Spend a few moments on D. Renee Bagby’s website and you realize she’s as unique and interesting as her books. Her romances about magic, other dimensions and most importantly love, have gotten rave reviews. And, she’s graciously offered to give away two of her books!

Join me in welcoming D. Renee Bagby to the blog!

Tell us how you got started as a writer. Did you always want to be an author?
Good old-fashioned teenage angst. 😀

My parents had just gotten divorced and I was living with my mom and we were moving around every year so I didn’t have many friends. I stayed in my own head a lot, making up stories about being whisked away by some handsome prince from an alien culture who needed me to bring about their glorious golden era (hey, if you’re going to dream—dream big).

It got hard to remember the stories I made up and my homework at the same time (homework always lost) so I started writing them down. I have several notebooks from school (still) with lots of stories I had started. My teachers thought I was taking notes, so they left me alone.

My senior year of high school, I heard about a writing competition and decided I’d enter. I asked my past English teacher to beta-read/edit the story for me. She said she’d found it interesting and would love to read more. That was all the encouragement I needed. I didn’t make the contest deadline but I decided then and there to get something finished and published.

How long did it take for you to get published once you had the first book done?

I don’t remember the exact timing. I finished the book while my husband and I were still in California. I was so happy and it proved that I could actually finish, which was a major accomplishment for me.

I started researching NY publishers and found out I needed an agent, so I started looking for agents while doing revisions to my story. I ended up scraping pretty much all of the story and starting over. I finished it the second time after we’d moved to Maryland. A lady at my then day job did a beta read for me and she suggested, since I was having the usual trouble with agents, that I try ebooks, specifically Samhain Publishing.

As I said, I don’t remember exactly, but I think it was a year.

Can you tell us about “the call,” when you found out you’d sold your first book?

Continuing from what I already said, a co-worker and friend turned me on to Samhain Publishing. I agonized over the synopsis and blurb and the query letter and did as much research as I could on all of the above so I didn’t get rejected on a technicality.

I can give actual dates on this one because I still have the emails (they’re memorabilia. No way I’m deleting them):
– 19 April 2006, I submitted to Samhain Publishing
– 27 May 2006, (my hubby’s bday) I heard back from the submissions editor. She couldn’t offer a contract at that time because I had too much passive voice. BUT, she was willing to give it another looksie if I revised it.
– 22 July 2006, Resubmission after eliminating as much passive voice as I could, though I was a little lost on that at the time because I still didn’t quite understand passive voice and the internet didn’t help.
– 25 Sept 2006, Dancing on the ceiling commenced because I had gotten my welcome letter to Samhain Publishing.

Up until I’d heard back from the submissions editor, I wasn’t even sure someone other than me would like my story. My beta reader did, but she was only one person. And then I got that contract and I thought, ‘Gee, maybe other people will like it too’.

– 10 July 2007 – ADRIENNE was born into the publishing world.

What’s your writing schedule like?

I have no schedule. I write whenever I can find a spare moment—before bed, two seconds after I wake up, before work, during my breaks at work, after work, when I get home, etc. I bought a smartphone so I could have ready access to my current works-in-progress. It travels all around the house with me just in case I need to write something really quick while waiting for my food to cook. I want a mini (netbook) now just because the keys on my phone are too small when I start typing really fast. Not to mention, I don’t have to do as much just to type a simple single quote.

The length of time it takes me to write a book varies. Most of my stories are already started. As they tend to intertwine, I have bits of them written so I know how the stories come together. I don’t write from point A to point Z. I’ll start with point Z and then jump to point R, maybe visit a little at point B and then go on to point F. Also, I don’t always stick with one story until it’s finished, so I can’t really say how long one book takes. Factor in real life and measuring goes out the window.

You write under two names. Can you explain the differences?

D. Renee Bagby is my real name. I started off with just my real name and had no intention of having a pen name. When I started, I had my Multiverse—a series of seven alternate Earths I had created to house my stories. Each Earth has its own rules and history and cultures. Some are really similar to this reality, while others are so different that even the name of the planet changed. Creating my Multiverse gave my imagination some boundaries, which is essential or I’d be all over the place making my characters more and more out there as the story progressed.

But, my muse didn’t like the confines as much as I did. I came up with plots that didn’t fit the Multiverse. I didn’t want to scrap them but I didn’t want to make them conform either. So, Zenobia Renquist was born. Under that name are the random stories that don’t belong to the Multiverse. Some are series and some are stand alone.

Splitting my stories between two names also saves on confusion. I’ll never have to deal with people asking me if a particular book is part of the Multiverse or not. 🙂

What has surprised you most about being an author?

The amount of work that goes in to making a book successful. When I first started, I thought I would just hand off the book to the publisher after some editing and then go on to the next. Reality came up and smacked me in the face with query letters, synopses, marketing plans, and promotion.

I’ve managed to dodge the marketing plan, but I will have to write one eventually. It would be nice if I actually follow it as well. I’ve gotten better with synopsis writing (I think). I guess I still need a little more work with my query letters. And promotion is hit-or-miss no matter what—some things work for some and not others.

A forum I participated in at the beginning of my career imparted one truth that I always quote and pass on—‘writing the book is the easy part’. Given the amount of tumor and self-guessing and long hours that goes into actually writing a book, that statement is scary as hell and now I truly understand it.

What advice can you give aspiring writers?

Keep asking yourself (and your characters) ‘why?’. Pretend you’re that little kid who questions everything all the time and is never satisfied with the answers given.

‘Why’ is the one question word that will flesh out your book faster than anything else. Even if you don’t write out the reason in your story, knowing the answer helps you to understand your characters and makes writing them easier.

Question your plot, as well. Why did she do this instead of that? Why didn’t she just tell him? Making yourself explain and rationalize your plot will help you see it better. And if you can’t question yourself, find a helper that will. A sounding board or critique partner/beta reader is worth their weight in gold-pressed latinum.

What are you working on now? Can you give us a favorite line or blurb from your current work in progress?

I am working on a non-shifter dragon romance (and I wish I could see your face when you read that). Yup, he’s the size of a two-story house, he doesn’t shift, and the heroine is very human. I’m having fun with the dynamics of their relationship.

I have no blurb and I’m still at that phase where everything is my favorite line. But I hope to have it finished soon and then I can start excerpting parts of it.

Out of all of your books, do you have a favorite or a favorite character? Or…Which of your characters do you think is most like you and why?

*Gasp* Parents aren’t supposed to have favorites. 😛

Unfortunately, my favorite is always the current. I love all of my stories and would sit around reading the finished ones all day, every day if I hadn’t banned myself from doing it just because I would spend all day, every day reading them.

Likewise, my favorite character is always the hero of my current work-in-progress. I let myself get emotionally involved with all my books just so the emotions are more real. It makes my husband’s life interesting when he catches hell because I’m ticked off with my current hero because of something he did to the heroine… or didn’t do.

All my heroines carry a piece of me. I can’t help but give them some personality trait that I can relate to thus making it easier for me to write them. It’s up to the reader to figure out what actually belongs to me though.

Where can we find you on the web?

Website – http://dreneebagby.com/ and http://zenobiarenquist.com
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/dreneebagby
Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/dreneebagby
Blog – http://dreneebagby.blogspot.com/

What do you do when you’re not writing? Any Hobbies?

As sad as it may sound, writing is my career and my hobby. I get a perverse kick out of torturing my characters. It’s great stress relief. When I’m not doing that, I read comics and manga. I’m an anime-aholic and I love Japanese culture.
Thanks to D. Renee Bagby for stopping by.
Remember to leave a comment and email addy! D. Renee is giving away two books. First winner picked will get her/his choice of one book. Second winner gets whatever is left over. Winners will be announced on Tuesday!