I’m so happy to bring you a great friend and fantastic author, Empi Baryeh! Without much ado, let me shine the spotlight on our guest ;) Read on to find out more about her debut release and do show her some comment love for a chance to win her book!
What steered you towards romantic fiction? And where do you think your stories fit? I know I'm sneaking in a second question here, but you can't blame me for curiosity...
Good question, considering I didn’t start out writing romance. Let’s see…I like the thriller/mystery/espionage as much as the next person, but somewhere along the line I realized I liked happy endings a little more. I liked reading books and watching movies where I didn’t have to crack my brain, wondering whether the hero/heroine was going to die at the end. Plus, I’m a sucker for seeing people find their perfect match.
Where my stories fit…since most are set in contemporary Ghana, with at least one African protagonist, I suppose my stories will be classified as multicultural (interracial in some cases). Tone-wise, I’d say my stories are ‘passionately sweet romances’. The reason I need passion and sweet is that I like to explore my characters’ emotions; I use sex scenes to advance the plot and not just to satisfy some number count. My sex scenes are fully described, but I like to think they are tasteful.
Tasteful ;) as in yummy…ooh..hot? :p At the very least, I’m drooling all over the fantastic cover…
So tell us, what are the major milestones in your writing journey so far? And what next?
Uh, you mean apart from getting published (tee hee hee). (Get serious, Empi. This is an interview). Ju, every completed novel is a milestone for me, but of course the biggest milestone is getting published. For years, I kept saying that writing is what I do best, and so I see it as a validation that someone other than a friend/family (or me) read and liked my work enough to invest in publishing it.
Typing my name on Amazon and actually coming up with results! That’s another milestone.
What’s next…at present, it’s completing the sequels to the two novels coming out this quarter: Most Eligible Bachelor and Chancing Faith (17-Mar). Then I have a mainstream novel that I’ve been dying to get to. That’s going to be next on the agenda. But every day, new ideas come up so who knows for sure what’s going to be next?
I can totally understand about the Amazon search part! I used to do “google” search for my name from the time I settled on my pen name, ie Ju Dimello J
What are some of your writing tips and tricks?
Writing Tips…read a lot. Reading goes hand-in-hand with writing. Reading gets me excited and when I get excited, ideas pour out more easily. I could be reading a thriller but get inspiration for my romances.
Any and every thing is a trigger. Could be a conversation I overhear, a dream I have, an event I attend, a news item that triggers a ‘what if’ question or phrase. Then I have to decide if it fits into a current WIP or if it has enough promise to grow into its own story.
I work full-time so I can only write in the evenings and on weekends. The rest of the time, I think about the scene or chapter I want to write, kind of run it in my head before sitting down. I do it on the drive to and from work, in the shower…you get the picture. I usually don’t have a notepad handy, but if I really need to put something down, I use my phone. If I’m alone or driving, I’d set the recorder yap away. If not, I type it like an SMS or ‘note’. Once I get to my laptop, I put down the recording and then edit.
I’m definitely a pantser. I’m convinced plotting goes hand in hand with Writers’ Block, but we won’t talk about that. I’m learning how to bring some order to pantsing, to ensure my GMCs are in place and so I don’t suffer lengthy breaks from writing.
Like you, I’m all for reading, reading and more reading. I have at least 3 books I’m reading at any given point in time – one for home, one in the library and one in the train/bus…
What are some of the most important things you have learnt as an author that you didn't when you were a writer?
Biggest misconception: that my first (or 2nd) draft was good enough to wow an editor! (I officially apologise to any editor and agent who had read those). The first draft of Most Eligible Bachelor was enjoyable, if I may say so myself, but considering how much work has gone into it to get it from that first draft to a published novel, I don’t expect any editor to have been willing to put in that kind of work/time.
As an author, I know writing doesn’t end with completing the story or even getting published. Before I started pursuing publication, I also didn’t have to worry about blurbs and synopses. And upon getting published, I’ve discovered this beast called promotion that I have to think of now. As an author, I have an unseen timeline, especially with series. I feel like I can’t decide to not write on any given day ‘just because’. The sooner the sequels are done, the better, because readers will expect them soon.
My advice to aspiring authors: take a break if you must, but don’t stop writing.
Fantastic advice, Empi! And I still cringe when I read my initial stories.. Maybe I guess I owe an apology to everyone who read those as well!
Last, but not the least... Writing vs social networking. How do you find the perfect balance?
(Snickers in what she hopes is a very ladylike manner) Is there such a thing as the perfect balance? I’m still learning how to maximise the benefits of some of the social networking tools, but I am addicted to the internet, so I suppose that helps. It also means the balance is very difficult to achieve. If I’m inspired and the words are flowing, there’s no problem with focusing on writing. My current strategy is to have the internet off for periods of time when I don’t want the interruption – sort of like a timeout.
Internet off? OMG! That’s so difficult for me… Hats off on managing that! And thanks so much for dropping by, Empi! I loved to have you in my blog and hope you’ll come by more often with more releases!
I’m giving away a free copy of Most Eligible Bachelor to one lucky commenter. Please do check my website for other opportunities for winning a free copy in my 100-fan book give-away contest: http://www.empibaryeh.webs.com/
Oooh! Fantastic ways to win her book, friends! Go ahead and officially stalk her ;) and read on to find more about Empi’s book...
Empi Baryeh has been writing since the age of thirteen after stumbling upon a YA story her older sister had started. The story fascinated her so much that, when she discovered it was unfinished, she knew the task of completing it rested firmly on her shoulders. And somehow the ideas and the words for the rest of the story began to pour into her mind. She’s been writing ever since.
It wasn’t until another thirteen years later, however, that the romantic in her geared her toward romance. She now focuses on heart-warming multicultural romance with enough passion to enthral readers who want a little sizzle with their romance. She lives in her native country, Ghana, which provides the exotic setting for most of her novels.
Visit Empi Online:
Book link: Evernight Publishing
Magazine columnist Chantelle Sah doesn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day—not since her fiancé’s betrayal three years ago—and after botching her first assignment as a feature writer, she’s more than willing to put in a hard day’s work this Valentine’s Day; even if it means going on a date with gorgeous construction Tycoon, Lord McKenzie, and opening herself to an onslaught of all things love.
When Lord—his given name, not a title—sets his sights on Chantelle, it isn’t just work he has on his mind. But even he couldn’t have predicted the magnetic attraction between them when they meet, nor the evening ending with more than an interview. Now he has to convince Chantelle that their one-night stand wasn’t a mistake. Can he win her love without revealing a secret from their night of passion, which could prove fatal for both their hearts?
He seemed amused by her lack of a response as he took her hand and led her back to the dance floor. The music had turned slow.
She hesitated. Slow music meant being in his arms, their bodies touching. She shouldn’t do this. Yet for some ridiculous reason, she wanted – needed, even – the closeness, to feel like a woman again. Just for a moment. Even if she was certifiably insane for wanting all this in the arms of Lord McKenzie.
He pulled her gently, bringing her body flush against his. A tremor rushed through her. His warm breath on her face sent tiny tingles running over her skin. Heat radiated to her from each part of his body touching hers, his powerful thighs, lean hips and firm abdomen, his hand, pressed firmly on the small of her back.
When was the last time she’d been this close to a man? Her breath quickened as raw need surged through her. Far too long. Not since Martin.
Tears stung her eyes as the familiar loneliness accompanying Valentine’s Day closed in. Old love songs always got to her. She turned away from his watchful gaze, focusing on other couples huddled close together on the dance floor. Yearning pierced her heart. She gave herself a mental shake. She couldn’t entertain such thoughts. Once she did, there would be no salvation.
As if sensing her distress, Lord pulled her closer, his hold tightening around her. Every thought flittered out of her mind as soon as their gazes locked, and she began to drown in the deep pools of his dark eyes.
“Happy Valentine’s Day, Chantelle.”
Was it stupid that she liked the way her name sounded on his tongue? She opened her mouth to say something – about how Valentine’s Day had been commercialized to the point of triviality, an occasion for errant lovers to feel better about neglecting their significant others, a day to buy enough credit for another year, one day to make the unloved feel even less loved – anything to hide how hard it was to hear those words, but nothing came out.
His face hovered just inches away. Her heart stutter-stepped; her breath snagged. Without explanation, she wanted to know the taste of his lips. She wanted to erase it all from her mind, her pain, his reputation. She wanted to simply believe he really was just the most eligible bachelor in town, and he had her in his arms.
He smiled, really smiled, not the movie star grins he’d been flashing earlier. His gaze emitted pure heat wrapped around a hint of sadness. What in the world could make a man with his looks and popularity melancholic? Surely Lord McKenzie didn’t have the same kinds of problems as mere mortals.
His fingers feathered her cheek, sending another wave of tremors through her. When his hand reached her chin, he lifted her face. Her mind barely registered what was happening before the space between them vanished. His searing kiss was nothing she could have imagined. It scorched her, inside and out. A soft moan escaped her throat before she could stop it. She melted into him, curling her fingers around his nape.
When he pulled away, her breath came in fast, shallow bursts. In stunned reflex, her fingers came to her lips, which felt swollen, having not been used for this purpose in a while. Weak-kneed and aroused, she sensed she only remained standing because of his strong arms around her.
One of the couples dancing bumped into them, jerking her back to reality.
Shoot. This evening would be more difficult than she could have guessed. How was she supposed to conduct a professional interview when she’d just kissed the interviewee, and now her mind insisted on dancing around words like ravished?