Meet This Author: Melinda Curtis

Q: You mentioned you write both as a traditional and indie published writer. Tell us, readers, about your experiences as both.

Writing for one of the big publishing houses is like taking a meal order from Meg Ryan’s character in When Harry Met Sally – you need to write what they want and edit to their preferences. The publishing house mostly knows their audience and what they want to read, down to how they want the book packaged (mass, max, trade paper, hardcover, audio) and what the cover looks like. I come up with an idea that fits their guidelines and they handle the marketing and sales.

I might not have ever started writing for myself if not for being “orphaned” from Harlequin a long time ago. I was writing Superromances while working full time. Over 9 books, I had 5 different editors due to promotions, attrition, new job assignments, etc. Basically, I had no one watching out for me. A new editor came into Superromance and wanted to bring in 8-10 of her own authors she was comfortable working with. I was one of the authors they chose to let go. Having come from a business background, I recognized this was a business decision more than anything (and Harlequin has since asked me back to the fold). But that change gave me the chance to stop and say to myself, “What do I want to write?” No guidelines. No target. And so, I experimented with heat levels, humor, depth of emotion, setting, age of characters, etc. I learned where my voice resonated with readers and what I loved to write. What someone else might have found to be a disaster, I molded into a growth experience. And now, I approach my indie writing more the way a traditional publishing house would – what does my target like to read from me. I have several avenues to write, all in the sweet/clean arena – emotional/gripping women’s fiction, more lighthearted romance, and romcoms.

Q: What propels you into writing contemporary romance novels?

I love reading historical and fantasy romance. However, the research and world creation don’t appeal to me. That led me to contemporary romance.

Q: What are some common themes that readers can find in your books?

I love to write about characters who’ve made mistakes in the past and are on a journey of redemption. These mistakes aren’t always made on purpose, and they aren’t all life-or-death situations. But I believe we can all relate to a moment in our past we’d like to have a do-over for, something that if given a chance we’d do differently, something we can’t seem to forget. Not that I don’t write about other types of characters, but I do seem to be drawn to that particular theme.

Q: How would you describe your writing style?

There’s always something humorous, no matter if I’m writing women’s fiction, contemporary romance or romcoms. The humor varies, obviously. But that’s something that gets me excited to sit down and write.

Q: What other projects are you working on that you can share with us, readers?

I’m launching a new series for Harlequin this year about men who grew up as fosters at the Done Roamin’ Ranch. They were taught how to be cowboys and rodeo competitors. Look for the Cowboy Academy debuting February 2023.

Q: What other genre would you try writing in besides contemporary romance and writing craft books? 

I’ve drafted out two different cozy mystery series and am hoping to write that in 2024. I usually plan my writing schedule 18 months ahead.

Q: Tell us, readers, about your novel, Dandelion Wishes

Dandelion Wishes is a story of redemption. A woman was driving her best friend home after a weekend in Las Vegas. Her mind drifted and they were in a car accident. It’s her journey to forgiveness, not just with her best friend and her family, but of self-forgiveness.

Q: Will Dandelion Wishes by a standalone or part of a series? 

Dandelion Wishes is Book 1 in the Love in Harmony Valley series. Harmony Valley is a small town in a remote corner of Sonoma County, California. Years ago, the grain mill (the largest employer in town) exploded and closed. Jobs dried up and folks under retirement age moved away. Now about to turn into a ghost town, three men who grew up in Harmony Valley return to save it, although not everyone wants change. There are charming Victorians, conversations on front porches, and retirees who have strong opinions about change and can’t resist meddling (my comic relief). There’s a romance in each book as younger people come seeking a fresh start.

Q: Who are the main characters in Dandelion Wishes?

Emma Willoughby, an artist who’s been blocked since the car accident. And Will Jackson, Emma’s best friend’s older brother, Emma’s childhood crush, and one of the men who want to save Harmony Valley.

Q: Which of your novels that you have published so far, has become your most favorite? 

I have many books I’m fond of (and some that fought me to “The End” – grrr). I had so much fun writing Can’t Hurry Love (a small town romcom where a young widow discovers her dead husband was cheating on her and sets out to identify his lover). Christmas at the Sleigh Café sticks with me because it’s so sweet (a first person, lighthearted, small town romance with a Christmas card twist on You’ve Got Mail). I’m truly in love with Book 2 in the Love in Harmony Valley series – A Small Town Second Chance. And one of the first romcoms I wrote – A Kiss is Just a Kiss – is just a fun romp with characters reads love.

Q: How many novels have you published so far?

I’ve sold or published over 75 books. I’m currently taking some down, rewriting to update for readers nowadays, adding more scenes, recovering, and putting back up for sale. That’s the joy (ha!) of being an indie author, knowing when to refresh your work.

Q: What is your advice to aspiring writers in the contemporary romance genre?

Think about what you enjoy rather than chasing trends. Think about what your dream writing career would look like. Is it writing for a traditional publishing house? Or doing your own thing indie? No matter what it looks like, set yourself up for success. That said, writing is a craft, so study a lot and write a lot to hone your craft. If you do, the writing will be easier. And finally, those writers who make a living writing work hard. For 99.9% of us, it’s not a get rich quick career. Best of luck!

Author’s Bio:

USA Today bestselling author Melinda Curtis has written and sold over 70 titles, mostly contemporary romance, but including two writing craft books. Working both traditionally and as an indie, Melinda writes sweet romance, women’s fiction, and sweet romantic comedies. One of her romances – Dandelion Wishes – was made into a 2020 TV movie – Love in Harmony Valley – starring Amber Marshall.

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