Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Day in the Life of… Stephanie Draven

Welcome to Stitch Read Cook's weekly feature!!

A Day in the Life of.....

This is where us bloggers & fans get a glimpse inside the days of our favorite authors!

Stephanie Draven portrait

STEPHANIE DRAVEN is a bestselling, award-winning and RITA-nominated author of historical, paranormal, and contemporary romance. Her newest project, IT STINGS SO SWEET is a collection of 1920s historical erotic romances that celebrate sex, women, and the Jazz Age. Her most recent novel with Entangled Publishing, IN BED WITH THE OPPOSITION, is a mix of humor and sex-appeal set against the backdrop of a zany political campaign inspired by the career of Baltimore legend William Donald Schaefer. Both novels are fun departures from her more serious Greek mythology-inspired series for Harlequin's Nocturne line, the debut novel of which was nominated by Romantic Times for Best First Series. The series has earned critical praise for its originality and awareness of social issues and garnered the 2012 SWIRL award for excellence in multi-cultural romance literature as well as the CataRomance's Reviewers Choice Award. Writing historical fiction about Cleopatra’s daughter as Stephanie Dray, she won the Golden Leaf Award for SONG OF THE NILE. Stephanie is currently a denizen of Baltimore, that city of ravens and purple night skies. She lives there with her favorite nocturnal creatures–three scheming cats and a deliciously wicked husband. And when she is not busy with dark domestic rituals, she writes her books.

Day in the Life

9am -- I am awakened by my fuzzy alarm clock--a long-haired cat named Butterscotch who believes it is his duty to make sure all humans are up and about. I then embark on my quick morning routine of checking for urgent email on my iPhone while curled up with the cat. Somehow it feels less like work if you’re still under the covers. Sure enough, there’s an email from my agent asking for the most up-to-date copy of a manuscript she’s trying to sell to foreign publishers. Hopping out of bed I tend to basic hygiene and grab what shall henceforth be termed my work uniform. This should not be confused, in any way, with clothes that I would be seen wearing in public. But I try always to employ the following fashion rule: My outfit must not be so humiliating that, if the house caught fire, I would rather burn alive than be seen in it by firemen. And there must be shoes. I cannot work without shoes. There’s a reason for this. Because as I race to unload the dishwasher and throw in a load of laundry, Butterscotch tests my reflexes by attempting to trip me on the stairs as part of the daily fitness regimen that he has prescribed for me.

10am -- I skip breakfast in favor of a hot cup of Vanilla Caramel tea and a splash of creamer so that I can send off the manuscript to my agent. Then, while Butterscotch supervises, I do the foolish thing and decide to “get things under control” by pruning my overgrown email box. I swing at that inbox with the reckless disregard of a sharp machete. I delete the spam from some guy in India who thinks I’m cute and wants my phone number. I trash all those writer’s loop emails that I desperately want to read but know will suck me into a vortex of un-productivity. I package up swag for a blogger who writes me from Portugal. I answer the email about renewing my dues for my local Maryland Romance Writers chapter--and write out a check. Then I open an email from an irate reader who thinks I have a problem with women because a lot of slapping goes on in my books. It takes all kinds, I mutter to myself. After all, there’s only one slapping scene in my new 1920s erotic romance, and that scene is both consensual and insanely hot. That’s the only slapping scene I’ve ever written, isn’t it? Wait. Isn’t it? Struck with a feeling of foreboding, I quickly scan my backlist and find not one, but four slapping scenes in the fourteen books I’ve written. Granted, one of them is in a paranormal fight scene during which the heroine is trying to stab the hero to death. And the other is not a romance at all. But OMG, I have a slapping problem! The next fifteen minutes is spent in bitter recrimination over what is sure to be the end of my romance career...

11am -- Trying to shake off the SlapGate scandal, I look at the clock and choke at the time. What the hell have I done with my morning? There are still at least fifty emails in my inbox, but it’s time to get serious. It’s time to get down to business. I tell Butterscotch that I need to get down 2,000 words on a new project of mine and he makes his distinctive woo-woo noise as if he actually cared. But just as my fingertips touch the keyboard, the phone rings. It’s my publicist wanting to brainstorm ways to promote the new book with radio interviews.

12pm -- Having been seated for a ridiculously long amount of time, I decide to put the laundry in the dryer and get on the elliptical trainer. I also consider getting lunch, but put the tea kettle back on instead, and try to use my calendar to plan out some deadlines and goals for new books this year. I notice an email from a voice actress who has auditioned to read one of my books for Exciting! Then I pause to read through my contract to see whether or not I have the audio rights to It Stings So Sweet and, hallelujah, I do! I decide then and there to make an audio book of this smutty tome.  Since I’ve spent the hour not writing, I decide to package up prizes that I owe to readers who have won contests of mine.

1pm -- I settle back down to hammer out my 2,000 words, but realize that I’m late reading the submissions from my monthly critique group where we swap chapters with each other to make each other’s work stronger. That means five manuscripts to read and edit. In this hour, I only get through one of them. Butterscotch’s more admonishing woo-woo reminds me that I have not done any actual writing yet. Moreover, I not only forgot lunch, but also let the tea water get cold and have to heat it up again. Realizing that I’m getting frazzled, I give myself some tough love, reminding myself that I must prioritize actually producing books, even though it means I’m going to disappoint people who are waiting on things from me...

2pm -- Open up Scrivener and begin brainstorming and outlining. This, for me, is the most fun I ever have writing. The ideas, connections and shaping of a story is the creative theme part of my career! I play with the cork board to find actors who will play my characters in the movies (a girl can dream!). And I think through quirks. My hero, the baggage-phobic son of a hoarder. My heroine, the wedding-phobic bridesmaid. This is going to be hilarious. I’m convinced of it. This will be the best book I’ve ever written! Butterscotch senses my excitement and his tail puffs up as if even he knows that I am a genius!

3pm -- I’m no longer a genius. I’ve created a hero and heroine who are not-so-accidentally perfect for each other but have no idea what is going to break them up. Why should they have to break up? These people are so fun. So hot. Great together in bed. Only a sadist like an author would want to ruin their happiness. But there must be a black moment in a book, and I can’t think of one. Butterscotch abandons me to nap on the couch while I pace in front of the fridge spooning bits of unidentified leftovers into my mouth while thinking through the plot.

4pm -- This is going to be the worst book I’ve ever written. The outline makes no sense. There are going to be too many characters. I still have no black moment. And I’ve written 400 words, which I have subsequently erased and rewritten three times. Maybe if I include a slapping scene...

5pm -- A quick and desperate Google Chat with an author-friend and I am back on track. The black moment is going to be about the Big Lie. All the pieces fall into place and I write like the wind!

6pm -- Lost in the fugue of writing, I hammer out my words and don’t look up until...

7pm -- Butterscotch scrambles from the couch to the front door to welcome home my white knight, the true hero of my personal romance. He deserves perfumed tokens of favor and banquets in his honor, but tonight he’s getting a microwaved can of Chunky Soup for dinner. We eat in front of the television and I try to give HOMELAND my full attention, but I find that I’m not nearly so interested in whether or not Sergeant Brody is a terrorist as I am in my own enemies-to-lovers trope.

8pm -- With Butterscotch curled up on my lap, I hit 2,000 words on the manuscript while paying scant attention to the television.

9pm -- My social media round-up begins! Facebook, Twitter, Blogs. I check them all and make sure to chat with the readers who have been kind enough to chat with me.

10pm -- A friend who writes historical romance emails to ask me if I know the origin of a very dirty word. I actually do. It’s Latin.

11pm -- More critiquing of manuscripts I owe to friends, followed by the writing of blog posts to promote my latest release. It occurs to me that everything I’m doing is getting slower as I get tired.

12am -- Butterscotch makes it plain that it’s time for him to get his can and for us to go to bed. I clean up dinner dishes and wipe down the kitchen, then hop into bed where, fifteen minutes later, I sit up and try to scribble more notes in the notebook by my bed so that tomorrow I can do it all again...


They vibrated with incendiary Jazz. They teemed with sexual abandon. The Twenties were roaring and the women–young, open, rebellious, and willing–set the pace and pushed the limits with every man they met…

In the aftermath of a wild, liquor-soaked party, three women from very different social classes are about to live out their forbidden desires.

Society girl, Nora Richardson’s passionate nature has always been a challenge to her ever-patient husband. Now he wants out of the marriage and she has just this one night to win him back. The catch? He wants to punish her for her bad behavior. Nora is offended by her husband’s increasingly depraved demands, but as the night unfolds, she discovers her own true nature and that the line between pain and pleasure is very thin indeed.

Meanwhile, Clara Cartwright, sultry siren of the silent screen, is introduced to a mysterious WWI Flying Ace. If Clara, darling of the scandal sheets, knows anything, it’s men. And she’s known plenty. But none of them push her boundaries like the aviator, who lures her into a ménage with a stranger in a darkened cinema then steals her jaded heart.

Working class girl Sophie O’Brien has more important things on her mind than pleasures of the flesh. But when her playboy boss, the wealthy heir to the Aster family fortune, confronts her with her diary of secret sex fantasies, she could die of shame. To her surprise, he doesn’t fire her; instead, he dares her to re-enact her boldest fantasies and Sophie is utterly seduced.

One party serves as a catalyst of sexual awakening. And in an age when anything goes, three women discover that anything is possible…

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