Becky Lower on Finding the Right Publisher and Fixing the Blank Page

I’m delighted to host multi-published author Becky Lower, who publishes both contemporary romances, like Blame It On the Brontes (a title that definitely intrigues me), and American historical romances. She recently released Forgotten Debutante, Book 9 of the Cotillion Ball series. In this interview, Becky shares the challenges she has faced with finding the right publisher and the one piece of advice that keeps her writing.

What made you decide to write romance novels?

I’ve always been a storyteller, and I’ve always (well, at least after I got out of college and could read what I wanted), read romances. I don’t usually read books more than once, since there are so many good ones to get through. But I make an exception when it comes to Jude Deveraux’s A Knight In Shining Armor. {I’ll have to add that to me TBR list!}

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

Finding a publisher who was willing to take a chance on a newly-minted author. My books don’t fit into a neat little box. My historicals are set in America but they’re not necessarily westerns. My contemporaries feature older heroes and heroines, and there’s not a billionaire in sight. So I needed to find a publisher who wasn’t locked in to the norm, who was searching for something different.

Did that work out? Were you able to find the right publisher?

I have been blessed to have Crimson Romance believe enough in my concept of having nine interconnected historical novels in my series. It’s been nice knowing I could get to the end of the series while at the same publisher. My contemporaries have gone down a different path. I’ve tried a couple different small-press publishers for them, with mixed results. I do want to spread my wings a bit now that my contract with Crimson is over, so I’m searching for someone new right now.

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

I would have started taking my writing seriously the minute I graduated college, instead of spending a lifetime in a series of occupations and hobbies that never quite fit.

How has the market changed since you first published?

Self-publishing has moved from being a path to publication that everyone pooh-poohed to one that more and more authors are embracing. I have yet to take the plunge, simply because of the learning curve involved, but I may do it this year.

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

Join a critique group and don’t be afraid to let a total stranger read your work. Your friends and family are going to support you, but you need impartial feedback if you’re going to get ahead.

What about once a writer becomes published?

Make sure you’ve got your social media in place. At a minimum, you need a website and a Facebook page. If you’re comfortable with more, add in blogs, twitter, pinterest, google+, etc. But start out with the basics and add on as you figure out what interests you most.

Where is the best place to go for writing advice?

Your local RWA chapter. The people in my chapter are so willing to share their expertise with everyone and they’re the most supportive group ever.

What is the best writing advice you have ever gotten?

I live by one of Nora Roberts’ quotes–I can fix everything but a blank page. So I put words on the page even when I’m not feeling it, since I edit my work at least five times before I think it’s ready to be read by someone other than me. I can fix it, but not if I haven’t written anything.

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Don’t miss the touching conclusion to the Cotillion Ball Saga!

In 1863, America is war-weary. Fifteen-year-old Saffron Fitzpatrick, whose teenage years have been spent mourning the dead rather than dancing at her debutante ball, just wants to visit her beloved horse after being housebound due to the draft riots. A chance meeting with soldier Ezekiel Boone changes everything.

Three years ago, Ezekiel ran away with his older brothers to join the war effort, welcoming the chance for adventure. But when all four of his brothers die at Chancellorsville, he retreats home, despondent and depending on the kindness of strangers, like Saffron, who help him on the journey. They share a wild ride and a breathless kiss, parting with fond memories.

Fate reunites the couple three years later, and their former attraction rekindles as they discover unexpected common ground and begin to build a relationship. But though the war is over, a future together may still elude them … especially if Saffron’s older, protective brother and the U.S. Army have anything to say about it.

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Becky Lower has traveled the country looking for great settings for her novels, which she’s pleased to say have become Amazon best-sellers. She loves to write about two people finding each other and falling in love, amid the backdrop of a great setting, be it present day middle America or on a covered wagon headed west in the 1850s. Contemporary and historical romances are her specialties. Becky is a PAN member of RWA and a member of the Contemporary and Historic RWA chapters. Her degree is in English and Journalism from Bowling Green State University, and she lives in an eclectic college town in Ohio with her puppy-mill rescue dog, Mary.

 

 

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Kris Tualla Shares 5 Steps to Publication

I’m delighted to host award-winning author Kris Tualla! Kris has declared that “Norway is the new Scotland,” and she has set both her Hansen and Discreet Gentleman series in historic Norway. Since she began writing, Kris has self-published fifteen historical romances and two writing and publishing books. In this interview, she shares her journey to publication.

How long have you wanted to be a romance writer?

 ​It was a total whim in the summer of 2006. I had fallen in love with Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander” series, and in her “Outlandish Companion” she says that the best way to learn to write a book is to write a book. So I did.​

 What was your biggest challenge when you were publishing your debut novel?

I intentionally didn’t write Scottish historicals ​​because that market is flooded – so I made my heroes Norsemen.​ That stopped 95% of the editors and agents from even considering my manuscripts.

How did you deal with that challenge?

​By self-publishing instead. Fifteen books (five trilogies) as of this month.​ Plus two books about writing and publishing. {Wow!!!}

What have been the benefits and frustrations of self-publishing?

Benefits? Total control over content, genre blending, cover images, distribution, and pricing. Frustrations? Being buried under a tidal wave of badly done​ self-published books that give that path a very, very bad name.

What has surprised you most about the process?

The inability of traditional publishers to accept non-Scottish/non-Regency historical characters and locations.​

What would you change if you could?

I’d have one of my books bubble to the top and drag the rest with it. I average 4.75 stars overall for the Hansen series, but nobody can find me.​

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

Not one single thing.​

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

  1. Complete your novel.
  2. Lock your ego in a closet with a blanket and chocolate. Do NOT let it out. {I LOVE this advice!}
  3. Get multiple HONEST people to read your manuscript and give you feedback.
  4. Believe what they say.
  5. Write two more books while you pitch the first.​

What’s the single most important thing a self-published writer should do?

Have at least FIVE picky people read your final manuscript before you publish it – both professional editors and readers.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve gotten?

The best way to learn to write a book is to write a book.​ *wink*

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Sveyn Hansen was a Viking in 1070—until Norway’s king declared the country Christian, sparking deep-rooted conflict. Sveyn, caught in a violent clash and run through by a sword, lay bleeding on the ground while at his head the priest gave him last rites. But at his feet, the devil was pulling Sveyn toward a different end. A blinding flash and deafening boom shook Sveyn to his bones. Once he could see and hear again, he wasn’t certain what had happened. Only that he was not dead. And he was no longer alive.

Hollis McKenna’s boss, insisting that she take a break after several grueling months at the Arizona History and Cultural Museum, banishes her to a relaxing weekend event. When Hollis arrives, she spies a cover model standing off to the side. Surprised that no one is conversing with the gorgeous six-foot-plus man wearing the Viking costume, she winds through the crowd to speak with him herself. He insists that Hollis hold her “lighted rectangle” to her ear while she converses with him. Frustrated at his repeated insistence, she holds out her phone and demands to know why.

“Because you are the only one who can see me.”​

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Kris Tualla, a dynamic award-winning and internationally published author of historical romance and suspense, has created a dynasty with The Hansen Series. An active member of Romance Writers of America, the Historical Novel Society, and Sisters in Crime, she was also a guest instructor at the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University. She often asked to speak about her journey – and her Norsemen.​

 

 

 

 

Veronica Bale on Going Hybrid

I’m thrilled to host hybrid author Veronica Bale today! Veronica writes Highland Historical Romance, and her books include the self-published Highland Loyalties TrilogyThe Black Douglases series published by Buroughs Publishing Group, as well as two self-published single titles. In this interview, she provides great insight into her experiences self-publishing and working with a small press, and she describes the symbiotic nature of that arrangement.

How long have you wanted to be a romance writer? When did you decide to write a book?

Officially, I’ve been a romance writer since August of 2012. This was the date my first self-published title, Bride of Dunloch, was released. The reason why I decided to write it is an interesting story. About ten years ago, I decided to fulfill my lifelong ambition to write a book, and made a start on my first (and subsequently abandoned) manuscript.

While shopping around for agents and/or publishers, I decided to try my hand at freelancing short romance stories and novellas on a work-for-hire basis, just to pay the bills and maybe get a foot in the door. There seemed to be a lot of people wanting short stories at that time, but I had no idea where these short stories were being published or why they were wanted.

After some digging, I learned about this thing called self-publishing. After some further digging, I learned that my stories, which had all been published under various nom-de-plumes by the individuals who bought them … were doing startlingly well! Of course, once I learned that, I simply had to write my own romance novel under my own name to see how it would do.

Turns out that my novel did far better than I ever imagined it would.

How has self-publishing compared with publishing with a small press?

I don’t consider self-publishing and signing with a publisher mutually exclusive. For me, it’s not one or the other. Self-publishing is what led me to my publisher, Boroughs Publishing Group. And the contacts I’ve made and exposure I’ve received through Boroughs is helping to elevate my profile, which still includes a number of self-published titles. It’s a symbiotic relationship, I find, and I’m thankful to be a part of both worlds.

Being picked up by Boroughs has been a huge step in my career as an author, but I don’t see it as the end of my self-publishing endeavours. For the foreseeable future, at least, I have every intention of continuing as a hybrid author. My current work-in-progress, The Ghosts of Tullybrae House, will be released independently this winter, at the same time that A Noble Treason, the sequel to my debut novel with Boroughs, A Noble Deception, is undergoing the editing process.

What has surprised you most about the publishing process?

Since joining the Boroughs Publishing family, I’ve been surprised and amazed by the level of support I receive from Boroughs staff and my fellow Boroughs authors. The level of excitement my editor, the lovely Jenni Hendricks, shows at my work is humbling. Michelle Klayman, the president of Boroughs herself, has been right there to answer all of my inane and trivial questions with patience and dedication. The team, the authors … I can’t say enough about them. They’re all fabulous. It really is like a family.

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

The single most important thing? Self-publish. I mean that wholeheartedly. Self-publishing taught me so much about the industry and the craft. It prepared me for the next level to which being signed by a publisher brought me in my career. By self-publishing, you learn about marketing, building a platform, interacting with a following, and it gives you the opportunity to make a name for yourself as an author. It’s a trial-by-fire, true enough. But remember: steel wasn’t forged by indulgent friends and family members, and hiding your “iron-in-progress” from the eyes of others. {So true!}

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

As a self-published author, it is imperative that you recognize that your self-publishing career is just that: a career. Treat it as a career, not a hobby. This is what you do. You are an author. Be professional. Improve your craft. Grow in your career path. You are an entrepreneur.
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Forced to wed a landless knight in order to protect her home, Moira MacInnes intends an annulment of her marriage to the arrogant Lachlan Ramsay as soon as possible. Falling in love wasn’t part of the plan.

THE ONLY THING MORE DANGEROUS THAN A LIE IS LOVE.

Scotland 1455 – The Douglas clan is at war with their king. To protect his lands from confiscation, Lord John Douglas, the dying Earl of Kildrummond, must find an heir that doesn’t carry his name.

A landless knight, Lachlan Ramsay expects no more of life than battles, blood, and the occasional warm bosom. But when Lord John makes him his heir, Lachlan has a chance at something he never dreamt of—a home. There’s just one condition: He must marry the earl’s bastard daughter, the fiery, eccentric Moira MacInnes.

Lachlan has no desire for a headstrong, sharp-tongued wife. Moira has no need for an arrogant, too-handsome husband. To save Kildrummond they will marry and seek an annulment immediately upon the earl’s death. But deception is never simple, and passion once inflamed is impossible to ignore. Soon they will no longer be deceiving the earl but themselves.

 

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Veronica has been a writer from a very young age.She’s always found the stories in her head a constant source of entertainment, and over the years has endeavoured to put them down on paper (with varying degrees of success.) She has always known that she would be an author at some point, and is still finding it difficult to believe that point has actually come.

Veronica is a “hockey mom” to a wonderful seven-year-old boy, and has a fantastic husband who is incredibly supportive of all her writing efforts. Besides writing she likes to knit (when she can find the time), run (when she can find the energy) and spend time with her family. She loves to read, and is crazy for anything with a gripping love story.