craft and the business as well as support when I needed it most. And lastly—the person who helped heaps is a fellow writer. She knows who she is. We’d both fallen into the same trap the previous year of entering loads of competitions but not finishing the manuscript properly. So after discussing the situation, the BET was born. The one who had the most rejections at the end of the year won because that meant they’d worked hard and submitted. Now, I wasn’t about to miss out on a free lunch so I tried very hard. And let me tell you, that lunch was a very tasty meal indeed!

Hearts Talk: What about your writing day – any major obstacles or do you enjoy hours of uninterrupted time?

SM: I don’t have children and work part time so I have plenty of time to write. That doesn’t mean I do write, however, since I can procrastinate with the best! The dog likes attention and gets upset if I ignore her so she probably counts as an obstacle. I usually write until my husband gets home from work. After dinner and walking the dog, I might bring out my Alphie and do a little more, but it will be in front of TV and at a leisurely pace. It’s actually surprising how the pages mount up.

Hearts Talk: Are you a writer who can’t wait to get started or do you end up doing everything else *except* writing (i.e. dusting, washing up, rearranging your files, cleaning out your email)?
Some days it’s really hard to start writing, and yes, I’ve been known to do housework instead of writing. But usually, my procrastination takes the form of reading. I think to myself…just one more page then before I know it the writing hours have melted away!

SM: I’m disciplined in that I do make a point of writing every day and try to write at least three pages. That doesn’t sound like much but they all add up. Last year, I had a list that I ticked off each day. That worked for me. I hated to see no ticks at the end of the week and it kept me focused on what I wanted to achieve. I respond well to deadlines so I give myself deadlines and stick to them. You have to be disciplined when you’re chasing dreams.

Hearts Talk: Are there any mss that you haven’t sold yet? What’s next?

SM: I have one more contemporary manuscript out with a publisher and hope to hear back in the next couple of weeks. I’d love to sell this manuscript since it’s called FOLLOW THAT DREAM and to me that’s what I’ve been doing so this one’s really personal!!

I have a chicklit/mystery I finished in February. It’s “maturing” before I go back to it with fresh eyes to do some editing, and I’ve started a sequel to TALKING DOGS, ALIENS AND PURPLE PEOPLE EATERS.

At the moment, I’m focusing on single title works and romantica. I have quite a few ideas for new stories (as one does) and I have a mental list of things I want to accomplish this year. Finding an agent is one of them. I’m also working on a website and thinking about promotion. I’ve found it a bit difficult to write over the past couple of weeks, but once life settles down I’ll be back to ticking off my lists and getting hope in the mail.

As we go to print, Shelley advises that FOLLOW THAT DREAM was accepted for publication by Wings ePress.