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How to Make a FT Living Writing Romance: Romance Junkies Author Interview w/Yuwanda Black

Publisher Note: This interview originally appeared on the RomanceJunkies.com blog. The link to it on that site is no longer live, so I decided to publish it here.

Please tell us a little bit about your current projects.

First, let me say it’s a pleasure to be here. Thank you for having me.

In answer to your query, I just finished A Lover for Beth: Part II. It’s a multi-cultural romance. The two characters are literally worlds apart – he’s from Italy (Rome); she’s from a small (fictional) town in Mississippi (Talleyville). They meet in New York at a mutual friend’s dinner party, and the fireworks start from there.

These characters took me for some twists and turns that I couldn’t have possibly foreseen! As the author, you think you’re in control, but one thing I’ve learned about writing romance is that when the characters take over, you’re just the conduit through which they flow.

I did my outline as I usually do when I start a new novel. Most times, I’m able to stick pretty close to it. But these characters took major detours. I was like “What! I didn’t see that coming!” My heart was pounding as I was writing, because I truly didn’t know how it would all end until I was a few chapters from finishing. The ending in particular floored me — absolutely floored me! I couldn’t type fast enough as the characters did their thing.

I hope readers enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I don’t even feel like I can claim the title “Author” for this one; it’s more like … “Typist.” The characters truly led the way in this series, which can be found on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, by the way.

Why did you start writing romance?

I’ve been self-publishing since 2002; mostly in the non-fiction, how-to genre. I’ve published over 50 ebooks in that space. But a friend of mine kept telling me to try my hand at romance, because she knew I was a prolific reader of them.

It took me a while to finish my first one – and once I saw the sales, I was like, “Whoa buddy, there’s some serious dough to be made here!

Now I publish two to four a month, most short, steamy and/or contemporary interracial romance – simply because it sells. I also happen to be African American, and I was in a mixed-race marriage (my husband was from Argentina).

One thing writing romance has truly underscored for me is that love is truly color blind. Love problems are love problems, and that’s the way I write — from the heart.

Who advice would you give to aspiring romance writers to help them earn a full-time living publishing their own works?

Be prolific – and choose your genre(s) well.

I’ve written fiction and non-fiction, and had success in both genres. What I can say without a doubt is this – do your research and carve out a PROFITABLE niche for yourself. Then, write like there’s no tomorrow.

In 2011, I self-published 50 ebooks. Yes, 50! Thirty-five to thirty-eight of them (I can’t remember the exact number) were brand new titles.

I was able to publish so many because I: (i) wrote what I knew (ie, had experience in); (ii) stuck to defined, complementary niches (ie, freelance writing, SEO writing, self-publishing and internet market); and (iv) stuck to a defined scheduled.

You must be disciplined as a writer. There’s just no way around it. Most self-publishers are not going to hit it big with a 50 Shades of Grey, for example. The money comes in the output. The more you publish, the more you give yourself a chance to find an audience.

And, when they do find you and you have a catalog of 8, 10, 20 or 30 books – well let me tell you, you don’t’ have to sell very many per day to make a really good living.

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As a romance writer, do you write from experience, or from imagination?

Well of course some of my personal experiences, feelings, desires, hopes and dreams are present in most of my characters. For me, that’s what gives them a ring of truth.

In fact, I say if you find yourself stuck, write from what you know until it starts to flow. Then, you can let your imagination kick in.

Describe the “perfect” hero. What about the “perfect” hero for you?

Oh god – I think I’m probably like most women. I’m attracted to strong, take-charge, take-no-bullcrap guys. I also like men who can handle a strong woman (me!), but knows how to reign her in — without being a jerk about it.

To me, this means a man who’s not afraid to tell you the truth, to hurt your feelings, but who’s put in the work to be able to do and still make you feel like he loves you – no matter what.

Remember that scene in The Notebook when Noah is trying to talk Ally into leaving her fiancé and come spend her life with him. That’s the perfect illustration of this point. He says something to the effect of:

I’m not afraid to hurt your feelings, because I know in five minutes you’ll be off doing the next stupid thing. It’s not gonna be easy, it’s gonna be hard, but I want that, because I love, you, I want all of you … blah, blah, blah.”

That scene just slays me. THAT’S the perfect hero for me. Strong. Unafraid. Secure in the love that exists between him and his woman, because he’s not going anywhere and he’s not letting her go either.

What are some of your favorite pastimes? Do you have any hobbies or collections?

I love traveling. I’m American but recently moved to Negril, Jamaica full-time for the next few years. New York is my favorite city though; that’s where I plan to eventually make my full-time, permanent home. I lived there for almost 20 years during/after college and no other place on earth makes me as happy.

I also adore going out to dinner and spending time with friends and family. There is nothing like a nice bottle of wine or a few cocktails over a nice meal – either at home or out at a restaurant.

I also run marathons. I’ve been finished 10 to date – two full and eight halves, all in either Atlanta or Negril, Jamaica.

I’m starting to train for my very first triathlon, which I’ll complete sometime in the fall of 2015. Not sure which one I’m doing yet. They’re all over the place and I travel a lot, so it could be in the Caribbean, or in the states.

What is this romance writer’s idea of the “ideal romantic evening?”

I’m a simple girl. As long as I’m with someone I like, we can be doing anything – from working out together to reading the paper in bed. It truly doesn’t matter.

If I had to give a concrete answer though, I’d say enjoying dinner with a nice bottle of wine on the floor beside a roaring fire (I love winter) and just talking. I love discussing art, politics, books, future dreams – simple life stuff. Then, early to bed.

Like I said, I’m really simple.

How do you describe yourself? How would your family and friends describe you?

Outgoing. Determined. Opinionated. Hardworking. Ambitious. Smart. Loyal. (I actually asked a few of them!)

What is your favorite comfort food?

It varies, but I love a good steak, and I’d kill for good sushi!

What is your favorite season? What do you love about it?

Winter, winter, winter – the colder and snowier the better – as long as I’m inside. I do not like to be cold. I will walk in the cold as long as I’m bundled up, but as soon as I get cold, I’m ready to be inside.

I love wearing a fisherman’s sweater with a big cashmere scarf and layers under it, with a leather bag thrown across my shoulders, and my favorite jeans and boots. That’s my ‘uniform du jour’ in the winter in New York. I feel sexy, yet comfortable at the same time.

What project are you working on next?

ALoverforBeth2-cover-smI look at my sales numbers to see what readers are taking to. I say that to say, it might be another part of a series I’ve already got out there (I have several because series sell!).

Or, if I’m not feeling those characters, I’ll write something hot and steamy under a pen name and publish it. This gives me a break from my “regulars” (my regular series characters). It gives me a chance to miss them so I come back to them fresh and new – and ready to wreak havoc with their lives all over again!

As I said in the beginning of this interview though, sometimes they turn the table. I never know what they’re going to be up to. LOL!

Where can we find you on the web?

Well for romance, check my Amazon profile. My freelance writing website is InkwellEditorial.com. You’ll find all of my non-fiction titles – many on how to start a successful self-publishing career — there (here).

All of my romance novellas can be found here. I’m also on Pinterest; Twitter and Facebook, my preferred social media outlets of choice.

Again, thank you for having me. I’m beyond honored. 🙂

About the Author: Yuwanda Black is an American who loves to get up and go! Two of her favorite past times are running (marathons) and traveling. She’s been to Spain, Argentina, Italy, England, Sweden and Canada, to name a few countries. She currently resides in Negril, Jamaica.

Her favorite place on earth though is the incomparable New York City. She writes primarily contemporary, short, multicultural romance novels – all of which can be found on Amazon and Barnes & Nobles, among a few other outlets.

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