Wednesday, February 12, 2014

USA Today HEA Interview with author Melinda Curtis

My latest interview is up at USA Today's Happy Ever After blog! Hop on over and meet Harlequin author, Melinda Curtis. Her latest release, Summer Kisses, is here just in time for a sweet Valentine's Day read. Read the interview HERE.

And another huge thank you to all who have posted awesome reviews for my debut, The Promise of Rain, on Amazon, Goodreads and elsewhere. You have no idea how much I appreciate it. Best early Valentine's treat ever :).

If I'm not back by Friday...Happy Valentine's Day to all!

Friday, February 7, 2014

National Wear Red Day & New Covers!

Happy Friday and National Wear Red Day!

Yesterday, I wrote a post at the Harlequin Heartwarming Authors blog called:

Be a Heroine: Go Red for Women

It explains why Go Red for Women and National Wear Red Day are so important in spreading awareness and fighting heart disease in women...the #1 killer of women. I'm at risk. Are you? Love your heart and check out the post and all the links I included.

ALSO...(drum roll for cover fashion show)

As you all know, my debut, The Promise of Rain, released in North America on January 1st, 2014. Since Harlequin Heartwarming is a new line, up until now, its books have been available everywhere that sells digital/ebooks, but only available in print through Well...February 1st was the official UK/Australia release day and today, Feb. 7th, is release day for a test run of Harlequin Heartwarming in print overseas (UK)!!! Therefore, you can now buy the print version off Amazon UK. You'll notice the covers are slightly different depending on where you buy it, but here are the links (note: as I'm writing this, the Amazon UK site hasn't switched from pre-order on print but it should soon)...

Original cover (North America): 

Mills & Boon AUS:

Mills & Boon AUS duo in print with Amy Vastine's The Weather Girl:

Mills & Boon UK:

So what do you think of the cover variations? Which one do you like best? I've had readers telling me that they wish they could walk into a book store and buy a print copy. Do you gravitate towards ebooks or do you like the 'brick and mortar' book store experience?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Interview with Author J.L. Campbell

Happy Monday, everyone! I know some of us are covered in snow yet again, and yesterday's Groundhog's Day forecast called for more winter, but it's a fabulous Monday because award winning author J.L. Campbell is here and I'm hoping she brought some warm, Jamaican sunshine with her :). Joy is both a talented writer and beautiful person. Whether she's writing suspense/adventures, women's fiction, young adult or romance, she brings Jamaica to life with vibrant, and sometimes heartbreaking, authenticity. I'm not at all surprised that Joy's middle grade novel, Christine's Odyssey, was awarded the 2008 bronze medal for creative writing in YA by the Jamaican Cultural Development Commission. Her latest romance, Chasing Anya, just released in January. Congrats and welcome, Joy!

Rula: It's such a thrill to have you here, Joy. You're holiday novella, Anya's Wish, was a prequel to Chasing Anya, book 1 in your romantic Island Adventure Series. Once again, in this series as with your other books, you transport readers to Jamaica, but what's fascinating is that in each genre you write--whether middle grade, romance or adventure--we get to experience a completely different side of Jamaican society, including economic status and lifestyle. Which, if any, did you find to be the most rewarding to write and share with readers? 

Joy: Thanks for having me, Rula. It’s a pleasure to be here. One of the good things about being a writer is that I get to share my island home with the world. Jamaica is a character in each story, which allows me to give readers an inside view. I think readers get an unspoiled and wondrous view through the eyes of a child and the middle-grade series has allowed me to do that.

Rula: Absolutely. I'm a huge fan of your middle grade Simms Siblings series. Both Christine's Odyssey and Saving Sam were poignant stories that had me by the heart. I fought tears in every chapter and every page made me want to go give my own children hugs. The setting was vibrant and beautifully authentic, the psychology of the child characters heart wrenching and real...and the writing style deliciously skilled and organic. What was writing from the perspective of a traumatized child like and what, if any, research has gone into these books?

Joy: Christine’s Odyssey was the first novel I wrote and it took a nine-year route to publication. As I've grown as a writer, my stories have evolved. That novel came out of a conversation I had with a friend whose brother had died and she was given care of his daughter. My mind went into ‘what if’ mode and the story grew from there. My research came at the back end, in that after I’d written the story, I contacted a guidance counselor, lawyer, police officer, doctor and social worker. These conversations, along with research, took care of fact checking and getting accurate information on things such as physical injuries to the local legal system. 

Rula: I really enjoyed the blog posts you've done introducing various Jamaican foods and facts. From the boiled green bananas in Christine's Odyssey to the fried plantain chips Anya snacks on, to all the tropical ice cream the Simms siblings savor on hot Jamaican all makes me hungry. What's your favorite Jamaican dish and is there a particular snack you reach for when writing?

Joy: The national dish Ackee & Saltfish (cod fish) with fried dumplings hits the spot for m every time. If I have to eat when I’m writing, I like banana chips. They’re made from sliced green bananas.

Rula: Mmm. You're making me hungry. I've been following your journey as an Indie author for awhile and I'm so impressed with how prolific you are. The writing experiences you've shared on your blog, The Character Depot, have been inspiring and invaluable. How have you managed to find that illusive balance between promotion, social media, magazine articles, family and actual writing time? 

Joy: Rula, much to my distress, I haven’t really found a balance, but writing things down helps tremendously. I've come to realize that there will never be enough time to do all that’s required, especially since I decided to self publish. Since I don’t make enough time for social media interaction, I take advantage of author sponsored group promotions.

Something else that has helped me is that before I was published, I had more than six stories already written. This meant that when I was eventually published, I was adding more books to those I had already written. This is one of the best forms of promotion a writer can utilize. In looking at my books on Amazon, I can tell that people who read them tend to buy others that I've written.

I've accepted the fact that I’ll also never have enough time to write, so I've learned to make the most of those periods when my stories are flowing. My family is supportive, which makes this journey a lot easier. 

Rula: Is there anything you would have done differently along the way or any tips (or warnings) you have for writers considering Indie publishing (or publishing in general)? 

Joy: I’d just caution writers to study the business of publishing before jumping off. I was caught flat-footed when I was first published because I didn't understand that I was expected to do a huge chunk of marketing. There is so much information online that there’s no excuse not to know what’s happening in publishing today. Alex Cavanaugh’s brainchild, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, is an excellent starting point for anyone who wants to make their writing a business. It also serves the needs of anybody who wants to know what’s new in the world of publishing.  

My best piece of advice is to study the craft of writing. There’s nothing better that a writer can do to improve his/her skills. Just like anything else we’re serious about, we all have to put in a period of apprenticeship.

Rula: March will bring the release of Taming Celeste, book 2 in your Island Adventure Series, and readers are also looking forward to the third book in your Simms Sibling series. It's going to be a busy year for you! Can you give readers a hint at what they'll find in these two books?

Joy: Celeste is a firebrand and that quality will land her in trouble. Her story is even more exciting than Anya’s as she accidentally gets in the middle of a software piracy deal that turns her into a target. What made this story more interesting to write is that Celeste’s love interest is Mark, the troublesome cousin from the book Contraband

In For Love of Cass & Jamie, the girls come under threat when their adoptive parents face trouble in their marriage. The sisters deal with their problems in different ways and sadly, one of them becomes bulimic. All I’ll say is that they’re kids and deserve a happy ending.  

Rula: I can't wait for those releases. Books are a formidable way to raise awareness and battle ignorance. This is in part because books are a universal transport system. Anywhere you want to go. Any adventure, culture or way of life you want to experience. Books connect people in so many ways. You've done a brilliant job bringing Jamaica to life for those who haven't been able to visit (it's one of my dream of these days!). If you could hop on a plane right now (no deadlines to worry about ;) and visit any place on earth, where would you go? Was this choice inspired by a book you read? :) 

Joy: I agree with you there, Rula. I've been to many places complements of books. I’d love to visit Egypt and incidentally, some of my fascination with that land was inspired by Mark Twain’s adventures.

Thanks so much for having me, Rula. It’s been fun. 

Rula: It has been great having you here! Thanks for hanging out with us today! 

BLURB: Chasing Anya (w/a Jayda McTyson) 

Been there. Done that.

Feisty and independent, Anya Davies lives by her own rules. The one thing she's hell-bent on avoiding is a conventional relationship, thanks to her abusive ex who refuses to stay in the past. As far as she's concerned, romance is a no-no. 

The second complication in her life is a secret that condemns her to constant guilt and a solitary life. A series of near misses and escalating threats are a third and worrying factor. Only a special man would understand or live with Anya's challenges and demands.

Casual not having that.

Enter Christophe Mondesir. Two years ago, Anya dumped him without explanation. An accidental meeting shoots Anya back on Christophe's radar. He refuses to be denied and plans to breach the fortress Anya has built around her heart--if she'll commit to more than a casual liaison. He's also determined to find out what she's hiding. That's if the stalker who's after Anya doesn't end her life first.

BUY IT: Amazon


Christine's Odyssey (Book 1)
Saving Sam (Book 2)
Jamaican Kid Lit blog