Friday, March 21, 2014


My guest is paranormal romance author Nancy Northcott. Her road to writing a book and publication was a winding road. 
Nancy is a sucker for fast action and wrenching emotion, she combines the romance and high stakes she loves in the adventures of her Light Mages

Some writers always knew that was what they’d be.  They never wanted to be anything else.  I’m not one of them.  I sort of edged into writing a little bit at a time.

My grandfather and I used to make up stories and illustrate them with stick people.  From there, I progressed to writing in crayon, starting in about second grade.  The stories were sort of fairy tale-ish or else primitive space opera.  They also weren't the kinds teachers encouraged kids to write.  They weren't “serious.”  So I drifted away from writing, but I never stopped reading.  I sampled pretty much every kind of fiction, finally gravitating toward romance, science fiction/fantasy, and mysteries.  Those genres influence pretty much everything I write.

From the time I was about seven, I also read comic books.  The monthly adventures of the characters let me get to know them better than the characters in the books I read, even the series.  At some point, I found myself thinking about what happened to the characters off-page.  That led writing fan fiction involving my favorite characters, the Legion of Super-Heroes.

I’d also written part of what I now realize was a fantasy romance set in a preindustrial society, but I hadn't finished it.  At the time, I didn't know how to plot anything long.  But my fan fiction kept getting longer and longer.  By the time I left active fandom, around 1996, I was writing sagas.  I’d also written about half of a traditional fantasy novel, but I’d gotten stuck in the middle and abandoned it.

My fan fiction was written for amateur press alliances (APAs) I belonged to.  APAs are groups of fans who send multiple copies, one for every member, to a central mailer at regular intervals.  The central mailer then collates the contributions into sets and mails them to the membership.  The positive feedback my APAs gave me for the fan fiction encouraged me to try again at creating my own worlds.  But I was still worried about that middle-of-the-book roadblock.

One day, my husband stopped beside the desk and picked up a page of fanfic.  To save copy costs, we printed long stories in Times 8-pt., two columns to a page (yes, ouch!).  That particular story was part of a lengthy Batman series I was doing.

He picked up a page.  “How long do you think this would be if you put it in standard manuscript format?”

“Hmm.  Four manuscript pages to one of these…a hundred and twenty pages or so.”

“Okay.  If you put all the parts of this whole story arc together in that format, how long would it run?”

Silence while I did mental math, not a history major’s strong suit.  Finally, I ventured, “Four hundred pages.  Maybe more.”

He nodded.  “So tell me again why you think you can’t write a whole book?”

I had nothing to say.  So I dug in, went to the library and read plot books (which I should’ve done in the first place), and finished that traditional fantasy.  And revised it.  And revised it again.  It never sold, but I learned a lot from writing it.  A few years ago, I pulled it out and looked at it. I still love the story, but I don’t write that way anymore.  Maybe someday I’ll pull it out again and clean it up.

Meanwhile, I’m writing mages (think wizard if that term isn't familiar to you) who owe a lot to the dashing super-heroes of my childhood.  And I’m having a blast.  I hope readers will, too.

  • What about you?  Is there something you've always wanted to try but haven’t gotten to yet?

More on Nancy's Book Page
Release: Wednesday, March 26th

He’s on a Quest for Justice 
 When mage investigative reporter Rick Moore gets the chance to clear his father’s name, it’s a dream come true. But there’s a price. He must first uncover the truth about the mage world’s most wanted fugitive.
 Her Secrets are His Only Hope
Caroline Dare knows her beloved brother had a reason for killing a prominent mage. Heroes don’t go rogue on a whim. Burned by shady reporters, she pours her devastating worry for him into her fabric art career and avoids all questions. But when her art is panned as a fraud because she’s blind, she’s forced to seek help from Rick, a man she knows only as a sexy arts writer.

Helping beautiful, determined Caroline prove herself gets Rick inside her well tended walls. But as he wins her trust, he finds he’s losing his heart. Now he has a choice–give up his dream or betray the woman he loves.

She follows the rules
He breaks everyone of them
Now they are each other's only hope


Nancy Northcott’s childhood ambition was to grow up and become Wonder Woman.  Around fourth grade, she realized it was too late to acquire Amazon genes, but she still loved comic books, science fiction, fantasy and YA romance.  A sucker for fast action and wrenching emotion, Nancy combines the romance and high stakes she loves in the adventures of her Light Mages.

Her debut novel, Renegade, received a starred review from Library Journal.  The reviewer called it “genre writing at its best.”  Nancy is a three-time RWA Golden Heart finalist and has won the Maggie, the Molly, the Emerald City Opener, and Put Your Heart in a Book. 

Married since 1987, Nancy and her husband have one son, a bossy dog, and a house full of books.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Have you ever had a character you wanted the author to write about? Suzanne is giving away a copy of Vanished to a commenter.

My guest, Suzanne Ferrell, discovered romance novels in her aunt's hidden stash one summer as a teenager. From that moment on she knew two things: she loved romance stories and someday she'd be writing her own. Her love for romances has only grown over the years. It took her a number of years and a secondary career as a nurse to finally start writing her own stories. 
Her topic today is meeting expectations.

For years I had the extreme luxury of writing books simply for my own pleasure. Other than my critique partners or the few beta readers I trusted to give me feedback, the only person to really read all my work…was me. I worked hard at my craft in the hopes that the books would find an enthusiastic agent or editor, who would then get them birthed onto the publishing road. During that time, I didn't realize what a joy it was to simply write characters how I saw them in my head.

Even when I independently published the first three books in the Edgars Family romantic suspense series, I had no real expectations from others in their formation. The books were pretty much written and ready to go when I made the decision to send them out into the e-book world.

Then a funny thing happened.

Readers not only bought and read them, they fell in love with my characters.

I know this because I've received emails and FB messages about them. Many wanted to know when Luke, the youngest of the three brothers in the series, would get his own story.
Now the pressure was on.

You see, Luke was the smart-ass, computer geek, flirtatious younger brother. Dave was the eldest and took that spot very seriously. Matt as the second oldest had always been the rule follower. Sami as the only sister and baby of the family had her own expectations to live up to. But Luke? He was able to bend rules with just a beautiful smile and great charm. Which worked well when he was a secondary character, but when it came to his own story, how could I make him step-up-to-the-plate?

I was very concerned, because I wanted his book and him to meet the expectations my readers had for him. How do you take the charmer, the kid who talked his way out of trouble and turn him into hero material?

Then it hit me. You give him the one woman he’d die to protect.

Enter Abigail Prudence Whitson. Years earlier he’d tried to protect her by getting her assigned to desk duty at the Treasury Department instead of active field agent work. Once that happened, he moved on about his own life. Things were going well, he was half playboy, half secret agent. Then he finds Abby standing in a bloody crime scene and her best friend, the victim, missing.

That was the moment that Luke grew up. Right there. On paper and in front of my eyes.

See, Luke, despite his charm and smart-ass remarks, had the same core as his brothers. Deep seated honor, protective instincts and a one-woman-only heart. Put his woman in jeopardy and he will do anything to keep her safe, even if she doesn't like it.

Luke met my expectations, and I’m hoping he’s met the readers’ expectations, too!

So, readers, what do you think? Have you ever had a character you wanted the author to write about? Did they meet your expectations? Did they leave you wanting more or something different?

They had a history… 
Five years earlier Luke Edgars and Abigail Whitson met at FLETC, the training center for government agents. It was instant dislike. She thought him an arrogant, showoff flirt, he thought it would be safer for everyone if she stayed behind her analyst’s desk. 

She’s in trouble…
Now Luke’s world turns sideways when he finds Abby standing in the middle of a bloody crime scene and the victim has vanished. 

He needs to protect her…
Luke realizes that not only does Abby need his help to find her friend, but the friend has put Abby in the cross-hairs of a dangerous group who will stop at nothing to hide their secrets.


Suzanne Ferrell is a double finalist in the Romance Writer's of America's 2006 Golden Heart with her manuscripts, KIDNAPPED (Long Contemporary Category) and HUNTED (Romantic Suspense), both available at and B& Suzanne has also won The Beacon Unpublished and the CTRWA's contests in the erotica categories with her book, The Surrender Of Lacy Morgan (available from Ellora’s Cave).

Suzanne's sexy stories, whether they be her on the edge of your seat romantic suspense, the heartwarming small town stories, or her steamy Western Eroticas, will keep you thinking about her characters long after their Happy Ever After is achieved. 

Monday, March 17, 2014


Today’s guest is New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Olivia Cunning with part two of her special two part series on finding success as a self-publishing author. Part one, covering her early attempts at publication, is here.

 Part Two: My Own Brand of Insanity

So my first traditionally published book, a rock star erotic romance, was having a little success. I was far from quitting that day job. With my second book, I started to gain some popularity. With the third, I hit the USA Today bestseller list for the first time. Then all of a sudden, the erotic romance genre exploded with the success of Fifty Shades of Grey. People were looking for more sexy books to read. That’s when my career really took off.

It was also at this time that the self-publishing craze took hold and I decided to try my hand at it. I started with something a little different, a time travel erotic romance series (Lovers’ Leap) where the lead characters travel through time quantum-leap-style and fix the sex lives of people in the past. I love the premise. I love the characters. I love everything about that series, except that I don’t have time to write more of it. And it pretty much sells nada. Even with my best-selling-name on the series, people don’t buy it. Why? Because I wasn't being insane enough. I needed to do the same thing over again. Lovers’ Leap was just too different from my norm. (This is a good lesson for novice authors).

Since the Lovers’ Leap series flopped—and continues to flail like a fish out of water—I started writing a different rock star series with a shorter, serialized format, One Night with Sole Regret. And… that’s when it happened for me. When I could finally make a career out of writing and make good money doing what I dreamed of doing.

My first two One Night with Sole Regret books did very well because fans of my Sinners series were waiting for my traditional publisher to get its shit together—I mean, publish the next book. Because Sole Regret was less expensive than my trad pubbed books, I picked up new readers. Many of those went back to read Sinners. Then my fourth Sinners book hit the NY Times best-seller list and my third Sole Regret came out at about the same time and the two releases fed off each other. A delicious vicious cycle. After a few months of smashing success, I quit the day job and started running my own self-publishing business. This is where the late night, sleep deprived, sugar high induced rants that Sia “enjoys” come in.

Self-publishing is not as easy as I thought it would be. Especially since I’m a bit of—cough a complete cough—control freak. I need to do everything myself. If the book doesn't get done and I spell misspell “mispell” and the cover is stupid and I released it on a day when five big names in my genre also released, it all comes back on me. I’m responsible. I can’t blame anyone but me.

So what does this kind of responsibility look like?

I write the book. I edit. I rewrite. I edit. I send to beta readers. I rewrite. I send to my editor. I rewrite. I edit. I re-edit. I re-edit some more. Notice all those I’s in there? And how little writing is involved now?

Okay, the book has been edited and re-edited dozens of times, I can finally collect my cash, right? WRONG! I still have to create the cover, format, upload, distribute to various sites, and market and promote, and market, and market, and promote. I also have to answer reader questions, which come at me through social media and email and my blog and other people’s blogs and who knows how much I miss. I try to interact with fans online while avoiding the negativity that seems to slap me in the face when I least expect it. I never take a day off. I might not write every single day, but I’m doing something related to self-publishing all the time. And don’t get me started on the pain that is bookkeeping.

Traditional publishing is difficult to break into, but it does take a lot of pressure off an author. Someone else does most of those “I” tasks. So that’s why when I was offered a cushy advance for my next series, I said, “Thanks, but no thanks, I’m going to self-publish it.” Say what? You read that correctly, after spending twenty years in pursuit of traditional publishing, now that I’m in a position to get good, guaranteed advances, I turn them down.

Do I regret leaving traditional publishing behind to pursue self-publishing full time? Not at all. I like having control, but it’s a lot of work and it isn't easy.

So, have you figured out the secret yet? On how to become a best-selling self-published author? I’m here to share all my knowledge and expertise, right? So here it is:

The only one who can guarantee your success in self-publishing is… no one. It isn’t guaranteed. Some of it is working hard and producing the best book you can write. Some of it is knowing how to market and gaining reader attention and maintaining reader loyalty. And most of it is pure dumb luck. If I knew how to ensure luck, I’d share the secret, or maybe I’d charge for it, but I wouldn't keep it to myself. I’m baffled that so many authors self-publish their debut novel—without twenty years of rejection angst to back it—and not only succeed, they flourish. That’s amazing! I wish I could have done that. That’s who you should seek advice from. Not me. My method of success isn't a method at all. It’s madness.

So you too can become a best-selling self-published author like me! But I can’t tell you how. Every journey is different. You have to find your own path. And maybe you do have to be a little insane and keep persisting at the same thing—that thing you believe in, that book you wrote, that dream—and expect amazing results. 

Because only when I fed my insanity did I finally find success.

Even Sinners need love... 

When Sinners tie the knot, things don't always go as planned.

Combining her love for romantic fiction and rock 'n roll, Olivia Cunning writes erotic romance centered around rock musicians. Her latest release, Sinners at the Altar, is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other retailers.