One of the most delightful aspects of securing agent representation— besides, you know, having an amazing advocate for my work—has been meeting the incredible authors who signed with Susan @ Golden Wheat Lit long before I did.
It has been so fun getting to chat with Rachel Mucha and now, the illustrious Charlene Groome, who lives even further north than I did when I called Wisconsin and Minnesota home.
Now get to know the Canada-based author as we discuss all things writer-y including her journey to publication, why she’s a devout member of #5amwritersclub, and when her house is the absolute cleanest (her answer may surprise you).
Christa Banister: When did you have the a-ha moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer? If you don’t mind sharing, tell us about some of your earlier releases and what inspires the stories you write.
Charlene Groome: It’s funny because even though I enjoyed writing fiction secretively, I didn’t think of myself as a “writer” until I took a creative writing course in grade twelve. My teacher encouraged me to keep writing. I guess it was then that I realized I could do this.
Fast-forward many years of taking writing courses and joining writing groups, I penned a few unpublished stories. I played ice hockey throughout my school years and into adulthood, so it’s a sport I love and know. Women’s hockey wasn’t recognized as it is now, so when I read about Barbara Williams, the first female skating coach in the NHL, I was fascinated and dreamed up a story that later became my first published book, His Game, Her Rules.
Christa: You are part of the illustrious 5 a.m. writers’ crew I see sharing their experiences on Twitter. What are some of the secrets of making those early hours work for you? Why would you encourage other writers to do the same?
Charlene: Haha, yes, I am. I’m a morning person, so getting up at five is never a problem. I value my quiet time, and I feel most creative in the early morning hours. Every writer has a time that works best for them. My time is before my kids get up for school. I pour a cup of coffee and write for an hour, and depending on what the day is like, I fit in a workout before I drive them to school.
Writing in the morning is key if you’re someone like me who thrives on making daily accomplishments. I can get a head start, and by the time I’ve come back to it, I’m closer to my goal.
Christa: For someone who is out there querying as we speak, how did you land your agent? What was the querying process like for you and do you have any tips for writers who are not getting the responses they are hoping for?
Charlene: It’s tough. The authors with an agent got one because they didn’t give up.
I spent years querying and landed my first agent who loved His Game, Her Rules and sold it to Kensington Books/Lyrical Press. I was, and still am, grateful for what she did for me. However, I started to write other stories and was going through a growing period as a writer. My agent and I parted ways, and I was back in the query trenches again. It was depressing. Really. I never felt so low as a writer. Here I had books published by a well-known New York publisher, and now what? I couldn’t get another agent or find a publisher for my stories. It took years of writing, taking more courses, and finding critique groups, but I didn’t give up even though my imposter syndrome told me I was not good enough.
I pushed myself, realizing that this is what I do and that I love what I do. I also had wonderful moral support from other author friends, so when I finished writing a new story, I sent it off to a new publisher, and they accepted. I was ecstatic, and they offered me a three-book deal. I wrote all three books, and then Covid hit. The publisher closed. Ugh. I knew I needed another agent. I had all these stories and didn’t know what to do with them. I could self-publish them, but I really wanted a sounding board, someone who could work with me. I made awesome connections with agents and three years later, I got the best agent for me. Susan is more than I expected. She’s brilliant at what she does and offers great support.
And now for the Banister Questionnaire:
What’s the first book that made you crazy about reading? Hmm, let’s see…when I was young I enjoyed Nancy Drew books, Judy Blume, and The Babysitter’s Club.
Characters or plot? Plot. I enjoying learning about my characters as I write.
What authors’ books do you always buy no matter what the story is about? Sophie Kinsella, Abby Jimenez, and Stephanie Eding
Are you a plotter or a pantser and why does that method work best for you? I consider myself a plotter, however, I plot main points and write freely. It’s the joy of writing for me.
Actual book or digital download? I love a paperback.
What’s your favorite bookstore? Location please. I’m a regular at Chapters/Indigo bookstore in Langley, British Columbia. If I’m in the area, I’ll stop at Albany Books in Langley.
Describe your ideal writing environment. It would be a view of a lake or an ocean but I’ll settle for a warm day on my back patio.
Coffee or tea? Both? I love my coffee and look forward to it every morning and sometimes at lunch, but I drink herbal tea mid-morning and at night.
What’s your favorite way to procrastinate when you know you should be writing but don’t feel like it? Haha. I love this question. It’s cleaning. I can’t help it. My house is spotless when I’m on deadline.
What are you working on at the moment? I’m finishing a rom-com and working on book three of my Moonlight Valley series. Book one will be published this May.
To connect with Charlene and sign up for her newsletter, check out her website. Also look for her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and sometimes Pinterest.