Category Archives: Interviews
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.
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.