The Tales of a Contemporary Romance Writer

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Talkin' Tuesday with Sera Rivers

Good morning everyone! Welcome to another sunny week in New England. Gosh, I love this part of America. Today the last of the sanding on my walls is happening. My daughter and I went to pick up paint chips the other day. It's really exciting. :)

Today I have my friend Sera Rivers. She's a busy girl and I think you'll agree, a multi-tasker of the aah inspiring kind. 

What's your favorite read & series?

SR-This is a really hard question. I love to read everything. Here are some fave authors:
¨ Horror — Edgar Allan Poe and Clive Barker
¨ YA Classics — Betsy Beyers, Judy Blume, Lois Duncan, Madeleine L’Engle, Lois Lowry, and Jane Yolen
¨ Modern Day YA — Jo Knowles, Amy Reed, Carol Lynch Williams, and Sara Zarr
¨ Memoir — Augusten Burroughs, Julie Metz, John Robison, and Julia Scheeres
¨ Other Fiction — Chuck Palahniuk, Tom Perrotta, and Madeleine Wickham (also uses pen name Sophie Kinsella)
Absolute Fave Books EVER — Alice in Wonderland, The Giver, The Giving Tree, Go, Dog, Go and Peppermints in the Parlor
LOL That's a lot of faves!

What/who got you reading?

SR-I’m not sure. I started reading when I was four. I remember that I lived for the newspapery, Scholastic flyers from school. As an adult, I still got excited when my son brought them home from elementary school.

Writing was a natural thing for you, but what part of it is the hardest?

SR-It depends on the project. I usually come up with a character and situation first, so figuring out the plot and resolution can create writer’s block for a while. Titles either make or break the theme because I have a hard time writing them and I can never move forward without knowing what the story is called. Titles are the worst.

You always have a crazy amount of stuff going on. How do you manage to keep it all straight?

SR-Folders. Folders. Folders. I am a folder whore, especially on my computer. I sort my writing in four major categories: Novels, Poetry, Short Stories and Articles. Then, I subfolder galore. I might click through three or four subfolders to get to a document.
My filing cabinet is also color-coded by writing subject: publishing, marketing, dialog, etc. and subfoldered by lesson. I am a bit neurotic, I know.
As far as keeping my fiction straight? I always write extensive characterization, setting, and plot points so I get to know the world I’m creating. Then, it becomes real to me and I can’t forget real things.
You've confused me! LOL That's a lot of organization.

When writing, must you hide from the kid? Where do you go and what kind of death threats do you shout?

SR-My son learned early on that when mom is on the computer, do not interrupt unless there is blood or broken bones. He is pretty good about it. If he walks in my room babbling about something, all I have to say is, “Let me finish my thought.” I usually promise a reward like play a game or watch a movie with him at a set time if he leaves me alone. He always comes back at the exact time and makes me stop working. He helps control my workaholic personality.
To eliminate distractions like food, chores, and family members (the adult children in my house), I write outside. I might go to the library, coffee shop, park or friend’s house to work.
I also love writing in my pajamas in my bed. I purchased a high-backed, leather-padded headboard to make my back comfortable while I sit and write. I bought it for the sole purpose to work from home (I’m writing in bed right now). I close my bedroom door and put up a sign that says, “Do not disturb please.”
For some reason, people get excited when they see the leather headboard. Unfortunately, the only action it gets is from my creative brain waves.

What inspires you to write?

SR-Everything. A song on the radio, a memory, a funny or dramatic public scene, quirky or disturbing news articles. Mostly, characters just jump into my head and decide they want to live like real people. When they speak to me, I have no choice. They won’t leave me alone until I tell their story…. How they want it to be told. I never know when it’s going to happen and that makes their voices even scarier and more exhilarating.

Is there any thing we all would be shocked to know about you?

SR-I am actually quite shy. I never feel like I fit in anywhere other than the worlds I create. I am most comfortable when I am alone. I could spend days in silence by myself (you did use the word shocked in your question). I mask all of this behind my social butterfly persona.

For Fun

Red & sexy or Black & mysterious?

SR-Depends on the atmosphere and what message I want to convey. Red is my favorite color, though.

Wine with cheese or Beer with TV?

SR-Seeing as I don’t watch TV, wine with cheese. Though I do consider myself a bit of a beer snob.

Paperback or ebooks?

SR-Depends on where I am. I LOVE the feel of fanning pages of real books. I always glance at the last page number (but never the words) so I can calculate how much I have left to read. I can’t do that with an ereader, but I love the ability to read multiple books on the run without having all that baggage.
I will ALWAYS buy physical books from my favorite authors because I am a groupie and live for book signings. I love authors the way tween girls love Justin Bieber.
LOL Yes you do!

Great cook or master at ordering take out?

SR-Well, my family would say otherwise, but I’m a pretty good cook (just don’t ask me to make brownies). I prefer to cook my own meals because I am particular about what I eat (I am a pescatarian and somewhat of a purist).
I have also mastered ordering take out for the nights when I forgot to eat all day because I was too busy writing. Yes, it happens quite often.
Glad I'm not the only one who does that. *wipes brow*

Romance, comedy, or horror movies?

SR-Comedy!!! I love to laugh and laugh. Well-written comedy is a gem to discover — anything by Kevin Smith, Broken Lizard or Judd Apatow. My favorites are Dogma, Super Troopers and Super Bad.

What's your biggest pet-peeve, in the world, that makes you want to beat something/someone?

SR-As a writer, I hate poor grammar. I want to beat everyone (even my dearest friends) who writes “loose” instead of “lose.” I see red whenever I read slang words like “preggers,” “prego,” and “baby daddy.” I don’t know why all these words happen to be sexual consequences, but they make my skin crawl. I often have Facebook Road Rage because these infractions happen on there the most.

Back to Work
You have an insane amount of energy. What do you do to ground yourself to stay focused?

SR-My routine varies throughout the year, depending on school vacations, my son’s extracurricular activities, and my teaching schedule. Whenever a big change happens, I set up a writing schedule that coincides with the rest of life. I give myself a few days before I begin. So on a Wednesday, I will say to myself, “Starting Monday, I will work from 8:30 to 11:30 on X project,” and stick to it. Writing is work for me, so I treat it like work. 
I also ground myself by spending time alone, usually in nature. This helps me get my thoughts in order and stimulate my creative mind whenever I need to work a writing problem out.  
Gosh, you're very disciplined!

What's the biggest misconception people have about you & your writing? 
SR-I would have to say people think writing comes super easy to me; therefore, I do not have to work hard. One person a long time ago called it “Mickey Mouse work”. He said something like, “Well, if you had to do real work, you wouldn’t be so good at it.” Fortunately, he wasn’t someone close to me so I was able to “let him live.”
The other big misconception: people assume the occupation “writer” means unemployed. This is a big issue for me. I work twelve-to-fourteen hour days, much longer than a 9-5 day job.
I love those people and challenge them to write. Then I offer to do free edits for them when they complete it. LOL No one has ever come back with a finished product. :)

Do you ever get so overwhelmed you want to quit? 
SR-All the time, especially since I write for two very different worlds: special needs and creative writing. There have been times I’ve wanted to permanently delete a 90,000-word document and not think twice about it. That’s when I walk away from that particular project for a few weeks… or months. 
You write the professional blog, “A Lonely Education” for Psychology Today and a personal blog, “Everyday is Different: Raising a child with NLD.” 

What is NLD? And please tell us about this dear to your heart cause. SR-NLD stands for nonverbal learning disability. It is on the higher functioning Autism spectrum. It is a close cousin to Asperger’s. For some reason, it hasn’t received as much media attention as Autism and Asperger’s. It is a topic I am most passionate about because my son has NLD. I spent twelve years fighting for his rights and special education. I want to share what I learned with other parents of children with special needs so they don’t have to struggle the way I did.  
Your son is very lucky to have such a passionate mother who's will to fight for him!

Whatcha working on right now?
SR-I am in the last stages of editing my memoir. It’s about growing up in a religious cult and the repercussions that ensued when I left at the age of twelve. It is geared toward the young adult (YA) market.
My next book will be fiction — a YA horror novel. I cannot wait to begin that project.

You're a little on the 'dark side'. Ever scare your parents or friends?

SR-Not my mother. I get my dark side from her. And not my son. He gets his dark side from me. Friends and other family members? All the time. And I love it. 
 LMAO. You've scared me before. :)

Any advice for aspiring writers?

SR-Network, network, network. The majority of my publishing/writer connections has been made through Twitter, Facebook, book signings and writing conferences. Put yourself out there. Everyone who matters in your genre should know who you are way before you pitch your first book.

Thank you for being here Sera! If you'd like to meet or contact Sera, you can find her at these places:
VOTE for my Aha Moment: Friends are your mirrors
Memoir Blog: Witnessing Truth

Psychology Today: A Lonely Education

Personal blog: Every Day is Different: Raising a child with NLD

Website: Sera Rivers

Twitter Handle: writeloudly!/writeloudly and parents_rights http://twitter./#!/parents_rights

Facebook Pages: Witnessing Truth and Every Day is Different

Have a Sparkling Day Everyone! Next week I'll be talking with Arlene Webb.

Rebecca Rose 


  1. Great blog! Sera's energy really came through. She is such an inspiration. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I've seen the quiet/shy exists. And YES, I was shocked. :)

  3. Awww shucks gals! Glad you loved it! and thanks for confirming Loretta. Most people DO NOT see that side of me :)

  4. Good posting. Loved the photos.

  5. Great interview!! Love "folder whore" and "facebook rage" - what a trend setter Sera is! And what a fascinating person...want to read her memoir!

  6. @She said, Those photos are my faves! Took them at my birthday bash with my sis.

    @Donna, you can follow my memoir progress on my blog: Come on over. I blog every day.

    Trend setter? I like that!!!

  7. Thank you everyone for stopping by! :)