Eleven months!

I was chatting with an old friend today about blogging and she asked me a question about my blog. It wasn't until I popped on to tell her what font I use (that's the kind of things people with blogs chat about!) that I realized my last post was ELEVEN MONTHS AGO! 

Where did time go? What have I done in that time? Well, to be honest, I didn't do a whole lot of anything for most of the time. I tried to write. But my mojo had gotten up and stormed out the door in diva fashion. Luckily, we went on a trip to England in October and while I was there I started to feel the strings of stories wanting to be told. 

In October I wrote a Christmas short story, A Kiss Worth Chasing. That's now on offer for free to anyone who signs up to my mailing list. See the box to the right of this post? You can sign up over there! 

Then in December I chatted with my print publisher, Flanker Press, and we made a deadline for book 5 in the Heart's Ease series. Between then and now I wrote a novel, flew my editor down work with me, set it to Flanker, set it up as an ebook and am now preparing for it's release next week. In between all of that my son and I battled wicked chest infections, and on the day the book was sent to the printer, I ended up in hospital having emergency surgery. I'm fine. :) 

So that's it for 11 months. I'm going to try my best to blog a bit more regularly. I know. I know. If you follow my blog you know I've said that many times in the past. But hey, at least I keep trying. 

So tell me in the comments. What have you done these past eleven months? 

Self-publishing in the digital age

Please note: This article was originally written for the Writer’s Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador’s quarterly publication: WORD. It appeared in the Spring, 2014 issue.

E-books. Love them or loathe them, there’s no denying the impact they’ve had on us authors. Let’s skip over the debates around how we like to read and the fate of brick-and-mortar stores. Instead, let’s talk about the very real impact e-books have had on our ability as authors to make a genuine, real-life, livable wage as a writer.

Digital publishing has stripped away all the reasons why authors could not realistically make a living self-publishing. For the career-minded author who is interested in approaching their writing career as a business, the road to independence is paved with—well, not gold, not for all of us—but with the potential for financial stability if not all- out success.

There’s been considerable debate in the self-publishing community about earnings and sales. For the most part, we hear the success stories of the now rich and famous like Hugh Howey and Bella Andre. And we also hear the tales of woe from those who have not seen that success. The problem is that none of the booksellers have offered quantifiable data on the state of the self-publishing industry in the digital age. That puts the onus on authors to try and piece together actual evidence of what we think we know of whether it’s possible to live off the wages garnered from self-publishing.

Two recent reports are setting the indie publishing tongues ablaze with their findings, not because we are surprised but because we are finally seeing some evidence of what we believe to be true.

What are these “truths?" First, that genre fiction, especially those that can be serialized, are the current moneymakers. Second, that there are authors out there making a living wage as full-time writers.

In January, romance author Beverley Kendall released her 2013 Self-Publishing Survey. While she is the first to admit that her data is likely to have a higher number of romance authors as respondents since that is her genre, what’s significant is this finding: more than forty-eight per cent of her 822 respondents reported incomes over $10,000 for 2013. Twenty-four percent reported more than $50,000 for the year. She also made a correlation between earnings and number of books published, showing that the more books published, the higher the earnings. I’d like to insert a cheeky duh! here. Still, these findings are based on a small pool, and rely on self reporting.

In February, Hugh Howey released what might be the first earnings report based on analytical data. I’m not an expert in the science behind it, but Howey claims that he was approached by an author with coding skills who had developed some way to pull and analyze public data from Amazon. Howey’s report is full of tidbits on the self-publishing industry, and again draws the genre-fiction- equals-success conclusion, citing romance, mystery/ thriller, and science fiction/fantasy as the biggest sellers. His findings on revenue are very similar to Kendall’s. And bringing the two ideas together, marrying genre fiction with earnings, Howey says the data shows that “Indie authors are earning nearly half the total author revenue from genre fiction sales on Amazon.” 

This is where I make my full disclosure. I’m not making a living as a self-published author—yet. However, I’ve spent the past year researching, writing, planning, writing, editing, writing, learning, writing and basically working my fingers and brain to the quick to see if I can find some of the success that other authors in my genre (contemporary romance) are experiencing. That said, I know of at least one local erotica writer who recently told me that the household rent and bills are now being covered monthly by the income from her indie publications. That’s one person locally I know. (I suspect there are more out there, but it’s my experience that genre writers in this province hide themselves away in fear of stigma. But that’s another article.) I also met dozens upon dozens of others in this genre this past summer at the Romance Writers of America national convention.

Now that I’ve painted such a rosy picture and you’re wondering how to get in on this great opportunity, let’s talk about just how hard it is to self-publish and why it’s not for everyone.

I’ve devised a checklist to help you determine if self-publishing is for you:

Are you capable of writing three or more novels a year?

“Publish or perish” was never more true than in the self-publishing industry. You must be a content creator. And not all of us are. Self-publishing is a business. Not an art form.

Are you capable of either creating your own covers or paying someone who is skilled at cover creation to do this for you?

There’s nothing that screams amateur faster than a terrible cover. It takes more than knowing Photoshop to make a cover. If you don’t have the skills, pay someone who does.

Does the idea of marketing make you sick to your stomach?

If you have a checkmark next to that question above, self-publishing isn’t for you. Unless you’re prepared to take a big dose of Gravol and do it anyway. If you don’t sell your book (and by sell, I mean create buzz) no one else will. There are thousands of indie authors out there trying to find readers. A savvy indie author keeps up on current marketing trends, and isn’t afraid to promote.

Are you a multi-tasker?

Some of the most successful indie authors I’ve met work all day, every day. At the RWA Nationals, Bella Andre said her day begins with writing her daily word goal. Then it’s on to marketing. Cover creation. Editing. Talking with her editor. Meeting with her audio book team. And the day goes on.

It comes down to this. Self-publishing isn’t just about being an author. It’s about being a business owner. You need to do so much more than write, although that’s what you should be doing the most. You need to determine what’s worth the cost and what isn’t. Find ways to reach new audiences. Maintain your current readership. Juggle the business of publishing with the art of creating. 

Personally, I can’t see the traditional publishing industry disappearing. They offer a valuable skillset to the authors who need them. Frankly, I’d hate to see them disappear. Likewise, small digital presses have their merits as well. A good friend of mine, also a local romance author, is published by one of these small presses. It’s perfect for her. It’s not for me. And the beauty for us as authors in today’s publishing environment is that we have more options than ever at our fingertips to find our niche for success.

If you’re curious about self-publishing, I’d love to have a chat. Feel free to contact me. And if you’ve already started your indie journey, I’d love to talk with you, too. I believe the strength of this publishing option lies in our willingness to share our knowledge. 

Cover Reveal: Geek Groom

geekgod

Sometimes I need a swift kick in the pants to get something finished. Such is the case with Geek Groom. It's nearly finished. So what better way to ensure that I get it done than to show off the cover, and promise you that it will be available before the end of the month. 

I know. I"m nothing if not silly.

I wish I had a blurb to share with you, but alas, I'm too busy writing the book to write about the book. Instead, I thought I'd share a few of my favourite quotes with you.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, this is the continuation of Jillian and Evan's story that I started with Geek God. 

Finally, a huge thanks to my bestie, Crystal McLellan, for not only designing yet another amazing cover for me, but for letting me hang out with her in her studio while she did the photoshoot. The rings are hers. The dice are mine.

I hope you enjoy!

When I was a little girl there were a lot of things I imagined I’d be doing in the months leading up to my wedding. Going for a mani-pedi. Check. Trying on a million gowns. Check. Choosing a china pattern. Check. Groping the hairy legs of what I hope are men while trying to determine which one is my clearly up-for-anything groom. Nope. That was most certainly not on the list.
— Jillian Carew, Geek Groom
My love, your family would have to be pretty bad to stop me from wanting to spend the rest of my life with you. Like, lich-king bad. Demon-spawn bad. And even then, I could be swayed to the dark side because you’re a pretty fine temptress.
— Evan Sharp, Geek Groom
I know, girls. I know all too well that feeling that hits you in the stomach the first time you lay eyes on him. It doesn’t go away. Sometimes he’ll be putting milk in the fridge and I’ll look at the way his shirt pulls taut across his back. It’s swoon-worthy. But nothing, not his arms, his face, his hair—not even his ass—is as remarkable as the man he is inside. And he’s all mine.
— Jillian, Geek Groom


Passionate Kisses: Allie Boniface

When I was approached about joining this awesome group of romance authors for the Passionate Kisses boxed set, I really had no idea just how many wonderful authors I was going to be working with.

 

Today I'm excited to have Allie Boniface here sharing some of the images that she thinks best sum of her work. And just like I have a bit of a fascination with icebergs, Allie loves lighthouses. That speaks to my Newfoundland heart. 

Book? Beacon of Love

Inspiration? Every lighthouse I've ever visited

Lindsey Point? Small coastal town with plenty of secrets...

Lucas? Hunky handyman

Sophie? Precocious news reporter 

Romance? Sensual to steamy

Next? Inferno of Love, book 2 in the series! 

Allie? Teacher, writer, music-lover, workout devotee and chocoholic 

 Click on Allie's boots to learn more about her!

Click on Allie's boots to learn more about her!

Sarah Hegger: The Bride Gift

 The lovely Sarah Hegger

The lovely Sarah Hegger

A huge welcome to Sarah Hegger today. Sarah is one of the awesome authors responsible for the Romance Weekly blog I do each week, and she's just released her debut novel, The Bride Gift. 

I had a chance to sit down with Sarah this week and ask her about her awesome historical romance. Why not take a look at our conversation!

 Click on this cover to go to Amazon.com 

Click on this cover to go to Amazon.com 

Welcome Sarah! Can you tell us about “The Bride Gift” in two or three sentences? (I love this question because it forces us to get to the heart of the story.)

The Bride Gift is essentially about a woman trying to control her destiny in impossible circumstances. She finds her champion in just the sort of man she swore she would never marry. She learns that life does not always give you what you want, but with a bit of courage, you can get what you need.

Tell us a bit about your hero, Guy. Is there anyone you could compare him to?

Guy of Helston was a great character to write. Totally non-verbal, he’s big and bad and a total warrior on the surface. Beneath that is a man of honor and integrity who will do anything for those he loves. I suppose he is most like Wolverine from The X-Men.

Who would you cast to play him in the movie version?

It’s a bit predictable, but Hugh Jackman comes the closest.

Yum! Although I think your hero on the cover looks like Jake Gyllenhaal. What is it about him that stirs Helena, your heroine?

His sheer alpha maleness gets to her at first. And then she discovers the gentle man beneath that and she’s a goner.

What do you like best about your heroine?

I like the contrasts. Demure on the outside, but she has a mouth on her like a soldier. She looks like a damsel in distress, but has the heart of a true warrior. 

Who would you cast to play her?

Kate Hudson, only with long, long, long hair.

Was there anything in this book that surprised you when you were writing it?

I’m such a planner that I don’t often get surprised by my books as I write them. But the ending, and I’m not going to give away too much. I had an entirely different idea planned, but Helena wouldn’t go there.

This is your first novel. Can you tell us a bit about how it came to life?

It started years ago as a novel called Forgotten Bride. I never managed to finish it and last year, I was clearing through old files and discovered it again. It has changed a lot from that first draft. In Forgotten Bride, Helena was just that. She was married at a young age to a man who put her in a castle and went on with his life. When he decided it was time to discover her again, Helena was not happy and barred him from his own castle. That was the seed and the rest of it germinated from there.

This is how it ended up:

It’s 1153 in the period dubbed ‘The Anarchy’, King Stephen and Empress Maud are not the only ones embroiled in a fierce battle of the sexes.

Determined to control her own destiny, willful Helena of Lystanwold has chosen just the husband to suit her purposes. But, when her banished guardian uncle attempts to secure her future and climbs through her bedroom window with a new husband by a proxy marriage, she understandably balks. Notorious warrior Guy of Helston is everything Helena swore she would never marry; a man who lives by the sword, like the man who murdered her sister.

This marriage finally brings Guy close to his lifetime dream of gaining lands and a title. He is not about to let his feisty bride stand in his way. A master strategist, Guy sets out to woo and conquer his lady.

Against a backdrop of vengeance, war and betrayal, Guy and Helena must learn to forge a united front or risk losing everything.

What’s the allure of the early 12th century for you?

I write both historical and contemporary. What I like about the historical writing is that fantasy element. There is something unashamedly romantic about knights and ladies. The reality was very different, but that’s why I write romance. I get to build the fantasy.

Who is Sarah Hegger and what can we expect next from you?

I have another medieval coming out in September this year called Sweet Bea. It’s the first in the Sir Arthur’s Legacy Series. Next year, my three contemporary novels, The Willow Park Romances, will hit the shelves. There is more detail on all of these on my website.

This is the official bio and it’s pretty much who I am.

Born British and raised in South Africa, Sarah Hegger suffers from an incurable case of wanderlust. Her match? A hot Canadian engineer, whose marriage proposal she accepted six short weeks after they first met. Together they’ve made homes in seven different cities across three different continents (and back again once or twice). If only it made her multilingual, but the best she can manage is idiosyncratic English, fluent Afrikaans, conversant Russian, pigeon Portuguese, even worse Zulu and enough French to get herself into trouble.

Mimicking her globe trotting adventures, Sarah’s career path began as a gainfully employed actress, drifted into public relations, settled a moment in advertising, and eventually took root in the fertile soil of her first love, writing. She also moonlights as a wife and mother.

She currently lives in Draper, Utah with her teenage daughters, two Golden Retrievers and aforementioned husband. Part footloose buccaneer, part quixotic observer of life, Sarah’s restless heart is most content when reading or writing books.

She is always delighted to hear from you. Sarah can be reached at any and all of the following places:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

 

 

I’m a big fan of dialogue. Can you share a quick snippet of one of your favourite dialogue passages with us?

This passage is right in the first chapter and is how Helena discovers she is married.

Her shoulders slumped suddenly, as if the weight became too much to bear. All the fight seemed to rush out of her on a sigh. “I have been so worried about you. I thought you might be dead.”

Her voice quavered on that last sentence, and Guy’s guts tightened. Sweet Jesu. Please, no tears. He couldn’t abide the tears.

“There now, sweet Nell.” Roger lowered himself onto the bed beside her. He gathered the girl into his arms. “Whist now, Nell. All is not lost and I came as fast as I could. Hush now, sweeting.”

Guy shifted his weight, uncomfortable at witnessing such a private scene.

Her eyes flew to him. Her mouth dropped open. “Who are you?”

Guy would as lief be strung up by his toes than answer her question. This was Roger’s idea, not his.

“Er, Nell.” Roger drew back from her gently. “May I present Guy of Helston?”

“The ‘Scourge of Faringdon?’”

Guy clenched his fists. The name was like a curse he never escaped.

“Nell,” Roger admonished, “he does not like to be called such.”

“Then he should not have earned it,” the lady snapped. “What is he doing in my bedchamber?”

“He is your . . . husband.”

 Where can we buy The Bride Gift?

The Bride Gift is available now on Amazon.

 

Thanks so much Sarah for stopping by! I can't wait to see your next book out in the world!

 

Great Scot! Bound to the Highlander is one hot read.

 Author Kate Robbins

Author Kate Robbins

In case you don't know, there's more than one romance writer here in Newfoundland. My pal, and awesome author, Kate Robbins, recently released her debut novel, Bound to the Highlander. It's the first in her planned Highland Chiefs Series, and let me tell you, if you like your highland romances with a good dose of political intrigue, historical realism, and a smokin' hot hero, then Bound to the Highlander is for you. 

Bound to the Highlander, or BTTH as we like to call it, delves into the heart of James MacIntosh, head of his clan and ally with the new Scottish King. Aileana Chattan discovers she’d bound to this Laird, and it’s not a bond she’s looking forward to since she is not a fan of the new King, or of James’ politics. Still, there’s a smoldering bond between them that can’t be denied. 

 Click here to go to Amazon and get your copy of Bound to the Highlander

Click here to go to Amazon and get your copy of Bound to the Highlander

James is a highland hero you won’t soon forget. And Aileana is as modern a woman as she can be for her period. When you put them together, you get a larger-than-life story that’s as big on conflict as it is on love.

Kate Robbins is on a whirl-wind blog tour and I'm so happy that she agreed to pop on to my little old blog here for a quick chat. So let's get to it. 

Tell me how you first conceived the idea of BTTH.

I was listening to two friends talk about Gerry Butler and Hilary Swank's meeting on a lovely country road in Ireland [in the movie PS I Love You] and just started writing James and Aileana's first meeting.

What five words would you use to describe James?

Arrogant. Cocky. Driven. Holyhellahot. Strategic.

Holyhellahot. I concur! What five words would you use to describe Alieana?

Headstrong. Loyal. Intelligent. Passionate. Honourable.

This novel is very much what some might call an old school Highland Romance. How do you think BTTH differs from a lot of new highland romances out there?

Hmmmm. In the sense of time frame it's different, but I think most Highlander Romances strive to weave in the political/social/religious climate which is what I've worked hard to achieve. So readers of Scottish romance might see a new century to learn about, but I hope I've delivered on all the essentials.

I write about Newfoundland because I write what I know. Does that addage "Write what you know" come into play in your work? And if so, how?

Yes, very much so. I've always been fascinated with Scotland, right from my teenage years and the first Highland Romance I read by Johanna Lindsay, A Gentle Feuding. I've acquired so much material on Scotland and have now visited twice to see the places I've set my stories in up close and personal so to speak. I'd love to spend more time there in the future.

If you had to cast someone to play James, who would it be? 

My vision for James MacIntosh is the late Andy Whitfield. He looked and sounded exactly how James is in my head. Imagine my surprise on my return flight from the UK in September when I ended up sitting beside Andy Whitfield's doppleganger! I'm certain he must has thought there was something wrong with me. And I'm certain I did not actually drool. o_O

Side note: I had no idea who Andy Whitfield was so I had to google it. When I saw him, I had to share him with you! You're welcome. :)

 Andy Whitfield

Andy Whitfield

What's it like being a romance author in Newfoundland?

Well, as you know there's not too many of us here so it's been an interesting experience so far. I've had to virtually leave the province to find romance writer associations like Romance Writers of America (RWA) and the chapter closest to me, Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada (RWAC).

I'd love to meet more romance authors here and maybe expand knowledge of the genre in this province. I'm fairly certain there are others here just as there are many romance readers here. Would be wonderful to bring more Newfoundland romance authors and readers together.

When can we get our hands on the next book?  

I'm currently editing book two, Promised to the Highlander, and hoping to have it all pretty and polished to send off to my publisher by the end of October. I work full time so I am in a constant state of juggling my time. Hopefully I'll have some good news to share sooner rather than later.

 


So there you have it. A little insight into Kate's mind when she was writing BTTH. It's currently available as an e-book at Amazon.  

And finally, if you love that brooch on the cover of the novel, Kate is giving one away at the end of her blog tour. All you have to do to enter is comment on my post, or over on her website: Into The Highland Mist

  

Daily words and other things

Wow, I'm a terrible blogger. I just came back from the Romance Writers of America conference in Atlanta, and there were all kinds of handy morsels of information handed out. One of those was, if you're not blogging regularly, don't blog. Well, I don't know about that. I like to use my blog to keep me accountable. Being a deadline oriented writer and all, it's very helpful for me to have a public forum to say "Here's what I need to accomplish, and here's how I'm doing." It didn't work so well for the Regency... yet... but it worked out great for Against Her Rules.  

So here's what I'm now holding myself accountable for.  

  1. A daily word target of 5000 (this may change if I find I'm missing that target too often)
  2. Three novels ready to come into the world in October. Yes, you read that correctly. THREE! In October. All the the Heart's Ease series.  
  3. A Christmas themed novella (shorter novel) ready for a November release. 

So how am I going to do all of this? Well, I met some very inspirational self published authors at the RWA event, namely Bella Andre, Barbara Freethy, Liliana Hart, and Tina Folsom. They gave so many workshops and were willing to share their advice, followed by a "Go do what I say" warning. So I'm going to do what they say. And see if it works.  

Thanks ladies for the inspiration, and for sharing your wonderful knowledge. And thanks to those of you who read my blog, and my novels. There'll be a lot more Heart's Ease in our future.  

Let the writing begin

Now that Against Her Rules is out in the world, it's time to get back to work. I have several projects in the pot, as they say, and now just need to get cracking.  

First up, of course, is the second book in the Heart's Ease series. Daphne meets her match in this book, although I'm still trying to figure out who that might be. Aunt Ida will be front and centre again, and we'll get to see what happens when she finally takes her trip to Scotland.  

My second project is one that long-time blog followers know all about. I haven't given up on the regency romance. I'm contemplating giving it a read this week, and seeing if I'm inspired to move on. Part of me would love to have a draft of it complete before I head off to Georgia next month for the Romance Writer's of America national convention. 

And thirdly, I've recently pulled out an old manuscript that I'd submitted to Harlequin many many years ago... 2002 to be exact. I've given it a read through and think that with some modernization, it could be ready to go out pretty quickly. My big question with this one is if I should self-publish it like I did with Against Her Rules, or shop it around to some publishers. In today's market, it's hard to know what to do.  

The upside of self-publishing is that I'm in control of everything. The edits, the story, the cover, the marketing. My success or failure is all up to me. The downside of self-publishing is also that I'm in control of everything. It leaves a lot less time to just sit back and devote all my time to writing. Ah, the double-edged sword.  

Anyway, if you have any suggestions on which project you think I should be devoting the lion's share of my time to, feel free to comment. One thing I know I need to do is set myself a deadline. I accomplish nothing without a firm goal. I'd like to have book 2 in the Heart's Ease series out by October, but if one of the other two projects rises to the top, then you might see one of those instead. 

Don't you just love a vague future? I do!