Renee Vincent always has a story running through her head—usually multiple stories, to be honest. At any moment, she may be wondering about the emotional motivation for a Viking’s actions or picturing a cattleman breaking a bucking bronco. Vincent has always been prone to narrative thought, and that’s exactly the way the Northern Kentucky University graduate and bestselling author likes it.
“When I was a kid, I wrote all the time, whether it was poems or little short stories. I still have them all saved in notebooks,” Vincent says.
But making the leap from notebook writer to published author is hardly child’s play. For Vincent, that process took 12 years, and it took a devastating tragedy to motivate the completion of her debut novel. After finishing the first chapter of what was to become “Sunset Fire,” Vincent asked her sister Lindsey to read it, and the advice she received was simple—finish it. When, four months later, Lindsey was killed in a car accident, she devoted herself to answering that call, finding healing solace in writing.
“For the next eight months, I wrote and wrote and wrote day and night until I finished it,” Vincent says. “Then it was, where do I go from here? I wanted people to read it other than me. She was totally my inspiration for that. It just poured out of me at that point. I think when I finally typed out the end I cried, because it was a release. I finally did it.”
“Sunset Fire” is a historical romance novel featuring Vikings and forbidden love. The book’s success motivated Vincent to start book number two, but she found the process difficult to repeat.
“The second was the hardest. It’s called second book syndrome,” Vincent explains. “The first book does well. It’s selling. It’s getting five-star reviews. And then you put out the second book. I remember the night before release day I said, ‘Pull it. Don’t release it. It’s not ready.’ But it was released, and it did well.”
Vincent’s career has taken off from there, with the author penning 11 books in the romance genre. The historical titles draw from a genuine love of Viking culture, but her line of contemporary novels requires little more than glancing out the window for inspiration.
“I write contemporary cowboys from Wyoming. I live on a farm, and we have horses. They say write what you know,” Vincent says.
The cowboy series landed Vincent on the bestsellers list, a longtime dream came true, when her book “Longing for Langston” was included in a multi-author box set that made USA Today’s “Best-Selling Books” list.
“When I set out to do this as a career, that was a goal. To make USA Today and eventually the New York Times,” Vincent says. “I think I screamed and I cried. Because it was that other hurdle that I wanted to reach.”
Throughout her career, her strongest supporter has been her husband, who’s read all 11 of her books. He even helped as a hands-on editor for “Sunset Fire” by literally wrestling with Vincent on their living room floor after determining a scene could not play out as it was written.
“There is a moment where the hero and heroine are struggling on the ground. He is supposed to be holding her down,” Vincent recalls. “We were on the ground of the living room floor reenacting this. He said, ‘Try, try.’ And I was trying and I couldn’t get up, so I had to rewrite it. So he was part of my research.”
Her husband isn’t the only member of her family that helps inspire her. Vincent has two daughters that keep her busy and grounded, and she’s hopeful they’ll be part of her new target audience someday.
“I would like to write historical fantasy for young adults, like Harry Potter or Narnia type of books. It’s in my head. I have a story,” Vincent says with a smile. “They’re working on a cover, but I just haven’t sat down to write it. There are so many stories in my head, and I’m just trying to figure out which one to write next.”
No matter which story she decides to tell next, Vincent will be happy, because she is literally living her dream.
“It’s such a great dream. And to be able to share that dream with my family because they are such a part of this? Wow,” she says. “This is a little piece of heaven.”