Tuesday, April 19

Meet Monica Burns!

Monica Burns made her first sale in 2004. She is a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA) and was a 2005 RWA Golden Heart Finalist, as well as winner of the 2009 EPPIE for Best erotic historical romance. She has consistently earned top reviews from RT BOOKreviews and other reviewers
Hi, Monica!

Thanks so much for coming by Wordwranglers today!

1. For those who haven’t read it yet, what prompted the older woman/younger man storyline in Pleasure Me?
As someone who married a man five years younger than me, I’ve a fondness for the plot line. There are a lot of disconnects that can happen if the man’s not mature enough, and I enjoy delving into the mindset of an older woman. I know that with Pleasure Me, a lot of the readers who don’t enjoy the book seem to lean toward the under 35 age group. I think women 40 and up will be able to identify better with Ruth, my heroine, a lot better than a younger woman who hasn’t come up against the age factor in society. When you skin becomes less supple and wrinkles start your perspective changes. For some just a little bit, for others a great deal.

2. Garrick has a deformity that has kept him from being with a woman until Ruth…have you had any negative response to that?

The negative response has been from two sets of readers. Those two groups consist of readers who don’t have or haven’t contemplated the idea of their own aging and/or readers who don’t understand the medical or social aspects of Victorian society. The knowledge of sexual organs and sexuality in general during the late 1800s was minimal at best. Women weren’t even suppose to have orgasms! The Victorian era was one of sexual repression in so many ways, that the idea of a man with only one ball is actually a strong motivation.

Garrick’s lack of one testicle is far from common even in modern society. A distended testicle is where the sac does not fall properly and it appears the man has only one ball. This type of deformity in the late 1800s would have been considered a blow to Garrick’s potential to sire heirs. Thus, experienced women would look at him as being less than desirable, and these would be the women he’d gain experience with prior to taking a bride.

I researched the book thoroughly, and spoke with a nurse who specializes in urology. Occurrences of the deformity run around three (3) percent in the entire male population and nature generally rectifies the problem during youth. However one (1) percent of the population never have the testicle drop unless surgery is performed. That’s a procedure that would have never been considered or even dreamed of in the late 1800s.

3. Do your readers like the older woman/younger man storyline? You know how I feel .
I think the reaction has been mixed. I’m not sure that it’s the older woman/younger man storyline so much as it’s a matter of whether my writing resonates with the reader. That’s very important. Readers who enjoy an author’s voice will allow the author to take them on journeys they might not tolerate with another author. It’s all in how the writing style appeals to the reader.

4. Did I read on Facebook you planned to do another ym/ow story?

I’m considering it, but it might be a while. I have a lot of irons in the fire. Inferno’s Kiss has another male virgin, but his virginity is more of a subplot and an obstruction to his actual inner conflict.

5. What are you working on now? When will it be out?

The third and final book in the Order of the Sicari series, Inferno’s Kiss, is tentatively set for release the first part of October. I’m not sure if that date if firm. This book is Cleo’s story, and the resolution of Marcus and Atia’s relationship.

6. A writer friend of mine wants to know if you’re willing to share your query letters?

My query letters are on my website under business articles. I try to share as much knowledge as I have time to put up on the website. Knowledge is power, and I believe in sharing. I have a template letter that can be downloaded and used without any attrition. They’re actually quite easy despite all the angst and mystery that surrounds them. A query letter is like a cover letter you write when you’re looking for a job. You want to put your best foot forward so you write your description of your book the same way that a book’s back cover is written. I find it easy, but then I’ve been writing cover letters for me, my family and friends for years.

7. How long did you write before you got “the call?” How many manuscripts did you write before you sold?

I contracted my first novella with New Concepts in late 2003 I think. I’d been writing full-time at that point for about a year and half. It took me another eight years to land a contract with Berkley. Total manuscripts before I contracted were a category targeted for HQ and three single titles. One of those single titles I transformed into my book Dangerous.

8. I chat with you on Facebook from time to time. How important to your career do you think these sites are?

I think it’s critical to an author’s career to develop and cultivate relationships with readers. First, I love to chat. I’m part Italian, we all talk like crazy. Second, I want readers to understand that a) I love hearing what they have to say, b) they offer up some great insights and c) they’re a word-of-mouth sales force. I try not to abuse that part of the relationship, but I do ask for their help in spreading the word when a new book comes out.

9. If you could be another romance writer, who would you be, and why?
Charlotte Bronte because I love her writing. It’s dark, passionate, dramatic and just down right wonderful.

10. If you could change one thing about your career, what would it be?

I would have written more and marketed less when I first contracted. I was convinced I could leverage my ePub work into a NY contract. I eventually did, but it happened a little too late, and I wound up being in trade as opposed to mass market. Trade size publication makes it extremely difficult for a new to NY author to sell through and make any kind of a stir. If I’d written more books and marketed less, I would have had a larger readership that would hopefully have followed me into print. I have a friend whose extensive eBook readership served as a catalyst for her mass market contract. She did what exactly what I wanted to do. Only she wrote more books than I did, and she writes faster. I’m notoriously SLOW when it comes to writing, but my first draft is usually the final manscript.

Read the first three chapters



  1. Good Morning Monica and D'Ann!
    D'Ann I had no idea you helped with your horseflesh knowledge :) What a great interview. Nice to mee you Monica :) I look forward to picking one of your works!

  2. Great interview Monica. My current W.I.P. is an ym/ow story. I do hope there's an audience out there, although mine is humorous.

  3. What a great interview. I enjoyed it and learned from it.

  4. Great interview D'Ann and Monica!

  5. Thanks for the great interview and I'm definitely going to check out your query letters! Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

  6. I love the OW/YM senario and glad its gaining some attention in stories. The OM/YW storyline has taken too much focus. Why not the other way around? It's a fun and exciting idea, and I'm not just saying that becasue I'm over 40. Well, ok maybe I am, but still. :)

    Great interview. Your stories sound fun, Monica.

  7. Hi Hales, yes, D'Ann is my go-to-gal for answering horse questions. She was a HUGE help with Kismet and the "escape" scene. :-D

    En-Musing, I think the YM/OW scenario is a mixed bag.I think there's a market for them, I'm just not sure how big the niche is. This is my second such story, and the first one was pretty popular when it was released in eBook back 2006??

  8. Liz, Kristi, Glad you enjoyed the interview. I'm happy that I finally found a free moment to answer D'Ann's questions.

    Margie, I've had great success with the format of my query letters. The key to a good query letter is to write a great cover blurb that intrigues an editor to read that first 55-75 pages.

  9. Liz, Kristi, Glad you enjoyed the interview. I'm happy that I finally found a free moment to answer D'Ann's questions.

    Margie, I've had great success with the format of my query letters. The key to a good query letter is to write a great cover blurb that intrigues an editor to read that first 55-75 pages.

  10. Kary,

    I agree that the younger male hero isn't getting enough attention. I'm no longer the 20 something that wants an older male love interest. I prefer similar ages or younger men. Garrick was a character that I had such fun with because I think I successfully managed to make him alpha enough despite his virginity.

  11. Avril, Glad you enjoyed the interview.

  12. You know, I just realized that in my old age, I forgot to offer up some sort of giveaway. I've got one copy of Kismet to send out to one commenter today.

    D'Ann, will you just pick for me, get me the snail mail and let me know.

  13. Monica!
    I can't thank you enough for coming by today. I loved Pleasure Me sooooo much. I'm a HUGE fan of ow/ym romance, and this one met all my expectations.

  14. D'Ann ~ This has been a VERY enjoyable "get to know". Monica ~ I love the way you take the overlooked and make it extraordinary. D'Ann is a walking book of knowledge when it comes to anything to do with horses. I like the older woman characters. Not all readers are 20-ish. Some of us are more seasoned these days! Lovely to meet you. Thank you for sharing her, D'Ann!

  15. What a great interview. So many great tips and than you for being honest. I took like the ow/ym aspects, just because we grow older doesn't mean whe shrival up and only want to knit out time away.

  16. What a fantastic interview. Thanks so much for sharing with us.

  17. Hi, Monica! Welcome and thanks so much for coming! Great interview! Will definitely check out the query letters. I'm afraid I haven't gotten any better at them. How long did it take you to get comfortable with them?

  18. Great interview! Great questions too:)
    I'm part Italian too. LOL that explains a lot.

    Thanks for the great advice. I'll have to remember that.

  19. Terrific interview...I remember Monica before she was published, was even critiquing with her. She's done an awesome job ever since...Way to go Monica!

  20. Great interview! I think that there are many women 40 and older who love romances and wouldn't mind seeing an OW/YM couple. Every stage of adult life deserves some romance.

  21. Ok, I'm just NOW getting back here to play a little. Sorry I've missed most of the day. The fall semester schedule is a bear and I've been fighting with it all day. So when I came home, the DH took me out for Chinese. WOOT!

    D'Ann, It's my pleasure to be here. I appreciate you asking me. I'm just sorry it took so long for me to get here. I'm thrilled that you loved Pleasure Me. I have a fondness for Ruth and Garrick.

    D'Ann's knowledge is phenom when it comes to horses. I know I said this somewhere today, so I repeat myself forgive me, BUT D'Ann was a huge help in getting the escape scene right in my book Kismet. I'm far from 20 myself, so I like an even balanced couple age wise, and a young man works too. Hell if Demi can do it with Ashton, then so can we!! LOL

  22. Angie, Sometimes I'm honest to the point of cutting my own throat. LOL Oh, and I don't knit, but I do play Wii, ride coasters and intend to slide into heaven doing something QUITE spectacular. Maybe bungie jumping at age 85??? LOL

    Brenda, Glad you enjoyed the post

  23. Shawn, I have a confession to make. I'm a proud grad of VCU's (GO RAMS!! Final Four Team) Mass Comm school, where I learned how to write news copy. So I had an advantage when it came to writing a blurb. I got comfy with them after oh the second one or so.

    I put together a set of "pitch" tools on my website that will probably help you create that terrific blurb for your cover letter. The blurb is the meat of the letter.


    In the pitch cards you can download, it gives you a slew of questions to ask about your characters and their story. By the time you're done working the pitch, you've got your cover blurb too!

  24. Martha,

    See being Italian DOES say a lot. Speaking of which have you seen this wonderful video from Nine! I LOVE IT!! Be ITALIAN!


    I get shivers everytime I hear this song!

  25. Deb, that was quite some time ago! Must be at least 8 years or so. WOW! I can't believe how fast time has flown. LOL Thank you for the kudos.

    Lisa, They say the average romance reader is somewhere in mid-30s. And I agree every age group deserves a little romance. I think the time of the ow/ym is definitely here.

  26. What a great interview, Monica.
    Thank you again for your time!

  27. D'Ann,

    This is a wonderful, ambitious undertaking, introducing readers to so many fine romance writers.
    Just to say I enjoy reading the interviews.

    Jacqueline Seewald
    THE TRUTH SLEUTH--romantic mystery

  28. Yesterday's winner of Monica's book, Kismet, was Martha Ramirez.
    Congrats! It's great!