Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Break Out the Bubbly & the Dark Chocolate: Celebrating Katherine Bone's New Release The Rogue's Prize

Author Katherine Bone
 Ahoy Mates! I've got a special friend and guest on the Veranda today, Katherine Bone. She's a sister writer at two of my favorite chapters, Heart of Dixie and Southern Magic. She got THE CALL last year from Crimson Romance and now she's releasing her second book! We wanted to chat when her first book was released, but life got in the way. But now I'm thrilled to host Katherine and share her publishing journey.

Welcome to the Veranda, Katherine. *Pop*Fizz*Pour* 
Thank you for hoisting your sails and inviting me aboard the veranda today, Christine!!! I’ve wanted to stretch the plank between our two ships for some time now and I’m so glad that our sailing lanes have finally converged!
Me, too! And if you all haven't noticed by now, Katherine's a HUGE pirate fan. What's not to love about a pirate, right? I can think of a few alpha-licious ones right now. Katherine, how did you end up becoming a writer (when you weren't sailing the seven seas)?
With a compass pointing to what you want most, you can get almost anywhere, right? It’s been a long journey. Poetry and romance appealed to me when I was in my early teens. I’ll never forget the joy I felt when my Haiku was chosen to be published in my Junior High Yearbook. In High School, a Literature class tickled my muse as I began to write short stories and got really great grades doing it. A great feeling! Life happened after that: college, Prince Charming, marriage, Army moves, and children. Meanwhile I continued to write poetry until the need to write returned in force. When it did, I sank hook line and sinker into a world of amazing challenges.
I'm so glad you rediscovered your dream and followed your heart. What is your favorite genre to write? 
Hands down (or up) that would have to be historical romance, especially the Regency period, though I have written, and cast aside for now, half of a western trilogy and a published contemporary, Lost Treasure, Captive Princess, too.
Ah, deviations from the chosen genre. I understand that desire, too. So many ideas and so little time. When you do sit down to write, are you a plotter or do you follow the muse? 
Hmmm… very good question, one I think I continue to define. I’m a Heinz 57 aka plantster. I plot characters, they give me the beginning and end of their stories, and then the muse and my fingertips do the rest. ;)
I love character driven stories. After you've plotted your characters and written, how do you relax?
The best relaxation I can think of is cradling a cup of hot tea while watching one of my favorite movies or tv shows, or settling down for a nap with a cozy blanket and my fluffy cat.
Sounds divine! If you're not watching a movie, what do you read? What are your favorite genres? Who are your favorite authors? 
Historical romance tickles my fancy, but I read a variety too. I love to read action/adventure/swashbuckling romance in the vein of Shana Galen, Katharine Ashe, Johanna Lindsey, Julie Garwood, Michelle Beattie, and Jennifer Ashley.  Diane Gaston, Ann Lethbridge, Carla Kelly, and Julia Justiss, along with Lynn Raye Harris, M.V. Freeman, and Annie West round out my list. But there are oh! so many more fabulous writers out there that vie for my attention.
Great list of authors. I've enjoyed reading many of their books. What is your current project? 
I’m currently working on the third book in my Nelson’s Tea Series. The follow up to the first two books in the series Duke by Day, Rogue by Night and The Rogue’s Prize is The Rogue’s Surrender, featuring the antics of Lord Garrick Seaton, aka Captain Blade, and a very passionate, angry Spanish senorita named Lady Mercedes Catalina Vasquez de la Claremont.
Oooh... sounds intriguing. Any new releases? 
What a timely question, Christine! The Rogue’s Prize, the second book in my Nelson’s Tea Series, is a June 24th release from Crimson Romance. This book follows Captain Henry Guffald as he seeks to redeem his military career by rescuing Garrick Seaton from imprisonment in Spain. What he doesn’t count on is being attacked by a female pirate, Captain Belle, aka Lady Adele Seaton, with an agenda of her own and an adventurous spirit only one man can tame.
Wow. Great story. Where do you get your ideas for your stories? 
Oh, Christine, you do know how to bring my passion out into the open! Where do my ideas start? Research. There’s nothing like researching a subject, person, or place and discovering a tidbit that the muse can’t help but snatch onto. For instance, when I was researching Admiral Nelson, I discovered that he was never without his tea, even on board shipduring battle. What a fascinating man, yes? So I took that fact a step further… With the Napoleonic Wars at full throttle from 1803-1815, what if Nelson used ‘tea’ as code for mercenaries, first sons unsuspected by his enemies or the ton, to rally to his cause when a need arose. And believe me, the need arises quite frequently, me hearties!
That's so clever. I love how you extrapolated the idea from one tidbit of information. How long were you trying to get published before you got the “call?” 
Katherine's Debut Novel. Gorgeous!
Oddly enough, I got the idea for my first book when my youngest daughter was only a year old and we purchased our first computer. I’d read so many wonderful stories to help me survive the lonely times Charming was away on duty that I felt a strong urge to help other readers do the same. That was 20 years ago. Though I didn’t write consistently during that time, I taught myself most of what I knew by reading books about writing and struggling through the writing process alone. During this time, my four children were growing up, participating in sports and so on, which gave me little time to write. It wasn’t until my youngest daughter started High School, in 2004, that I joined RWA and a year later, my local writing chapter. I’ve been writing seriously since then and got The Call, an email from Jennifer Lawler at Crimson Romance on June 11th, 2012. Partay!!! (Someone tell Jack we need more rum!)
I remember celebrating your release in person. That was so much fun. But how did you celebrate the new book contract? 
When I got the email I was sitting in the beauty salon getting my hair colored. LOL!!! I wanted to call my hubby and friends so bad but it’s hard to put a phone up to your ear when dye will get all over it. So I did the next best thing. I sent texts!!! I also took my picture in the mirror at the beauty salon to chronicle the look of happiness on my face for posterity sake, (never mind I looked a mess). A few days later, my family and I celebrated with dinner out and rum!
That sounds just like you! The Text Queen :-) Do you have an agent? 
I’d love to have an agent in the near future but no, I don’t have an agent right now. I’ve got a new series I’m developing so I’m hoping to submit to agents very soon though!
Wonderful, Katherine. What advice would you give aspiring writers? 
This is the best part of being a published writerpumping up other writers!!! First, never doubt your own writing style or voice. Believe in yourself, even when those rejections start coming in, and they will. Second, hind sight is 20/20, isn’t it? I look back now and I’m actually thankful for those rejections and bad contest scores/comments, though I wasn’t at the time. Third, my writing and ability to handle the publishing industry has been buoyed by the bridges and friendships I’ve built to help me get across the chasm. Reach out to other like-minded souls. They will be your life lines. Fourth, at times it will be hard to stay positive, but believe me, it gets easier. Five’s the charm: the main thing to remember is “never, never, never, never, NEVER give up.” (Winston Churchill must have been a pirate. That’s a fabulous signal flag if I’ve ever seen one!) Remember: don’t achieve to believe, me hearties. Believe to receive. It’s in your belief in yourself and your stories that you’ll find success.
I love that phrase Believe to Receive. I'm going to write it down and add it to my quote board.  
Katherine's second novel-Another Hit!
What encouragement can you give writers who face rejection? 
Rejections deflate egos. Your ego doesn’t have to make you do the hempen jig. Banish your ego from the room. Remember you aren’t the one being rejected, though it often feels like you are. The story, the characters, the plot or lack of it, isn’t resonating with the editor/agent/contest judge. If you receive a form letter, set it aside and vow to improve your voice. If the comments are hard on you, set them aside and then return a few days later when your brain has processed the information and you can honestly look hard at what you can improve. Overlook the rest. For instance: I was once told by a judge, “Even Jesus asked why.” If you think that was strange, you should have seen the rest of the contest entry. Let rejections strengthen your will, not weaken it. Remember pirates love to pirate and writers love to write. Never quit! Never surrender!
Ah, "let rejections strengthen your will" is a perfect way of approaching this part of the industry. Once you battled back the Rejection Demon, what's the most difficult part about writing for you? 
Arrrr!!! That would be writing the middle of the book. I always seem to get becalmed at about chapters 7-9. After that point, my sails seem to pick up wind and then before I know it, I’m sailing to that coveted horizon… another finished book. On the flipside, the best part of writing is editing! Oh yes, I adore the editing stage, my friends. That’s when research plays a great part in layering in levels of wit, verve, action and adventures galore. That’s when the characters come alive to the point that I want to be them!
Revision is where I find the heart of the story, too. What is the most surprising thing you discovered after you received the call? 
Time disappears. Strange, isn’t it? It’s like being caught in Davy Jones’ Locker, unable to tell the passage of timeuntil it’s too late. (Hand flail!) When you’re unpublished you dictate how much time you spend on a book. That changes in a heartbeat when you sign that first contract. Before you know it, deadlines loom, panic surges and there are lots of sleepless nights involved. (Actually, if you had a better navigator on board, you might not stress out over deadlines. Hint!) But even through the chaos, there’s a giant learning curve and an insatiable appetite to improve the craft and your storytelling skills. And more importantly: you’re actually getting your stories out to readers everywhere!!!
 I'll have to remember to keep my navigator on Sail Full Speed Ahead, Katherine. Excellent advice!!
Thank you for allowing me to be a guest on your veranda, Christine! I appreciate your kindness and such a great interview!
One last thing, me hearties. Close your eyes. Are they closed? (Well, if they’re closed you can’t read the rest of this paragraph. Pirate!) Seriously now, imagine yourself achieving success. What is it you will do when you get The Call from that agent or editor? Imagine your name on the front of one of your books. Focus on this!!! Contemplate how you can get from point A to point B. Do what you can to improve your craft. Learn. Learn. Learn. Do whatever it takes to finish your book. And as Beverly Barton once told me, “Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.” I don’t promise an easy road, but I can promise you’ll get there if you NEVER quit.
Cue Ace Ventura… “Al-al-al-al-righty-thennnnn.”
Keep your eyes on that horizon!!!
Simplicity is the key for sure. Thanks so much for visiting the Veranda, Katherine. May your sails always have wind billowing them as you go forward in your publishing career!
Katherine Bone lives in the South where she dreams of the power, passion and persuasion of rogues, rebels and rakes and the happily ever afters every alpha male deserves

Katherine's 3rd Book Release!
The Rogue's Prize
Lady Adele Seaton has been raised in a family profited by a lucrative smuggling business. Though her parents wish otherwise, she would no sooner give up the call to rove than marry. But obtaining independence is a challenge when her brother faces a hangman’s noose. Planning to save him, she captures an English ship. But things go awry and she is dragged home in disgrace, forced to ally herself with the one man with the power to anchor more than her ship— her heart.

Friday, June 21, 2013

On the Road Again: Ongoing Writing and Learning the Craft

First a mini squee because I love my new blog design and couldn't be more proud of the College Kid for her hard work. She's beyond talented and reasonably priced. I love the clean lines, the cool signature line and the beautiful colors. They combine the look of my website, my tumblr, and soon to be arrive brand new business cards.

Talent exists in many forms. I couldn't doodle my way out of a paper bag, but the CK is gifted in design and all things technical when it comes to creating beautiful computer coded blogs and more. I expect one day I'll have to have her take over the website and combine the elements, but for now I love having this blog as a separate entity. It's easier for me to into it and make changes to the pages.

So new blog look, but same me. The only thing that's changed is that I have more responsibility now to make sure that I continue to hone my craft and work hard at creating new stories. This weekend I'm super excited because I'm reconnecting in person with my Critique Partner Pam Mantovani in Birmingham. She lives in the Atlanta area so most of critiquing and brainstorming is done over the phone or via email exchanges. And that's all great, but we have a higher output of synergy/story/zany stuff that pops into our heads when we are in the same room.

We meet today and will spend time writing, brainstorming, making plans for the future, discussing the biz, and just plain enjoying each other's company.

Tomorrow we will attend a plotting workshop at the Southern Magic meeting from 12-3P. I've been taking the course online and it's fantastic. Another tool in the writing arsenal for me to use when I start generating new stories and during revisions. Today's lesson is a tough one so I'll start it this afternoon after I arrive at the hotel. I'll probably wrap it all up next week. The best part about this class is I literally started the story from scratch again so now I've got solid plot (external and internal) points to create an outline. I hope that means the story will be easier and faster to revise.

Ongoing growth as a writer is vital. James Scott Bell continues to learn about the craft. And he writes books about the writing craft. I think the main thing is never to sit back and think that you're so wonderful that you don't need to learn anything new. I love learning about the craft, incorporating the new information into my growing stack of lessons about plot, structure, body language, deep editing, you name it!

So I'm hitting the road, looking forward to a fun and productive weekend, and continuing to grow as a writer on this journey of mine.

What's on your agenda? Do you take craft classes? Does the idea of plotting and outlining freak you out? What's the best course you've taken that you would recommend to me?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Makeover Madness on the Veranda

The Veranda has been undergoing a lot of reconstruction ever since I got "The Call AKA the Amazing Email." I'm really excited about the changes that the College Kid is implementing to the Veranda's design and the logo. There have been discussions about Roses versus Hearts, font names bandied about (which the College Kid has memorized and I have not), and sleek lettering to look at when she's finished coding stuff (which is my fancy way of saying "doing something I have no idea how to do and if I tried my brain would pop").

Stay tuned. This work is still in progress. Kind of like my current novella and my other draft in revision.  So while the College Kid has been working on my blog, my tumblr site and more, I've been doing what I know best: writing and revising and studying my craft online via a wonderful course offered by my Southern Magic Writing Chapter.

Oh, and when I haven't been Digging Out of the Distractions of reconstruction noise, I have been working with the website designer and there are a few minor changes to the site. Check it out at Press my shiny new Entangled Publishing button and pop over to see their fabulous new titles.

If you're in the mood for something different, then my new Tumblr site might be the ticket. Though I originally joined it to follow the amazing John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars (which is an amazing, beautiful soul-searing read), now I'm having fun exploring my new tumblr world. Here's the link:

The College Kid designed the site for me. I think it looks amazing. I'm so lucky she's got this crazy math and designer gifted brain. That way she can do cool computer-like stuff while I do what I love to do: write.

I'm stoked about the novella's direction. I have been pre-writing Jessie and Blake's story. Jessie is tough, but Blake is the perfect Alpha-licious hero and I know he'll release her from her prison of pain, frustration, anger, and grief. Of course, I have to do this in a quick way, which will be a challenge. But I'm still researching her background thoroughly and can't wait to learn more about her career which means conducting an interview or two about her dangerous profession. Meanwhile, my plotting class has given Roxy & Stefano's story a great new direction for the revisions. I'm sensing a little suspense and action, but the core of the story is their romance. And that's what brings a big grin to my face when I'm writing. I love *love*.

So be on the lookout for the grand unveiling of the new look and title for the blog. The contents will likely evolve, but all in a good way. And one thing will always stay the same: me. I'm still a writer who loves to write and is constantly figuring out how to squeeze in more time to do what she loves.

How about you? Any big changes? How do you handle change? Do you like it, embrace it, or run from it?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Break Out the Bubbly & the Dark Chocolate: Celebrating Historical Author Julie Johnstone's New Release WHAT A ROGUE WANTS

Author Julie Johnstone
      Hi Everyone: Please join me in welcoming my sister Southern Magic chapter mate and Linda Howard Single Title coordinator, Julie Johnstone to the Veranda. After many years of writing Historical novels, Julie decided to take a risk on herself and self-publish her books. And wow!!! What an instant success as a result. She made PAN (that's Romance Writer Speak for Published Author Network) in three months. I'm so pleased for her. I asked her if I could share her story and her next release on the Veranda--naturally tempting her with dark chocolate and champagne. And now here she is visiting us and telling her special success story.

      Welcome to the Veranda, Julie. Tell me how did you end up becoming a writer? 
      Good question! I ended up becoming a writer because I fell in love with historical romance and thought to myself ‘I could write a romance book.’ Little did I know just how hard it was! Also, I really have always written since I was a child. I wrote short stories and poetry in college and then moved on to longer stories.

That's just how I started writing romance novels. And I'm so glad you challenged yourself to do the same. What is your favorite genre to write? 
It depends on what day you ask me! I’ve written contemporary short stories and historical romances and paranormal romances. Of the three, I suppose the historical and paranormal are my favorite.
Oh, I bet the contemporary short stories are good, too. and I love historical and paranormal romances. When you write your historical novels, are you a plotter or do you follow the muse? 
I’m a plotty punster. If I plot too much I get in trouble, but I do like to kind of know where I’m going.
I like that term: punster. After you finish "punsting" how do you relax? 
This one is easy! I relax with a bubble bath, a good book and a glass of wine!
Sounds deliciously serene!! What do you read when you're tucked beneath the bubbles? What are your favorite genres? Who are your favorite authors? 
I read mostly historical romance and paranormal romance. However, that doesn’t mean I won’t pick up a contemporary book, it’s just rare for me. I also read non-fiction self-help parenting books sporadically. Oh, and I have been known to go back to the classics like Tolstoy. My favorite authors are Diana Gabaldon, Jeaniene Frost, Delilah Mavelle (she’s new for me, but great!), Susanna Sandlin (also new for me, but great!), Phillipa Gregory, Julie Garwood, Suzanne Collins, Lisa Klypas and Erin Morgenstern.
Wonderful authors! I used to read a lot of self-help parenting books, too. They helped a lot :-) Now that you've published three books, tell me about your current project. 
I’m just about to start a new project which is the next book in my Whisper of Scandal Novels. This book is called Dancing with a Devil.
I love your titles! Any new releases?  
I am releasing a new book tomorrow – What a Rogue Wants, Book 1 in the Lords of Deception series.
The series sounds intriguing. Where do you get your ideas for your stories? 
Everywhere. I really can’t pinpoint exactly where. They just come to me and the strangest thing is new ideas often come to me in the shower!
Oh, the shower is my characters's favorite place to talk to me. And when I'm putting on makeup. What is the most difficult part about writing for you? 
Editing. Bleck! I hate it.
Ditto! How long were you trying to get published before you decided to self-publish? 
I was published before I self pubbed. However, I was published with a magazine for my short stories. I had been really trying to get published for the last five years with my longer novels when I decided to give self-publishing a go.
I think having a history in publishing has to give you so much more confidence as a writer. What were your greatest challenges in preparing the book for publication? 
Oh my goodness, formatting was a nightmare for me to learn! I am not technical at all! I do mean AT ALL!
I know I'd be lost without the College Kid doing all my fancy foo foo stuff on this blog and my new tumblr blog. I'm hopeless at it. Tell me what advice would you give writers considering independent publishing? 
Do your homework and don’t rush. Make sure your book is just as polished as any book published by a big NY firm.
Excellent advice! I know of a few great courses being offered to help teach future Indie authors how to go about putting out a quality novel. Are you still querying agents and publishing houses? 
I am not querying agents for my historical novels at this time. I am about to send my paranormal book to an agent who requested it off a pitch at RT, so we shall see how that goes.
How exciting! What advice would you give aspiring writers? 
Write every single day, find a good critique group, develop thick skin, take workshops and never give up!
Stay in the story--great advice. And continue to learn and grow as a writer. Very valuable. What encouragement can you give writers who face rejection? 
We have all been there. You can learn from most rejections, truly you can.
I agree. I call them Badges of Courage. What encouragement can you give writers who wish to self-publish? 
Hmm… this one is hard. It’s a leap of faith in a way. The self-publishing market is tough. However, you can break through and if getting your book into readers’ hands is your MAIN dream then go for it.
What is the most surprising thing you discovered after you began marketing your book? 
Word of mouth is KEY!
Word of mouth is still the greatest form of advertising. Excellent to hear that maxim is the golden rule of selling!!

You can buy Julie Johnstone's book, WHAT A ROGUE WANTS at the following venues: 

And check out the blurb!

What a beautiful cover!! I'm intrigued.
Lady Madelaine Aldridge might be the worst lady-in-waiting to ever grace King George III’s court. An oddball who prefers archery to knitting and honesty to deception, she earns the dislike of the Queen, the cruelty of the other ladies-in-waiting and the advances of a lecherous fiend who wants to make her his whore. Her father demands she find a proper husband―a task that seems hopeless until Lord Grey Adlard rides into court.
Grey Adlard lives up to his reputation as a dangerously handsome rake when he proposes Madelaine meet him in the stables for a tumble. Yet when she needs a protector the most, Grey offers his services and vows he wants to court her. Wary yet intrigued by the mystery he presents, Madelaine slowly allows Grey to capture her confidence and then her heart.
Things seem perfect until her father is imprisoned for plotting against the King and Madelaine learns Grey is not who he pretends. As King George III sinks deeper into insanity, Madelaine must prove her father’s innocence in order to save his life. With the future of England hanging in the balance and a ruthless murderer hunting them Grey and Madelaine engage in a clash of wills and a battle fraught with suspicion, secrets, betrayal and two hearts that cannot deny the impossible, irresistible love between them.