Georgia Beers and Carsen Taite share all their secrets:
GEORGIA: We've been friends for a while, and we've been writing for about the same length of time. I know you are an attorney and you used to practice law, but as I was thinking up questions for you, it occurred to me that I have no idea how you made the move from law to writing. I apologize if this is something you've talked about a million times, but can you tell me how that came about?
How do I not know this about you? I'm embarrassed!
CARSEN: Stop it! The transition took a while, and to be honest, I didn't really see it coming. I've had a bunch of different careers in my life (school teacher, insurance adjuster, marketing lead, etc.), but I'd always get antsy, looking for The Thing. Law seemed like it. Practicing criminal defense was fun and interesting and unique. And then, back in 2007, I decided to write a book. It was a lifetime goal kind of thing because from the time I was a kid, being a writer was thing I most wanted to be but had never thought could be it for a variety of reasons. Anyway, I wrote a bunch of books while practicing law, and eventually found I could have a better experience practicing fictional law in the pages of my books than I was having doing the real thing.
GEORGIA: Of course! Because you're in charge of the outcome in a book. Not so much in an actual courtroom, I imagine…
CARSEN: For sure! Although, I think my time in the courtroom prepared me for being a total pantser when it comes to writing.
GEORGIA: Ha! I bet it did! Have you used actual real-life cases in your books? (Can you do that? Maybe pieces of them? Ideas from them?)
CARSEN: Absolutely. I once wound up as a witness for the prosecution in a murder case, and I used that experience as the basis for Nothing but the Truth. Of course, I had to change of a lot of the facts, not because they were privileged, but because no one would believe the true story.
GEORGIA: OMG, that's amazing! I want to know the true story, but I also know that's not what we're here to talk about. But I want to know the true story!!!
CARSEN: An extra dirty martini will get me to spill.
Okay, my turn. You've been writing so long that most people probably think you sprung from the womb with a finished manuscript in your hand. I feel like I should know this, but what got you started on your writing journey?
GEORGIA: I will hold you to that. One extra dirty martini, coming up!
I have been writing for most of my life. When I look back, I realize that. My mom still has my old report cards and there's one from second grade that makes two telltale statements: "Georgia loves to tell stories" and "Georgia spells above her grade level." :) Words have always been my thing. My grandfather was a huge fan of crossword puzzles, so I come by that love of words honestly. I loved every English class I ever took. Words love me. Numbers hate me. Math was the bane of my existence in school. I wrote short stories as a teenager. I journaled. Then fan fiction came along, and I found that to be an amazing tool for honing my writing skills because the characters were already developed. I wrote fan fiction for Xena, ER, The X-Files, and Law and Order SVU. And then when some of the small lesbian presses formed, I was able to jump in on the ground floor.
CARSEN: I love that you wrote fan fiction. Is it still available anywhere if someone wanted to check it out?
GEORGIA: In all honesty, I have no idea. Probably. :) Things on the internet never die.
CARSEN: Challenge accepted! What number book are you currently writing—number 24?
GEORGIA: I believe my work in progress is number 25. A milestone! You're not far behind me, though, right? Where are you? 22?
CARSEN: I'm laughing, because I often have to open my last book and count the titles in the front to figure out where I am. :) 25 is most definitely a milestone. I'm currently working on number 24, so I'm right behind you. What's the biggest change you've seen in the industry since you started writing for you as an author and in the publishing world at large?
GEORGIA: I have to do the same thing! I only knew the answer to your question because I literally counted them yesterday. LOL!
Uh-oh, you're gonna catch me! The biggest change…good question. I think, overall, it's been the incredible growth in the lesfic arena, and I mean that in so many ways. We started out with, what? Maybe four or five presses? Some of which are gone now. But I have no idea how many there are now…many more, with new ones appearing all the time. The different formats. When I wrote my first book, ebooks were barely a thing. Now we have print, ebooks, and audiobooks. So many ways to read! The sheer volume of authors writing lesfic now is amazing and so uplifting! When I started, there were a couple dozen of us. Now there are hundreds and hundreds and new writers every day. There's so much out there now for readers to choose from. It's a beautiful thing.
CARSEN: It is definitely a beautiful thing. I remember hanging out at the many bookstores we had back in the day and being disappointed that I'd already read all the titles on the shelf. I miss the bookstores, but I'm happy to say that I have more books stacked around my house than I have time to read. I love being surrounded by good reads and knowing I have something to look forward to.
GEORGIA: Oh, me too! There's something about being surrounded by books, isn't there?
It feeds the soul.
What's the most interesting part of the lesfic world to you? (That's kind of a vague question, I know, but I wondered.)
CARSEN: The most interesting thing in the lesfic world to me is how we think it's small and it's not small at all! I learn this over again every time I attend a new event. Remember ClexaCon this year and how many new readers we met? Not necessarily new readers, but readers we'd never met before? This happens to me every time I work a booth at a Pride festival. It always amazes me how far the reach is and how many people all over the world read our work. Humbling.
GEORGIA: Agreed 100%.
Okay, so you have written both romance and romantic intrigue. I'm curious which one you prefer to write and why, as well as which one you prefer to read and why.
CARSEN: Confession: I'd rather read a romance than a romantic intrigue. Give me a stack of Melissa Brayden, Georgia Beers, Aurora Rey (I could go on for a while here), all about the love stories, and I'm in heaven. I'm not sure which genre I prefer to write. I really enjoy the puzzle of the romantic suspense, but there are challenges because often the conflict that drives the plot keeps the characters apart, and you need to see them together to fuel the chemistry in order to get your happily ever after. I'm enjoying what I'm doing now, which is going back and forth between the two genres. How about you? What's your favorite genre to read?
GEORGIA: Interestingly, I didn't really read romance for a long time. I'd read one here and one there, but I've always been a thriller/suspense girl, even after I started writing romance. I'm not really sure what did it, but I slowly started to pick up romances (both lesbian and mainstream) and now they're part of my regular routine. I still read thrillers/suspense, but I also read lots of romance as well. It makes my heart happy.
I mean, who doesn't want to fall in love, right?
CARSEN: That begs the question of how you started writing romance. And yes, absolutely.
GEORGIA: Oh, that's a fun story. I was reading a lesbian romance way, way back. I honestly don't even remember what it was or who the author was, but I do remember that it was…not good. I slogged through the whole thing anyway (there wasn't a lot to choose from twenty years ago, so I couldn't be picky), and when I finished, I looked at my partner and said, "I could've written that better." She studied me for a moment, then asked, "So…what's the difference between you and that author?" I looked at her with a sheepish grin and responded, "Um…she wrote a book?" Ding! Ding! Ding! And the next week, I sat down and began writing Turning the Page.
CARSEN: I love this story! How long did it take you to write Turning the Page and what are a couple of things that have changed about your process since then, other than the fact you now write full time?
GEORGIA: Hmm…trying to remember. I had another job back then, so those were the days of stealing writing time wherever and whenever you could. I'd say maybe six to eight months? The biggest change for me has been my speed, how fast I can write (I am currently on a three-books-a-year schedule). And honestly, it's not that I somehow sped up, it's the I realized I had it in me to do so. I think that also came with the realization that this was going to be my career, that I wanted it to be how I made my living, and therefore, I started looking at it from both a business standpoint as well as a creative one. And if I was going to do that, I had to be more disciplined in how I worked. I couldn’t sit and wait for the writing bug to strike. I had to make it strike. I slowly upped my word goal each day until I got to a place that felt productive. I remember seeing Nora Roberts give a talk once and they asked her how many words she writes in a day. She said roughly 2,000–2,500. When I realized I wasn't that far behind her, I knew I was on the right path.
What about you? You've been writing almost as long as I have. What's changed for you and how you do things?
CARSEN: You are a writing beast and I want to be you when I grow up. I've been writing half as long as you, missy, and there are days that I still feel like I'm getting the hang of it. Back when I was practicing law full time, I would steal minutes whenever I could find them, and I still stay portable and open to writing in smaller bits of time. But the best thing I've done during my career is to learn what successful writers do and do whatever that is. It's one of the main reasons, besides our friendship, that I enjoy our daily check-ins about word count. If I can hang in there with Georgia Beers, I must be doing something right!
GEORGIA: Hahaha! You flatter me! And that's something that you do that I have yet to master: the writing small chunks in tiny windows of time. I am terrible at that. I think it's because I'm a very routine person and if I'm not at my desk in the morning, my whole equilibrium feels thrown off (which is only in my head, I know). I envy that you can do that.
I'm trying to write at different times of the day, and I do try to take advantage of things like plane flights and waiting rooms, but I'm not great at any of it. Yet.
CARSEN: You'll get there and someday I'll be able to sit at my desk and churn out your word counts without interrupting myself a million times for other shiny objects.
GEORGIA: Distraction is a problem, isn't it? And I love our check-ins. I love how simple they are. Check in in the morning. Here's my goal. Go, us. Report in when writing is done. It's very cool how much it actually helps.
CARSEN: There are days I write only because I know you're going to check in with me. Simple and so effective!
Shall we wrap this up by talking about our June releases? I'm a big fan of celebrity romance, so I'm looking forward to digging into Fear of Falling. What's your favorite thing about this book?
GEORGIA: Yes! Your new one, Practice Makes Perfect, is up next on my Kindle, as a matter of fact.
My favorite thing about Fear of Falling might be the chemistry between the leads. I always have trouble determining if that part is working, but with these two characters, it was somehow easy. And I've never written a celebrity story before, so that was new, fun territory for me. Same question back at you. What's your favorite thing about Practice Makes Perfect…which is the first in a series, yeah?
(The Sexy Legs of the Law series, as some of us call it)
CARSEN: Trust me, the chemistry is always there. You've got that down.
My favorite thing about Practice Makes Perfect is the strong female friendships that drive the story. Each book in the series is a standalone romance, but the setting is a law firm run by a group of best friends, and the platonic love that exists between them is just as important to the story as the romance. Oh, and I heart the sexy legs on the cover J
Thanks for the chat. I know you've probably already written all your words for the day, so now I have to go do the same. Here's to many more years of books and friendship!
GEORGIA: This has been so much fun! And I love what you said about the female friendships…makes me even more excited to read it.
Thank you for the chat. I did finish my words, so get your buns moving! I'll expect you to report in with your word count sometime around 2 a.m. :)