Joins us as we chat with Judy Bagshaw author of Romantic Fiction featuring BBW Heroines. Read on and learn about Judy's literary journey and her determination to bring BBW Heroines to readers.
1. Tell us about yourself? My name is Judy Bagshaw and I write romantic fiction, most of which features full-figured heroines. I was an elementary school teacher for 28 years and retired in 2005 to devote myself to writing full-time. When I’m not writing, I work as an editor for a small independent publisher, read voraciously, spend time with my elderly mother and my brother and his family, cook, read and play piano. I’m an avid television fan, currently hooked on True Blood, Dollhouse, Madmen, and Fringe.
2. How long have you been writing? The simple answer is, all my life. But I really didn’t start writing with the intent to be published one day, until the early 90’s. Over the years I took a variety of writing courses and workshops, honing my craft.
3. What drove you to pick up that pen for the first time? I’m not really sure. Ours was a household of avid readers, so I’m sure that played a big part. I liked nothing better than to discover a great new story. And creative writing was always a favourite subject throughout my school years. I had a vivid imagination as a child, and clearly remember “borrowing” my Mom’s old portable typewriter to pound out stories in my room. I think I attempted my first novel at age 10. If I remember correctly, I got to about chapter four before running out of steam, or getting side-tracked.
4. How long have you been writing books with plus size characters? It has always been important to me to feature realistic looking heroines in my stories. As a reader, it annoyed me that all romance heroines seemed cookie-cutter, and none looked like me at all!
5. Why did you choose to feature plus size heroines in your novels? I am a plus-sized woman, and have been active in NAAFA, an international size-acceptance group for many years. It became a bone of contention with me that large-sized women were not represented in the media as anything other than the villain, the comic side-kick, best friend or the nosy neighbour. Why couldn’t the big girl win the heart of the hero? After all, I knew from experience, that plus-sized women were pursued, wooed, loved and lusted after. Romantic fiction needed to start reflecting that reality. So, I made it my mission at the beginning of my “serious” writing efforts, to create real women in real situations.
6. Your writing career has been filled with ups and downs at least when it comes to actually publishing your books. Tell us a little about your publishing journey. What kept you moving, determined to find a place for you books and stories? I had, for years, wanted to write and publish stories with large sized characters. I took courses and workshops to hone my writing skills and joined a local writer's organization for support and guidance. But when I expressed my desire to write these kinds of stories, I was always told politely that they wouldn't sell. Publisher's wouldn't be interested. There wouldn't be a market. I knew in my heart that there was a market. And even if it was a small one (and I didn't necessarily believe this), I felt strongly there was a need for these kinds of stories to be written.
I was thrilled one day to find reference in a writer's magazine to a small independent publisher specializing in romance stories with large size heroines. And they were accepting manuscripts. Here was my chance. I spent the summer of that year, writing my first romance novel, Teacher's Pet. That fall I was able to send it to the publisher. Months went by and I finally had word back, along with the manuscript with edits to be done and a request to resubmit. I did the work and dutifully sent it off, heart pounding. And then many months went by with no word or reply to emails. I then found out that the publisher had had some problems and things were delayed but it looked like there was still hope. So I clung on. At the end of two years, I gave up on this particular publisher ever following through, and was thankful I'd never signed a contract.
So the manuscript sat gathering dust. I wrote another novel, Love by the Pound, basically to see if I could. And I started a third. And there were several short stories. All have large sized heroines. But I despaired of them ever finding a home. And then I discovered electronic publishers. I saw an industry that was young and full of energy. I saw that many of the publishers were women. I saw an open minded attitude, seeking alternative views and a desire to stretch the boundaries. I saw opportunity.
In 1999, I submitted a couple of short stories to Wordbeams, the publisher I had chosen after doing extensive research, and the first week of August, I signed my first contracts. Shortly after, she also contracted Teacher’s Pet and Love By the Pound. I was on my way! Until… My publisher told her authors that she was closing the company due to major life threatening health problems. As of December 31, 2001, Wordbeams was no more.
I had to begin the job of finding a new publisher for my plus sized stories. I sent out my two novels to a couple of Canadian e-publishers and then submitted and sold three short stories to Real Romances, a Canadian e-publisher who specialized in books that feature 'real sized' heroines. I waited for months to hear from the other publishers and finally decided on a different course. Real Romances agreed to re-publish Teacher's Pet and Love by the Pound. Then lo and behold, a year later, due to staffing changes, they decided to close their romance imprint, and my books were orphaned once more.
I was able to get a contract with a short-lived company for some shorter works, but due to lack of sales, they also closed their doors. Now I was starting to get a complex…like I was some kind of Typhoid Mary of publishing! But I refused to give up.
After considerable research once more, I chose New Age Dimensions. I felt I had come home, loved my publisher and the author family I joined. But based in Florida, it fell victim to one of the major hurricanes and had to close. Again, the search was on.
I have to say, after effectively closing so many companies, I was becoming doubtful I’d never find a stable writing home. But I did, and I’m happy to say, I have at present five very stable and thriving publishers.
The key for me was persistence. I had a vision…a mission of sorts. And I wasn’t going to stop until I had achieved my desired goals. My advice to any author is to persevere.
6. You have a number of books as well as short stories in various anthologies featuring women with curves. Tell us what are the titles of your books and short stories and where can readers purchase copies of your books.
Fictionwise : in ebook formats only
LADY BLUE: novel
TEACHER’S PET: novel
LOVE BY THE POUND: novel
BIG FAT LIES: novel
LEADING LADIES: anthology (Someday My Prince)
LOVE, AT LARGE: anthology (Work of Art)
The Wild Rose Press
THE ENCHANTED FAERIE: anthology (The Strongest Magic)
AT LONG LAST, LOVE: short story collection
(Pearlsong also has a limited supply of print copies of my back list: Lady Blue, Teacher’s Pet, Love by the Pound
ONE FOOT ON A BANANA PEEL: non-fiction, self help
THROUGH ALL ETERNITY: paranormal romance, coming November 2009
SECOND CHANCES: JACK AND GILLIAN: contemporary romance, coming April 2010
7. Of all the plus size women you have portrayed in your books and anthologies who is your favorite and Why? Wow. That’s a tough question. I love all my heroines for all sorts of different reasons. But if I had to pick one, I think I’d have to say Sabrina Blue, from Lady Blue. She took control of her life and decided to follow her dreams and become a singer. It was always a secret dream of mine to sing professionally, but I was never brave enough to go for it. So she lived that dream for me, in a fashion.
8. When will your next book be released? Tell us a little about your next book? Will it feature a plus size character? This month (Nov.) will bring the release of my first paranormal romance. Through All Eternity, from Mundania Press. This book is a departure from my usual fare. It has a darker tone, and examines some darker aspects of human nature. But the overall feeling by book’s end is of hope and optimism.
Imagine if it were possible to straddle the veil between this life and the next. And imagine if it were possible that love could survive after death and you could reunite with your soul-mate. That is the central premise of Through All Eternity. Soul-mates reunited, characters finding redemption, families finding each other again.
There are two main women focused on in this book. Hanna, an elderly woman dying of cancer, who has many regrets in life, the central regret being how she treated her family. And Karen, a thirty-something divorcee BBW, who fears she may have cancer. Meeting Hanna in the hospital begins a journey she never could have expected, and neither could Hanna.
9. Tell us a little about Desperate Hearts, your free e-serial? Why did you start it? Why did you decide to create a written soap-opera? I have a close friend who is also an author, and had quite good success with her free serials over a number of years. We had talked about me doing one as well, to bring in readers and promote my published work. But it took a while for just the right idea to hit me. I wanted to do something different from my “paid” writing, and I wanted it to be something I could just have fun with. When I hit on the idea of writing a “soap opera” (a perfect fit, I thought, for a romance writer), Desperate Hearts was born.
The soap opera format leaves it wide open for just about anything to happen in the fictional world I’ve created. And that’s great fun. I could have alien abductions, or swapped babies, or miraculous resurrections if I wanted to. So far, I just have dysfunctional families, deep dark secrets and a possible psychopath on the loose. www.desperatehearts.homestead.com
10. What are you reading now? What types of books (genres) do you read in general? I just finished a Jackie Collin’s glitzy romance (frivolous fun), and am starting a thriller next. I am an avid reader, and will read just about anything. But my preferred choice is a good thriller: Ludlum, Grisham, Paterson etc. I also seek out romance and mystery featuring plus sized characters. It’s thrilling that so many authors are now embracing the more real –sized hero and heroine. And I enjoy a really good spec fiction book when I can find them.
11. Who are your favorite authors? For thrillers, Robert Ludlum. For mystery, Sue Ann Jaffarian’s Odelia Grey series, and Alexander McCall Smith’s No.1 Ladie’s Detective Agency series (fabulous). For spec fic, Skyla Dawn Cameron, Elaine Corvidae, Louise Cooper, JK Rowling. For romance, Daisy Dexter Dobbs (I love her humour)
12. How can readers get in contact with you? Do you have a website? My web URL is www.judybagshaw.com Nice and simple. I love hearing from my readers. You can sign my guestbook on my site, or email me a firstname.lastname@example.org . I also have a guest forum at http://indigochick.conforums3.com/index.cgi?board=judyb
13. What is the one thing you would like all of your readers to know about you? I want my readers to know how very much I appreciate their support, and how excited I still get when I get notes and letters from readers telling me how my stories have impacted their lives. It is this kind of recognition that spurs me to keep on writing, even on those days when I’m ready to throw in the towel.
14. If you could tell one thing to every aspiring writer what would it be? If writing is your dream, then persevere. Let nothing or no one prevent you from pursuing what means so much to you.