Thursday, October 27, 2011

2011 ACFW Genesis Romantic Suspense Winner Renee Ann Smith!!

Casey and Renee Ann Smith after her win
of the 2011 ACFW Genesis Award!
Journey of a Genesis Winner (or from romantic suspense enthusiast to romantic suspense writer in thirty short years!)

During my teen years, I fell in love with romantic suspense. Immersed in the pages of my suspense novels, I imagined myself in all kinds of exciting adventures. I read every suspense book I could get my hands on, but my favorite author was Mary Stewart, a British professor of English, who became a best-selling novelist. (I love that whole English-teacher-turned-author thing!)

When I began my writing journey three years ago, I had no clue what kind of manuscript to write. All those Mary Stewart books came to mind, and, no surprise, I chose romantic suspense. I set to work and fleshed out my hero, my heroine, and my villain. Though my villain doesn’t show up in every scene, he plays a vital role. Defeating him gives my hero and heroine a “noble quest.” Therefore, I planned my villain’s strengths, motivations, and goals carefully. Then I let him loose to wreak havoc in my small town setting. Amazingly, everything he did seemed to shake my hero and heroine’s core values. That helped me weave the spiritual thread throughout the novel.

As I crafted my story, I remembered that Mary Stewart (who is considered one of the founders of the romantic suspense genre) wrote her books in such a way that “the solving of the mystery helps to illuminate the hero’s personality,” so that the heroine—and all of us readers—would quickly fall in love with him. I endeavored to create scenes and conversations that highlighted the inner journey and qualities of my hero. The heroine gets to watch the hero save lives, rise to leadership, keep his cool under stressful circumstances, show mercy to some bad folks—plus the guy adores his dog. Add in the urgency of danger lurking around every corner. No matter how short a time it had been, wouldn’t you fall in love with him? 

My heroine began her journey from a place of fear, which can be a problem for a character who’s supposed to assume a starring role in a suspense story. I realized she needed a solid motivation for stepping out of her comfort zone and spending so much time with this man (the hero) she barely knew. So I threw into the mix a vulnerable character my heroine would be determined to protect at all costs—even if it meant risking her own life and butting heads with the stubborn, why does he always think he’s right, can’t stand him except for those amazing blue eyes hero. Fortunately for me, this vulnerable character immediately got mixed up with the villain and kept it a secret and then tried to do some detecting on her own. She helped me avoid a sagging middle in my story and changed my heroine’s life. Score!

I finished my story and began revising early in 2011. What to do next? When March rolled around, I entered the Daphne du Maurier Contest. And on deadline day, I entered the ACFW Genesis Contest. God blessed me with wins in both!

Bio: Renee Ann Smith teaches English in a Christian high school by day and writes inspirational fiction by night. In 2011, she won the Genesis Award and the Daphne du Maurier Award for unpublished writers. You can connect with her at her blog Doorkeeper and on Facebook

Casey here again:
Renee Ann, thanks for being here on the Alley with us today! It was GREAT to finally meet you in person this year. :D

And hey readers! I've got a special giveaway today in honor of Renee's guest post and her WIN of the Genesis award. Leave a comment for a chance to win DiAnn Mill's latest romantic suspense Attracted to Fire (arc)


Jeanne Takenaka said...

Renee Ann, I loved reading about how you crafted your suspense and your characters. Thanks for sharing the things you considered as you in your creative process. This post is definitely a keeper for me.

It sounds like a great story with a lot of depth. I look forward to reading it one day!

Joanne Sher said...

Ohh - so enjoyed this interview. Thanks!

Mary Vee Writer said...

Great interview.
Loved reading the journey.
Thanks for joining us today, Renee:)

Unknown said...

You're book sounds awesome, Renee! I can't wait to read it! :-)

Renee said...

Thanks so much for hosting me, Casey and friends! I was so glad to meet some of you at the conference! It was fun to stop in here at the end a long school day and see some encouraging comments :) Blessings!

Beth K. Vogt said...

I really enjoyed getting inside another writer's head and seeing how she plotted out her story.
Congrats on winning in the Genesis & the Daphne Du Maurier contests, Renee!

Casey said...

I'm a terrible hostess, but I do have the excuse that I've been at work all day and it was CRAZY swamped! I am so thrilled to have Renee Ann here today though and so excited for her HUGE wins!

JEANNE, I've never read any of Renee Ann's fiction, but if her blog posts are any indication, it will be fantastic. :)

JOANNE, so glad you stopped by today!

Casey said...

MARY, smiles. :)

GWENDOLYN, hopefully it won't be too long. ;-)

RENEE, my pleasure!! So glad it was a possiblity. :)

BETH, you're a peach to always stop by the Alley. Always love to see your smiling thumbnail. :)

Julia said...

Well, I'm late to the party (at least in EST time)...but it was neat to hear about Renee's journey. Can't wait to read this story, Renee :)

Casey said...

You're never TOO late Julia. Not around here, I don't think. ;)