Five minutes with Sonia Stanizzo


I’ve been teaching writing for a while now, but 2016 was the first year I taught for Romance Writers of Australia (RWA) in their Online Workshop Learning (OWL) program. I was a bit nervous, but all went swimmingly with both my course on plotting, and how to write a synopsis and pitch to agents. Then, just as I was preparing to call 2016 a successful teaching year, I got an email that cinched the “successful year” deal.

Sonia Stanizzo was a student in both my courses and in December, she emailed to tell me she’d just been offered her first book deal. What amazing news to end the year on! I was so, so excited for her. So what does a proud mother hen do when presented with the success of a mentee? Blog about it, of course! Give her the opportunity to tell the world about her book. So here is five minutes with the fabulous, soon-to-be-published Romance author, Sonia Stanizzo.

Sonia, can you please tell us about your book. What’s it called, what’s it about, who will want to read it?

Why is it when someone asks me what my book is about I freeze? It’s like I’ve been keeping my writing a secret for so long that now it’s out and people are asking, I don’t know what to say?? LOL!

This is the blurb that you helped me with for The Trouble with Mr Pretty:

“Gift shop owner Lauren Moore’s motto is “never trust a pretty face.” Following a disastrous affair with a handsome celebrity, she’s vowed to never fall for anyone like him again.

But when Australia’s sexiest ex-football player, Jack Henderson, barges into her shop late one night displaying all the characteristics she wants to avoid, Lauren is unwillingly drawn to his seductive good looks and bad boy smile.

When Lauren is forced to accept a job offer from Jack to pay her blackmailing sister and has to spend more time with him than she’d like, Jack shows her that he is more than just a pretty face. Lauren must decide if she can let go of the past and trust in love again.”

This might sound a little weird but my inspiration came from a dream. I dreamt of my heroine sitting alone under New Year’s fireworks with gut-wrenching grief. The next morning I quickly wrote it down and that went on to become a prologue for my story but after feedback from RWA comps, I decided to cut the scene. Even though I loved it, I could see that it didn’t fit. I also love reading and watching romance with light, fun humour and so I’ve tried to incorporate that style into my stories. I’ve also had to sit and watch endless football games with my husband and that is how my hero was born.

Sounds like a great read! Perhaps you can tell us a bit about you as a writer and your writing journey thus far?

My writing journey has been a long one, even though I have only written two books, with my second finding a publisher, Beachwalk Press.  I would start to write, do some courses, join writers’ forums and freak out! It seemed like everyone knew what they were talking about and I had no clue. I would put away my manuscript for months because I didn’t think I could do it. Then it would always be bugging me that I didn’t finish it, so I’d pull it out and start again, freak out and put it away again. Last year I made a promise to myself to finish it, no matter how “freaked out” I got. I finished it and now it’s getting published. But to be honest, I still feel a little clueless.

I think many writers continue to feel “clueless”, despite evidence of their success. And on that note, you contacted me in December 2016 to let me know you’d been offered a book deal. Firstly, congratulations. Proud mother hen, here! I’d like to know if you thought that RWA and the OWLs helped you get the deal and what advice you’d give others about joining RWA and doing an OWL or two.

I absolutely believe that the OWL courses helped me to get a deal. Without the courses I had no clue about the craft of putting together a great manuscript. The feedback you get is fantastic. The OWL courses for 2017 look amazing and I can’t wait to do most of them. I would highly recommend writers join RWA and take some OWL classes because there is so much information and support.

So, as an avid reader, which writers do you admire and can you recommend any books to my readers?

I really love the humour of Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Rachel Gibson, Jill Shalvis and the suspense of Sandra Brown. Any of their books are a great read. I also LOVE the urban fantasy Fever series by Karen Marie Moning.

It’s been great chatting to you, Sonia. Before you go, please let us know when will your book be available and where we can get a copy.

I had to email my publisher because I wasn’t sure. She said March/April and said I could say “Spring 2017” but it’s Autumn here, so not sure if it has the same ring to it?? The Trouble with Mr Pretty will be available to purchase at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iTunes. There are some other places too, but they are the most well-known.

(Sonia was also kind enough to provide the following quote about my OWL. I didn’t pay her to say this, seriously!)

“During the synopsis OWL course, Samantha helped me tighten up my synopsis and get it ready to send to publishers. I don’t think I would have gotten a contract without her guidance. I highly recommend doing any of Samantha’s courses. Hers were two of the best ones I enrolled in.”

You can contact Sonia on Facebook or Instagram:

Instagram @soniastanizzowriter