7 Questions with Patricia Sargeant

1. On a scale of one to ten, rank your current level of insanity–where ten is belongs-in-lunatic-asylum insane–and tell us why.

About two weeks ago, I would have answered 8, perhaps 9. I was ready to run screaming into the streets because of my schedule. Then my sister came for a weekend visit, and I put everything aside to spend time with her.

Her visit is exactly what I needed. It forced me to put a distance between myself and my projects, which allowed me to put my schedule into perspective. I realized the pressure I was putting on myself was largely self-imposed. I'm not saying that pressured feeling won't return. But the release valve – no matter how temporary – was very much needed. Now, I'm at a 4 or 5. Crazy, but much more manageable.

2. It's your first book! How do you feel about You Belong To Me going out into the world?

Oh my! I'm so excited to share this story. I love these characters, and I hope readers love them, too. For me, characters tell the stories, they carry the stories, and that's what I hope I've accomplished with You Belong To Me.

You Belong To Me is not the first manuscript I completed, but I feel a powerful connection to it because I think it reflects a lot of creative growth.

It floored me how well Kensington interpreted my story through the back cover copy and the front cover image. They really *got* what I was trying to express. I'm very happy with their interpretation.

3. You were born in the West Indies. Do you think you'll ever write a book set there?

May, you're one sharp lady.

I'm working on a proposal for a mystery series set on a fictitious West Indian island. It's a mystery with paranormal elements. Sort of like Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series goes to "Fantasy Island" and meets "The X Files." The plots give readers the opportunity to explore West Indian cultural, legends and lore. I'm very excited about the proposal and hope it's successful.

4. Do you think African American romance, as published by Kimani Press or your Dafina, should be shelved separately within the romance aisle? Or do you think it should be shelved by subgenre, ie contemporary, paranormal, romantic suspense?

I very much prefer when bookstores shelve romances by authors' last name.

I walked into a bookstore one day and made a beeline for the near-to-bursting romance section. I was dismayed when I couldn't find any books by African American authors among the extensive collection/wide variety of romance novels. I wandered back to the front of the store and found a map of its layout. When I followed the directions to the African American section, I was dismayed to find an endcap with five titles. I asked one of the employees if those five titles were all the store offered. "Oh, no," he assured me, leading me to a couple of shelves on the far/opposite end from the already understated "African American" sign.

Riddle me this: If you encounter in a bookstore a romance section the size of a small country, would it actually occur to you there may be a handful of other romances tucked somewhere across the store? Why not offer your customers all of the romances in the same section?

5. You Belong To Me is a reunion story. Are those your favorite kinds of romances? Care to share your particular favorites? (Correct me if I'm wrong about the reunion story part, because I'm basing this on the blurb–I'll send you another question)

You're absolutely correct. You Belong To Me is a reunion story. My what if question for this story is, what if you found the right person at the wrong time; then you're given another opportunity, but circumstances once again try to tear you apart? How far would you go/what would you do to ensure your happily ever after this time?

I do enjoy reunion stories when the authors explain why the characters split up the first time around and how they resolve those differences when they're given a second chance. A couple of reunion-type stories I've enjoyed are Beverly Jenkins's "Through The Storm" and her "Night Song" and Suzanne Brockman's "Out of Control." Those are just a couple. My list is very, very long. <g> But I also enjoy other plots such as women in jeopardy and men in jeopardy.

6. What gave you the idea of doing Road To Publication mailing list?

When I announced my first sale, several buddies asked for updates on my progress. They told me they found the information I shared with them very helpful, and asked if I could add other pals to the distribution. It started with four friends, and has grown to 31 very supportive pals.

I still have a great deal to learn about this business, but what little I know I'm happy to share. I strongly believe the philosophy, "Each one, teach one" benefits the whole. I would not have come as far as I have if others hadn't shared their lessons learned with me. I'm happy to pay forward their kindness and generosity.

Another thing, the only way to affect positive change in an industry is to speak with a collective voice. We can't do that if we don't share experiences with each other. I'm not saying we should reveal financial information. But if there's a clause in a publishing contract you believe is unfair to authors, for example, let's talk about it. Let others know how you addressed it, whether you were successful in getting it changed, why or why not. Remember Harlequin's pseudonym clause? It took years, but as a collective voice, authors were able to get it changed. "United we stand; divided we fall." That sort of thing.

7. Since You Belong To Me is being released during the month of NaNoWriMo, have you ever tried it? Completed it? Or do you think it's just for nutty writers?

LOL! I do not believe NaNoWriMo is for nutty writers. No way.

NaNoWriMo has several benefits. It helps develop writing discipline. Turn off the TV. Disconnect the Internet. Put down that bestseller. Well, at least for a few hours. <g> It also encourages writers to turn off the inner editor and focus on telling the story.

I love that you asked me about NaNoWriMo. The heroine in You Belong To Me is an author. I include a couple of scenes in which she's working on her next book. I enjoyed writing those scenes. I was in my heroine's head as she was getting into her heroine's head. That was fun.

I haven't yet participated in NaNoWriMo, but I intend to. I did have a blast participating in a Book In A Month and Book In A Week with several other authors. It was great cheering each other on to meet our goals. I would encourage other writers to try it at least once.

Thanks again for this opportunity, May! I've enjoyed answering your great questions.

Thanks for your time, Patricia!

Patricia's website is here. You Belong To Me is out this month from Dafina and should be available in a bookstore near you.


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