Patricia Preston Gives Away Great Writing Advice, Free Books, and An Amazon Gift Card!

Hello readers! I’m delighted to return and host self-published romance writer Patricia Preston. Patricia seems to have reached a happy place with her writing and publishing, and in this interview, she shares her journey to publication. She also tells you how you can win FREE books and a $20 Amazon gift card!!!! Enter a comment here and/or on Patricia’s website for chances to win!

What made you decide to write romance novels?

I like positive, fun stories with a happy ending and characters who are heroic, even though sometimes they make mistakes. I love stories with a positive message and where the good guys win and love conquers all and for a little while, I like making all that seem possible for a reader.

What would you have done differently if you could start all over again?

When it comes to writing, I would have not written anything “according to category guidelines.” When I started, I knew was trying to write a category romance, and so I jumped on the bandwagon, which was stupid of me. Writing to specific guidelines suppressed me as a storyteller. I regret the loss of that time in my life and that’s one thing I would do differently. As a writer, you should always do what works best for you and your stories. I had a lot of friends who wrote according to publisher guidelines and enjoyed it.

Can you imagine having a different career? What would it be?

I can imagine a lot of fun things. But writing tends to suit me best.

How has the market changed since you first published?

Greatly. I mean, it is totally different with ebooks. I wish it would have been this way years ago. I love all the different opportunities writers have nowadays. Best time ever to be a writer.

What was your biggest challenge when it comes to publishing?

Nowadays, a writer has to make choices. Whether you want to go traditional or indie. Because each has a different route. Right now, I’m working with a traditional publisher, and I enjoy it. But that isn’t to say I’ve given up indie publishing. I have several short stories I want to write, but I signed a three-book contract, and I have to spend my time getting those books written. I also have a part-time job in healthcare as well as writing, so there’s only so much I can do.

How has your experience with self-publishing been?

Wonderful! The first story I published was The Yard Sale. I had no expectations. I just wanted to see what it would be like. It turned out to provide me with one of my best writing moments ever. It was such fun to write and I had been depressed over some losses in my life during the past year. It really helped me emotionally and set me on a new path as far as writing goes. The first day of its release, it made the top ten in comedy and for a while, it was in the number 1 spot on Amazon’s Best Seller list in Comedy. I almost passed out!

What is the single most important thing a writer should do?

Regardless of a writer’s publishing status, you should focus on writing the best book you can.

How has your life changed as you have published more books?

I write more. Like every day. Seven days a week. Seriously.

What is your perfect writing place?
I like what I have right now. But, if we’re talking wishful thinking, it would have a wall of windows overlooking forested hills and a vibrating recliner. LOL!

What advice do you have for new writers?

Work at the craft. Never stop learning or trying new things. Write what you love. Be sure to finish the book you start.

OneWeekInYourArms_blue_600 Jpg_RT

Patricia’s newest book, ONE WEEK IN YOUR ARMS, is mainstream contemporary romance filled with witty, charismatic characters. The fun, fast-paced plot features a secret baby, a billionaire baby daddy hero who needs a pretend girlfriend for a week, and a pretty doctor who is desperate to keep her child a secret. Unfortunately for the intrepid heroine, Marla, she needs money for her community clinic so she has no choice but to spend a week in paradise with the one man who can destroy her life. How can she say no?

ONE WEEK IN YOUR ARMS is the first book in Love Heals All series where romance causes havoc, heartache, and humor for a cast of unsuspecting doctors until they realize love heals all. published under the Lyrical Shine imprint of Kensington Books. Each book can be read as a stand-alone. They do feature the same location and continuing characters. The next book in the series is EVERYTHING HIS HEART DESIRES, coming in Jan 2017.

Excerpt:

She picked up the letter opener. Her heart palpitated in sheer terror as she slid the opener under the flap of the envelope. With the envelope open, she peeped inside to see one folded sheet of stationery.

After six years, what could he possibly have to say?

She pictured him, standing beside a black truck in the drive of Royal Oaks, an old estate belonging to his grandmother. She recalled the date. June twenty-eighth. The day they had said goodbye had been a warm, blustery day in Tennessee. A summer storm was heading toward the rolling hills near Nashville.

The wind made a mess of Carson’s unruly dark hair. His dark blue eyes were hidden by a pair of mirrored lens aviators, and his alpha-male physique tested the seams of his polo shirt.

“If I’m ever back in town, I’ll look you up,” he promised as their casual affair came to an inevitable end. For three weeks, they had been together and finally, the time had come for them to go their separate ways. She hadn’t realized it would be so difficult.

“Sure.” She forced a smile of goodwill. After all, they weren’t parting in anger, or in love for that matter. And it was unlikely that she would ever see him again.

“I had a great time,” she confessed boldly. She’d loved every minute of their brief, steamy affair. Talk about a summer break to remember. She grinned.

He gave her cheek a stroke. “You’ll make a great doctor.”

“You think so?”

“Yeah.” He grinned. “You certainly know all there is to know about male anatomy.”

“Yours, at least.” She laughed. Then she hopped up on her toes and gave him a quick kiss. “Goodbye, Carson Blackwell.”

She stepped away from him. Now was the time to face what was ahead. A grueling three-year residency. There would be no more time for long summer nights, tangled sheets, and sighs against swollen lips. She walked toward her small, sturdy hatchback. Before she opened the driver’s door, she looked up and met his gaze.

“Goodbye,” he called.

At that moment, she’d had an odd sensation in her chest that her life was never going to be the same.

Buy Links:
Amazon http://amzn.to/1SCo3li
Nook http://bit.ly/1VmaHru
Kobo http://bit.ly/1Vma8Oe
iBooks http://apple.co/1W6y6l6

PPreston HS 250

 

Patricia Preston writes mainstream romances where love matters most. You are her reader if you like fun, passionate, feel good reads. Must haves in her writing cave include sweet tea and music. Besides writing, she loves music, history, taking road trips, and anything containing chocolate. Her dream-come-true would be a townhouse in the French Quarter. She never misses Supernatural or the Walking Dead. She is repped by the Seymour Agency and currently working on a contemporary romance series, Love Heals All, for Lyrical Shine imprint of Kensington Books.

Available titles include Amazon best sellers, “The Yard Sale” and “Laid to Rest,” as well as historical romances: To Save a Lady and Almost an Outlaw. Coming in September is the first book in the Love Heals All series from Kensington Boos, One Week in Your Arms. Also available for pre-order is the second book in the series, Everything His Heart Desires.

Author Links:
Webpage
Amazon
BookBub
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

 

Patricia is celebrating the coming of fall and the release of her first book in her new contemporary romance series by giving away a batch of her Kindle ebooks and a $20 Amazon gift card. You can enter by leaving a comment and email address on this blog and add extra entries by going to her Giveaway post on her blog: http://patricia-preston.blogspot.com/2016/08/celebrating-new-release-monthbatch-of.html Drawing will be on Sept 30th. Winner notified via email.

Farewell…For Now…

Today, I’m sad to announce that I’ll be taking a break from publishing interviews on Romance Debuts. Life has become increasingly overwhelming (or perhaps I’m just getting worse at managing), so I’ve decided to scale back. I truly appreciate all the debut and multi-published authors who have so graciously and openly shared their experience and hard-won wisdom, and I appreciate all my readers and followers. I’ll be keeping the site up, so please feel free to re-read and share any interviews I’ve posted.

Thank you, and best of luck accomplishing your writing goals!

Zoe Mullins Reminds Writers to Get Over Themselves, Already!

I’m happy to host Zoe Mullins today! If you’ve followed the blog regularly, you may remember that Zoe visited back in February to talk about Winning Cait {https://romancedebuts.wordpress.com/2016/02/19/zoe-mullins-on-writing-editing-and-her-future-self/}.

In this post, Zoe talks about the challenges of finishing a book, having it edited, and dealing with the haters. Please join me in wishing her the best of luck with becoming a full-time writer. You go, girl!

What was your biggest challenge when you were trying to publish your debut novel?

Getting over the fear of submitting. It’s hard enough finishing a story – regardless of its length. You put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into it. It’s your baby, then suddenly just as you celebrate the accomplishment of finishing it, others begin to ask you and you begin to ask yourself, “Now what?” Writing the story isn’t the end. In fact I’ve learned, it’s just the beginning. Now you have the rollercoaster ride of submissions, rejections, resubmissions, edits, release and marketing. You are taking this work, especially your first work, which seems delicate and fragile and terribly personal, and you are asking the world to judge it. To rip it apart and deem whether or not its worthy. It’s terrifying.

How have you dealt with that challenge as you have published more?

I write in my day job too, and because I am forever writing in other people’s voice/tone, the product is always edited. I learned there quite early that you can’t be too precious about it, and I’ve tried to remember that lesson when I have to apply to my fiction writing.

You have to find away to get over yourself (over your inner ‘mama-bear’) if you are going to keep producing new work. It is still all those things – writing a book is messy – but when you put it out there you have to take the criticism with a grain of salt. There will always be haters. Whether it’s a publishing house (find another), editors (they are trying to make your book a better product – listen to them but talk about changes you are not comfortable with), or readers (haters are going to hate).

How has your life changed as you have published more books?

I’ve recently made the decision to try my luck as a full-time author. Having had two books and a novella released this year, I feel like I had the right momentum and wanted to seize on it. It’s scary. It’s a very turbulent time in the publishing world right now, and the struggle to reach your audience is very real. But for me, it was now or never. I hope with a little luck and a lot of hard work to be able to make my living as an author.

What is the single most important thing an unpublished writer should do to get published?

Besides ‘finish the story’, which is definitely a hard thing – to write ‘the end’ and mean it. But seriously, for me, the most important thing was to know your audience, and that doesn’t mean your reader. Your first audience is the editor at the publishing company you are hoping to be represented at. Read what they publish. Learn from their authors, and the author package they provide.

What is the single most important thing a newly published writer should do?

Celebrate the accomplishment. It doesn’t matter whether it’s your first book or your seventieth, I firmly believe you need to stop and celebrate each one. It doesn’t have to be big, but mark the occasion in some way.

What is the best writing advice you have ever gotten?

The best writing advice I ever received was from my high school creative writing teacher (and he stole this from someone else)… Read, read, read. Write, write, write. Never stop.

 

TemptingSophie_Large2

Cancer. That’s all it takes for Sophie to shut the door on the most important part of her life. After three years as Ben’s submissive, she says her safe word and returns his collar. But fate won’t let her face the fight alone. David steps into her life as her best friend and submissive.

Sophie may know how to use a flogger, but she’s not a Domme. She’s a sub, too scared to give up control, and David knows it. Sophie still aches to submit and if David can’t give that to her, he’s brave enough to approach the one man who can help them both.
Benjamin. He’s never given up on his submissive, even when she pushed him away and began building a life without him. She’s not happy and he knows it, and this time he’s not going let her fear stand in his way. To tempt her back, Ben will partner with David to remind Sophie just what she’s been missing.

Reader Advisory: This story has graphic sexual language and scenes—no closed bedroom doors (or other rooms) here!
An adult BDSM romance from Ellora’s Cave

Buy Links:

Ellorascave.com

Tempting Sophie

Amazon.com
https://www.amazon.com/Tempting-Sophie-Zoe-Mullins-ebook/dp/B01EXQCS38?ie=UTF8&keywords=tempting%20sophie&qid=1462823845&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1

Amazon.ca
https://www.amazon.ca/Tempting-Sophie-Zoe-Mullins-ebook/dp/B01EXQCS38/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1462823936&sr=8-1&keywords=tempting+sophie

Kobobooks.com
https://store.kobobooks.com/en-ca/ebook/tempting-sophie

Barnes & Noble
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tempting-sophie-zoe-mullins/1123741908?ean=9781419995279

Allromanceebooks.com
https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-temptingsophie-2030650-147.html

 

Zoe Mullins copy

Zoë is an Atlantic Canadian author of contemporary, historical and paranormal romance. After two decades of working in corporate communications, Zoë decided to refocus her energy on the kind of writing she loves to read – steaming hot romances with strong, independent heroines. When not at her desk or with her laptop in the gazebo, you can find her spending time with her husband (of nearly 20 years) and their three K9 fur-babies. Zoë has had two books published over the last year – Winning Cait and the latest Tempting Sophie, as well as a novella A Risk Worth Taking.

Website: http://www.zoemullins.ca
Twitter: https://twitter.com/zoe_writer
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/zoemullinsNB
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/zoe_mullins/

Margaret Locke on the Challenges and Rewards of Being a Multi-Published Author

I’m so delighted to welcome back Margaret Locke, one of the first authors I hosted when I started the blog. She has written a third time-travel romance, and fortunately for us, she has offered to share her insights into the life of a multi-published author.

If you didn’t have a chance to read Margaret’s account of finishing and publishing her first book, read it here:

https://romancedebuts.wordpress.com/2015/08/14/margaret-locke-is-locked-on-love/

As you’ve been working on your 3rd book, how (if at all) have things gotten easier?

Easier. Hrm. Well, having all three books linked together helps in terms of world-building, because I’ve got some of the information and characters set, and already feel familiar with them. I’m also a little better about knowing the steps I have to take to get from first draft to final product – but I don’t think those have gotten any easier!

I hope I’m getting a bit savvier on the marketing end of things, as well, but I guess readers will have to tell me that. 😉

How have things become more challenging?

I used to think once an author had the first book out, it obviously got easier. After all, they’d done it once – surely it wasn’t so hard the second, third, tenth, twentieth time around.

I’m so wrong. There are two big challenges I see for authors writing multiples books:

1. Not reusing the same plot ideas. This one is harder than I thought! I’ll be brainstorming a story idea, think, “This would be great!” and then realize I did something similar enough in a different book that I better not do it again. I only see this getting worse!

2. Living up to expectations. I’m delighted and stunned at the wonderful reception A Man of Character and A Matter of Time have received (they’re both nominated for the 2016 HOLT Medallion!). But now I’m terrified to put out the next book – what if people don’t like it? What if I can’t recapture whatever I did right in the first two?

What has surprised you?

I’ve been very surprised to learn how much I enjoy many of the marketing aspects. Notice I don’t claim to be GOOD at them – but I genuinely have fun making promo pics with Photoshop, or participating in FB parties, or doing interviews, or writing snappy lines to hook potential readers.

I’m also a bit surprised, to be perfectly honest, that I’m actually doing this, especially since I see so many other writers not taking the risk to put their work out there (or put words on the page). I don’t have a thick skin at all, and yet, it must be a little thicker than I realize, because I’m not letting fear and anxiety stop me – and they stop me a lot. {On behalf of all of us readers, I’ll express my gratitude that you haven’t let fear and anxiety stop you!}

What advice would you give to aspiring writers now that you’ve published three books?

Write. Write more. Learn craft, yes, and read widely, yes, and attend conferences and build platform and all that. But you won’t get anywhere if you don’t actually write. I’d love to tell you I’m one of those people who sits down in her chair for a certain amount of time or a certain amount of words a day. I’m not. But I’m working to prioritize writing, because that’s what matters in the end.

And take advantage of all the writers out there! Join (or start!) a critique group. Find critique partners. Join a professional organization. Get to know other writers on social media. I have met some amazing people these past few years, and without them, I wouldn’t be where I am. The vast majority of writers I’ve met want to share info and help and learn and support. Don’t miss out on that by hiding away in a writing cave (or at least come out of the cave once in a while.)
A Scandalous Matter
http://bit.ly/AScandalousMatter

Independent, spirited Amara Mattersley may live under scandal’s shadow, but at least the Regency society judging her is familiar, if not exactly beloved. That’s all about to change when this nineteenth-century duke’s sister finds herself in twenty-first-century Charlottesville, Virginia–and locking horns with one very befuddling, very male, UVa professor.

Computer science professor Matthew Goodson has no time for love–no time for anything, actually, but his quest for tenure and his obsession with the screen. The last thing he expects is to get side-swiped by this adorably odd British miss. Yet something in her calls to him, pulls at him, in a way unknown — and uncomfortable.

Can this odd couple blend the past and the present into a mutual future, or will old wounds and new complications sabotage any chance at a twenty-first century happily ever after?

 

MargaretLocke

As a teen, Margaret Locke pledged to write romances when she grew up. Once an adult, however, she figured she ought to be doing grown-up things, not penning steamy love stories. Yeah, whatever. Turning forty cured her of that silly notion. Margaret is now happily ensconced back in the clutches of her first love, this time as an author as well as a reader. Margaret lives in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley in Virginia with her fantastic husband, two fab kids, and two fat cats. You can usually find her in front of some sort of screen (electronic or window; she’s come to terms with the fact that she’s not an outdoors person). Please visit her at margaretlocke.com.

Margaret Locke’s Contact Links:

Website: http://margaretlocke.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorMargaretLocke

GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/MargaretLocke

 

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/Margaret_Locke

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Margaret_Locke

 

 

Award-Winning Author Nicole Evelina Will Inspire You

I’m so thrilled to host award-winning author Nicole Evelina today. In this interview, she shares the inspiration behind her romantic comedy, Been Searching For You, and explains her reasons for self-publishing. I hope you’ll be inspired, as I have, by Nicole’s advice for aspiring writers and her candid assessment of the challenges we writers face.

What inspired you to write this story?

I never thought I’d write a romance; I’m primarily a historical fiction/historical fantasy author. I actually swore I’d never write romance because I really disliked romance books for a long time – until I realized what I really hated was certain types of romance. Others are pretty darn good.

But I still had one pet peeve: most heroines, especially in romantic comedies, are under 30. If there’s a wedding involved, it’s “OMG, I’m going to be 30 and not married!” As a 36-year-old single girl, allow me to smack you. So, what did I do? I went and wrote my own love story, one for those of us who are over 30 *gasp*, still single and still romantics at heart. I wrote it because I wanted to write the happily ever after I haven’t yet experienced.

The book came to life because of the Civil Wars songs “To Whom it May Concern” and “Dust to Dust,” both of which my best friend introduced me to. They seem to be bookends to a love story to me, so I swore I’d write a book that began with the words “To Whom it May Concern” and ended with the words “Dust to Dust.” And I did.

Describe your process for writing this particular book.

My friend introduced me to those songs in late November. By the first week of December, the plot popped into my head. Then came Annabeth, the main character, who was inspired by a British actress named Nadine Lewington, who I saw on an episode of Inspector Lewis. I started writing the next day. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. Every spare moment was taken up by getting this story down on paper. By the beginning of March, it was complete. I’ve never had a book come so quickly or so easily.

The first draft took me about three months. But then over the next two years, I continually refined the book through contest feedback and working with a few editors. Believe me, the story is much better for it.

How do you fit your writing into the rest of your life?

This is going to sound so boring, but writing is pretty much all I do outside of my day job. My job is a writer for a marketing department, so that often wears my brain out during the week, so I only write then if I’m on deadline or it’s during NaNoWriMo. But even then, during the week I’m researching, reading or marketing at night. I write on weekends, holidays and use my vacation days for one-person writing retreats. It’s what I have to do. I’m lucky that I’m single and don’t have children so I can focus all my time and efforts on writing. Sometimes that means letting the house get dirty or the leaving the laundry undone.

What keeps you going through the process?

I have to write; for me it’s like breathing. I have these characters in my head who insist on their stories being told, so I have to write in order satisfy myself and to get them to shut up. On the days it all gets to be too much, chats with my mom or best friend, a bottle of wine and chocolate see me through.

What made you decide to publish independently?

It was a combination of things, and a decision that I took a long time in coming to. One of the main factors was that it was time for me to get my work out there. It had been four and a half years – and six books – since I started querying agents. My work was just stacking up with no place to go, even though I had people telling me through my blog and social media that they wanted to read it. I wanted to be able to learn from it, which I can’t do unless others can read it. That, combined with wanting to have my historical fiction book Madame Presidentess published before the November 2016 Presidential election (which was by then impossible to do traditionally because of the time it takes to produce a book), and a desire to have more control over my career, led me to start my own publishing company. However, I am open to the possibility of traditional publishing in the future. I haven’t ruled anything out.

What’s the biggest challenge of publishing independently?

Marketing and gaining visibility in a crowded marketplace are the biggest challenges for me. Even though my background is in marketing, it’s still a challenge because there are so many books out there and without a big house behind you, it’s hard to get people’s attention. I’ve been doing everything myself up to this point, but for my next book I’ll be working with a publicist, so I’m hoping that will help.

What are the benefits of publishing independently?

For me, the biggest benefit is the control. I get to have full input on the cover, the blurb on the back of the book, how and when sales take place and am responsible for quality control. I get to pick my own audio book talent and give them direction based on how I’d like the book to be performed. Those are all things most traditional authors have little to no say in. The downside is that all of this takes time and money, valuable commodities for every author, and you don’t have anyone helping in that department.

What’s the process of getting the book ready for publication?

Once my beta readers have given me their edits and I’ve taken the book as far as I can without help, it goes to my editor, Cassie Cox. While she’s working her magic (if not before) Jenny Quinlan and I are trading emails about the cover. Then I get edits back from Cassie, incorporate them, and she sends that draft off to the proofreader. Once I make those edits, it goes to The Editorial Department for layout, which takes 8-10 weeks. During that time I supply Jenny with the back cover copy and any endorsements so she can finalize the cover. Once everything is done, I upload the files to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords and Kobo.

What has surprised you most about the process?

That it takes so long! For some reason I didn’t expect layout to take more than two months. If I would have known that, I would have spaced my releases out more. I also have to say that it was a pleasant surprise that as an indie you can create a product of equal quality to traditionally published books if you take the time and money to do things right.

What would you change if you could?

Other than having a patron that would take on the cost?  I’d love to be doing this full-time, not only because it would mean that I’d be able to produce more books, but because I’d have more time to devote to marketing.

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

Write what you are passionate about, even if that isn’t where the market is going. If you care about it, chances are very good someone else will, too. You will thank yourself when you’ve read your book for the 12th or 15th time (I’m not kidding; it really can take that many re-reads) in the editing process and you are sick of it. At least if it’s a subject/plot/character you love, you’ll have the will to carry on.

Take whatever path to publication is best for you. If you want an agent and a major publisher, query your heart out. But know that it can be a long process filled with rejection. (Or not. My mentor’s first book sold overnight, two weeks after she got her agent.) If you decide to go indie, educate yourself (there are plenty of books and web sites that will help you) and please, please pay for professional editing and cover art. They will be worth every penny.

And no matter what, don’t ever give up. It is really true that the only sure way to fail is to give up. You started writing because you have a story to tell and you know what? Someone in the world needs to read that story. So when you have a rough day, think about that person. It might not take away all the frustration or sadness, but it will give you a renewed sense of purpose.

Been Searching for You eBook Cover Large

Annabeth is a hopeless romantic who believes in soul mates. In fact, she’s been writing to hers each year on her birthday since she was 16.

Now, at 34, she’s still holding out hope of finding Mr. Right even though he’d be fighting an uphill battle to gain her trust, thanks to a traumatic experience years before that’s left her unable to commit.

When Annabeth meets a handsome literature professor named Alex on her 34th birthday, she thinks her quest may finally be at an end. Things don’t quite go as planned, so Annabeth resolves to do everything she can over the next year to find the unknown recipient of her letters. But blind dates, Meetup events and online singles sites have nothing on what fate has in store for her when a co-worker unexpectedly quits and Annabeth finds herself working in close quarters with both Alex and her long ago ex, Nick. Fighting her attraction to one and loathing for the other, Annabeth is forced to face all of her old insecurities while keeping an eye on a scheming frienemy who may derail her hopes and dreams.

Written in the tradition of Bridget Jones’ Diary, Kim Gruenfelder’s A Total Waste of Makeup, and Melissa Pimental’s Love By The Book, this romantic comedy shows that love on the sweet side can exist for the modern girl, if only she’s willing to trust herself and search hard enough.

Been Searching for You was the winner of the 2015 Romance Writers of America Great Expectations and Golden Rose contests.

 

Nicole Evelina headshot horizontal
Nicole Evelina is an award-winning historical fiction and romantic comedy writer. Her latest novel, Been Searching for You (May 10), a romantic comedy, won the 2015 Romance Writers of America (RWA) Great Expectations and Golden Rose contests.

She also writes historical fiction. Her debut novel, Daughter of Destiny, the first book of an Arthurian legend trilogy that tells Guinevere’s life story from her point of view, was named Book of the Year by Chanticleer Reviews, took the Grand Prize in the 2015 Chatelaine Awards for Women’s Fiction/Romance, won a Gold Medal in the fantasy category in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards and was short-listed for the Chaucer Award for Historical Fiction. Later this year, she will release Madame Presidentess (July 25), a historical novel about Victoria Woodhull, America’s first female Presidential candidate, which was the first place winner in the Women’s US History category of the 2015 Chaucer Awards for Historical Fiction.

Nicole is one of only six authors who completed a week-long writing intensive taught by #1 New York Times bestselling author Deborah Harkness. Nicole has traveled to England twice to research the Guinevere’s Tale trilogy, where she consulted with internationally acclaimed author and historian Geoffrey Ashe, as well as Arthurian/Glastonbury expert Jaime George, the man who helped Marion Zimmer Bradley research The Mists of Avalon.

Nicole is a member of and book reviewer for The Historical Novel Society, and Sirens (a group supporting female fantasy authors), as well as a member of the Historical Writers of America, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, Romance Writers of America, the St. Louis Writer’s Guild, Women Writing the West, Broad Universe (promoting women in fantasy, science fiction and horror), Alliance of Independent Authors and the Independent Book Publishers Association.

Her website is http://nicoleevelina.com.

 

Tinthia Clemant on Handling Rejection and Becoming a Better Writer

I’m so delighted to host Tinthia Clemant today. Tinthia recently self-published her romance novel, The Summer of Annah: A Midsummer’s Wish, her second if you count the robin/bluebird romance she made her mom when she was seven :).

In this interview, Tinthia graciously shares her journey to publication, from hearing difficult feedback about her first draft to working to improve her writing every day.

How long have you wanted to be a romance writer?

I’ve been enthralled with love stories ever since I first saw Sleeping Beauty at the age of four. My parents took my siblings and me to the local library, and I climbed up onto my father’s lap and entered the world of Princess Aurora, aka Briar Rose, her fairy godmothers and, of course, the handsome Prince Phillip. It was at that defining moment that my subconscious made two very important decisions—I wanted to find true love and I wanted to create marvelous stories about true love’s first kiss.

What inspired you to write this story?

The decision to write The Summer of Annah: A Midsummer’s Wish came on the eve of my 59th birthday. I had all these wonderful stories about love clambering around inside me and Annah was the loudest. She spoke to me as I went about my day-to-day life, asking for a chance to have her story told. I like to say I live vicariously through my characters. Annah has the brave qualities I wish I possessed. And she has Eric.

Describe your process for writing this particular book.

When it comes to writing, I’m a pantster. Yes, that’s a real term in the writing world. I get a spark of an idea and I start writing. The words pour out, many of which make little sense but I release them anyway. There are times when the characters take me to a places I hadn’t imagined going. Then at other times, they remain mute and refuse to come out to play.

During the initial draft phase, I kept a notebook with the names of each character. That was it. I foolishly thought my first draft was awesome and actually shared it with an English teacher at the school where I teach. Hey, if other writers could find success with only their first draft, why not me? His comment: “Stay teaching. Your writing is crap.” That was the slap I needed to learn as much as I could about this frightening process called fiction writing and, after long hours of sweat, tears, and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, The Summer of Annah matured and became the amazing story I’m presenting to the world.

How long did it take to complete?

I typed the first word on March 1, 2015. I finished the first draft in October and had it shot down by mid-November. At the end of January, I completed a second draft, which I ultimately sent out for a developmental read. Elizabeth Davies, bless her soul, provided quality direction and guidance. I placed the third draft on Scribophile for daily critiques and in March of 2016, I hired a professional editor.

Was this the first book you had written?

My first book was also self-published and a huge success, receiving accolades from my audience. It was a story about a love that formed between two unlikely souls—a bluebird and a robin. True love overcame all obstacles and they lived happily ever after. I stapled the pages together and presented the book to my mother for Mother’s Day. I was seven and on my way to becoming the literary world’s newest and freshest romance writer. Since then I’ve written several stories but they have only seen the inside of my shredder. As I mentioned, my characters tend to be far braver than I am.

Did you work on simultaneous projects?

If you count living and keeping a roof over my head working on simultaneous projects, then, yes, I did. Annah became my primary focus in the fiction arena. As a college teacher, I need to write for my job and I blog about my life as a single woman living on the Concord River (concordriverlady.com) and needed to maintain that presence. The story was never far from my mind though. Oftentimes I would need to stop what I was doing so I could record a thought or jot down some dialogue for the book. I’ve lived and breathed The Summer of Annah for well over a year.

How did you fit your writing into the rest of your life?

I’m most creative in the early morning hours. In May of 2015, I adopted a blind Australian Shephard puppy who prefers to be awake early in the day. Four o’clock a.m. early! I would write for three to four hours every morning, including Saturdays and Sundays. I became religious in the process. Every morning I sat at the computer, coffee mug alongside, and write as the sun rose over the Concord River. At night, I would end the day by clocking in another two hours.

Who gave you feedback as you worked through writing the book?

Unfortunately, writing can put a person inside a bubble. For example, I honestly thought the draft I presented to my colleague was good. After all, it appeared to be good to me. Ha. Wake-up call. For the second draft, I enlisted a family member and close friend, and, as I mentioned, Elizabeth Davies. During that time, I also read everything I could get my eyes on about dangling participles and passive voice. Once the third draft was finished, I posted it on Scribophile for daily critiques.

What kept you going through the process?

What kept me going through the process? Chocolate, Ben and Jerry, and daily walks. However, when things got too overwhelming I would throw my hands up and cry, ‘This is too damn hard. I can’t do it’ and my sister, and my son’s girlfriend would push me to forward. Having two people who believed in me so completely gave me the strength to finish the book.

What made you decide to publish independently?

I despise rejection. By now, one would think I’d be used to it after being divorced from the same man twice. But alas, it still stinks. Going the traditional route provided visions of rejection letters stacked around empty containers of Chubby Hubby and I was concerned my blood sugar would spike to dangerous levels. Plus, I’m a control freak. Publishing myself affords me the opportunity to call the shots. It’s a great feeling.

What was the biggest challenge of publishing independently?

The biggest challenge of publishing independently is not being organized. It’s important to have a plan and a goal. Just wanting to publish a book isn’t enough. Once I had my goal, such as knowing I wanted to publish both an e-book and paper format that led me to the next step of what vendor to work with. I read, I asked, I attended workshops, I perused the web, I ate chocolate, and I’m still doing it over again. I also joined an indie Yahoo group where I found wonderful people willing to answer my barrage of questions.

What were the benefits of publishing independently?

FREEDOM! Let’s hear it for freedom. I’m free to write what I want. I’m free to choose my cover (with the help of a cover artist). I’m free to choose the names of my characters. My marketing promotions—mine! Freedom is a wonderful thing. I highly recommend it. If you asked me the downside of publishing independently, I would shout MONEY! It costs money to do it right.

What has surprised you most about the process?

What surprised me the most about the process was (and it still amazes me every day) how helpful other authors are. I’ve met wonderful women, and men, who have offered support, advice, kindness, critiques, encouragement, and praise—even chocolate.

What would you change if you could?

Published authors advise reading the manuscript aloud before sending it to an editor. That’s an important step in the process and I wish I hadn’t skipped it. By reading the words out loud, the energy of the story comes alive and it’s easier to find the areas that need tweaking.

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

Never, never, never take criticism personally. Use comments and critiques to sharpen your skills. And, write every day. Every single day! Even if the words are junk, write them down. You’re only going to improve by working on your skill. Remember what Raymond Chandler said about writing. “Throw up into your typewriter every morning. Clean it up every noon.”

midsummer's dream

“The true love I desire shall come to me, this I ask, so mote it be.”

When Annah-Belle Henderson cast a spell for love, she never envisioned her wish would be granted in the young nephew of her best friend. With a face that rivals the Norse god Thor, and a body to match, the charismatic Eric Ashworth draws Annah into a dizzying current of emotions. Should she accept the chance for love with a man twenty years younger or should she reject her feelings? As a past darkness threatens to destroy all that she longs for, Annah makes a decision that begins a journey fraught with judgement, betrayal, disloyalty, and perhaps death. If she can hold on, she just might find true love in Eric’s arms. But first, she must survive.

 

index

 

Tinthia Clemant lives on the Concord River with her two dogs, two cats, one son, a flock of wild Mallards, and other assorted river creatures. She is a believer in true love, the magic of love’s first kiss, and the power of chocolate. As the romance genre’s newest author, Tinthia fell in love with love stories when she watched Prince Phillip awaken Sleeping Beauty. That did it for her! Unfortunately, she has yet to find that special kiss. Throwing her arms up in defeat, she decided to write about it and live vicariously through her characters. You can find her lurking in the shadows of Twitter, Facebook and at tinthiaclemant.com.
Book Trailer link https://youtu.be/hMnGnFmYSnQ

tinthiaclemant.com

Mia Kay on Pushing Through the First-Draft Panic

I’m so excited to host author Mia Kay today. Mia has recently published Hard Silence, the second book in her Agents Undercover series published by Carina Press. In this interview, Mia shares insights on working through the panic of writing a new story and dealing with the issues of the first story she ever wrote…you know, the one that hides in a drawer until eventually it’s given new life.

Mia also shares her approach to sending out submissions. Dear readers, please share your approach. How many did you send out for your first book? Do you wish you had sent more? Fewer?

How long have you wanted to be a romance writer?

While I was a romance reader, I never really decided to write a romance. My first attempted manuscript became a romance almost accidentally, and I realized how much I liked writing the happy endings. So I went to work learning how to do it better.

When did you decide to write a book?

In high school my favorite English teacher told me I wasn’t creative, so I was in my early 40s before I worked up enough nerve to try again. After years of writing only for work, I wasn’t certain I could write dialogue. Five years later, I’m still trying to get better at it and silence that inner critic. {I’m glad you tried again. English teachers don’t know everything!}

What inspired you to write this story?

Hard Silence’s inspiration came from the characters. Abby and Jeff are briefly on stage in Soft Target, and it was clear Abby was going to have her own book. Since she talks “only when it’s necessary,” it became a question of what would make her be quiet and why she would stay that way. With Jeff, it was about why he would pursue her and how he would get entangled in her life.

Describe your process for writing this particular book.

Sheer panic.  I had written the first few chapters, and I was way off the mark on what I wanted it to be. For a while, it looked like I was going to be the only author to write a boring book about a serial killer. {Lol ;)}

What helped you push through the panic and finish the story?
First, I took a class from Kiss of Death on serial killers and profilers, taught by a retired profiler. It helped me give the story new life. Second, I received excellent advice from my editor that did wonders for tightening the story.

Was this the first book you had written?

The first book I wrote is a small-town, cowboy, reunion romance. I have never submitted it to anyone. After my first writers’ conference, I knew it had major problems. I love the characters, though, so I’m planning a rescue.

What’s wrong with that story?

What isn’t? 🙂 There is a total lack of conflict, both internal and external. They are two nice people who fall in love and there’s no struggle to get there. And there’s no real plot – they have nothing to do. It really is a mess. I’ll keep the characters and the small town in Montana where it’s set, but I think they’ll end up being a “run for your life” sort of story.

What was the rest of your life like while writing Hard Silence?

I have a day job doing outreach and communications. At home, it’s just me and my husband. After work, I come home and try to eat, hang out with my husband, and write all at the same time.

Who gave you feedback as you wrote?

I have two amazing critique partners, Carrie Nichols and C.A. Speakman. And then my two closest friends – Sherry and Patti.

What kept you going through the process?

Once the story got started, it pulled me through all by itself. It gets to a point where it wants to be told. Then it’s hard to shut off.

How many submissions did you send out?

Hard Silence was part of a contract, so there weren’t submissions. For Soft Target, probably five. On Souvenirs, it was three. I knew submitting widely and getting a sea of rejections would discourage me, so I went slowly and used the rejections as a learning tool. I’m a constant student. It’s one of the things I love about writing

0416_9781459293557_Hard_Silence (smaller file)
FBI profiler Jeff Crandall returned to Fiddler, Idaho, to work on new Bureau protocols in peace…and because he hasn’t been able to stop thinking about Abby Quinn. Kind, beautiful and quietly sexy, the petite rancher next door is loved by the entire town but keeps fiercely to herself. She’s a mystery that doesn’t want to be solved, though he’s desperate to try.

Whether that interest is professional or personal is a question he’ll sort out later.
Abby knows sharing her secrets would bring death and destruction to Fiddler. She survived her childhood, barely, but a long list of stepfathers weren’t nearly so lucky: their bodies are buried across the country, waiting to be discovered. The best protection is silence, anonymity and isolation, though the handsome agent next door seems hell-bent on destroying all three.
And he just keeps kissing her…

When Jeff is called in to investigate an interstate serial killer case spanning two decades, Abby knows it’s only a matter of time before he connects the dots, sees her for who she really is and walks away. But it’s when he’s standing in the crosshairs of Abby’s past that Jeff faces his biggest challenge yet: how to give the woman he loves the life she doesn’t believe she deserves.

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Mia Kay - thumbnail
Mia Kay spent years writing legal documents and keeping people out of trouble. Now she spends her days looking for ways to get her characters into trouble. She lives in Arkansas with her husband, who doesn’t mind discussing (and sometimes causing) mayhem over breakfast.

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