Archive for the ‘Q and A Bestselling Authors’ Category

What does Maya Rodale ABSOLUTELY need while writing? Coffee! “It’s my muse,” she quips.

Maya Rodale began reading romance novels in college at her mother’s insistence. She is now the bestselling and award winning author of numerous smart and sassy romance novels. A champion of the genre and its readers, she is also the author of the non-fiction book Dangerous Books For Girls: The Bad Reputation Of Romance Novels, Explained and has written for The Huffington Post, NPR, Bustle.com and more. Maya lives in New York City with her darling dog – a shiba Inu and a rogue of her own.

Visit her online at www.mayarodale.com, like her facebook page,  or follow her on twitter: @mayarodale.

Welcome Maya!

LP: You write romance – Regency historical and contemporary – what attracted you to both?

MR: I started writing historical romance because that’s what I was reading—because that’s what my mother read and passed along to me. But I’m so fascinated with the parallels between the Regency world and today and I wanted to explore that in my writing, so that’s why I did a series like the Bad Boys & Wallflowers. It’s about a modern day heroine “writing” historical romances based on her “real life” romance with the bad boy billionaire. This page on my website outlines how the books are connected.

LP: You’re a USA Today bestselling author. What book(s) did you hit with and how high? And how did you celebrate?

MR: I hit the list with What a Wallflower Wants and I celebrated in the usual way: jumping up and down and crying in the kitchen with the husband. I actually wrote a little blog post about it, from my initial reaction, to the champagne, and what my mom said when I called with the news.

LP: You’ve also written a non-fiction book called DANGEROUS BOOKS FOR GIRLS: THE BAD REPUTATION OF ROMANCE NOVELS EXPLAINED. Do you think romance novels still get a bum rap and why?

MR: I think romance novels have gotten a bum rap because they’re unapologetically by women/for women and they’re mass (read: cheaply) produced and our culture tends to be dismissive of both those things. But that’s also what makes them so powerful and popular! I see this changing, though, as there is more attention and respect paid to women’s work (whatever it may be).

LP: Aside from writing your books, what are THREE key things that you do consistently that help you “put noses in your books” and build a reader fan base.

MR: Well, writing the books is the main thing. The best way to sell a book is by making a reader happy with another book you’ve written. For advice other than that, I’d suggest:

–Cultivating relationships with other authors. Champion the books you love and give shout outs to authors you want other readers to discover. Maybe they’ll do the same for your work, or it might just add to a culture of sharing the love, which helps everyone. 🙂

–Be an engaging person on social media. Connect with and converse with people there and talk about stuff other than trying to sell your books.

— Unless you have a new release and then . . .

–Tell everyone when you have a book out! HUSTLE! Tell your friends and family. Call your local bookstore. Shout it from the rooftops. Whatever it takes to get the word out!

LP: Who do you fan girl over and why?

MR: In Romancelandia, I’d get super bashful and excited to talk to Lisa Kleypas. Her writing is some of the best in the genre, and any fiction I’ve read. Plus, I love how she’s written historical and contemporary romances.

LP: Tell us about THREE AWESOME books you’ve read by newbie authors or authors who haven’t yet “broken through” (can be any genre).

After looking at my recently read list, I don’t think there are many newbies on it! Gasp! But here is what is downloaded on my kindle and awaiting me this weekend: Tycoon by Joanna Schupe, Unmasked Heart by Vanessa Riley and Stirring Attraction by Sara Jane Stone.

LP: What is one of the coolest/sweetest things a reader said to you or did for you?

MR: I’ve gotten some sweet cards from readers and even a really lovely wedding present. 🙂 But the best thing is just hearing from readers on social media that they enjoyed my books.

LP: Tell us about your latest release and what you have coming down the road.

My latest is Chasing Lady Amelia—it’s book #2 in my Keeping Up With The Cavendishes series about an American family that inherits a dukedom in Regency London. Each book in the series is inspired by a Rom Com and this one is my tribute to the movie Roman Holiday. Think runaway heiress + dashing rogue . . . you know where this goes! Next up is Lady Claire is All That, inspired by She’s All That.

LP: Bonus: What are three fun “romance heroine” lines that a gal could use on a cute guy at a party or coffee shop?

Maya Rodale is also a speaker, blogger and one of the founding members of Lady Jane’s Salon in NYC.

MR: Oh, that is a tricky one! Any romance heroine line is one that is from the heart and probably sounds like “the wrong thing” to say. Or it’s a declaration that she will never marry the hero (haha, famous last words).

LP: Thanks so much!!!

MR: Thank you! This was fun!

Connect with the wonderful Maya Rodale via her website, or on facebook or twitter.

Follow Lachesis Publishing on twitter and like our Lachesis Publishing facebook page.

 

USA Today bestselling author Jess Michaels

Jess Michaels is a USA Today Bestselling Author who began writing full-time in 1999 after her supportive husband encouraged her to follow her dream. She sold her first book in 2003 and since then has published 50 books (and counting). After many years of working with both big and small publishers, Jess is on her own . . . and loving it!

LP: You are both traditionally published and self-published – tell us when and why you began self-publishing?

JM: In 2011 I did a bit of self-publishing, but coming from traditional for so long, I just wasn’t sure what I was doing. So I went back to trad after the year for another couple. In 2015, I went back to indie publishing fully and will never go back. As for why, my experiences with traditional publishing were often incredibly frustrating. In the end, no one else will care as much about me or my success than I do. And I got tired of beating my head against the wall trying to get someone else to care or put any of that supposed “big publisher muscle” behind me.

LP: What are the pros and cons of self-publishing versus traditional publishing. Are you happy to continue doing both or would you rather do one over the other?

As an indie author, Jess Michaels works with a professional photographer to get just the right look for her covers.

JM: The advantages of indie publishing for me are being in control of the process, being able to change my plans on the fly, getting to publish more often and not having to answer to anyone else. The disadvantages are that it’s a lot of work. LOL I probably work 80+ hours a week AND I have a full time assistant. But I’m putting that time in for ME. So it doesn’t hurt quite as much. As for the other, let me re-stress: I will NEVER go back to trad. There is not enough money in the universe.

LP: You write erotic historical romance as Jess Michaels and you’ve also written paranormal fiction under the pen name Jesse Petersen. What drew you to both genres?

JM: I actually only write as Jess Michaels. I haven’t written as Jesse Petersen for a few years now and haven’t written as Jenna Petersen (my other pen name) for almost 5. I’ve always written very, very sexy historical romance so writing erotic historical made a lot of sense. I love the Regency period, I love my fans, I love my books. I have 13 ideas in my head for the next three years of books. So I guess that genre is just my passion.

LP: How do you “put bums in seats”? When it comes to getting your name out there and selling books?

The Wicked Woodleys Series: Forbidden (Book 1)

JM: I’ve been published for over ten years, so I have a really good solid fanbase. But I’m always working to grow that through various social media promotions and also through just writing books. Books sell books. So it’s just continuing to get that work done over and over and exposing more audiences to them.

LP: You’ve published several series including THE WICKED WOODLEYS AND THE PLEASURE WARS, Why do you write series books? Tell us about your various series, and what can an author—self-published (or otherwise) accomplish with a series?

JM: Romance novelists have always known the power of the series. I think I’ve ever only written two or three standalone books out of nearly 60 published. Now in my historical romances, I’m writing family series. So I don’t write one couple, multiple books, but maybe four friends or three brothers or things like that. Doing that helps the readers be more invested. They fall in love with a family rather than just one book and it drives them to buy the next one. It’s all about building desire.

Mistress Matchmaker Series: An Introduction to Pleasure (fan favourite)

LP: When you’re chatting with fans and readers, which book(s) come up again and again as fan favourites and why?

The Notorious Flynns Series: The Other Duke

JM: An Introduction to Pleasure comes up a lot, which was the first book in my Mistress Matchmaker series. People really love The Other Duke, too which was the first book in The Notorious Flynns series and my first in my return to indie, so that’s very cool!

LP: You’re a USA Today bestselling author. What are 3 KEY THINGS that newbies or authors who haven’t broken through yet should do when they release a new title, whether they are indie or traditionally published?

JM: I actually hit the USAToday with my third indie title of 2015 which was amazing! It’s been a goal for a long time and to do it on my own terms was joyful. As for key things: 1. Write. Write a lot. Write a lot of books. Edit. Never release a product that isn’t fully ready. But mostly write. WRITE WRITE WRITE. 2. Pick a genre and stick to it for a while. I see a lot of new authors jumping and that’s fine, except it makes it hard to catch an audience. So if you’re trying to find an audience to keep coming back, to build a base, pick something and stick to it for a while. At least 4-5 books. 3. Don’t expect overnight success. The idea of it is nice, sure, but long term success is more lucrative and satisfying. But it takes work to get there. So be ready to work.

Lords of Time Series: The Spare and the Heir

LP: Tell us about an indie author YOU like and why?

JM: My friend Jenn LeBlanc is becoming one of my favorite indie authors. She writes historical romance with interesting characters who are way out of the traditional box. It’s awesome to see someone build a career in a wheelhouse that traditional publishers would turn their nose up at.

LP: What’s the best piece of advice you ever got when you were starting out?

JM: To write. 🙂 Honestly, it’s the best thing you can do to learn to write and to find success in a longer term scale. Having a huge backlist helps feed my front and vice versa. It helps contribute to financial success.

LP: What do you have coming up next?

JM: The last book in my Wicked Woodleys series, SEDUCED will be out May 17. You can pre-order exclusively from iBooks right now, with the rest of the pre-orders going up in early May.

Jess Michaels’ feline bestie

LP: Bonus: cats or dogs and why?

JM: Cats! We have a beautiful cat that is my lovely, sweet angel. I adore her and I hate that she’s getting older (her partner passed away in November)

Thanks Jess for joining us today!

You can find out more about Jess Michaels’ books on her website, and you can like her page on facebook, and pinterest. You can also follow Jess on twitter and her author page on amazon.

Follow Lachesis Publishing on twitter and like our Lachesis Publishing facebook page.

Cat Johnson not only has hit the New York Times bestseller list – she is a at Top 10 NYT bestseller! She is also a USA Today Bestselling author and the recipient of a Publishers Weekly starred review. Her contemporary romances focus on cowboys and Navy Seals. Cat’s books are so popular that Amazon invited her to create her own world on kindle. More on that later.

An “out of the box” thinker when it comes to marketing, Cat has sponsored bull riding cowboys and promoted her books using bologna?!? Check it out on her website.

Cat is known as a hybrid author – that is she is both self-published and traditionally published. She joins us today to talk about her remarkable publishing career and some fun stuff too!

LP: You are both traditionally published and self-published – tell us when and why you began self-publishing

CJ: I had some backlist books I’d gotten rights back to when the small press I’d been with sold. This was about the time that KDP and Smashwords (which distributes to Barnes & Noble and iBooks) had opened to authors to self publish. So I uploaded a few backlist books but didn’t pay much attention to them. They were shorter romantic comedy stories I’d written years before, and they’d already been out with a publisher, so I figured any sales I made was money I didn’t have before and I basically ignored those stories. I was too busy writing new cowboy and military romance for my publisher . . . until I’d read an article about how much money Selena Kitt was earning self publishing erotic romance. That’s when I decided it would be worth writing something new to self publish and see what it could do. That was Educating Ansley, a cowboy ménage. I very quietly uploaded it in May of 2011 and that 40K word story sold 6,000 copies in the first 6 weeks at $2.99. After that I was hooked.

LP: What are the pros and cons of self-publishing versus traditional publishing?

CJ: Control is a huge pro self publishing offers that traditional does not. I can be quick on my feet. I can make changes on a moment’s notice. I can write a story this week and have it in readers’ hands next week, rather than 2 years from now after the genre is flooded and the reader interest has cooled. I have the freedom to change my price to take advantage of a special event or promotion at Kobo or iBooks. I can tweak my metadata to see if something else works better than what I’m doing. Today’s publishing landscape is changing at the speed of light. Publishers (and that includes self published authors) have to be ready, willing and able to change just as quickly. The problem is the systems in place at most big publishers are not set up to do that.

But there are cons to self publishing as well. Self publishing at my level still does not have the legitimacy or the distribution that I can get with a traditional publisher. There are still people who equate quality with big publishing. And it is still easier to get stocked on shelves in stores or in libraries or for a booksigning with a trad pub book.

LP: What are the expenses involved in publishing your own book? How long does it take you to get a book out?

CJ: The costs and the time are both minimal. I am a control freak, so I do everything I can myself. My USA Today bestselling Hot SEALs series covers are done by me in Photoshop where I can play for hours to get my vision for the cover just right. By my manipulating and combining stock art photos, my covers can cost a few dollars rather than hundreds. I format the files and upload them myself to each vendor, which means there is no additional cost other than my time. I have a couple of trusted people who beta read and then proof read for me and can usually turn the book around in a few days so the time from when I finish writing to release is usually less than 2 weeks.

LP: You have your very own KINDLE WORLD on Amazon for your Hot SEALS series. Tell us about how that came about and what it entails.

CJ: About 2 years ago, Amazon began expanding its Kindle Worlds program to include romance worlds. Bella Andre’s world was one of them and I was approached by Amazon to write a story within her world. The relationship I built with the KW team throughout that experience, and the level of my sales, prompted them to offer me my own world. I couldn’t license Amazon my traditionally published series without worrying about being in violation of my contract but my SEALs are self published. The Hot SEALs KindleWorld launched in August of 2015 and was a huge success. It’s basically fan fiction of my Hot SEALs series that is for sale. Anyone can write in the world, readers or authors, as long as they follow the guidelines outlined. They can write new characters into my world, or if they have an existing series, they can write their own characters doing things alongside mine. It’s a lot of fun for my readers who want more Hot SEALs stories. It’s nice for the authors too, since we all band together to help promote the world. Those interested in writing a story can check out the world guidelines at catjohnson.net/kindleworlds and those who want to read the stories can shop the titles at catjohnson.net/shopkindleworlds.

LP: Based on YOUR OWN experience. How much TIME do you spend each day doing marketing and promotion (over all and including social media, newsletter, booking ads etc . . .)

CJ: This is my fault, because I will choose promo and marketing over writing every day, but it’s probably 10% writing and 90% everything else, which includes keeping abreast of changes in the market, posting and reading on social media, handling email, newsletters, blogging and creating graphics. I try not to feel guilty about that ratio being so skewed because all that other stuff is important too. But I do need to learn to focus better and prioritize the writing.

LP: You’ve published several bestselling series including RED HOT AND BLUE, STUDS IN SPURS and OKLAHOMA NIGHTS. Why do you write series books? Tell us about your series. And what can an author—self-published (or otherwise) accomplish with a series?

CJ: Series are not only fun for authors to write but they are huge sellers. And I am NOT talking serials where there is basically a cliffhanger at the end of each installment and you have to get the next book. I’m talking about a connected series that shares a world, where there is an HEA or at least a HFN at the end, and the story is complete.

All of my series stories can standalone but readers love to read them all because it’s fun to catch up with the hero and heroine from the past books. Or to see the hero’s best friend you’ve come to know and love get his happy ending in the next book. Once I get to know the characters and the setting I like continuing with them, and series allow that. Red Hot & Blue and the Hot SEALs series are military romance. The Studs in Spurs, Oklahoma Nights and Midnight Cowboys series are about modern day cowboys. Visitors can find all my series listed at my site at CatJohnson.net, along with other fun stuff like quote graphics and recipes.

LP: You’re a Top 10 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. What are 3 KEY THINGS that newbie authors should do when they release a new title, whether they are indie or traditionally published?

CJ: 1-Write the next book! 2-And then write the next one after that. 3-And then release those books, steadily and predictably, promoted in advance so the readers know what to expect from you and when. Then do it all over again. Rare is the author who can make a living, or a career, on one or two or even three books. I’ve found the best way to sell the last book is to release the next one. Breakouts and anomalies aside, a career in publishing is a living thing. You don’t keep feeding it, it’s gonna waste away and eventually die.

LP: Tell us about an indie author YOU like and why?

CJ: I love Cristin Harber. Our genre and writing voices are very similar and I love how she approaches the business with a combined analytical savvy and creative enthusiasm that is rare.

LP: Bonus Round: Between your COWBOYS and SEALS: 

Who would take a gal out to dinner at a fancy restaurant and who would make her dinner at home?

CJ: My SEALs would take me out (they eat bad food so often, they’d want something nice from a restaurant) while my cowboys would definitely cook . . . probably steaks they raised themselves on the ranch.

LP: Who would pick up his lady’s dirty tissues from the floor when she’s sick in bed and who would give her a back rub instead?

CJ: SEALs fear no germs! And I’m thinking they’re neat freaks, at least judging by the way they clean their weapons. Cowboys are very hands on. They’d be using all that hand strength they’ve built fixing fences and such for a nice back rub.

LP: Who would seduce his lady with sweet words whispered in her ear and who would seduce with a sexy growl?

CJ: Cowboys are sweet talkers with their darlin’ and baby girl and even a well placed ma’am. SEALs aren’t going to waste time with words. A growl will do.

LP: Who would bake a birthday cake for his lady’s birthday and who would surprise her in his birthday suit?

Cat Johnson at one of her many book signings

CJ: I think SEALs can be overachievers at times, and I think going the extra mile to bake their lady a cake might be just the thing he’d do to show his prowess in all things. A cowboy would get right down to the business of delivering his gift—him. Naked.

LP: Thank you!

CJ: Thank you for inviting me!

Connect with Cat Johnson via her website, on facebook, twitter, pinterest and instagram.

 

Sally McKenzie at the 2013 RWA Literacy Book Signing

Today we have the wonderful treat of chatting with the delightful USA Today Bestselling Regency Historical Author Sally MacKenzie.

The Duchess of Love Series Prequel, E-novellaApril 2012

Sally MacKenzie writes funny, sexy romances set in her favorite time period (other than the present): Regency England. Her novella, The Duchess of Love, was a 2013 RITA® finalist, and two of her books–The Naked King and Bedding Lord Ned–made ALA Booklist’s (American Library

Bedding Lord Ned: The Duchess of Love Series, Book #1June 2012

Association) top ten romances for their respective years. Many of her books are available in audio format, and her stories have been translated into Czech, French, Indonesian, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish.

Sally graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Notre Dame in the first class of women. She’s a Cornell Law School dropout, former federal regulation writer, recovering parent volunteer, mother of four grown sons, and middle-of-the-lane Masters swimmer. She loves to travel, especially to England to research historic sites and hike through–and frequently get lost in–the English countryside.

A native of Washington, D. C., she lives with her husband in suburban Maryland, not far from her childhood home.

What was your first book that hit a bestseller list? What was the list, where did the book rank when it first hit, and how high did your book get? Did you think it would make the list? Were you surprised?

The Naked Earl, my third book, squeaked onto the USA Today list for one week, and, no, I wasn’t surprised—but only because I was so naive back then and completely clueless about bestseller lists!

When something awesome happens in your career how do you celebrate?

I grin and do a little happy dance. I might tell a writer friend. Then I try to settle back to work.

I have a husband and four (now grown) sons. There’s no squeeing in my house. It’s pretty much, that’s nice, but what are we doing about dinner? (Though my husband did bring home champagne when I sold my first book.)

Georgette Heyer published her first book in 1921. She wrote romances set in the Regency Era. She also wrote mysteries.

Tell us why you write historical romance and specifically Regency.

That’s where my imagination goes to play.

It’s all Georgette Heyer’s fault, actually. Many consider her the mother of the Regency genre, and if you love Regencies and don’t know her work, you must go immediately to check her out. I’ll wait, lol.

I first encountered Georgette when I was about eleven or twelve and a friendly neighborhood librarian introduced me to her books. I was hooked. Her stories are so witty and charming—though she keeps the bedroom door firmly shut. In my dreams, my books read like a Georgette Heyer—with (at least some) sex.

If you had the chance to write historicals set in a different time period–what era and place would you set your books in? How would you approach the tone of your books?

When I finished my first book, The Naked Duke, I followed conventional wisdom and immediately started a second book—a science fiction romance! So if I weren’t writing Regencies, I’d still avoid the present, but I’d move forward, not backward in time.

I only made it to chapter five of the scifi manuscript before The Naked Duke sold and I anchored myself firmly in the past, but the science fiction story was very different from my Regencies. It was more plot driven—and it wasn’t funny.

Promotion is an important part of every author’s work routine. Tell us one promotion that you did–for a new release or at a conference–that worked really well for you.

I have to say my most successful promotion wasn’t for a new release. Early on in my Naked Nobility series, I had large buttons made that said “I’m a Naked reader.” They were very fun and popular. I’m not certain that they persuaded anyone to buy my books, but they did help my series stick in people’s minds. The Naked King, the last book in that series, came out in 2011 (though the novellas were re-released as separate e-books in 2013), but even now when I introduce myself at events, if my name doesn’t ring a bell, I tell the person I’m the Naked writer and that causes the lightbulb of recognition to go off.

I’m always looking to make that magic again, but I’ve never hit on anything quite so catchy. My current giveaway is a small excerpt booklet I hand readers so they can sample my story and decide if it’s something they might enjoy. Then they can go to my website to read a bit more—and click on one of the purchase links to get the book, if they so desire.

I think it’s very hard to make a direct connection between promotional efforts and book sales.

Surprising Lord Jack – The Duchess of Love Series, Book #2March 2013

You’re a USA Today bestselling author–what are three key ways that you think an author can invest in his/her career in order to expand his or her audience?

First, write the best book you can. Second, write the next book and try to make it even better. Third, write an even better book.

I know that probably sounds like I’m evading the question, but I really believe writing the best book you can is the only way to further your career. It’s the only part of the puzzle we as writers can control.

It’s nice if you can write many good books quickly—the more you have out there, the better your chance of developing a readership. But life is a matter of balance and each writer has his/her own process and pace. I’m pretty much a one book a year writer and I’m okay with that. It’s also not a bad idea to write books in a series, if that appeals to you, and to stay in the same subgenre. I think my career would be very different if I’d finished that science fiction romance and chosen to write in both the historical and science fiction romance subgenres. Certainly it can be done—and if that’s the way your muse rolls, then that’s the path you should take. It just might be harder—or at least, looking back, I think it would have been harder for me—to develop a career writing in two subgenres. I’d definitely need to write faster!

Loving Lord Ash (The Duchess of Love Series Book 3 Released March 2014)

It also has to be said that, sadly, writing a wonderful book is not a guarantee of commercial success. There are a lot of moving parts when a book goes to market. And this business is fundamentally one of taste. What one person loves another person will hate or just find boring. For example, I loathe Gone with the Wind. (Was that an inhalation of horror I heard?) Clearly, GWTW is beloved by many. I’m just not one of them. So you might write a perfectly delightful book that only delights five people.

As to what to do after you’ve written the best books you can? I think it depends on your subgenre and your strengths and preferences. If you want to be published traditionally, finding an agent who’s a good match is a smart step. If you’ve decided to publish independently, then you need to be sure you understand all the pieces of that process—formatting, cover design, editing, marketing, etc. You probably need to do some promotion in either case, but what works for Author A might not work for you—or it might work this week but not next week. My rule on promotion is to do the things I find fun and not worry too much about the rest.

Finally, if you write romance—or perhaps even if you write any form of commercial fiction—I highly recommend joining the Romance Writers of America. The organization offers a lot of support and education, and you’re likely to find your “tribe” there—people who really get what you’re doing.

Devon England, ExmouthImage: www.bbc.co.uk

I know you love to travel–have you ever encountered any place or person on your journeys that you had to absolutely include in one of your books? Tell us about that.

Yes! Both a place and a “person” from my travels inspired my current Spinster House series.

A La Ronde, Exmouth, DevonImage: www.theguardian.com

The place: In 2013, when I was on the hunt for a new series idea, my husband and I traveled around Devon, England. In Exmouth, we came upon a quaint little house, A La Ronde. A La Ronde belonged to a pair of intrepid spinsters, Jane and Mary Parminter, and was passed down through Mary’s will to other spinsters in the family. The house itself isn’t in my series—it’s the idea of a house for spinsters that became an important part of my series concept. (The house itself is quite inspiring, but it’s too unique for my purposes.)

The White Hart Hotel

The “person”: Later on we stayed at The White Hart Hotel in Moretonhampstead. There we met Poppy, a calico cat that hung out in the lobby. One night I made the mistake of sitting in Poppy’s chair (when she wasn’t in it, of course). She gave me quite a look when she arrived to find her

“Poppy” the calico cat looking regal and imperious

place occupied, but was too well bred to take issue with me. She made such an impression, she became a rather important character in the series.

Here’s a picture of Poppy and her chair. (left)

What is one thing you absolutely LOVE about being an author and one thing that makes you BONKERS?

The writing. Really. I love it and I hate it at the same time. I get great satisfaction when I can make a character and a scene come to life, but it is SO hard.

Another thing I love—I became an author later in life having spent years concentrating on raising my four sons. So I love the opportunities I’ve had to make so many new friends—both writers and readers. I feel my world is ever expanding.

Another thing that drives me a little crazy, if not bonkers—Once a book goes out into the world, it’s on its own. Like my kids, actually. I’ve done the best I can, and now I have to let go and let them make their own way in the world. I keep from going absolutely bonkers by not asking my sons (the youngest is 26) questions I might not want to hear the answers to. And, in a similar fashion, I very rarely read reviews or look at my Amazon or other sales rankings.

All I can control is the writing, so I try not to waste precious mental energy on the rest. (Not that I always manage that, of course.)

Not every book can be a bestseller. Heck, some only sell a handful of copies. Tell us about one book (or author) that you’ve read recently that is a true gem waiting to be discovered.

Sally McKenzie’s go-to research books on Regency England.

Here I’m going to have to reveal a deep dark secret: I don’t read much fiction anymore. It’s sad and I do mean to work on it. As it is, with writing and life, I only seem to have time to read the newspapers. We get The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, and I usually read—or skim—them cover to cover. Tuesday is my favorite day—that’s when both papers have their health/science sections. And I love spending Saturday and/or Sunday morning going through the weekend papers. Mr. M. sprawls on one couch and I sprawl on the other and we drink coffee and read interesting tidbits to each other. (Mr. M used to work all the time, and our weekends were taken up with kid events—sports and scouts and whatnot—so maybe that’s why I value our “coffee hour” so much.)

I’ve also got a huge collection of research books begging to be read. When we go to England, research books are my souvenirs. Mr. M has to constantly remind me that whatever I buy, I have to bring home in my suitcase.

Spinster House Series Prequel (Released in 2015)

What is the coolest/nicest thing a fan/reader has done for you or said to you?

Simply telling me that he/she’s enjoyed one of my books. (I especially like hearing it made him/her laugh out loud.) I’m amazed and delighted every single time I hear that.

Writing is such a crazy, solitary endeavor. My creative process is slow and painful and messy and insane, full of despair and self-doubt. (I’ve just finished edits, so I’m still recovering from that burst of creative frenzy.) It always feels like a miracle when I manage to get 90,000 odd words together into a coherent (I hope) story. And it’s equally miraculous that those words can entertain and amuse someone I’ve never met.

Spinster House Series Book 1 (released 2015)

Tell us about your latest release. And what do you have coming down the road?

I’m in the middle of my Spinster House series.. The prequel novella, In the Spinster’s Bed, came out this summer followed in late August/early September by the first book, What to Do with a Duke. I’ve just finished the copy edits for the second book, How to Manage a Marquess. It’s a May 2016 release. Now I’m turning my attention to the third book, When to Engage an Earl, which I assume will be out sometime in 2017.

Here’s the back cover copy forWhat to Do with a Duke:

Welcome to the charming, fatefully named village of Loves Bridge, where a woman destined for spinsterhood can live a life of her own choosing—or fall unexpectedly, madly in love . . .

Miss Isabelle Catherine Hutting would rather be lounging in the library than circling the ballroom in search of a husband any day. So when Cat hears that the town’s infamous Spinster House is open for a new resident, she jumps at the chance to put all this marriage business behind her. But first she must make arrangements with her prospective landlord, Marcus, the Duke of Hart—the most handsome man she’s ever seen, and the only man who’s ever impressed her in the least.

With her wit, independent spirit, and not least of all her beauty, Marcus can’t help but be stirred by Cat. It’s terribly unfortunate he’s not looking to marry, given the centuries-old curse that left his family with the Spinster House to begin with: No duke shall live to see his heir’s birth. But is there a chance the curse could be broken—in true fairy-tale fashion—by an act of true love? The race to Happily Ever After is about to begin. . .

BONUS QUESTION:What was the last laugh-out-loud-fall-off-your-chair funny thing that happened to you?

I can’t think of something quite that funny, but I do have something to offer that was mildly amusing.

We live across the street from a park with a man-made pond. The pond’s main purpose is to help manage storm water runoff, but it—and the park—are also great critter habitats. There are deer (lots and lots of deer), groundhogs, foxes, rabbits, turtles, snakes, various sorts of toads, and who knows what else. It’s not unusual for me to find a bit of wildlife in my yard. I’ve had deer sampling my shrubbery, a fox having a screaming match with a cat at 2 am, and a turtle laying her eggs in my lawn. But except for the occasional cricket or spider—or, once, a gigantic praying mantis—the critters usually stay outside.

The infamous Mr. Toady?

Now here I should confess that I’m never going to win a good housekeeping award. There might not be any real animals in my house, but there’s a healthy colony of dust bunnies living under my bed, and a few can be found in other places throughout the house. Occasionally I’ll vacuum them up, but in general we co-exist.

One day I was on my way downstairs when I saw a dust bunny in the foyer hop. I blinked, not believing my eyes, but . . . it hopped again!

I was home alone, so it fell to me to deal with whatever this thing was. I approached cautiously and peered down at it from a safe distance, ready to bolt if it looked threatening—and discovered one of the little neighborhood toads had found his way inside and gotten covered in dusty bunny fluff.

How To Manage A MarquessSpinster House Series, Book #2April 26, 2016

I have no idea how the toad got in, but I couldn’t let him stay. So I carefully swept and scooped him out the door and then got a glass of water to wash him off. He seemed a bit stunned, but when I checked later he was gone, none the worse for his experience, I hope.

Thanks so much for giving me a chance to stop by and visit!

Sally MacKenzie is a USA Today bestselling author. Her forthcoming book How to Manage a Marquis (Spinster House Series, Book #2) is set for release in April 2016. You can pre-order right now. Visit her online at her website, on Twitter @Sally_Mackenzie, or on her Sally MacKenzie Facebook fan page, www.facebook.com/sallymackenziebooks.

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Author Patricia A. Rasey

Patricia Rasey is our guest today. She’s an independently published author who has hit the amazon bestseller list numerous times. Patricia writes romantic suspense and dark paranormal romance.

Patricia is a three-time recipient of the Word Weaving Award for Literary Excellence and a three-time winner of the prestigious RIO Award Of Excellence. She is also a three-time EPPIE finalist and was a 2001 nominee for Romantic Times Magazine’s Best Electronic Book. Additionally, Twilight Obsessions and Twilight Visions, two anthologies she was a part of, was nominated for the PEARL, the Paranormal Excellence Award in Romantic Literature, in the Best Anthology category. Her short story, In The Mind of Darkness won the P&E 2002 Horror short story category.

When not behind her computer, you can find Patricia working, reading, watching movies or MMA. She also enjoys spending her free time at the river camping with her husband and two sons. Ms. Rasey is currently a third degree Black Belt in American Freestyle Karate. A daydreamer at heart, Patricia A. Rasey, resides in her native town in Northwest Ohio with her husband, Mark, and her lovable Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Todd.  

You’re an indie author also known as a “self-published” author. Tell us how you got started down the indie road and why?

PAR: A very good friend of mine talked me into it. I had two books I had the rights back to and I hadn’t done anything with them. They sat there collecting dust. This author friend of mine bought me a cover and 5 day ad to promote it for Christmas one year. All I had to do was take a leap of faith. Four years later, I’m still self-publishing and making more money than I was with my previous publisher.

You’re a bestselling author on Amazon – which of your books hit the Amazon bestseller list, how high did they go, and how many copies did you sell? And best of all – how did you celebrate?

PAR: My first bestseller was Viper, the first book in my Sons of Sangue series. It stayed in the top ten Hot New Releases for two weeks. Its highest rank was #3 there. It stayed in Paranormal Romance releases top one-hundred for the first month. I believe the highest rank there was #11. Hawk (book 2) and Gypsy (book 3) made both those lists again, as well as the demons category. But I don’t recall their numbers. Neither got as high as Viper did, but the money brought on that first month was still pretty great for me. I don’t recall the number of books at all, without having to look it up, but quite a bit fewer than if I hit those numbers with all books. To celebrate, I did so quietly with my hubby and a couple of friends over wine. I’m not much of a big party type gal.

Your main genre is suspense – which includes romantic suspense, suspense thrillers and you also write dark paranormal romance. Tell us why you like to write in these areas? And how would you describe your voice?

PAR: I pretty much write paranormal romance now because it is what’s selling for me, paranormal with dark suspense undertones. I really have always been fascinated with police work. I have a brother who is a detective and a son that’s a deputy sheriff. I guess it runs in the family. When I was doing strictly romantic suspense, I used to ask myself what scares me, then write it. I was giving myself nightmares. Now that I don’t write as dark, the nightmares have stopped. I have just always been fascinated with the darker side of the human character. As for my voice, hmmm . . . that’s a tough one. I never really think about it. I just write and I know when I’m in that zone because it feels right.

Let’s say I’m new to Patricia A. Rasey – I’ve just discovered you either through facebook or amazon or through a friend. What kind of story am I going to be getting in a Patricia A. Rasey book?

PAR: I have always said I hate describing my work. The one question I fear is: tell me about your book. I want to turn it over and say read the blurb. I just suck at talking about them. You will definitely get a book that’s a bit darker in nature. There won’t be a lot of comedy elements (unless you pick up my ghost novella. Spirit Me Away was my one attempt and it was a lot of fun to write). You will also get more than a romance. I try to weave a suspense into everything I write. A lot of readers say I’m full of twists and turns and you don’t always see things coming.

What are three pros to being an indie author?

PAR: Having the independence to decide things like cover, editor. Getting the money monthly and like clockwork. Most of these vendors pay promptly. And having complete control of your career.

Author Patricia A. Rasey is building her own successful publishing career.

What are three cons to being an indie author?

PAR: The money you have to front in order to publish a book. It can be expensive. Being in charge of all your marketing and still sometimes the negative backlash for not having a publisher. And having complete control over your career. If you fail, it’s your fault.

Promotion is key to every author. But you can’t always predict how well a promotion is going to work out. Tell us about one promotion that you did – for a new release or at a conference that really surprised you.

PAR: I’ve done a lot of promotions. Facebook works the best for me. Next step will hopefully be BookBub if I can snag one of their ads. I would say so far, it was getting one of those 6 foot tall banners and having it placed in a well-seen spot. My book sales at that conference were great.

Being an indie author may not be for everyone – although there are plenty of authors who are doing it and plenty of traditionally published authors who are incorporating it into their careers as well. But what does it take to be a truly committed and successful self-published author?

PAR: Dedication and time. If you don’t do the legwork, no one will do it for you. You have to work your ass off in this business to get ahead. No one said self-publishing was easy. And it’s not. Just know if you go that route, it’s hard work and you may not always make your money back. But the bright side, they are on sale forever—so market the backlist to get them selling. That’s my next step.

Building a readership or audience is important for any author – but indie authors don’t have publishers to help them shoulder some of the promotional challenges. As an indie author – how do you connect with readers?

PAR: Engage, engage, engage. Always take time out on social medias to talk to your readers and always respond to their emails. If they reach out, reach back. It’s rewarding both ways.

Tell us about your latest release. And what do you have coming down the road?

PAR: Gypsy (book 3) was my last release. If I didn’t have a day job, they would come faster. He was my challenge as he was very much a party boy stuck with a mate he did not want. Let’s say he was one angry vampire who became an ass. Rogue (book 4) comes out Feb. 2, 2016, with two novellas planned next year following its release. Draven (book 4.25) and Preacher (book 4:75). Normally authors do a 4.5 for their novellas. It just so happened that I planned two before book 5 comes out: Xander.

Your heroes tend to be hot and hunky and decidedly Alpha. Where do you get your inspiration for your sexy leading men?

PAR: I love strong alphas, guys who need a little taming. I would say I’ve always been attracted to them, even well before my writing career. I had a lot of male friends who rode motorcycles. My mom and dad’s best friends owned the Harley Davidson shop in our town. Now, I still love the hot, sexy manly type over the traditionally handsome men.

BONUS QUESTION: When you’re really stressed out – how do you blow off steam?

PAR: I read with a glass of wine or an ice cold beer. Reading is still my favorite way to slip away from reality for a bit.

Thanks Patricia for joining us today.

Thank you for interviewing me. I appreciate you taking the time.

 

 

Patricia Rasey loves to hear from readers. You can connect with her via her website, on facebook, twitter, amazon, and goodreads.

You can watch Patricia’s book trailers on YouTube. 

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Author Kathryn Le Veque

KATHRYN LE VEQUE is a USA TODAY Bestselling author, an Amazon All-Star author, and a #1 bestselling, award-winning, multi-published author in Medieval Historical Romance and Historical Fiction. She has been featured in the NEW YORK TIMES and on USA TODAY’s HEA blog. In March 2015, Kathryn was the featured cover story for the March issue of InD’Tale Magazine, the premier Indie author magazine. She is also a quadruple nominee (a record!) for the prestigious RONE awards for 2015. Kathryn has accomplished a great deal in her amazing career – and she’s done it all as an independent author.

How many of your books have been bestsellers and what lists have you hit? Tell us how you felt when you hit those lists.

KLV: Currently, I have 73 published novels, collections, and bundles. Out of that group, 62 have hit #1 on Amazon for any length of time in Medieval Historical Romance, Scottish Historical Romance, or Ancient Historical Romance. This means they were there for one day or, in the case of my novel NETHERWORLD, held #1 for six weeks in July and August of 2014. Most recently, I was part of the USA Today bestselling collection WITH DREAMS ONLY OF YOU that hit the USA Today bestselling list in July 2015. As for the Amazon Author’s Ranking, I have consistently been in the top 10 authors in Historical Romance since February 2014 and in 2015, I have been fortunate enough to remain in the top 5. As of today, I’ve been #1 for three days, so I’m extremely grateful for my readers and their love of my books.

It’s interesting to ask how an author feels about hitting a list – it’s a milestone to achieve for an author so it feels as if you have really accomplished something but to me, there was more to it – it meant that the readers were loving it and that, to me, is the most important thing of all. As an author, the only thing that should matter are your readers and how they receive what you write. It’s always a great feeling when they love it.

USA Today bestselling anthology WITH DREAMS ONLY OF YOU featuring Kathryn Le Veque

When something awesome happens in your career how do you celebrate – with food, fun, or flowers? (details please! 😉

KLV: I write another book. LOL! Seriously, I don’t really celebrate. No flowers or anything like that. I look at every achievement as a bestseller a motivation to do the same thing again and again – celebrations are short lived. It’s the product you produce that matters and that’s what I focus on – a consistently quality product at a reasonable price.

Tell us why you write historical romance specifically Medieval. And you also write contemporary adventure? Tell us about that.

KLV: Early in my career, I was big on writing contemporary adventure. Clive Cussler is one of my favorite authors and I really wanted to write what he wrote, so a lot of my earlier works are modern adventures. I wrote an entire series about a female Navy S.E.A.L. back in the ’80s before it became popular to write Military Romance. It was written long-hand on spiral notebooks, which I just recently had my assistant type up, so we may see them published yet. But in the early ’90s, I read a book called THE FALCON AND THE FLOWER by Virginia Henley, and that changed the course of my life. After reading that book, I felt such a connection with Medieval England that I began to read everything I could on it. Then, I started writing in the genre. I don’t consider myself an ‘expert’ on Medieval England, but simply a student of the era. It’s difficult to explain my love for the period but I think the best way to explain it is to say that I’m fascinated with the post-conquest era because it’s a period in Man’s history where he was just coming out of the darkness and trying to find his way into the light. So much growth as civilization became more refined. The period was raw and rugged and brutal, so it’s a testament of Mankind’s strength. It was either do or die. And I find that inspiring.

Promotion is an important part of every author’s work routine. What do authors need to do – hands down – to promote their books?

KLV: An understanding of the market. You can’t just write a book and ‘hope’ people buy it. Understand your market. Understand your genre. Reach out to people (like me) who have learned something about it. Most people in this business are extremely helpful and willing to impart their knowledge on a newbie. Start with websites like Kindle Nation Daily to advertise and reach out to other authors to see where they’ve advertised. It’s all about advertising AND word of mouth in this business. Also, there are several books out from Indie published writers on how they do things – single out some top sellers and see if they’ve written a book about it. But most of all – and this is key – understand how to WRITE. Learn how to craft a book and understand the English language. You can be the best promoter in the world but if you produce a mediocre product, you won’t get very far with readers.

You’re an indie author – independently published author. How did that come about?

KLV: It’s come about from twenty-five years of rejections. I wasn’t going to let that stop me. It’s taken a long time, but the market and technology was at the right place and right time for me to go Indie. I have a very specific style of writing (romance with heavy male POV) that traditional publishers don’t necessarily embrace, so honestly, the only way for me to publish is to go Indie and I’ve been fortunate enough to be very successful at it, which tells me that traditional publishers don’t always know what readers like. I’m a perfect example of that. Had I not Indie published, and had I listened to the traditional publishers, I would not be where I am today. Therefore, even if you’ve been rejected by publishers, don’t let it stop you. It didn’t stop me!

You’re a prolific author. You’ve published more than 50 books since 2012, and 37 of them have hit #1 in the Medieval Romance Category on amazon. That’s a big WOW! How does your typical day work?

KLV: Here’s actually the breakdown on what I’ve published to date because I need to update my numbers – 57 published novels (individual) and 16 collections (either bundles of my own novels or bundles with other authors). I will publish my 58th novel (SWORDS AND SHIELDS) on November 6. My day usually starts about 7 am where I go through emails and conduct other business for a couple of hours before jumping into writing. I usually do between 3k to 8k a day (depending on how strongly the muse is singing), and I don’t stop until about 7 or 8 at night. That’s when I’m on a deadline. When I’m in between books (I usually take about a week off in between), then it’s revising covers, working with my editor, doing administrative stuff, and things like that. I have two assistants and one editor who work for me but there still aren’t enough hours in the day! Ah, to clone myself!

What are some pros and cons to being an indie author?

KLV: The only con I see is the lack of a big publishing marketing and PR machine behind you. That means it’s up to the author to really get out there and sell themselves, which can be extremely time consuming. Hiring marketing and PR companies can be extremely expensive. Sometimes it’s hard to know where to even start (refer back to the answer on the promotion question). Other than that, being an Indie author, if you manage your business correctly and smartly, is the best job in the world because the control is yours, the creativity is yours, and the revenue is yours.

Not every book can be a bestseller. Heck, some only sell a handful of copies – tell us about one book (or author) that you’ve read recently that is a true gem waiting to be discovered.

KLV: I have so many authors friends whom I’d like to see just explode because they’re so darn good at what they do – Suzan Tisdale, Eliza Knight, Christi Caldwell, Meara Platt, Scarlet Cole, Violetta Rand, Barbara Devlin, Victoria Zak, Christina McKnight, Amanda Mariel, Hildie McQueen, Christy English . . . I could go on and on. But one author in particular comes to mind – author Victoria Vane writes westerns but her heart is in historicals. For some reason, they really haven’t gotten off the ground for her but she is a phenomenal historical writer. Her historical novels are well worth the read.

What is the coolest/nicest thing someone in this industry has done for you or said to you?

Free on kindle and audibles

KLV: It’s so hard to pick one particular incident and I’ll tell you why – this business is full of generous authors who are more than willing to help you. I have had countless kindnesses given to me by fellow authors that are too numerous to name. I wouldn’t even want to try because my heart is so full of gratitude for these people who have done it selflessly and without the need for recognition. If I could single one person out, however, it would be NYT and USA Today bestselling author Tanya Anne Crosby, who has been my mentor through this process. Her wisdom and generosity is unparalleled.

And my readers – oh my gosh! – I have been blessed with some of the greatest readers ever. Their enthusiasm and support are what keep me going. I tell them this all of the time – without them, there would be no me, so I am deeply grateful for each and every one of them. But I will single out one lady who is just enamored with my novels, so much so that she knitted a knight’s helm and visor and sent it to me. She really did. I made my son model it and it was amazing. I treasure it. Or the couple that always drive to my book signings – they’re just wonderful.

Tell us about your latest release. And what do you have coming down the road?

KLV: My next release is called SWORDS AND SHIELDS, available now on pre order at Amazon (Release date Nov. 6, 2015). It’s a novel about a reluctant bride and reluctant groom who end up not being able to live without each other and face some pretty serious tribulations during Edward I’s wars in Scotland. After that, I have one more release for 2015, DARK DESTROYER (Release date Dec. 24, 2015)  about a legendary warrior and rake who meets his match in love. and then I’m into 2016 where I already have 9 novels scheduled. I am scheduled out until 2020, which is normal for me. I have so many books to write – because that’s just the way my brain works – that I have to plan out at least four or five years in advance. In that sense, I’m very organized. With so much material, I have to be. My website contains lots of information about this at www.kathrynleveque.com.

If you could meet a hero and heroine from one of your books – who would they be and why?

KLV: What’s weird (or maybe not so weird) is that I already ‘know’ these people. I have created them, every single one of the, so I know everything about them. I can have conversations with them because I know exactly what they would say. But if I could meet one, it would be Matthew Wellesbourne from THE WHITE LORD OF WELLESBOURNE. He’s my favorite – a man of uncommon compassion and humor. What’s not to love?

BONUS: Tell us about one of your “guilty pleasures” that is just for you to indulge in.

KLV: I am a massage girl! I would get five hour massages if I could, every single day!

Thank you so much for having me!

Kathryn Le Veque loves to hear from you. You can connect with her via her website, on facebook, twitter, and amazon.

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Continuing our ongoing series featuring bestselling authors we chat with the talented and dynamic New York Times bestselling author C.J. Lyons. C.J. Lyons is a former pediatric ER doctor who was inspired by her very challenging work to pen award winning and bestselling suspense novels. She calls them “Thrillers with heart.”

What was your first book that hit a bestseller list? What was the list, where did the book rank when it first hit, and how high did your book get? Did you think it would make the list? Were you surprised?

CJ: BLIND FAITH was my first major bestseller, debuting at #2 on the NYT list (and staying on the list for 7 weeks) and rising to #4 on the USA Today list. I was surprised that it hit so high so fast on the lists as I wasn’t aiming for any list other than cracking the Amazon Top 20.

When something awesome happens in your career do you celebrate with food, flowers, or fun? 

CJ: Depends on my mood. Chocolate is always appropriate, but often I’ll also indulge in a nice dinner with friends or a special outing.

Promotion is an important part of every author’s work routine. Tell us one promotion that you did – for a new release, or an event, or a conference – that worked well for you.

CJ: By far my most effective promotional tool (other than writing more books) has been my mailing list. In fact, that’s how I hit it big with BLIND FAITH—I simply emailed my readers and asked them to help me make a dream come true of cracking the Amazon Top 20 . . . boy did they respond!

What are some key ways an author can invest in his/her career in order to do better, get better, be better?

CJ: My agent has an easy rule for this: Write 2K a day, Read 2K a day . . . 

You’re a doctor by profession and you write “thrillers with heart” – tell us about that? Does your passion for your work have a huge impact on the kinds of books you write – or would you ever consider writing something completely different – like a racy Regency Romance? 

CJ: My most popular and bestselling novels haven’t been medical thrillers, but my FBI thrillers. But the common denomination of all my novels has been their “heart,” that emotional core of honesty that resonates with readers. Which is the reason why I coined the term for my particular subgenre, “thrillers with heart.”

I’ve incorporated romance in some of my thrillers (the Shadow Ops thrillers have tons of romance intertwined with the intrigue and my Hart and Drake medical suspense novels follow one couple’s evolution from first meeting to marriage), I’ve added historical elements, I’ve written novels with strong science fiction/supernatural elements, contemporary YA, and straight character-driven thrillers. By focusing on that core “heart,” despite technically mixing genres, my readers haven’t complained.

What is one thing you absolutely LOVE about being an author and one thing that makes you BONKERS?

CJ: Wow, I pretty much love everything about the creating and writing . . . the only thing that drives me bonkers (but it’s a big one!) is when fellow professionals (co-authors, publicists, editors, web designers, graphic artists, marketing folks, etc) act unprofessional: missing deadlines without warnings, not doing their job, or flat out flaking out and leaving me high and dry . . . I treat this as a profession, take it as seriously as I did medicine, and hate it when others don’t see it that way

You know the old story – that Al Pacino won the Oscar for Scent of a Woman because he should have won it for the Godfather? Not every book can “win the Oscar” or hit a bestseller list, but that doesn’t mean the book isn’t a wonderful book and worth reading. Tell us about a wonderful book that you’ve read in the past year that you think is worth reading.

CJ: I absolutely adored Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.

What is the coolest/nicest thing a fan/reader has done for you or said to you?

CJ: My fans ROCK!!! I don’t know what I’d do without their encouragement—they’re always doing super fantastic things or sending me lovely notes. I think the most memorable, probably because it was one of my first fan emails, came from a man with cancer who thanked me for my books because they helped him get through the night free from pain . . . not too proud to admit that I cried after that one!

As a writer, what does CJ Lyons do best?

CJ: Thrillers with Heart: character-driven, adrenaline-fueled stories that explore the grey areas between the black and white of good and evil.

Tell us about your latest release. And what do you have coming down the road?

CJ: I’m launching my new Fatal Insomnia medical thrillers (yes, it’s a real disease!) in both ebooks as well as trade paperback and hardcover. Book #1, FAREWELL TO DREAMS, is out now and Book #2, A RAGING DAWN, just released as an ebook with the print versions coming in January, 2016. I adore their covers—when I was carrying FAREWELL in my arms at the London Book Fair, people were coming up and reaching out to stroke it as if it was something precious and magical. First time I ever had that happen with a book cover! 

And, of course, my most popular series, the Lucy Guardino FBI Thrillers, will be continuing with a new twist and new start for Lucy as she leaves the FBI, giving new readers a chance to meet and fall in love with Lucy. The first book in her new Beacon Falls series is LAST LIGHT and will be out in May, 2016 (but subscribers to my Thrillers with Heart newsletter can not only get the first Lucy book, SNAKE SKIN, for free, they will also have exclusive early access to LAST LIGHT—learn more at CJLyons.net)

BONUS: What is something that you do on a regular basis that is a treat or fun or relaxing just for YOU.

CJ: did I mention chocolate? The darker the better . . . oh, but I also indulge in a lovely tea that most folks have never heard of, it’s a wonderful cinnamon flavor, called Good Earth.

 ABOUT CJ:

C.J. Lyons

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of 29 novels, former pediatric ER doctor CJ Lyons writes her Thrillers with Heart for the same reason she became a doctor: because she believes we all have the power to change our world. In the ER she witnessed many acts of courage by her patients and their families, learning that heroes truly are born every day.

Two time winner of the International Thriller Writers’ coveted Thriller Award, CJ has been called a “master within the genre” (Pittsburgh Magazine) and her work has been praised as “breathtakingly fast-paced” and “riveting” (Publishers Weekly).

Learn more about CJ’s Thrillers with Heart at www.CJLyons.net, facebook, twitter @cjlyonswriter 

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Vivienne Lorret

Continuing our ongoing series featuring bestselling authors we chat with the dynamic and delightful USA Today bestselling author Vivienne Lorret. Vivienne writes delicious Regency romance for Avon Impulse Harper Collins. She is the author of two popular series called The Wallflower Wedding Series and the Rakes of Fallow Hall Series

What was your first book that hit a bestseller list? What was the list, where did the book rank when it first hit, and how high did your book get?

VL: Winning Miss Wakefield (Wallflower Weddings, book 2) hit the USA TODAY Bestsellers List at #120. I was so surprised that I didn’t really believe my editor when she called. I started to hyperventilate and I think I might have asked her “Are you kidding me?” about three or four times. The great thing was, she wasn’t kidding. WMW stayed on the list for one glorious week of ear-to-ear grins and random squeals of delight. Then, poof it went away. Shortly thereafter, Finding Miss McFarland hit the list at the same number, for one week, and then poof. Coincidence or magic fairy dust?

When something awesome happens in your career do you celebrate with food, flowers, or fun? Details please. 

Happiness in a cup

VL: Life is short, so I celebrate as often as I can. When I begin a new book, I shop for office supplies—there’s just something about a new pack of Post-it’s, pens, and pencils that adds to the excitement. And since I’m out anyway, I might stop by Starbucks for a grande chai with whip.

When I finish a particularly tough chapter, or write a scene that makes me happy, I’ll do a little victory dance—though I try to steer clear of the windows so I don’t scare the neighbors. And since I’m already in motion, I might slip on my shoes, go for a drive, and grab a grande chai with whip.

When something BIG happens, like a book release or signing a contract for a new series, I usually buy myself flowers (roses or daisies), and maybe . . .  just maybe . . . stop by Starbucks.

What advice can you give authors who really want to hit a bestseller list but haven’t yet?

VL: I don’t think there’s a secret formula for hitting a bestseller list. If there were, I would have figured out how to stay on one, or how to hit the top 100. But I think having a support-team helps. I’ve been blessed with an incredibly supportive editor and publishing house, not to mention the amazing art department. In addition, it helps to write the book you want to read. After all, if you believe in your book, chances are that other people will too. From there, good things will happen. At the very least, you’ll be proud of the pages between the covers. That means a lot.

Promotion is an important part of every author’s work routine. Tell us one promotional approach that has worked well for you.

VL: Facebook is a wonderful way to keep in touch with your fan base—a quick note about the writing process, a picture of your latest hero or heroine, motivational phrases that inspire you, and random/whacky posts all work to make a personal connection to the people who support your career. Hosting rafflecopter contests on your page also helps. It’s important to give back and spread the love whenever possible.

What is one thing you absolutely LOVE about being an author and one thing that makes you BONKERS?

VL: I love writing. The act of touching the keyboard and watching the pictures in my head transform into words is pretty cool. Of course, there are days when that doesn’t happen easily and/or the words don’t quite match the pictures in my head. But those are the days when it’s time to fill up the writer’s well, and usually that’s a fun process.

Interruptions drive me bonkers. When I’m writing a scene, and my mind is traveling back to the Regency period, it’s difficult to tune out the lawn mowers, barking dogs, and the daily screaming contests in the neighborhood. Over the years, I’ve used different methods, from wearing gun-range earmuffs to buying a noise-cancelling machine. Then, there are the interruptions that happen within the walls of my writing domain. It’s harder to ignore “I don’t mean to interrupt, but . . .” The questions could be anything from “Have you seen my glasses?” to “Can you do me a favor and . . .” For years, I would stop what I was doing, help find the glasses, fix dinner, or run errands for anyone who asked. But then, I learned to say no. Not just a hem hawing no, either. A definite I’m-working-and-my-time-is-valuable no. It’s liberating. I highly recommend it.

Who are some of your favourite authors and why?

VL: Kristan Higgins because her books make me laugh so hard that I cry. Lisa Kleypas because her books touch my soul. Eloisa James, Tessa Dare, and Candis Terry because their books are simply fabulous (and they are super nice women, too).

What is the coolest/nicest thing a fan/reader has done for you or said to you?

VL: I received a personal email from a reader one day. She’d written me after spending a night in the hospital with her child. And while reassuring me that her son was fine, she also took a moment out of her life to tell me that my book had helped her through the night. I cried instantly, amazed and awed by this woman. With everything going on in her life, she chose to reach out to me. And I’m thankful each and every day that, in some small way, my book provided the distraction she needed.

Tell us about your latest release and what do you have coming down the road?

VL: My latest release, The Maddening Lord Montwood, came out in paperback on August 18th. Yay! I’m so excited about this book! TMLM is the third and final book in The Rakes of Fallow Hall Series. In the beginning, Lucan Montwood pulled his friends into a high-stakes wager, each of them vowing to be the last bachelor standing. Then one after the other, they started to find love. To me, it seemed fitting that the charming, manipulative Lucan would ultimately fall for a strong-willed woman who could see through his tricks. I loved writing Lucan and Frances’ story.

Coming down the road… I recently finished writing a novella for Avon’s Christmas anthology, All I Want for Christmas is a Duke. The Regency anthology will be out this year on December 1st.

My novella takes place during a Christmas house party. To the Duke of Vale, science is everything. He has invited all the right people in order to reveal a formula designed to generate a suitable marriage partner without engaging in the messy procedure of courting . . . (think of it as a Match.com in the Regency era). North’s method is clean and flawless. That is, until the impulsive Ivy Sutherland crosses his path. She makes him question all of his data, forcing him to admit that he failed to catalog one vital element for a perfect match . . . love.

In your daily work routine what do you do first and why? A. write/plot/creative B. social media/promotion C. email/admin

VL: Most of the time, a. I like to start writing with a fresh brain. Umm . . . that sort of makes me sound like a zombie. Mmm . . . fresh brains! Then again, that’s usually how I feel until I’ve had my first cup of tea.

So this is where all the Post-its went.

What would I find on your desk at this very moment?

VL: A lot of Post-its, pens, and papers. I’m in new-series-mode right now, so it’s kind of a mess. I have family trees, character sketches, and a calendar that serves as a ticking clock for each deadline. Beside my desk hangs a huge whiteboard full of story notes. Above my desk, I also keep a slew of notes, reminding myself to focus and to write the book I want to read, among other things. My office can be described as organized chaos.

BONUS: Finish this sentence: I’m a writer because . . .

VL: I’m a writer because that’s the line I stood in when they were handing out souls.

Thanks for having me here today! This was fun and I loved your questions!

USA TODAY Bestselling Author, Vivienne Lorret loves romance novels, her pink laptop, her husband, and her two sons (not necessarily in that order … but there are days). Transforming copious amounts of tea into words, she is proud to be an Avon Impulse author of works including: Tempting Mr. Weatherstone, The Wallflower Wedding Series, and The Rakes of Fallow Hall Series.

Connect with Vivienne Lorret on her website, on facebook, on twitter, and on pinterest. 

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V. M. Black

Continuing our ongoing series featuring bestselling authors we chat with New York Times  and USA Today bestselling author V.M. Black. V.M. writes dark and sensual paranormal romance. V.M. has created a rich and compelling universe of aethers (superhuman races) in her ongoing series Aethereal Bonds.

What was your first book that hit a bestseller list? What was the list, where did the book rank when it first hit, and how high did your book get?

VMB: My first book hit a couple of minor lists under another name. Under this name, though, my first book to hit was an anthology that I co-ran called A Kiss of Christmas Magic. It hit on the main print and ebook NY Times bestseller list and on the extended ebook-only list. I honestly can’t remember the exact ranks . . . 13 and 11, I think?

What were you doing when you found out you hit the bestseller list? And how did you celebrate or mark the occasion?

VMB: I was asleep when my phone exploded because all of the other people in the anthology were so excited!

What does being a “successful author” mean to you?

VMB: To be able to support myself financially with my writing and to have an enthusiastic readership.

Some authors are great at it, while others can’t find the right formula, but in order to be a success in today’s market, you have to do promotion. So, what are the top three things that you do consistently when it comes to promotion?

VMB: Mailing list. Social media. Using advertising venues like Bookbub.

 What is one thing you absolutely LOVE about being an author and one thing that makes you BONKERS?

VMB: I love the freedom. I fear the uncertainty.

Who are some of your favourite authors and why?

VMB: I have so many! Lisa Kleypas’ early books are among my absolute favorites, along with Judith Ivory and Laura Kinsale. Emily Bronte. Anne McCaffrey’s early Pern books and, of course, Sassinak. Jane Austen, particularly Sense and Sensibility. Lois McMasters Bujold’s Mile Vorkosigan saga. Elizabeth Moon’s Paksenarrion books. Anne Rice. George R. R. Martin. Agatha Christie.

What are you currently working on?

VMB: More things in my Aethereal Bonds world!

In your daily work routine what do you do first and why? A. write/plot/creative  B. social media/promotion C. email/admin

Where the magic happens.

VMB: Writing first. Without writing, there is nothing to promote.

What would I find on your desk at this very moment?

VMB: Gum, daily time journal, color-coded pens, tea, and tissues. LOL. Keyboard and mouse, too.

Finish this sentence: I’m a writer because . . .

VMB: I’m not sensible enough to choose a more stable job.

You can connect with V.M. Black via her website, on facebook, YouTube, pinterest.

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