Hello world! Today I’m honored to share a moment with award winning and great author Hebby Roman.
Grab a cup of coffee or your favorite beverage as we talk about her road to writing and Hebby’s new release BORDER ROMANCE. Border Romance is one of seven entertaining stories in A COWBOY TO KEEP.
Good Morning, Western Romance Fans,
I’d like to thank Devon for offering to host our boxed set collection of contemporary western romances, A COWBOY TO KEEP, by spotlighting each of our authors on her awesome site, “Devon McKay’s Chat Stew.”
Devon has posed various questions for me to answer so readers can get to know me better. I hope you have as much fun reading my answers as I did writing them. Here goes:
- Did you always want to be a writer?
I must have because I remember being a voracious reader from the third grade of full-length novels. I loved the Black Stallion series and CALL OF THE WILD. And at ten years old, I wrote a one-hundred-page book about a girl who tames a wild mustang. I even did research about wild mustangs in Glacier National Park and set the book there—good ole encyclopedia research. We didn’t have Google then. LOL By the time I entered high school, I had read all the classics, though “Moby Dick” was tough sledding. Of course, I loved Austen and the Bronte sisters. Summary answer, I started writing because I loved to read. I still read a lot, it’s my go-to relaxation activity, and I don’t understand writers who say they can’t read anymore because they’re constantly editing in their head. I just let it go and enjoy the ride!
- What was your journey to become a writer like?
My husband brought home a romance by Catherine Coulter, and I fell in love with the romance genre, and like so many aspiring writers, I believed I could write a romance, too. But at first, I was so afraid of writing dialogue that all I did was an outline for the book. 😊 Then I took a creative writing course at my local university and plunged in. I knew some fellow authors in the area, and I joined Romance Writers of American and began attending local chapter meetings, learning about the craft of writing. At my first National RWA conference, I had an agent appointment and when I pitched my book, which was set in Puerto Rico with Latino characters, the agent told me Kensington was looking to do a multi-cultural line. The agent took me on and submitted BETRAYED, the second romance I’d written. Kensington bought it, but they took three years to bring it out! I stayed with Kensington for several years and sold them ten books. Unfortunately, they were restrictive about what I could write. Due to Kensington’s restrictions and family considerations, I quit writing professionally for twelve years. I got back into writing a few years ago because of the lure of writing what I wanted in our new digital world. I rewrote several of my Kensington books and had them professionally edited and self-published them. For my new book (at the time), a medieval romance, I shopped it around and signed with The Wild Rose Press. So, now I’m what is called a “hybrid author,” publishing independently and with TWRP.
- What do you find to be the most difficult challenges in writing?
How about everything? But for me, nowadays, promotion is the big bugaboo. It’s so tough in this new digital world to know what works and what doesn’t. I always feel like I’m doing the wrong thing or not enough. If you’re talking about the “craft of writing,” I have to say I was and still am “freaked out” at how hard it is. It never gets any easier—you just go up a level and then another and another and … You just keep learning more and more, getting deeper into characterization and effective ways of showing rather than telling your story, down to certain body movements that give emotional cues, as well as subtext, where your characters don’t really say what they mean, but the reader gets “it” anyway. Always more and better ways to learn to write. For me, I doubt I will ever say I’ve mastered the craft.
- How do you come up with your ideas for a book? What comes first—the plot or the characters?
This is a tough question, as sometimes, I get the concept for the basic story or plot. My first published book, BETRAYED, I specifically wanted to be a Puerto Rican “Gone with the Wind” and set it during the time Puerto Rico revolted from Spain. The basic plotline had to be an arranged marriage with the heroine loving her childhood friend, and I had to show the two men in her life as being on opposite sides in the revolution. For my medieval romance, THE PRINCESS AND THE TEMPLAR, I wanted to do a medieval “Thornbirds” concept, with the man being restricted by his vow of celibacy. I didn’t want to tread on religious ground and use a monk or friar, so I researched and learned about the Templars (I did this before Dan Brown’s “Da Vinci Code” and I can tell you there wasn’t much about Templars out there then).
On the other hand, characters come to me in bits and pieces, some of them share traits with me, others are completely opposite of how I am. I use character traits from family members and friends, and I try to have my heroine/hero on the opposite end of the emotional spectrum to heighten the conflict. In THE BEST BET, I crafted a very closed-off heroine who had been raised by an ambitious immigrant father because she lost her mother when she was young. In the companion book, THE BEST GAME, I wanted to write about a small-city girl from San Antonio who went to New York and was a successful fashion model, but she learns to hate her occupation because New York relationships revolve around her being “arm candy” for rich and powerful men. So, she gives up her success and money, returns to San Antonio to attend college, and falls in love with the boy next door. In short, I’m all over the place with plots and characters, and they usually come to me in pieces, and I just keep fleshing them out and going deeper into my characters.
- How many stories have you published?
Only 16 if you count BORDER ROMANCE in this anthology. But as I mentioned before, since I returned to writing, I’ve re-published 8 of my originally New York published romances. And when I redid them, I rewrote large chunks and cut certain scenes out and added scenes, so it seems like I’ve written more—not to mention that my first four historical romances exceeded 100,000 words each.
- What is one of your favorite stories you’ve written or published?
This is a trick question. Right? I know I’m supposed to say BORDER ROMANCE. Right? And I did enjoy writing it, especially adding the suspense element. But I have to say my most favorite story (as of today) is, LUANN AND THE LATIN LOVER, #3 in my Snowbird Series, which are “seasoned romances” or romances with couples who are over forty. I’m partial to seasoned romances (BORDER ROMANCE is one, too), and I guess I also like “LuAnn” because it’s the “grittiest” romance I’ve ever written, tackling subjects such as children born out of wedlock and even drug addiction. The blurb goes like this:
“LuAnn Sparks and Joaquin Sandoval were childhood friends—but not on equal terms—Joaquin’s parents worked for LuAnn’s wealthy family.
LuAnn marries the son of her parents’ best friends and lives the life of a privileged society matron. But when her husband retires and they move to south Texas, tragedy strikes. LuAnn loses her husband and their money. Trying to piece her life back together, she moves into an RV Park and discovers her sexy new neighbor is Joaquin.
Joaquin grows up to be a bad-boy, Harley-riding rebel with a raw talent for golf. But when he realizes he’s not good enough to turn pro, he gets into trouble and drifts until he creates an invention that makes him an overnight millionaire. Despite his success, an unexpected tragedy takes the life of his fiancée. Now he’s determined to obtain custody of his eight-year-old daughter.
Between the sheets, they’re perfect for each other, but otherwise, they’re as different as chalk and cheese. Can an up-tight socialite and a tattooed-biker find a forever-after-kind of love and forge a new family together?”
- How do you come up with your titles?
Kind of like my characters—they come from everywhere, from sound-alike movie titles, from other author’s titles (I shouldn’t admit this), titles of songs, a saying, etc. Sometimes, the plot or the characters give me the idea for the title. And my first four long historical romances were given their titles by my publisher, Kensington. I wanted to call TEMPT FORTUNE, one of those first four, THE WEDDING WAGER, but another one of their authors had just released a book with that title. It’s hard but fun, coming up with titles. I’m kinda proud of the #2 Snowbird book title, ESMERALDA AND THE SECOND-HAND SUITOR. I thought a lot about that one a lot. LOL
- Do you have any words of advice for a new writer?
First, please refer to my answer in #3 about learning your craft as a writer. And then I would say to remember that writing is a journey. As my answer in #3 hints, don’t expect to master writing overnight. It takes a long, long time and lots and lots of practice. And the more you write, the better you get. Just like anything else you want to master or get good at—it takes practice, practice, and more practice.
- When it comes to food or desserts, name at least one of your guilty pleasures?
Short answer—chocolate, anything chocolate, especially chocolate mousse!
- What is your most favorite movie?
- This one is easy—“Charade” with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. It has just the right amount of romance, suspense, and mystery, along with lots of action and very smart dialogue. Not to mention such a good-looking heroine and hero. I could watch that movie a million times and not get tired of it!
Blurb for BORDER ROMANCE
When Leticia Villarreal, a lonely widow, considers adding Quarter horse racing to her ranch, she finds she has a lot to learn. John Clay Laidlaw, a millionaire rancher and old acquaintance, races Quarter horses and offers to help. But he also cares for her and wants a relationship. Remembering his high-handed tactics when they were young, she doesn’t trust him. But when someone tries to harm her horses and John Clay rushes to her rescue, can she open her heart to him?
Excerpt for BORDER ROMANCE
John Clay swung back into the saddle and said, “You might think that calf is stupid but compared to sheep, she’s a virtual Einstein.”
Leticia threw back her head and laughed.
“But why cattle?” He asked. “I thought your ranch was all about horses?”
“Yes, this is a horse ranch. The cattle are just a sideline. We don’t keep a bull, but for some of the better-bred heifers, we use our neighbor’s Angus bull. Keeps the herd young. We cull the older ones and sell them, of course.”
“I’m surprised you bother.” He inclined his head toward the ranch house. “Must keep you busy, considering you said you’re short-handed.”
“Oh, that, it’s only temporary.” She removed her Stetson and wiped her arm across her brow. The spring day was heating up. “We need the cattle to properly train our horses. Our charro horses are our pride and joy, but we’re just getting back into them. Mostly, we train working Quarter horses, and you can’t train a cutting horse or calf-roping horse without cows.” She pursed her lips.
He slapped the side of his head. “Stupid of me. I wasn’t thinking. I’m all about sheep, except for my racing stable.”
She laughed again. “Hey, don’t get overwrought and knock your hat off.”
“Yeah.” He grinned and shook his head. “Kinda silly.”
And how right she was, he was acting like a goofy middle-schooler, just being around her. “So, your manpower shortage is temporary. Does that mean I won’t usually find you rounding up cattle?”
“No, not usually. I always have plenty of paperwork to keep me from riding out. But today has been a nice break.”
“I like the mare you’re riding; she’s a good-looking horse.”
“Why, thank you, Mr. Laidlaw, how nice of you to say.” She patted her horse’s neck. “Yep, Pearl is a sweetie. Rusty and Camila brought her back from Ponder last year, and she was so good at everything, we couldn’t make up our minds how to train her, cutting horse or calf-roping or…”
She’d moved ahead to a thicket of live oak and ducked her head under a low-lying branch. “My mare, Sally, was getting old, so I decided to keep Pearl for myself.”
He followed her into the thicket, staying behind her horse to navigate the rough, one-horse trail through the trees and undergrowth.
She cleared the thicket and stopped, waiting for him. He could see the ranch house ahead. He drew alongside her. “At least you have the grass for horses and cows. My ranches only support sheep. We keep some milk cows for the ranch hands, but other than that, it’s mostly mesquite and cactus and patchy prairie grass on my spreads.”
She raised up in her stirrups. “Yes, Eduardo chose well. This land is fertile, and we irrigate some, using Las Moras creek to grow our own hay.”
She gathered her reins and smoothed them, half-turning toward him. “But I can’t wait to show you my new charro horse foal. Midnight Princess just threw a beautiful colt a couple of weeks’ ago.”
“I won’t say no to seeing one of your charro horses. I remember how talented Eduardo’s horses were. I was sorry when I heard you’d quit breeding them for a time.”
John Clay gazed at Leticia, and he thought he could see the faintest glimmer of moisture on her eyelashes. It was obvious she was still grieving for Eduardo? Where did that leave him?
She dropped her head and fidgeted with her reins, smoothing the long ends. “Yes, Eduardo was magic with the horses.” She bit her lip.
He wished he was the one biting her lip, her neck, and lower…
Hebby Roman Biography
Hebby Roman is a New York traditionally published, small-press published, and Indie published #1 Amazon best-selling author of both historical and contemporary romances. Her first contemporary romance, SUMMER DREAMS, was the launch title for Encanto, a print line featuring Latino romances. And her re-published e-book, SUMMER DREAMS, was #1 in Amazon fiction and romance. Her medieval historical romance, THE PRINCESS AND THE TEMPLAR, was selected for the Amazon Encore program and was #1 in medieval fiction. She was selected for the Romantic Times “Texas Author” award, and she won a national Harlequin contest. Her book, BORDER HEAT, was a Los Angeles Times Book Festival selection. Her contemporary romance, TO DANCE AGAIN, was a 2016 RONE Finalist.
You can find Hebby Roman at the following sites: