Meet Theresa Ragan!

Back in December, I had the pleasure of being interviewed at Theresa Ragan’s blog. I thought it would be fun to turn Theresa’s own questions back on her, and she agreed.

By way of introduction, Theresa is an amazingly talented and incredibly hot-selling author in multiple genres (her tag line: 3 genres, 2 names, 1 author). She was a Legal Secretary for fifteen years before she penned her first novel and discovered her passion for writing. She is a member of The Golden Network and the Sacramento Chapter of RWA. Theresa has garnered six Golden Heart nominations in Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Golden Heart Competition for her work. She lives with her husband, Joe, and the youngest of her four children in Sacramento, California.

Welcome, Theresa! Please tell us about yourself and your books in 100 words or less.

It took me five years to write my first book. What a learning experience! I wrote for 19 years with the goal of selling a book to a big 6 publisher. I wrote every day and I signed with two agents. No sale. Not until 2011 after I went indie. Everything has changed since then. Now when I write, I know my story will be read. More than ever, I want to write the best book I can. I want to bring smiles to readers’ faces. I want to make readers cringe, squirm, laugh, and cry. I am having the time of my life!


Did you ever want to quit writing? Why or why not?

Yes! I knew from the start that my writing journey might be a difficult one. I had read every how-to book on the planet and they all mentioned that rejection was part of the deal. Despite the warnings, never in a million years, did I think getting published would be THIS difficult. I was doing everything right: writing, learning, growing, putting my work out there. I tried to quit and I lasted six months. During that time, I felt agitated and moody. I was not happy when I wasn’t writing. I also went through a bitter stage. Inside, I felt as if I knew I would publish someday and when I did I was going to shout “It’s about time!” Following the bitter stage, I finally became enlightened. I believe that was in 2007. I knew that I needed to let the bitterness go and find joy in the writing and that’s exactly what I did. It’s all about attitude. You can train yourself to be a positive person. I let go of the negative thoughts and became grateful for everything good in my life. I’ve never looked back and I’ve never again entertained the idea of quitting.


What are your writing career goals? (i.e. to write 2 books a year? To hit the NY Bestsellers List? To sell 100 books a month?)

My goal is to write an amazing story…the kind of story that will make people laugh and cry and think. I have no idea what story that will be or what genre, but that’s my goal. I want to inspire others to never give up on their dreams. I want to hit the NY Times Bestseller List. I could go on and on, but I’ll stop there.

Have you truly mastered grammar and sentence structure? Do you feel 100% confident about every comma in your book?

I feel 50% confident in my abilities. I’ve taken so many classes, but there are too many exceptions to the rules. If I ask 20 people whether or not I need a comma, 10 say no and the other 10 say yes.


How many pages do you think you could write in one day if you had zero interruptions from 8 AM to 8 PM?

30 pages. I love getting a day with no interruptions. It happens about once a month now that my kids are grown up!


How do you think (take a guess) writers like Nora Roberts write so many books in a year?

I am guessing she wakes up, grabs her coffee and goes STRAIGHT to her laptop. She pulls up her WIP and starts writing. She doesn’t look at email or Facebook. She doesn’t tweet or spend time searching the internet for fun tidbits. She writes. Maybe she does some of the other stuff later once she finishes her 50 pages for the day, but I doubt it. 🙂


What would be easier for you to write, a sex scene or a murder scene?

A murder scene by far. I think it’s because when I read I tend to skip sex scenes in books unless the scene is funny or really ads to the story somehow. Sex is great, but murder is just plain fun to write! Ha. Okay, now I sound sick and twisted. What a horrible question to ask!


LOL, Theresa! May I remind you that was YOUR question. Okay, if you were allowed to have only ONE book (of yours) for sale on Amazon and B&N, which book would you select? Why do you think readers might enjoy it?

I would pick Abducted because when I was writing that book, I had thrown caution to the wind. I started writing that book during the bitter stage I talked about earlier. I was angry and my characters were going to pay with their lives. And they did. That book allowed me to let go of my anger and bitterness with where my career was going at the time (or NOT going). Writing Abducted was definitely therapeutic and I am grateful for that book and for that time in my life. Readers might enjoy Abducted because it’s fast-paced and entertaining.

What made you decide to become a writer? 

I was pregnant and on a leave of absence from work. I was tired of watching Young and the Restless, so I read my very first romance. The escapism was exactly what I needed. I laughed and cried and I knew the minute I finished the book that I wanted to provide that same sort of escapism for women just like me.


Do you remember the first time you sat down and started writing your first novel? Did you start with notes or did you start with Chapter One and go from there?

I thought I was writing a book, but I ended up with a 50 page outline. That’s why the first book I wrote took me so long. Now I write Chapter One in the heading and go from there. No outline needed.


Any advice for new writers just getting started?

Write the book that YOU want to write. Don’t write the book your mother or sister wants you to write. Don’t write the book that you think will sell to a publisher. Don’t write a vampire book just because they’re all the rage. Write the book that speaks to YOU. The sort of book you would want to read. If that means your hero is a one-legged pirate with a stutter, then go for it! Believe in yourself. Write your FIRST draft with abandon. No critiquing. Just let the story out. Have fun. Let it flow. When you get to the end, start revising. The great writing is in the revising.

Thanks for inspiring me to self-publish, Norah, and for having me on your blog!


Thank you for joining me, Theresa. It’s always a pleasure. And thank you for inspiring us all with your amazing success story. You are a shining example of what can happen when talent and perseverance meet opportunity!


Theresa loves to hear from readers. Connect with her online at:

Theresa Ragan Website

Theresa on Twitter

Theresa on Facebook




32 Responses to “Meet Theresa Ragan!”

  • Hi everyone, me again! If you have any questions at all Norah and I would love to answer them for you. Anything goes!


  • Great interview, Theresa–I so wish I could do thirty pages in a day!! Woo Hoo–that’s just fantastic…..

    PS-So proud of you!

  • Hey, Norah, I thought it would be fun if we talk about self-publishing. How long have you been self-published now and how do you think self-publishing has changed in the past year?

    Obviously there are a lot more authors self-publishing their books, which makes it tough for a book or an author to stand out. But even with traditional publishing that was probably always a concern. What do you think?

  • What a great interview! And I agree completely that it’s much more fun to write a murder scene than a love scene. Unless you’re Norah Wilson, of course, and write really hot sex scenes!

    I don’t think anyone knows what makes one book stand out from the others. Advertising certainly helps. Good writing goes without saying. And always great characters.

    I’m curious to know if your fans follow you from one genre to another.

  • Hi Kate, I have to say that surprisingly to me, fans have been following me from time travel romance to romantic comedy to suspense! I wasn’t expecting that, but there definitely seems to be a crossover. I make sure to mention all of my books on the Product Description so readers can find all of my books, despite two pen names, etc.

    About advertising…Debra Holland is selling books like crazy and she hasn’t spent any money at all on advertising and that makes me question how much I want to spend on advertising this year. Debra is great about doing interviews on blogs for free…things like that.

  • Hi, Kate! Thanks for dropping by! Theresa, Kate finalled with me in the Golden Heart in 2001. So while she’s not a WNPer, she’s a GHer. 🙂

    And yes, let’s talk self-publishing! Let me tell you, if I knew what made a book stand out, I’d write the book on it and be on top of the best-seller list. That’s the mystery we’re all trying to crack, I think. Obviously, great writing is a given. But before you can discover the great writing, you have to discover the book/author. Sometimes I come across a book that seems to be perfectly packaged for its sub-genre. I think Trish McCallan’s FORGED IN FIRE is a great example. For that matter, your ABDUCTED is just about perfectly packaged for your audience. I recently re-did my covers. I’m not sure they’re perfectly packaged for the my audience, but I think they’re getting closer.

  • Hi Theresa and Norah! Theresa, you did a lot better answering those questions than I did. Great to read about your journey and I love seeing your success!


  • What works and what doesn’t is a mystery to me. I try to be methodical about promotion and be creative about writing. After all, for me the writing is the fun part. I’ve had some success mirroring some of what other authors have done. But then to try to recreate it…it doesn’t alway work. But when readers like you, they just like you and will track down your books no matter what you do. I still have people emailing me about a book I published in 2007! They want to know when the sequel will be published. I’d better put on another pot of coffee and get writing!

    Thanks for the great interview, ladies! You’re a source of inspiration!

  • Norah, that’s a great point. If a book isn’t selling well after giving it a few months, then changing the cover and blurb is a great idea. It can’t hurt and you could always change it back. I think it’s important to make changes in that first year and then eventually leave the book to do its thing while you work on new stories. The first cover I had for Finding Kate Huntley was boring and that book was not selling.

    I’ve also learned over the past 10 months that you can never really count a book out. Each of my books has had it’s ten seconds of fame, so to speak. They go up and down in sales and most of the time I have no idea why.

    Once you have the great book and the great package…I believe at some point it’s just a matter of being discovered. For example, I just discovered Laura Lippman last year! I have since devoured all of her books. She’s been around for a while, but I had never heard of her before.

  • Hey, I saw my name! 🙂

    First of all, I love Theresa and Norah both as people and as authors, so I’m a bit biased… Ok, a LOT biased. 🙂 Their books are great!

    Theresa’s right that I haven’t paid for promo. Nor am I a blog queen. Theresa invited me to blog on her site months ago and I still haven’t gotten around to it. (Almost there, Theresa!) I’ve recently cut back on the few guest blogs I write because I don’t think it makes that much difference in sales, although I’m glad to help people learn about self-publishing. I focus on that area in my rare personal blog posts. But the main reason I’m cutting back on guest blogs is I’ve realized writing a blog takes my writing time and energy away from my books. I’m not like the writing Queen that Theresa is (who must be second to Nora in page output.) I’m happy if I do 5 pages more than twice a week.

    And what everyone says about the next book being your best promo tool is right. I published Stormy Montana Sky, the third book in my sweet historical Western series, about three and a half weeks ago, and have already sold about 1,500 books, without doing anything besides a couple of personal blog posts. I started with 30 sales a day and now am up to about 100 a day. The readers are managing to find me without me taking the time and energy to beat a drum for the books.

    So I’m a big believer in focusing your efforts on writing. One way Norah and Theresa and I were lucky (besides all being Golden Heart finalists in 2003) is that we all had a stock of books (in various genres) that we could self-publish because we’d been writing for so long. (Actually that’s determination or stubbornness in addition to luck.) Having more than one book out really makes a difference.

  • Hi Tori, I think you did a WONDERFUL job answering those questions. LOL

    Tori has had amazing success with self-publishing. Tori, do you do anything special to stay noticed? Advertising? Interviews? Reviews?

  • Hi Debra, so glad you stopped by! 100 books a day already for your new release! That’s wonderful! I agree…the best promo is to keep writing and release new books.

  • Lucy Francis:

    Great interview post, Theresa! I am in awe that you could put down 30 pages in one day. Excellent comments, too, really helpful information for someone diving into the self-pub waters. Thanks!

  • Thanks, Theresa. You’ve been a huge inspiration and help to many, including me. I think you were the first pixie to indie pub and I appreciate you showing the way. Your books are fabulous–not surprised they’re topping the charts.

  • Hi Caroline, I didn’t see that you posted here! sorry about that! I am proud of YOU! Look at your books go. I am proud of anyone who has sat their butt in the chair and written a book. It’s not easy to do, but it sure is fun.

    And what about all of the awesome readers who actually take the time to find your blog and email you? That might be cause for another blog on another day!

  • Thanks for the nice comment, Lucy!

    Ahhh, thanks, Bev.

  • Hi, Theresa. I save all your interviews. They are so informative. I have a question about having two pen names. WHen you start out, how did you manage them separately. Did you promote the current book with that pen name and give the other a back seat, use your real name in correspondence. How did you make it easier for people and writer friends to keep track? Here I’ve signed in with real name, current book pen name email and website for my other pen name. Thanks for everything you do for our community.

  • Congrats on all of your successes, Theresa. I love to hear author success stories, and I’ve been hearing about you for a while, from Norah. I’m looking forward to reading Abducted very soon. I, too, agree on the murder scenes versus the love scenes. LOL Your blog touched on many issues writers face, like commas, for instance. 🙂
    Good luck with all of your future book deals!

  • Hi Martie, thanks for the nice comments! About using two pen names…in my opinion, having two pen names can be difficult for authors who want to keep their two “identities” separate. In my case, my only purpose in using two names is to differentiate the sort of story you can expect. For instance, I consider my TR RAGAN books to be grittier. Anything goes in a TR Ragan book. Characters that readers come to care about might die. My Theresa Ragan books are feel good, fun books (at least that’s what I’m going for). When I promote ABDUCTED or DEAD WEIGHT under the TR Ragan pen name, I usually sign notes, comments, emails using Theresa Ragan. My website mentions that I write in 3 genres, 2 names, and 1 author. I think it might be easier for people/friends/readers to keep track because of the RAGAN used in both pen names. I’m hoping readers that like more romance and less murder and mayhem will eventually come to know the difference just based on the different pen name.

    I hope I answered your question. 🙂 When I promote the TR Ragan books, I usually mention my other books and the Theresa Ragan name…so, the other name and the other books do NOT take a backseat. I do see a lot of authors advising others NOT to use two names unless they absolutely must, but for me it hasn’t been a problem. I really have no idea if it has helped me or hurt me. I plan to continue to write in many genres and use both names in the future.

  • Thanks, Lina! Norah is awesome. She was my inspiration for going indie and every day I see her on other online writer loops helping others…constantly. I don’t know how she does it all. Norah is definitely special.

    I really don’t like commas. For instance, the comma before the word “too” in a sentence. Many big time authors don’t put a comma before the “too” word anymore. Is that just my imagination or has that changed?

  • Norah:

    Aww, thank you Lina! Thank you, Theresa. I’m just passing on what I learned from people who went before me (like Delle Jacobs). And I never did think it was a zero sum game. If you do better, it doesn’t mean I’ll do worse. The pie is expanding. LOL.
    Oh, and it’s not your imagination. They are dispensing with the comma before too. It’s hard to get used to, huh?

  • Teresa, I didn’t know you had Taming Mad Max out. I think I read the beginning of that book when you entered it in a contest. Right? I really liked what I read, so I’ll have to get the book.

  • Hi Theresa! I love the interview. It’s nice to meet another author who doesn’t have the grammar thing down pat. Are you going to be publishing all those books you’ve written since first deciding to craft a book?

  • Good point, Norah. It’s not a zero sum game. Well put!

    Hi Merrillee! Yes, Taming Mad Max was better known as Better Late Than Never and it did well in the contest circuit. I hope you enjoy the story. It’s one of my favorites. I got the idea for TMM after attending Susan E. Phillips workshop at conference. I don’t remember which conference, but SEP’s workshops are always the best!

    Hi Linda, YES, I am planning to publish every book I have written. I have four more 350 to 400 page books waiting to be revised. I have been revising another romantic comedy for a few months now. It’s getting there, but it needed a lot more work than I had first envisioned. I think it’s easier to write NEW books than to revise OLD ones.

  • Hi Norah and Theresa, and thank you for the wonderful blog. I am enthralled with anyone who successfully navigates the self-publishing world, and I appreciate your great comments.

  • Hey Norah and Theresa! What an interesting post. It starts as an interview but continues like a “round table discussion”.

    I learned a lot from it. First, Theresa, I can’t wait to read “Abducted”. Though I always love a good Romance (specially when I’m in a sappy mood), the suspense are the ones that really keep me glued to the pages (no offense to any Romance writers out there, I do love Romance!). Suspense is what I write, And that’s what I love to read. (thanks to Norah and a few others like her, I’m working on revisions right now and I hope “Stella’s Plea”
    will be out by THIS Summer).

    I too, write from Chapter 1 and on… no outline. What do they call that? Discovery writers, because we write on the spur of the moment?

    Thanks for a great interview.

    Renee-Ann (aka Rae Ernst)

  • Wonderful interview, Theresa. And I so hear you on the commas. My CP who is the grammar queen has given up on trying to teach me, instead she just fixes them!!

  • What an absolutely wonderful interview. So natural, and yes, YES! about those pesky commas! Thank you so much, Theresa, for such a positive interview.

  • Hi Stella, thank you for leaving such nice comments!

    Hello Rae! How exciting that you will have Stella’s Plea out soon! I love romantic suspense. I think it’s the fast pace that I like. And I love being a “discovery” writer because I don’t know what’s going to happen until I get to the end. Sometimes I don’t know who the killer will be?!

    LOL, Cat! Those commas are crazy. Too many exceptions to the rules.

    Hi Barbara, thanks for stopping by.

    Sorry it took me two days to comment! Have a wonderful Sunday everyone!

    Thanks so much for having me Norah. We should have a “Self-Publishing Talk” once a month. No holding back, etc.! Take care.

  • Thank you, Theresa, for bringing your wonderful light and energy to my blog. I’ve so enjoyed having you. And thank you to all of you who came by to comment. You rock!

    Theresa, I love the idea of getting together for another self-pub roundtable some time. Your place or mine?

  • You have got interesting articles here. Your site can go viral, you need some initial traffic only.
    How to get initial traffic?? Search google for: Marihhu’s

Leave a Reply