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USA Today bestselling author Kimberly Kincaid gets SKIN DEEP in our new Q and A #amreading #romance #newrelease #suspense

USA Today bestselling author Kimberly Kincaid
USA Today bestselling author Kimberly Kincaid

Kimberly Kincaid  is a USA Today best-selling author and a 2016 and 2015 RWA RITA® finalist and 2014 Bookseller’s Best nominee. Her latest release is out today! SKIN DEEP. When she’s not writing her contemporary romance and romantic suspense bestsellers, Kimberly is most likely cuddled up reading one of her favourite authors, or cooking up a storm in her kitchen, or downward dogging and other Yoga poses. Kimberly lives in Virginia with her awesome husband and their three awesome daughters. You can click here to subscribe to Kimberly’s Newsletter. 

Welcome Kimberly!

You’re an indie author but do you also still publish with a traditional publisher? Why did you decide to go indie? And how has that worked out for you?

I am a hybrid author—best of both worlds! I’m fortunate in that I’m able to write full time, and because of that, I usually write 4 books a year. That’s quite a load for many publishing houses, so I made the decision to both Indie publish and have a traditional contract. I have to keep to a pretty detailed schedule as a result, but it works out beautifully.

51wBZ4YVHZLYou’re a USA Today bestselling author – which book or books did you hit the list with and what did you do to celebrate or mark the occasion? 

I hit the USA Today list with a really fun Christmas anthology last year. My story in that collection is titled PLAY ME (it’s now available as a stand-alone, as the anthology was a limited-time-only publication.) It’s a sexy contemporary about second chances. I was actually under the weather on the day we found out we’d made the list, so I celebrated with a nice, long nap! Not very glamourous, I know. But after I felt better, there was champagne J

You write romance and romantic suspense – what attracted you to both and what is your level of “heat” in your books?

I love the aspects of both subgenres. In my contemporary romances, I’m able to focus on my characters a bit more deeply, and in the suspense, there’s a lot of fast-paced action. I always write with emotion, though, and all of my books are fairly steamy. Romantic suspense allows me to dive into some edgier aspects. My Station Seventeen series (suspense) is a little sexier than my Cross Creek (contemporary) series, but there’s a definite intimacy level in both.

511n8K9HrLLLet’s say I’m new to Kimberly Kincaid – 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 Kimberly Kincaid book – and which book of yours do you recommend I read first?

I do have a handy list, broken down by series, on my website. But you’re in luck, because this year I am starting not one but two new series, so you can get in on the ground level of both! The prequel story to my Station Seventeen series is titled DEEP TROUBLE (it’s out now!), with the first full book, SKIN DEEP, coming out today – 9/20. This series revolves around a fire house, and is full of action-packed suspense and sexy characters.

For my Cross Creek series, the first book, CROSSING HEARTS, will be out on February 7, 2017. It’s up for preorder, for those folks who want to be sure not to miss a minute! That series is about three brothers who run their family farm with their father, in the foothills of the Shenandoah. If you like small town charm mixed with big time sizzle, salt-of-the-earth heroes and feisty, fun heroines, you’re in the right place with this one.

A happy reader never sleeps. :)
A happy reader never sleeps. 🙂

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 thing you do on a regular basis for each new release that has worked for you?

No matter what I do (Facebook parties, book signings, newsletter blasts), I always try to be genuine. I can’t do this job without readers! I want to make sure my interactions with them are engaging and fun.

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

512iaCYPXAL._SY346_I’ve got SKIN DEEP coming out today! September 20, and CROSSING HEARTS on February 7, 2017. There will be more books in each series in 2017, plus a really fun charity anthology in March 2017. I’m thrilled to be so busy!

I read that you make a mean enchilada! – tell us about that and what inspires you in the kitchen.

Oh, we are big cooks in my house! In the kitchen, it’s all about flavor and fun. My husband, kids, and I make it a team event. We do a lot of tasting and laughing as we go, and we try a lot of new things. You never know where your next favorite will come from!

Kimberly's latest culinary creation: Chorizo stuffed peppers! Yummy!
Kimberly’s latest culinary creation: Chorizo stuffed peppers! Yummy!

If you were offered a cooking show on the Food Network –what kind of show would it be and why?

I’d want to focus on easy meals that combine comfort food and healthy living. My very favorite foods come directly from the earth. Give me a good BLT, and I am a happy camper!

Staying fit and fabulous!
Staying fit and fabulous!

Authors sit in front of their computers all day. A recipe for potential weight gain and lack of exercise. What do you do to stay healthy and energized?

I have a fitness background, so thankfully I know a lot of ways to stay active and cross-train. I do a lot of yoga, as well as making time for cardio workouts and healthy eating. It’s all part of daily routine for me. I write my workouts on my daily To Do list to remind myself that they are as much of a priority as paying bills or going to the grocery store. It’s all about balancing the chair with movement

 

Tell us about a great 51RMEPp9wULTheDarkestLink+(1)BDTN250author or book that you just discovered that you absolutely love!

This list is long. I adored M. O’Keefe’s BURN DOWN THE NIGHT, and Cristin Harber is adding to her Titan series with LIVE WIRE. I’m also quite addicted to Scarlett Cole’s series, which she just finished up with THE DARKEST LINK.

What do your daughters and husband think of your writing career?

They are all insanely supportive! I could not write a single word without them in my corner.

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

Usually, yoga, although I won’t say that sometimes, a good glass of wine cures a lot of ailments.

Thanks and cheers!

Connect with Kimberly Kincaid on facebook, twitter, and via her website.

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She took her secret dream and made it come true! Q and A with SUZAN TISDALE USA Today bestselling author. #amreading #romance

SUZAN TISDALEUSA Bestselling author Suzan Tisdale is a mom, grandma and wife to a handsome carpenter. She lives in the mid-west and keeps busy by writing bestselling Highlander romances!

Welcome Suzan!

LP: You have a very sweet story about how you published your first book – tell us about it – it has to do with wanting to upload a book to your mom’s kindle.

dd5462_00c4b5b54d7b4f688d4e8774a532ab0cST: It’s a very long story! In a nut shell, I wanted to give my mother a kindle for her birthday. I thought it would be fun if when she turned it on for the first time, something I had written was on it. Keep in mind, I’ve been writing since childhood. I had only recently discovered Scottish Historical Fiction/Romance. I had fallen in love with Lauren Wittig and could not get the images of Scotland and men in kilts out of my mind. So I started writing Laiden’s Daughter. I was up at 3:30 every morning to write. (My husband thought I was playing Farmville.) I didn’t have an editor or a cover artist, in reality, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I was writing it for my mom. I thought I could buy the kindle, get a ‘cord’ to go between the computer and the Kindle, and just give it to her. My husband discovered the book (we only had one computer at the time.) I had to come clean and tell him what I was doing. He came back to me a few days later and said there isn’t a cord, but there is this thing called Kindle Direct Publishing. You have to publish the book then buy it and then it will be on her Kindle. (It wasn’t until months later that I discovered that wasn’t the truth.) So I finished writing it, put together a really bad cover, and published it on December 9, 2011. My secret wish was that someone other than a family member would see it and buy a copy. I had really big goals of selling ten copies. In my life-time. If I could sell ten copies, I would be happy. By the second or third week of February, 2012, (two months after releasing it) it was #3 on Amazon’s top 100 best sellers list! I was selling 450 copies a day. And I still didn’t have a clue what I was doing. The rest, as they say, is history!

dd5462_c6a10c86ee1f44078bf9e6a9f888ad6fLP: You are a self-published author – tell us how that journey has been. Would you ever publish with a publishing house?

ST: At times it feels like a baptism by fire. But it has been the best thing I’ve ever done. It was probably a good thing I didn’t know what I was doing in the beginning, lol. And no, I wouldn’t take a traditional publishing deal. I am a hybrid author now, in that I do have a publisher/distributor of my paperback books, but I’m still 100% in charge of everything from covers to editing to marketing.

LP: Generally, what are the expenses and time involved in publishing your own book? How long does it take you to get a book out?

ST: It depends on the book! It took me three weeks to write McKenna’s Honor, but it took an entire year to write Frederick’s Queen. Each book can cost any where between $1500 to $3,000 to publish a book for ebook and paperback. Another $2500-$4,000 for audio books. I have an editor, final proofer, cover artist, and other expenses.

61OZAMqJwuL51DY1aYHtyLLP: Tell us about an indie author YOU like and why?

ST: Oh, I can’t pick just one! If you mean writing style, then the list is endless. But I have two dear, sweet friends, Kathryn Le Veque and Tanya Anne Crosby, who I talk to on a daily basis. Tanya has a great sense of the business as a whole and Kathryn is great at helping me come up with tag lines for my books. In addition to being awesome authors, they’re beautiful women and I adore both of them.

LP: You’ve had a lot happen in your family this year – can you share with us – how you find time to balance life and writing through life’s ups and downs? 

ST: Yes, it has been a very hectic and at times, terrifying, year. Our granddaughter was born more than 3 months early. She was a ‘micropreemie’ weighing in at a whopping 1 pound 11 1/2 ounces. She was born in early April. She is home now and doing amazing! One of the best things about being a full time indie author is that I can either set everything aside and focus on my family without having to worry about losing my job. I put everything on hold when she was born. Once she was doing well and that initial shock wore off, I would go to the NICU every day because my daughter also had a 5 year old at home to take care of. I would go to the NICU, take my laptop, and write. I dedicated Ian’s Rose, my latest book, to my granddaughter. I wrote thousands of words in that NICU, while watching her sleep in that huge incubator. I’m so blessed in that I can focus solely on what I need to and not have to worry about anything else. Now that Malea is home, thriving and growing, I’m back to writing full time. This is a seven day a week job. I rarely take a day off. I’m more apt to only take a few hours off here and there. I make time every day for my husband, I always take my children’s phone calls, and at least once a month we have a big family dinner here now. It’s not easy, but I love doing what I do.

dd5462_b2d341cfc8dd4c2face653e9bb3995d5-mv2_d_1600_2400_s_2LP: What is your favourite Suzan Tisdale book and why?

ST: Frederick’s Queen. It took a year to write because of the subject matter. I modeled Frederick and Aggie after my uncle and aunt. Just their mannerisms and characteristics. NOTHING that happened to the fictional Aggie ever happened to my aunt! She was raised in a very loving home!

LP: You are a USA Today bestselling author – tell us how that came about and what book (or books) hit for you? How high did you hit and how did you feel?

51XdTbHv+8L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ST: With Dreams Only Of You, the anthology I did with Kathryn Le Veque, Eva Devon, Cynthia Wright, Christi Caldwell and Eliza Knight, was my first time making the USA Today Bestsellers list! I honestly can’t remember how high we made it. It was an amazing feeling! I cried, I laughed, I squealed, and took my husband and friends out that night to celebrate!

LP: It’s very competitive out there with traditionally published authors and indie authors and authors who do both! How do YOU stand out? Aside from writing a great book.

ST: I’m a nut, so I’ve got that going for me! I think what my readers like is knowing they can reach out to me on social media and I’ll respond to them. I talk with my readers. I love doing live video sessions on Facebook and talking with them. My readers know that I adore them. My stories are always filled with mystery, intrigue, romance and bad guys that I kill off in delicious and delightful ways!

LP: What do you have coming up next? 

dd5462_c407d605a7314b8382e197d77a80535bST: I just released Ian’s Rose on August 26. My next book in that series (The Mackintoshes and McLarens) should be out before Christmas. It is titled The Bowie Bride. Next year will be a big year for me as I plan to release a few more historical romance novels as well as one contemporary.

LP: Where is the place you would LOVE to visit purely for research purposes!

ST:  SCOTLAND! Ireland, Wales, and England. But Scotland first. My husband thinks we only need a week to visit. Ha! I’ll need a week just to get through the Edinburgh Library!

LP: Thank you!!!!!

ST: You’re very welcome and Thank you!!!

Connect with Suzan Tisdale via her website, on facebook, and on twitter  @SuzanTisdale and amazon.

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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.

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Follow Lachesis Publishing on twitter.

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From successful journalist to bestselling author: Q&A with Patricia McLinn #amreading #amwriting

USA Today Bestselling author Patricia McLinn
USA Today Bestselling author Patricia McLinn

Patricia McLinn is a USA Today bestselling author of more than 30 books that include mystery, romance, and westerns She began her novel writing career with Silhouette Books (Harlequin) and was nominated for and won several writing awards, but her career really took off when she decided to go indie. She made the decision to go indie well before the explosion of indie publishing began. 

Before becoming a full time author, Patricia was an editor at the Washington Post for 23 years and a journalist for several years before that. She has a degree in English Composition and a Masters in Journalism from Northwestern University . A truly impressive resume.

LP: You began as a traditionally published author and now you self-publish exclusively. Tell us how that came about?

Patricia McLinn's first published book with Silhouette  in 1990. Was also a RITA Award Finalist.
Patricia McLinn’s first published book with Silhouette in 1990 – was a RITA Award Finalist.

PM: My traditional career was so up and down that it would be banned as unsafe if it were a carnival ride. With one publisher I had about 32 editors for 25 books – hard to get any continuity or rhythm going. Some of those editors said I was “pushing the envelope.” Huh? What envelope? Where? I never got that.

I became increasingly frustrated with editorial limitations and poor decisions on scheduling, titles, marketing. I did encounter some outstanding editors. Frequently their hands were tied by the hierarchy. The upshot for me and many authors was having our careers ill-served.

Well before there was anything to do with them, I was getting rights back to my previously published books. No matter what, I figured I’d be happier with the rights in my hands.

In 2006 I remember thinking ebooks were going to pop sometime, some way. No idea when or how, but I was on the lookout. By 2008 I had ebooks available online, expanding to the major retailers in 2011.

An unexpected and marvelous benefit of going indie is that writing is a lot more fun now. Writing and publishing are very different activities. My experience in traditional publishing was that they actively conflicted. As an indie author, they do not conflict. They bolster each other.

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

Too bad the TV show Castle has come to an end.
Too bad the TV show CASTLE has come to an end.

PM: When the traditional publishing model works the way we all dream it might – think of it as the Richard Castle model from the TV show Castle – it’s marvelous. Brand name authors become an asset that publishing houses tend with some care. It’s different for mid-list or most entry-level authors. I was just listening to a Joanna Penn podcast with Jane Friedman in which they said contracts traditional publishers are offering first-time authors are worse than ever.

The exception is if you have a blockbuster book, everyone agrees it’s a blockbuster book, multiple publishers are willing to pay an advance commensurate with a blockbuster, the publisher you pick follows through on its promises, and all the marketing efforts work so that, in fact, your book becomes a blockbuster.

Patricia McLinn's CAUGHT DEAD IN WYOMING series is a bestselling mystery series about a news reporter sleuth.
Patricia McLinn’s CAUGHT DEAD IN WYOMING is a bestselling mystery series about a news reporter sleuth.

Traditional publishing can reach a broader audience — the folks who read one or two books a year – while indie authors’ audience are devoted readers.

PM: Now, for the pros and cons of self-publishing.

Pro:  Nobody tells you what to write. Some indies might say the market tells you what to write, but that’s only if you listen. 😉 I’m to a stage where I write what I like to read, then try to find readers who enjoy that, too. I do not tailor my writing to trends. Writing is too consuming and too difficult to do if you’re not, first, enjoying it yourself.

Pro: You’re in charge. You decide when your book will come out, what it will look like, how it will be marketed.

Con: You’re in charge of implementing all those decisions. It’s a lot of work.

Pro: You can change things that aren’t working and you can do it quickly. Cover redesign? Tweaking something that always bugged you? Altering the book description? Price change? All that and so much more you can consider, decide on, implement, and then view the results in less time than it takes for a traditionally published author to hear back about whether his/her editor took his/her request to any of — much less all of — the meetings required to decide on a change.

Con: You’re in charge of implementing all those changes. It’s a lot of work.

Pro: You set your schedule. When it comes to “hurry up and wait” traditional publishing puts the military to shame.

Patricia McLinn's WYOMING WILDFLOWERS is a bestselling romance series
Patricia McLinn’s WYOMING WILDFLOWERS is a bestselling romance series

Pro: You get paid in 60 days.

Pro: You’ll never fire yourself.

Con: You have a boss who’s a b**ch. 😉

LP: Ball-park figure. How much MONEY do you spend on each self-published book and what are the expenses involved in publishing your own book?

PM: Book cover — $200-900 (largely depending on cost of photos.) Formatting — $100-150. Editing/Proofing — $100-600. Marketing — $0 to the national debt.

I have a couple advantages. I was an editor with the Washington Post for 23 years and a journalist longer. I’m an experienced editor. However, nobody catches everything, especially not in their own work, which is why I always have a proofer.

Wyoming Wildflowers Boxed Set
Wyoming Wildflowers Boxed SetThe second advantage is that from having been published for twenty-six years, I have author buddies I can call and brainstorm with for story issues. In essence, they are my developmental editors. And I repay in kind.

The second advantage is that from having been published for twenty-six years, I have author buddies I can call and brainstorm with for story issues. In essence, they are my developmental editors. And I repay in kind.

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 . . .) Do you think it’s enough or not enough? Why?

PM: Oh, boy, I get to use my favorite answer – it depends.

When I’m deep in writing mode I try not to do much of that because it engages a different part of my brain/personality that is not conducive to writing. When I’m writing I don’t want to think about audience reach or ROI or strategy or any of that. I want my head so thoroughly in the fictional world that I’m astonished to walk outside and discover it’s not the season I’m writing about. (Which is why the neighbors think I’m that strange woman who wears winter coats to walk the dog when it’s 76 degrees out.)

Patricia's up coming release - you can pre-order on her site:
Patricia’s upcoming release – you can pre-order on her site:

Other times I will spend all day on various aspects of marking and promotion. That’s on top of the time my executive assistant Kay devotes to these areas, along with help from a team of great folks helping with individual aspects. It’s been wonderful to be able to delegate some of this, to free up my writing brain.

Enough? Nah. Because there’s always something else I see out there that I could have done. Another strategy or outlet to try. The possibilities are never ending.

But that’s okay, because all those strategies, all those possibilities are in service of finding the right reader-author match.

LP: You have many series on the go. Including the bestselling CAUGHT DEAD IN WYOMING SERIES. Why do you write series books? Tell us about your series. And what can an author—self-published (or otherwise) accomplish with a series?

PM: I love the interconnectedness of the communities in the series I’ve written. I love how a character learns a lesson in Book 1 and shares it with another character in Book 4. I love how the characters continue to grow past the end of their book. In romances, I don’t believe the ends of my books are Happily Ever After. Instead, they’re Happy Beginnings. What the characters learn and how they change brings the hero and heroine to the point where they can have a Happy Beginning.

Patricia McLinn has put a lot of effort into creating visual and welcoming website for her fans.
Patricia McLinn has put a lot of effort into creating a visual and welcoming website for her fans.

In CAUGHT DEAD IN WYOMING each book has a mystery that’s completed by the end of the book. But the story of Elizabeth Margaret Danniher, her friends, and her stray dog Shadow develops over a number of books.

Elizabeth faces multiple crossroads in her life. Her marriage ended, her successful career was pulled out from under her, she’s plunked down in Wyoming, and trying to figure out what’s going on. Between solving murder mysteries, she is also solving the mystery of her life.

For me, writing a series lets me explore that great question “What happens next?”

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 11.28.55 AM

LP: What social media networking sites do you use? Which one(s) work best for you and why?

PM: Mostly Facebook and Twitter. Some on Pinterest. I am looking at Instagram … mostly so I can inflict photos of my dog and garden on the wider world <eg>. The conversational threads are great on Facebook. Twitter appeals to my newspaper background. I wrote headlines for a lot of years, so 140 characters feels comfortable.

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 11.24.32 AM

LP: You’ve hit the USA Today Bestseller’s list. What are 3 KEY THINGS THAT an author needs to do whether they are indie or traditionally published?

PM: Enjoy what you’re writing. Both because it comes through to the reader and because it will allow you to keep writing though a long career.

Fulfill your pledge to the reader. From the first paragraphs, you promise the reader a certain kind of read. Heck, before the reader starts Chapter One, s/he has an idea of what kind of reading experience this book is going to give him/her – from the packaging, the description, the title, your previous books.

Respect the reader. Those envelopes I kept being accused of pushing? Well, a lot of them had to do with this point. Readers do not need to be told the same thing 47 times, to have limited vocabulary, to have references constrained to current pop culture. Reading has always been a great education — as well as a great enjoyment – for me because authors didn’t undersell my ability to pick up new information from context or look something up.

LP: What is the most important thing you do when you release a new title?

PM: Inform the loyal, wonderful folks on my readers list via my newsletter. I try to give them any news first, along with deals, behind-the-scenes, and consumer tips. That’s the most important external thing. The most important internal thing is a lot of self-talk about one of the wonders of ebooks being that a book’s life is long and this is only the first day. Lots and lots of days to come when a good match can be made between the reader looking for my kind of read and my books.

Kathleen Eagle's latest release is Private Treaty
Kathleen Eagle’s latest release is PRIVATE TREATY

LP: WHO are 3 authors that YOU look up to and admire and why?

PM: Limiting this to three is cruel. I’ll go for diversity in these three.

John McPhee in non-fiction. Because he can get me interested in topics I don’t care about beforehand (oranges, geology) and sustain my interest.

Georgette HeyerBecause her books seldom hit just one note – all-angst-all-the-time or over-the-top comedy. Instead, they have moments of humor, of seriousness, of confusion, of clarity – just like life. I especially like this in her murder mysteries.

Kathleen Eagle: Because she never stops respecting the reader.

LP: When readers message you – which series or book comes up most often as a fan favourite and why?

PM: Interesting question. It made me realize that people have contacted me about every one of my books/series.

I see reading as interactive. Readers don’t passively accept a story from the author. They bring so much of themselves to each book they read. A reader’s life experience or where they are at the moment will affect how they react to a book.

Okay, but you asked “most often.” Probably a tie between:

The Wyoming Wildflowers series, saying they feel so connected to the characters that they feel like family

The Caught Dead in Wyoming series, saying they love the realism of the characters and that the mystery has some humor, while still respecting the seriousness of the crime.

(Boy, this was hard, because there are devoted readers of the other series I feel like I’m leaving out.)

LP: Bonus: Dogs or cats and why?

PM: Dogs. Because there’s so much communication with them. Because they pick up on your moods and care. Because they’re inside pets who don’t use a litter box inside 😉 Though, realistically, it’s probably because my family had dogs all along, so that’s what I know better.

Patricia's dog Kalli no doubt is the best writing companion ever. :)
Patricia’s dog Kalli is no doubt the best writing companion ever. 🙂

Thank you!

You can connect with Patricia McLinn via her website, on facebook and on twitter and pinterest.

Follow Lachesis Publishing on twitter and like our facebook page

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The Write Retreat by Jeanne Paglio (J.M. Griffin) mystery author

 

Image: wellnesswritingretreats.com
Image: wellnesswritingretreats.com

For the past several years, I’ve had the opportunity to attend writer and artist retreats. While you may think there are considerable differences, and there are some, the foundation of these types of retreats is creativity and what the effect is on those who attend.

There are many things that happen when attending these functions, such as listening to speakers, learning to use methods we haven’t tried before, eating great food we didn’t cook ourselves, and most of all we gather together to network and grow. We meet different people, get to sit and chat with our friends while making new ones. You might find yourself at a table with an agent, editor, publisher, a new author, a seeking-to-be author, and multi-published novelists/hybrids. The list goes on, but you get the idea. What a perfect time to ask those questions you’ve been trying to find the answers to from those who have been there, done that. A dining table is a perfect place for conversation, take advantage of it.

Image: mainewriters.org
Image: mainewriters.org

Every year, some friends and I attend the Maine Writer’s Retreat in Portland. We’re greeted with enthusiasm, warmth, and much friendliness, which encourages us to return year after year. The RIRW retreat is the same way, and a good time is had by all.

Retreats allow us to relax, to connect without inner creativity, to learn from one another and the presenters, who are as relaxed as everyone else. You’ll find speakers are more willing to sit and talk with you, to be available to us, the creative people, who are interested in what their specialty.

Unlike conferences, where large amounts of money are required to participate in all the events taking place, including hotel costs, and airfare charges, I find retreats offer cozier accommodations and fewer attendees that make the atmosphere warmer than conferences will. While I enjoy both of these get-togethers, I would choose a retreat over a conference unless, of course, I was interested in attending speaker events all day, or pitching my latest work. This is only my personal preference, and I acknowledge others may feel differently, especially if they are only starting out and want to learn the ins and outs of the writing and publishing business.

Image: Hopkinton, Rhode Island Writer's Retreat
Image: Hopkinton, Rhode Island Writer’s Retreat

To make the most of either of these venues, we must step outside our comfort zone and talk to complete strangers instead of remaining with our friends, to be daring enough to pose questions to those people we stand in awe of. It’s difficult, but we can do it, all of us, because to network, we must leave our comfort zone. Retreats are offered all over the place. Google has lists of them for writers, including Christian writing retreats, and more. I Googled writer retreats for New England and came up with some great places in Massachusetts, Vermont, and one in Hopkinton, RI.

An upcoming retreat in Portland, Maine can be found here:  and another will be held in New Hampshire this fall in Manchester, NH. For more information on finding a Writer’s Retreat near you or somewhere you really want to go check out writersretreat.com – a great resource that lists retreats worldwide.

Maybe I’ll see you there.

Dragons touch J.M. Griffin. is the author of two cozy mystery series for Lachesis Publishing. The popular (and sexy) Vinnie Esposito series and the fun (and yummy) Deadly Bakery series and the co-author of the dark and compelling Linty Dragon Mystery Series. Book 1 Dragon’s Touch is out now!

Connect with J.M. Griffin on social media: twitter, web site, facebook

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Goodbye Traditional Publishing. Hello Self-publishing. Q and A with USA Today bestselling author Jess Michaels

USA Today bestselling author Jess Michaels
USA Today bestselling author Jess Michaels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Wicked Woodleys Series: Forbidden (Book 1)
The Wicked Woodleys Series: Forbidden (Book 1)

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

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

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

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

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

The Notorious Flynns Series: The Other Duke
The Notorious Flynns Series: The Other Duke

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

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

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

Lords of Time Series: The Spare and the Heir
Lords of Time Series: The Spare and the Heir

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

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

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

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

LP: What do you have coming up next?

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

Jess Michaels' feline friend
Jess Michaels’ feline bestie

LP: Bonus: cats or dogs and why?

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

Thanks Jess for joining us today!

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

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

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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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From Self-Published to Star: Q and A with USA Today Bestselling Author Nana Malone

USA Today Bestselling Author Nana Malone
USA Today Bestselling Author Nana Malone

We are starting a new series of Q and As at the Lachesis Publishing Daily Blog featuring self-published and hybrid published authors. First up is USA Today bestselling author NANA MALONE.

You began as a self-published author and now you self-publish AND traditionally publish. Tell us how that came about?

18624965NM: Funny story really. I was actually originally published first by the Wild Rose Press back in the day for Game Set Match. Then I saw my first royalty check and immediately went Indie. Lol. But a little over a year ago, Harlequin Kimani saw one of my titles doing well on the Amazon multicultural charts. They called me and asked me to write for them. I never intended to be with a publisher again, but it was an interesting proposition so why not? Especially with an advance.

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

NM: Control. Lol. On both ends. Some people don’t want to have to think about the covers and the blurb and all of it. So for those people, traditional publishing is a good option. But if you like control, then it is not a good idea because you normally don’t get a say unless you are already a HUGE seller. Oh . . . and money honey. Hands down, unless you are blazing and one of the lucky minority, you will almost always earn more on the Indie side. Just by way of the way advances work. If you don’t out-earn your advance, you will never earn royalties. And given how little authors earn per book. This is REALLY hard to do.

Ball-park figure. How much TIME do you spend on each self-published book versus traditionally published book?

Nana Malone is a smart and savvy author who has has built a strong and positive reader following.
Nana Malone is a smart and savvy author who has has built a strong and positive reader following.

NM: HAHAHAHHAHAH. I only do novellas for Harlequin. So they get about 10% of my time because I earn my money from my self published books.

Ball-park figure. How much MONEY do you spend on each self-published book versus traditionally published book?

NM: Well, I spend 0% of money on my traditionally published books. I do all the free marketing in the world, but my philosophy is that money flows to the author from the publisher. So I don’t spend money on those releases. I will have my Advance reader group do reviews, but I won’t pay for a blog tour. My publisher should do that. I will do social media, hit up my mailing list etc etc, but I will shell out no money. None. For those of us who have a little trouble with math, I spend 100 percent on my self published books.

514p6yWkN4L._SX339_BO1,204,203,200_You have many series on the go. Some of which are ONGOING. Why do you write series books? And what can an author—self-published (or otherwise) accomplish with a series?

NM: Because people love to revisit old couples that they love. It’s why people go to see sequels. They don’t want the fun to end. Oh, and because Bella Andre told me to. Well, not me, me, but she was on a panel at RWA and said friends don’t let friends write stand alone books. Readers want a familiar world. They want things that are a twist on the familiar. In my case, each book visits a new character in the world, a best friend, a sibling, a cousin, the neighbor down the street. But the world is the same. As an author It gives you potential ongoing revenue stream for years to come. Not to mention you can do the first book free in series or boxed sets, or if you want to get fun and funky 3rd book free in the series and force readers who are really anal to go and buy the precious books. You’ve got built in marketing for days.

What social media networking sites do you use? Which one(s) work best for you and why?

NM: Facebook and Twitter. I keep it simple. Matter of fact, I spend my time writing, not kicking it on social media. I go on for a set amount of time each day. Usually fifteen minutes in the morning and in the evening, then I get off. In that time, you can update a status, like some friends statuses, share some great books, then get off. I will say, I hired an assistant to help manage some of that to manage my group and my author page. There just isn’t enough time to do it all. Do what you like to do and do not feel like you have to do it all.

Nana Malone publishes fun and endearing videos for fans and readers.
Nana Malone publishes fun and endearing videos for fans and readers.

You produce YouTube videos – why? And what kind of feedback do you get on them?

NM: Well, I think with video, people can see your personality. So when you do them, you need to be “on”. If you are not an on kind of person, don’t try to fake it. Video is not a medium for you. Your fans will be able to tell. As for feedback, here’s the thing . . . you will get more views on Facebook than you will on Youtube. Unless you have some kind of niche that people are looking for on Youtube. At least that has been my experience. I do post my FB videos up there though. Just in case.

You’ve hit the USA Today Bestseller’s list. What are 3 KEY THINGS THAT an author needs to do to REALLY SELL BOOKS?

NM: Write a good book. Like really good. Like the best book you can that is hooky. Have it professionally edited. Like for real. Even when you think it’s good, do another round. Get a Bookbub. I’m kidding a little, but the keyword is Newsletter. That is all bookbub is. It’s not voodoo magic. No rain dances here. An aggressively built newsletter. No reason why each person can’t have one of their own. As an author, it is your responsibility to have a direct line to your end customer. And those of you who are like “Oh, I want to grow my list organically . . .” I’m giving you a look right now. Just because you offer someone an opportunity to read your book by getting a free one, doesn’t’ mean they aren’t good subscribers. Put them on a list. Offer them a sale book. See who opens. Offer them a full priced book, see who opens. The openers, you move to a good list. It’s not rocket science. And those people liked what they read and want to buy your books.

NanaMalone_LondonBound_800pxWhat is the most EFFECTIVE thing you do to market and promote your books and why?

NM: Newsletter. In June 2015 I had 1280 people on my list. On January 19th 2016, the day of my last release, I had 11,098. I made it my goal and I aggressively built my list. FB ads, offering reader magnets in my books. I went after my readers and low and behold, lots of people want my books . . . at full price no less.

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 . . .) Do you think it’s enough or not enough? Why?

NM: About 2 hours a day. I work during the day and in the evening I do most of my marketing. Planning for releases, setting up paid ads etc.

What are 3 KEY THINGS, in your opinion, EVERY AUTHOR should do when they RELEASE A NEW TITLE?

NM: Hit your mailing list. Do a Facebook ad. (Yes, they work. There are a million courses that will show you how. Don’t boost. Learn about FB power editor, it is your friend. Get reviews. Not from your family. But bloggers, fans, Goodreads reviewers. Reviews are crucial.

static1.squarespace-1WHO are 3 authors that YOU look up to and admire and why.

NM: Bella Andre, Minx Malone, Marie Force. Beside them just being killer sellers and they write books I love to read consistently, but they are super savvy about the market and what readers want. Smart, smart women.

When readers message you – which series or book comes up most often as a fan favourite and why?

NM: The Stilettos girls. But I still get lots of love for Love Match. And with more Donovans out they’re starting to get a lot of love too. I think the thing is, each book is branded specifically and people like what they like. But my author branding (Romancing the sass) runs through them all. And I write women that readers can relate too. No matter the age or race, everyone tells me they have a friend like x character or y character reminds them of themselves. I write characters I would hang out with.

static1.squarespace-3What is your favourite guilty pleasure treat that you indulge in when writing and why?

NM: No treats till I’m done. I’m sort of insane about my goals. I can read a new book, have chocolate, sleep, play, drinks with the girls, date night with hubby— when I’m freaking done. I don’t play if the book isn’t done, what am I doing binge watching The Flash for? That’s hours I could be writing.

Thank you Nana Malone for joining us today!

You can connect with USA Today bestselling author Nana Malone on facebook, twitter, @NanaMalone, and YouTube. You can watch all of her fun videos on her facebook author page. You can sign up for Nana’s newsletter by clicking on this link. Check out Nana’s latest video on her facebook author page for her latest release, Love in Plain Sight (book 4 in the Donovan Brother’s series).

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Author Marketing Plans, authors, bestselling author, Bestselling Authors, blog post, From the Editor's Desk, Independent Author, Indie Author, Lachesis authors, Lachesis Blog, Marketing and Promotion, Marketing your book, Promoting Your Book, promoting your books, Publishers and editors

Why Authors Need A Marketing Plan by Joanna D’Angelo #amwriting #authormarketing

Image: marketing-skills.blogspot.com
Image: marketing-skills.blogspot.com

One of the things that we started doing at Lachesis Publishing is to ask for a 2-3 page marketing plan from every author who submits a manuscript to us. Even if they have published with us numerous times and have had great success with us.

Here are the top reasons why we ask for a Marketing Plan at Lachesis Publishing and why Marketing Plans are so important for authors to have:

If you work in an Ivory Tower, better make sure you have wifi ;) Image: www.witoldrybczynski.com
If you work in an Ivory Tower, better make sure you have wifi 😉
Image: www.witoldrybczynski.com

1. IT’S YOUR CAREER: We want authors to think about their careers and yes (GASP) their own BRAND. We want authors to understand that you can no longer write in an IVORY TOWER. You have to get out there amongst the masses and interact with potential readers and fans. Many publishers and agents may not ask about a marketing plan. But I can GUARANTEE YOU if you do one they will BE IMPRESSED. Heck, even the big houses have CUT BACK on what they spend PER AUTHOR. And if you are not a BIG NAME, chances are YOU WON’T GET MUCH from the BIG HOUSES. So it’s up TO YOU to build YOUR CAREER.

Kick some marketing butt Xena style!  Image: www.comicvine.com
Kick some marketing butt Xena style!
Image: www.comicvine.com

2. A GOOD FOUNDATION MEANS A GREAT FUTURE: We want authors to have a framework or a foundation from which to work. This can only HELP YOU in your future. Knowledge means EMPOWERMENT and that will serve you well as you build your career as an author. With each new release – or with each new series – you can only get BETTER and STRONGER at marketing YOUR WORK. Many authors have never even thought about marketing let alone create and execute a plan. If you have a foundation then it can only help you across the board, with every book you write – whether it’s with Lachesis Publishing or another publisher or even a self-published book. There is a TON of good info out there to help YOU formulate your OWN plan. Here are 5 LINKS (out of more than 36 million links) I came up with when I googled AUTHOR MARKETING PLANS:

HOW TO WRITE A BOOK MARKETING PLAN IN 13 EASY STEPS (standoutbooks.com)

FREE BOOK MARKETING PLAN OUTLINE (allindiewriters.com)

WHAT’S YOUR BOOK MARKETING PLAN? 6 CRUCIAL STEPS TO INCLUDE (thewritelife.com)

HOW TO CREATE A KILLER MARKETING PLAN FOR YOUR BOOK LAUNCH (socialmouths.com)

MARKETING CENTRAL (createspace.com)

Build your traffic! Image: www.grinningplanet.com
Build your traffic!
Image: www.grinningplanet.com

3. TRAFFIC! TRAFFIC! TRAFFIC! We do a lot of paid promotion for our authors via sites such as Book Bub, Kindle Nation Daily, Ereader Cafe, EreaderNewsTodayFree Booksy, and many more. Having said that – we know how important it is for our authors to have a presence online and to have “TRAFFIC” on their books. Authors have to do THEIR PART in getting as many REVIEWS as possible so that WE can go for as many book sites as possible including the BIG deal Book Bub slots and other online sites that require AT LEAST 10 reviews to even CONSIDER a book.

LeeAnn Lessard, our publisher is CONSTANTLY searching out new venues for us to promote our books. And we are always trying out new sites, and new opportunities to see what works for us. So it is crucial for authors to be REGULARLY working on INCREASING REVIEWS of ALL OF THEIR BOOKS. EVEN OLDER TITLES because we PROMOTE THOSE TOO!

Barney knows what he's talkin' about. Image: barney.wikia.com
Barney knows what he’s talkin’ about.
Image: barney.wikia.com

4. BECAUSE WE ARE PART OF A COMMUNITY: We do daily promotion on our own Lachesis Publishing website and the Lachesis Publishing Daily Blog  which takes time, expense, and effort. Every week we have a DEAL OF THE WEEK, where we offer ONE of our books for JUST .99 CENTS. And we promote it on our website home page in addition to promoting it via our blog and on our facebook page and on twitter. In addition to creating interesting daily content on our blog, I seek out interviews and guest spots with notable, award-winning, and bestselling authors who have so much to share with ALL OF US, not just Lachesis Publishing authors, but so many of us who write and/or work in CREATIVE FIELDS. For example, we have just launched a series of INTERVIEWS (Q AND As) with authors who self-publish either exclusively or are hybrid authors as well as authors who have tried self-pubbing but are not fans. We are doing this series to get a balanced perspective on what self-publishing is about and why some authors love it and others don’t, and because it is so much a part of our industry now with so many great success stories but also some not-so-great experiences too. We think it’s important for all writers to be informed about what the publishing landscape is all about. That is why we provide daily content that embraces ALL authors.

Each blog post on the Lachesis Publishing Daily Blog is promoted on our Lachesis Publishing social media accounts and on my own social media sites and is shared among OUR AUTHORS It’s this kind of SHARING MEANS CARING commitment that we know helps to spread the word about our books. When our authors share a fellow Lachesis Publishing author‘s book on their own facebook page or on twitter – it helps to expand our reach. This is why we foster an author community at Lachesis Publishing.

You got this! Image: elbrooklyntaco.com
You got this!
Image: elbrooklyntaco.com

5. IT’S CHALLENGING AND IT’S GOOD FOR YOU TO LEARN NEW THINGS. Many authors feel OVERWHELMED by the idea of even GETTING ONTO SOCIAL MEDIA or getting out there and doing a blog tour or a facebook event or launching a street team. If you’ve never done it before. Don’t worry! There are plenty of authors out there who have and are willing to share their knowledge with YOU. And then YOU TOO can PAY IT FORWARD. As I mentioned above, there is A TON of info online that you can access for advice when it comes to WHATEVER you want to undertake. Then there is the old adage of TRIAL AND ERROR: If at first you don’t succeed, Try, try again. You can only LEARN by DOING. And learning how to market yourself is a GREAT SKILL that you can use IN ALL WALKS OF LIFE, including many kinds of charities that you are passionate about. So there is always AN ADDITIONAL benefit to learning to flex your MARKETING muscle.

I hope I have CONVINCED you how IMPORTANT a marketing plan is FOR YOU. That we are not here just to MAKE YOU DO EXTRA WORK but we are helping you to IMPROVE your own career, FORGE new relationships and a sense of community, and LEARN new skills.

So remember, when you submit a proposal or manuscript to Lachesis Publishing, you MUST send along a 2-3 page marketing plan. And keep in mind WHY it’s so important to you and to us. 🙂

Happy writing (and marketing)! 🙂

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

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