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Bestselling Indie Authors: Q and A with Kathryn Le Veque (historical romance author)

Author Kathryn Le Veque
Author Kathryn Le Veque

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

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

51eINN3qkcL._SX355_BO1,204,203,200_KLV: Currently, I have 73 published novels, collections, and bundles. Out of that group, 62 have hit #1 on Amazon for any length of time in Medieval Historical Romance, Scottish Historical Romance, or Ancient Historical Romance. This means they were there for one day or, in the case of my novel NETHERWORLD, held #1 for six weeks in July and August of 2014. Most recently, I was part of the USA Today bestselling collection WITH DREAMS ONLY OF YOU that hit the USA Today bestselling list in July 2015. As for the Amazon Author’s Ranking, I have consistently been in the top 10 authors in Historical Romance since February 2014 and in 2015, I have been fortunate enough to remain in the top 5. As of today, I’ve been #1 for three days, so I’m extremely grateful for my readers and their love of my books.

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

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

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

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

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

51fVkSaCj8L._SX302_BO1,204,203,200_KLV: Early in my career, I was big on writing contemporary adventure. Clive Cussler is one of my favorite authors and I really wanted to write what he wrote, so a lot of my earlier works are modern adventures. I wrote an entire series about a female Navy S.E.A.L. back in the ’80s before it became popular to write Military Romance. It was written long-hand on spiral notebooks, which I just recently had my assistant type up, so we may see them published yet. But in the early ’90s, I read a book called THE FALCON AND THE FLOWER by Virginia Henley, and that changed the course of my life. After reading that book, I felt such a connection with Medieval England that I began to read everything I could on it. Then, I started writing in the genre. I don’t consider myself an ‘expert’ on Medieval England, but simply a student of the era. It’s difficult to explain my love for the period but I think the best way to explain it is to say that I’m fascinated with the post-conquest era because it’s a period in Man’s history where he was just coming out of the darkness and trying to find his way into the light. So much growth as civilization became more refined. The period was raw and rugged and brutal, so it’s a testament of Mankind’s strength. It was either do or die. And I find that inspiring.

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 8.06.02 AMPromotion is an important part of every author’s work routine. What do authors need to do – hands down – to promote their books?

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

51BxN3YofVL._SX356_BO1,204,203,200_You’re an indie author – independently published author. How did that come about?

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

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

515+K7LSlaL._SX345_BO1,204,203,200<1KLV: Here’s actually the breakdown on what I’ve published to date because I need to update my numbers – 57 published novels (individual) and 16 collections (either bundles of my own novels or bundles with other authors). I will publish my 58th novel (SWORDS AND SHIELDS) on November 6. My day usually starts about 7 am where I go through emails and conduct other business for a couple of hours before jumping into writing. I usually do between 3k to 8k a day (depending on how strongly the muse is singing), and I don’t stop until about 7 or 8 at night. That’s when I’m on a deadline. When I’m in between books (I usually take about a week off in between), then it’s revising covers, working with my editor, doing administrative stuff, and things like that. I have two assistants and one editor who work for me but there still aren’t enough hours in the day! Ah, to clone myself!

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

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

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

TT-button31-1KLV: I have so many authors friends whom I’d like to see just explode because they’re so darn good at what they do – Suzan Tisdale, Eliza Knight, Christi Caldwell, Meara Platt, Scarlet Cole, Violetta Rand, Barbara Devlin, Victoria Zak, Christina McKnight, Amanda Mariel, Hildie McQueen, Christy English . . . I could go on and on. But one author in particular comes to mind – author Victoria Vane writes westerns but her heart is in historicals. For some reason, they really haven’t gotten off the ground for her but she is a phenomenal historical writer. Her historical novels are well worth the read.

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

Free on kindle and audibles
Free on kindle and audibles

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

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

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

51WbhbpYrSL._SX358_BO1,204,203,200_KLV: My next release is called SWORDS AND SHIELDS, available now on pre order at Amazon (Release date Nov. 6, 2015). It’s a novel about a reluctant bride and reluctant groom who end up not being able to live without each other and face some pretty serious tribulations during Edward I’s wars in Scotland. After that, I have one more release for 2015, DARK DESTROYER (Release date Dec. 24, 2015)  about a legendary warrior and rake who meets his match in love. and then I’m into 2016 where I already have 9 novels scheduled. I am scheduled out until 2020, which is normal for me. I have so many books to write – because that’s just the way my brain works – that I have to plan out at least four or five years in advance. In that sense, I’m very organized. With so much material, I have to be. My website contains lots of information about this at www.kathrynleveque.com.

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

51BwKOxnKwL._SX354_BO1,204,203,200_KLV: What’s weird (or maybe not so weird) is that I already ‘know’ these people. I have created them, every single one of the, so I know everything about them. I can have conversations with them because I know exactly what they would say. But if I could meet one, it would be Matthew Wellesbourne from THE WHITE LORD OF WELLESBOURNE. He’s my favorite – a man of uncommon compassion and humor. What’s not to love?

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

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

Thank you so much for having me!

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

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The Book That Hooked You: Q and A with Joe McKinney (horror, sci-fi, and crime author)

Author Joe McKinney
Author Joe McKinney

In our ongoing series THE BOOK THAT HOOKED YOU at the Lachesis Publishing Daily Blog we feature Q and As with established and successful authors who tell us about the books and authors they love as well as telling us about the books they are working on.

Today’s Q and A features Joe McKinney, the multi-talented and a Bram Stoker Award winning author (multiple times) of horror fiction, science fiction and crime thrillers. Joe McKinney is based in San Antonio where he is a sergeant for the San Antonio Police Department where he helps to run their 911 Dispatch Center. He has been a homicide detective and a disaster mitigation specialist. 

$_35200px-Sc48Take us back to when you first discovered horror and science fiction. When did you become a reader? How old were you? What were some of the books that made an impact on you?

JM: My gateway drug was Stewart Cowley’s SPACEWRECK. An absolutely beautiful book. Every page featured a full size colored painting of some eerie, abandoned spaceship. There was a two or three page short story to go with each painting, and I would spend hours going through them. I must have read that book a thousand times. I think I was seven when I first found that book, and after that I went into Robert Heinlein’s juveniles. My favorite of those was SPACE CADET.

51lQEI1IcrL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_bl_26_ebookimg-swan-song_134432244231Tell us about a few of the authors who inspired you, when you first started in your own writing career?

JM: One big inspiration was Lee Thomas. We met at a convention in Dallas shortly after I published my first novel, and we’ve been friends ever since. Lee has been through just about joy and nightmare the publishing world can throw at an author, and he was a tremendous mentor. As to authors who inspired me, I’d have to point to Robert McCammon. His early works were amazing takes on classic horror tropes, like vampires and zombies and werewolves. But after that, he went into these fantastically lush novels like Boy’s Life and Swan Song that set the bar impossibly high. When I write, I push myself to try to be that good.


51XeozUmMVL._UY250_
51zJ3HUbaCL._SX309_BO1,204,203,200_You write horror, science fiction, and crime novels. Tell us what draws you to those three genres?

JM: You know, I think the genre finds you and not the other way around. It’s like water finding its own level. You end up in horror because you have to be there. I’m a pretty upbeat guy most of the time, and I try to have a great deal of fun in everything I do, but when I write, it just ends up going to dark places. I wish I could give you a better answer than that, but that’s about the size of it.

Image of Joe McKinney perpetualpublishing.com
Image of Joe McKinney perpetualpublishing.com

You’re a police supervisor in your “day job”. How does your very challenging police work impact your writing?

JM: Well, police work has colored my entire writing career. Not only because a lot of my characters tend to be cops, but also my approach to characters. In fact, I think it’s impossible to underestimate the influence it’s had on my writing. You can’t do this job without it changing you in a fundamental way. Maybe that’s where the dark stuff comes from.

51JOK-Blf7L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Tell us about a book that you’ve read recently (past year) that blew you away (can be from any genre).

JM: That’s easy. 14 by Peter Clines was an amazing science fiction adventure story with a crazy Lovecraftian turn at the end. A young man is looking for a cheap apartment in the heart of LA. He finds one, but after he moves in, finds one odd quark of the building after another. Any one of them wouldn’t amount to much, but when taken in their totality, they add up to a mystery with shades of a government conspiracy and cosmic horror. Trust me, one of the best times I’ve ever had between the covers of a book. I also loved The Martian by Andy Weir and Ready Player One by Earnest Cline.

A 1939 Underwood Typewriter found on etsy.com https://www.etsy.com/listing/82465142/vintage-typewriter-1939-underwood-master
A 1939 Underwood Typewriter found on etsy.com https://www.etsy.com/listing/82465142/vintage-typewriter-1939-underwood-master

What is the coolest thing a reader has ever said (or done) for you?

JM: I once wrote a magic typewriter story called “Writing for Exposure.” A fan of mine enjoyed it so much he found a 1939 Underwood typewriter, completely restored it, and sent it to me as a gift. It has a special place of honor on the shelf in my office.

510hvfHPSeL._SX296_BO1,204,203,200_You’ve won the Bram Stoker Award twice now – tell us about your books that won and how you feel about being on that illustrious list?

The first time I won was for my novel Flesh Eaters. That’s the origin story for my zombie series, The Dead World. You can probably tell from what I’ve written above that I’m a huge Robert McCammon fan. Well, he was one of the presenters for the award, and when I went up to the stage to receive it, McCammon leaned in and whispered, “Great job, Joe. I love your book.” I nearly fainted right there. To this day, that remains one of my finest writing moments ever.

51QLxzTbdLL._SX302_BO1,204,203,200_Tell us about your latest release THE DEAD WON’T DIE (part of an ongoing series) Tell us about the book and the series.

JM: The Dead Won’t Die is Book 2 in my new zombie series, The Deadlands. It’s been thirty years since the zombie apocalypse, and only little pockets of humanity have survived. One of those communities is a place called Arbella. Arbella has not only survived, but thrived, and now they are getting so big they need to expand. The trouble is, nobody knows what’s out there. So, one of the up and coming members of the community, First Deputy of the Constabulary Jacob Carlton, organizes an expedition to go explore the Deadlands. In the first book Jacob and his friend Kelly Banis barely survive their encounter with the nomadic communities that wander the Deadlands. They are rescued by a super advanced society called Temple. The Dead Won’t Die takes us into a vast conspiracy that is threatening to destroy Temple from the inside out. Fun stuff, with tons of zombie action thrown in to boot.

THE-RETREAT-both-coversWhat are you currently working on and when can we expect it to be released?

JM: I’m currently finishing up Book 3 in a series that I’m writing with Craig DiLouie and Stephen Knight. My installment is called Die Laughing. The series takes place in the present day, along the Eastern seaboard. A new disease called The Bug appears on the scene, and it turns its victims into unspeakably cruel and viscous killers. The disease victims are called Klowns because they cannot control their laughter. It’s how they process pain, both their own and their victims. A battalion of light infantry is in Boston when the series starts, tasked with protecting the populace. But they never had a chance, and now they are in full retreat. The first book was about getting out of Boston. The second book was about the rolling gunfight that got them to Philadelphia. That’s where I pick it up.

You’re a writer of horror and crime and sci-fi. What truly scares you?

JM: Well, snakes and heights. But those are just things that give me the creeps. When I think about things that truly terrify me, I think about Alzheimer’s disease. I watched my grandfather die of that, seeing his mind taken from him just scared me to death. Now that I’m older, the fear is even stronger.

Bonus: What is your “go-to” snack when you’re writing?

JM: Popcorn. Definitely popcorn.

limbus-inc-coverJoe McKinney is the San Antonio-based author of several horror, crime and science fiction novels. His longer works include the four part Dead World series, made up of Dead City, Apocalypse of the Dead, Flesh Eaters and The Zombie King; the science fiction disaster tale, Quarantined, which was nominated for the Horror Writers Association’s Bram Stoker Award for superior achievement in a novel, 2009; and the crime novel, Dodging Bullets. His upcoming releases include the horror novels Lost Girl of the Lake, The Red Empire, The Charge and St. Rage. Joe has also worked as an editor, along with Michelle McCrary, on the zombie-themed anthology Dead Set, and with Mark Onspaugh on the abandoned building-themed anthology The Forsaken. His short stories and novellas have been published in more than thirty publications and anthologies.

Connect with Joe McKinney via is his website, on facebook, twitter, @JoeMcKinney and you can email him at joemckinney2033@gmail.com

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The Revolving Book: Q and A with Tule Publishing (romance fiction) (small publisher)

logo-topWe’re so excited about our new ongoing series here at Lachesis Publishing featuring interviews with professionals in the publishing industry. We’ll be chatting with editors, agents, publishers, PR people, cover artists, book reviewers, librarians, author assistants, and more! Our first Q and A is with the wonderful folks at Tule Publishing. Our Q and A today features the Tule Team and author C.J. Carmichael who is one of the founding authors of Tule Publishing.

Three of Tule Founding Authors (from left) Megan Crane, Jane Porter, C.J. Carmichael
Three of Tule Founding Authors (from left) Megan Crane, Jane Porter, C.J. Carmichael

How did the concept of Tule Publishing come about? Where did the name Tule come from? And when did it launch?

Tule Team: Tule was founded by authors, for authors, in the hopes of putting writers at the forefront of their publishing careers. The founding author, Jane Porter, named the company after the valley in central California where she was raised.

C.J.: I was one of the first authors Jane contacted about writing for Tule, along with the fabulously talented Lillian Darcy and Megan Crane. We had in mind starting out with stories about cowboys, in a Montana setting, so clearly a road trip was in order. The four of us met at my family cottage on Flathead Lake and then drove down to Livingston, Montana and Paradise Valley. Lillian, Megan, Jane and I fit perfectly into my medium sized sedan. I’m sorry to say our luggage was another matter . . .

Cover_Porter_TakeMe-314x450The end result of our time together was the birth of the Montana Born imprint, the fictional town of Marietta, and four “Copper Mountain Rodeo” novellas—the first stories ever published by Tule. (And, by the way, Jane’s novella, Take Me Cowboy, won a RITA for best novella in 2014.)

What kinds/genre of books do you publish and do you do both print and ebook? Where are your books distributed?

Tule Team: Tule Publishes contemporary romance and women’s fiction, and we are acquiring additional subgenres of romance including paranormal, historical, erotica, and light inspirational for 2016. Tule is a digital first publisher and select titles are available as print-on-demand. Our Cover_Carmichael_PromiseMe_REBRANDED-300x450books are distributed through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, GooglePlay, Kobo, and Smashwords.

C.J.: I’m happy to say the Montana Born imprint remains a reader favorite. All the books I’ve written for Tule have been for this imprint. If any aspiring Tule authors out there love writing heartwarming romance in a western setting, this may be the area you should target.

Tell us about the Tule Publishing team. Who are the folks at Tule?

The Tule Editorial Team: (From left) Danielle Rayner, Lindsey Stover, and Meghan Farrell
The Tule Editorial Team: (From left) Danielle Rayner, Lindsey Stover, and Meghan Farrell

Tule Team:The Tule Publishing team consists of Jane Porter, founder and CEO, Sinclair Sawhney, senior editor, Lee Hyat, art and design, Meghan Farrell, managing editor, Lindsey Stover, marketing and editorial manager, Danielle Rayner, editorial assistant, and Shevawn Maida, head of finance.

C.J.: As a founding author I sit on the Advisory Board for Tule, which means I contribute ideas on the strategic planning level. (It also means I occasionally get to leave chilly Calgary for a few days and travel to sunny California.)

instaHow many authors are on your roster? Who are some of your authors? In addition to established authors, do you also publish new or emerging authors?

Tule Team: Tule has published books by over 60 authors of both previously published writers as well as debut authors. Some of our authors include: Jane Porter, Megan Crane, C. J. Carmichael, Lilian Darcy, Kelly Hunter, Sarah Mayberry, Carole Mortimer, Carol Marinelli, Jackie Ashenden, and Katherine Garbera. We are very excited about our newest debut author, Susan Sands, whose first novel came out with Tule this past June.

C.J.: The Tule author roster is one of the most supportive, friendly and fun-loving group of authors I’ve ever worked with. And that attitude filters down from Jane, whose first concern is making authors feel valued and supported.

Montana Born (Tule Imprint)
Montana Born (Tule Imprint)

What is your submission process? Do you also take pitches at conferences? Which conferences does Tule attend?

Tule Team: We do take submissions and we ask that writers:

Familiarize themselves with our imprints.

Select the imprint they are submitting for.

Southern Born (Tule Imprint)
Southern Born (Tule Imprint)

Send us their bio (with links to any websites or social media you have).

Send us a synopsis of their book and a first chapter.

We don’t require that they have an agent, but if they do, send us their contact information and we can forward a copy of our author contract.

The desired word length for a novella is 30,000-40,000 words. For a single title, it is 45,000-90,000 words.

When ready, send submissions to: submissions@thetulegroup.com

Holiday (Tule Imprint)
Holiday (Tule Imprint)

Tule does take pitches at many conferences we attend. Some examples are: Book Expo America, Emerald City Writers Conference, RWA US, Australia, and New Zealand, the London Book Fair, California Dreamin’ Writers Conference.

C.J.: Those Tule editors do get around, even to such exotic locales as Calgary. Just last week Danielle Rayner was at our When Words Collide Festival talking about Tule and taking pitches.

What were some of the greatest challenges that Tule faced in the beginning? How did you overcome them?

Tule Team: A great challenge Tule faced was outsourcing many of our duties to outside vendors as the team tried to navigate the digital market. The bulk of production, marketing, and design are all now in house. Another challenge was predicting and acclimating to the changing digital landscape.

Cover_Crane_AGameOfBrides-306x450CJ: Tule offers something unique to the author—the opportunity to dip your toe in the Indie Publishing business without having to learn all the ins-and-outs of cover design, formatting and distributing to digital platforms, not to mention finding appropriate substantive and copy editors to ensure the superior quality of their stories. As an extra bonus, Tule authors become members of a supportive group of writers who share knowledge and cross-promote generously for one another.

When someone says “small publisher” what does that mean to you?

Tule Team: A publisher that does everything a major house would do, but on a smaller scale. We publish 8-15 titles per month with a staff of seven in-house members.

Cover_Darcy_TheSweetestThingC.J.: Rather than trying to be everything to every writer or every reader out there, Tule knows where it’s strength is—and focuses on that. You can see that commitment to quality in their book covers. I think they’re among the most appealing in the business. I also appreciate the effort the Tule Team goes to in order to ensure the author is happy with her title and her book cover.

What can we look forward to from Tule in the next two years?

Tule Team: More amazing books by talented authors! Our goal is to publish the best commercial fiction out there, and we look forward to expanding our reach into different subgenres of romance. 

C.J.: As for me, I plan to continue writing with Tule as long as they let me, and to build my own series within the Montana Born Imprint. Since I love writing engaging, heartwarming stories, in small town settings, it’s a perfect fit for me!

Debut author Susan Sands
Debut author Susan Sands

What advice can you give aspiring authors who are looking to get published?

Tule Team: Don’t give up. Keep writing, and keep submitting not only to publishers but to writing contests as another way to get your work noticed and in front of readers and editors. Write what you love, and build a social media presence now, while you’re trying to get published!

C.J.: Read books from the various Imprints that Tule offers. Figure out where your voice fits.

What kind of author is Tule looking for?

Tule Team: An author who can write a great story, has a unique voice and understands what the romance reader is looking for. An author who is willing to put themselves out there and understands the trials and rewards of the ever changing publishing market.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000032_00050]C.J.: It’s a definite plus if a writer has a strong social media presence and is willing to work supportively with
the other Tule authors. Also, if you happen to have an idea for a great series…pitch that as well as the individual story. I’ve had a lot of readers tell me they love my Carrigans of the Circle C novels, for instance.

Thanks to the Tule Publishing Team and author C.J. Carmichael for joining us today! 

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

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“The Bestsellers” – Round 1: Q and A With VK Sykes (contemporary romance and romantic suspense authors)

We’re launching a new series here at the Lachesis Publishing Daily Blog – featuring interviews with bestselling authors. It takes a lot to hit a bestseller list. It ain’t just dumb luck. It takes determination, hustle, and damn good writing. We have some great authors lined up so sit back, enjoy, and have fun reading and learning from these talented writers!

Vanessa Kelly and Randy Sykes
Vanessa Kelly and Randy Sykes

Our first Bestsellers Q and A is with V.K. Sykes – which is actually the husband and wife writing team of Randy Sykes and Vanessa Kelly. How fun is that? They write contemporary romance and romantic suspense. Randy is great at plotting and characterization and Vanessa handles the emotion. Together they’ve written nine books and one novella. Vanessa also writes sexy historical (Regency romance) under her own name Vanessa Kelly. She’s penned eleven historical novels and four novellas.

This is definitely a dynamic duo.

Welcome V.K. Sykes!

patriots2-coverWhat was your first book that hit a bestseller list? What was the list, where did the book rank when it first hit, and how high did your book get?

Hi, Jo—thanks for hosting us! Vanessa reporting in for V.K. Sykes. I actually don’t remember the exact numbers – LOL! The first major list we hit was USA Today, and we did that with our sports anthology, The Philadelphia Patriots. It was between 120–130 (I think 127). And we also hit the top 50 on both Kindle and Nook.

images-1What were you doing when you found out you hit the bestseller list? And how did you celebrate or mark the occasion?

I was just browsing the USA Today list because friends of mine who were in a joint anthology had just posted on social media that they made the list. I went to look, and there we were! It was quite a surprise. As to what we did to celebrate . . . I think we just got a bottle of champagne and had a few glasses of bubbly. We tend to be pretty low key when it comes to celebrating.

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

Not to be crass, but it partly means not spending more than you make. It’s always a temptation to put too much money (and time) into promo in the hopes that you’ll somehow find the winning formula for the next book. To me, being a successful author also means having the time to write the books you want, finding readers who “get” you, and having a good work/life balance. It means finding people you like to work with, and who help you to be a better writer. Would we like to sell more books and hit more bestseller lists? We sure would. But we also want to have a life that we can enjoy, without being absolute slaves to deadlines.

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

My newsletter is the most important thing, and I’ve worked hard to build that up. I also engage with my readers on facebook and Twitter; mostly that’s social interaction, but I do use it to promote our books. I’m also a big believer in running giveaways on Goodreads. Very little effort with a pretty big bang for the buck. But the most important thing any author can do is to write more good books.

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

I love that we’ve made so many new friends, both readers and other authors. And it’s fabulous when a reader writes to tell you how much she loves one of your books. What makes me crazy is how much promotion there is in the industry. There is just an insane amount of promoting going on, especially on social media. And if you’re not careful, you can start comparing yourself to other writers and feeling like you’re not good enough, or smart enough, or successful enough. It’s very debilitating and absolutely not the way to nurture creativity.

544583877f83d_ctytriver_bigACB-2002015-royally-ever-afterthedeath-coverWho are some of your 23664710tkk-compiled-400x600favourite authors 20454672and loveinafternooncoverwhy?

Right now I’m on a Karen Rose binge—she writes the most amazingly smart, suspenseful, and emotional romantic suspense. So satisfying! I also love Elizabeth Peters and the books in her Amelia Peabody Series, which are insanely fun.

Those books also feature my favorite romance hero, Amelia’s grown son, Ramses Emerson. Other favorite authors are Deanna Raybourn (Lady Julia Grey is probably my fave romance heroines), Loretta Chase, Lisa Kleypas, and Meljean Brooke. All of them are talented storytellers and amazing wordsmiths. Randy is a big fan of the Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child. He also likes Sandra Brown and would probably list Pat Conroy as his all-time favorite author.

cover_highlanderWhat are you currently working on? We just submitted SEE YOU AT SUNSET, the 3rd book in our Seashell Bay Series of small town romances, so we have to get started on a new proposal for VK Sykes. I’m also starting work on a new historical romance series for Kensington, which is a spin-off of my current bestselling series, The Renegade Royals.

In your daily work routine what do you do first and why?

write/plot/creative: I do this in the afternoon, which tends to be the quietest time of the day for me. It also takes several hours for my brain to kick into creative gear. I am NOT a morning person. Randy, however, does do a lot of his best writing in the morning, so our schedules tend to be reversed

 social media/promotion: morning.

 email/admin: morning

Where the magic happens.
Where the magic happens.

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

Not much. Lots of scraps of papers and my computer. And my headphones, which are essential for eliminating outside noises. I can’t write when it’s noisy!

Finish this sentence: I’m a writer because . . . I (we) enjoy it!


beach-cover-lgV.K. Sykes is really two people – Vanessa Kelly and Randy Sykes, a husband and wife team who write USA Today Bestselling contemporary romance. The second book in their Philadelphia Patriots Series of sports romances won the Kindle Book Review Best Indie Books of 2012 Contest, in the romance category. MEET ME AT THE BEACH, the first book in their new series of small town romances set in Maine, released in February, 2015. Vanessa also writes award-winning, Regency-set historical romance for Kensington Zebra and was named by Booklist as one of the “new stars of historical romance.” Her current series,The Renegade Royals, is a national bestseller. You can find them on the web at vksykes.com or vanessakellyauthor.com. Follow them on facebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

tumblr_nnkni9diM61qd7yjyo1_1280Joanna D’Angelo is Editor in Chief at Lachesis Publishing. She loves chai tea, writing in coffee shops, social media and romance novels.

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Q and A Tuesday: Round 1 with Morgan Chalfant (urban fantasy author)

Today’s Q and A is with Lachesis author Morgan Chalfant. Morgan is an urban fantasy / paranormal author whose first book with Lachesis Publishing is called Ghosts of Glory.

41GYfDkNSQL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_When did you first realize you wanted to become a writer and why?

I always loved writing stories, but in junior high I told my English teacher (Hi, Mrs. Pratt!) that I was going to write a book and get it published. She would let me use the computer if I got my homework done in class where I wrote a 58 page sequel to Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six (it was a little shorter than the original).

Morgan Chalfant's view from his pickup truck.
Morgan Chalfant’s view from his pickup truck.

Describe your favourite place to write.

Lately, it’s been sitting in the cab of my pickup out at the old baseball field on the edge of town. Hardly anyone is out there anymore. It’s just me and the trees and the wind and my imagination—so I sit with the windows rolled down, my music playing and scribble long hand in my notebook.

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

chthuluAt the moment I’m writing this, there is a tin of Cthulhu Mints (I think Lovecraft would approve), a Magic 8 Ball that perpetually gives me bad advice, an Eric Hosmer Bobblehead I got at a Kansas City Royals baseball game, and a quote from writer Terry Goodkind taped to my computer that reads: “Be not afraid of greatness.”

What is your tea/coffee beverage of choice when you’re writing?

I’ve never drank coffee (I even worked in a coffee shop once). My go to beverage is probably an energy drink or water.

sandmanWhat do you love to read?

I love Robert E. Howard’s Conan series and his poetry. I’ve been a fan of his writing since a professor of mine introduced me to his work freshman year of college (Thanks, Dr. Will). Richard Kadrey, author of the Sandman Slim series currently has me hooked. I fully maintain Stephen King’s The Long Walk is one of the best horror/suspense novels of all time. Clive Barker is a go-to author for me. Barker’s The Thief of Always is something I find myself constantly coming back to. I’m big into graphic novels like James O’Barr’s The Crow and Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, as well as the comic book world too. I’m all over the place in regards to genres.

What is some good advice you can give to an unpublished writer?

WRITE. Write your story, then go looking for the right place to publish it. Don’t do it the other way around. If it’s a good story, someone will listen. It might take a while, but someone will eventually listen.

What do you do after you finish a book? Do you celebrate or take a nap?

Honestly, I don’t know that I have a set routine after finishing a book other than one big sigh of satisfaction. It’s my soul saying, “Even if this is terrible, at least it is finished.”

Ghosts of Glory 453x680You write urban fantasy – what attracted you to this genre?

I think it’s the concept that really nothing is off limits if you can figure out an effective way to do it. Mythology, demonology and supernatural lore have always been hobbies of mine so it seemed like the urban fantasy genre and I were destined to clash eventually. Jersey “The Brawler” Romero, one of my favorite characters I’ve written, seemed like the perfect candidate to be thrust into a world where creatures of imagination aren’t so imaginary—because he has a better than average chance of surviving. My city, Glory, is a dark and twisted place, which is exciting to explore in and of itself, but even more so when you add a fantasy element—you begin to realize dark and twisted doesn’t repel some people, it attracts them.

Your debut book with Lachesis Publishing is Ghosts of Glory. Tell us about it?

It’s about a man seeking redemption in a city that he is intimately linked with, a city that begins to become decidedly unfamiliar when he starts seeing all of the ugly-nasties lurking just behind the veil of human perception.

The author at one of his favourite places to write - a local football field in his town of Hill City, Kansas.
The author at one of his favourite places to write – a local football field in his town of Hill City, Kansas.

What are you working on next?

I’m working on a sequel to Ghosts of Glory and I have another side project I’m working on as well that is a little more post-apocalyptic. I’ve also come back to writing more poetry after a bit of a break.

Morgan Chalfant is a native of Hill City, Kansas. He received his Bachelor’s degree in writing and his Master’s degree in literature from Fort Hays State University, where he now teaches writing. 

You can purchase Ghosts of Glory by Morgan Chalfant at  Lachesis Publishing, Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble.

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From the Editor’s Desk: Why Do Romance Novels Get Such a Bum Rap?

WEB PIX PURPLE BOOK copyA few years back I made a documentary called “Who’s Afraid of Happy Endings?” It was broadcast on BRAVO! Canada as well as other broadcasters around the globe. Because I had always been a reader of romance novels, I had a particular view of the genre. I didn’t see it as worthless or silly drivel. To me, romance novels were, and are, special. Yes. Special. Why? Because what they offer is hope. Hope that two people can find something fulfilling and meaningful in a relationship. Isn’t that what we all strive for in our own relationships?  Of course.

AS GOOD AS IT GETS, Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt, 1997, (c) Sony
AS GOOD AS IT GETS, Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt, 1997, (c) Sony

Romance novels tell us that when two people fall in love it won’t be perfect. Stuff always happens, but in the end, we can get through it because we have each other. Remember that great line in the romantic comedy, As Good As It Gets? Jack Nicholson tells Helen Hunt, “You make me want to be a better man.” That’s what romance novels do. This is why we love romantic movies so much. We get that same feeling from those films that we do when we read a romance novel.

Recently, New Republic Magazine published an article by William Giraldi that was very critical of 50 Shades of Grey, and romance novels in general.  Then Bobbi Dumas of Kirkus Reviews wrote a great rebuttal. It’s so easy to be dismissive of romance writers and readers. And yet, romance books consistently outsell every other genre and have for decades. The romance industry is the most successful publishing entity there is, and yet it gets little to no respect from the media. Women of all ages and all backgrounds read romance. And what draws us to these books is that the heroines have power. They are empowered in these stories. And to millions of women around the world – that is a very positive message.

At the end of the day readers of romance novels and genre fiction in general all have one thing in common: we love a good story. And more importantly we love the heroes and heroines who live those stories in the pages of those books that we love to read.

If you’re interested in some wonderful romances check out our Lachesis Publishing web site.

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100_4277Joanna D’Angelo is Editor in Chief at Lachesis Publishing Inc. She loves Cinnamon Dolce Lattes, a good romance and a happy ending.

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Fun Friday: Great quotes by authors

I love this quote by Margaret Atwood. She is a literary super star but she’s not a snob. I remember reading a quote of hers once about how important it is to just read – read anything – even the backs of cereal boxes. I forget the exact quote and couldn’t find it today but this one is great too:

There is good and mediocre writing within every genre.
~ Margaret Atwood

Authors who write genre fiction often get looked down upon  – especially romance. Critics dismiss genre writing because they think it isn’t valuable, it doesn’t reflect the human condition. I disagree. I have read some amazing genre books that not only made me think about life and love but that also were far more meaningful to me than some literary books I’ve read over the years. So this weekend, enjoy your books – whatever they are.

We’ve got some wonderful genre fiction right here at Lachesis Publishing.

Happy Reading!