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January 29, 1988 - Image 58

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-01-29

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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58

FRIDAY, JANUARY 29, 1988

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Romance

Continued from preceding page

tually seeing it published,
was that I believed so totally
in it from the very beginning.
I remember just having com-
plete conviction that it was
going to be published. My
husband, who was gung-ho
with me all the way, would
look at it from time to time
and say, 'Keep going. It's
great'."
Her conviction was under-
mined for just a bit, however,
when Avon Books rejected
Greenberg's novel its first
time out.
Their terse, form-letter re-
jection of the book left her,
Greenberg says, "crushed and
devastated," but even more
determined to sell the book.
The next time out, the his-
torical romance went to Ace
Books (now Berkley-Jove).
"I just started with the A's,"
Greenberg says. "And I knew
Ace had a book out that I'd
seen everywhere, although I
can't remember the name of
it now."
A few months later, editors
at the publishing house
which specialized in romance
novels wrote back, making
Greenberg an offer. Though
the offer was an advance of
less than $5,000, Greenberg,
thrilled at the chance to be in
print, took it and, in January
1980, To Distant Shores ap-
peared in bookstores across
the United States. (That
January was an especially
momentous time for Green-
berg; her first child, Rachel,
was born later in the month.)
Greenberg began work on
her second book, The
Wayward Heart, soon after
the family moved to the
Detroit area that same. year.
Others, written in her at-
home office in West Bloom-
field, would follow at a rate of
about one per year: Promise
Me the Dawn, My True and
Tender Love, Moonlit Obses-
sion, and Looking Glass
Years. The last, in bookstores
now, was called "a winner" in
a recent Detroit Free Press
review. Her second novel, The
Wayward Heart, made the
New York Times trade paper-
back bestseller list, when
about 100,000 copies of the
set-in-the-American-West love
story were bought up by eager
readers in 1982. Today, her
books, sold through a New
York agent, bring in six-
figure advances.
Though her settings have
included such far-flung spots
as London, Philadelphia,
parts of the American West,
and even exotic Madagascar,
Greenberg says she's never
seen most of the locations she
writes about. Instead, she
simple researches each place
at the local library, and goes
on from there.

Jan Greenberg can sometimes write up to 16 pages per day.

"I basically do all my
researching at the library,"
she explains. "I devour books
about social history, fashion
in another era, the way peo-
ple lived. Also, when I'm
writing a book, I read a lot of
fiction set in the same period
that I'm working in."
Though the story of Green-
berg's success may sound as if
it's all been as easy as one-
two-three, she's quick to point
out one real difficulty.
"It's actually very hard for
me (to write)," she says. "It's
hard for me, every day, to go
in to my office, sit down, and
force myself to work. Every
day, you wonder if you're go-
ing to be able to do it. Every
day, you wonder if the words
will come."
She copes with the pro-
blem usually, she says, by
simply "running through"
the story — that is, getting
the bare bones of the story
itself written down, from
start to finish, and then going
back and wrestling with pro-
blems and the finer details of
the work.
"I also try to keep pretty
much to a schedule," she says,
"although I do fall behind.
Right now, for instance, with
the book I'm working on, I'm
writing the fourth chapter,
and I should be into the 12th.
"Last year, when I was
working on Looking Glass
Years, and really fell far
behind, I discovered that the
only way I could finish on
time would be to put together
eight pages a day, seven days
a week, until my deadline. It
was grueling, and I was a
total wreck at first. But, I
found that I could do it, and
what was amazing was that,
toward the end, I was doing
11, 12, sometimes 16 pages a
day, and I wasn't even a zom-
bie! I'd never have thought it
was possible, but I believe you
can do more than you think
you can. I guess it's like exer-
cising — you build up your
(writing) muscles."
On an average day, Green-

berg, who writes while
daughter Rachel is in school,
turns out about five pages per
day, she says.
Though full-time writing
and family keep her busy,
Greenberg still finds time for
active participation in the
Romance Writers of America,
a 3,000-member group which,
in the Detroit area, meets
monthly, and provides en-
couragement, constructive
criticism, and other help to
working writers. Annual con-
ferences are held in various
cities in the United States,
which Greenberg usually at-
tends. (Last year's RWA con-
ference was held in Dallas,
providing Greenberg with her
first, up-close look at Texas,
the local for My True and
Tender Love, whose setting
she'd first "visited" through
her West Bloomfield Public
Library.)
Greenberg, who has never
taken any writing classes, in-
sists she's learned the tricks-
of-the-romance-writing-trade
mostly through reading,
reading and more reading,
and sees one basic key to suc-
cessful romance writing.
"You want an historical
romance to be a page-turner,"
she emphasizes. "That's why
writing them is difficult —
you have to keep up the pace.
An historical romance is real-
ly an adventure story, and it's
plotted very much like a
suspence story.
"I've read the classic
romances like Forever Amber,
Wuthering Heights, Rebecca,
Gone With the Wind. When I
read, I try to absorb the feel
of the book, make mental
notes on pacing and the struc-
ture of it. I think my favorite
romance of all time is pro-
bably Pride and Prejudice.
"As to favorite writers, I
love John Jakes, Sidney
Sheldon, anything by Mary
Stuart. Possibly my favorite,
though, is Belva Plain. I
think her writing has
tremendous sensitivity, and
she really captures the emo-

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