I got to sit down with Sophia Ryan to chat writing, inspiration and her new release, A Cowboy’s Forgiveness! Check out her short post and interview below!
Sometimes we choose our path. Sometimes we stumble into it. I’m of the latter group, as far as writing novels goes.
Growing up, I read, but only if there wasn’t something more fun to do. I wrote, but only if I had to. All that changed my second year in college. Not because of all the textbooks I had to read or all the papers I had to write, but because of a Harlequin romance novel.
I was home on winter break and was bored, bored, bored and (cough, cough) missing my boyfriend. After surfing through 157 channels, twice, and still finding nothing on, in desperation I rifled through my mom’s bookcase. Nothing caught my eye, but my hand seemed mysteriously drawn to a slim paperback with a red spine. I pulled it out.
The sexy half-naked cowboy on the cover locked eyes with me. I probably snickered at the cheesiness of his bare, bronzed, buff chest, the monster bulge straining the zipper of his tight and faded jeans, and the grin on his hottie-oh-my-goddie face, but I didn’t put him back on the shelf. Instead, I curled up with him on the couch in the only spot of sun and read all about his passion, his flaws, his fears, and his love for the only woman in the world who could fill the empty spot in his heart. By the time I’d turned the last page, sighed, and closed the book, I had fallen in love. More than that, I had experienced a metamorphosis—I was a fan of romance novels.
You’ve heard the saying, you are what you eat? Well, my consumption of romances from that point on rewired me, and soon stories were growing inside me, pushing to get out, but I wasn’t sure how to make it happen. The “how” presented itself the following semester when I signed up for a “writing the magazine article” class. The assignment was to write an article for one of the magazines on the professor’s list. The magazine I chose was True Love.
My professor liked my article/story and encouraged me to submit it for publication. I did. They bought it. And I found myself staring down the mouth of a new and exciting path.
I changed my major from computer science (really, what was I thinking?!) to professional writing. My professors commented on my “good voice and unique writing style.” I’m still not sure whether it was a compliment, but I took it as such and kept going. I also kept writing short stories, selling almost everything I wrote.
After I graduated, I joined the rank and file as a corporate writer-editor. I got married. I changed jobs. Several times. I had a child. And I kept writing. I put myself through grad school on the money I made from writing short stories.
In all that time, I never thought I had it in me to write a book. When one of my long short stories (a tad over 25,000 words) was rejected for being too long and too sexy, I didn’t know what else to do with it, so I kept adding to it. Soon it was about 50,000 words.
It was a book! I had written a book! Not just “a book,” mind you, but a “masterpiece,” one filled with enough love and angst and sex to rival the Shakespeare of modern romance herself (Nora Roberts, of course). And what else does one do with a masterpiece but offer it up to the publishing gods?
Raise your hand if you know what’s coming.
Yep, I got the big R. And not just once, but again and again. And again.
But I didn’t give up, and my precious little reject finally found a home. The publisher and I christened it Hot Summer Fling. (I used the pseudonym Toni Zuma because I didn’t want my grandmother to see it and know that her sweet little doodlebug knew that much about S-E-X.)
My journey to publication was painful but enlightening. I learned so much, and it did get easier every time I attempted it. Today, I’ve had seven books published:
Hot Summer Fling
She Likes It Irish
Dirty Little Secret (In The Bad Boy’s Bed)
6 Days of You
Sin City Alibi
A Cowboy’s Forgiveness
I now live full time in the camp of those writers who say, I can’t NOT write. Even if I never sold another book, I’d still write. It’s part of who I am. It’s on my list of things-that-must-be-done-everyday, like brushing my teeth, flossing, eating, exercising. I love it, and I love the satisfying feeling of knowing I’m on the right path for me.
What about you? How did you end up on the writing path? Leave a comment below, with your email address, for a chance to win a pdf copy of A Cowboy’s Forgiveness.
When did you realize or decide you wanted to be a writer?
Not until college, when I wrote an article for True Love Magazine for my class on writing the magazine article. It was accepted, and I’ve been writing stories since.
What has been your best experience as an author so far?
After my book, She Likes It Irish, came out, I received a few fan letters from readers who loved the book. That’s when I realized people were actually reading my books. Which meant, of course, that I was an author.
What sort of challenges have you faced as a writer? How did you overcome them?
My first big challenge was to grow a thicker skin. My book, Dirty Little Secret, was actually born as a published novella called In The Bad Boy’s Bed. It got some good reviews, but several readers dissed it big time for letting my two main characters — both 18-year-olds — have a loving, consensual, monogamous sexual relationship.
One reviewer said she’d rather her daughter read about teens dealing with drug abuse and violent situations than about them having sex. It hurt that people thought I was some kind of pervert for writing about a teen couple having sex. The book wasn’t even all about sex! Anyway, I’ve learned a lot from that situation, and no longer let negative reviews get to me. I read them, and if there’s something I can learn from them to make my next book better, I note it. Otherwise, I brush it off as being that the book wasn’t a good fit for that reader.
How do you research and plan your books? Do you find outlining helps or hinders your process?
It all starts with an idea. I build the plot in my head, then I start writing. I research as I need to for certain sections. I don’t outline.
Have you learned anything really cool or interesting while researching your books? What’s been the weirdest research you’ve ever had to do?
For my latest book, A Cowboy’s Forgiveness, I watched a YouTube video on a cow giving birth to a calf to see what it looks like. For Only Forever, I researched magic spells, archaeology, and Ireland. Every book I write has some amount of research to give it authenticity.
Of all of your own characters, who would you most want to date?
I love all my male characters, but I fell head over heels for Ian McCanna, Only Forever. I described him as having “an easy, terminally wild confidence about him that said he was serious about fun and pleasure and had the scars to prove it.” He’s the kind of guy who makes you feel like you’re racing on a fast-moving cloud high in the atmosphere where you can’t breathe but you never want to come back down to earth.
What project are you currently working on?
I just released A Cowboy’s Forgiveness, so I’ve moved on to a new story about an OR nurse who goes to her mountain cabin to get over the death of her husband and gets snowed in with an undercover FBI agent who’s pretending to be part of a drug cartel to bring it down. I’m about 20,000 words in.
Find Sophia on Facebook – Twitter – Goodreads or at SophiaRyan.webs.com!
About the book!
Tell us a little about your new release, A Cowboy’s Forgiveness!
A Cowboy’s Forgiveness is a sexy, second-chance, secret-baby love story filled with hope, heat, and heart. It’s set in a small ranching/farming town in eastern New Mexico.
Charleigh Simms is shocked to hear she’s inherited her late husband’s family ranch. More shocking are the strings attached to it—spend a year learning the ropes from the cowboy who broke her heart six years ago. But to secure her son’s future, there’s nothing she won’t do. Even risk having her heart broken again.
For six years, Josh Flores has worked hard to get over Charleigh’s betrayal. Now she’s back in town and needs him to help her and her son hold on to the ranch they’ve inherited. In exchange, he gets a chunk of change and a valuable piece of land. But every interaction with Charleigh and the boy has him hoping for more—to be a permanent part of their lives. All he has to do is find a way to forgive her.
Love between them grows stronger every day, but when the secrets come out, even love might not be enough to earn a cowboy’s forgiveness.
Where did your inspiration for the book come from?
My dad grew up on a ranch in a small community, I like cowboys, and I like second-chance/secret-baby romances. The story just came together.
Did you outline the story, or dive right in?
I don’t outline, really, at least the typical way. But I work out a lot of details in my head before I start writing and as I go. I think this method probably prolongs the time to complete a book, but it works for me.
“Don’t fuck with me, Charleigh.” Josh kept his voice to a low whisper. “I promise, you won’t like the results. I’m no longer the gullible boy you had wrapped around your little finger.”
His harsh tone cracked her reverie like a fist to an eggshell, and though it took every ounce of will she could muster to stand her ground against him, she leaned back at the waist to face his hard stare. The subtle move thrust her pelvis against his, and she swore she felt the bulge between his legs harden. The surprising reaction shot an arrow of lust and power through her.
“Believe me, Josh, fucking with you is the last thing I want to do. And by the way… it’s Mrs. Simms to you.”
His eyes and face drew even harder. For a split second, he looked like he was going to slam his mouth onto hers in a punishing kiss that would make her regret crossing him and make her body and soul bend to his will. But then he dropped his hands to his sides and stepped back.
“Have it your way, Mrs. Simms.” He said the name like it left a bad taste in his mouth. “Today. Monday morning you’d better be ready when I get here at seven. If you’re not, you can pack your bags, and you and the boy can go back to whatever hell you came from, because I’m not going to waste my time if you’re unwilling to me meet me halfway.”
He spun away from her and stormed toward the door. She couldn’t hold her tongue on a final stinging retort.
“Pull off those shitkickers the next time you come into my house, Flores. I’m not here to clean up your messes.” Charleigh stayed on her feet until she heard the screen door slam shut, then she stumbled to the table and dropped heavily into one of the chairs.
Read more on Amazon or at Wild Rose Press!