Award Winning Author Winnie Griggs





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March 2007

Lori WildeWG: Welcome Lori.  Thanks for stepping into my spotlight this month.  To start off, please tell us about yourself.

LW: Hi Winnie, thanks so much for having me. I’m excited to be here. I’m a native Texan and I currently live near Fort Worth. I’m a registered nurse, but I no longer work in nursing, although I just received my certificate in forensic nursing. (Doing research for a suspense novel I’m writing.) I’ve been writing full time for ten years. I sold my first book to Silhouette Romance in 1994. 39 books later, I’m still at it.

I’m married, no children. Lots of pets. An Australian Shepard/Red Heeler mix named Cinnamon, who I taught to do all kinds of tricks. A black cat that showed up as a kitten on our doorstep on Halloween, so you can guess what her name is. We also have seven ducks and one chicken.

I’ve never been much of a hobby person. Before I wrote, reading was my hobby, and then writing was my hobby, now it’s my job. I do enjoy exercising—yes I know, I’m sick. I love to cook and I love to travel. Good thing I married an airline mechanic.

WG:  Let’s talk about your own personal road to publication:

Is there some individual, group or event that you can point to as the catalyst/impetus that set you on the road to becoming a writer?  Explain.

LW:  I wanted to be a writer from the time I realized real people wrote the books I loved to read. My father was a journalist, and he had a strong interest in writing fiction and studied it extensively although he never wrote fiction. He did write several songs and had a hit back in the sixties. He’s been my primary mentor for all of my writing life. My husband is the inspiration for my heroes. <grin>

WG:  Tell us about your journey.

LW:  I wrote my first short story when I was eight. My first “book” when I was twelve. I got an A+ on a writing project in high school and I mailed it off to Alfred Hitchcock magazine. I got back a handwritten rejection letter urging me not to give up. I bawled my eyes out not realizing what an extremely good rejection letter that was. Then I went to nursing school—because my journalist daddy told me it was darned hard making a living writing. I didn’t write while I was in college, but after I got my degree, I started thinking about writing again.

WG:  How many books did you complete before you sold your first?  Have all/any of them sold since?

LW:  Books seemed too daunting so I wrote short stories. Over the course of eight years I wrote sixty short stories and they were all rejected. I decided I must not know how to write and took a creative writing class. The instructor told me to forget short stories and to write books. I thought oh gosh, books are so long. I looked around and noticed Harlequin romances seemed really short. I read a few to see if I could do it. Then in 1990 I sat down, told myself I was going to do this or die trying and wrote my first romance. It took me eighteen months to finish it.

Raleigh and the RancherThat same year, I joined RWA and learned so much. I started entering contests and my first novel won the first contest I ever entered. I even got an agent with that book, but it never sold. In the meantime, I was writing my second novel and submitting it to contests. I finalled in 19 contests with that one and that’s the one that ultimately sold to Silhouette Romance. Raleigh and Rancher, written as Laura Anthony, came out in 1995.

I went on to sell eleven novels for Silhouette until there was an editorial change and I was orphaned. I went two and a half years without another sale, but I was writing all that time. I wrote a chicklit novel before chicklit was cool and while editors were complimentary about the book, no one knew how to market it. Then I wrote a paranormal when paranormals weren’t selling. Later, after I got published again I was able to sell both of those novels to Harlequin because the market had changed. So much of this business is timing.

There Goes the BrideI sold six novels to Duets before that line folded. Then I moved over to Blaze where my career has done very nicely. In December of 2002, I sold my first single title to Warner and I’ve done six books for them now. The last two books for Warner I sold on a 25 word high concept pitch. When the sale (and the pitch) was announced on Publishers Marketplace my agent and I received interest from eight movie production companies.

The hilarious thing was all I had written was that 25 word pitch and here I had all these movie people wanting to see the manuscript. The book, THERE GOES THE BRIDE, comes out this March.

WG:  What changed most about your life as a direct result of selling that first book?

LW:  Honestly, the biggest change was a personal one. Selling that first book, knowing that I could set a lofty goal and achieve it, gave me the courage to leave a bad marriage. That courageous act ending up bringing me the most wonderful man in the world. I’ve been so blessed. But none of this would have happened if I hadn’t taken those first tentative steps toward my dream.

WG:  What  about your writing process:  Do you maintain a set schedule?  Is there such a thing as a typical day for you?

LW:  I try to maintain as much of a schedule as I can. I was a night shift nurse for 20 years so I never got into the habit of getting up early. My normal writing schedule is to get up at nine a.m. and write until twelve. I write 10-15 pages in that time. Then I have the rest of the day to do business correspondence, speaking engagements, research, etc.

That’s on a normal writing day. Sometimes, because I write for two publishers and have tight deadlines, I end up having to write a book in two or three weeks. During those times, all bets are off. I write from the moment I get up to the time I go to bed with only short breaks. It’s a horrible schedule and I have a love/hate thing going on with that process. It’s exhilarating to write a book that fast, but it wears you out.

WG:  Do you set writing goals for yourself?

LW:  Oh yes. I always have. I set yearly, monthly, weekly and daily goals. I don’t always achieve them, but I do set them.

WG: Do you have a ‘mood setter’, something (music, ritual, environment, etc.) you use to get you going when you sit down to write?

Real Men Do It BetterLW:  No. I get out of bed and go at it. I take that back, I must have my diet Dr. Pepper first thing in the morning. <grin>. When I am in that frantic write-a-book-in-two-weeks-mode, I do listen to brain sync tapes or classical music to stimulate my creativity and keep me moving forward on the project.

WG:  Do you do a lot of up front plotting before you start or do you just dive in?

LW:  I am a reformed seat-of-the-pantzer and you know what they say about a reformed anything. Seriously, seat of the pantzing was incredibly painful for me but I didn’t know any other way to write. So I started learning plotting techniques. It’s made all the difference in the world for me.

WG:  Do you normally start with storyline or with character or with some combination of the two?

LW:  Usually I get an idea of a character in a particular situation. Lately, however, since I’ve started perfecting the high concept, I start with a marketable idea, and go in search of a character to fit it.

WG:  Do you find certain themes or character archetypes making recurring appearances in your stories.

LW:  I used to write a lot of caring nurturers when I was still nursing. Now I find myself drawn to more adventuresome heroines or heroines who are just finding their adventuresome sides. I’ve always been all about the heroine and her journey. The heroes were standard handsome hunks. But I’ve been listening to readers and realized most of readers don’t give two figs about the heroines, it’s all about the hero for them. I’ve been working harder to make my heroes more front and center.

My reoccurring themes seem to be about facing your fears or letting go of the past.

WG:  Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about your process?

LW: Basically that my process alters with every book. Sometimes it’s a small thing, sometimes it’s a big thing like utilizing a whole new technique. It doesn’t stay stagnant.

WG:  Do you have a favorite sub-genre as a writer?  As a reader?

LW:  I prefer a fast paced read. Mystery, suspense, adventure. I like to be on the edge of my seat.

WG:  Is there a genre you haven't been published in yet that you'd like to try your hand at someday?

Some Like It HotLW:  Yes, I want to write a straight suspense. And I’m working on a Young Adult novel—that’s gasp! Seat-of-my-pants.

WG:  Do you have any advice to offer writers still striving toward publication?

LW:  Don’t give up. Write every day, even if it’s only a paragraph. Realize that the journey to publication is usually a long one. Have fun along the way. It’s a process, not a race. And if you feel that if a publisher called you tomorrow and wanted to buy your book that it would be a magical fairytale come true, then you’re not working hard enough. By the time you get that call, you should feel like you darn well earned it, no magic involved.

WG:  Is there some piece of advice you received or bit of ‘conventional wisdom’ that you wish you had ignored?

LW:  Someone told me to write for Silhouette Romance because it was a great place to break in. I wrote for the line because of that reason, not because I loved those stories. Write what excites you. Don’t do it just because you think it will boost your chances of getting published. What will happen is that you’ll find yourself writing stories you don’t care about and soon enough your readers will figure that out and your sales will dip and you’ll get the boot.

WG:  What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about being a writer?  What do you struggle with the most?

LW:  Creating stories is the most wonderful thing. Especially when you have an ah-ha moment and figure out something that’s been escaping you.   My greatest struggle is with my own insecurities.

WG:  When you’re not writing, what do you do for fun? 

LW:  I’m a real foodie and I love to go shopping at those upscale grocery stores with all the fancy foods, spend too much money, come home and cook up something daring that ends up tasting sumptuous. Until I read Bet Me by Jenny Crusie I’d never had Chicken Marsala. Oh, gosh, I fell in love with it. Now I make it at least twice a month. (But I do a low-cal version.)

WG:  I love to collect quotes, all kinds of quotes - inspirational, quirky, motivational, profound, etc.  Do you have a personal favorite you'd like to share.

LW:  I picked this quote because it’s the central theme of my life and my novels:  

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”  --Theodore Roosevelt

WG:  Please tell us about your current project.

LW:  My current book THERE GOES THE BRIDE is out this month from Warner books. It’s the first book in the Wedding Veil Wishes series. It’s  The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants meets Bride magazine. Where four best friends share a magical wedding veil they find in a consignment shop.

Here’s the back cover blurb:

Legend claims this antique Irish wedding veil can grant your heart’s deepest desire.
But be careful what you wish for…

The moment Texas socialite Delaney Cartwright touches her veil, she knows she can’t go through with her wedding.  And it’s not just because she envisioned a stranger’s dark eyes and irresistible lips the second her fingers touched lace.  But she can’t simply call it off.  This wedding to her nice, predictable childhood friend is the social event of the season (not to mention her mother would freak).  So she hatches an escape plan:  she’ll hire her own kidnapper.  How hard could it be?  After all, she already had a practice run when she abducted her fiancé for a night of romance.  Okay, so she accidentally grabbed the wrong man.  It wasn’t her fault Detective Nick Vinetti with the sizzling and oddly familiar eyes had crossed her path—and looked game for all kinds of sexy fun.  Now, with an altar to avoid and a cop to dream on, this runaway bride is feeling for real—and hoping a little Irish magic will unveil the true destiny of her heart.

WG: Tell us about plans for future books.

LW: The second book in the Wedding Veil Wishes series, ONCE SMITTEN, TWICE SHY, is written and turned in but I don’t have a publication date for it yet.

I’ll have a book out from Harlequin Blaze in September 2007. It’s book #1 of a new series I’m doing with Carrie Alexander, Jamie Denton and Isabel Sharpe. The series is tentatively titled THE MARTINI DARES.

And I have another new series of my own coming out from Blaze in 2008. It’s Desperate Housewives meets Grey’s Anatomy. CONFIDENTIAL REJUVENATIONS is a hush-hush boutique hospital for the crème-de-la-crème on the banks of the Colorado River in Austin, Texas. There’s some strange goings on at the hospital and of course, lots of hot guys, strong women and steamy sex. 

WG: And before we close, tell us how your fans can get in touch with you.

LW: Write to me at