Ginny Sterling writes inspirational contemporary and historical romance. She will chat about how she works a non-writing-related full-time job while releasing books monthly, how she does her research on her cop/military romances, and how she writes without an outline.
Q. Let’s start from the beginning. How long have you been writing and publishing?
A. A little over three years. I started when my oldest graduated from high school. My husband works 3rd shift and I found myself at home with literally nothing to do – staring at four walls.
Q. After your stare-fest, what happened?
A. Truthfully – I was sitting on the couch reading a book and when I finished it… I was so disappointed. It was so unremarkable and I had loved the character so much that it HURT to have it end in a fizzle (before you ask- I don’t remember the name of the book). I was venting to my mother – who said, “Well, if you can do better… then do it.” I wrote 5000 words that day. She’s always been an inspiration and motivated our family to try new things – I fell in love with writing at that moment.
Q. Wow, that’s amazing. So you obviously were a reader before that? Was “voracious” accurate? And what kind of books did you like to read?
A. OMIGOSH I love reading – my whole family reads. I’ve read everything from Jean Auel, to Stephen King. My family actually writes too – my sister, my mother, and my father all have books out there on Amazon.
Q. Your whole family….that’s awesome. Did you ever think, growing up, that you would be writing books?
A. Oh gosh no… My English teacher from high school would do a backflip if she knew I had so many books available online. As it was, I think I was her least motivated to write in her class.
Q. What did you want to be then? Or what did you end up doing? Before writing books.
A. HAHAHAHAHA… ready for this?
Q. * braces herself *
A. I’m in Automotive.
Q. As in…? Car design? Repair? Sales? Or something else?
A. Service. I can tell you all about camshafts, intake valves, pulleys, valve cover gaskets and ECM’s…
Q. Nice! Has that come in handy in any of your romances? Because I would LOVE to know that kind of stuff for a car-type guy.
A. Under my pen name, Gina Cole, I wrote about a girl mechanic.
Q. I love that flipping of gender roles. So you wrote under a pen name at first? Why?
A. Yes- it’s steamy contemporary… so I don’t hardly write those kinds of books much. I’ve dabbled in paranormal too – but that’s just not me. I don’t share much on that pen name because I am much more comfortable with my current genre. I still write under a pen name – Ginny Sterling. The field I am in, my family, etc. – I would rather keep the two worlds separate.
Q. How long have you been writing under Ginny Sterling? And how many books do you have out under that pen name?
A. Oh wow – two seconds. Three years as Ginny Sterling… omigosh- I’ve never counted. 53.
Actually – that is all 3 pen names.
Q. Wow. So how often have you been publishing? Three pen names!
A. But 90% are as Ginny. I’ve been putting out 2 a month this year (and its killing me) and then usually one every other month. Sometimes (and I don’t recommend it) I do 3 releases.
Q. How do you juggle three pen names??
A. I don’t…. hahahahaha! My other two have slowly died off…
Q. How long are your books on the average?
A. They range between 25k-60k. I type really fast (even if my grades in high school would disagree!).
Q. Was it a conscious decision on your part to rapid release? And why?
A. No – it was enthusiasm. I would fall in love with my characters so very much that I just HAD to share them. I still have a crush on some of my ‘guys’.
Q. I hear you. Before we keep going on the writing questions, what sort of non-writing things did your mom encourage you to do? I just have to get that out of the way.
A. Running, baking, cross-stitching or sewing. I love to quilt – but don’t do it as much now because of my writing. I’ve run 2 mini-marathons here in Louisville. Did the Triple Crown Races here too.
Q. Okay, awesome. Wait…Triple Crown for people? Or were you a jockey?
A. Louisville has a running event called the Triple Crown… its 3 races here in town. 5k, 6k, 10k
Q. That’s cute. Okay. So I told you recently that I borrowed your Lawkeeper Box Set, and loved the first two stories. I am saving the last one for an uninterrupted sit-down soon. One of the things that stood out to me was how your characters feel so REAL. How do you prep your stories?
A. I’m a pantster… full confession. I write what I know… I project myself into the characters and simply dream.
Q. Ugh. One of those brilliant creatives. LOL
A. I might have a vague – HAHAHAHAHA NOOOO. I might have a vague outline…
Q. Ha ha, go on…
A. …but that’s it.
Q. Do you base your characters on real people?
A. Oh gosh – I try not to. Family and Friends will say ‘oh was that me?’ and I’m like “Not hardly.” I do use my husband for quite a bit of my guys cause he’s such a sweetheart.
Q. Whose brainchild is the Lawkeeper series and how does that collaboration work exactly?
A. OHHHH that’s all Jenna Brandt. I ❤ her bunches – she’s such a sweet soul.
Q. But you are part of that collaboration, correct? Do you write in each others’ worlds? And how long have you been writing in that series?
A. Lawkeepers puts out a book every week or so. It’s a gathering of authors that she selects and you have to put out a book by a specific date, specific theme. Yes – they are independent novels in that series. I’ve been with LK for 2 years.
Q. Pros and cons of being in a collab series?
A. When you ‘borrow’ someone else’s character its hard. Independent stories are so much easier. Pros – you have a theme, a reader base, and a sisterhood to help you along if you get stuck. Cons – you have a theme and share ideas – but sharing comes with risk. So far – I’ve been blessed to not have to worry about the risk thing with Lawkeepers.
Q. How do you research the law enforcement part? And the K9 officers?
A. Google and I are besties.
Q. With such a tight publishing schedule, how does your month timeline look like?
A. M-F work like crazy… Sat & Sun I write all day long if my husband is working. I will sit down and write for 9 hours straight. This week is a prime example of the insanity…. Mon & Tuesday – 7:30-6pm… come home and write until 11pm. Wednesday – work in the morning, drive 8 hours to Atlanta… then class for work Thursday & Friday – Saturday drive back to Louisville. Edits Sunday. Start over Monday. (Kill me now.) I don’t think – I just do. Go, go, go, do, do, do.
Q. Wait…you are still working for the service department?
A. Yes- I work 45 hours a week. Insanity.
Q. How do you do it?????
A. Because I seriously LOVE it. I love creating a world and it’s like taking a vacation every time I throw myself into a book. I’m burning the candle at both ends with a blowtorch… LOL.
Q. You are amazing. Do you mind sharing some numbers with me as you are comfortable? What kind of income can a 53-book backlist bring in? Highest month, yearly, whatever…
A. I just broke $1700 for the first time ever for a month. My first month was $4. It’s expanded exponentially. $300 a month after a year. $700 a month after 2 years. Yeah – I hear about all these authors that make 10k a month (—> NOT ME). Lol
Q. Well, for what it’s worth, you are writing 10k books. What kind of marketing, paid or unpaid, do you do?
A. I love it- but I’m not the greatest at marketing.
Q. Ha ha, you read my mind.
A. I usually do paid marketing. I do some swaps with other authors – but several times I get the “whoops I forgot to send you out” messages. But I sent their book out… you know?
A. I swap with people I know.
Q. I just realized, looking at your profile photo…you do historical romance as well?
A. Historical and contemporary.
Q. Which one comes easier to you? Which one do you enjoy more?
A. Contemporary is easier but historical is more fun. With historical, I have to do a lot more research. “When was foil invented?” “How did you preserve meat in 1880?”
Q. I will admit, I have never wondered about foil. When WAS it invented?
A. Foil was 1915 I think…. waxed brown paper was in 1885 (again-I think). Google…. google… google.
Q. Your historicals are in the Lawkeeper series, too, correct?
Q. Have you ever craved to branch out on your own series, completely different from what you are writing now, or maybe you already have?
A. Just started my own series actually… Now you are reading my mind. My series is called Healing Hearts.
Q. I peeked at your Zon page. Remember Fate. Remember Joy.
A. It’s a contemporary romance that started based off the love of a character. In that box set – have you read Lawfully Gifted yet?
Q. Which character? I have only read the first two. Is Gifted the last one?
A. Yes. I absolutely fell in love with the character John from Lawfully Gifted…. the idea of a penpal falling in love with a lonely soldier halfway across the world just hit me.
Q. Aww…. well then I look forward to reading it. Yes, that sounds positively lovely.
A. It’s wonderfully sweet.
Q. So John was a side character?
A. John is the MC – but in Healing Hearts, the other soldiers from the barracks get a chance to fall in love. I was actually bothered that book was over… I think they need to have a baby in a future book. Ethan Minter gets injured in a side note in Lawfully Gifted – he is the MC in Remember Hope.
Q. Where is the barracks at?
Q. And you researched solely via Google?
A. (Pathetic- I know.) Yes. Google, Youtube, my ex was navy… but we won’t go there, hahahaha.
Q. Not if your readers are swept up in your world and don’t call you out on inaccuracies. Well, I would say having an ex- from the Navy is great material.
A. I sure hope they don’t – but if they do, then it’s a great learning experience.
Q. Did that scare you starting out writing about military?
A. Nahhhh they are people too. I worry about making a mistake about rank, etc. but I try to keep it about the characters- not the field.
Q. Not so much about their character, but getting the lingo and process right. Ah, yes, I can see that.
A. If I said you had to get a chit to grow facial hair… only military get that…. but if I say that they have to get permission on file from their commanding officer – it’s the same thing, just not using the lingo. Nobody knows what a ‘chit’ is. Ex-Navy wife. In fact, my editor asked me what it was… that’s how I knew I needed to swap it out.
Q. How do you balance that–characters vs. field work? I thought you did it well in the second book in your box set. The female MC training a K9 officer.
A. I write one or two detailed big scenes… like the dog attack. I put myself in her shoes, what would it feel like to have someone suddenly sic a dog on you. Shock, anger, fear, frustration? It’s 70 or 90 pounds of angry teeth. You aren’t worried about protocol – you are worried about puncture wounds.
Q. I have actually been in a bite suit! I felt like an oversized dog toy being shaken. We are almost out of time and I am kind of sad about that, so we may have to visit again another time. Tell me about your editor and how much of your draft changes, if at all.
A. Bless her heart… so far, she hasn’t changed any of my drafts. I’m comma impaired… but no draft changes. I have BIIIGGGG issues with commas.
Q. You are very talented and lucky to draft so clean. Ginny, any parting words for aspiring authors out there?
A. The hardest part is to get it out of your head and onto the computer (or paper). Once you get it out, then you’re a success no matter how many copies you sell.
Q. Oh, and I need to know how you keep yourself going after a long day of work. What is your stamina secret?
A. CAFFEINE. Diet Dr. Pepper, coffee, mint tea. Caffeine Queen, Empress of the bean, Lieutenant Latte.
Q. I was hoping you would say chocolate. Though come to think of it, it does have caffeine. Ginny, I had such a blast getting to know you better. Thank you so much!!! You are amazing and congrats on your success.
A. Thank you so much! This was a lot of fun!
Check out Ginny Sterling’s books on Amazon.