Category Archives: Guest Author
Lia Fairchild’s debut novel, IN SEARCH OF LUCY, has been a break-out bestseller. It caught the eye of the Amazon editors and is now part of the Amazon Encore imprint. Well done, Lia! Today she is sharing her new novella HINT OF MURDER series–THE WRITER, THE DOCTOR, and THE BOUNCER.
QUICKIE CONTEST: Want to ask Lia about her sudden rise as an Indie Author? Make a comment or ask a question to be eligible for a FREE ebook from Lia.
Excerpt from A Hint of Murder: The Writer
Alicia Fairfield didn’t plan on being famous. Now a bestselling author with millions of fans, Alicia also has the attention of a killer. Someone has been recreating the murders from her books and the suspects are piling up; her mentally ill son, a disgruntled associate, and possibly even her loyal literary agent. The pressure of public recognition along with the guilt over these senseless killings could be enough to drive Alicia over the edge. Can she hold it together long enough to uncover a killer? (Story length 9,000 words)
Since the first body was discovered, she’d had nothing but heartache, worry and guilt. Alicia Fairfield prayed it was a coincidence; that the murdered young woman had nothing to do with the story she had created. A story that was played out on the big screen just last week. Perhaps making Vegas Vendetta, her tenth bestseller, into a movie had been a mistake. The Las Vegas Showgirl was fatally stabbed the night of the premiere. Alicia and her agent Edward spoke to the police the next day before Alicia returned to her million-dollar home snuggly perched in the rolling hills of Marin County.
Alicia clutched the bottle tightly, closed the medicine cabinet and stared at herself in the mirror. A pair of icy blue eyes gazed back at her as she smoothed down her straight blonde hair. At forty five, she was just beginning to show the signs of aging. For a moment, the stranger in the reflection hypnotized her but she tore herself away from the image and left for the kitchen. She passed through her dining room, decorated to perfection, and her hallway adorned with gorgeous paintings, some of them her own creations. When she reached the sink, she filled a glass with water and took it along with the pill bottle to the other side of the counter. Then she set them down next to her laptop and took a seat at the end barstool.
Alicia glanced down at the morning paper, and reread the headline. “Copy Cat Killer Strikes Again.” The article detailed the killing of the showgirl and linked it to the recent murder of a nurse found dead behind a free clinic in Novato. A source told the paper that a page from A.J. Field’s novel From the Shadows had been left with the nurse’s body. The pen name was Alicia’s attempt to have a private life and keep her family—mainly her mentally ill son—away from public scrutiny.
Alicia set the paper down and turned to her laptop. Mesmerized by the blinking cursor, she contemplated what she would write. For the first time, these would be her words. It was possible two lives had been taken because of the words she’d written in her novels. Should these be the last words anyone would ever read from A.J. Field?
Lia Fairchild is a native Californian who loves reading, writing, movies, and anything else related to the arts. For more about Lia and her books visit http://www.liafairchild.com and http://www.ahintofmurder.blogspot.com or follow her on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/#!/liafairchild”
Meryl Davids Landau makes her fiction debut with Downward Dog, Upward Fog, a book that was just nominated as a General Fiction Book of The Year Finalist by Foreword Reviews. She is a certified yoga teacher and Reiki practitioner, and has written many articles for national publications, including O, the Oprah magazine, Reader’s Digest, U.S. News & World Report, Huffington Post and Whole Living. Her writing has won several awards, and was a finalist for a prestigious National Magazine Award.
I didn’t really know what yoga was when I met my first yoga teacher. I was happily bicycling away at my gym’s stationary bicycle when this woman walked by—no, I have to say she floated by. Her energy was amazing. When I asked someone who that was, they told me it was the yoga teacher. I got right off that bike and followed her into her class, wanting a piece of whatever she was selling! Fortunately, she was as great a teacher as I’d hoped, and I was hooked.
Since then I’ve taken and, subsequently, taught many yoga classes. My favorite funny situations happen when people twist or bend in a certain way that, shall we say, purges the body of excess gas. Some yoga poses are actually designed to do that, because cleansing the body is a good thing. But in our culture, being the one to let ‘er rip seen as mortifying. I considered having this happen to my character, Lorna, when she goes on her first yoga retreat. But I decided Lorna was hard enough on herself for her perceived flaws and still unsure of her yoga at that point (which she later embraces with gusto) that passing gas might send her permanently fleeing!
Book description: Lorna Crawford has a great boyfriend, longtime friends, and a well-paying job as special-events coordinator at a premium ice-cream manufacturer. But, out of sorts and filled with self-doubt, the 33 year old soon realizes that what she really wants is to stay on the spiritual path she keeps diving off of. Lorna jump-starts her efforts at a silent yoga retreat. But after returning from the mountain, she quickly loses her connection in the face of scheming coworkers, judgmental girlfriends, and, especially, her overly critical mother. Lorna also wrestles over her future with her boyfriend, a hot guy who takes her to the hottest places, but who can’t discern a meditation cushion from a toad stool. Reading spiritual books and visiting a channeler and energy healer move Lorna forward, but her confusion remains. Lorna’s seeking is put to the ultimate test when personal tragedy strikes. Will she come to truly understand that living spiritually has little to do with how you pretzel yourself on the yoga mat (although she gets plenty good at that), and everything to do with embracing the twists in everyday life?
Dana Taylor: Hi Babes! I’m very excited to have USA bestselling author, Marsha Canham, as our guest at BLB. Marsha has been around the block, as they say, in the publishing business. She’s enjoyed a successful career as a traditionally published author of historical romances and now she’s “gone Indie.”
I’ve enjoyed her very frank posts in the Writer’s Café at Kindle Boards talking about the book industry. She tells it like it is on her blog site, Marsha Canham’s Blog. Quickie Contest: Make a comment or ask a question to be eligible for a FREE copy of Marsha’s latest release, THE FOLLOWING SEA.
Tell me, have you gotten any backlash from publishers or traditional authors by “going Indie?”
Marsha Canham: Funny you should ask that now when all the Indies are up in arms over a blanket statement by Jodi Piccoult in a recent interview telling authors NOT TO SELF PUBLISH. According to her wisdom and pithy perceptions, we’ve “not yet separated the wheat from the chaff” and “There’s a lot of crap out there, and one day we may find a way to segregate well written self published fiction from that stuff which anyone can throw on Amazon, but I just don’t think we’re there yet ”
I guess that means I’m not there yet LOL! So to answer your question, the only backlash seems to come from authors who think like publishing houses, that a system that has worked for a hundred years should continue to work for a hundred more. Problem is, a hundred years ago there was no such thing as the internet or ereaders. What we read is up to us, the readers, and we can choose to read an Indie book, or we can choose to read a traditionally published book. By telling authors NOT to self publish, she’s not only denying the author the right to publish …and believe me, back when I began, if I thought ten people might read my first book, it would have been a thrill and inspired me to keep writing and keep improving my craft… but she’s denying the readers the opportunity to read some damn good books that publishing houses either don’t think fit into their line of works, or they like the book, they just don’t have room for it.
DT: Kind reminds me of the guy who wanted to close down the United States Patent Office in the early 20th century because “everything has already been invented!” Marsha, you write wonderful, swashbuckling romantic tales. Can you give people who might be unfamiliar with your work an idea of what inspires you and what they’ll be likely to find in a Marsha Canham story?
MC: Dana, before we close, let me thank you for inviting me on your blog. I’ve also enjoyed the interaction on the Kindle Boards, it’s a great group of people, readers and authors alike, who share information and give advice generously.
Hmmm…what are readers likely to find? Well, I have been dubbed the Queen of Swashbuckling Romance by Romantic Times on several occasions. I enjoy writing historical romances with a lot of action and adventure and try to put the words onto paper the way I see the scenes playing out in my mind, like a film. I choose eras to place my stories in that have always fascinated me, like Medieval England or theScottishHighlands, or my ultimate favorite, the high-seas. My most recent book, an original straight to ebook format, is The Following Sea, which completes the Pirate Wolf Trilogy begun with Across A Moonlit Sea and The Iron Rose. A lot of swashing and buckling, sea battles, land battles, lost treasure galleons, and of course, romance.
Marsha Canham Bio: I was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. Writing mostly historical romances set in many of my favorite periods and themes: medieval, pirate, regency, Scottish. My books have won many awards from Romantic Times, including Best Historical of the Year, Best Swashbuckler of the Year, Best Medieval of the Year, Storyteller of the Year, and I have twice received Lifetime Achievement Awards. The Iron Rose won accolades from Publishers Weekly for being one of the seven best fiction books of the year. My novels have consistently appeared on USA Today bestseller lists. Nasty rumors of my retirement have been greatly exaggerated.
Quickie Contest: Make a comment or ask a question to be eligible for a FREE copy of THE FOLLOWING SEA from Marsha.
When I was in college, I dated a man named David Whiting—an odd duck who seemed to live in an F. Scott Fitzgerald fantasy world. A couple of years later, he was found dead in actress Sarah Miles’ motel room during the filming of a Burt Reynolds movie.
His death sparked a huge scandal, because Ms. Miles was married, and tabloids even accused Burt Reynolds of murder. Friends suspected suicide or an overdose. But the forensic evidence wasn’t conclusive. The coroner finally ruled it an accident.
But I knew things about David most people didn’t—he once said I was the only person who really knew him—and I’m pretty sure I know what happened that night.
For decades, I’d mulled over the story, unsure of how to tell it. But when I was in England promoting my first novel, Food of Love, I came across Sarah Miles’ autobiography in a used bookstore, read the chapters about David, and the seeds of a novel began to grow.
David had been a true “ladies’ man”: he had no male friends and collected gorgeous, wealthy girlfriends the way Carrie Bradshaw collected Manolos. He wasn’t wildly handsome, and his phoniness bordered on the comical, but somehow he always ended up with some supermodel or movie star on his arm.
He made it clear to me from the beginning that I wasn’t A-list enough for girlfriend material. We didn’t have the term “friends with benefits” in those days, but that would have described our relationship. I dated him mostly because I found him hilarious. Every date was a piece of performance art.
Because I wasn’t emotionally into him, I found his fabulist lies and way of sneaking into my room and rearranging things or leaving odd tokens was funny. I hadn’t yet seen the classic film “Gaslight” and wasn’t aware how terrifying “gaslighting” can be.
It wasn’t until I read Sarah Miles’ book that I realized how David hooked his prey. He made himself indispensable—taking care of everything from getting the best table at trendy restaurants to financial, career and even medical advice.
Then he would start “gaslighting” making, the women believe they were crazy or incompetent and unable to function without him. When they’d try to break away, he’d use the secret weapon of most abusers: self-pity. He’d even threaten suicide. (Which is why his death is still often called a suicide, although he only had trace amounts of drugs in his system.)
The characters in The Gatsby Game are totally fictional, and I’m not sure what Ms. Miles would make of the character of Delia Kent, the movie star who befriends—then is almost destroyed by—the Fitzgerald-obsessed con man I call Alistair Milborne. I added a smart-mouthed nanny who first falls for Alistair, then hates him, and finally forgives. I call her “Nicky Conway” as an homage to Nick Carroway, the detached narrator of Fitzgerald’s classic novel, The Great Gatsby—Alistair’s obsession.
Although it’s Alistair’s story, it’s also Nicky’s—the story of a woman who fights to make her own way in the world and ultimately triumphs, finding real love along the way.
Anne R. Allen is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and spent twenty-five years in the theater–acting and directing–before taking up fiction writing. She is the former artistic director of the Patio Playhouse in Escondido, CA and now lives on the Central Coast of California. She has a popular blog she shares with NYT bestselling author Ruth Harris.
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?
TR: 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.
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?
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.
Dana Taylor: Hey Babes! You’re in for a treat. You may have noticed a gal by the last name of RAGAN bouncing all over the romance bestseller lists at Amazon. The tagline on her website reads “3 genres, 2 names, 1 author.” Writing as both T.R. Ragan and Theresa Ragan, this author is hitting her stride. Here are the ASTOUNDING numbers–as of March 31, 2012 she has sold 255,655 books as an Indie Author. That doesn’t include the over 185,000 free downloads. Is it any surprise that she just snagged her first publishing contract with her Lizzy Gardner series with Amazon’s Thomas and Mercer Imprint? I’m very happy she’s agreed to stop by BLB and let us get to know her.
DT: Welcome to BLB, Theresa. I’ve been watching your star rising for the past several months. Can you give us a little background about yourself and your road as an author?
Personal Info: I’ve been happily married for twenty-five years. In fact, it just keeps getting better and better. I love spending time with my four kids. I have been playing the piano since I was 8 years old. I love to travel and I have been spoiled by my sister who has taken me on many faraway adventures.
Author Info: Nearly twenty years ago, I read A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux, and the minute I finished that book I knew I wanted to write my own time travel romance. I was pregnant with my fourth and last child, home on leave of absence from work, and I was tired of watching Young and the Restless.( I can still hear the theme song after all these years.) Five years later, my youngest was entering Kindergarten when I finished Return of the Rose. When daycare costs became more than my paycheck, I had to quit my job as a legal secretary. With four kids at home, I had to write early in the morning, late at night, and in the car while waiting for the kids to get out of school.
It was 1997 or 98 when a friend of mine told me that there was a group of writers called the Romance Writers of America. I didn’t have a computer at the time, but I went to the library, found a phone number and joined RWA. I still remember how exciting it was to talk on the phone with Patti Berg about joining the Sacramento Chapter of RWA. It was so wonderful to meet other like-minded people who had crazy scenes, characters, and dialogue running through their head. I learned more in that first year of being an RWA member than in the five years I had been writing. I learned all about point of view and dialogue tags. Seven national conferences, two agents, too many contests to count, 6 finals in the Golden Heart competition, hundreds of workshops and creative writing classes later, my youngest was entering college! Where did the time go?
I had written more than ten 400-page novels, I had worked with agents and editors, but I still had not made a sale to New York. I was writing every day. I was doing everything right, but my time was up. It was time for me to get a real job that paid real money. While reading through the Want Ads and looking for a job, I had an epiphany. Well, really my epiphany came in the form of Cate Rowan talking/blogging about self-publishing. Why not self-publish my two time travel romances? I read Return of the Rose for the millionth time and I knew it was time to give my books a chance. I had absolutely nothing to lose. Within weeks, I had sold hundreds of books, and within months, I had sold thousands. I was blown away. I still am.
TOMORROW–The Indie road and a mini-tour through Theresa’s books.
Let’s celebrate Spring 2012 by giving away a Kindle edition of Donna Fasano’s newest release, Nanny and the Professor. Simply leave a comment below and we’ll choose one lucky winner who’ll win a copy of this brand new sweet ‘n spicy novel.
Be sure and check the box to be a regular follower of BLB. You don’t want to miss a thing!
Dana Taylor on Donna Fasano: It’s been a couple of years since I received an e-mail from Donna regarding my spiritual memoir, “Ever-Flowing Streams.” I asked her–“Are you a writer too?” Ha! She’d already sold over 3 million copies in traditional publishing and is a major Indie success! Donna has been a terrific support to me personally and I’m thrilled to have her featured at BLB.
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Spring is in the air! A time of bright sunshine, soft breezes, sprouting bulbs, and tufts of bright green grass. What better time is there for colorful flowers and chirping birdies and curlicues and pink, frilly hearts and…romance. Yes, romance! You remember what that is; delicious attraction, pounding heartbeats, that first exquisite touch, soft, passionate kisses—all those things that make up the wild roller coaster ride that ends in happily ever after. And who ever tires of happily ever after?
Professor Joshua Kingston thought he’d found the perfect nanny for his son. But once Cassie Simmons stepped into his life, she turned it upside down! His son no longer played by the rules – and Cassie kept making up new ones. He would fire her – if he didn’t find her so utterly enticing.
Cassie had a huge secret to hide, and she couldn’t afford to lose her new job. But her handsome employer wasn’t making things easy. All those silly rules. How was an eight-year-old boy supposed to have any fun? The professor definitely needed a lesson in laughter – and love!
What others are saying about Donna’s books:
“…complex, funny and realistic…” ~Wilmington News Journal
“I was so involved with the characters and the story that I laughed with them, had my stomach in knots, and most importantly held so much hope for them and a future together. I wasn’t disappointed! I highly recommend this book if you are looking for a sweet and realistic love story.” ~The Autumn Review on Amazon.
“The strength of Ms. Fasano’s love story can be found in her remarkably rich characters and their heartwarming interactions.” ~Pamela Cohen, RomanticTimes.com
BLB QUICKIE CONTEST–Be sure to make a comment to be eligible for a Kindle copy of Nanny and the Professor.
Have you discovered the wonderful Fractured Fairy Tales from Barbara Silkstone yet? Fast-paced wacky fun. Bestselling author Donna Fasano offered up her take on The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three-Quarters.
Update March 19–Congratulations to Drpharmgirl, DragonSinger & Shadow for entering the Quickie Contest and winning the Silkstone tale of their choice!
Review Submitted by Donna Fasano—
Wild, outrageous fun!
From page one of The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three-Quarters, Barbara Silkstone grabs the reader by the throat and hauls her along on a wild ride all the way to The End. The author has a strong, distinctive voice and uses words the way an artist uses paint. Like strokes of bold color, her descriptions create vivid and lively scenes and unforgettable characters that have stayed with me long after I put down the book. This is an amazing, riotous adventure that I would recommend to any and all Janet Evanovich fans.
Alice Harte’s life is falling apart. Her boss at the real estate firm where she works is a litigious and murderous man with ties to “The Mob” in Florida. She KNOWS he has literally beheaded someone in the past.
Her whole life she has dreamed of living in England and meeting a man similar to John Cleese. In an attempt to start breaking away from her boss who is threatening her with a lawsuit, she flies to England to meet Nigel Channing, who has been charming her through e-mails and phone calls.
As her life in Miami falls apart, with mobsters and a pending fraud lawsuit, her romantic savior in England looks more and more tarnished by the hour. And then she stumbles across a beheaded mob boss. How will she ever keep her head and win the lawsuit? And what about love?
Books in the Fractured Fairy Tales by Silkstone series:
The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three-Quarters
Wendy and the Lost Boys
Snow White – coming in 2012
Donna Fasano sold her first manuscript in 1989, and since then has become a bestselling, award-winning author of over thirty novels and four audio books. She writes under her own name, Donna Fasano, as well as under the pen name Donna Clayton and is known for her “smooth, polished” writing style and for creating “strong, complex” characters. Her books include Return of the Runaway Bride, The Merry-Go-Round, and His Wife for a While.
Quickie Contest: BLB will give three winners the Silkstone e-book of their choice. Answer this question in the comments–What fairy tale should Barbara consider fracturing next?
From Dana Taylor: I was so impressed with the way Suzanne Tyrpak made ancient Greece come alive in HETAERA, I asked her to talk about what inspires her to delve into historical backgrounds. Turns out she’s another seeker of Feminine Empowerment.
Congratulations to Alex Fatcow and Sue Vanderpool on winning a copy of one of Suzanne books. Interesting discussion!
Drama Queens are often high maintenance so, in these days of economy, they’ve fallen out of favor, but as a writer of historical suspense, I adore these high-strung ladies. Their dramatic antics bring history to life.
In school, history was one of my least favorite subjects. Who cared about wars and politics, the death of kings, boring dates and facts? For me, opening a history book guaranteed a nap.
My interest in history developed from my love of theater and my desire to be an actor. Plays brought the past to life: dialogue, emotions, scenes filled with intrigue and drama. I threw myself into my characters. Wanting to know what they ate, what they wore, how they spent an average day—I did research on the times in which they lived. To my dismay, I found very little about day-to-day life in history books and close to nothing written about the roles of women. Even queens got little mention in comparison to kings, warriors, and other men. Hoping to understand the world of the characters I played, I spent time in museums studying jewelry, fragments of pots, and other household goods. I found taking on the roles of women in plays granted me a deeper insight into history than wading through tomes written by historians.
After reading and performing the plays of Shakespeare, I became interested in the origins of theater. I stumbled on the Greeks. As an aspiring drama queen, I felt at home with murderous Medea, revengeful Electra, and two-timing Clytemnestra—the fabulous, strong (and often insane) women who populate ancient Greek drama.
My latest book, Hetaera—suspense in ancient Athens, part one of the Agathon’s Daughter trilogy, is the result of my long-time interest in the Greeks. I love bringing ancient women to life. Through the eyes of women history is revealed to us in a way often lacking in the history books. I want to take my readers on a journey, steep them in another time, allowing them to taste the food, smell the air, experience how it might feel to live in another time. Of course, because I love a fast-paced story, I add a fair amount of intrigue, romance, and murder into the mix.
Although I just released HETAERA, I began writing the book about eight years ago. I got side-tracked from that book while visiting Italy. I fell in love with Rome and the result was my debut novel, Vestal Virgin—suspense in ancient Rome. A travel book I read contained a short blurb about vestal virgins; it mentioned they were sworn to thirty years of chastity and, if that vow were broken, they would be entombed alive.
That got me going! Plus, on a tour of the Coliseum, a guide pointed out the seats designated to the vestal virgins—the six priestess of Vesta were educated, and therefore powerful, at a time when most women weren’t even taught to read. Vestals were wealthy, paid a stipend, and, unlike other Roman women, they could own property. When I began my research, very little had been written about them—that gave me a lot of leeway. With the reopening of their temple inRome last year curiosity about these amazing priestesses continues to accelerate.
Through my historical suspense novels, I hope, not only to entertain, but to give voice to women who have been silenced through the passing of time. These women, these drama queens, have so much to share with us about what it means to be human. How can we, as a society, hope to understand ourselves if half of our story is missing?
Ask Suzanne a question in the comments to be eligible for a FREE copy of one of her books!
Special thanks to C.J. Archer for guesting on BLB. Congratulations to Sarah (drpharmgirl) and Jan Carol for winning a free copy of SURRENDER, C.J.’s latest release!
From Dana Taylor– C.J. Archer is turning into an “over night success” with break out book sales and a much-coveted contract offer from Amazon’s new romance imprint, Montlake Publishing. Though we live continents apart (she’s from Down Under), I’ve come to her admire C.J.’s elegant manner and highly enjoyable tales. She’s just celebrated her first anniversary as an official Indie Author. Book Luvin’ Babes is happy to present C.J. Archer–
Anniversaries are a time for celebration and reflection but I let my 1-year anniversary of indie-publishing slip by without a single tweet or post. It seemed fitting because that’s exactly how I began this venture on January 28th 2011: quietly.
I dipped my toe into indie -publishing cautiously, afraid that it might tarnish me as a writer. I’d spent 15 years building up a professional reputation by winning and finaling in contests, attending conferences, and honing my craft. I thought I’d be throwing all of that hard work away if I self-published, so I chose a different name and became C.J. Archer. I even changed the titles of my contest winning books so no-one would be able to link the real manuscripts or the real me to the indie-pubbed ones. That way I could keep submitting to agents and editors and none of them could track my sales results and use them against me if they were low, which I expected them to be.
Why did I do it if I was so ashamed of it? Well, I knew the publishing landscape was changing. Everywhere you went on the internet, you couldn’t escape the discussions. I decided I had nothing to lose. I was ready. My writing was solid. After 15 years, 1 agent and 22 completed manuscripts (yes, that’s 22 book-length manuscripts and another 6 or so unfinished) I decided it was time to take back control. I was tired of the glacial speed of publishing and the lack of editorial interest in historical romances set outside Regency England, and I thought I might as well try to earn some money. As I saw it, it was either self-publish or give up, and the thought of wasting those 15 years pushed me over the edge. Besides, I really loved some of those manuscripts.
Fast forward a few months and I had 6 releases under my belt. I received some good reviews (and some bad ones) but more importantly, I was selling books. Not huge numbers like some folks, but a good number. Then the numbers began to wane. I knew I had to do something drastic to see them rise again. Fast forward another few months, August to be exact, and I set one of my books, A Secret Life free. It was downloaded thousands of times. The sequel, A Secret Desire, subsequently sold thousands of copies. Suddenly I was making serious money not only on Amazon but Apple and Barnes & Noble where before I’d made nothing.
Then it got even better.
An editor from Amazon’s romance imprint, Montlake Publishing, contacted me. She loved those 2 books and wanted to re-publish them as Montlake titles. Really? My books? I was totally surprised. Since then it’s been a whirlwind of contracts, edits, cover copy, front covers and emails. The 2 books will be re-released with new titles – Her Secret Desire and Scandal’s Mistress respectively – on April 24th in both print and ebook.
So what’s in store for the next year? I have no idea. If you’d asked me a year ago if I thought I would have a 2-book contract with a publishing company that most authors are clamoring to sign with, I’d have responded with a classic Aussie line: “You’re dreaming”. What I do know is that aside from the two re-released books, I have plans for a third book in that series. I’m also halfway through a Victorian-era trilogy which features a ghost and the young woman who can see him, and I have lots of ideas for more Elizabethan historical romances. I’m also releasing a Regency historical romance, Surrender, very soon. To find out when it’s available and take advantage of the discount I’ll be offering upon its release, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to be added to my New Releases list.
If I’ve learned one thing this year it’s to say yes to opportunities, be nice but be yourself, and don’t worry about what other people think of your choices. Oh, and starting out quietly isn’t always a bad thing.
Thank you, C.J. for being our first guest at Book Luvin’ Babes. Hey, Babes–be sure to ask C.J. a question in the comments to be entered in the contest to win a copy of SURRENDER. And don’t forget to “like” the BLB Facebook page to keep up with the site!