SARA Cafe Welcomes Modrea Mitchell-Reichert

How did you learn about SARA and what made you want to join the group?

I was a member of Alamo Writers Unlimited and Sisters of Crime in Austin, trying to find my place within fiction. A member in one of those groups pointed me to SARA, so I went to some meetings at Grady’s BBQ on Nakoma and enjoyed them. Then my writing took me in a different direction until recently.

What sub-genre(s) of romance stories do you write?

Having always enjoyed mysteries I began by writing Romantic Suspense. Recently, elements of the paranormal and light science fiction are woven into my stories. I am not a science scholar, but I like stories set in an environment of “other worlds”. Historical romance has always been a favorite, but I have yet to write a story in that genre.

What made you decide to write romance?

I’ve always enjoyed reading about layered characters that grow emotionally and ultimately discover their ‘complimentary half’.

What do you think is the most misconceived idea readers have about romance writers?

That writing a romance is easy, formulaic, and anyone can do it because it’s fluff writing.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given or read about writing?

Keep your butt in the chair and write and believe in your voice.

What writer(s) inspired you to try your hand at writing as well?

That’s a tough question because the best writers make the writing feel seamless and smooth – like good movies. That said, by reading some of the following writers listed below and experiencing their crafting of the stories they gave me clear goals to aim at.  Writers who have me re-reading their stories to hear their voice and writing style are: Nora Roberts, Sue Grafton, Jayne Ann Krentz/ Amanda Quick, Mary Balogh, Linda Howard, Suzanne Brockmann, Sandra Brown, Maya Banks, Nalini Singh, Joanna Bourne, T.S. Joyce, Stephanie Laurens, Kristen Ashley, Suzanne Wright, Jacqueline Winspear, Anne Perry, Peter Tremayne, and Henrik Ibsen’s plays.

What is the best book you’ve ever read about the craft of writing?

On craft, I’d have to answer – The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B.White;  Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King; and Pocket Reference for Writers by Toby Fulwiler and Alan R. Hayakawa

Are you a pantser or are you an outliner? Why?

It feels like a combination.  I generally have a broad sense of the story I want to tell, rough it out, and then organically build the story. To me it’s rather like creating a painting – you lay down the composition in broad shapes for balance and placement – then use color, angles, and edges to create the finished image.

What is the hardest part of writing for you? Starting? Creating a scene? Etc?

Developing complex and multi-faceted characters that intrinsically drive the story.

What is the biggest surprise and/or frustration you’ve learned in the writing/publishing process?

It is harder to publish in fiction, than non-fiction.

Is there a genre you wish you could write in, but never will? 

Science fiction. But I’d need to go back to school to learn A LOT more science.

What would happen if you didn’t write?

I don’t even go there. Creating is a part of me I can’t shut down. However, I’d paint for a while and then come back to writing refreshed.

We have all experienced rejection. Give me an example of one you’ve had, and how you learned to write past it.

It’s a bad news-good news story. Early on, I wrote a short story of a young girl uncovering a body in a shed and ultimately discovering the murderer. I sent it out to magazines that were publishing short stories.  All the publications rejected it, but on the pre-printed rejection slip I got back from Redbook Magazine was a personal note to send another story. It’s one of my most treasured rejection notices.

What do you see as your writing goals 5 years from now?

To be published as a fiction writer. I’m a member of PRO so hopefully, I’m headed in the correct direction. Yet, at this point in my life writing the most engaging stories I can is my journey, not the destination of publishing

Any other tips or words you’d like to share about writing?

Everyone is at a different place in their personal journey and shouldn’t compare where they are to the other writers around them. The Muses and Fate can be bitches to us writers, but every so often, they join forces and the results are oh so sweetly rewarding.

Don’t give up, believe in your journey.