Wednesday, September 14, 2011

REV UP WEDNESDAYS - A weekly booster shot for inspiration... Catching up with HOPE TARR

My first "REV UP WEDNESDAYS" interview brings to the spotlight an award-winning author I greatly admire: Hope Tarr. First, for her love of animals and advocacy efforts, she gets an A+ as a human being. Second, she lives in the Big Apple, and those who know me well will vouch for the fact that I'm positively nuts about NYC! And, last but certainly not least, for writing some of the most "grown up", sexy and intriguing historical (and contemporary) romances I've ever read, she gets five dozen pats on the back. But, I think the greatest achievement - and this is a quality she shares with many other writers - is her tenacity to persist through the rejections and obstacles and come into her own, fully, as a writer.

NOTE: I invite readers - and writers - to ask any questions they want to in the comments section. Hope will be hanging around all week to answer them!

And now, it's time to learn a bit more about this down-to-earth, petite lady with a big heart, big dreams, and a mischievous smile...

1. How long have you been writing?

I started writing my first romance novel when I was twelve. It was a Tudor set historical, and I still have the now yellowed pages of onion skin typewriter paper. (Erasable bond was really important in those pre-word processing days of yore).

2. When did you decide that you wanted to write for a living—that “aha” moment?

Pretty much when I was twelve—see above. At the same time, I developed an early and fairly realistic appreciation for what hard work writing a book is.

3. Did you take any writing courses or did you just sit down and write a book?

For me hands-on learning is usually the best way to go. That said, once I joined The Romance Writers of America (RWA) in 1997, I benefited enormously from sitting in on craft workshops, reading the articles on craft in the monthly membership publication and more than anything, talking with published authors, women who were living what for me was as yet a dream.

I started writing my first romance novel—first as an actual grownup—in 1993. It currently lives in a file cabinet for good reason. It’s awful. That said, I finished it and doing so gave me the push to write a second, a Regency-set historical that later sold to Berkley, which published it as A ROGUE’S PLEASURE. I recently resold that book to Carina Press.

4. Do you use a pseudonym and, if so, why did you choose to have one?

I don’t currently use a pseudonym. Hope Tarr is my legal name. Actually I always intended to write as “Hope C. Tarr,” but my first publisher inadvertently left off the “C” and as the book cover was already printed, it was too late for a change.

5. How long did it take you to make your first sale? What was your first thought when you did?

If we count the book I began when I was twelve, ten it took a v-e-r-y long time indeed.

The short answer is I started pursuing writing romance seriously in 1993. I sold in 1999, so six years all in all, which was fairly typical at the time. (Now with the shift to digital-first books, people are being published not only sooner but quicker).

As to my “first” thought? When I got The Call from Cindy Hwang at Berkley, I was in a car on my way to visit friends in Virginia Beach. I pulled off the Interstate and took the call in a MacDonald’s parking lot. I had so many “first” thoughts, it would be almost impossible to unscramble them all. For sure they included, “Finally!” “Thank God!”

6. Did you get an agent first or did you submit directly to publishers?

For the first completed manuscript, the awful one, I submitted directly to publishers as well as agents. Interesting fact: my first rejection letter in 1994 came from an editor at Berkley, the first publisher to whom I later sold. It was typed and signed with pink crayon pen. (Editors didn’t have access to personal computers until later). I still have it.

7. Did you ever get rejected? If so, how did you handle it?

I still get rejected. If you’re going to be a career writer, rejection is inevitable. You may not embrace it but the sooner you accept it, the saner you and your work will be.

My first book received about thirty rejections from agents and editors. My second book, which did sell, was agented and still received a slew of rejections. But you only need one “yes.” I dealt with the rejections, and continue to deal with them, by reminding myself that just one “yes” is all I need. In the interim, I keep writing.

8. What do you think of the changes going on in the book industry e.g., e-books vs. books, and big publishers getting involved in digital publishing)?

I think they’re inevitable. I’d only add that several literary agencies (six at my last count) are establishing or have established digital first publishing lines of business in-house since last year.

9. Do you think writers should consider self-publishing?

I think all writers, whether published or unpublished, should consider all viable commercial avenues for selling their work. That said, I do think some new writers are too quick to decide to self publish. You can always self-publish. There’s no time limit. My best “advice” (note, the quotes are entirely purposive) is to first give your work a chance to be read by agents and editors and then weigh your options. If you do ultimately self-pub, you can hopefully use the feedback received to make your book even better.

10. Are your books available in print or digital format?

Both. Selected titles are also available as audio books.

11. What advice do you think aspiring writers should heed today?

See my response to #9 above. I’d add that none of us, published or not, are ever so amazingly gifted that our books can’t benefit from an editor’s input. Whether you publish with a New York house, an indie press, or self-publish, it behooves us all to make sure that our work is as positively polished and professional as it can possibly be.

12. What is your website URL?

Readers can find me at as well as on Twitter @HopeTarr and on Facebook at (see below)

13. Any exciting news to share?

Indeed, Angela! My fab publisher, Medallion Press, is offering free e-book downloads of VANQUISHED from Monday, September 12th through Monday, September 26th. For these two weeks, you can download VANQUISHED for free across all platforms.

Whether you’re an Amazon Kindle user or a fan of the Barnes & Noble Nook or other e-reader platform, you have two weeks to download VANQUISHED. For free.

Here are the links:



VANQUISHED is the first book in my “Men of Roxbury House” Victorian-set trilogy. The other books are ENSLAVED and UNTAMED. Obviously we’re hoping that readers who try VANQUISHED for free will fall in love with the characters and want to purchase the other books in the series, but there’s certainly no obligation to do so.

Angela, thanks so very much for having me as your guest and congratulations on your new blog. I can’t wait to read the other guest posts.

Hope Tarr is the award-winning author of fifteen historical and contemporary romance novels including her Men of Roxbury House trilogy: Vanquished, Enslaved and Untamed. She is also a co-founder and current principal of Lady Jane’s Salon (, New York City’s first—and only—monthly reading series for romance fiction. Visit Hope online at and find her on Twitter (@HopeTarr) and Facebook at

From Vanquished:

A devil’s bargain…

“The photograph must be damning, indisputably so. I mean to see Caledonia Rivers not only ruined but vanquished. Vanquished, St. Claire, I’ll settle for nothing less.”

Known as The Maid of Mayfair for her unassailable virtue, unwavering resolve, and quiet dignity, suffragette leader, Caledonia – Callie – Rivers is the perfect counter for detractors’ portrayal of the women as rabble rousers, lunatics, even whores. But a high-ranking enemy within the government will stop at nothing to ensure that the Parliamentary bill to grant the vote to females dies in the Commons – including ruining the reputation of the Movement’s chief spokeswoman.

After a streak of disastrous luck at the gaming tables threatens to land him at the bottom of the Thames, photographer Hadrian St. Claire reluctantly agrees to seduce the beautiful suffragist leader and then use his camera to capture her fall from grace. Posing as the photographer commissioned to make her portrait for the upcoming march on Parliament, Hadrian infiltrates Callie’s inner circle. But lovely, soft-spoken Callie hardly fits his mental image of a dowdy, man-hating spinster. And as the passion between them flares from spark to full-on flame, Hadrian is the one in danger of being…vanquished.

Read the full excerpt at:

***[Hope's photo by]

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~ Angela ~ No Rules. No Formulas. Just Love.
"Mile High to Heaven" and "Mr. & Mrs. Foster" available at Whiskey Creek Press Torrid.


Zee Monodee said...

Awesome interview - WTG both Angela and Hope. What an amazing way to start off this Wednesday slot that I'm sure will be a definite stop for everyone as from now on.

Hope, I wanted to say I love your work. I've had the pleasure of reading My Lord Jack when it was pubbed by Carina Press, and love the dimension you give the characters. It wasn't just a historical romance, but truly the story and love of these two very 'real' people.

Question for Hope - do you find it hard to switch between genres when you are writing? Any tips on how to 'juggle' this hopping for us writers trying to get to grips with this?

Great job, once again, both of you! XOXO

Caridad Pineiro said...

Thanks for the great interview. Congrats on the new releases!

Desiree Holt said...

Hope, so nice to "meet" you. I'm intrigued by the excerpt and now I want to read the entire book. Good luck with your writing. Your talent shines.

Hope Tarr said...

Good morning (still)!

Sorry I'm a bit to the party but in the spirit of 'better late than never,' I am so very happy to be here.

Zee, what a lovely thing to say. MY LORD JACK was my second pubbed book back in the day aka 2002. It originally came out with Berkley as one of the launch books for their "Highland Fling" line. Unfortunately by the time Jack released, Highland Fling was getting the big Deep Six, so Jack never quite got his due.

But then second chances are big themes in all my books and I'm happy to say in this case, my "real" life too. Yay for Agela James and Carina Press for giving Jack not only his "day" but a cool new cover that is hands-down better than the original.

Hope Tarr said...

Now to Zee's question, I thought switching between historicals and contemporaries would be really hard. I started out as a history junkie (still am). I used to bore my babysitters making them watch BBC stuffs with me. And still, nothing to me quite breathes romance more so than a good, sweeping historical.

Oddly enough, the switch has been no problem at all. My historical and contemporary voices are both "me," and yet distinctly different. My historical voice is more wry and of course the language is more formal, more elegant. Contemporary Me is more ballsy, off-the-cuff, faster paced, more no nonsense. I actually even "feel" different when I'm writing them. The dialogue especially has a different tempo, a different vibe. And since I'm fortunate to work at home, I find myself speaking aloud as I'm typing.

In fact, I'm speaking aloud right now. Yes, seriously. ;)

Hope Tarr said...

Hi Caridad:

So great to "see" you here.

Folks, Caridad and I were to do a signing at a Borders in PA last month, but of course we all know why that didn't happen. ((sniff, sniff))

Hope Tarr said...

Hi Desiree:

Another lovely compliment. At this rate, I'm going to want to hang out here *all* the day.

Speaking of talent shining, I just visited your site. That's *a lot* of books under your belt and what an eclectic cool background you have.

I was just saying to my significant other that one of the things I've wanted to try (but still haven't) is surf casting. I used to vacation in The Outer Banks, NC, and my trip usually coincided with a big annual fishing tournament on the beach. Any pointers?

Angela Guillaume said...

Hey everyone! Looks like the party's getting interesting! Great question, Zee, and Hope, thanks for answering! I always wondered about that, too. Like you, I'm a history buff, but I like to read good contemporaries. Desiree, I also want to know about surf casting :) x

Angela Guillaume said...

Hope, I have another question too - What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?

Hope Tarr said...

Hi Angela:

My greatest accomplishment? To date, that would have to be launching and running a successful national grassroots campaign. The Pet Overpopulation STAMP OUT ran from 1997 to 2002. The goal: persuading the U.S. Postal Service to issue not one but two U.S. commemorative stamps to promote the spaying/neutering of pets. The stamps, which sold out, were issued in September 2002 in Denver, Colorado in a ceremony officiated by the then "Benji" and her trainer, Joe Camps.

In addition to raising awareness about responsible pet ownership (btw, breeders and breed rescue groups supported the effort as did animal welfare advocates), the stamp pane included a toll free 24 hotline number and web site (in English/Spanish) to provide spay/neuter info, including free and no cost clinics, to the public.

Here is a link to one of the news articles just prior to the Spay/Stamps release:

I have a framed pane of the stamps hanging on my office wall. In contrast, most of writing award certifs live in the file cabinet.

So, yes, I'm a little bit proud.

Angela Guillaume said...

Hope, I love your answer! And I can see why you ought to be proud of your work. Well done!

Hope Tarr said...

Thanks, Angela. The U.S. Postal Service received more than 250,000 letters (letters, not emails, which they didn't accept back then) from people all around the country as well as U.S. citizens living abroad. And then there were the celebs who endorsed the project: Bob Barker, Betty White, Mary Tyler Moore to name a few.

The stamp artwork was actually unveiled live on Mr. Barker's "The Price is Right" TV game show.

Zee Monodee said...

Ooooh, loved the answer! I'm in that boat currently - I started out writing sweet contemporaries, and somehow along the way, I started writing faster-paced romantic suspense (I have no idea how, acually...). Strangely enough, it's the suspense series that starts my career under this name. :)

Agree with you - I think it's all about voice, innit? Whatever genre you write, as long as your voice shines through, you'll move along nicely.

Lol, I'm a history buff too. Especially love the stories of the royals of times past - Henry VIII and his wives, Louis XIV at Versailles, Louis XV and Madame de Pompadour, Marie Antoinette. Nothing quite spells romance like those romances from history. :)

I gotta try speaking aloud - maybe then the voices screaming in my head would let up a little. :)

Thanks for taking the time to answer, Hope. XOXO

Angela Guillaume said...

Hey Zee, I think your voice really shines in romantic suspense. However, no matter the genre, I can still tell it's "you". Same with you, Hope. I still need to read more of your contemporaries, but I'm pretty sure I would be able to see the same you, deep inside the words, that I see in your historicals.

Desiree Holt said...

Hey, Hope. Surfcasting? Be sure you stand far enough away from the people closest to you so you don't get your lines tangled, and practice, practice, practice in your yard or someplace away from people until you've got just the right wrist action. But there's nothing quite like the thrill of hauling that fish out of the rolling surf. Good luck.

Hope Tarr said...

Hi Again Zee:

Yes, yes, yes -- Voice! It's key, possibly *the* key. You can use the same tropes again and again but the story will only seem fresh if the voice is there--unique, different, bold.

Hope Tarr said...

Thanks for the pointers, Desiree. I love being on the beach, so it'll be fun to try also fishing on the beach -- versus "baking" myself. :)