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  • Anna P.

Indie Support Sunday: Teralyn Mitchell

I don’t remember how or when I heard about Teralyn Mitchell, but the minute I did, all of her books landed on my TBR. While I’m still catching up, I did read Fakeout and enjoyed every minute of Lou and Jace’s story—especially since it introduces us to Teralyn’s big series. The Rosa Oaks series has two books out now, with a third releasing in July, and more on the way.


Teralyn writes contemporary small town romances with gorgeous Black characters in big groups of friends and families, with a solid helping of steam and swoon. I was absolutely captivated by the world she built and cannot wait to read all of her books. While being an indie author is more her speed, there was a time when Teralyn was with a small international publishing house. 


Every question in this interview is so thoughtfully answered and an absolute treat to read. If you’re looking for recommendations by authors of color, Teralyn’s got you covered. And that’s not all, make sure to check out her five pieces of advice for aspiring writers.


All of Teralyn’s books are available in Kindle Unlimited, you can preorder Splintered Hearts (releasing July 18th) right now!


BEING AN AUTHOR

Who or what inspired you to write?

Some of my favorite authors growing up were Walter Dean Myers, Mildred D. Taylor, Sharon M. Draper, Cynthia Voigt, and Sarah Dessen and all of these authors inspired me to want to write. Walter Dean Myers, Mildred D. Taylor, and Sharon M. Draper showed me that I could be a published author as a young Black child. Seeing their books gave me the courage to try my hand at writing and continued to give me strength and encouragement as I actually pursue my writing & publishing goals. 


What’s the best and worst part about being an indie author? 

This is such a good question and my answer is the same for both, lol. The best part about being an indie author is that you have control over everything and that is also the worst part about being an indie author. I love being able to choose my own covers, topics for my stories, editors, and everything else that goes into being an indie author. But I also dislike that I have to make all of the decisions and I don’t have anyone to talk to about those decisions with and figure out what’s the best move. While I get complete control over my career, I also worry about which decision is the right or wrong one.  


Why did you choose to self-publish instead of going the traditional route?

I actually was with a small international publishing house when I first started out. I am happy I got that experience but it was the reason I decided to go self-pub once I got my rights back. The way authors are paid when they are with a publishing house just didn’t sit right with me and the control thing. I do enjoy being able to do what I think is right for my career and make all the decisions. Going traditional wouldn’t allow me to do that. For now, being self-published feels like the best route for me. 


When you’re not writing, what do you do to get the creative juices flowing?

I do graphic design. Back in 2020 when the world shut down, I started taking a course from a photographer and graphic designer who taught authors how to make their own graphics and simple covers. From there, my skills have grown and when I need a break from writing, I make graphics and covers. I like challenging myself when it comes to design and it’s a lot of fun (plus, it provides me freedom when it comes to my own covers and graphics for my books).


If you were to recommend books to me (in any genre), what would they be?

Make a Scene by Mimi Grace

A Ghost in Shining Armor by Therese Beharrie

Orlando People by Alexander C. Kane

The Partner Plot by Kristina Forest

The Name Drop by Susan Lee

Valley Verified by Kyla Zhao

Outdrawn by Deanna Grey

I’m sure I could recommend more but I’m going to stop with these, lol. These are just some of the books I’ve read over the past year and a half that I enjoyed a lot. 


What are your top 5 tips or pieces of advice for aspiring authors?

  1. Define what success means to you before you even start. Success isn’t one shoe fits all, so knowing what that looks like for you will help you when creating goals for your author career. 

  2. Take control of the tasks that you can. What I mean by this is try to do as much stuff on your own as you can in your author business. At least until you can afford a PA to take some of those things off your plate. I say this because it’s a way to save money and time. Doing your own graphics and covers, for example, means you’re not waiting around for someone to get them to you and when you need to update them, you can do that on your own and again, save time and money. 

  3. Write what you want to write and are passionate about. Chasing trends can be exhausting and is a good way to burn yourself out. I can tell you that there is a reader out there looking for the book you write. 

  4. Do your research when hiring editors, cover designers, etc. Word of mouth is a great way to find professionals that know how to work with indie authors. And also, be okay with changing editors, cover designers, etc. if you find the working relationship isn’t working for you. 

  5. Celebrate all of your wins—big and small. It’s so easy to get caught up in writing, editing, and publishing your books that you may not even realize how badass it is that you’re doing those things. If you finish a first draft, reward yourself and when you publish that book, be sure to do something nice for yourself because you deserve it. 


ROMANCE AS A GENRE

Why did you choose romance as the genre to write in? What is your favorite thing about the genre?

I’m not sure that I actually chose romance as much as it chose me. From as early as I could remember, I’ve loved a good love story. Even when I was writing as a fifth grader, my books had some elements of romance in them. I guess I just love seeing relationships that are healthy—sometimes not so healthy when I was younger—and exploring how to get a couple from just meeting or just friends or just enemies, etc. to their epic love that will stand the test of time. 


If not romance/subgenres of romance, what genre would you like to write in?

Probably women’s fiction that explores familial dynamics and friendships. I already explore that a little in my romances but I think I’d love to write a book where the romance is understated or truly in the background and the focus is on how women have relationships with those around them outside of romantic ones. 


What are your most and least favorite tropes?

Okay, this is one of my favorite questions because I have clear answers. My favorite tropes are fake relationships (fake dating, fake marriage, fake engagement), older brother’s best friend, enemies to lovers, friends to lovers, second chance, surprise/accidental pregnancy, secret baby, and marriage of convenience. 


And my least favorite tropes are love triangle, bully, best friend’s/sister’s/brother’s ex, best friend’s/ex’s father, and anything dark romance is just not my cup of tea.


What are some tropes you want to write in the future?

Marriage on the rocks, marriage of convenience, sudden parent(s), tennis, baseball, age gap, and runaway bride. I have plans to explore all of these tropes in the future and I’m excited!


What are some topics (sensitive and otherwise) that you think should exist more in romance?

I think more romances that showcase love between characters that aren’t cis het white would be great. I want to read more books that show all kinds of love in all kinds of struggles. So more diverse books. 


If you write open door romance, why did you choose that and what inspires your sex scenes?

Once I became an adult, I started writing more open door romance. I think it was just because I was growing up and exploring that. I continue to write it because it feels natural and goes with the stories I tell. There’s a lot of growth and things that readers can glean from my open door scenes (though sometimes they are just fun too). I try not to add steamy scenes just for the hell of it and they always serve a purpose in my books. 


YOUR BOOKS

What inspired your published stories? How and when did you come up with these stories and plots?

Life inspires my published stories. It can be from an article I read, or something I’ve seen on social media. And sometimes my published stories come from me trying something and it not working, and I pivot to what it is now. For the first books in a series, I usually come up with the stories and plots because of something I saw or read. As I write the first book and introduce side characters, ideas for their books usually come from those interactions. Also, sometimes I just know there’s a specific trope I want to write and I go from there; choosing the right characters to fit the trope I’ve chosen. 


Can you briefly tell me about your books?

My books are contemporary, Black romances with big friend groups and families as well as all the steam and sweetness you could want. My books are low on angst for the most part but sometimes delves into deeper topics such as parental & spousal loss, off the page abuse, and some other topics that may be harder to deal with sometimes. But for the most part my books are fluffy, small town romances that showcase Black love, families, and friendships. 


Do you already have a favorite character from the stories you’ve written?

This is a hard one and I can honestly say that it changes every year. This year my favorite character is Rhiannon. She’s sarcastic, fiercely loyal, sweet, funny, and you never know what’s going to come out of her mouth. She’s also strong and loves hard. I really enjoyed writing her book and seeing her throughout the series so far. 


How much of yourself do you put into these characters?

I don’t put a lot of myself in my characters. I may give them one trait I have and sometimes I don’t at all. I have modeled my characters after the people in my life which is always a lot of fun. 


What is a story/stories that you really want to tell?

There is this one story that I am dying to tell but I can’t figure out exactly how to approach it. It would be a women’s fiction story about three sisters (two have already been showcased in my romances–Take Two, Fakeout, and Blindsided) who are forced to spend the summer together in their southern hometown. I have ideas for this one and I hope I can write it soon and share it with everyone. 


Is there one common element that readers can find in all your stories?

Strong friendships and family relationships. Sometimes it’s big friend groups and families and other times it may just be a couple of close friends and small families. But you won’t find a book of mine that doesn’t have one or both of those elements each time.  


What’s next on the bookshelf for you? Anything you can tell us about a future project?

Tiny Truths, the second book in my current series, Rosa Oaks, released last month and I adore this book so much. This is Rhiannon’s story with her best friend, Zane and they decide to fake date to get his mother and sisters to back off with their plan to set him up on dates he’s not interested in. Splintered Hearts is the third in the series, releasing July 18th, and it’s a love after loss, single dad, age gap romance that is a little heavier on the emotions from what my editors have told me so far. It will be released this fall. Both of these books are in the Rosa Oaks series and there are two more coming next year!


When you write these stories, what are you hoping your readers will feel?

I guess I’m hoping to give readers an escape into a cozy small town romance. I want them to feel like these characters are their friends and they feel a connection to them by the time the book is done. I just want them to have a good time reading my books and that the books put a smile on their faces as they are reading and when they’re done. 


AUTHOR’S CHOICE

  • ebooks or audiobooks

  • Contemporary, fantasy, historical or romantic suspense

  • Single or Dual POV

  • Standalones, series or standalones in a series

  • Open door, ajar door or closed door romances

  • Music or silence when writing

  • Plotter, pantser or plantser

  • Water, tea, coffee or….wine?

  • Cold or warm weather

  • Write better in the morning, afternoon or night?

  • Illustrated or photo cover?


You can find Teralyn on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and Threads. Check out her website and make sure to sign up for her newsletter as well!

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