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  • Anna P.

Indie Support Sunday: Tinia Montford

As we come to the end of another incredible year of romance books, I want to celebrate one more author that debuted this year. Tinia Montford released It Started With A List at the beginning of the year and introduced us to the world of Pacific Grove University. She went on to release the second book in the series—It Started With A Dance—in July, and she’s rounding out this year with a stunning standalone! In short, it’s been a really good year for Tinia. I discovered her books through an ARC sign-up and then have been stalking her Instagram to stay updated on whatever else she’s got going on. I might have also insisted that we become friends at some point.


Tinia’s stories are gritty and honest, they feature characters that are so real they’re practically your friends and tackle topics that are important. The Last Minute First Lady, which releases December 22nd, is currently one of my favourite books of 2022. I was lucky enough to read an ARC and I was absolutely blown away by how Tinia wove together romance, politics, hard-hitting topics and didn’t shy away from the tough things. She didn’t make it preachy or complicated, she laid it out in a way that captivated me from the first page.


And I know that 2023 is going to be another spectacular year for Tinia and I am so excited to see what else she puts into the world.


What inspired you to write—was it another author or books you read as you grew up?

I remember the day I was converted (is this the right word? turned, changed, transformed?) from a reader to an author. I was in Mr. Wagner's fifth-grade algebra class. I wasn't supposed to be reading, we had a period of the day in middle school called, D.E.A.R. which stands for “Drop everything and read.” for thirty minutes we had uninterrupted reading time. I just couldn't wait and I found in our classroom library the book House of Night series by P.C. and Kristin Cast. *MIND BLOWN* I fell so deeply in love with Zoey Redbird, an enchanted school filled with mystery and drama... I just had to write my own version. So in fifth grade I wrote my very first novel but instead of vampires, it was witches. I still have that manuscript till this day, and it will never see the light of day but a great reminder to see how far I've come.


Why did you choose romance as the genre to write in?

I naturally gravitated toward romance. I just loved seeing two people, who knew they were meant to be together, achieve that through a fun journey.


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

For a very long time, I was going the traditional route. I never once considered indie. It wasn't actually till the pandemic hit and I graduated from my alma mater that I Googled, "how to make money on the internet" and an article told me to write erotica on Amazon. I didn't want to write something just to make money, but that made me find the avenue of Indie. From there I randomly found an indie author on Youtube and saw the process wasn't that hard. I have an entrepreneurship background, so I saw it as another way to pursue that as an author and I haven't looked back.


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

The best part of being an indie author in my opinion, is seeing your concept of a story become something tangible you can hold. I live for the satisfying feeling when I'm holding my book after months and months of hard work. The worst part? In my opinion I don't have any "worst parts" but the difficult part is deciding where to invest your time. You are a one-man show. Marketing, editing, writing, managing betas, cover art, social media, and reviews. It's so much and can become overwhelming at times and I have to discern what's best for me and my career at the time.


Do you write full time or is this something you do on the side? And would you want to write full time?

I am not a full-time writer right now. Teaching is another passion of mine I'm pursuing, and I teach writing and rhetoric to freshmen students and love it! It's a dream to be a full-time author but I think I will also have another job in addition to my writing.


Other than writing, what is something you enjoy and are really good at?

I'm teaching myself how to crochet! I can make a square so in my mind, I'm an expert. Other than writing I love playing video games (Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing are my favs!), paint by numbers, coloring, and reading.


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

I would love to write a magic realism horror novel. A favorite is Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado, and anything by Grady Hendrix. I would love to fuse these two authors’ horror/magic styles into a novel of my own.


What are some of your all time favourite books—ones that you recommend to people or can reread multiple times?

I have to recommend the very first romance novel I read that I snuck from my grandmother, Just A Hint Clint by Lori Foster! I'm a Meg Cabot stan my favorite book by her is, Boy Meets Girl which is told completely in email, receipts, and journal entries.


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

Write. Write. Read. Edit. Write. Don't ever stop writing and don't compare yourself to someone else. You don't know what trials and obstacles that writer has overcome or is currently overcoming. There is a market for you.


Can you briefly tell me about your books?

So far, I've written two new adult romantic comedies—It Started With A List and It Started With A Dance. I think we need more relatable fiction for early twenty-somethings that's realistic and relatable. We all don't meet millionaires in college and get whisked away. There's future insecurity, anxiety, depression, joy and so many other things that makes up your twenties.


Of your books, who is your favourite character?

You can't do this to me... Of all my characters??? Deja. She's the best friend of Cami in It Started with a Dance she is so straight up, fiercely loyal, and will cut a bitch for those she loves.


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

The Pacific Grove University series was inspired by my alma mater. I actually drafted the idea during the beginning of the pandemic, and It Started with a List was actually a story I had been writing for years but could never settle on a plot and setting. It Started with a Dance came soon after my Lupus diagnosis and certain experiences I had on campus.


How much of yourself do you put into these characters?

I think there are various pieces of me in each of my stories. In my Pacific Grove University series, that's probably where you will find the most of me. Cami and I share the same autoimmune disease. Vassa and I both share some social anxiety. Outside of actual conditions, Cami has my nerdy interests. Vassa has my sarcastic sense of humor. In the current project I'm working on now, there aren't any traits of myself in my protagonist but we share the same passion for our chosen careers.


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

I want my readers to feel seen. I remember going to the library with my grandma as a child, there was a section titled "Urban Fiction" and that housed the library's entire collection of books with Black character leads. These books couldn't fill the void of representation I felt as a child and teenager. I wanted desperately to read books about the awkward Black girl. The Black Princess. The black witch. The Black superhero or werewolf or mermaid or romantic lead. I write to Black women but I write for all women who want to see themselves reflected outside the stereotypes we've been forced into.


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

I lived in Greece for sometime, I really want to recreate the famous myths with Black women as the leads.


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

I'm writing a marriage of convenience that I am just living for that has a political backdrop. The Last Minute First Lady


What are your most and least favourite tropes?

I distaste with a PASSION—surprise baby. I'm sorry for those who do but... It's trash. I just hate it. It could be because I don't have children but I just can't rock with it. I don't like second chance! I mean, I can tolerate it but you really, really have to convince me to read it. I'm a believer that if it didn't work out, why go back?


I adore with a passion—fake dating/fake fiancee/marriage of convenience. Just two people who or strangers or friends or whatever pretending to date then slowly uncovering that they do, it's just *chef's kiss* for me.

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

I want to write an age gap romance, bodyguard romance, royal romance. Anything but second chance and surprise baby, haha.


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

Autoimmune diseases! Showing more about invisible illness should be included more because so many people suffer from it.


What is your favourite thing about the romance genre?

The Happily Ever After! Nothing is more satisfying than watching a couple that's meant for one another, ride off into the sunset.


THIS OR THAT

  • Ebooks or audiobooks

  • Historical romance or romantic suspense

  • Single or Dual POV—but only in third person! I heavily prefer third person over anything.

  • Standalones or series—I just don't have the time and attention span for a twenty-book series.

  • Music or silence while writing—Honestly... I can do either. When I get into a workflow, I don't really hear the noise.

  • Plotter, pantser or plantser—I realize if I don't outline I can't write a book, but I can't plot too meticulously because then I get bored.

  • Tea or coffee—A good passion fruit tea.

  • Cold or warm weather—I'm from the Midwest, so I have to have snow and see the change of the fall leaves.

  • Morning person or night owl—I'm notorious for going to bed early.

  • Illustrated cover or photo cover—Just because I'm jealous I can't draw and color as well as them.


Make sure you follow Tinia on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and Pinterest. You can also stay updated on all her books via her website and definitely sign up for her newsletter while you’re at it!

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