Its not unusual for Maria Geracis patients at Tallahassee (Fla.) Memorial Hospital to learn their labor and delivery nurse is also a popular romance novelist. One time, in the middle of an epidural, the anesthesiologist turned to the patient and informed her that I was also a bestselling author, Geraci, RN, said with a laugh. All of my co-workers have been very supportive and encouraging of my writing career.
Geracis first book, “Bunco Babes Tell All,” a contemporary romance centering on a group of friends who gather weekly to play Bunco, was published in May 2009, marking the beginning of a second career for the Florida resident who has worked in nursing since 1985. An avid reader, Geraci decided to try her hand at writing fiction in 2002 when her husband embarked on a three-week business trip. “When I dropped my husband off at the airport, he asked what I was going to do while he was gone and I told him Id probably clean the house,” Geraci said. “I realized how boring that sounded, and I decided instead to try writing one of the romance books that I enjoyed reading.”
For years, Geraci and her nursing co-workers had compared notes on romance novels and swapped paperbacks at work.
While Geraci describes her first book as a disaster, it didnt deter her. She joined a writing critique group to improve her prose and entered a contest sponsored by Romantic Times magazine. While her manuscript didnt win the competition, she did land an agent she met while attending the Romance Writers of Americas annual convention. “I pitched the concept for my ‘Bunco Babes novel to her and she said if I wrote it, she could sell it and she did,” Geraci said.
Her second book, “Bunco Babes Go Wild,” in November 2009, was followed by “The Boyfriend of the Month Club,” a romance novel in which four book club friends decide to form a boyfriend club to review eligible bachelors, which was released in December 2010.
Her most recent release, “A Girl Like You,” about a magazine editor who is asked to interview an elusive NASCAR driver whom she knew in high school, was published in August 2012 and has been nominated as a 2013 Romance Writers of America RITA finalist for a novel with strong romantic elements. Winners will be announced July 20 at the Romance Writers of America conference in Atlanta. “I typically work the night shift, allowing me time to write during the day and on my days off,” Geraci said. “My three children are grown now, but when they were younger, I would jot down stories on a notepad while I waited to pick them up from school.”
Geraci is at work on her fifth book and offers aspiring writers tips for getting published. She said its important for them to find their own unique writing voice, which can be a struggle for many new writers. Voice is the style and the quality that makes a persons writing unique. “My agent said that I had a strong contemporary voice,” Geraci said.
To find her writing voice, Geraci said she took an online course offered by popular romance author Barbara Samuel. “There are also many good books out there on topics such as self-editing and publishing,” she said. “One of my favorite books on writing is Stephen Kings ‘On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.”
Geraci said its important to write the book you want to read. “Youre never going to please each and every reader, so ultimately you need to write for yourself and to feel good about the book youre writing,” she said. “Every character I write about is a different facet of my own personality. I also get a lot of great anecdotes and dialogue ideas from my coworkers.”
Her next tip: Dont let rejection sideline you. “Several other writers started out at the same time I did, but arent writing anymore because of the rejections they received from publishers,” Geraci said. “Rejections are part of the publishing process.”
Geraci suggests joining a critique group where you can get honest feedback on your works in progress. “Find a group where the people reading your work genuinely enjoy your writing voice and can offer constructive criticism,” she said. Geraci founded her own critique group through Romance Writers of America.
Lastly, she said, find a niche, then an agent. “Once you decide what genre youre going to write, look at similar books and learn what agent represents these authors,” Geraci said. “Often new agents are also amenable to working with new writers.” Writers.net also offers a free directory of literary agents.
For information on Geracis most recent book releases (pictured above) and her other books, visit MariaGeraci.com.