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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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:

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.

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