Archive for the ‘Lachesis Blog’ Category
Amy Ruttan is a multi-published hybrid romance author who writes for Harlequin and as an indie author. Amy’s latest release is her 15th book for Harlequin Medicals. It’s titled Convenient Marriage, Surprise Twins. It’s a marriage of convenience trope. The hero Andrew Tremblay is a Canadian who needs to stay in the country to help the heroine Dr. Lana Haole’s brother, so she agrees to a marriage of convenience. The twist is, they both are attracted to each other and just one night of passion leads to a surprise pregnancy.
Like many authors, who sit in front of their computer all day, Amy strives for a work/life balance. Today we chat with Amy about her work and about life and how she kicks butt both on the page and in her daily routine. Welcome Amy!
LP: Tell us how you became an author and why? I always loved storytelling.
AR: I had an over-active imagination and I loved to read. It was when I was reading the Little House on the Prairie books and my father mentioned to me that Laura Ingalls Wilder was a real person that I thought ‘Wow, I really want to do this!’ So started my process of creative writing, but I didn’t actively pursue it until 2006. I had my second child and he was ill. He almost didn’t make it and I realized how short life is. How fragile life can be and I didn’t want to regret not following my dream. That’s when I started pursuing romance writing (because I loved reading it) and in 2008 my first book was accepted by Ellora’s Cave.
LP: You are a hybrid author – you write both for Harlequin and independently – do you find that being an author has helped you in terms of work/life balance or has it created some unique challenges?
AR: Work/life balance was tricky at first. I was writing full time when I got pregnant with my youngest child and I foolishly thought I could still write and take care of a newborn. For me, because I know some authors can, I couldn’t. I was exhausted and my youngest child had a reverse sleep cycle. When he was about three years old I finally sold to Harlequin and instead of just writing and seeing if it sold through my first publisher, I had to learn to write to deadlines. That was hard at first. I wrote at night typically, so I had to retrain myself to work when the kids were at school and to write every day. Also, it’s hard to write some days when my sons are having a hard time. My eldest son has autism and my youngest has anxiety with some sensory issues. The school knows I work at home, so I would get calls interrupting my work day. Also, a few family and friends felt like because I was at home, I was available whenever they wanted to “chat” or do stuff. I’ve had to learn to ignore the phone when I’m writing, unless it’s the school. I lost a couple of non-writer friends to this unfortunately. They didn’t understand that I was working and running my own business being at home. Also, I have run into people who think romance writing is a formula and is easy to write.
LP: Take us through a typical day for Amy Ruttan – in terms of work/career stuff and life stuff – do you schedule everything in your life or are you more of a free spirit – and why?
AR: A typical day usually starts with me getting the kids off and ready to school. And this typical start will be changing slightly in the fall because my eldest is going off to high school. After the kids are off to school, I do a work out through Beachbody on Demand or Walk at Home after I walk our dog, but she won’t walk far. Then I can work. I try to get 2500 words a day before it’s time to pick up my kids from school. My youngest with the sensory issues has to be picked up and dropped off. My older two can get to and from school easily. Usually, during the school year, our nights are filled with after school programs. So I may be able to sneak in some more writing or answer emails in the evening, but not usually.
LP: You have been working on improving your health/weight. Do you follow a specific program or are you just focusing on clean eating and keeping active?
AR: I’m a member of Weight Watchers. It’s the only thing that’s worked for me consistently. I also try to get in at least 30 mins of working out a day and I do strive for 10,000 steps a day, but when I’m deadline that’s difficult.
Do you do a lot of pre-planning when it comes to meals etc… And does that help you stay on track?
Yes. I try to plan or think about what we’re going to eat because if I don’t, I usually end up eating unbalanced and fast stuff, which isn’t that great for me. I had my gall bladder out in 2015 and even though I don’t have a lot of side effects I don’t digest as fast as I used to. I get fuller faster, which is great, but if I over eat or eat really fatty food, even food that’s overly processed I get really ill. It’s just not worth it and I find I’m not craving the processed junk stuff any more.
What are three tips you can share that you do every day to maintain a healthy work-life balance?
Before pictures are great. When I feel down or think “what’s the point”, I’ll look at those before pics of me and see how far I’ve come. Also monthly measurements and only weighing yourself once a week. I would get upset about weighing every day because your weight fluctuates. So I focus on what I’ve gained in my fitness level, how my clothes fit and inches lost rather than the number on the scale.
What are two or three snacks or meals that you absolutely love and that you think others will too. ☺
I absolutely adore every recipe I’ve tried on Skinny Taste skinnytaste.com and Drizzle Me Skinny www.drizzlemeskinny.com Drizzle is really great for if you want a cookie or a muffin. My daughter loves, loves, loves Drizzle Me Skinny’s Creamy Chicken Alfredo Bacon Lasagna.
What is your physical activity like? What do you do to stay physically active and how much time and days a week do you spend on physical activity.
Do you have a goal when it comes to weight loss and physical fitness or are you just focused on the day-to-day keeping healthy?
My doctor once told me for my height I should be between a certain couple of weights and I’m aiming for the lower end of what he suggested, but mostly I focus on the fact I’m feeling better than I ever have, I have more energy and endurance. I recently did a 4km hike at the Pinery Provincial Park that involved a lot of stairs and climbing over the sand dunes. I managed to do it and keep up with my kids. Last year, no I wouldn’t have been able to do that at all. For me that was a huge accomplishment. I have a daughter who is a teenager and I don’t want to send her the message that I want to be skinny to feel better about myself. I’m very body positive and I reiterate to her that what I’m doing is for my health over appearances. She sees me eat pizza or fries every once and a while and that’s great too.
In ten years where do you want to see your life and career?
Amy’s upcoming release is Navy Doc on her Christmas List which is part of the Christmas in Manhattan series. She’s also working on another Omega Team novella for a December launch. The Omega Team is part of Desiree Holt’s amazing Kindle World.
In:amreading, blog post, BOOK OF THE WEEK, From the Editor's Desk, historical romance, Lachesis authors, Lachesis Blog, Lachesis Publishing Inc., Regency Historical Paranormal, regency historical romance, Regency Romance, romance fiction, romance hero, romance novels, Supernatural
What it’s about:
Book 1 in the Gentlemen of Honor series
She was known as The Spinster of Brightwood Manor, and that suited Lady Beatrice O’Brien just fine.
She was happy being a spinster; happy running her father’s estates while amassing a fortune of her own; happy tending to the needs of her community; and most of all, she was happy not having a man around to tell her what to do.
But when Beatrice accidentally shoots her new neighbor, the Earl of Drennan, her life turns upside-down. Suddenly, this very arrogant gentleman, who also happens to be charming and attractive, makes himself at home at Brightwood Manor, and proceeds to court her!
Beatrice knows one thing for certain. Marriage will complicate her life. But falling in love? That’s an entirely different matter.
Faith, he really was one of the handsomest specimens of manhood she’d clapped eyes upon since the war against Boney started, despite that nasty looking scar he wore. She had to admit, even if he were a bit of a tiresome bore, he was pleasant to look upon.
Distracting herself from the sight of his almost bare chest, she nervously recited by rote her planned introductions. “Sir, I am Lady Beatrice O’Brien, mistress of this house. And this delicate beauty standing beside me is our healer, Mistress Sarah Duncan. I must add she’s the same witch who had the kindness to sew your leg up for you.”
Wise Sarah gave a deep curtsy and smiled warmly at him. Her light blue eyes, the same shade as bluebonnets, sparkled down at him in warm welcome.
“Indeed,” he said looking in astonishment at the lovely vision. She didn’t appear to be someone who’d choose to seek out the more unsavory parts of life, let alone be seen boiling a cauldron of eye of newt under a full moon.
“Mistress Sarah, you must amuse our patient here sometime with tales of how you manage to stay aloft at night on your broom,” said the lady of the house with a bemused smile. “I must tell you your patient is vastly interested in such witchery and would be delighted to be instructed about your more unusual practices.”
“Now, Lady Beatrice.” The pretty healer laughed in feigned indignation. For most of her life Wise Sarah had lived under superstitious peasant eyes. She knew the numerous wild tales concerning her adopted mother and herself.
“I’ve told ye before that we modern day hexes don’t use those uncomfortable conveyances anymore. Why they proved to be far too drafty and terribly dangerous to ourselves. What with one good gust of wind there’s been many a good hex that’s gotten herself lost over the North Sea.” She laughed and winked impishly at the lady of the house, relishing the silliness of her own tale. She and her adopted mother had never touched a broom, let alone tried to make it fly, except to clean their plain plank floor.
“Nay, dear lady and lord, we modern sorceresses ride about in smart pony carts these days like the rest o’ ye mortals. It being far saner and safer. Though ’tis true, less romantic.”
The stranger smiled at her quaint explanation, flashing a row of healthy teeth. “But all the same, ma’am, despite your being a witch. Demme, if I’m not grateful for the service you’ve rendered me by tending to my leg.”
The pretty healer blushed under the handsome English stranger’s praise. “It was nothing, sir. Truth be told, it was mostly Lady Beatrice here who did the work, putting your leg back into place and binding it tight like she did. Aye, ’tis she you ought to be looking to when giving your thanks.”
His arctic blue eyes turned themselves upon his nemesis, the lady of the house, or the “vanithee” as he’d heard the servants refer respectfully of her in whispers. She stood proudly erect wrapping her title as lady of the manor about her like a protective cloak. Her bright green eyes the same shade as new leaves, carefully watching and observing his every word and gesture, her body rigid in anticipation to what he would say. It would be quite easy for him to slight her in front of the wise woman if he wished. But he did not.
“Tell me, is there no master of the house to greet me?” he asked, wondering if the lady was married, intrigued by her apparent aloofness. It was as if she had no one but herself to answer to for bringing home a stranger. Would not someone, her guardian or husband perhaps, wish to speak to him? To assure himself that such an unknown English stranger would not bring harm or scandal to his household? Surely there was someone?
“Aye, there be one,” the lady answered. “My father, Lord Patrick O’Brien. He is the master here. He’d like to have greeted you in person, but at present himself is suffering sorely from the gout and begs that you excuse him. In his absence, he requests that you accept his daughter’s welcome.” She then gave a short bob, in lieu of a proper deep curtsy of welcome, which was normally the due she gave to guests in her father’s house.
His eyes narrowed, he’d not missed the slight. “Ah . . . yes.” He nodded with understanding, his voice liquid cool, chilling the peat-heated room. “Considering that it was a member of his household who shot me off my mount that would be the least one could expect him to do. Don’t you agree, my lady?”
She gasped, stepping towards the ungrateful English dolt. She clenched her hands at her side, ready to give him a proper show of her famous spinster temper. “If ye’d only taken the time to look before ye leaped, we wouldn’t have had to put ye in this bed. And I’d not be saddled with the obliging care of ye!”
“Please, Lady Bea—,” intervened Wise Sarah, placing herself strategically between the attacking hostess and her wounded patient. “Behave yourself! Now what will your da say when he up and learns you tried to attack this wounded gentleman? And this time in pure aggression, if you please. One would think that you truly wished him harm.”
Chastised, Beatrice obediently took a step back. The last thing she desired was to have her father’s wrath fall upon her head. He’d warned her that if another one of her notorious escapades brought any disgrace upon the family name, he’d see to her punishment himself. A dire threat she knew he would follow through with if she were not careful.
She sighed audibly, her hands were tied. She could do nothing to dislodge this ingrate. And once more she regretted her part in acting the Good Samaritan to this English pudding-headed lout. She ought to have left him in the muck and mire where she’d found him, instead of seeing to it that he was brought here and properly tended.
In:amreading, blog post, BOOK OF THE WEEK, contemporary romance, Deal of the Week, From the Editor's Desk, Lachesis authors, Lachesis Blog, Light Paranormal Romance, paranormal romance, romance novels
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
Faith Hamilton is different. Blessed with the power to draw her ancestors from the past into the present, Faith formed a strong bond with Andrew Byrne, her charming rogue of a “relative” from pre-Revolutionary Boston. Andrew’s first visit when they were both teens led to many more over the years. But despite her close friendship with Andrew, Faith has always felt that her life would never be normal unless she made a drastic change. Now she avoids relationships with people outside her tight family circle, fearing she might be forced to reveal her ability. Instead, she tries to keep it a secret, and her private life hidden as she focuses on her career. For a while she succeeds, until she meets the sexy and dynamic Cody Simpson.
Cody is a mathematician, a man devoted to classifying and defining the world around him. Once hurt by a woman whose sole focus was her career, not the people in her life, he swore he would never allow himself to be attracted to this kind of woman again—until he meets the beautiful and captivating Faith Hamilton.
Intrigued by Cody, Faith can’t stop her growing attraction to him. Nor can she keep that charming rogue, Andrew from popping into her life whenever he chooses. As she frantically schemes to keep the two men apart, her problems multiply at home, at work, and most of all in her relationship. How long can she keep up this double life? More importantly, what will Cody think if he finds out about her magical power?
Footsteps sounded on the staircase. Faith closed her mouth on what she’d planned to say as a male figure emerged from the upper level, running lightly down the stairs. Seeing the two women he hesitated briefly, then he flashed a grin and said, “Hi.
Black hair, blue eyes, muscles in all the right places, Cody Simpson was the kind of man Chloe would appreciate as a son-in-law. He was also the kind of man Faith avoided. She smiled blandly back at him. “Hi.”
“Nice day, isn’t it?” He glanced at Faith, sweeping her with a look that catalogued every part of her, from head-to-toe. Then he deliberately looked from Faith to Chloe, his eyebrows raised.
Very much aware that the slacks she was wearing did little to minimize her height and that her blond hair had started to stray from the restraints that kept it in a tight chignon, Faith wished she knew some way of escape. She didn’t want to introduce Cody to her mother, who she knew would be intrigued by the good-looking man. She knew Cody expected to be introduced and that he wouldn’t understand why a casual, ‘Cody this is my mother, Chloe. Mom, this is Cody Simpson,’ left her frozen in terror. Each and every one of the good manners drilled into her from the time she was tiny was actively demanding she make the simple introduction. Every survival instinct was fighting back, just as intensely, telling her that she’d be a fool to open that door, even a crack.
She swallowed hard, avoided Cody’s eyes, ignored the surprised curiosity emanating from her mother, and said, “Yup.”
Cody raised his brows, then shrugged. “See you later, then.”
“Sure,” Faith said, hoping she wasn’t blushing.
Cody nodded and headed off toward the NIT offices. Faith shoved open the front door.
Outside Chloe said cheerfully, “What a gorgeous male. Who is he?”
Faith shrugged. “Our new systems guy. He lives upstairs so we hardly ever see him.”
“You know him then?”
Faith shook her head. “Not really.” A wash of heat told her that now she really was blushing. Not surprising since she’d just told her mother a whopper. Well, not a complete whopper. What she knew about Cody came from Sue Green. She respected Sue’s opinion enough that she’d wasted more than an hour or two fantasizing about dating Cody Simpson, but she didn’t actually know him the way you do when you talk to someone. Nor was she going to allow herself to get to know him. As attractive as he was, Cody Simpson wasn’t for her. Not now. Not ever.
Follow Louise Clark on facebook.
In:amreading, blog post, BOOK OF THE WEEK, contemporary romance, From the Editor's Desk, Lachesis authors, Lachesis Blog, new adult, New Adult Romance, romance books, romance fiction, romance hero, romance novels
For a Short Time is about a young woman who goes through many changes in her life, including realizing whom she truly loves.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
Keri has no idea who she really is anymore.
Raised in the Midwest, where catching frogs and shoveling manure is common practice, then spending several adult years traveling the country and hob-nobbing with celebrities and the elite, Keri returns to her roots. She now lives in her sister`s basement, wondering just who she really is anymore.
After a peculiar meeting with the Quinn cousins, Keith and Jeremy, Keri is determined to capture Keith`s attention. An actor, a tall, compelling man, elusive, even abrasive at times, Keith is particularly intriguing to a woman like Keri who is accustomed to capturing the heart of any man she`s ever wanted. Yet it was Jeremy, the humble cabinet-maker and owner of a misshapen dog named Scalawag, who leaped into a bon-fire to rescue a scrap of an old coat that had sentimental value for her.
Following two episodes with the facial disorder, Bell`s Palsy, and after Jeremy has moved out of state, possibly to run from his heartbreak over her, Keri finally realizes not only who she really is─but who she needs to become.
But is it too late?
In:amreading, blog post, BOOK OF THE WEEK, Dark Paranormal, From the Editor's Desk, Historical Paranormal Romance, historical romance, Lachesis authors, Lachesis Blog, Lachesis Publishing Inc., paranormal, paranormal romance
It’s the first book in an exciting, and romantic new series called the Auriano Curse. You will love this book as much as I do. Beautifully written and full of steamy romance, adventure, and of course a hero and heroine who are perfectly matched, MOON DARK has recently won the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence.
What It’s About:
Lady Sabrina Dunfield is desperate. Widowed and destitute, she must rely on the dubious benevolence of her secretive uncle, an art collector living in Venice. Determined to make her way and provide for her young son, Sabrina is forced to take on clandestine and dangerous errands for her tyrannical relative. But when a mysterious shadow man saves her from an assassin’s blade, she knows she must do everything in her power to keep her son safe.
Alessandro D’Este, Prince of Auriano, is cursed. Doomed to live a life half in shadow, he is determined to free himself and his family from the evil that stalks them. When Alessandro saves the English woman’s life, he is captivated by her beauty and shocked at her ability to touch him in his shadowy form.
When Sabrina meets Alessandro in his human form, heady attraction sparks between them. She has no idea he is her shadowy savior, and she wonders what her life might be like with this charismatic man. Alessandro has never met a woman who affects him this way. Although life has taught him to trust only family, Sabrina might be the key that could deliver him from the diabolical darkness.
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
In:amwriting, Author Marketing Plans, blog post, book promotion and marketing, From the Editor's Desk, Lachesis authors, Lachesis Blog, Lachesis Publishing Inc., Marketing and Promotion, Marketing your book, Social Media, Social Media and Marketing
Laurie Parish is a Customer Centric Champion at Hootsuite. What does that mean? She offers support and guidance to customers who use the Hootsuite social media platform and she helps them get better results for their own businesses through the products that Hootsuite offers.
What is Hootsuite? Hootsuite is a social relationship platform that empowers users to execute social media strategies across their organizations. Hootsuite‘s vision is to revolutionize communications; their mission is to empower our customers to transform messages into meaningful relationships.
Lachesis: Tell us about your background and how you came to Hootsuite?
Laurie Parish: My background is in selling and supporting the printing process. I studied journalism after high school but fell in love with the way books are created instead. I went from setting type to selling million dollar software and hardware systems to printers.
When print started to wane I began to look for new places to move my career. Being at Hootsuite is exciting and new. Today’s marketeers are embracing social media for not only increasing brand awareness but to decrease risk in their organizational activities.
Laurie Parish: I suppose it seems like a long time. Hootsuite was established in 2008 (yesterday for me) when our CEO Ryan Holmes was trying to manage all of his social networks and finding it too big a task. We now have 15 million users worldwide! Our vision is to help organizations and individuals create meaningful relationships from their social presence. I call it PR in your PJs. We offer a way to not only organize your social networks but to understand who is engaging with you via those channels. We provide tools and metrics that encourage collaboration within marketing teams. And most importantly we are one of the only social platforms to provide free education and training on social media.
Lachesis: Ten years ago – an author could post something on his/her facebook page or twitter once a day and that would have been enough to sell books – but that is no longer the case – how can Hootsuite help authors build their audiences online – in an effective way – so that they have plenty of time to write?
Laurie Parish: First of all let me say we are completely mobile. We even have a Chrome extension that let’s you post right from an interesting URL. Posting to all of your social networks from your mobile device with one click saves so much time because you can do it from wherever you are. Once you’ve published then you can sit back and monitor your Hootsuite dashboard streams to see the impact in real time. Monitoring your streams lets you find your main influencers/markets so you can target messaging directly to them in future posts. Every writer should take time to build their personal brand and then manage it. It’s not always about promotion, it’s also about thought leadership. Hootsuite has ways to help you curate content and show off that leadership to your audience. Be proactive, be creative, be passionate.
Laurie Parish: I work with our strategic accounts so only accounts over $100,000.00. Which means I don’t always get to hear the stories about how everyday people use us. But those stories are out there and here’s a link to a case study about how a little independent film used Hootsuite to grow an audience with almost no budget. They built brand awareness and “buzz” for an unreleased movie, created a network of fans for the film, sustained the campaign for over a year and implemented the entire strategy within a $1000 monthly budget.
Lachesis: Okay let’s talk about price. What does it cost for Hootsuite – and is it affordable for indie authors who are on a budget?
Laurie Parish: One of the main reasons for our success is our Freemium version. Yes, that’s right . . . getting started with us is absolutely free. That’s how I was introduced to Hootsuite. No credit card mambo either. Next tier is the Pro version which is about $10./mo. Then we move on to the larger scale plans for enterprise and small to medium sized businesses. But the best bang for no money is our Hootsuite Academy. Learn everything you need to know about social FOR FREE. Find that here: Hootsuite Education Courses
Check out this article for more info: The Creative’s Guide to Launching a Project on Social Media.
Laurie Parish: Right now I’m reading Ian Brown’s 60. It’s an incredibly interesting look at the Globe’s columnist life in his 60th year. Men think about really odd things. That’s all I’ll say.
Lachesis: What are your favourite kinds of posts that you enjoy reading or seeing on social media?
Laurie Parish: I follow the Bangor Police on Facebook. Those posts are so funny and insightful that I never miss one. TC (the writer) is doing much for making Maine cops part of the community that they live and work in.
Lachesis: You are on social media a lot – but tell us what are some pet peeves you have about what you see on social media?
Laurie Parish: Can I just say that I’m so over the “# of way to do this or that” posts? I see that as a headline and I move on. Also, if a company or brand that I follow never posts about anything other than themselves I get very very bored. I hate boring.
Lachesis: BONUS QUESTION: I know you’re a baker extraordinaire and you also have a home-based bakery business – what is the most popular item that people order from you and what is YOUR favourite sweet indulgence? J
Laurie Parish: Scones. I make loads and loads of scones. Pumpkin spice, blueberry, raspberry, apple, chocolate chip… you name it. My not so secret passion is pie. My favourite thing to do is drive out into the country in search of home baked pie. Pie is one of the hardest baked goods to get right. My grandmother was a pastry chef so I’m spoiled.
In:amreading, amwriting, Author Marketing Plans, bestselling author, Bestselling Authors, blog post, Book Cover Design, Book Cover Designer, Book Cover Designers, Book cover promotion, Book Covers, book promotion and marketing, Cover Design, From the Editor's Desk, Graphic Design, Graphic Designer, Lachesis Blog, Marketing and Promotion, Marketing your book, Publishing industry
Welcome to our third and final feature on the Killion Group, a dynamic full service company that specializes in brand marketing for authors from idea to execution. Today we’re chatting with Kim Killion, the founder of The Killion Group and Hot Damn Designs and a successful romance author in her own right. Kim Killion is the dynamo behind The Killion Group and her vision has helped to build the company into the powerhouse it is today.
Tell us about your background and how and why you started The Killion Group .
Out of high school, I studied near Kansas City, MO for my degrees. I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts, a Certificate in Web Design, and I’m an Adobe Certified Expert (equivalent to a Masters in Adobe).
I have nearly 27 years of design and teaching experience. For several years after college, I worked in the design depts. of some major financial companies. After starting a family, I began teaching Graphic Design in St. Louis. I really loved (still love) teaching and did so for 13 yrs.
I began writing in 1998 and in 2005, I joined the St. Louis RWA ® Chapter. About 2009-ish, some of the women in the Chapter needed some design work done. Mostly websites, as the Indie movement hadn’t taken full-hold yet. But as I did more of that side-work/design, I found a terrible lack of historical stock images. With help from local authors, I borrowed enough historical clothing and props and hired a photographer –and held a 2 day, 16 hr, photoshoot! Hot Damn Designs and Hot Damn Stock were born.
By 2011, I was busier than I could imagine and decided to stop teaching and go full-time designing. I then hired a web tech, another designer (a student actually who was the top of the graduating class), and then hired Jenn to help keep us all organized.
What services does The Killion Group offer authors?
We offer everything (every service) a publishing house offers, but we work strictly on a flat fee basis. Meaning, the author keeps all her royalties.
Here is a full list of services and our prices: http://thekilliongroupinc.com/services/
We pride ourselves on knowing what it’s like to be “that” author because both Jenn and I were where they are! We know what it feels like and want to let clients know we’re there for them to help them make the best of their book from start to finish.
That includes everything from cover to uploading the book for them if they want.
We want authors to be able to write and we can do the rest – or authors can pick and choose what they’d like help with.
You also have an amazing stock photo site – called Hot Damn Stock – tell us about that.
How it started is mostly talked about above, but I’m still very proud to have one of the largest selections of romance / genre based images. We have close to 40,000 images, in 15 different genre. www.hotdamnstock.com
We try to have a shoot every 6-8 weeks, so we are always adding new faces and costumes.
We have a big 2 day shoot coming up the first part of November! Very exited!
Your client roster includes both authors and publishers – you have more than 2,000 clients – what canThe Killion Group do for an author or publisher that can really propel them forward and boost their careers?
The list of authors who came to use as writers who KNEW they had talent but were repeatedly turned away by Houses because their genre wasn’t “trending” is beyond lengthy. A good number (about 75% of them) are now Best Selling Authors. NY Times or USA Today Best Selling. And while I fully believe the talent these women have is awesome, I’d like to think that the professional cover design and knowledge of what sells a cover and why (the technical stuff), helped them achieve their ranking.
The covers have won several awards too, so that makes them and me feel very proud.
Okay let’s talk about price. We know the old saying: You have to spend money to make money – but a lot of authors are on a limited budget – what can you offer authors who may not have the big funds for a splashy campaign?
To start with, we haven’t raised our Cover Design prices in 5 yrs. We’re still at $135 for eCover and $75 more to add a spine/back cover.
In fact, we’ve just LOWERED our formatting prices AND increased the design elements of the formatting.
We still say, write a good book and get a professional cover. That’s your best campaign.
Aside from that, we offer some Social Media work (Facebook and Twitter – designs and marketing) as well as NetGalley spots for Reviews and/or Review campaigns.
We keep our prices low and only have a 1 hr min. for our PR work.
We also offer Blurb/ Back Cover Copy writing service. Because let’s be honest, those are hard and yet are one of the first things a potential reader will see.
You’re an indie author and you write medieval romance – tell us about your style and what your favourite Kim Killion book is?
Though I do love Her One Desire ( I wanted it titled The Executioner’s Daughter) and it was my RITA® book, Highland Dragon is still my favorite.
You began as a traditionally published author with Kensington Publishing – before you transitioned to indie – what advice would you give an author who was thinking of going indie?
LOL. Well, I say if you like having control of your work, then go for it! I wasn’t unhappy with Kensington and have designed for them, so we have a good relationship still to this day.
However, my Kensington covers were nothing like what they should have been… ie: the models weren’t right for the characters. And I think all Traditionally published authors have gone through that experience.
Indie gives the author complete control of your work. And the lion’s share of the profit.
And now that I am getting my rights back to my titles, I am giving them the covers (and the titles) that I wanted.
What are three things that you believe every newbie or struggling author should do to build readership?
*Learn your writing craft. Take classes, read how-to books and join a critique group.
*Get a good cover.
*And then, be ‘real’ with your readers. Be fun and don’t always talk about Buy My Book. I still think a “grass-roots” approach is the best. Get to know your readers. Become friends. If you realize they are people who love your writing as much as you do – not a nameless/faceless person with money – I think that’s how you build a loyal readership. They become your book family. J
Who are some of your favourite authors and why?
The wonderful Betrice Small was my favorite and first romance read. She opened a whole world to me …literally!
BONUS QUESTION: Finish this statement: Red heads are awesome because . . .
They are full of fire and unstoppable when they want something!
In:amreading, amwriting, Bestselling Authors, Bestselling Authors Q and A, blog post, CHILDREN'S PARANORMAL, From the Editor's Desk, Kids paranormal, Lachesis Blog, paranormal, Supernatural, Teen supernatural, YA Fantasy, YA paranormal
C.J. Redwine is the New York Times bestselling author of YA fantasy novels, including The Shadow Queen, The Wish Granter, and the Defiance trilogy. If the novel writing gig ever falls through, she’ll join the Avengers and wear a cape to work every day. Visit her website: www.cjredwine.com
Welcome C. J.!
You’re a YA fantasy author – tell us how you became a writer and how you first got published.
I’ve been writing stories since I was in the second grade. By the time I was a teenager, I was filling spiral notebooks with stories, ideas, poems, and even lists of words that I loved. Book Nerd FTW!
I graduated from college with a degree in English and my teaching credential. Even though I loved to write and wanted to be published one day, I had no real idea how to accomplish that, and I needed a career that paid the bills. I taught high school for a few years, got married, had children, and life became one non-stop loop of no-sleep-keep-the-boys-from-starting-the-apocalypse-I-don’t-know-how-to-brain-anymore. It wasn’t until I was thirty and facing a cancer diagnosis that I stopped and evaluated what I was doing. I realized that I’d been waiting for life to slow down and give me the perfect opportunity to write books, but that’s not what life does. If you want something, you have to make it happen or move on to another dream.
So I wrote my first novel, which is a monstrosity that no one will ever read. I joined writer’s groups. Went to conferences. And learned as much as I could about the craft of writing and about the publishing process. I wrote a second book, queried literary agents, and signed with my amazing agent. I expected that book would sell, but it didn’t. I wrote another book, and that book didn’t sell either. I’d been with my agent for over two years without a sale, while others sold in a matter of weeks. I kept picking my self-confidence up off the ground, dusting it off, and telling myself that I could do this.
When I wrote my next book, I turned it in to my agent, fully expecting to hear a slew of “no’s” once it went on submission to editors. Instead, my agent called me to tell me the book was going to auction with four houses bidding on it. I just cried. It was so surreal. It took months for the fact that I’d sold a series to sink in!
My book THE SHADOW QUEEN, which is a dark epic fantasy inspired by the Snow White fairy tale, hit the list at #5. I went out to dinner with my family to celebrate. 🙂
I know that you’re published with Balzer and Bray (a Harper Collins imprint) but you’ve also written a book and indie-published it – called Query: Everything You Need To Get Started, Get Noticed, and Get Signed. Tell us about that and why you wanted to write a book about how to break into the industry?
I’ve been teaching writing workshops for years. I love to teach! And I realized there were a lot of up and coming writers who’d never be able to attend one of my workshops. So I decided to put my query workshop into book form so that anyone who needed a step by step process for how to write a query letter that gets results would have it at their fingertips.
The annual retreat is open to any writers who register. We’re currently accepting names on a wait list for next year’s retreat C. J. REDWINE’S WRITER’S SANCTUARY WRITING RETREAT). It’s a fabulous event full of workshops, critiques, time to write, and delicious home cooked food. I also travel to conferences, book festivals, writer’s events, and libraries to give workshops.
My boys are teens, and they think it’s cool that I’m a writer. Sometimes they even read my books (and then complain about how awkward it is to read a kissing scene written by your mom). My girls are in first grade and preschool, so they don’t really understand what it means to be published. But they do know that I write books, and they love to fold paper together and make their own books. 🙂
It’s very competitive out there with traditionally published authors and indie authors and authors who do both! Writing a good book is of course important – but aside from that – how can a newbie or emerging author find their own place in a sea of so many successful authors?
It’s important to figure out where your readers are and connect with them. One great way to connect is to make sure that your social media presence revolves around passions of yours that are also passions of readers who’d love your books. For example, I write fantasy. I love Grimm, Supernatural, The Flash, The Avengers etc, and I talk about those things. I’m part of the Harry Potter fandom. Of course I share other aspects of my life too, but I make sure to share the things that I know are shorthand for readers who love the same things I do. I also think networking with other authors and doing shared events or book festivals is a great way to meet new readers!
My next book is THE WISH GRANTER, a dark epic fantasy inspired by the tale of Rumpelstiltskin in which a bastard princess must take on a dangerous fae to save her brother without losing both her brother and her soul.
What do you love to read in your downtime?
Everything! I read widely. My favorite genres at the moment are thrillers, horror, and contemporary, and of course I always adore a great fantasy. I find so much inspiration in reading outside of my genre.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Literally everywhere. I’m constantly seeing interesting things that make me ask “What if …?” or I hear a piece of music that sparks a conversation between characters or an image of a world … I carry a notebook at all times because my head is a very busy place.
I love character actors! My faves are Benedict Cumberbatch, John Noble, Tom Hiddleston, Johnny Depp, and Bill Nighy. Also I fangirl over fictional characters like nobody’s business. Batman. Loki. Iron Man. Wonder Woman. Dean Winchester. I could go on, but you get the point.
Everyday people and situations provide fodder for Maeve Christopher’s imagination. Keep asking “what if” and “why”, and the plot thickens. What could be more fun?
She currently lives in Massachusetts with a number of messy subplots and Freddie the tiger cat.
Maeve Christopher’s Redemption Series is part family saga, part suspense and part love story — with the touch of the Supernatural.
My journal came out of its hiding place at the back of my desk drawer almost every day of my childhood. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t write little stories, or make up stories about people I encountered in life. I almost never shared them.
There’s a big difference between being a writer and taking that step to becoming a published author. I think for most of us, writing is as natural as breathing. We can’t not write. For many people, stories stay in their journals or in their heads. I was always convinced that would be the case for me. I pursued science studies and a career in health care.
One day a new patient showed up in my office. Under “occupation” he listed “editor” for a prominent New York publisher. I still remember how excited I became (even more than the time I met Phil Collins!) I asked him to tell me all about his job, then went on and on about how much fun, how exciting being an editor must be, how thrilling to work with authors, etc. etc.
When I took a moment to breathe, he asked, “Do you want to write a book?”
I was stunned silent, then burst into nervous laughter. My mind said, “Of course I do! Doesn’t everyone?” But I quickly said something like, “That’ll be the day.” Funny, but that moment was a turning point for me. I began to think it could be possible.
It was years later when I finally gave myself permission to write with the intention to publish. Unfortunately, by that time the editor had long since retired and relocated. And when my 800 word saga was complete, it had everyone’s point of view, including the dog. When I gave it to a dear friend to read, she kindly said, “You might have something here.”
Many years and revisions later that effort became the basis of the first three books of The Redemption Series. I’m so grateful when I think about that editor who asked the question that started me on this writing journey. Now I can’t wait to share my stories!
Maeve Christopher is the author of the upcoming Lachesis Publishing release A RING AND A PRAYER Book 1 of the Golden Bowl Series, an inspirational women’s fiction novel with romantic elements, plenty of laughs, action and twist and turns. Stay tuned for more details!
In:blog post, Book Cover Designers, Book Covers, book trailers, Cover Design, From the Editor's Desk, Graphic Design, Lachesis Blog, Marketing and Promotion, Marketing your book, romance books, romance fiction, romance novels, romance publishing industry
For the next three Wednesdays, we’ll be doing a special feature with The Killion Group, a dynamic full service company that specializes in brand marketing for authors from idea to execution. Today we’re chatting with Shelly Willmann, a very talented graphic designer at Killion.
LP: Welcome Shelly!
SW: Hi Joanna! It’s a pleasure to meet you! Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to talk about The Killion Group, Inc, and a little about what I do!
LP: Tell us about your background and how you came to work with The Killion Group.
SW: My background in art began when I was a kid. I drew portraits, mostly. By the time I graduated high school I had drawn and sold a lot of portraits, and had developed a growing interest in photography as an art form. I began college on an art scholarship, and graduated with a BA in Photography at Webster University in St. Louis. My professors kept pressing the issue that technology was rapidly changing, and the photography industry was headed into the digital age. They predicted that film would soon be a thing of the past. As a photographer who lived and breathed film, so-to-speak, that was my cue to enrol in a graphic design program where I could manipulate images with my expert photography skills in a digital darkroom — Photoshop! Moving toward graphic design was one of the best decisions I ever made. That is when I met my college instructor, Kim Killion. She and Jeff Appel ran the graphic design program where they taught me everything I needed to know to work professionally in the field.
Soon after I graduated college I began working in the textbook publishing industry as an illustrator and a production artist, and in a media department that produced online textbooks. I tested software, proofread texts, and designed interfaces. During that time I began pursuing a masters degree in Media Literacy, which enhanced my ability to visually communicate through a critical perspective.
In 2012, Kim asked me to come work for her company, The Killion Group, Inc. Of course, I agreed, and have been designing for her ever since.
LP: What is your creative process – that takes you from the a blank “canvas” computer screen to the finished visual realization of a book?
SW: My creative process first involves research and understanding of each client’s specific goals. First, I read through the questionnaire that we give to each client to understand what the client envisions for the project. I visit the author’s websites and social media pages to get an idea about their online presence, which tells me a great deal about who they are, and how they relate to their readers. With that information, I am able to start designing. I search and download the images from stock photo sites, choose appropriate fonts, typographical styles, arrange it all, and then launch into the actual design in Photoshop, and that’s how it essentially comes together on the canvas.
SW: In my opinion, the cover’s intended message is the key element that needs to be visually communicated, and accomplishing that involves a complex process. The possibilities are endless, but it basically requires using whatever appropriate design tools necessary to inform the reader in a flash about who the author is, the title, the genre, or for example if it’s romantic, historical, morose, hopeful, action-packed, dark, mysterious, etc…
One of the ways we designers achieve this goal is through a sophisticated use and understanding of typography.
We very carefully select fonts, keeping in mind which ones are best suited for particular genres, and which ones are best for evoking certain emotions. Fonts often tend to convey feelings, movement or static, and when they are cleverly styled they can make a cover really pop. I could go on and on about the importance of typography, and Kim has taught entire college courses on this very subject. We do value typography as a crucial design element because it can make or break an effective design.
Another very important design element is one that is not seen. It’s that magical way we use design techniques to grab the audience’s attention, leading their eyes around the composition on a path to the main focus areas, hitting on all the important things, and in the right order. When someone is looking around, back and forth all over the cover, and searching for a way to see a cover as a whole, and not knowing where to settle their eyes, then the design didn’t work. An effective cover design should visually connect all the elements together seamlessly, and in a way similar to how information is read in a news article — by seeing the most important information first.
We know the cover is the first thing someone sees when deciding to buy a book. Most people tend to judge a book by it’s cover as the saying goes. (I’m no exception either!!) A poorly designed cover will inadvertently suggest to the reader that the story inside is a reflection of the cover. That’s not an accurate representation, but it’s what people tend to believe. One of my clients told me that the cover I recently designed for her was the reason her book sold so well. Many of her 5-star reviewers said the reason they bought her book was because the attractive cover design caught their attention, which ultimately lead them to read the blurb, and buy the book. That’s exactly what you want to aim for!
SW: More than anyone, it was the people I came in contact with in my life who influenced me the most. I give much credit to my teachers and professors who encouraged and supported me along the way. My high school art teacher, Victoria (Vicky) Cummings sent me to high school art workshops at St. Louis University and Washington University, which opened up my mind and world-view. She selected me for these opportunities, and I am so humbled and grateful!
Kim Killion was my graphic design instructor in college who taught me everything about graphic design and she is the reason why I am where I am today! She’s still an influence! I didn’t know where to begin teaching my 8-year old son how to use Photoshop so she told me how to teach him. He’s like a pro now! She is so talented, too. I often download her Photoshop files and turn off the layers one-by-one trying to uncover her creative process! It’s like discovering treasure!
My photography professor, Susan Hacker Stang, studied directly under photographers, Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind at RISD. She explained how light and color affect a photograph—how color is light, and how it bounces around an image and scatters all over the place. During critiques she helped me to see that my photographic style had a cinematic feel running through it. I think that’s one of the reasons why I enjoy designing book covers so much. I apply that dramatic, cinematic look to cover designs when it’s appropriate, making them appear as if they are energetic moving images that have been frozen in time.
Art Silverblatt, my media communications professor who literally wrote the book on Media Literacy, greatly influenced how I use production values when designing covers. I’m always constantly aware of things like showing power or submissiveness through camera angles, the emotional and psychological impact of using certain colors, or considering that the top right hemisphere of an image is usually where the human eye naturally looks first. These are just a few things out of many that I consider. It’s been enlightening!
Lastly, but not least is Ali Cavanaugh who was in 6th grade with me. She loved to draw, too, but after that year I never saw her again. Years later I saw her high school art portfolio displayed at an art gallery. She had mastered color at such a young age, boldly controlling it, and using it with confidence. Seeing her work had pushed me to gain a better understanding of color.
Just a few months ago, I reconnected with her on Facebook! (She does beautiful watercolor portraits. Find her on FB, you will see!) After all these years I didn’t think she’d remember me, but I told her how she influenced me and my art career. To my astonishment, she was so happy to hear from me. She, too, had wondered about me all these years. She reminded me of my drawing of an ear that had pushed her to challenge herself more as an artist. It blesses me to think that two little girls in 6th grade passing through one another’s lives in one semester could inspire each other in such a way!
LP: What are some of YOUR favourite covers that YOU designed?
SW: These are some of my favorite covers. It was hard to decide which ones to single out. I connect with each author on some level when designing their covers, and so they feel like friends to me! Authors put so much effort and time into writing their books, and to finally have that cover is really exciting for both of us. Some authors have told me they are so excited to get the covers that it makes them want to write more books just so they can have another book cover 🙂 That makes my job so fun and rewarding when they enjoy it as much as I do.
I am proud to say that one of my first projects was designing the Killion Group logo 🙂 (see at the top of this post).
LP: Indie publishing has become very popular. Some indie authors are either creating their own covers or they may ask a friend with some design knowledge or technical ability to design one for them – what you do you think about that? And why do you think indie authors should consider a professional designer when it comes to their cover?
SW: Kim Killion is a traditionally published, award-winning author herself who designed her own book covers, but she is also a professional graphic designer with years of experience and expertise to back her up. She knows book covers. An indie author should consider hiring a professional designer who has plenty of experience designing book covers. If designers aren’t familiar with the industry they can run into a long list of unnecessary pitfalls such as titles that are hard to read in thumbnail images, or covers that just don’t convey the intended message as effectively as they should because of poor production values. That takes a special expertise to avoid these issues.
SW: I love what I do! I’ve always been drawn to the book publishing industry. Working for the Killion Group gives me the opportunity to use every single talent and skill that I have. What an awesome feeling! It’s an honor that I get to help authors tell their stories in a visual sense. I am also a people-person, and enjoy communicating with authors every day. I feel like I am part of their production teams. I really enjoy working with Kim, too. I consult with her everyday about current clients. Skype has been great. We connect and share computer screens online. It’s as if she’s in my living room even though she’s actually a couple states away.
LP: What are you currently working on and what do you have coming down the road?
SW: I’m currently finishing up a cover for a military time travel romance. Down the road I’m looking forward to designing a 3-book series bundle.
LP: Your “day job” is very creative – so how do you spend your downtime?
SW: I usually work while my 3 kids are in school – ages 4, 7, and 8, then I quit working when they come home in the afternoon, but when I get a chance, I read and watch music videos 🙂 I’ve found music videos to be particularly inspiring for designing covers. The music and the moving images sort of imprint on my mind, and I pull from that as a creative resource when designing.
LP: BONUS QUESTION: What is your favourite go-to snack when you’re in “design mode”?
SW: OH! Currently, I have a bag of chile-spiced dried mango from Trader Joe’s that I snack-on sitting next to my computer!
- September 2017 (3)
- August 2017 (6)
- July 2017 (5)
- June 2017 (3)
- May 2017 (5)
- April 2017 (6)
- March 2017 (5)
- February 2017 (5)
- January 2017 (5)
- December 2016 (3)
- November 2016 (7)
- October 2016 (12)
- September 2016 (12)
- August 2016 (9)
- July 2016 (7)
- June 2016 (12)
- May 2016 (13)
- April 2016 (12)
- March 2016 (13)
- February 2016 (17)
- January 2016 (17)
- December 2015 (14)
- November 2015 (21)
- October 2015 (20)
- September 2015 (19)
- August 2015 (21)
- July 2015 (23)
- June 2015 (21)
- May 2015 (8)
- April 2015 (17)
- March 2015 (17)
- February 2015 (17)
- January 2015 (19)
- December 2014 (13)
- November 2014 (22)
- October 2014 (25)
- September 2014 (24)
- August 2014 (20)
- July 2014 (23)
- June 2014 (21)
- May 2014 (22)
- April 2014 (22)
- March 2014 (2)
- No categories