Writing Superheroes: Robin Helm

She battles evil in a tuxedo! Read on and find out more…

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According to Wikipedia, ‘a superhero is a type of heroic character possessing extraordinary talents, supernatural phenomena, or superhuman powers and is dedicated to a moral goal or protecting the public.’ Sounds like a writer to me!

Join me as another one of these unsung superheroes invites into their personal ‘batcave’.


All good superhero stories, have a sequel–something else happens after the first foe is vanquished. How does your sequel begin?

My life since I published Forever Yours on April 4 has been hectic, shadowed by Frenetic Activity, who took the shapeshifting forms of last minute Wedding Planning details morphing into full-blown Wedding Mania. I changed from Robin to MOB. If only I’d been able to have sons! Mother of the Groom looks so much easier than Mother of the Bride. Don’t let anyone ever sell you on the idea that planning for five hundred is no different than planning for two hundred. That’s just Evil in a Tuxedo. Only by soliciting prayers from across the country did we narrowly avoid Torrential Rains on an outdoor reception. Holy Extra Wedding Tent! Fortunately, we had only mild sprinkles during the reception, but the heavens opened the second the last guest left.

My elder daughter and granddaughter visited from Japan for a month during that time, and my newly married daughter moved to California two months after the wedding. Empty Nesting reared its ugly head after they left. Frenetic Activity dissolved into ashes and was replaced by Doom and Gloom.


on the cruise minus handAll super heroes have their mild-mannered secret identity. How has yours grown and changed since you started life as a superhero?

Getting older can be extremely liberating. My secret identity, Full-Time Teacher, has cut her hours drastically. She now doesn’t worry about losing her full-time job, because she quit being a full-time anything. I have a string of flexible, part-time jobs instead. I’m 61; if I don’t enjoy doing something, I don’t do it anymore.


Do you have any side kicks or a new superhero team member? What are their superpowers?

Gayle, Wendi, and Steph are still team members, but I’ve added a new element – Laura Hile (Lady of the Pen). Laura is a superhero herself, and she and I help each other develop ideas. She nudges me with her pointy tiny toes when I don’t write and pushes me with enthusiastic encouragement when I do. Her superpower is that she can do those things without provoking me. It’s a gift.


Have your superpowers grown and changed since your last adventure?

Yes. I’ve been wading into the murky waters of Marketing (shudder), and I’m discovering that it’s not as awful as I thought it would be. I also took control of my first series, redesigning the covers and updating the files. I’m very happy with the results. I’m much better at cover design and formatting than I used to be.


What new supervillain have you faced on your latest project and how did you vanquish it?

UEMy latest project, Understanding Elizabeth, is a stand-alone (NOT a series) in which Darcy finds Elizabeth’s journal writing early in the story and is shocked to find that she heard his remarks at the assembly. After I wrote the first chapter in August, Writer’s Block moved into Melanie’s empty apartment, and my precious Muse, weakened by Wedding Frenzy, was too feeble to fight back. It took me a good two months to write three chapters. Finally, New Ideas came to stay in another deserted bedroom and gave me a great hook for the story. I’m now working on chapter eight, and the storm surrounding my cave is lightening to occasional showers. The flood waters are receding.


What new lessons have you learned during this new adventure?

After writing only seven chapters in four months, I wondered if Writing Robin was dead. Reading Robin had come back with a vengeance that nearly destroyed her. Now I know that Writing Robin was merely weakened, not dead. Sometimes, I just have to step back and breathe. Worrying won’t vanquish whatever is distracting me.


What have been the best/most memorable experiences along the way?

My daughter Melanie returned home to live with us during the three years between finishing college and marrying her Dashing Prince. She met him during January of her senior year. If she had never met him, she would’ve moved out and away following college and all of our lives would have been very different. I’m so thankful that we had that extra three years with her.

I also enjoyed learning about football and going to his home games for those three years. I can actually read and understand a play-by-play now, and I’ve come to appreciate the nuances of the game. If he stays in his present position, I’ll even go to a couple of NFL games next year. Charlotte and Atlanta are close to where I live. Family reunion in Charlotte, y’all!

There’s a book in there somewhere. I know way too much about the inner workings of football not to use it as writing material.


If you did this again what would you do differently and what would you not change?

Hah! I know myself too well. I did the best I could do under the circumstances, and there’s nothing I could change, even if I wanted to do so. Every experience allows us to grow better or bitter. I choose better.

I stopped trying to change myself into something I’m not in second grade. I wanted to be like my shy friend, so I tried to stop talking for a day at school. By lunchtime, I was bursting. Total failure. I can’t be something I’m not.


Tell us about you new book and why we need to drop everything and get it now.

I’ve already mentioned Understanding Elizabeth. Fitzwilliam finds out that Elizabeth heard his remarks and is horrified. With his mind troubled, he is visited in his dreams by beings who give him the option of changing what he said that night but paying a high price. What will he do?

I wish readers could buy it now, but I think I must finish writing it first. I hope to have it completed and available in March or April, 2016.


What’s in store for you in the future? Do you have any other big projects on the horizon?

I would love to go to Japan to meet my new granddaughter (born December 8) and visit with my eighteen-month-old granddaughter and their mom, my elder daughter. I’m determined to go to California to see my younger daughter, too. Since sidekick Robin can’t fly without buying an expensive ticket (so unfair that Superman can fly!), I’ll have to write to finance those trips. After I finish and publish Understanding Elizabeth, I’m going to write a comedy – Pride & Prejudice & Pemberley & Pageants. I’m going to release my inner Robin Williams and make my audience laugh. There’s not enough laughter in the world. Hello, Rockin’ Robin!



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    • Debbie Fortin on January 10, 2016 at 7:43 am
    • Reply

    Thanks for the interview, Maria. I love the premise of Robin’s new book, Understanding Elizabeth, and am looking forward to reading it. I thoroughly enjoyed the Yours by Design series. A comedy sounds like fun.

      • Robin Helm on January 10, 2016 at 1:51 pm
      • Reply

      Hi, Debbie! I’m so glad you liked the Yours by Design series, and I’m really looking forward to writing flat-out funny. I’ll have Austen characters from all of her books in the story.

      The premise of Understanding Elizabeth is working nicely. I love getting into Darcy’s mind. 😉

  1. I love your attitude, Robin! What an entertaining interview. Thank you Grace!

      • Robin Helm on January 10, 2016 at 1:53 pm
      • Reply

      Thanks, Jennifer. I frequently adjust my attitude, because it’s not always what I want it to be.

      I’m very happy that you liked the interview! We aim to please, and Maria Grace’s interviews are always fun.

  2. I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one to swing between a “Writing Robin” and a “Reading Robin.” Because sometimes I become so caught up in writing a book that I forget the joy of reading one.

    Great article, Robin. Thanks!

      • Robin Helm on January 11, 2016 at 7:37 am
      • Reply

      I started reading again about six months ago. It’s my “instead of TV” at night. I really wanted to know what was selling out there, and I was curious about why certain books were best sellers.

      I’ve never stopped reading completely, but before that time I read for enjoyment only in the summers when I wasn’t teaching.

      Glad you liked the article, Laura. It was a blast to write. I love being able to set aside the serious and let my silly side out.

  3. Great interview, Robin. I read the first post of “Understanding Elizabeth” and I think it’s going to be everything the Darcy-ites are longing for.

    And just thin, Jane started it.

      • Robin Helm on January 12, 2016 at 7:31 am
      • Reply

      Thanks, Sue! I’m enjoying writing it.

      I hope everyone else likes it as much as I do.

    • Wendi Sotis on January 12, 2016 at 7:32 am
    • Reply

    Great interview! I’m honored to be part of the team 🙂

      • Robin Helm on January 12, 2016 at 7:43 am
      • Reply

      I have the best beta team in the world, Wendi. Thanks so much for helping me!

  4. Better not bitter? I’m so stealing that one.

    You have been one of my great “joys” of JAFF, Robin. I came into your world during the “missing my first grandchild like crazy” and “wedding planning frenzy” stage. It has been awesome getting to know you through these events that tend to shape and mold even us old gals.

    I feel like Jennifer (not surprising, is it?) that this was one of Grace’s most entertaining interviews. I’m a reader first and foremost – I have no shame!!! So, I’m anxiously awaiting your newest and the one coming after.

      • Robin Helm on January 14, 2016 at 9:56 am
      • Reply

      Joy, you definitely made my day. I will wear a big smile plastered across my face while I write this morning and teach piano this afternoon.

      I’m amazed at the changes in myself as my life progresses. Even now, after the uproar of the past year, my husband and I are reverting to the earlier days of our marriage, when we were 23 and invited friends over to have supper and play games. We watch TV together, unless it’s a football game. I watch the games while he plays on his computer.

      I’m so glad to have “met” you and your daughter in JAFF world, Joy. It’s a pleasure to make friends with such contented, happy people. The world needs more ladies like both of you.

      I don’t take myself very seriously, so I love being silly. Hey, two days a week I sing and dance with children. They don’t care that I’m 61 and overweight.

      Understanding Elizabeth isn’t outright funny, but there is tongue-in-cheek humor. I love making Darcy squirm as he gets to know himself. It could just as well be titled Darcy Understanding Himself.

      The pageant book will be flat-out, roll-on-the-floor funny. Slapstick. My sisters and I were in many pageants, and both of my daughters have done a couple. My younger daughter was coached by pageant experts for a reality television show, so that will be the background. I learned a great deal during those three months.

      I’m also starting a new feature on Jane Started It next week. Come by for some Deep Fried Wisdom. Put some South in your mouth.

      Thanks so much, Joy!

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