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The Three Cs of Promoting Your Books by Joanna D’Angelo #amwriting #bestseller

clip-art-snoopy-921342Something I’ve noticed over the years is the difference between successful authors and authors who sell only a handful of books a year. If you want to get an idea of how you’re selling – check your ranking on amazon and barnes and noble. But shouldn’t your publisher be doing all the work of selling your book? Nope. There isn’t a publisher IN EXISTENCE big or small who does that. Your publisher has to promote many different titles a month (both older and new releases). Whereas YOU just have to worry about YOUR books. Your publisher has to worry about many different authors. Whereas YOU just have to worry about YOURSELF. If you are consistently in the 1 million or higher ranking, you need to re-evaluate what you are doing (or not doing) to sell books. Here are a few key qualities that I have seen that successful authors have in common. I call them THE THREE Cs: COMMITMENT, CONSISTENCY, CLEVERNESS.

tumblr_miy082ZuYC1s0s30po1_1280COMMITMENT: Successful authors are committed, not only to their writing craft but to promoting their work. After they release a new title, they don’t just forget about it and move on to the next book. No way. They have a plan in place to promote that book. That plan – should be in place well BEFORE your book comes out. One year before. One year? But won’t people get tired of hearing about your book a year in advance of it coming out? You’re not LITERALLY talking about your book every single day. USE COMMON SENSE. You are BUILDING your identity on facebook so that when your book DOES come out, you will have lots of friends and followers who know you and (hopefully) like you. People that you have made a CONNECTION with.

Let’s say you plan on promoting your book on facebook. Terrific! BUT, now here’s the hard part: What is your commitment going to be? How often should you post? What should you post about? How can you engage your friends and followers? If you don’t have enough friends and followers, how can you get more? As an author, you have to be asking yourself these questions WELL IN ADVANCE and you have to answer them. Ask other authors. Read books or articles on social networking. Figure out what you want to say and say it. READ. OBSERVE. RESEARCH.

But isn’t that a lot of work? Sure it is. But if you want to sell books, then you have to do it. Or, hire someone who knows how to do it.

But isn’t this just common sense? Of course it is. But if you already know this then why aren’t you doing it? The answer is because YOU ARE NOT COMMITTED.

Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 2.15.36 PMCONSISTENCY: The most successful authors are the authors who are consistent. They post on a regular basis  – not just once or twice a month. They ALWAYS have something to share. Some authors talk about their relationships, kids, even their health issues. While others like to share silly stuff about their pets or funny things they find online. The key is to share consistently but don’t bombard your followers with the same BUY MY BOOK post every day. Be creative. Have fun. Share who you truly are. But do it on a regular basis. Why? Because the key word in social networking is the word SOCIAL. It means “taking part”. Engaging with other people. Being sociable. Not hiding in an ivory tower.

A lot of authors have “regular” features on their facebook pages. What does that have to do with selling books you might ask? Well, social networking isn’t just “HEY MY BOOK IS ON SALE”. It’s about ENGAGING, COMMENTING, and SHARING. And you have to do it on a REGULAR BASIS. Some authors have a Question of the Week, Hunk of the Week, Cute Critter of the Week, Funny Video of the Week . . . You get the point right? Other authors run monthly contests where they give away a free signed copy of their book or some nifty “swag” that they got at various conferences. OR they go out and buy something really cool that has a connection to their book/series and they run a contest that way. How do you promote your contest? Some authors purchase sponsored ads on facebook. Or they ask their fellow author friends if they can share the post. They share the contest info on facebook group pages – spreading it out and posting on various groups every few hours, every. single. day. Some cross-promote on other blogs and on twitter to get the word out. The point is to SET UP A PLAN and STICK TO IT. If the plan isn’t getting you sales then re-evaluate every few weeks to see how you can improve/change that.

snoopy-profileCLEVERNESS: It’s hard to be clever. But the most successful authors are just that. They come up with fun and creative ways to engage their readers and they always keep it fresh. Whether it’s running contests, or posting fun content, or setting up newsletters that reward subscribers with free, original content, or making funny videos that go viral, or coming up with a fun way of branding themselves, or working with other authors on unique cross promotional contests or giveaways – they put their creativity to work – not just in their writing – but in selling. Don’t be afraid to spread your wings and think outside your box. Be a little daring. Take a chance on doing something different. Approach some other authors about setting up a YouTube channel and make regular videos that you can post online. Have fun and keep trying even if you flop the first few times. Just keep thinking and doing. Eventually you will hit your creative stride and come up with something that works really well for you. The point is – don’t just sit back and expect others to do it for you. Do it yourself. Motivate yourself. And if you find it overwhelming to go it alone – then team up with other authors and go for it. You have nothing to lose, and so very much to gain.

Joanna D’Angelo is Editor in Chief at Lachesis Publishing. She loves chai tea, social media, and good writing.

Connect with Joanna on twitter@JoannaDangelo, on facebook and on pinterest.

Her facebook page is: Love Romance Novels (on facebook)

Her other blogs are: thepopculturedivas and therevolvingbook

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

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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?

images

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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My Top Five Favorite Romances for Valentine’s Day by Patricia Barletta (romance author)

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 12.04.38 PMEveryone has their own favorite romances, and everyone has their own favorite romance genres. For me, it’s historical romance. There’s something about reading a love story set in the past that adds a bit more fantasy and glamor. I’ve always been fascinated by history, not so much the political side, but the sociological side, learning how people actually lived long ago. The swish of silk petticoats, the flash of a steel blade, and the soft shadows of candlelight make my imagination run wild. I’m a pushover for a hunk in tight breeches and boots. Reading and writing about two people falling in love in a historical setting just seems to fit. So, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I’ve decided to share five of my all-time favorite historical romances, and not in any particular order.

52Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. How can you not fall in love with Mr. Darcy, the wealthy, handsome, shy and pompous, but ultimately honorable catch for all the single women of the neighborhood? The book wasn’t written as a historical novel, so the language and social mores are contemporary to Austen (which also makes it a good research tool for writers). Lizzie’s strength of character could make even twenty-first century women stand up and cheer. And Darcy’s desire to protect her family’s reputation despite their ditzyness and stupidity would make any woman melt. No wonder it’s still so popular after two centuries.

6459042-MMoonstruck Madness by Laurie McBain. Lady Sabrina Verrick turns highwayman in order to support her family and ensure that her younger brother grows up to inherit his Scottish title after they are forced to flee the British. But when she robs the devilishly handsome Lucien, Duke of Camareigh, she realizes she has twisted Satan’s tail, for he won’t rest until he’s caught the thief. I liked that Sabrina is a woman who defies society’s rules to fight for what she loves. And Lucien learns some valuable lessons from the sweet temptress who steals more than his jewels.

Shanna-1Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss. Although I loved Woodiwiss’s The Flame and the Flower, I think Shanna is my favorite of all her novels. It’s a tale of a bold young woman who weds a prisoner of Newgate in order to free herself from the dictates of her father: find an aristocrat to wed or he would find one for her. When she abandons the hunky convict Ruark to the gallows, she doesn’t expect him to escape and come after her to demand his marital rights. The story starts in London, but most of the chase takes place on a Carribean island, and includes swashbuckling pirates, tropical seas, and sultry nights. Oh my!

692959Silk and Shadows by MaryJo Putney. Mysterious, devastatingly handsome, incredibly wealthy Peregrine (whose real name is Mikhail) has come to London from an exotic land to seek revenge for a wrong done to him twenty-five years ago when he was a boy of ten. I loved this hero from the first page. Lady Sara St. James, already betrothed, is part of his plan, for the man to whom she is promised is Peregine’s mark. But Sara is no retiring young miss, for she is intelligent and educated and older than most single women looking to marry. Her high principles and Peregrine’s lack of them in his pursuit for revenge make for a rousing, sensuous read.

3052626Highland Velvet by Jude Devereaux. Nineteen-year-old Bronwyn MacArran is the leader of her Scottish clan. When she is promised to a stranger by the English king, he is four days late for the wedding, so she sets her sights on another handsome face. But the knight Stephen Montgomery, her intended, doesn’t like losing what he’s been promised, so he jousts for her and wins, only to have Bronwyn hate him for winning, for being English, . . . and for being a man. It’s the Scots against the English, both out on the moors and in the bedroom, with a dash of intrigue and underhanded conniving thrown in. I loved Bronwyn’s feistiness, and Stephen is an honorable medieval knight to die for.

There are so many great historical romances out there, and fabulous authors who write them, like Eileen Dryer, Shana Abé, Laura Kinsale, Judith McNaught, Karen Robards, Hannah Howell, Laura Navarre, Patricia Grasso, Loretta Chase, and Joanna Shupe, just to name a few. I had a really hard time narrowing down my list to just five, so I went back to my keeper shelf, where I put books before the Kindle was even a spark in Amazon’s eye, and before Jeff Bezos came up with the idea to sell books online. Even before there was the internet. But some stories are timeless.

Moon Dark
Moon Dark

Here’s a disclaimer: Some of these roguish heroes aren’t politically correct. Except for P&P, the romances were written during the late seventies, eighties, and early nineties, when romance readers had different expectations. So if you pick up one of these stories, keep that in mind. And get lost in the passions of the past. Happy reading!

Patricia Barletta writes historical romance with paranormal elements. Her first release with Lachesis Publishing is MOON DARK and it’s the first in a new and exciting series called the AURIANO CURSE SERIES. You can buy it here at Lachesis Publishing or on amazon, kobo, Barnes and Noble.

Find out more about Patricia Barletta and her books on her website: www.patriciabarletta.com.

Connect with Patricia Barletta on facebook: Patricia Barletta on facebook

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My friend the superstar author: Q and A with bestseller Annette Blair by Jeanine Duval Spikes

Friends forever: From left (Annette Blair, Lynn Jenssen, Christine Mazurk and Jeanine Duval (JD) Spikes
Friends forever: From left (Annette Blair, Lynn Jenssen, Christine Mazurk and Jeanine Duval (JD) Spikes

I sat down with one of my best friends and fellow author Annette Blair, a multi-award winning and New York Times bestseller, to talk about her writing journey.

Here’s what she had to say:

JD: To start, Annette, tell us who inspired you early on in your career and why?

Rita Award (Annual Awards) of the Romance Writers of America)
Rita Award (Annual Awards) of the Romance Writers of America)

AB: I’d have to say, early on, Nancy Bulk who wrote as Dee Holmes, a Harlequin  Silhouette author. We met at a local writers group, became friendly and she took me under her wing. I admired not only her writing, but her work ethic and her  determination. I was seated in the audience at RWA National (Romance Writers of America) when she won their Rita Award and I cried, it was so inspiring. She was the first author I knew to win such a big award.

Unforgettable+RogueJD:   That must have been very exciting. You, yourself, have now won many awards for your writing. My favorite book of yours has always been Unforgettable Rogue, with the fascinating hero Bryceson Wakefield. I love how you gave the Beauty and the Beast theme that Annette Blair twist, too. Do you have a favorite Annette Blair book?

5140WlcTjfL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_AB: Actually, Unforgettable Rogue is one of my favorites, too. And Thee I Love, rereleased as Jacob’s Return, an Amish historical and one of the three books that comprised my first sale. I loved trips to Amish country to research and Jacob and Rachel’s struggles hold a special place in my heart.

JD: You had a fan send you a touching note about that book, didn’t you?

AB: Yes! A European fan wrote to say that reading Jacob’s Return, taught her God would forgive anything. That was sweet, and a testament to the power of words, I think.

JD:  When did you realize that you were truly a successful author? That you’d “made it” so to speak?

9780425198810AB: When I started writing for Berkeley, now Penguin Random House. That was the first. The Kitchen Witch really took me into another realm. The second first was when I hit the New York Times with one of my cozy mysterieCloaked emal lgs. That was the culmination of a dream.

JD: OMG, yes! Hitting the NYT was as exciting for your friends as it was for you. So  tell me, what advice can you give authors who are just starting out, or who haven’t broken through in terms of sales or hitting bestseller lists, to reach their dream?

AB:  Two pieces of advice that are the best, in my opinion, are write the best book you can and Never Give Up. Tenacity sometimes appears to be underappreciated but  it’s truly what helps you to succeed.

JD: Very good advice, Annette. Speaking of the best, what qualities do you feel make a romance novel a true “keeper” – a beloved book that you will read over and over again?

Beautiful Emotional Book.
Beautiful Emotional Book.

AB: Emotional connection. If your emotions are engaged, you can become those  characters. You enter their world and lose the real world around you.

JD:  I agree. I’ve always said the mark of a keeper for me is when I feel I’ve lived the    story. I’ve inhabited that world and know these people by the time I reach the end.

I’m sure many readers have Annette Blair books on their keeper shelves. What’s one of the coolest things a fan has ever done for you?

AB:  One reader crocheted a table mat that she’d woven Annette Blair into. That was pretty impressive.

JD: Nice! No easy task, either. Can we tell your fans about your latest release?

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 9.47.08 AMAB: Of course (we laugh). I’ve recently released Three Days on a Train, a romance novella about lost love that finds its way home. They met as youngsters, two different sides of the tracks, neither impressed with the other, but by high school  theirs was a passion for the ages. Her disapproving father interferes, causing each to think they were the abandoned one. Thirteen years later their friends trick them  into three days on a train.

JD:  Sounds intriguing. What do you have in the works for novels?

AB:  My current project is Everlasting, a contemporary romance. The hero and heroine meet when a building collapses and they are trapped. Fate planned for him to live and her to die, but he turns the table, giving her his escape route that can only hold one. In heaven, he becomes her guardian angel, a reward that quickly becomes a punishment for him when he falls in love with her. Noticing his poor attention to his other charges, his angel friend pushes him back to earth for a chance at everlasting love.

JD:  That is a great story. As friends, we often bounce ideas and questions off each other. You have many author friends dear to you. Why is this type of community so important to an author?

AB:  A fellow writer will understand you like no other. Writers get writers, even better than the people who love them, They get those writer idiosyncrasies and understand the issues that can throw you off track – or keep you on. Ours is a solitary art and having people you can reach out to within that world is priceless.

JD:  Very true. Now, you are considered a hybrid author since you are published both traditionally and independently. You’ve since chosen to exclusively self-publish. How did you find that transition?

Lachesis Publishing Anthology
Lachesis Publishing Anthology

AB:  I didn’t find it difficult at all. While I still have published work with Lachesis and Penguin Random House, and those experiences were good experiences, I’m very happy with self-publishing. I enjoy the control I have over my work now.

JD:  That’s a good point. Can you tell us what’s changed for you in terms of marketing and promotional work?

AB:  I now have daily marketing responsibilities, so much so that I’ve had to hire help, so it’s time-consuming, but it’s rewarding.

JD:  For you, what have been some pros and cons of self-publishing?

AB: PROS: I have total control of my work, from back cover blurbs and marketing to  covers. Covers were a huge incentive for me. CONS: Foreign sales and audio sales can get complicated. It’s a learning curve, but again, to me it’s worth it.

images-2JD:  Before you go, I have one last question. It’s tricky, because we know you love snacks, but what go-to treat do you like to indulge in when you’re writing.

AB:   I do love snacks. Now you said treat, so I’m going to go with Cape Cod Chips.

JD:   Great choice! They’re so crunchy good. Thank you for sitting with me and chatting, Annette. As always, it’s been fun and informative.

Secret-Journals-Posession-1400x2100-500x724J.D. Spikes is the author of the YA paranormal The Possession and co-author of  Sisters of Spirit Anthology You can purchase The Possession at Lachesis Publishing or on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or ARe.

Annette Blair a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. Her novella, “Moving Pictures” is featured in the lyrical romance anthology the Sisters of Spirit  published by Lachesis Publishing.

You can purchase the Sisters of Spirit Anthology at Lachesis Publishing and on Amazon.com, on Kobo, on Barnes and Noble and on itunes (iBooks).

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