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Q and A with bestselling supernatural thriller author Jeffrey J. Mariotte (by David Lee Summers) #amreading #supernatural #thriller #paranormal

Jeffrey Marriotte, bestselling supernatural thriller and horror author
Jeffrey Marriotte, bestselling supernatural thriller and horror author

Jeffrey J. Mariotte is the bestselling, award-winning author of fifty novels, including supernatural thrillers Season of the Wolf, Missing White Girl, River Runs Red, and Cold Black Hearts, horror epic The Slab, thriller The Devil’s Bait, and the Dark Vengeance teen horror quartet.

He also writes occasional nonfiction, short fiction (some of which is collected in Nine Frights), and comic books, including the long-running horror/Western comic book series Desperadoes and graphic novels Fade to Black and Zombie Cop. With writing partner Marsheila Rockwell, he has published several short stories and a novel, 7 SYKOS. He has worked in virtually every aspect of the book business, as a writer, editor, marketing executive, and bookseller.

Jeff Mariotte and Marsheia Rockwell (writing partners and life partners)
Jeff Mariotte and Marsheila Rockwell (writing partners and life partners)

I’ve known Jeff for several years and was delighted when he agreed to answer a few of my questions.

DLS: When people see an author’s name, they often see it as a “brand”, knowing what kind of story they’ll get. You’ve written in several genres from science fiction to weird westerns to horror. How do you define the “Jeff Mariotte Brand”?

JM: I’m convinced that writing in different genres has been harmful to my career, because readers tend to like a writer who stays put, who delivers basically the same thing book after book. Once you’re well established, you can switch around–like Robert B. Parker eventually turning to the occasional western after writing a ton of mystery books in different series. But shifting around before your “brand” is established seems like a bad move, career-wise.

51GoUOdHOiLThat said, I don’t see how I could have done it differently. I have to write what I’m moved to write at any given time. I’d get bored writing the same series character over and over. I haven’t calculated out the wisest career path, but have written the books that felt like they needed to be written as they came along. I’m true to myself, if not to market considerations. My agent might prefer it the other way around, but I am who I am.

I hope that readers know that when they pick up one of my books, they’ll get a compelling, suspenseful tale that’ll keep them turning the page; they’ll get well-written and engaging stories populated with characters they’ll believe in and care about. Regardless of genre, I try to always write books that will brighten a reader’s day and life, that entertain and maybe inform and enlighten. My books are generally optimistic, even when they venture into dark places, and one of my central themes seems to be the idea that there’s magic in the world, if only you know to look for it.

DLS: Who was your greatest writer influence/inspiration when you started? What are some books of theirs you would recommend?

thejealouskind-198x300JM: I was a bookseller for years before I got published, so I was reading pretty extensively in my preferred genres–horror, mysteries, thrillers, sf, fantasies, westerns. Consequently, I had (and have) a lot of inspirations. Some have changed over the years, and others have been consistent. In the early days, I was strongly inspired by Robert E. Howard (particularly his Conan stories), the aforementioned Bob Parker (his Spenser novels), Raymond Chandler (Philip Marlowe) and Ross Macdonald (Lew Archer). At the same time, I’ve often been inspired by writers as varied as Stephen King (The Stand, The Shining, On Writing), William Goldman (Marathon Man, Boys and Girls Together) and Wallace Stegner (Angle of Repose, Recapitulation, Wolf Willow). More recent influences include James Lee Burke (any of his books, but especially the Robicheaux novels). That’s a pretty male-centric list, but I could also add in works by Joan Vinge, Leigh Brackett, C.L. Moore, Laura Lippman, Barbara Kingsolver, and plenty of other talented women, as well as one of the best writers I know, Marsheila Rockwell.

DLS: You recently married your writing partner, the talented Marsheila Rockwell. How do your collaborations work? How does collaborating compare to writing solo?

JM: Funny you should mention that…

xena-olympiaWe collaborate very well, almost seamlessly. We have different strengths–she’s a poet and her command of language is beautiful, while I’m a stronger plotter, for instance–but when we work together, our strengths complement each other, and by the time we’re finished with a story, we usually can’t tell who wrote what. We try to start with a solid outline so we know where we’re going and what each other’s vision of the overall story is (and because we both come out of a tie-in writing background, we’re used to working with outlines). Then we trade off–scene by scene, chapter by chapter, whatever works at the moment and for any given project. On the first book of the Xena: Warrior Princess trilogy we’re working on, we had a relatively tight deadline and had to be writing different chapters simultaneously, which was a little awkward. But we smoothed it all out, and it came out well in the end.

As for the difference between collaborating and solo work, it is a different beast. A solo story or novel is one person’s vision, and everything in it, good or bad, is a reflection of that one person. A collaboration is necessarily a shared vision. I’ve written a lot of comic books and graphic novels, and because I don’t draw, those are always collaborations. And I’ve collaborated with other writers, too. So it’s not new to me. It does feel more natural with Marcy, and we work together better than I have with anyone else. Ideally, the result of a collaboration is a book or a story one writer couldn’t have written, because each participant brings different skills and life experiences to the table, and that’s what Marcy and I get when we write together. The fact that I get to be married to her is icing on the cake.

DLS: What insights have you gained from owning a bookstore that can help writers be more successful and stand out from the crowd?

Image: Slate.com
Image: Slate.com

JM: I think the experience of working in bookstores, managing them, and being an owner of one, has made me less ready to jump on board the e-book train. I think printed books are an ideal marriage of form and function–they don’t require a power source, they don’t break down or become corrupted, they’re always there when you want to read and you can save your place with a bookmark or a piece of paper or a paper clip or whatever’s handy. At the same time, I have a more realistic view of the book business than some people, who seem to think that Amazon is the only bookseller that matters. The truth is that printed books still far outsell e-books, and other outlets still sell more books in the U.S. than Amazon does, so if a writer focuses all of his or her efforts on Amazon, he or she is leaving a lot of potential sales on the table.

517h-yJ7q3LDLS: Not only do you write in your own worlds, you’ve written novels and stories for Star Trek, NCIS, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and other franchises. How does “playing in someone else’s sandbox” compare to creating your own world?

JM: I love writing my original novels, and will always want to do that. Creating my own characters and involving them in situations entirely of my own devising is the ultimate creative experience. But it’s also a blast to be asked to write novels about characters I love, like Conan, Xena, Spider-Man, Superman, and great TV shows like CSI and NCIS: Los Angeles. I get to tell stories in beloved fictional universes, and get paid for it–nothing wrong with that!

The skills that are called on are the same. I have to create characters, plot stories, write in an engaging and entertaining manner. And the truth is whether I’m writing in an existing fictional universe or my own, I have to be consistent and true to the rules of that universe as it’s been developed. So the main difference is that in tie-in work, I have to try to capture voices that were devised by other writers (and sometimes actors). Fortunately, I’m pretty good at that.

DLS: If someone wanted to try their hand at writing and selling a novel in the world of a popular franchise, what would they need to do? How should they start?

tied-in1JM: They could start by visiting the website of the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers, IAMTW.org. There they can find out a lot about the nuts and bolts of the tie-in business, and maybe find out about licensed fiction lines they didn’t even know existed. The organization has also released a book by its membership that contains more details about the trade.

Typically (although there are exceptions) to write a tie-in novel, you have to have had at least one other novel professionally published. Publishers have already invested a lot of money to acquire a license, so they don’t want to risk more by hiring a writer who hasn’t proven the ability to write a publishable book. And there’s often competition for tie-in gigs, so if it’s a choice between a writer with a solid track record and an unknown new writer, the established pro will have the advantage. So the best thing a writer can do is write a good book, get it published by a reputable publisher, then approach the publisher of the licensed fiction line of interest and say, “Hey, I wrote X and I’d sure like to pitch you something for your Y line.”

DLS: In addition to writing novels, you’ve written and edited comic books. How are writing comic books similar and different than writing novels or short stories? Do you collaborate with the artist ahead of time, or create any kind of storyboard in addition to writing?

200px-Desperadoes_A_Moment's_Sunlight_TPB_coverJM: As I mentioned above, because I don’t draw the comics, each one is a collaboration, start to finish. I write the script before the artist draws it, so while I’m writing it I’m only speculating about what it’ll look like at the end of the process. Usually what I’m seeing in my head is not much like what comes out on the page. From the very beginning of my career, I’ve had the good fortune of working with some amazing artists, whose work on my scripts has blown me away.

Ultimately, the skill sets the writer brings to the table are similar. You need to tell a story that’s worth telling, that’s interesting and surprising and suspenseful and is hopefully enlightening in some way. The differences are in the techniques and the outcome. In comics, you have to be willing to stand back and let the art tell the story. The writer makes up the story (in most cases), and puts it down in a script that no one will ever see, but the artist is the one whose interpretation of the story ends up being what the readers see. The writer has to let the artist do that job, and keep the words to a minimum so they don’t get in the way of the art.

I don’t try to direct the artist to any great extent. I tell them what has to be in each panel to make the story work, but leave it to them how the panel is composed, how the different panels fit onto the page, etc. I’ve worked, as an editor, with writers who don’t trust their artists and do sketch layouts for them. Fortunately, in most cases, the artists I’ve worked with are far better at that than I would be.

DLS: What kind of research did you do writing the comic book biography of Barack Obama? Did you get to interview the President or did you work from other resources?

515tE967FAL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_JM: That project was fascinating, and required vast amounts of research. I didn’t get to meet or speak with the President (though I’d still love to). I wrote it during the 2008 campaign and the first few months of his presidency, so at the time there weren’t even any books about him other than the two he wrote himself. Obviously he was a well-known public figure, but what had been written about him was mostly journalism coming out on a constant basis, along with a few more in-depth magazine pieces. I read his books and every article about him I could get my hands on, and watched him on TV whenever possible to get a sense of his voice. The scripts were vetted by lawyers, and I had to have every fact triple-sourced, and had to be able to show where every line of dialogue came from. The project was originally three separate comic book issues that were collected into a single hardcover book, which was actually the first book-length biography written about him.

DLS: I sense a certain passion for small towns on the southern border of the United States in your writing. What captivates you about those places in particular?

JM: Borderlands of all kinds are fascinating to me. I have written a lot about the US/Mexico border, but I’ve written about other borders, too–my Age of Conan trilogy, for example, was largely about the border between the Aquilonian Empire and the Pictish lands–which is kind of a parallel to Hadrian’s Wall, where the Roman Empire ended and the wilderness began. Other borders in my fiction include borders between our world and another (or many others). Borders are where different people with different interests and backgrounds intersect. There’s natural drama in that. Along our southwestern border, there are of course political issues, issues of crime and punishment, and the story of the human race–which is the ongoing story of migration–all of which are rich territory for fiction.

51QsIKsEYWLDLS: Tell us about your latest novel.

JM: The new book is 7 SYKOS, a collaboration with Marsheila Rockwell. It’s kind of a science fiction/horror/thriller hybrid. Basically, a meteor has brought a spaceborne virus into the Phoenix metropolitan area, which has the effect of turning those infected into raging lunatics hungry for brains. It’s incredibly virulent and there’s no known cure or vaccine. In order to keep it from spreading throughout the nation (or the world), the military has fenced off the Valley of the Sun, and nobody is allowed in or out. But everyone knows that’s only a temporary solution, so if something more permanent can’t be figured out soon, the Valley’s going to be nuked out of existence. Trouble is, the only way to come up with a fix is to get enough of the meteor to study, and nobody can get to it. But it turns out that the unique brain structure of psychopaths makes them immune to the virus. So they can go into the quarantine zone, to look for pieces of the meteor. And all they have to do is agree to perform an essentially altruistic act, learn how to play well together, and survive the onslaught of thousands of Infecteds who want to eat their brains. Nothing to it, right…?

DLS: Sounds amazing! Thanks for the wonderful and informative interview!

Connect with Jeffrey Mariotte online: website, facebook, twitter
Connect with Marsheila Rockwell online: website, facebook, twitter

Connect with David Lee Summers. online via facebook and twitter, and check out his web site.

Like our Lachesis Publishing page on facebook.
Follow Lachesis Publishing on twitter.

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She’s All That and More! Q and A with USA Today bestselling author Maya Rodale #amreading #romance #Regency

What does Maya Rodale ABSOLUTELY need while writing? Coffee! "It's my muse," she quips.
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. LADY-CLAIRE-IS-ALL-THAT-1A 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?

wallflower-mm-c-1MR: 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.

WHAT-A-WALLFLOWER-WANTS-372x600LP: 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.

Dangerous-Books-For-Girls-Cover-1LP: 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!

marryingwinterborne200x322LP: 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).

tycoon_300w-200x300Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 10.41.28 AM10154227_943478235747782_271647258688955677_n-186x300After 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.

CHASING LADY AMELIAScreen Shot 2016-07-07 at 10.48.16 AMLP: 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.
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.

 

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Hot Cowboys and Sexy Navy Seals: Q&A with New York Times bestselling author Cat Johnson

61YDuWoxhYL._UX250_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.

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 9.55.37 AMAn “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

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 10.00.57 AMCJ: 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?

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 10.02.44 AMCJ: 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?

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 10.03.57 AMCJ: 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.

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 10.06.54 AMCJ: 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?

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 10.11.11 AMCJ: 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.

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 10.13.52 AMLP: 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.

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 10.16.09 AMLP: 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?

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 10.19.10 AMCJ: 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.

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 10.20.53 AMLP: 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
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.

 

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My friend the superstar author: CJ Carmichael interviews NYT bestselling author Jane Porter

CJ Carmichael and BFF Jane Porter
CJ Carmichael and BFF Jane Porter

CJC: I first met Jane Porter at a writer’s conference in Victoria. She was traveling from Seattle, while I had come from Calgary. We instantly connected and spent hours talking passionately about our desire to write and become published. Happily it happened for us both within the next eighteen months. Here I chat with Jane about her career, the highs and the lows, and the secrets behind her success.

Jane can you begin by telling us who inspired you early on in your career and why?

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JP: I was an early reader
and devoured everything I could get my hands on. Some of my favorite books when I was in first through fourth grade were the books by Louisa May Alcott and Laura Ingalls Wilder. What I loved about Louisa and Laura was that while they wrote books for little girls, their stories featured aspiring writers. I loved that these were the ultimate book girl stories. They modeled literary success and provided a road map for me by creating a career out of their passion. I wanted the same thing. It was my goal since I was 9 or 10. I will say I am lucky in that I had a lot of help and support early on from my dad. My father was a professor and a writer and he encouraged me when I wrote. He’d go over my poems or stories and talk to me about choices or stanza or rhyme meter. He also found places for me to publish.  Looking back, it was definitely an advantage having a parent make writing seem like the most normal of activities.

woman_450CJC: I have especially loved your The Good Woman and She’s Gone Country. I think in both cases I really connected with the heroines and their dilemmas were so compelling I couldn’t stop reading. What is one of your favourite Jane Porter books and why?

flirting_450x2-295x450JP: It is so hard to pick a Jane Porter favorite but I do love “Odd Mom Out” because it’s honest and real but has a happy ever after which is important to me, and my readers. Another favorite is “Flirting with Forty” because that was the book my husband inspired . . . but the book then inspired ‘us’. I don’t know if I would have thought we could go the distance if the story hadn’t made me believe it was possible.

CJC: I love that answer Jane. You and Ty are not a conventional couple. You are a wee bit older. And he’s a surfer dude from Hawaii while you’re such a book girl. But you really have made a great life together—not to mention an adorable son. Tell me, when did you realize that you were truly a successful author?

JP: I don’t feel like I am a truly successful author. I don’t relate to myself as an author, but a writer. I am most passionate about the work, and the creative act and then about a story when it’s completed. I do set the bar high for each book and I struggle to get it where I want it to go. The words don’t just flow. It can be a battle but maybe what makes me successful is that I stick with it. I believe in giving my readers a great story every time. My focus is always on surprising and delighting my readers.

Flirting with Forty was a hit movie on Lifetime starring Heather Locklear
Flirting with Forty was a hit movie on Lifetime starring Heather Locklear

CJC: That’s a humble answer Jane. You’ve published so many excellent books with Harlequin, Grand Central, Berkley, not to mention Tule, the publishing business you started. And then there was your movie deal for Flirting With Forty. But what advice can you give authors who are just starting out or who haven’t broken through?

JP: Don’t give up. I think that is truly the best advice I can give: don’t give up and keep learning. Focus on the craft. Go to conferences, attend workshops, read writing books, but also read, read, read everything. And then write. A lot. And write some more. Grow a thick skin, ask for feedback and continue to submit and grow thicker skin and work on revising and keep the faith that you’re doing what you are meant to be doing. Writing is a muscle. You’ve got to make it strong and you have to take care of your head so you can handle the ups and downs in publishing.

Jane Porter's shelf is filled with the fruits of her hard work and determination.
Jane Porter’s office is filled with the fruits of her hard work and determination.

CJC: I believe Stephen King has given the same advice and I agree. I really don’t think you can read too much, or too widely, if you want to be a writer. Tell me, what are the qualities that make a romance novel a true “keeper”? – a beloved book that you will read over and over again?

JP: I rarely read a book a second time. (I don’t watch movies a second time, either!) But I do have a keeper shelf and that shelf is filled with books that delighted me. A keeper book is one that engaged me and entertained me to the degree that I laughed and cried and felt like a little girl, lost in a story. A keeper story isn’t a perfect story, but a story that made me think and feel and hope and believe.

CJC: I’ve noticed on Facebook that your fans are really devoted to you. You’re real with them and genuinely interested in what they think. What’s the sweetest/coolest thing a reader/fan has said to you/done for you?

Jane enjoying spending time with her reader friends.
Jane enjoys spending time with her reader friends.

JP: My readers are amazing. I think they are the coolest women on the face of this planet but maybe the thing I love hearing most is when a reader says “you made me love reading again”. That is the ultimate compliment. That one means the world to me.

CJC: You love to travel—and your book “Flirting with Forty” certainly conveys how much travel has impacted your life and your work. Tell us about a very special place you have visited and a place you want to visit.

The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise (Banff, Alberta)
The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise (Banff, Alberta)

JP: I do love to travel and certain settings inspire stories (i.e. Flirting with Forty) and other places become the foundation for a book or a series (Montana or Argentina), and it’s always interesting to me how I can research and write about a place but then visit it, and not be quite as impressed, and then other times I can go somewhere, have no expectation at all, and then be blown out of the water.  Banff and Lake Louise are examples of places that just profoundly moved me.  The first time I went was with you, CJ and it was incredible. I will never have enough words to describe how I feel when in the Canadian Rockies but it’s wonderful and powerful. And where do I still want to go? Jasper! Dying to get there!

12541108_10153285175528093_8067497825427111668_nCJC: Okay, I see a writing retreat to Jasper in our future. Let’s pencil it in for 2017. Of course you have a few more books to write before then. Tell us about your latest release.

JP: My latest release is a romance novella called The Tycoon’s Forced Bride, and I would describe it as a classic Jane Porter romance because it’s emotional and passionate and a bit mad. I love a great intense read . . . flawed characters who are healed through the redemptive power of love.

CJC: Can’t wait to read it! I did adore your latest Christmas story, “A Christmas Miracle for Daisy.” What do you have coming down the road?

TheLostSheenanBride-MEDIUM-300x450I have the sixth and final story in my Taming of the Sheenan series which is set in fictional Marietta, Montana coming out in May and so I’m working on that, even as I plot my new series for 2017 which will launch with a historical story that will also be my Christmas story for 2016. Exciting stuff!

CJC: Thanks so much for chatting with me Jane. It’s nice to look back sometimes and see how far we’ve come. Now, give us some dirt. We know you work hard and you’re very giving to your family, friends and readers. But what’s your guilty pleasure treat?

Jane, the Tulle gals and CJ at Flathead Lake, MT
Jane, the Tule Publishing gals and CJ at Flathead Lake, MT

JP: Guilty pleasure?  If it’s not hanging out with you in Montana or in Banff, CJ, its going to be reading a book at your cottage at Flathead Lake and enjoying a truly wonderful salted caramel chocolate treat.

CJC: Ah! Flathead Lake! That’s where the ideas for the Montana Born stories were conceived…but that’s a story for another day. Thanks again for chatting with me Jane. I look forward to lots of fun visits and Jane Porter books in the years to come.

Thanks to authors C.J. Carmichael and Jane Porter for joining us today! 

For more info about Tule Publishing you can go to their website, connect with Tule Publishing on facebook. Find Tule Publishing on instagram. Follow Tule Publishing on twitter.

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Bestselling Authors: Q and A with Indie Author Patricia Rasey (romantic suspense and paranormal romance)

Author Patricia A. Rasey
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.

51dS6rHwvAL._SX166_SY265_51hqg7xtcUL._SX166_SY265_513KwnPJGfL._SX166_SY265_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.

c1e4e5_1f4cc78466384b939d851dc2cf5a26d5.jpg_srz_515_773_85_22_0.50_1.20_0c1e4e5_201427837e66d8037fcf46043add0045.jpg_srz_p_199_316_75_22_0.50_1.20_0Your 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.

415DzaZE-zL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_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.
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?

c1e4e5_edf94ad1148f4e8fa5f93657ef458c3f.jpg_srz_p_174_265_75_22_0.50_1.20_0PAR: 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.

11986993_973569266038734_6747607187371324996_n
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.

c1e4e5_e7e480d6d33c6ac716b83db2d9efebd0.jpg_srz_p_188_290_75_22_0.50_1.20_0Your 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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Bestselling Indie Authors: Q and A with Kathryn Le Veque (historical romance author)

Author Kathryn Le Veque
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.

51eINN3qkcL._SX355_BO1,204,203,200_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
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.

51fVkSaCj8L._SX302_BO1,204,203,200_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.

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 8.06.02 AMPromotion 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.

51BxN3YofVL._SX356_BO1,204,203,200_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?

515+K7LSlaL._SX345_BO1,204,203,200_-1KLV: 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.

TT-button31-1KLV: 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
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?

51WbhbpYrSL._SX358_BO1,204,203,200_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?

51BwKOxnKwL._SX354_BO1,204,203,200_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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Bestselling Independent Authors: Q and A with S. E. Smith (Susan Smith) scifi and paranormal romance

51B+PB4lVCL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Continuing our ongoing series featuring bestselling authors we chat with the talented and prolific New York Times, USA Today and Amazon bestselling author S.E. Smith. In case you didn’t know – S.E Smith is an indie author -which means she is self-published –  and she hit the bestseller lists as an indie author.

How many of your books have been bestsellers and what lists have you hit? How did you celebrate your first big bestseller?

SES: Wow! That is a loaded question. Off the top of my head, I’ve had as many as twelve at one time on a Bestseller list. I’ve had eight of my stories make the USA TODAY and three make the New York Times to date. I celebrated my first New York Times with four nights of hot fudge yogurt for dinner. My hubby twisted my arm, what can I say? I totally adore the guy.

You’re an indie author so hitting a bestseller list might be more of a challenge because you don’t have a publisher or agent backing you. How did you overcome that challenge and become a bestseller?

SES: Hard work . . . Lots of it! I work approximately 80+ hours a week. I also write unique stories that pull the readers, and myself, into the worlds of the characters. I care about my readers and spend time chatting with them. I always answer my emails, comments posted to my website, and FB posts. I enjoy communicating with my readers and find our conversations relaxing and invigorating.

2302845imgresTell us why you write science fiction and paranormal romance? Why are you passionate about these genres?

SES: I’ve always had a fascination with things that were different. I would lay out on the driveway when I was a child, gaze up at the stars, and wish that I could travel there. I’m also a sucker for any type of books that held a moment of magic in them. My favorites are The Secret Garden, The Black Stallion, The Forgotten Door, and Escape to Witch Mountain. I am totally a kid at heart. My favorite movies include The Princess Bride, Beauty and the Beast, Stardust, Guardians of the Galaxy, the original Star Wars, and the recent movie, The Age of Adeline.

Promotion is an important part of every author’s work routine. What do you think every author should do regardless of whether they are indie or traditionally published?

SES: I believe it is important to stay in touch with your readers. I care about them as an individual. I send out birthday wishes every day, see who has something going on, share pictures and ask them to share, and take the time to listen to what they want. Promotion comes from the heart and it should show that you care about the readers who are supporting you. After all, without them, I wouldn’t have a reason to share my wonderful worlds.

51RMxCFy1AL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_51W3WP1K2mL._UY250_You’re a prolific author – what does a typical workday for you consist of?

SES: Is crazy a good answer? LOL. Each day varies. Some days I’ll spend twelve hours in front of a computer with minor breaks and type thousands of words. Other days, I might not type a single one. If I feel like I need time out, I take it. I have to in order to be able to write. I usually get up around six in the morning, do paperwork until around eight-thirty, work out, then come back and do more work. I do some of my best writing in the late afternoon, early evening. I think it was because that was the only time I had to write when I was working full time.

You have a special jewelry collection that you offer to your readers on your website. Tell us about it and why you put it together?

S.E. Smith custom bookmark
S.E. Smith custom bookmark
S.E. Smith custom keychain
S.E. Smith custom keychain

SES: I enjoy being artistic. If you look at my book covers, you’ll see that. The jewelry emerged when I thought about what it would be like to make smaller versions of my books. I used to do things like this all the time when I was working. It is a natural extension of being in business, having merchandise to go along with the books. S.E. Smith Etsy Page.

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

SES: The Cons are the amount of work involved that takes away from writing. As an Indie Author you are the publishing company and every aspect of it. That means everything from the mail clerk to the graphic designer, accountant, marketing expert, fire handler, coffee maker, housekeeper, etc. The writing could easily get lost in all of that if you aren’t careful. You also have to remember to find balance. Without balance, it all comes crashing down. You have to have a family/life outside of everything you are doing and make sure you take care of yourself which is easy to push aside.

The Pros are being the boss of me. I make all of the decisions and can go as far as I want. I also like having the flexibility to branch out into other venues, including other genres, Audiobooks, and movies. Success is in the eye of the beholder, some only feel successful if they achieve a certain criteria, while others might be just happy paying the bills or seeing their name in print. I enjoy the challenge and have to admit, I am learning a tremendous amount.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00029]riseoftheshadowwarriorsfinal-200x300The-Warrior-WomanNot every book can be a bestseller. Heck, some authors 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.

SES: I could name a dozen in a dozen different genres: Geri Foster, Sylvia McDaniel, Evelyn Lederman, H.D. Smith (no relation), Paula Gruber, Michelle Howard, and M.K. Eidem . . . the list goes on and on! All of these authors write great books and work hard at providing a story that will captivate readers.

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

SES: There are so many it is hard to pick just one. The copy of The Secret Garden that I received had me bawling like a baby, the special handmade birthday card that came from the Netherlands was magnificent, the young girl that asked me to include her beloved dog in one of my books was heartwarming, and the fan that reached out to let me know that my stories gave her the strength to fight back after a devastating injury are just a handful of emails, notes, and gifts that I have received. They are the ones I reach for when I get a negative review or am so tired I wonder what I’m doing. I am definitely a giver and for someone to give me a beautiful gift, including an email that says your stories touched me, is something that I hold dear to my heart.

Tell us about your latest release. And what do you have coming down the road?51XzQQpLyRL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_51YgVkDfSCL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

SES: My newest release is called Voyage of the Defiance. It is a young adult story with heart. The story had been pushing at me to write it for the last five years. I’ve had many readers asking me to write a story they can share with their children/grandchildren and I listened. I love writing, whether it is adult romance, young adult action/adventure, or children’s fantasy. A great story is not limited to age or genre, but to the imagination of the reader. It would be a travesty if I were to ignore the other stories I have to share because they did not fit into a certain category. I hope those that read my stories understand and respect that I am a storyteller who has many stories to share – across all genres/ages.

I have quite a few stories I am working on at the moment. Challenging Saber: The Alliance Book 4; Jaguin’s Love: The Dragon Lords of Valdier Book 8; The Dark Prince’s Prize: Curizan Warriors Book 2; Roarrk’s Revenge: Zion Warriors Book 3; Core’s Attack: Cosmos’ Gateway Book 6; and my Gliese 581g Science Fiction series to name just a few. Yes, I have a few others, but out of respect for the list and my sanity, I’ll just name a few.

Bestselling author S.E. Smith
Bestselling author S.E. Smith

BONUS: What do you do to “de-stress” or relax and re-energize yourself?

SES: I love going to the movies and camping. I’m also beginning to get back into my drawing and I want to work with clay and do some sculpting. Also, every Friday night I go out on a date with my hero who helps me find the balance I need to continue living whatever new dream I might have.

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