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1. For those of us who have never had the opportunity to visit the British Isles, please tell our readers a bit about your lovely island Anglesey.
Anglesey is a small island on the North West coast of the British Isles, just off the Irish Sea. The island can be driven from one side to the other in around thirty minutes. It connects to the UK by two bridges. The beaches are glorious (when we have the weather) which is rare. It’s very windy and rainy but that gives us green luscious land and a wildlife community like no other. It truly is a beautiful place.
2. What is your favorite part of living on Anglesey?
The peace and quiet. The views and the community life.
3. I noticed from your blog that you know a lot about what types of ingredients are good for the best skin care. What types of ingredients do you recommend for the best skin care?
I used to run a skin care shop. I love experimenting with different skin care ingredients and I couldn’t possibly say which the best are because it depends on the individual. What I can say is stay away from chemical ingredients. Go paraben free, and use natural oils. Rule of thumb is if you can’t pronounce the ingredient then it’s probably bad for you. Experiment; instead of using chemical sun screen on your face mix carrot oil on with your moisturiser carrot oil is a natural sun blocker.
4. If you could meet one of your characters in real life who would it be and why that particular character?
Corey Fitzgerald from book number three in The Fitzgerald Series He is such an adorable man, bossy, cheeky, funny. He’s a giant but so gentle and passionate.
5. What is the best thing for you about being a published romance author?
I get live inside my words. It’s like having another life that becomes part of me. Now I’m able to say yes I’m a published author when I go through customs on my trips to America. I finally get to live the dream.
6. If you could change one thing that happened on your road to publication what would it be and why that one thing?
I wouldn’t have given up writing when I was younger. I let thirty years pass before I went back to it and now I can’t stop.
7. What has been your favorite story to write so far?
I have loved all of my stories that I have written so far but I guess book Number four of The Fitzgerald Brothers has to have been the hardest to write. There were some issues in that which needed sensitive handling so it has taxed me the most but I am so happy with the way it turned out.
8. Do you have any works in progress you can share with our readers? You know just to whet our whistles!
Well the whole of The Fitzgerald Brothers series will be out by the end of the year. It was such great fun to write. These boys are so delicious that I wish they were real so that I could have them all to myself.
9. What are your top three favorite free promotions tips?
Okay for me promotion of any kind is hard. Social networking has to be one of the easiest ways to get your book out there. Word of mouth is always good. Blogging is an excellent way for people to see what kind of writer you are and actually they like to know about you so it’s a great way to communicate with your readers.
10. Share your favorite top three paid for promotions tips.
Blog tours are good…or just get someone like Heartfelt Promotions to take hold of the reins. They have been an enormous help to me.
Thank you for being with us on In the Hot Seat, Dilys, and thanks so much for the vote of confidence!
Kim Carmichael is in the hot seat today! Kim writes everything from paranormal erotic romance to contemporary romance, all of which are great stories. So, we decided to see if we could get some answers to your most pressing questions. Check it out!
1. What or who inspired you to become a romance author?
I was very inspired by a character and one day a story popped into my head and I just started writing for myself at first, then it grew.
2. Do you have a day job? If so what is it? Has your day job ever inspired any stories or story ideas?
Yes, I have a day job. I am a pharmaceutical rep. My day job or facets of my day job pop up in my writing all the time, from the profession, to the people I work with to my territory (Los Angeles!)
3. What do you like to do for fun when you're not writing?
Shop and crochet
4. Hmmmmm….gadgets do tell? What's what your favorite gadget?
My Macbook Air because it has all my stuff and is so light! I do love the auxiliary charger I have for my Iphone so I never run out of juice. Staying connected is really important to me.
5. What is the Indelibly Marked Series about? I see it's on your Works in Progress page, love the logo for it!
This series means a lot to me. It revolves around a the group of people at a Hollywood Tattoo shop. The first book, Permanent, is finished and I may have some exciting news on that soon.
6. What has been your favorite book to write so far, and why is it your favorite?
I love all my books, but I have to say right now it's Trifecta because not only do I adore the story but the story represented getting my freedom back.
7. If you meet and spend one day with one of your characters in real life, who would it be and why that character?
Without a doubt I would choose Shane from the Indelibly Marked Series. He is everything my dreams are made of, he is funny, secure and alternative. He's my rebellious hero and he has a black Mohawk – what more could you want?
8. What do you think sets your characters apart from other characters in other books? What makes them unique in your opinion?
I write very contemporary and casual characters. I try to always have some sort of modern culture twist with my characters.
9. Share with our readers your favorite free promotions tip?
Post on all the facebook pages without being obnoxious!
10. If you could do one thing different on your road to publication what would it be and and why that one thing?
I would have never let this one person influence me and I would have stopped dealing with that person long before I did. Thank god they are gone now. Now I have some great villain material!
Thanks so much for being on the hot seat today, Kim, and we wish you the best with your new book Trifecta!
We have Tamara Moreau in the house this morning! Welcome Tamara, can't wait to get to know you and your books better.
Q: What inspires you to write? What or who are your muses?
A: While I feel fairly certain my day-to-day experiences find their way into my work, I can’t say anything external inspires me. I was an introverted child who spent much of my life in a fantasy world that held on into my adult life with uncommon tenacity. My “make believe” friends inspire me to write, but it is my husband who is the grounding point for my work. He helps me keep logical aspects in mind, and provides inspiration to keep my stories active and exciting. He also corrects details I sometimes miss as I write about events from the past. The greatest example in Secrets & Promises was my use of an electronic car key fob and a cell phone during a sequence that took place thirty years ago. (oops!)
Q: Have your experiences in the Air Force played any part in your books?
A: No. Although I’m proud of the eight years I spent in active duty and the three years following I spent in the reserves, I can’t say there is any aspect of my military career that inspired my work. However, my exposure to the skills needed during wartime have helped in developing the dangers my Haven’s Realm characters face, and colored the mentalities of two of my women (Tyler Jenkins from Dragon Lord, and Mirissa Wellston in Haven’s King).
Q: What do you most enjoy about writing books with paranormal themes?
There are a number of things I like about the paranormal genre, chief among them the lack of rules. You can’t really go too far wrong when writing about things that have been developed culturally through human supposition and folklore. Secrets & Promises attempts to explain the vampire condition through the eyes of a scientist, and I’ve paved the way for the magic side of science. I’ve approached the vampire persona with a touch of common sense. For example, my characters are solid beings who cast light and reflect shadows, and so can be seen in mirrors and photographed. My favorite deviation from the norm exists in the founding of the Community, which involved the cooperation of the deities. And for those who are frequently prone to ask, no, my vampires do not sparkle in sunlight.
Q: Do you have any upcoming books you'd like to tell our readers about? This is a great way to "prime the pump" so to speak, plus our readers love hearing about new books to come!
A: I just released Secrets & Promises to the world. Here is a blurb and short excerpt from my most dynamic work yet…
When her best friend is taken by a vampire, Dr. Charlotte Vinetti shifts her genetic research focus in hopes of finding a cure. Five years later, she’s no closer to her goal, and long-troubled by the one vampire she’d killed who was different from the rest. Her worst nightmares become terrifying reality when she’s captured and realizes her captors are intelligent, sentient beings rather than the mindless creatures who continued to invade her home.
Vincent was nearing the end of his strength. Haven’s trials over the past five years had overtaxed his resources, but he knew with dread his problems were only beginning when the hunter the Community had long sought was the reincarnation of his deepest love. Forced by ancient promises to stand against the Bargain, his only hope lies in ending their gypsy curse and winning her love, for only then can he earn the Council’s forgiveness.
Vincent rose to his feet the moment she emerged, set down his empty mug and met her gaze. He wore his control like armor, shielding his pain from the world. How awful it must’ve been for him, to fall in love and watch his love die time and again like a macabre opera with no end. She’d lost count of the lives she visited–each nightmare blurred into the next until even their names became confused.
The muscles in his jaws jumped. His eyes darkened. “How many what?”
Her first instinct was to deck him. She came too close to acting on it. “You know what I’m asking. How many wives or lovers have you met and lost?”
She must’ve phrased her question the right way, because a series of emotions flickered in his eyes–passion, pain, joy, despair…He took a deep breath and countered her. “Do you know who those women were?”
“Yeah. Sure. Women from your past. I didn’t realize you had such a fascination for redheads with ice-blue eyes. If you wanted to share them with me, why didn’t you just tell me instead of scaring me half to death all night?”
His eyes darkened further. “Those memories were not mine. I influenced your dreams in no way.”
Amber and the other girl emerged from the bedroom bearing laundry, and left without meeting either hers or Vincent’s gaze. She was glad of the distraction and the time to contemplate his answer. “Well if you didn’t cause them, who…?” She gasped. “Ghosts. You’ve somehow resurrected the ghosts of all those women and sicced them on me. Am I possessed?”
“You possess nothing today you did not yesterday. As for spirits, there is only one, and she has always been with you.”
His assurance added to her confusion. “What the hell are you talking about?”
He captured and held her gaze, searching her eyes for understanding. The hard control in his eyes made her stomach burn. “Do you continue to deny the truth pounding in your heart? You haven’t been visiting my past,” he said in a low, even tone. “You’ve been exploring your own.”
She gaped at him for several seconds. “My past? Are you trying to say all those women I spent the day dreaming of…they were me?”
“You have that backward. You were once each of them.”
She shook her head. “No. That’s not possible.”
He reached for her. “Chari–”
“No! Don’t touch me.” She paced the sitting area in panic. “If I was…if they’re all…” Reality sank in a minute later. She stopped and raised her eyes to his. “I’m going to die too, aren’t I?”
His eyes pooled with tears. “Not if I can help it. Come. The MacAarons will entertain you today.”
She stepped toward the door shakily. “Vincent, I’m not well.”
“You’re tired. Our exploration was hard on you. I’ll use less incense in the morning.”
“We’re going to do it again? Already? I can’t take–”
“Can and will, Chari. We haven’t much time.”
She wanted to cry. “Why?”
He turned her to face him, blue fire burning dimly in his eyes. “Because somewhere, sometime, you knew how to stop this. The knowledge was in your eyes as you died in my arms. I sensed your urgent mental cries as you struggled for clarity, but you’ve never been able to tell me what we need to know.”
A tear dripped down her right cheek. She brushed it away. “How many, Vincent?”
“Will it help you to know?”
“At least I’ll have an idea what I’m up against.”
His stance slackened marginally. “You’ve always possessed the most amazing courage.” He caressed her damp hair while ancient sorrow overtook him. “The life I see before me is the forty-ninth incarnation of a love I lost more than a thousand years ago.”
“Forty…oh my God!”
“You’ve never skipped a generation. Somehow, we’ve always found each other.”
Q: What is a regular day of writing like for you? Do you do research
first, outline, use index cards? Please share your process.
A: Mostly, I write on the fly, and only when inspiration is with me. If it doesn’t come easy, I put it down and wait for more clarification to occur. As I record what my friends tell me, I pause frequently to pull up google and clarify details, such as historical events and dates, and oddities like the history of mattresses and the effects of certain poisons. I rarely use a written outline, and never index cards. (receiving a flashback from high school. *shudders*)
When I began developing my writing in 1992, I found myself focusing on specific scenes my characters obsessed over in my mind. Those early days found me writing whole chapters from inside the story, and when it came time to pull them together, I found them too haphazard and in need of severe rewrite to blend the sequences together. I dove into what became my first published work in 2002 with the intent of marketing a series of short articles. Starting from chapter one page one made the story flow more smoothly, and resulted in a very satisfying and heartfelt tale. I kept with that formula until recently, and book six is starting out much the same as my first attempt.
While waiting for Secrets to work its way through the publishing processes, I gave in and free-wrote the segments from book six that presented themselves. I’m having a hard time now filling in the gaps, and haven’t started my weekend fireside discussions with my husband yet, but with over half of the story covered, I must now struggle to fit the pieces together and fill in the blanks. It’s not my preferred method, by any means, but as I dealt with the frustrations involved with getting book five to market, these odd scenes dominated my mind until I was forced, finally, to write them down.
Character and plot development take place long before the first word is written. I obsess over my ideas, usually as I try to lull myself to sleep at night, until I hear a storyline that works well with the previous works. By the time I sit down to record my musings, I know who my characters are, their motivations and personality, and I know where I want them to go. How they get there is usually entirely up to them, and they very often surprise me.
Q: If you could do one thing differently on your road to publication what would it be and why that one thing?
A: I don’t have much in the way of creative writing education outside of the classes I took in school. (I always got an A in any English-related courses.) I think if I’d had an additional course or two in college, I might have been better prepared for the rigors of the publication process, and may have succeeded in publishing sooner. It’s hard to say, because real life has thrown obstacles in my path that delayed my work for almost ten years. Would I do anything different? I can’t really say, since I didn’t really feel my work polished enough until just before I contacted Secret Cravings Publishing. I worked hard for a long time before I established a working writing style. I can only think, if I’d devoted more time in those lost years, that I’d be much further along by now.
Q: What advice do you have for writers who have yet to be published?
A: Don’t ever give up on your dream. Read all you can in your preferred genre and study the various writing styles of your favorite authors. Write down your ideas and share them with trusted friends, and take their criticism seriously. Write. Write. Write. The more experience you have writing and editing your own work, the faster you will develop. Do you have a marketable story? Don’t take the rejection of your first submission as absolute. Even Stephen King had trouble marketing his first book. If you believe in your work, and if you have positive feedback from your friends to support that belief, your time will come.
Q: Do you have any hobbies? If so please share with our readers.
A: I’ve involved myself in so many creative endeavors over the years. I’ve made porcelain dolls, worked on ceramics, sew, knit, and paint. The art of three-dimensional paper models caught my more recent attention (and so Catherine’s, my recurring character from Twilight Destiny, who shares my love of crafting), and I’m fascinated by paper automata. I also enjoy tumbling stones and working on the restoration of my 1968 Camaro, which has been in my family since it was new. I love music and dabble on my guitar and electronic piano, and I’ve loved to sing since I was very small.
Q: Name your favorite top three free promotions tips.
A: I’ll admit, I suck at promoting. Even though I consider myself to be computer literate, the concept of social media was practically foreign to me until I joined SCP. I’m still learning, so I really can’t say what has worked best for me. I’m a regular now on Facebook, and post occasionally on other sites, and participate in blog hops and events where I can.
Q: Finally, something fun, what is your favorite all to yourself day
like? You know a day where you can do anything you want to.
A: Most of my days are spent in solitude while my husband works to support us. If my muse is active, I spend a lot of time in my imaginary world. My favorite times are those spent with Mike when we can get away and do something, even if it’s just spending a night or two in a hotel. The reality breaks I spend with him give my muse the rest it needs to continue.
With all the interests I have to keep me busy, I can’t say there’s any one thing I find most enjoyable outside of writing. When I’m not actively engaged in my favorite activity, I flit amongst other projects. I don’t lead a structured life anymore, so all my days are practically mine. I do whatever occurs to me at the time, and only have to share my world when the husband comes home and I must care for him. I’m a pampered house cat, strengthened and supported by the better half of my soul. Who could ask for more than that?
Where to find Tamara:
Secret Cravings Publishing
Barnes and Noble
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to visit your site!
Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Tamara, you had some great answers to our questions, we truly enjoyed having you!
Today we're delighted welcome historical and contemporary romance author Téa Cooper. Téa has some lovely new and upcoming releases to share with us as well as a great interview. With that being said, I'll let Téa take it away!
Q: What is your favorite thing about writing historical romance?
A: Escapism! Pure and simple.
Q: What is your favorite thing about writing contemporary romance?
A: Possibly the same answer…romance is my escapism.
Q: Who or what are your muses?
A: My muse is undoubtedly Wollombi Muse..eum. I had written two contemporary romances and I volunteered to man the local museum. It was a very wet and rainy day and I didn’t have many ‘customers’ so I started poking around, so many people with so many stories to tell…and the rest as they say is history!
Q: Who are your favorite authors?
A: Currently my favourite historical author is Alison Stuart. I adore her books set in England during the seventeenth century. I was born in England, at Hampton Court, and once belonged to the “Sealed Knot” a group of tragics who dressed as roundheads and cavaliers and re-enacted battles!
Otherwise I read just about everything – except instruction manuals! Contemporary and historical romances first but I rather enjoy a bit of fantasy! I also love Tim Winton for his Australian – ness and Margaret Atwood is a huge favourite. I could go on forever, happy ever after!
Q: Tell our readers a little bit about where you live in Australia, for those of us who like to be armchair travelers. LOL
A: I live in the time-warp village of Wollombi in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales. The Hunter was one of the earliest wine growing regions in Australia and Wollombi was the main town. Today it is more of a village and very little has changed since the nineteenth century. Lily’s Leap and Matilda’s freedom are both set in Wollombi.
Really I have the best of both worlds. Wollombi is only two hours from the big smoke–Sydney, one of the most beautiful cities in the world and in an hour I can be on dangling my toes in the Pacific Ocean. It’s a tough life!
Q: Explain what a rural romance is for those of us Americans who haven't heard that term before which seems to be quintessentially Australian.
A: A rural romance is a contemporary romance usually set in the outback or a country town. The Protea Boys and Passionfruit & Poetry I call rural romances. It’s a very popular genre – usually city meets country. Great heroes (cowboys for the Americans) and spirited heroines ready to take them on.
Q: If you could do one thing differently on your road to publication, what would it be and why the one thing?
A: That’s hard – probably be less impatient and plan better. I’ve got five books coming out in May, June and July! I should have planned my submissions more carefully!
Q: Any advice for aspiring authors?
A: Never give up! As heart breaking as a rejection is there is always a reason. The trick is to learn from those rejections.
Q: Share your top three favorite free promotions tips with our readers.
A: The local newspapers – make a press pack and send it to your local papers the response is amazing and everyone loves to know a “celebrity”!
Facebook groups are great and most importantly support other writers and they will support you. If you enjoyed their book review it, tweet it, tell the world!
Q: Share your top three favorite paid for promotions tips with our readers.
A: Use the professionals. You can’t be good at everything, and you can’t do everything. Work out your short-comings and your budget and pay for the things you can’t do.
Blog Tours to open up a new audience. There is no point in “preaching” (promoting to the converted)!
And silly as it sounds in the world of ebooks – Book marks! Everyone loves bookmarks. My theory is it is something tangible and gives your readers your shiny, glossy cover to hold in their hand.
This was great! Thanks so much for stopping by, Téa!
1. What do you like most about writing m/m romance?
To be perfectly honest, gay men fascinate me. I mean, I get the whole falling in love with a man bit. I find them scrumptious myself! But imagining two of these gorgeous creatures locked in passionate embrace simply does pleasant things to my insides.
My stories are all about true love and the happy ending. I absolutely adore bringing out the gentleness in a strong man, the moments of tenderness, heartache and joys. I think becoming so intimate with my characters has helped me understand the many facets of love much better than I used to.
2. What drew you to writing m/m as opposed to another genre?
About three years ago I read a book by Poppy Z. Brite called LOST SOULS. It’s a book involving vampires, but what intrigue and fascinated me was the character Ghost. My goodness! I fell in love. Ghost’s a beautiful, gentle, shy young man hopelessly in love with his best friend who doesn’t see him in the light of a lover. The story’s quite dramatic, but the gentle way Poppy deals with Ghost’s affections really got to me. I wanted to write that. I wanted to tell romance stories that brought out the intense, sometimes dangerous love affairs of my gay characters in a compassionate way.
3. I see your day job is as a floral designer, how does doing this job
help you to write your stories or does it?
Oh, it certainly does. Example: There are two brothers who come in to the store on occasion. Drop dead beautiful young men. Long blond curls to their shoulders, amber eyes, flawless peaches and cream complexion, and the sweetest smiles! Always soft spoken and polite. Definitely will end up heroes in a future book.
Hold the phone! Something just happened. (I'm jotting this down at work). A man, nice looking, just walked up to my coworker and asked if she'd like to take part in an Orgy. She blinks, "Ummm….no." When he leaves we look at each other and burst out laughing! This kind of thing doesn't happen in real life, does it? Unbelievable, but it's darn well going into my current WIP.
But what inspires me the most are the men who come in to buy flowers for their special someone. They always use a soft voice, gentle smile, and have a certain look in their eyes. I can tell the flowers really mean something to them. They're in love and want to show it. I always hold this in my mind when I write my love scenes.
4. Name three authors who inspire you the most and tell our readers why.
Ray Bradbury: His stories just seem to open wide my imagination.
Dean Koontz: Reminds me a story can be terrifying and inspiring at the same time.
Tolkien: Writes the most perfect tragic heroes.
5. If you could meet only one of your characters in real life, who would
you choose and why that character?
Gosh, it's a tossup between Shelton and Alex. On the one hand, Shelton is adorable! I'd love to be his friend. Meet him for coffee or a drink; maybe go dancing with him and Nevil.
On the other hand, Alex has my heart. We've been through hell and back together, and now that I'm writing the sequel to his story, I want to hold him close and assure him of a happy ending. His story is a little darker than my romances, a psychological thriller, and I'd love to be able to stand by his side when others might distrust or fear him.
6. What most appeals to you about being a published author, and why?
I've been a storyteller since I can remember and began submitting stories to publishers while still in high school. I've always believed I could write a good story, and being published and receiving positive feedback from readers makes me feel validated for all the time I've put into writing and the belief in myself I've kept hold of all these years.
7. Your book Alex seems like more of a psychological thriller rather than
an erotic romance, what inspired you to write this story?
The answer is a story in itself! I've always believed that Frodo Baggins is the perfect tragic hero. He gives everything to save the shire, but in the end can't live there himself. I wanted to write a hero like him.
So I wrote my own fantasy novel with a character very much like Frodo, in that he gives all his heart into saving his friends from harm, and though there's a happy ending for him, it's not exactly what he expected.
So then I asked myself, what is it about these two men that attracts me? And what would happen if they were placed in the modern world? There's a vulnerability to them but also hidden strengths that I was able to dig into and bring out more fully in ALEX. In my fantasy story, Nathan's abilities seem like magic to the people around him. In ALEX, his empathy is perceived as psychic powers. Both men are misunderstood and distrusted, but with ALEX, at least there are people willing to believe in him.
8. Please share your favorite recipe with our readers.
These are the best cookies EVER!
3 cups rolled oats, uncooked
¾ cup butter 1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar ½ tsp. baking soda
½ cup granulated sugar raisins
1 tsp. vanilla
Cream together butter, sugars and egg. Add remaining ingredients. Spoon onto greased cookie sheet.
Bake 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes.
9. If you could choose one thing to do differently on your road to
publication what would it be and why that one thing?
The main thing I would have done is have a stronger online presence. I didn’t start a Blog or Facebook Page, Twitter, etc. until after my first story came out. I feel a little like I've been playing catch-up ever since. I wish I'd known a lot of what I do now two years ago, but things are slowly falling into place, so I'm happy.
10. What are your top three favorite free promotions tips?
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Dianne-Hartsock/e/B005106SYQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1361897239&sr=8-1
Today we have Raven Raye in the hot seat! Welcome Raven!
1. When and where did you get bit by the writing bug?
I was about 8 and loved epic poetry. Beowulf is one of my favorites. So I started writing my own poetry. LOL They were not epic.
2. Share with our readers one thing about yourself that they won't find on
As an American living in a small English town, I experienced bigotry firsthand and so have a unique distaste for unfairness and ridicule.
3. Which authors most inspire you and why?
Wow, there are so many. Edgar Allen Poe for his use of dark imagery, Kerrelyn Sparks for her use of humor, and Christine Feehan for her success with a long running, intricately woven series.
4. If you could choose one of your characters to meet in real life, who it
would be and why that character?
That would have to be Nicolai. During my own personal crisis, I made him up to be perfectly compatible with me.
5. What is your writing process? Do you outline your books ahead of time,
or are you a "pantser" ie fly by the seat of your pants writer?
I’m a plotter. The characters live in my head for a long time as I get to know their history and quirks. I have several plot pages where I outline scenes. When inspiration hits, I pick a scene and rough it out.
6. What is your favorite part of the writing process, planning, research or the actual writing of your story?
I get lost in research. I love to research for its own sake, but I also like when I’m so immersed in the story that it seems to take over and practically writes itself.
7. What is your favorite part of promoting your books?
Talking about the world I’ve developed and the magick the people learn to use.
8. What is your least favorite part of promoting your books?
LOL Talking to strangers about the world I’ve developed and asking them to read about it. I’m very shy and I have a difficult time opening up to strangers.
9. What are your top three free promotions tips that you like to use when promoting your books?
Social media is great for promotions. Word of mouth from friends. Blogging on your own website.
10. Do you have a favorite paid for promotions tip? If so, please share with us.
Jury’s still out on this one. Pens to give away, because who doesn’t like pens. Whether or not they generate any sales, I have no idea. Although I haven’t tried it yet, the Press Kit seems like an excellent way to spread the news.
I'd like to welcome author Toni Noel to In the Hot Seat Today! We're delighted to have her, and hope you enjoy her interview as much as we did.
It looks like you started out writing non-fiction, what made you decide to write fiction.
In high school I was a reporter for two local newspapers, and had planned to study journalism in college. I fell in love the first week on campus and we were married at the end of my freshman year. I didn't stick around there long enough to minor in journalism, but throughout my child-raising years I still planned to write, I just didn't know what. After my youngest daughter graduated high school I earned a business degree and went to work full time as an accountant. That's when my oldest daughter loaned me one of her romance novels to read and I was hooked.
I finally had a goal. I'd write romance novels when I retired. But when the time came and I was free to write I still had no idea how to get started. I enrolled in a creative writing course at a nearby community college, and the inspiration for my first novel came to me while taking the class. Desert Breeze will release that first novel I completed so long ago, To Feel Again, on November 11th. Needless to say the manuscript has undergone numerous revisions and had almost found a permanent home under my bed before I decided to polish the manuscript and submit it again.
Do you outline your novels before beginning to write, or are you more of a "write by the seat of your pants" writer?
Instead of making an outline, I depend on the Fifty Scenes method of plotting to assure my novels reach a satisfying conclusion, but this method of plotting is similar to making an outline. I start with the inspiration for a novel, usually the setting, but sometimes it's the hero or heroine, someone I've seen I think would make an ideal mate. The premise and story line soon follow, and I begin jotting down ideas for the scenes necessary to get me from the first meet through to a satisfying conclusion.
When I have ideas for at least fifty scenes, which will translate to between fifty-thousand and seventy-five thousand words, I paste each scene idea on a 3×5 inch card and write from those numbered cards, rearranging the cards and adding new ones when needed. This method works well for me.
In Law Breakers and Love Makers, my first published novel, a romantic suspense, my muse took over shortly after I began writing and characters and pets I didn't have on my cards began showing up on the pages. Rather than argue with the alarm guy, a dog, a cat and a talking parrot, I gave them free reign, and the book practically wrote itself. The roller-coaster ride my characters take the reader on makes for some scary fun.
Share with our readers something about you that they won't find in your bio on your website.
My husband and I just celebrated our sixtieth wedding anniversary, so I'm a firm believer in love at first sight and romance, and in answer to your unasked question, our bedroom makes the perfect setting for research.
What do you think of the e-Book publishing revolution? Do you prefer e-Books or books with actual pages rather than digital pages?
A well-edited book is a good book, whether digital or in print. I can lose myself in either one.
You mentioned you like to take online classes. Share with our readers three of your favorite online classes and why they were your favorite.
Laurie Schnebly Campbell's Plotting Through Motivation offered about once a year at WritersU is excellent, as is Margie Lawson's class on Empowering Character's Emotions. Campbell's class teaches you how to choose motivations for your characters that will sustain those characters through the entire novel, and it's always good to take another look at characters' emotions.
Catherine Chant teaches a Microsoft Word for Writers class that I highly recommend writers take. I signed up for that class tearing my hair that I had to convert my manuscripts to Word, and learned many time-saving tricks from Catherine.
Then there's the timely workshops offered by the Marketing For Romance Writers group, and knowledgeable RWA member Margaret Taylor's classes on Forensics and Law Enforcement are always fun and enlightening.
I'm a firm believer in continuing your education, but a writer must be careful when choosing a class. Enrolling in one you are not ready for can be disastrous for an inexperienced writer and may lead to writer's block. About a year ago a writer friend took a class on revision and now when she sits down at her computer, she's bombarded by so many don't-do's class members were warned to avoid, she's unable to write.
Okay, we have to ask, sixty years is a long time to be married to the same person, what's your secret? LOL.
We married at a time when couples married for keeps, so we've never once considered walking away from our commitment. Falling in love at first sight was a blessing. We never questioned whether we were marrying too soon, the way our parents did. It's also equally important to like your mate. Mine is my best friend. Early on my husband insisted we make up before bed time if we'd quarreled, and both of us felt it important to make time for us, no matter what, for if you ever let the fire go out in a relationship, it might not re-ignite.
We all know how important the cover and blurb are for a book, but as an author and a reader, what makes you buy a book, the cover or the blurb, or both? If you chose just one of these, why that one?
That's the one advantage print books have over e-Books. The blurb helps me decide which print book to buy. With e-Books, I depend on word of mouth, and social media hype, not nearly as effective as turning a book over in my hand. If the eBook is priced low, I will buy it anyway, figuring I'm not out much if I've made a bad choice. Covers sometimes tweak my curiosity, but well-written back-of-the-book blurb seals the deal for me. And yes, I do visit the author's website or Amazon Author Page to read more about an eBook I’m considering downloading.
If you could live the life of one of your characters which character would you choose and why that character?
I always wanted to teach, so I'd like to be Treasure Montgomery, named Teacher of the Year in Restored Dreams, the story of a house-poor teacher and the rodeo rider turned benevolent contractor she hired to fix her leaky master bathroom. She's too proud to accept charity, and too broke to pay for the needed supplies, but Buck trades his skilled labor for a new sink for her kitchen remodel and refurbishes cabinets accepted in partial payment for another job he did. Treasure wants her leaky roof repaired, not replaced, but Buck insists on doing the job right, and busts her budget. When Treasure discovers this, she kicks him out of her bed and out of her house, but it's nearly impossible to kick the man she's fallen in love with out of her heart. Only his love for her allows them to make up and prepare to open a proposed home and school for abused and troubled boys on her property.
If you could do one thing different on your road to publication, what would it be, and why that one thing?
I wouldn't put off the writing. There are way too many things to learn. I should have been taking those on-line classes while I was earning my degree, and maybe even attending RWA meetings between pregnancies.
Don't wait like I did until my children were grown and I retired to start writing. A concert pianist puts in at least ten thousand hours of practice before stepping onto a concert stage. Be prepared to spend thousands of hours writing before you make the first sale. Don't wait to begin writing. Write something every day if it's only a grocery list.
Name your top 3 favorite free promotion tips for authors.
Choose the social media you prefer, and consistently make your presence known there, whether it's re-Tweeting a Tweet, regularly posting to Facebook, or staying LinkedIn. Don't always promote yourself. Be generous with you time and your praise. Be helpful, friendly, and supportive, and let your personality shine through. For eBook authors building readership is a long, slow process. Readers have to find your books before they can buy them, so make your presence known. Share your skills and knowledge. Give beginning writers a hand up by providing well-intentioned advice.
Thanks you for having me today. And if you'd like to know more about me or my books, here are my links:
You can download my books here:
Or from your favorite eBook store.
Bad weather cuts short Wilda Stone's hot-air balloon race, throwing her back into widowed lawman Hal Grantham's time, the 1870's. A sand storm forces them to seek shelter in a cave, compromises Wilda's reputation, and forces Hal into a marriage of convenience. Wilda falls in love with the terse lawman, abandons all thought of returning to the twenty-first century. Her stoic husband conceals his true feelings for her. When diphtheria– the same disease responsible for taking his first wife and son — threatens this Cerro Gordo mining town, deep concern for Wilda's welfare drives Hal to send his wife back to her own time in her balloon. His actions convince her Hal shuns her love and she departs, whispering a promise to return, without revealing her pregnancy. Once her conveyance rises beyond his reach, Hal realizes his mistake and launches a futile search for the woman he now readily admits he loves.
Toni Noel's love of books started in childhood, when her mother first read The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew to her. She helped start church libraries in two rural Tennessee towns and appeared before the City Planning Commission and the San Diego City Council to urge a site be purchased. As the neighborhood spokesman for the new library the City Councilman for her district invited her to turn the second shovel of dirt at the groundbreaking for the new library. Toni's fondest dream, to see one of her safe-haven-for-the-heart novels available for checkout there may soon be fulfilled. Desert Breeze Publishing will release in print form in November the author's first published novel Law Breakers and Love Makers.
Toni Noel's Novels… Safe havens for the heart.
Welcome T.D. Jones to In the Hot Seat today! Thanks for visiting T.D., and answering all our nosy but we hope were interesting questions. LOL
1. If this was the first time I'd ever seen any of your books, which book of yours would you recommend that I read first and why?
Hot Days…I think it shows how I started out as a writer and improved (I hoped) as I finished each book.
2. What qualities in your opinion make a good hero? Are these the same qualities that make a good heroine? If so why? If not why?
I think they need to be nice and have respect for each other. Strong but willing to meet in the middle. Yes I think this goes for both.
3. What rituals do you use to get into the writing mood?
I love to write in the wee morning and drink coffee while I’m doing it. Time I get home from work all day usually too tired to be creative so go to bed early and wake up around 3am and write.
4. What do you do if you get a bad review?
I learn from it. Of course it hurts, but not everyone is going to like my stories and I think even a bad review is someone taking the time to say something.
5. If genies were real and you met one that granted you three wishes, what would your wishes be?
Too be able to write full time and make a good living at it. A very, comfortable office chair. A house in Hawaii (all paid for of course)
6. What do you most like about being an author?
I love creating stories and seeing how far I can take it.
7. Do you outline your books or write them on the fly so to speak?
No outline most of the time. I just go with the flow.
8. If you could change one thing on your road to publication what would it be?
Promoting, it’s so hard trying to keep your name out there and write too. I would love an easier way to do the social networking part.
9. Share your top three favorite free book promotions tips.
Get a face book page and promote on it. I only talk writing stuff on my page. Sign up for Goodreads.com and promote and let readers know about your books. Start a web page on weebly.com, it’s all free and easy.
10. Tell our readers what your favorite paid promotions tip is
I love Vista print. I do all my printing promo stuff from there and give out some cute postcards and such about my books.
Please welcome multi-genre published author Tara Fox Hall today on In the Hot Seat. Tara is one very interesting individual based on her interview with us. And a large snake owner, for that alone she has my respect. Personally I'm not a snake lover, but I know there are those who are. <shudders>
1. Inquiring minds want to know, does your job as a safety and health inspector give you ideas for your stories?
Actually, yes! Promise Me’s heroine, Sarelle McGarran is a safety woman who works in a fabrication shop not unlike the one I work in. When I began writing, it was easiest for me to make a heroine with a lot of resemblance to me, so I could make her believable by pulling details from real life to mix into the fantasy I was creating.
I also have a novel in the very beginning stages entitled Metal that I am working on. But that book will be more of a suspense/thriller, I believe. My coworkers and others I know through my work connections are a constant source of inspiration. I also appreciate that most, if not all, of them are supportive of my writing.
2. You're obviously an animal lover since you make and donate cat and dog beds to animal shelters, could you tell us about your own pets?
There are five cats, two dogs and one snake under our roof.
Jesse (black and white – the cat pictured with me on my website, and on my lap again right now) and Macavity (black) are both 14 years old or so. They were adopted together from a local shelter. They also appear in Promise Me and its sequels as cats called Jessica and Cavity.
Phantom (tiger) is about 6 years old. He has a cleft palate, which means his mouth is malformed, and can’t close. Luckily, he has a large tongue that is usually in the gap. It doesn’t affect his hunting prowess, as he’s the largest of the cats, known to kill and eat squirrels, rabbits, and weasels. He’s named for Phantom of the Opera. He was one of the kittens I helped find homes for at the metal shop, when I first began working there years ago. And yes, we managed to find a home for the mother cat, too. J
Moonshadow is a 3-year-old longhaired black cat. His front leg was broken at a young age and healed badly. By the time we adopted him from a shelter, the bone had grown at the bone ends, rounding them, so fixing it would have caused him a lot of pain. He hobbles around slowly, and it might take him a while to get there, but he does just fine. He has the best personality I’ve ever seen in a cat.
Asher (pale calico) is the basement cat. She is afraid of anything and everything. I found her in a 6” x 3” x 3” box as a kitten next to a trash can at a local park, and had to walk her back to my car a few miles away to get her home, which didn’t help her to be less traumatized. She likes the dogs, but has an ongoing war with Moon, who she beat up as a kitten before retreating to basement life. She is not friendly, except to my husband and me, and even then, she is easily startled. She also appears in the Promise Me books.
Tawny is a tawny colored husky/sheepdog mix. We got her from Best Friends Animal Sanctuary as an older puppy. She’s my husband’s favorite, and very much a lady, though ferocious to strangers. She is named after one of my Promise Me characters, and also because she’s tawny colored J
Hunter D is a black and tan German shepherd. He’s ferocious, too, but we are working with him to be better with strangers. He is named for Vampire Hunter D, the hero of a series of vampire fantasy novels.
Snake: Hannibal is a kingsnake, names for the great vampire Hannibal King, of Tomb of Dracula fame. He’s a very good snake, close to two years old now, and about 4ft long. He rattles his tail like a rattlesnake when he’s thinking about striking.
3. Do you find it more difficult to promote your books since you write in
It’s easier to promote when you write in multiple genres. Many review or blog sites want only novels, or short stories, or romance, or erotica, or horror. With writing all of these genres, I can usually find something that a given site is willing to either review or let me blog about to promote my work. Different genres are also promoted different ways, though most all can be blogged about. I also am trying some unconventional ways to promote this year – I’ll let you know if they work J
4. What is the most appealing thing in your opinion about writing in more
than one genre?
That I never have to worry if my story goes someplace I hadn’t planned on going. Return To Me, a paranormal romance, was supposed to be a scary story, if not chilling horror. Instead, I ended up with a ghostly romance. If I didn’t also write romance, I’d have needed to alter the story to make it turn back into horror, and I know that the result would not have been as good as the romance story turned out to be. This starting out with an idea in mind and then having the story morph into something else happens about half the time. It’s a big relief that I can let the story go where it wants to in terms of genre, and focus instead on making it as good as story as possible.
5. Who are your top five favorite authors?
The top five authors of all time are Stephen King, Lincoln Child/Douglas Preston (who I count as a team – I like their singly authored books, but the coauthored ones about Pendergast are my faves), William W. Johnstone (Both horror and also Mountain Man/other adventure series), Brian Lumley (Necroscope), and Hideyuki Kikuchi, of Vampire Hunter D fame. But Jenny Twist is edging up fast. I haven’t been able to get her short story Doppelganger out of my mind since reading it more than two months ago. I have been urging her to lengthen it into a novel.
6. What's your favorite comfort food?
Godiva Chocolate. Lacking that, anything chocolate will do, or tiramisu. Hell, any kind of cake would do. Cheese fries…okay, I’ll stop.
7. Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what types of music do you like to listen to during this time?
I listed to channel 434 on cable, which is Soundscapes. It’s playing in the background as I write this faintly.
8. What kinds of things inspire you to write your stories?
Anything can inspire me, from a look across a room, a comment by a coworker, the way someone is dressed, a nightmare, a show on TV, a song, a poem, an unusual item; anything. I was just inspired to write an essay called One Last Look: A Writer’s Plea to the Reviewer by a bad review. Now I am inspired by that work I did to write an opposing piece from a reviewer’s POV. I’ll let you know how it goes J
9. Please share your top three paid promotions tips with our readers.
1 – Cover Ads. These have been most successful to date, as when you can get the covers out there in front of your audience, they are more inclined to pick up your work. The majority of the ads I buy are cover ads.
2 – Being a featured author at various sites, as usually that is a small cost for a large return, in terms of blog parties you can join, or other perks you are given, like interviews, free ads, etc. I have met several fans at parties.
3– I don’t really have a third yet, having really only been promoting since October 2011. I am trying web hunts, newsletter ads, various promo items, contests, giveaways, and magazine ads, but don’t have any data yet to support how successful these are, though my research says that they increase sales. I do suggest putting up a print copy of your work on Goodreads. I’ve done that twice, and those books have gotten a lot of attention.
10. What are your top four free promotions tips?
1 – Blogging and more blogging. I’ve met many fans that way. But while this is a free promotional tool, it’s also going to take quite a bit of time, especially if you need to create your own blog posts, not just respond to comments. In addition, almost all fans go to only a few blogs to check out books. You’ll need to travel the circuit to reach a wide group. Plus, the bigger blogs are booked well in advance. I just made an appointment at one review site in early February for a promo date in October 2012.
2 – Author interviews. Again, answering questions in detail (1 word answers are a no-no) takes time.
3 – Book signings. I admit to not having done one of these yet, but I have set up two. From my author friends, I hear that they are good for meeting fans.
4 – Facebook, and other social media sites. All authors need a FB page, a website, a blog, and other ways to connect online with their fans. These take probably the most work of all, both to create and maintain, even if they are simple. Websites can be free, or you can go all out with major graphics. But there had to be something out there where people looking for your work can find it. Ideally, they should be able to Google your name and have your website come up first on the list. At least, they should be able to get some hits with your book titles together with your name.
Okay, there's only one way to describe the author visiting our blog today and that word is "live wire!" Take it away Cassiel! (psssstt…and be sure and read Key of Solomon, I guarantee you'll love it, I did!)
1. I noticed you have a tendency to put your heroine and hero at odds in your books. What is it that you like about putting the two main characters at odds, and why do think this works so well (because we both know it does)?
Well, it should work well in romances, shouldn’t it? J I think there are few people who enjoy conflict in their lives. Maybe lawyers. And my husband. Especially in relationships, conflict is an integral part and takes many forms. For our fantasy, which is what I like to write, conflict in romance, unlike real life, has only one resolution – the happy ending. That’s why I and I suspect others, like our stories filled with conflict because we have the power to create those happy endings for our characters. These happy ending can be a wonderful love or it can be winning against the bad guy. We just don’t always get the chance to have such positive ends to conflict in our daily lives. That’s why I think, as a writer and a reader, romance fiction is so important. The happy ending.
2. Okay, I gotta ask, why fallen angels? I had the pleasure of reading Key of Solomon, and so I just wondered what made you think of a fallen angel as the hero?
Thanks for reading Key! I hope you had a good experience. As far as how I came up with the idea of fallen angels, I wanted to write something different then the market was doing at that time (now, there are so many) and I’d always loved the idea of angels but I didn’t necessarily want to write an “angelic” being.
Like many, I’d grown up thinking of angels as beautiful beings decked in white with blue eyes and golden hair. While I wasn’t opposed to that, I still wanted something different. I do like my dark heroes. I wish I could remember when I fell on the idea of fallen angels. It was probably from something I researched but once I had the idea, and later learned that the stories go that God wouldn’t let them back into Heaven no matter what, Mikos and his story was born.
3. What do you think about the phrase, "write what you know?"
LOL. I wrote a whole blog post on this subject. I think Valerie Sherwood, a romance novelist, says it best: “Don’t write what you know – what you know may bore you, and thus bore your readers. Write about what interests you – and interests you deeply – and your readers will catch fire at your words.” This is what I focus on when I write and why I love writing what I do. If I’m excited, I’m hoping my reader will be too.
4. What has been your favorite book to write so far, and why that particular book?
Well, can I say my favorite book is the one that hasn’t found a home yet? J I’ve loved all my stories and enjoyed creating the worlds. However, the one that is currently waiting for a home is a tomb raider-based romance featuring a Lara Croft-type heroine. Her hero is a study Egyptologist with a hidden side. It’s loosely based on Egyptian mythology and a large part takes place in Egypt. You can read the first chapter on my site. It’s at a publisher’s house right now so I’m waiting with fingers crossed. I do love Key of Solomon and Hit Me With Your Best Shot and I’m having a blast writing book 2 of my Relic Defender series but this one, tentatively titled Blood on the Moon is a favorite.
5. If you could do one thing differently on your road to publication, what it would be, and why that one thing?
Oh, this is easy. I would have started learning about promotion sooner and taken more interest when I had the chance. Instead of avoiding the classes at conferences, I would have taken them. I feel like I’ve had to struggle to keep pace and that can be both exhilarating but also frustrating. Time I need to take learning what I should have been learning is time I should be writing. Learn to promote and market before you are published. Even if you don’t think you have anything, you can still learn. Then, when you get the Call, you’ll be ready.
6. If you could meet one of your heroes in real life, who would it be and why that hero?
All of them? Oh, you said one. Okay, since I only have to pick one, I would love to meet Gideon in my newest release from Lyrical Press, Hit Me With Your Best Shot. He’s tough and tender with a wicked sense of humor. I love men that make me laugh. I must. I married one and 21 years later, he still makes me laugh.
7. What is your favorite thing about the process of writing a book?
Research! I’ve always loved learning but little did I know that my choice of career would let me do a lot of research as part of my job. It was a joy to discover how much I enjoyed researching as part of the creative process. I relied on the Internet and library research plus my own library is now filled with all kinds of reference books. They look so pretty sitting on my shelves. Happy sigh.
8. If you could give one piece of advice to a newly published author what would it be?
Enjoy the ride. Soon enough, you have to get off and start the hard work. Enjoy what it feels like to have your dream come true. You’ll never have the first time again. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve sold three and I’ve loved it every time. But none of them have come close to how I felt when I sold Key of Solomon to Samhain. So, enjoy it. All too soon you’ll have to think about the next book and next book and all the other things that come with being published. It’s grand, but it isn’t easy.
9. Please share your three top favorite free book promotions tips with our readers.
Twitter is your friend. Build your author presence on Goodreads. Find a great group like the wonderful staff at Heartfelt Promotions to work with. And this is a fourth but no less important – embrace the fact you have to promo if you want to sell. I know there are those out there who say they just have to write the next book or those who say they sell but don’t promo. Maybe. But I always have to wonder – how much better would they be doing if they were promoting? Something to think about.
10. What is your favorite paid promotions tip?
Starting thinking and planning about your promotion budget early. Don’t wait until you are sold.