Writers that I have known have been amazing people, especially Romance writers. We get to know each other on so many levels while sharing story ideas, family issues, blocks, publishing woes, and amazing break-throughs.
Sha Renée is one of those women who is amazing, warm, and real. She has stayed the course as a writer and has reaped the reward of a published work with a ready-made fan base. Seriously, what female in the military could resist this? So here are some questions that came up recently and her answers.
Meet Sha Renée!
DLH: What are you currently working on and what is it about?
SR:Last week was the release of my Military Romance, Forbidden Kisses. It tackles the topic of fraternization – improper relationships between seniors and their juniors within the military. Indulging in such a relationship is a serious offense because it can adversely affect the members and goals of the organization. In Forbidden Kisses, by the time Layla and Ethan discover each other’s military status, sparks have already flown and feelings have already grown. With their careers on the line and the threat of disciplinary action, Layla and Ethan are forced to make one of life’s most difficult decisions.
Layla is an enlisted member of the US Navy who meets the perfect guy while she’s on leave. After several fun-filled days and passionate nights, her world is turned upside down when she discovers Ethan is also in the Navy. But not only that – he’s an officer, which means any personal relationship between them is prohibited by military law. Is Layla strong enough to walk away from the only man to hold her heart?
Ethan is a well-respected aviator – a war hero. He meets Layla during a dark moment in his life and falls for her instantly. But the discovery that their relationship is forbidden, catapults the decorated officer into a place darker than the one Layla helped pull him from. He’s forced to choose between the profession that means everything to him and the woman he’s waited his entire life for.
In order to avoid disciplinary action and protect their careers, Layla and Ethan will need to put an end to their relationship. Unfortunately, they’ve already gotten in too deep. Can military regulations separate lovers who are destined to be together?
DLH: Where do your ideas come from?
SR: Everyday life. My short story, Steamy Connections, features a young girl who works as a phone sex operator. The idea for that story unraveled in my head minutes after receiving a phone call. There was nothing steamy about that call, but something about talking on the phone that day brought the idea to life.
Some time ago, I sent a text message to an ex who I hadn’t talked to in a while. I was unaware that he’d changed his number, so when I sent the text, it was received by the number’s new owner. After a few messages back and forth with him guessing different girls’ names and me thinking my ex was playing around, we introduced ourselves (fake name). We then spent a long time in text conversation discussing almost everything under the sun. That’s how I got the idea for my not-yet-released story The Accidental Text. I haven’t decided yet whether to make it a romance, a thriller or a comedy.
DLH: Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
SR: That goes without saying. We’ve all heard the phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” But when a reader is looking for their next fix, the cover is the first thing they see. It has to be good. It has to be eye-catching. The fonts have to be legible. Shopping for a book is supposed to be a fun experience (with the exception of buying textbooks for college… no wait, that was fun too). If a reader has to work to read your title, figure out what the picture on the book is or understand the descriptive summary, there’s a good chance they will keep scrolling. I know I have. If the book cover is boring, it makes me feel like the story is boring too. Readers could be missing out on a great story because the cover makes them scroll on by.
DLH: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?
SR: My story ideas almost always come to me completed from beginning to end. All at once I know the course the story is going to take and how it will turn out. So I absolutely cannot rest until the entire outline is written beginning to end. After that, I can take a deep breath and then fill in the body of the story with dialogue, action, and names of character and places. The downside is, I can’t always sit at my laptop and will myself to fill in the outline of my story. My scenes come to me while I’m going about my daily life -driving, showering, working – so I end up scrambling to write down information before I lose it.
DLH: Did you come across any specific challenges in writing Forbidden Kisses?
SR: Balancing fiction with reality. An author can write a story about blood-drinking beings from a distant galaxy who blend in with the people of Earth, and that’s okay. But when writing about a large and real public entity like the US Navy, it can be challenging to determine how realistic to make your characters and the organizations they’re a part of. Where do you draw the line between reality and fiction? This was the case some time ago when I was still working on Forbidden Kisses. I asked some fellow writers for their opinion about how Layla and Ethan should discover each other’s military status. My peers – some of whom didn’t even address my question – were quick to tell me that both of my characters would be kicked out of the Navy because the military has zero tolerance when it comes to fraternization. Even more shocking to me was the declaration that there was no way this story could have a Happily Ever After and without an HEA, there was no way I could call my story a romance! Others pointed out that we’re dealing with fiction and I reminded them that Forbidden Kisses was my story and I could take it in whichever direction I chose. What I didn’t tell them (remember the entire story is in my head and on my outline from beginning to end) was that I had the couple’s HEA already worked out and it didn’t include either of them getting kicked out of the Navy.
DLH: What do you think of “trailers” for books, and will you create one for your work?
SR: I think trailers are a good way to spread the word about your upcoming release. There are only so many ways you can say, “Hey my book is coming out next month!” You can post the same teasers over and over, but people may become bored with those and just keep scrolling. But give them something to watch… something that’s not too long and has great music and they may watch it a few times… possibly even share it. I’ve worked with my designer, Taylor Sullivan of Imagination Uncovered, to create a trailer for Forbidden Kisses.
Forbidden Kisses trailer – I love the trailer! This book is hot from start to finish. Be sure to pick up your copy today! — DLH
Sha Renée is a native New Yorker who left home at the age of 17 to join the US Navy. She now lives in New Jersey where she creates stories on the pages where duty, honor, and passion unite.
A true nature lover, Sha loves photographing mountains, trees, bodies of water and freshly fallen snow.
When she’s not writing, she enjoys listening to music while drinking either a cup of hot coffee or a glass of chilled wine. Some of life’s simple activities—such as walking through freshly fallen autumn leaves and watching bulldozers, diggers, and other construction vehicles—entertain her. Sha also has a passion for photography, meeting people, and connecting with her readers.
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