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A Penny for Your Thoughts

Let's Welcome Penny Heart

By KA Stefana Published 2 months ago 9 min read
2

"As she drove home, Amelia couldn't decide what lesson she was supposed to learn from today's disaster. After so many terrible dates, she made it a point to find something positive in each experience. Today, she drew a blank.

The only silver lining she could think of was not being devoured by mosquitoes."

~ Excerpt from Connected at Last by Penny Heart on Kindle Vella

Let's start with the easy stuff... What genres do you write?

I write spicy contemporary and erotic romance stories.

How long have you been writing? and are there days when you want to forget about it?

Fiction? A year and a half. Non-fiction? decades.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I'll let you know if I ever do. I've made money off my writing, which I never expected, but it's still very much a part-time gig.

How do you approach writing? Do you plot and scheme before you start writing, or do you jump right into your first chapter and see where the characters take you?

I tried to do an outline on my first novel, but when I got off-track, I just let it run wild. And then had to remove 150,000 words. OUCH! (Yeah, I'm an over-writer, obviously.) So now I try to have a flexible outline, but I also check back in with it regularly. More than the story outline, though, I try to have a good understanding of who my characters are and what they want out of the story.

What motivated you to start writing?

NaNoWriMo, and my husband. Also, a few years ago, I read a historical romance novel where the male main character fell for the mother of the young woman he was supposed to be courting, and everybody in the book (including the mother!) was aghast that he'd be attracted to a 40-year-old widow. And that made me realize how few romance novels I've read--despite reading thousands of them!--where the heroines are older than 30, even! Now, all of my main characters (male or female) are 30-50. Eventually, I'm sure I'll expand even further, but I already have far too many books planned out!

Have you recently launched a book, or do you have a book launch coming up?

Alas, no, but there's a renewed effort to focus and finish some of my stuff instead of getting excited (and distracted) by new things!

What are you currently working on? If it's part of a series, feel free to include all of your titles.

Oof, too many things! I'm working on a series of holiday-themed novellas around employees at a small tech company. I'm mostly done with the first one, "Mr. February: Spicy Holidays with the Geeks." It's a friends-to-lovers romance between two somewhat shy co-workers who end up having to share a suite on a work trip and finally admitting to their crushes. It's a slow burn but spicy. It's currently on Kindle Vella.

I have a novel on KU called "Growing Connected," which is the first in a series of connected books and novellas in the Happy Hollows: Connections series. These books are all connected by a clandestine matchmaker who helps her friends and relatives find the love of their lives. I've also got a follow-up to this novel called "Growing More Connected" that's the "what happens *after* the Happy Ever After" in a romance novel, which is also on Kindle Vella.

And I'm about halfway through the first spin-off novella, "Connected at Last," which features the sister and best friend of the male main character in "Growing Connected." I have waaaay too many stories in this universe plotted out!

I also have a two-part snowed-in series, the first of which is on Kindle Vella under the name "Tangled in Ribbons." (The follow-up book has been plotted out; I just need time and focus!) "Tangled in Ribbons" is a why-choose erotic romance between three best friends and the woman who accidentally gets snowed in with them when they both accidentally get booked into the same cabin on a winter holiday.

I've also got a one-off pandemic romance called "Vaxxed and Ready to F***" that deals with the unique situation at the beginning of the pandemic and how it affected interpersonal relationships and, well, every part of our lives.

Last but not least, I have a long-running Vella called "Booked for Lust" that features the Why Choose adventures of a once-shy librarian who gives up on dating but finds an alternative way to be happy through friends-with-benefits situations with a growing number of friends. But since I'm a romantic at heart, she catches feelings for one of them, anyway, despite her best efforts.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

So far? Nothing. Ask me once it's done, and I'm doing developmental edits!

Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?

I love reading connected books, series, off-shoots, and universes that are connected to other series, so most of my stuff is connected to something else. I've even toyed with having the crappy ex from two unrelated books be the same crappy ex just to make myself giggle.

How do you choose your character's names?

Sometimes, I use random name generators, sometimes names I hear or read, and sometimes they just appear in my head. I write contemporary romances set in the US, though, so creative names aren't standard the way they are in other time periods or genres.

Who is your favorite character? Why?

Oooh, that's tough! That's like asking who my favorite child is. But I guess I would say, Jacob, the male main character from "Growing Connected" and "Growing More Connected," since he and I share a lot of similarities: anxiety disorder, not trusting other people, and hiding out from life as a result, being taken advantage of by people because we take them at face value because we are who we say we are (other than hiding behind a pseudonym, that is). He's not a self-insert, but I modeled his panic attacks on my own. And the engagement scene from "Growing More Connected" is also loosely based on my own but gender-swapped.

Who is your least favorite character Why?

Hrm. That's hard in a different way. I've got antagonists in most of my stories who are almost all comic-book levels of horrible (but, sadly, are loosely based on real-life jerks I've known), but I'm not sure if you mean side characters or main characters.

If you mean side characters, I would say the ex-girlfriend from "Growing Connected," who literally stalks the new girlfriend and tries to sabotage the relationship. She's loosely modeled off someone I knew long ago (and actually did much worse things than what I put in the book, which already strained some readers' credibility since they apparently have been fortunate enough to not know or be related to stains on humanity).

If you mean main characters, I guess currently my least favorite main character is Derek in "Booked for Lust" because he's letting Sheila stew in her own self-doubt rather than admitting that he, too, has feelings for her even though they agreed to friends-with-benefits, only. She doesn't realize he's slowly trying to pull her more closely into his real life because he cares about her as a person, not just as a playmate, but he's going too slow and stressing her own. (Yeah, I know that theoretically. this is my fault, but I'm just the scribe. They're the ones telling me what to write!)

How did you come up with the title of your latest novel?

I thought it'd be funny to name my book titles for the Spicy Holidays with the Geeks series by Mr. Month. I personally find geeks attractive (as both a geek myself and the happy wife of a bigger geek), but they're not always conventionally attractive with 8-packs or whatever. It's kind of tongue-in-cheek but also not because they do find they're happy ever after by being good people and being good at sexy times!

What do you love about writing?

Creating happy ever afters (or at least happy endings) for everybody

What is the most frustrating aspect of writing?

Editing. It's fun but also more mentally exhausting.

Have you ever wrestled with a character and had to rewrite your entire plot to deal with their unruly behavior?

Yes! That's part of why I had to cut so, so many words.

What's the strangest thing you have ever done as an author? Something that you would never have expected to do?

Honestly? TikTok. I'm Gen X, and I find video more alienating than images, so I much prefer other social media sites, but I'm learning to embrace it.

Do you prefer to write series or standalone books?

Series. I love reading connected books, and that's also how I write. I have so many spreadsheets connecting all of my different characters and how they are connected to one another!

What book do you think everyone should read?

In the world? Hmm. The Awakening by Kate Chopin.

What is your favorite book or series?

Okay, I *do* have a favorite book series: the Amelia Peabody mystery series by Barbara Mertz, written by Elizabeth Peters. They're beautiful, lovely, intriguing, historical, glorious, and full of snark.

Give a shout-out to your favorite author! Feel free to include your favorite indie author too!

I love way too many authors to pick! It'd be like picking my favorite child.

What advice would you give new authors?

Writing is fun, but it's also work, and it takes practice and perseverance. You have to work at it. Some days, it feels impossible, so do something else: read something unrelated, re-read something of yours, or work on something entirely new. But don't give up just because it's hard sometimes. Reading a lot in the genre(s) you're writing is super important, too. Don't try to jump on a money-maker without doing your due diligence and reading 50+ books in that genre. Readers WILL know if you don't actually like and respect that genre.

What's your biggest challenge as a writer?

Prioritizing writing over the millions of other things you have to do in order to help people find your work

How do you deal with a negative review? and the positive ones?

It's hard to be objective about your own writing, but I try to do that first. Then, I can agree or not when I see them by accident. However, I try not to read reviews. I'm super grateful for them, but they're not for me. I already know I like the book. Reviews are to influence potential readers, not me. In the beginning, I cried at every review, good or bad. I'm too close to what I'm writing, so I decided I just would try to avoid them. So far, I've only gotten tagged in mostly positive ones, but I'm sure I'll get happily tagged on a 1-star review at some point. That's when you know you've made it, right? ;)

What do you do to unwind and relax?

I read! Words were my passion long before I started writing them.

Where can readers find your stories?

I'm on Amazon Kindle Unlimited, Amazon Kindle Vella, Ream Stories, and a tiny bit of free stuff on Medium. I've got everything on https://linktr.ee/pennyheart

Here are a few links to check out!

Tangled in Ribbons

Connected at Last

Growing More Connected

Hidden Connections

Author Notes

Hi Readers,

Thanks for reading this interview. If you enjoyed this, please feel free to check out a few of my other interviews in the link below.

Spinning Tales of Magic and Mayhem

The Water Chemist

Here's a link to all of my stories: KA Stefana's Stories.

If you love my little interviews, please subscribe to my page so you won't miss my new stories. Have fun reading through the old ones, and feel free to leave comments. I really want to hear from you!

Authors
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About the Creator

KA Stefana

I started writing as a hobby during quarantine. From a hobby, a passion bloomed. Author of Dark Fantasy with a twist of romance. Available on KU - The Origins of Darkness, The Daughters of Darkness and The Forgotten.

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