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Shana Abé

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Sweetest Dark, The
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Lisa Marie Rice
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Lisa Marie Rice is eternally 30 years old and will never age. She is tall and willowy and beautiful. Men drop at her feet like ripe pears. She has won every major book prize in the world. She is a black belt with advanced degrees in archeology, nuclear physics and Tibetan literature. She is a concert pianist. Did I mention the Nobel?

Of course, Lisa Marie Rice is a virtual woman and exists only at the keyboard when writing erotic romance. She disappears when the monitor winks off.

Now isn't it fun to be someone like that -- even if only in front of the computer? Secretly writing erotic romance (nobody I know knows) is like having a delicious secret lover, only you don't have to buy new underwear!

Of course Lisa Marie Rice shares a lot of my likes and dislikes and we both share them with our heroines. Lisa Marie Rice and I both live in Italy and love it. We were both born American but have lived our entire adult lives abroad.

I started writing as soon as I could read, which was early, and wrote endlessly as a child and teenager. If you'd asked me when I was seven what I wanted to be when I grew up, the answer would have been -- a writer. But then I moved to Europe , studied languages, and -- not having a taste for poverty -- decided I needed to earn a good living. I worked many many years at a wonderful job -- simultaneous interpreting.

It was a far cry from creative writing but it did teach me a lot about language -- how it's used, how to distinguish nuances in meaning, how different professions use completely different terminology. You have to get into the delegate's head to translate him or her well, and this ability has served me in my writing. I traveled extrensively for more years than I care to say, met fabulously interesting people and saw first hand how powerful people act. Mayber I should have been writing novels, but I can't consider those years as wasted . Indeed, I sometimes feel sorry for those young writers who decide in their twenties that they will have a writing 'career', close themselves up and churn out thirty category romances in ten years. And then they wonder why the well runs dry.

One day, ten years ago, I said to myself -- you've always wanted to be a writer. If you don't do it now, when will you? And if you never try, you'll regret it. So I put myself through a grueling self-imposed apprenticeship. Reading 800 category romances, a gazillion how-to writing books and writing and rewriting a very bad first novel 10 times (still, it eventually sold ). They say you have to write one thousand bad pages before you write a good page -- and boy did I!

I did what all good girls are supposed to do -- I joined RWA, joined a critique group (in Florence, Italy and I was the only one writing romance. One of these days I'm going to write about that critique group. Anonymously). I ended up publishing 5 category romances for a big New York publishing house where I was very very unhappy. When the line folded, I was secretly relieved.

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