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.

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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.

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.

 

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.

 

 

Penny Harmon On Indy Publishing Her Romance

I’m so excited to host author Penny Harmon today. She developed a fabulous premise for her recently published romance, and she has since published Fallen For the King, a second Rocky Isle Romance. In this interview, Penny inspires other writers to keep writing while sharing her experience publishing independently.

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

I started reading my mother’s romance books before I was twelve years old and I was hooked.  I’ve wanted to write a romance for as long as I can remember.  I’d been a web content writer since 2006, but in 2012, I decided to sit down and write a romance.  However, after unexpectedly getting custody of two grandchildren, ages 6 months and almost 3, I put that book on the backburner.  In December of 2015, I took it out and finished it.  The minute I finished that one I started writing “I Saw Him First”.

What inspired you to write this story?

I actually came up with the basic idea a few years ago.  I have a great set of friends and, honestly, if we had had the availability of cell phones and texting when we were all young and single, I can guarantee we would have done something like Mallory and her friends do in I Saw Him First.

Describe your process for writing this particular book.

I started out with the intention of making this a standalone romance, but the story simply took over and it became a series.  The original idea had Mallory and Megan fighting over Michael, but after I got to know the characters more, I knew they wouldn’t fight or ruin a friendship over a man.  I was flying by the seat of my pants until I made the change.  Once this happened, I created an outline and followed it as best as the characters would let me…it definitely made the writing process easier.

Was this the first book you had written?

No, I have written several before, but those were in my early days of writing.  Someday, I may give them another chance.

Did you work on simultaneous projects?

With this book, I wrote and wrote until I had a completed project.  I became obsessive about it as the excitement grew and grew each day, so I really didn’t have time or room in my brain for anything else.

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

I have been a fulltime web content provider since 2006, so I am used to writing whenever I can squeeze it in.  For the most part, my grandchildren have gotten used to me sitting at the kitchen table in front of the computer and they expect it now.

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

My mother, who is eighty-two, and still an avid romance reader, has always been the one I turn to when it comes to writing romance.  I am also lucky to have a sister who loves reading romance as much I do to help me out.

What kept you going through the process?

I realized that at 48, well, very close to 49 old, now is the time to do it.  I stopped writing when my own children were small and finally said I deserved a shot at my dream.  My grandchildren inspire me to be the best that I can be and I want them to be proud of me.

What made you decide to publish independently?

While I have never sent a romance book into a publishing house for consideration, I have sent in children’s book manuscripts.  Honestly, I got tired of the waiting.  Some say that it can take six months to be considered…others don’t even get back to you.  I chose independent publishing for this reason and the fact that I remain in complete control of my writing…I guess that makes me a control freak.  J

How did you decide to publish with Amazon?

I have always been a big fan of Amazon, so knew it would be the first place that I published if I chose the independent route.

What was the biggest challenge of publishing independently?

The biggest challenge for me is the marketing.  I’ve never been the type of person to stand up and yell, “Look at me!  Look what I’ve done!”  However, with encouragement and advice from a lot of great friends and family, I’m making it work.

What were the benefits of publishing independently?

There are many benefits to publishing independently.  You are in control of your story line, your characters, the plot, and the setting.  You choose the price you want for the book.  You choose the cover.  You also get higher commissions than you would through the traditional publishers.  However, the downside is that you also get to do all the work.  You will be wearing many hats throughout the process, but this just makes it more interesting.

What has surprised you most about the process?

The biggest surprise to me was how stressful it was.  Before I hit the Publish button, I went into panic mode.  The “what ifs” kept running through my head, but finally, after staring at the button forever, I decided it was time to take the jump.

What would you change if you could?

If I could change anything, I would turn back the clock and start publishing my work much earlier.  I’m having so much fun that I wish I would have decided to do this a long time ago.

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

I may sound like a Nike commercial, but just do it.  I let the fear of letting others read my work get the best of me for too many years.  Don’t let any fear, whether it is the fear of failure or the fear of success, stop you from living your dream.

 

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Five single women living on an island off the coast of Maine. The men are few and far between, but the minute a good looking man comes in on the ferry, they all know about it.

When Mallory sees Michael when he gets off the ferry, the first thing she does is text her friends: I Saw Him First.

Michael is a writer who has come for peace and quiet to finish writing his novel. He didn’t expect to fall in love. As Mallory and Michael explore their new relationship, can they get past the differences in what they want and their two very different lifestyles?

Can love really conquer all?

 

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Penny Harmon began writing at an early age and developed a great love of words over the years. After her children were grown, she took her writing more seriously and has published in both newspapers and magazines. In January of 2016, her first novella, Complicated Inheritance, was published and in March of 2016, the first book, I Saw Him First, of the Rocky Isle Romance series was published in February 2016.  The second book, Fallen for the King, just came out in April 2016.

Penny lives in Maine with her long-time partner, Dan, two grandchildren, one dog, and two cats. She enjoys spending time with all nine of her grandchildren and enjoys working on DIY projects, especially those of repurposing.

 

 

Mandi Benet on Her Love in the City Series

I’m thrilled to host romance writer Mandi Benet. After reading her explanation of what inspired her to write her series Love in the City, along with the blurb for her newly published To Rome With Love, you’ll want to go out and buy this book! Read on to find out more about Mandi’s journey to publication.

What inspired you to write this story?

Love can bloom anywhere, of course, and I adore small town love stories, but I tend to like romances the way the movies do them, with a love triangle: Her, Him, A city. Cities can be characters all on their own with a flavor and essence unique to them and truly can enrich a story. As to why I chose Rome for the setting of the first book in my series, “Love in the City,” quite simply, how could Rome and romance not go together? Also, it’s my favorite city in the world, a teeming, gorgeous confusion of ancient and modern replete with all the tales of human existence, connected in time and place to the stories and history of the past. Couples with a penchant for lip-locked selfies have a multitude of worthy backdrops in Rome—its epic monuments, baroque churches, breathtaking vistas, thousand-year-old fountains, multi-hued sunsets behind the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, and charming trattorias. Few things, I think, can stoke the romantic fires as much as holding hands across a candlelit dinner table in the remains of an ancient stadium, boating on the lake at Villa Borghese, sitting on the Spanish Steps watching all the kissing couples, and an evening stroll over the Tiber on Ponte Sant’Angelo where you will meet up with Bernini’s famous angels.

Describe your process for writing this particular book.

I wrote a good chunk of it over a couple of months but then got waylaid writing a historical novel centered around Mary Queen of Scots. I came back to this book and after more research, finished it over two or so months. I spent some time polishing it and then a line editor went over it, which took a while. Two drafts later I was ready to submit to agents and publishers.

Was this the first book you had written?  

 No, I’d written a couple of literary novels and a women’s fiction book, published in 2013, The Blasphemy Box.

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

This is an ongoing struggle that I don’t think anything will ameliorate. If I had nothing else to do in the world than write, I could turn out way more books. But life always intervenes so I try to marry all my obligations the best I can!

What kept you going through the process?

Someone once said to me that everything can be achieved with patience and persistence. So that is my mantra.

How many submissions did you send out?

Many, many, many!

What happened between hearing your yes and getting the book to print?

The book went through the editing process, which meant reading each revised galley all the way through until my eyes rolled back in their sockets in protest and I never wanted to hear about Gaby or Silvio again!

What has surprised you most about this process?

 What most surprised me is that things never go the way you think they will and how interesting and exciting a learning process that has proved to be. I’ve always said you are where you’re meant to be, and that you should grow where you’re planted.

What would you change if you could?

 Nothing. As long as I’m learning, I’m fine.

 

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When Gaby Conte’s Italian husband, Danieli, abandons her for a young Peruvian waitress at a restaurant they co-own in San Francisco, Gaby seeks refuge in Rome with her best friend Maria. There, she swears off romance for a long while and Italian men forever.

That’s until she meets Silvio, who belongs to an old, aristocratic Roman family and lives in a palace alongside the best private art collection in Rome. Silvio, who is the cousin of Maria’s husband, is going through his own divorce. He’s gorgeous, of course, which Gaby doesn’t tell him. And arrogant and condescending, which she does.

The last thing Gaby needs is more Italian trouble, but the attraction is instant and powerful, and against the backdrop of one of the world’s most romantic cities, both try—and fail—to resist the chemistry between them. But both Gaby and Silvio have made a rule never to make the mistake of trusting in love again. Will they realize some rules are made just to be broken?

 

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Mandi Benet grew up in England and published her first piece of fiction when she was twelve. She has been scribbling away ever since as an award-winning journalist— covering everything from the Democratic Convention to the Oscars for major American national newspapers and magazines — and as an author, writing women’s fiction and contemporary romance with rich, original characters. Mandi is a member of RWA National and the San Francisco branch of RWA.

 

To Rome With Love | http://amzn.com/B01AO6MH96

http://www.mandibenet.com/

www.facebook.com/mandibenetauthor

https://twitter.com/MANDYSCRIBEISTA

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28789187-to-rome-with-love