I'm so excited to introduce to my readers a wonderful new author. Ingrid Hahn is a debut author of a Regency Historical Romance called TO WIN A LADY’S HEART. It is available today at all the best e-retailers!
Isn't Ingrid's first book cover fantastic? It makes me want to drop everything and disappear into my reading cave. Here is an excerpt of TO WIN A LADY’S HEART:
He held the bright red berries toward her. “It’s up to you to save me from my vice.”
“You don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve had a strawberry. A real strawberry, not preserves.”
He plucked one up by its little crown of leaves and offered it. “Well then?”
“Maybe...maybe just one.” Absently, she slid the metal base of her candle stand next to his on the shelf.
“Go on, Grace.”
“Then again.” She bit into her bottom lip. “I don’t know if I can restrain myself to only one.”
An unfortunate second interpretation of what it would be for Grace’s restraint to dissolve sent a rush of heat down to a place that needed no such coaxing.
His voice lowered, texture roughening. “I’m giving you every encouragement not to.”
“But if I start, I don’t think I can stop.”
“Funny. That’s precisely how I feel.”
Ingrid, I’m so thrilled to have you here today. To start off this interview, tell us a little about yourself so my reader to get to know the person behind the writer.
This last year has been incredible! In addition to receiving my first contract with Entangled Publishing, I became a new mother in May of 2015. I have a sweet, happy, playful little boy who is the light of my life. As you can imagine, he has put a premium on my work time!
My husband (the other light of my life) and I live just outside of Washington, DC. He’s a naval architect and part of a sea shanty group—a real one, it books paying gigs. If you’re in the greater DC area and want to know more about the world of shanty singing, email me and I will give you the low down! Our life is full of joy, laughter, and fun. Oh, there are the occasional difficult moments, too. But why remember those when there are so many more good ones?
Your son is so adorable. I don't know how you can set him down long enough to write. Tell us a little bit about how you came to write TO WIN A LADY’S HEART?
For quite some time I had an idea in my head about a woman who was playing, essentially, a Regency version game of hide and seek. She hides in a storeroom only to be locked inside with a man. She goes into the storeroom a single woman and walks out engaged. But I didn’t have anything more.
Also funny—I swore I’d never write a Christmas story. Looking back I have no idea why I thought I wouldn’t do one. One day, a switch flipped. I absolutely had to write a Christmas story. And it absolutely had to be my storeroom plot idea. I sat down, I wrote, I pushed myself when I got stuck, and it all came together.
The original story version was only seventeen thousand words—the length of a short story. After submitting to Entangled, they came back to me with a revise and resubmit request. They said the earl winning his reluctant fiancée’s heart was the center of the story—very true—and a great focus for a book, but that my story had too much story to be short. They asked me to make it full length and gave me one of my very favorite things in the history of my writing career to date: An absolutely wonderful revision letter. It was specific enough to be helpful and broad enough for me to still be creative and in charge of the story and characters.
The rest is history!
Check out my really cool Pinterest board full of inspiring images—but come back after you have a gander because I’m just warming up and you won’t want to miss the rest of the interview!
I just love you story board. Since we are showing pictures, here is Ingrid's author photo. She is just adorable!
What was your biggest obstacle and how did you overcome it? In other words, what do you think drove you to complete this enormous project?
There were times I didn’t think I would make it. I was newly pregnant when I received my revise and resubmit request for Entangled—about five or six weeks. I was so painfully exhausted, I couldn’t work. In fact, I ended up being disabled by the entire first sixteen weeks. As excited as I was about my baby and about becoming a mother, it was very difficult on me psychologically not to be able to work. I slept a lot. I was very sick, but also gaining weight too quickly. My amazing husband really stepped up. He did all the household chores, cooked, cleaned—everything. Normally we share chores equally, but not in a tit for tat way—if something needs to be done, we do it and don’t keep score. I could barely fold laundry. I was in bad shape.
I hit the by-the-book first trimester mark (about fourteen weeks) and was terrified when I didn’t start immediately feeling better. Was this exhaustion and fog going to debilitate me for the rest of my life? How was I going to take care of a baby, much less ever write again?
Then I hit sixteen weeks and POOF! Like magic, I perked up. I could write again! And write I did. I buckled down and dug in. Two months later, the first draft was finished. I polished it up and sent it off.
Long story short, I was paired with an absolutely amazingly kind, thoughtful, intelligent, and savvy editor, Erin Molta. It’s been a great partnership and I can’t say enough good things about this talented and smart woman. She was an amazing guide through the editing process. Everything she suggested helped my book turn out for the better. I learned so much. I’m thrilled—thrilled!—to be working with her for two more books. I know I still have a lot to learn. I just hope I can live up to her expectations of me and make her proud to call me her author.
That is an amazing story of perseverance. I believe that is what you have to do to reach that dream just beyond your touch. When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
It’s been an interesting journey.
In first grade I published a poem in my school newsletter:
Run like the wind.
Will you run with me?
I’m not a strong or fast reader, but I’ve always been a very devoted reader. My family prizes books and education and reading. This apple did not fall far from the tree. And what a good tree it is, too! I’m super lucky. And now that I have my own little one, I’m excited to gently guide him into reading, too. I am thrilled to be able to share with him something that has brought me such joy in my life.
In seventh grade I started keeping a diary. I haven’t for some years, maybe a decade, but I have fifty very fat volumes all filled with my own personal writing.
I probably became a writer in eighth grade. My best friend and I discovered—can you guess? Romance novels! And what was the first thing I did? Write my own stories. They might have been a little steamy. My science teacher caught me writing in class and exposed my secret to everyone. It wasn’t long before pretty much everyone in the entire school knew. At the end of the year I was voted most creative—and not because I had a knack for drawing back then!
My freshman and sophomore years in high school I would look at the class catalog every year coveting the creative writing class elective I could finally take as a junior. I studied the class book well before taking the class, imagining all the things I wanted to write.
It took a long time before really I figured out how to write fiction. Like, really figured it out. Want to know the magic formula? Sit down. Write until The End. Revise. Make writing friends. Learn to take hard critiques. Write more. My first novel was the biggest mess EVER. But it was true for me that you can’t learn to write a novel by doing anything but writing a novel!
Fun side note: my husband and I met at a bookstore where we both worked. The first floor information desk of a huge Barnes and Nobel in Seattle which, sadly, is now closed.
Ingrid, you hit the nail on the head about writing. The only thing I can add is write for yourself first. It has to bring you pleasure. I love to ask authors this next question because I love the diverse answers I receive. Do you believe writers are born or made?
We seem to have two diametrically opposite myths about writers in our culture. One group thinks writing is very easy and anyone can do it. The second thinks that you’re somehow born a special genius who has savant-like storytelling skills. Neither is true.
Writing, as well as fine arts like drawing and painting, takes study, dedication, and practice. Craft and technique can be learned. I would encourage everyone who loves to write to keep at it, even if only for themselves. Maybe you don’t need to rush to publish any more than you would take up the piano as an adult and start giving concerts if you’re not highly, highly trained and a real professional, but luckily, writing is somewhat easier than playing the piano. At least for the mortals among us.
What is your ideal writing space?
These days, anywhere where the baby is happily playing with the babysitter giving me the time!
This picture is of my office, where the 25% of the sweat, blood, tears, and hard work happened. Note the green walls—green is my favorite color! And I have a lot of green stuff to show for it. (Comment at my last critique group: “Two green rooms? I know you like green, but…”) Sorry for the mess, we are packing up in anticipation of staging our place for sale.
It looks like you have a little of my favorite color purple in there too.
This second picture is where the magic happens.
Yes, this is my shower. It’s a magic box, really. My writing routine used to be: research/do creative stuff until noon, start writing, get stuck around three in the afternoon, get in the shower and have dialogue start zipping through my mind as water pours over my head.
So funny! When I'm stuck, I brush my teeth. That mindless task helps me relax and I get the best ideas. So what moment in this journey are you most proud of?
I had a ton to learn since I first joined RWA. A ton. It sort of all came together in the last two years. I know—two years sounds like two too many. And that’s not even counting the years prior where I was absorbing information.
Storytelling is only part of the equation. Building conflict. Sustaining conflict. Coming up with a good premise or hook. Articulating that premise or hook concisely. (It’s an art form.) Presenting oneself online to build brand. Learning the rules of craft and then learning they’re BS and breaking them. Learning about who is publishing what and why and who I might like to work with and why.
And—this is a big one for me—gaining confidence. I’m the poster child for the introverted. People routinely think I’m a snob. I’m not, I’m just shy! The first time I went to a local romance writers’ meeting, I only got as far as the door. I had so much anxiety, I had to turn around and go home again. This was after psyching myself up for months to go in the first place. After faithfully attending meetings for three years, I attend my second chapter Christmas party only to be asked by another regular meeting attendee if I was new!
So I’m proud when I can walk into a room full of writers, nerves and all, and make myself mingle. I’m proud every time I do something scary. And I don’t stop challenging myself to do things outside of my comfort zone. It’s fabulous and freeing! Still scary, but less so each time.
Now for a few giggles. There is someone you will never meet but whom you desperately need for them to know who you are. The only way to communicate with them is to send them a box with three items. What would those three items be?
That person is Jane Austen, the most brilliant writer and prose stylist to ever live (sorry Cormac McCarthy, you’re firmly in second place), and my box can travel through time. The first item I send her is a drawing of my cat—not a photograph, I don’t want to scare her. The second is a square of linen with a very faint spritz of my favorite perfume. There is nothing like scent to create and evoke memories. The last item is a box of my favorite chocolates—Fran’s—because I want her to enjoy one of my most beloved indulgences. I would love to know Jane Austen and I shared the Fran’s experience. I only hope she would enjoy it almost as much as I do.
I knew you wouldn't leave Jane Austen behind. Great answer. You’re going into battle. What are you writing, who are you fighting and what is your weapon?
I’m writing a letter to my family in case I don’t make it. However, I have a secret weapon. My voice. I start singing and bring my enemy—grammar snobs—to their knees. To get me to stop and agree never to sing again, they surrender and happily sign my peace treaty, agreeing that the purpose of language is to communicate, that grammar rules are essentially arbitrary, that not everyone needs to or should speak standard English, and that language is a living entity that changes. They put down STRUNK & WHITE and take up Steven Pinker’s SENSE OF STYLE instead.
Oh my, that is just wonderful. One more question. What is up next for you?
I’m thrilled to be continuing with the series—the Landon Sisters—that TO WIN A LADY’S HEART begins. I have a contract for two more books! Watch for TO COVET A LADY’S HEART and TO SEDUCE A LADY’S HEART, to be published with Entangled. If sales are good, there will be two more Landon Sisters books.
So give my book a try and review my book on Amazon or Goodreads! Be sure to get a legit copy—and this is true for all books—not a copy from a pirate site. Years and years of hard work goes into writing a book and most of them these days you can get for less than the price of a latte. Which one are you going to enjoy more? Hopefully, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, the book! For those for whom a book is a legitimately difficult expense, use your library! I’m a huge library supporter and I hope to serve that community myself.
And if you like my book, tell your friends! Word of mouth is an extremely powerful tool for authors. I’d be over the moon and honored like you wouldn’t believe if I could continue to bring these stories and characters that I love so dearly to those who can love them as much as me.
Where can readers find out more about your book and yourself?
Book: At all fine e-retailers!
And more! Search for my name, Ingrid Hahn, or the title of my book, TO WIN A LADY’S HEART, at your favorite place to buy e-books! I’d be so honored to connect with readers on social media.
Facebook and Goodreads: Search Ingrid Hahn
It has been such a blast to finally have you on my blog, Ingrid. I wish you the very best of sales. If anyone has a question for Ingrid Hahn, please don't be shy. She is the sweetest person and would love to answer your question.
I hope everyone has a great week. Take time for yourself and read a good book. Until we meet again, be safe, and as always, be kind to one another.
Hugs to all!
Nancy C. Weeks