Theresa Ragan, “Overnight success”

And here’s the rest of the story–Part 2 of our interview with Theresa Ragan (T.R. Ragan), author of the Lizzy Gardner series and more.

Dana Taylor: I love these tales of people who are “overnight successes”! Theresa, there are a lot of Indie authors uploading a lot of manuscripts, but few are having your level of success. What would you say is making your stories stand out? Also—why did the agents and editors miss a 6 time Golden Heart finalist?

Amazon's Complete Selection of Theresa Ragan BooksTR: It is strange…writing for nearly two decades and feeling like an overnight success. Why did agents and editors miss a 6 time Golden Heart finalist? Good question! Ha! Long ago, I had heard that once an author finalled in the Golden Heart, the chances of selling were better than ever. Six finals in the GH and still nothing. I had signed with two agents, but ultimately both agents had a favorite book that they tried to sell, which meant that two or three of my books were submitted to about 20 or 30 editors. That meant that 20 or 30 people had decided my future writing career. If I were to give advice to an author looking for an agent, I would say don’t sign with an agent unless he/she loves ALL of your work, or at least most of it. Taming Mad Max

Looking back, I blame myself since I don’t think I was pro-active enough. Instead of leaving it up to my agent to make a sale, I should have found a way to make sure ALL of my books were being submitted around NY. Regarding your first question about why my books are standing out…when I wasn’t selling I would sometimes ask “why me?” And now that I am selling, I sometimes ask “why me?” I really have no idea why my books are selling well, but if I had to guess, I would say that it really is about luck and timing. Thrillers are hot right now. I hit the right genre at the right time. And maybe, just maybe, I finalled in the Golden Heart six times for a reason. I always believed that finalling in the Golden Heart meant that my stories had a certain “appeal.”

DT: Seeing how capricious “success” seems to be in the book business, it does feel like there are perhaps Greek Gods simply playing with authors as their little pawns. At any rate, I think your increasingly popularity has to be a sign that READERS LIKE YOUR BOOKS! They read one and continue on with the series.

Will you give us a mini-tour through your books and some of your favorite characters?

Finding Kate Huntley

TR: As I mentioned earlier, when I sat down to write my first book years ago, it was a medieval time travel romance. My plan was to write medieval time travels forever! I worked so long and so hard on Return of the Rose that I practically have the book memorized. I love every character and I think this book will always be my favorite. I especially adore the hero, Derek Vanguard, Lord of Braddock Hall. He is misunderstood. He’s one hundred percent alpha male, gruff around the edges, but most importantly, he’s a genuinely nice guy.

A Knight in Central Park is the second book and the second medieval time travel I wrote. The hero, Joe, is based on a thought I had one day when I wondered what my husband, Joe, would do if he found himself miraculously transported to another time–a time without toothpaste, hot showers and soap. My husband would not handle it well and neither does the hero in my book.

I wrote Taming Mad Max and Having My Baby (coming soon) out of desperation to sell to NY since time travels weren’t selling, or at least that’s what I was told. I love reading and writing romantic comedies and I plan to write many more.

The next book I wrote was Finding Kate Huntley, a romantic suspense. I really like Kate, the heroine. She’s feisty and she doesn’t take any crap from anyone. After my agent shopped it around and the book didn’t sell, I read about Lisa Gardner’s transition from writing romance to thrillers. I was fascinated by her two-year journey. I spent the next few months dissecting popular thrillers. I read every article Lisa Gardner wrote on plotting thrillers. By this time, I was a tiny bit annoyed about not selling and I decided that I was going to write a thriller and kill off my characters along with my frustrations. It was working, too, but then I began to research real-life serial killers and I started having nightmares. I couldn’t cook dinner without visualizing all of the horrible things that my killer could do with the knives in the drawer.

 Abducted was the first book I had ever written that I couldn’t wait to read the minute I wrote The End. I feel connected to every character in my Lizzy Gardner series. They are all resilient characters who have lived through horrible events, but who are also determined to not allow their demons to get the best of them.

Okay, that’s the end of my “mini” tour, Dana. Aren’t you glad you didn’t ask for the full blown tour? As you can see, I tend to ramble on and on. I can’t thank you enough for inviting me to talk with you. If anyone has any questions at all, ask away! 

DT: Theresa signed a contract with Thomas & Mercer at Amazon at the end of March for her Lizzy Gardner series. All of her books are enjoying steady sales. You can visit Theresa at her website http://www.theresaragan.com/. Be sure and ask a question or make a comment here to be eligible for a FREE copy of one of her books.

Coming soon to BLB–Marsha Canham and Anne R. Allen. As always, we remind you to support your favorite authors by writing customer reviews.

 

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9 responses

  1. How do you like the blog tours? How different is the reality of writing from what you imagined it would be?

  2. Hi simplytawny! Great questions! I did one blog tour and I really enjoyed it. I had never done any marketing before and so it was fun gettitng to chat with readers and work with other authors at the same time. I have been writing for SO long that the reality of writing is sitting behind a desk in the same chair for eight hours a day, which is pretty much what I imagined. I love sitting here typing and answering questions and plotting new scenes. Many people WANT to write a book but they can’t sit for that long! For 19 years, most of my writer friends published, but not one of them told me how much FUN it is. I love every aspect of writing and marketing and selling and blogging. Once I self-published, I decided right then that I was going to try everything. No fear! And that’s exactly what i’ve done. Life is too short not to go for it. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  3. Theresa, thank you so much for sharing your experiences. I know this is going to sound trite and cheesy, but you’re an inspiration to me. Successes like yours really hammer in the point for me that although luck can and does play a part in everything we do, there’s still all the effort behind the scenes that allow us to take advantage of whatever opportunities that come our way. Sometimes I need the reminder that this really is for the long haul, that this is not just a single race to the finish but an event that keeps going and going — I can’t just look at whatever short-term goals I’ve set, but also need to look far into the distance. And remember that it ain’t over yet. 🙂

  4. (Hmm, I’m not entirely sure if my previous comment is in the moderation queue, but I can’t even see it at all, unlike a comment in another post. I’ll just summarize a bit and also ask some new questions then, just in case!)

    Thank you for sharing your experiences, Theresa. It’s great to read and an inspiration to me — sometimes I have to remind myself that this isn’t a short jaunt but a journey that could potentially span my entire lifetime, so I need to stop being impatient and looking at the short-term. I’m in it for the long haul. 🙂

    Do you do your own covers? Also, with regards to series, what is it that you like most about them (both writing them and reading them) — is it that you get to spend time with characters you like, and are able to see them develop and grow?

  5. Thank you so much for all of your kind words, Mallika. You make a really good point about this being a lifelong journey. Definitely try not to be impatient. I think that’s very important. Also, try to have a good attitude about everything. I see some writers panicking when their sales drop. It’s out of our control. Just keep writing the best books you can and have fun doing it.

    Dara England does my covers. If you go to my LINK tab on website at http://www.theresaragan.com I have a list of people I used for cover art, formatting, editing, etc.

    The Lizzy Gardner series is the first series I have ever written and I LOVED writing Book #2, Dead Weight, and already knowing the characters. It helps if you love your characters and care about what happens to them. I’m hoping this series will expand into 6 books. I definitely enjoy watching my characters change and grow and learn from their mistakes. I definitely think I’ll stick to writing series in the future. Lots of fun!

  6. Makes a lot of sense to only sign with an editor who likes ALL your work…that way you have someone always in your corner! How do you market your books?

    books4me67 at ymail dot com

  7. I think the best way to market your work, especially when you are first starting out, is to volunteer to blog and do interviews for everyone and anyone. Get your name out there. It’s free. Also, do a blog tour once you have a few books for sale. You might not get a lot of sales out of it, but you just want to connect with readers in the beginning. I also think having the right attitude while you are marketing and promoting is very important. Stay positive. For instance, while I was trying to sell a book over the years, I would feel very negative toward the industry sometimes, and being negative and griping and whining doesn’t do anyone any good. It’s so much fun to know that I am going to try everything. Sales are going to go up and down and authors can’t control that. You just keep writing the best books you can. That’s all we can do. Also, about marketing, now that I have more than a few books for sale, I pay for ads at The Romance Reviews and Eye on Romance. There are other places where I advertise, too, and I have the links on my LINK tab at my website: http://www.theresaragan.com

    Thanks for stopping by, BooksForMe2.

  8. Hi! Wonderful interview! Your books sound great! Thanks for sharing them. Do you like to free hand or type more? Do you like silence when your working or music? Thanks again!
    shadowluvs2read(at)gmail(dot)com

  9. Hi there, Shadow. I definitely prefer to type. I’ve always been a fast typer…BUT, I do make a lot of notes on a pad of paper while I’m typing. 🙂 I must have silence while I write. I turn on a fan for white noise background because every little creak stops me. When my kids were little, I had to tune them out (I know, I’m a horrible mother) but I somehow lost the ability to tune anything out once the kids grew up and moved away. The funny thing is that I LOVE music…all music. Music inspires me to write some pretty good scenes, but for some reason, I can’t write AND listen to music. I’ve tried! Thanks for the great questions!

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