Jeanne: Interview with Ellen Lindseth

I first met Ellen through my 2015 RWA® Golden Heart® class, the Dragonflies.


Even before we met in person, it became apparent that we had some things in common. Ellen resides in Minnesota, where I lived for three years back in the 90’s. We both love to travel. And we both love flowers.

The day I posted a picture on Facebook of a water plant I was having trouble identifying  and Ellen hopped on to say it was bladderwort, our friendship blossomed. Then, in February of this year, our mutual friend and Dragonfly Tracy Brody, hosted a writers’ retreat on Kiawah Island, off the coast of South Carolina, and we got to spend a week writing, taking long walks on the beach, sharing meals and swapping brainstorming ideas.

Enough reminiscing. On with the questions!

Question 1: I love the idea of a set during WWII. Tell us a little bit about A Girl Divided, which becomes available today on Amazon.

Hi, Jeanne! First, I’d like to thank you for this chance to talk about my debut book. I’m super excited to talk about my story, which is both like and yet unlike other WWII romantic fiction books currently out there, and is receiving very good advance reviews. One thing readers will note right away is that my heroine, Eugenia Baker, never sets foot in Europe. This was a deliberate choice on my part because the war truly was a global conflict, and affected so many other parts of the world, including China, Burma, India, and South Africa – all places that Genie travels through on her journey to the U.S.

I also wanted A GIRL DIVIDED to explore themes different from the typical ‘will good triumph over evil’ one. I wanted it to speak to more timeless questions, such as how to juggle societal and familial expectations with one’s own desires, how to balance one’s own ethics against another’s, and even how to survive sexual harassment in the work place. Readers of historical fiction will still find plenty of rich WWII-period detail, and well-researched facts, but the war, in this case, is more catalyst for the journey than the actual focus of the book. A GIRL DIVIDED is primarily about a young woman finding her place in the world, and becoming the person she was meant to be.

If your readers would like to read more about my plucky heroine, Eugenia – and I hope they do! – A GIRL DIVIDED is now available in paperback, digital and audio formats through on-line sites such as Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and

Question 2: Tell us why you chose traditional publishing, and what were the challenges to getting this story published.

The marketplace, particularly the romance one, is changing. It is increasingly difficult to get a traditional publisher to take a chance on an atypical historical romance, despite my having finaled twice in the RWA’s Golden Heart contest (2014 & 2015) with WWII romances. The feedback I got was that they loved the stories, but didn’t think they could sell them. My agent, the wonderful Laura Bradford, refused to let me get discouraged, and suggested I try my hand at writing WWII women’s fiction. A GIRL DIVIDED is the result of that experiment. Because of my love for romance, I insisted the novel still have a HEA despite its women’s fiction focus.

Luckily my editor at Lake Union Publishing agreed, and signed me to a two-book contract. This after penning my first romantic story almost fifteen years ago, so it’s been a long journey, but a rewarding one. I think the key in this business is persistence and adaptability. If I had refused to try a slightly different genre, I doubt I would now be published.

Question 3: You and your husband travel a lot. What’s the most interesting place you’ve been to?

Wow, that’s a really tough question! I find almost anywhere I go interesting, but if I had to pick, I would say our recent trip to Antarctica was the most surprising. I really didn’t think I would like it, given how much I dislike cold and snow (both of which are plentiful there), but the landscape was so jaw-droppingly beautiful. Everything always looks smaller in photos, so I was really surprised by the reality. When I was in a zodiac cruiser at the base of these enormous cliffs, looking up at the skas nesting on the bare rock thousands of feet in the air, or watching the icebergs larger than our ship pass silently off to the side, the ice electrically blue, more vivid than I thought possible, or even swimming in water so breathtakingly clear I forgot how cold it was (28F to be exact), I quite honestly forgot why I hadn’t wanted to come. I totally lost my heart to the continent.


Ellen in Antarctica

Ellen in Antartica!

Ellen Lindseth received her B.A.from the University of Colorado, Boulder, has studied at the Loft Literary Center (Minneapolis, MN), and is a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association and Romance Writers of America (RWA). Two of her WWII historical romances were finalists in the prestigious RWA® Golden Heart ® contest, and one of her short stories was chosen for publication in Midwest Fiction Writers’ popular anthology. When not writing about the resourceful women of the 1940s, she keeps up her own dream of adventure by flying her own plane, traveling the world with her husband (also a pilot), and taking care of her three rescued kitties and an elderly bearded dragon.



Justine: Seeking Out Rejection to Overcome It

Are you sitting on your finished MS, dying-but-hating to send it out to the A-list of agents and editors you met at a recent conference? Perhaps you’ve signed up for a mentor program, but you’re anxious about putting your 60,000 word baby in the hands of someone else. Or, you found a great new critique partner, but you keep putting off sharing your chapters because “it’s just not quite right yet.”

You’ve got a rejection problem…or really, the fear of it.

Cue Jia Jiang, an entrepreneur and educator who formed an early association to rejection anxiety when he was six years old. Watch in this humorous TED talk as he explains how exposing himself to rejection for 100 days actually lessened the anxiety he felt about being rejected, and actually opened up opportunities he otherwise wouldn’t have had. It’s a lesson we can all learn from (although I don’t think I’ll be asking for “burger refills” at the local burger joint).

What is your worst rejection moment? Your best? What lessons can you share with writers who are afraid to put their work out there?

Michaeline: Trevor Noah and the Female Gaze

Woman in 19th century photograph holding a card with an oval up to her eye. Her shoulders are bare, and her robe looks rich and soft.

“Oh, I like what I see!” says the female gaze. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

I think it’s safe to say that most romance readers are OK with the male gaze, as long as it’s not accompanied by more problematic behaviors. Heck, trends come and go, and the “rapey” romance novels of the 1980s were strongly connected to the male gaze, I think. It’s sexy to think you are exciting your lover – there’s a nice empathy loop going on there. And for some people, for a protagonist to be so sexy that her partner loses all fore-brain activities (like decision, discernment and outright good judgement) is a powerful kink. To have a partner who “can’t stop” isn’t any fun in real life, and even the fantasy requires a lot of coordination and mutual consent on spoken and/or unspoken levels. And I say that with a great deal of hesitation, because unspoken consent is so . . . easily misunderstood. As David Bowie sings in “Stay”, “’Cause you can never really tell when somebody wants something you want too.” It’s so much safer (if harder) to use your words.

But male arousal when presented with a lover? Oh, that’s very sexy! It depends on the reader of course, but I enjoy the trope with both straight and gay romances. I love strong people (male/female/other) who become helpless with desire and lose their minds (but not their good sense – in fact, the struggle between “oh, this is NOT the plan!” and “oh, this is the ONE!” is so delicious). Someone makes the first move of consent, the other makes the next move indicating consent, and they fall into a passionate entanglement of kisses and touches.

That’s what I mean by romance readers being OK with the male gaze – and another reason they are often OK with the male gaze is that romance readers and writers are often just as enthusiastic about the female gaze. The female lover looks upon her adored one, and maybe the dear one is classically handsome with Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Story Time and Sprints

Life has been full of ups and downs lately, not to mention fires, ants, and a rapidly disintegrating fence.  Naturally I’ve been comfort reading to balance things out.  Sure, I’ve been calling it research, but that’s only true in the slightest sense.

I’ve been reading my way through Georgette Heyer’s Georgian/Regency romances (I finished off her mysteries several months ago) both for enjoyment and to get a better feel for her wording, speech patterns, and conversational styles that do such a wonderful job evoking the period her stories are set in.

Since I’m in the process of revising my own Regency story, which feels a lot like a contemporary dressed up as a historical, I’m hoping all the reading I’ve been doing will be of help as I work to make the story sound more historically accurate.

I’ll be doing a little more reading, once I finish with this post, but then it will be time to get some my own words on the page.  I think I’ll get things started by trying my hand at writing something that sounds historically accurate – possibly incorporating some of today’s random words.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Michille: Read-A-Romance Month

RARM-2018-FB-header-768x284August is Read-A-Romance month. What is that? According to the website it “was conceived and launched in 2013 by freelance writer and romance advocate Bobbi Dumas, after she realized there was no one place where the community celebrated romance all together, at one time, in a concentrated way. Read-A-Romance Month is cross-publisher and cross-genre, and represents a broad spectrum of authors and books.” Continue reading

Elizabeth: Learning with Others

Sometimes mastering a new skill is a breeze; other times it’s like trying to swim through quicksand.

– – -Beats?

– – -Scene escalation?

– – -Conflict lock?

Mastering those basic concepts, especially in terms of my own stories, has been like trying to swim through quicksand in a full suit of armor.

We’ve blogged about all of these concepts multiple times here on the blog, I’ve attended numerous RWA sessions on them, and of course we covered them in our McDaniel romance writing classwork.  Sadly, my grip on them has been decidedly tenuous, with hit-or-miss implementation.

According to a random article I read on the internet today, the problem may not be that these concepts are beyond me, it may just be that I need to find a different learning style.  There are, according to the aforementioned article, seven styles of learning: Continue reading

Jeanne: The First Pancake, Part Two

A couple of weeks ago, we talked about how self-publishing your first book is kind of like making your Pancakefirst pancake–it may turn out just fine, or it may be a scorched, runny mess, depending on how good a job you do of making the batter, setting up the griddle, etc.

I managed to get The Demon Always Wins set up for pre-order on Amazon on July 31. As of last night, I had 59 pre-orders. That may not seem like much, but according to Kameron Hurley, the average self-published book sells only 250 copies in its lifetime. And while the average traditionally-published book sells 3000 copies over the course of its publication life, 250-300 is the usual first year total.

So, with two-and-a-half weeks remaining till my book actually becomes available, I’ve already hit 22% of average lifetime sales for self-pubs and of first-year sales for traditional books.

So yay!

Continue reading