Interview with New York Times best selling author Marie Bostwick.

Today, we are lucky enough to have New York Times Best-selling author Marie Bostwick on the blog! Thank you so much for being here, Ms. Bostwick, and for sharing your thoughts with us!


AN: How did become a published author?

MB: Before I ever even considered submitting my work, I spent years learning the craft of writing.  For the first three, I wrote a short story every month, never with an intention of getting them published but only with an eye to honing my skills. Those were the years of my apprenticeship as an author, devoting myself to becoming the best writer I could be.  At the end of those three years, one of my short stories kept getting longer and longer until, finally, I realized it was a book.  I spent four years working on what became my first novel, FIELDS OF GOLD, published in 2005.

Once my book was done, I let it sit in a drawer for nearly a year before finally working up the courage to send it out. I knew absolutely no one in the publishing world and had no idea of how books got published so I did what I always do when I need information – I went to the library.

After some reading, I realized I was going to need an agent and that to get one I’d need a query letter. I poured over the Writer’s Digest Guide to Literary Agents, looking for agents that I thought might be interested in my kind of book. Next, after reading examples of query letters that worked in Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Agents, I started working on one of my own.

I spent three weeks on that query letter – no kidding. I polished that letter like a diamond. When it was ready, I started contacting the agents on my list, about ten at a time. Then, I waited. That was the hardest part.  I kept careful track of all my responses, making sure I followed up appropriately. I got a lot of rejections.  But I was encouraged to note that 25% of the agents I contacted wrote back and asked to see more. Most of them ended up passing on my book but if that many people were interested enough to want more, I felt like I must be on to something.

And, as it turned out, I was.  After about four months, I found a very enthusiastic agent. Once that hurdle was cleared, it started all over again – more queries, more rejections, more waiting until, finally it came – the call.

AN: What was it like when you got “the call”?

MB: For me, getting the call is one of those things I’ll always remember but, at the same time, if you were to ask me for details, I’d draw a blank. But I do know that on April 14, 2004, my agent called to say we had an offer for a two-book deal with Kensington and after that…I pretty much didn’t hear anything else she said. I was so happy that none of the words really registered. It wasn’t the most satisfying and thrilling moment in my career, but it was as close second.  First place goes to the day when I came home and found the galleys from the actual book on the dining room table. I sobbed when that happened – all happy tears.

All told, it took ten years from when I first began writing in a serious way to when my first book was published.

AN: Can you tell us what a day for you is like, in terms of writing?

MB: I am a very slow writer compared to a lot of people, so I have to spend a lot of time at it.  Much of my morning ends up being spent on the business and promotional side of things so I am usually not able to get down to serious writing until after lunch. I try to wrap up by 6pm or so but it really just depends on when my deadline is and how the work is going. If I’m in a good place and don’t have to be anywhere, there’s no reason not to keep going – especially if the book is due soon. Sometimes 6pm stretches to midnight or beyond.

I am fortunate enough to have a lovely basement studio – half is devoted to writing and half to quilting – with a great window looking out onto our property. It’s a wonderful space to work in.  Oddly, however, one of my favorite places to write is on airplanes. I’m not sure why but I’m incredibly productive at 30,000 feet. I do have one odd little habit; at the beginning of each book, I choose a CD and I play it over and over and over as I’m writing.  It seems to help me get focused quickly and stay focused.

AN: I’ve noticed that there is often a very strong spiritual thread woven throughout your books. Can you tell us a little bit about why you chose to include a subject that could be considered controversial and why it was important for you to do so? 

MB: It’s so funny to me that issues of spirituality would be considered controversial – no matter what conclusions you reach, this is something that most everyone considers at some point so it seems entirely natural to write about it, at least to me.  Because my faith is entirely woven into my being, including spiritual elements isn’t something I think of as a choice but as part of painting a complete portrait of the characters. However, I have chosen, quite deliberately, not to write in the genre of Christian fiction. For me, that would just present too many limitations of what I could write and how I could write it.

AN: Do you have any words of wisdom or advice for my readers hoping to publish a book? If you could go back and talk to yourself when you were just starting out, before you had any success, what would you say?

MB: For those wanting to publish I would say, spend time really studying the art of writing and honing your skills before sending out your work.  Give yourself permission to have an apprenticeship and then enjoy every minute of it!  There is sometimes so much pressure to be published that I think people sometimes miss the joy of writing and that’s a shame. From a purely artistic standpoint, these pre-publication years are the most liberating and potentially creative times you will ever know as a writer.  Right now you have all the time you want to make your book the absolutely best it can be. Not having a deadline is just a huge gift.

Okay, I know that a lot of you are probably rolling your eyes about now. But if I were talking to my younger self today, that’s exactly what I’d tell her.  She probably wouldn’t believe me, but it’s absolutely true.


Marie Bostwick’s newest release, The Second Sister, is available now!

Years of long workdays and little sleep as a political campaigner are about to pay off now that Lucy Toomey’s boss is entering the White House. But when her estranged older sister, Alice, unexpectedly dies, Lucy is drawn back to Nilson’s Bay, her small, close-knit, Wisconsin hometown.

An accident in her teens left Alice mentally impaired, and she was content to stay in Nilson’s Bay. Lucy, meanwhile, got out and never looked back. But now, to meet the terms of Alice’s eccentric will, Lucy has taken up temporary residence in her sister’s cottage. There she discovers a trunk filled with exquisite quilts made by her sister and mysterious inscribed “To Maeve”, a name Alice never mentioned. As the days pass, Lucy begins to see the town, and Alice’s life, with new eyes.

Alice’s diverse group of friends appears to have little in common besides their love of quilting. Yet deep affection for Alice united them and soon Lucy, too, is brought into the fold as they share problems and stories. And as she finds warmth and support in this new circle, Lucy begins to understand this will be her sister’s enduring gift—a chance to move beyond her difficult past, and find what she has long been missing…

You can find out more about Marie Bostwick here.

You can follow her on Facebook here.

You can follow her on Twitter here.

Interview with romance author Jennifer Hayward.

Today, we have romance author Jennifer Hayward on the blog! Welcome, Jennifer, and thank you for joining us!

B - Jennifer - Wide Shot

AN: How did become a published author?

JH: Well, ages ago I wrote three chapters and submitted to Harlequin/Mills & Boon in London. A senior editor at the time said she liked my writing, but not to resubmit that particular story. Over the years I went to conferences and did online/offline courses that helped me immeasurably. I also read a lot of craft books. I had a few rejections on partial manuscripts from Harlequin during that time. The rejections hurt but I had some amazing mentors along the way and it kept me going, that and my love of writing. I finally had success when I submitted to a Harlequin pitch competition and finalled in that competition and was asked to submit three chapters. That manuscript was sitting on my editor’s desk when I entered and won Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write in 2012 for my first contract.

AN: What was that like when you got “the call”?

JH: The call was amazing because it was when I won So You Think You Can Write. The whole journey of the contest was a roller coaster ride and I was so excited and happy to win amongst all that amazing competition. The book I won with, The Divorce Party, is so close to my heart. The timeline for me getting published is hard to quantify as I started writing years ago but sporadically off and on. When I went freelance almost four years ago and really focused on the writing, I sold The Divorce Party about a year-and-a-half after that. It was the third full manuscript I’d finished.

AN: Tell us what a day for you is like, in terms of writing.

JH: I have always been very disciplined about writing. Even before I was published I would sit down and write for a whole afternoon or morning whenever I had my other work finished. Now I sit down with a cup of coffee in the morning and write until five or six or if I’m on deadline, maybe again at night. I generally write seven days a week when I’m writing a book as my head is so deep into it and I don’t like to lose the flow. I take breaks in between books. My husband built me a fab little desk in our sunny living room – I write there. I used to write in coffee shops but I got so caught up in what was happening around me I wasn’t so productive. Not sure it’s a quirk but I really LOVE coffee when I write. Oh and when I won So You Think You Can Write I had a lucky orchid on my desk so I always keep flowers on my desk!

AN: Was the publishing process what you expected it to be?

JH: I think it was really. There’s always things you learn as you go, but I think I had good mentors that gave me the inside scoop beforehand.

AN: Do you have any words of wisdom or advice for my readers hoping to publish a book? If you could go back and talk to yourself when you were just starting out, before you had any success, what would you say?

JH: My number one piece of advice is to allow your voice to shine. I didn’t sell when I wrote the books I thought my publisher wanted. I sold when I wrote with my full personality and love of the book engaged – I just put all of me down on the page – wrote the book of my heart. I didn’t get self conscious, I just lived those characters as if they were next door. Yes some lines have required elements but you have to be an individual within that line, bring something new to the table to sell. I would also say go to as many conferences, courses you can- learn as much as you can, take what works for you and let the rest go. There are so many great resources out there.

AN: Can you tell us a little bit about your latest/upcoming release?

JH: My new release is called The Italian’s Deal For I Do. It’s the kick off book for Harlequin Presents Society Weddings series. I truly don’t think I’ve ever had such a fun time writing a book and getting to work with other great authors in the series. There is such a soulfulness to this book for me, I just love Rocco and Olivia so much. I think the back cover blurb says it best:

The Italian's Deal for I Do

The Irresistible Italian: Married for Business 

He’s conquered global markets and immeasurable hearts, but to regain control of the fashion empire that’s rightfully his, Rocco Mondelli must prove his playboy days are over. His secret weapon? Supermodel-in-hiding Olivia Fitzgerald…and the power to ruin her if she refuses to play his loving fiancée!

But returning to the world stage revives Olivia’s old demons, and instead of walking down the aisle toward her gorgeous groom—she flees! The world holds its breath: Can the indomitable Rocco get his wayward bride to the altar on time?

The world’s sexiest billionaires finally say “I do”!

If you’d like a taste of the Society Weddings series I’ve written a prequel story that’s free on Harlequin’s website called Society Wedding Secrets. It’s a fun, debaucherous romp I hope you’ll enjoy!

You can find Jennifer Hayward’s latest book here:


Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble


Mills & Boon


You can find out more about Jennifer Hayward here:



Interview with romance author Rachel Brimble.

Today, we are lucky enough to have romance author Rachel Brimble on the blog! Thank you, Rachel, for being here with us!

Me - Ashford Aug 2014

AN: How did become a published author?

RB: My first book (Searching For Sophie) was published in 2007 after several years of rejections and rewriting. To be a published author takes a lot of hard work, determination…and a very thick skin. Once you have queried a book, try to forget about it and start writing your next one. You can never tell which book is going to make it and which isn’t, so it’s important to enjoy every part of the process.

AN: What was that like when you got “the call” for your first sale to Harlequin? How long did you write before you became published?

RB: It was fantastic! There was a lot of screaming and dancing, believe me J Finding Justice was my seventh full-length novel and when I was writing it I had no idea it would end up being the first of an ongoing series with Harlequin Superromance. Writing for Harlequin was, and still is, a dream come true.

AN: Tell us what a day for you is like, in terms of writing.

RB: I am lucky enough to be a stay at home mum to two teenage girls so I am able to write whenever the family schedule allows it. I treat my writing like a full-time job, so I am at the computer by 8.30am and work through to 5.30pm with an hour break for lunch. I also write as much as possible at the weekend…when my husband and kids aren’t looking, of course!

AN: Was the publishing process what you expected it to be? How did it differ?

RB: The publishing process was nothing like I imagined, lol! The biggest eye-opener was the amount of promotion involved and how many times you see your manuscript before it is published. Writing nowadays is about so much more than the actual writing – for any aspiring authors out there, be prepared to schedule editing and a hefty amount of promotion into your working day.

AN: Do you have any words of wisdom or advice for my readers hoping to publish a book? If you could go back and talk to yourself when you were just starting out, before you had any success, what would you say?

RB: The best advice I have ever received and like to pass on whenever I can is give yourself permission to write a “crappy” first draft. Once I followed this advice my daily word count tripled! Plan out your characters and an idea of where you’d like the story to go and then just write. Listen to the characters and follow their lead rather than push your ideas on them – go with the flow. You’ll be surprised how much easier the writing is and hopefully how much you enjoy the creative side. Once you have the words on the page and the draft is done, whipping it into shape is so much more enjoyable. At least for me, anyway!

AN: Can you tell us a little bit about your latest/upcoming release?

RB: My latest Harlequin release is CHRISTMAS AT THE COVE. This is my first Christmas story and the fourth book in the series – but all the books can be read stand-alone.

Cover 1

More family for Christmas?

Scott Walker doesn’t have time for a relationship. The sexy mechanic has career ambitions, not to mention a mother and three sisters to take care of. The last thing he needs is Carrie Jameson, the beauty he never forgot, arriving in Templeton Cove over the holidays with some unexpected news.

Scott still finds Carrie irresistible, and he’s not one to shirk responsibility. Scott’s issues with his own dad make the prospect of parenthood a minefield. But if he and Carrie can overcome their fears, this Christmas could bring them the best gift of all.

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble

You can find author Rachel Brimble here:





Facebook Street Team – Rachel’s Readers

Interview with Harlequin Presents author Michelle Smart.

Today, we are lucky enough to have Harlequin Presents author Michelle Smart on the blog. Thank you so much, Ms. Smart, for being here with us!


AN: How did you become a published author?

MS: I became a published author because I was lucky enough to write a book that an editor wanted to buy! That might sound like a facetious answer but it truly isn’t – in this industry there is an element of luck in that you have to get your book in front of an editor who is grabbed by your story and especially grabbed by your voice. I’ve always been a bookworm and always loved writing but it wasn’t until 2008, when my hubby and I went to Rome for our Wedding Anniversary that the romance bug truly bit me again and I decided it was time to do the one thing I’d promised myself since I was a teenager – to write my own Mills & Boon (what Harlequin books are published under in the UK)! My first two submissions were rejected at the partial stage, my third involved an R&R on my partial, which was also subsequently rejected, but then with my fourth submission I was invited to send in the full manuscript. It went through three rounds of revisions but was ultimately rejected. However, the editor I’d been working with had complete faith in me and invited me to write something new with her guidance (that’s what I mean about an author’s voice having to grab an editor – if she hadn’t seen something in my voice she enjoyed so much, she would never have gone out on a limb to help me craft a story right from its conception stage).  This book sold within a week of me sending the full in to her!

I can’t speak for any other publishing house but with Harlequin there is none of the ‘it’s not what you know it’s who you know’ business. I didn’t attend a single conference or enter a single pitch contest before I was signed (although I did enter the Mills & Boon New Voices competition twice and got absolutely nowhere!). I got noticed through the slush pile. I love the slush pile!


AN: What was that like when you got “the call”? How long did you write before you became published?

MS: Even though I was working under an editor, The Call was the most enormous surprise of my life! I don’t think there can be a single author alive who, after submitting to Harlequin, hasn’t dreamt of The Call, myself included, but when mine came it took me completely by surprise. For a start, the book hadn’t undergone any revisions, plus it had only been on the editor’s desk for a week. However, my editor had been offered a new job working for Harlequin’s single titles, so sped-read mine and made the call on her last day working for the category lines. She called me at 5.15pm. I was lying on the sofa suffering from the flu (oh, woe is me!) and it was one of those crazy moments in your life where everything is etched in your memory but etched as a blur! It took me almost five years to get there but it was worth every minute of it. I now have the best job in the world J


AN: Can you tell us what a day for you is like, in terms of writing?

MS: I can only really write when the kids are at school so as soon as they’re gone, I’ll have a (very) quick tidy-up then sit on the sofa with the laptop on a cushion on my lap and get writing… Okay, I don’t exactly get writing immediately. There’s always a good hour of procrastination to be done first. I write until the kids come home and also often write in the evenings when they’re in bed. My only real habit (apart from hourly coffee) is that I need to listen to music when I write. As long as I have my earphones and some caffeine, I’m good to go.


AN: Do you have any words of wisdom or advice for my readers hoping to publish a book? If you could go back and talk to yourself when you were just starting out, what would you say?

MS: My words of wisdom really only applies to people wanting to sub to Harlequin’s category lines – read as many of them as you can! I devoured every Presents/Modern that released (I still do) because that was and is my absolute favourite category line. Also, don’t think about it too much: some hopeful category writers approach writing a category as if there’s a checklist that needs to be ticked off (yes, I am raising my hand up as being guilty of that when I started!). But my main bit of advice is the old adage of ‘practice makes perfect.’ The more you write, the more it becomes like second nature. Consume the books and then, when you sit down and write, let your characters consume you.

If I could go back in time and talk to myself, I wouldn’t say anything. The route I took was the right route for me. The rejections didn’t knock me back – I knew that I was on a learning curve and getting closer and closer to my dream, so those rejections just made me more determined to get it right.


You can find out more about Michelle Smart here.

You can follow her on Twitter here.

You can follow her on Facebook here.

Her next Presents releases in May. You can pre-order it here.

Interview with author Aurelia B. Rowl.

Today, we have author Aurelia B. Rowl on the blog. Aurelia writes young adult, new adult, and contemporary romance. Thank you, Aurelia, for being here with us!


AN: What is a standard day for you like in terms of writing?

ABR: My standard writing day involves dropping my children—aged 7 and 5—at school, coming home and feeding the menagerie of pets—our 10 year-old dog and three house rabbits—then putting the kettle on before settling down at the kitchen table to write. I actually have a swanky office off the garage but I rarely use it, unless I’m up against a deadline and need to be somewhere that the wi-fi signal doesn’t reach. Ahem. Sometimes I even remember to stop for lunch and then it’s back to work until my alarm goes off, reminding me to go and collect the kids from school. I stay in ‘mum’ mode for a few hours until the kids go up to bed and will then often get back to work until my eyes refuse to stay open.


AN: What authors influenced you as a writer?

ABR: Oooh tricky one. I’m very much a reader turned writer, and never in a million years had I ever considered writing a book. Funny how things change. Throughout my late teens and early twenties, I regularly read Terry Pratchett and then practically inhaled the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling. Only when my youngest turned two did the reading bug return but it wasn’t until I started dabbling with books in the romance genre that my muse took over. On the 18th of October 2011, I decided to try my hand at writing and I haven’t looked back. By the end of 2014, I will have five books published with yet more under contract. Crazy! But anyway, back to the question…

One author that particularly springs to mind is Liz Fielding; one of the first romance authors that I read, she opened my eyes to the romance genre and showed me that it’s not all cringe-worthy purple prose. My kindle took a beating as I downloaded book after book; there was action, drama, suspense, paranormal, and more. Another author that helped to fire my imagination was Jude Deveraux, I love the supernatural thread she effortlessly weaves into her stories, but my biggest influence is probably Susan Elizabeth Phillips for making me laugh out loud. I should also give a nod to Joanna Wylde for being the first writer I came across that wrote a book predominantly in first person, with just a chapter or two from an alternate perspective in third person. I loved how this style worked and applied it to my own young adult/new adult series.


AN: How did you sign with your publisher? What was it like when you got “the call”?

ABR: Back in March 2013 I got word of Carina UK, a new British digital-first publisher about to open its virtual doors to submissions. The fact that it was a Harlequin imprint, accepting any length or genre excited me and I loved the idea of being able to write in British English, having had two books released in American English, so Carina immediately jumped to the top of my publisher wishlist. At around the same time, I got the idea for a young adult coming of age story. When the characters wouldn’t leave me alone I sat down and wrote the first three chapters—a grand total of 13K words—but then temptation got the better of me.

A fortnight before I jetted off on a family holiday, I thrashed out a synopsis and sent my proposal over to Carina. At best, I hoped for a request for a full but tried not to get my hopes up. I’d been home a few days when ‘the call’ came in offering me a two book deal, completely unreal, resulting in lots of giddy squeals and booty shaking once I’d got off the phone. The two book deal was closely followed by a further three book deal and I still have to pinch myself.


AN: Was the publishing process what you expected it to be? How did it differ from what you expected?

ABR: I was first signed by Breathless Press in September 2012 for a Christmas themed story having seen a submission call-out. With such a tight turnaround, I was thrown in at the deep end with content edits then line edits and last looks so it proved to be a steep learning curve. The biggest surprise was the amount of self-promotion and IT related work that I had to do, from creating a website to planning a blog tour and designing my own promotional material like snippets and shareables. Thankfully, I didn’t have a pre-conceived clue what to expect and I’m pretty IT savvy so I just got on with it.


AN: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

ABR: The obvious advice is to read, then read some more, and to also try stepping out of your usual genre to see if it sparks your imagination or opens your eyes to a different style. It can also help you to discover your own voice, which brings me neatly to my next piece of advice: never try to imitate another writer—only YOU can write a story YOUR way—and also never compare your writing journey to another aspiring author. We each bring our own experiences and styles to the table, and we each have our own path to follow, so just keep going and you’ll get there one day. I’ve read words to this effect a few times now but it’s a message worth repeating: there is a word for an author who never gives up. Published.


AN: Can you tell us a little bit about your latest/upcoming release?

ABR: At the beginning of October, the second book in my young adult/new adult series came out. A Girl Called Malice picks up the story of Alice, the mean girl from Popping the Cherry hell-bent on destroying Lena. Alice’s story shows you what is going on in her world and the reason she acts the way she does. It was actually a difficult story to write, not least because Alice wouldn’t let me into her head so it was tremendously hard to connect with her but also because I had to try to redeem the bully while remaining true to her character. I am unbelievably proud of the finished story though, even if it did go way over deadline and tempted me to give up writing.

Coming up on December 1st, the new and improved version of Christmas is Cancelled, my original debut Christmas story, will be re-released by Carina UK. It’s been fun going back to my contemporary roots for a while so I’m now working on the sequel before I dive back into the world of Popping the Cherry to get stuck into book three..

9781474008440_Cover (2)

Aurelia B. Rowl lives on the edge of the Peak District in the UK with her very understanding husband, their two fantastic children, and their mad rescue mutt who doesn’t mind being used as a sounding post and source of inspiration. She regularly wows them all with her curious, hastily thrown together meals when she gets too caught up with her latest writing project…or five!…and she has developed the fine art of ignoring the housework.

Aurelia writes young adult, new adult, and contemporary romance. To find out more about Aurelia, or check out her latest news, you can visit her website here.

Interview with bestselling author Courtney Milan.

Today, we are lucky enough to have New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Courtney Milan on the blog! Thank you so much for making the time to be with us, Ms. Milan.


AN: How did become a published author?

Ms. Milan: Well… I wrote a book. When I was done, I knew it wasn’t good enough. So I set it aside while I thought about how to fix it, and wrote another book. When I finished that one, I’d learned so much that I knew the first book was irretrievable. The second book still wasn’t good enough, so I set that aside and wrote a third book.

That one felt more right in more ways than I had imagined. So I spent some time editing and polishing that book.

Then I went to a conference, pitched to agent Kristin Nelson. She asked to see a full. She called me about a week later with an offer of representation.


AN: What was that like when you got “the call”?

Ms. Milan: I actually didn’t believe it at first. She literally was the very first person I pitched. And also, I might add, my dream agent. I recall being very suspicious on the phone. I think I said, “But this didn’t take you very long!”

She laughed and said she could call back later if I preferred.

Kristin sent my book out just before the big crash in publishing in 2008. I didn’t have time to get nervous. We had two offers in a few days, and five houses bidding on the book at the end.

When she called to tell me about this, I had just gotten a new puppy. He’d never heard my ringtone before and he freaked out and peed everywhere. Needless to say, I did not sound as excited as I was.


AN: Can you tell us what a day for you is like, in terms of writing?

Ms. Milan: If things are going well, I start writing by seven on the morning. I’ll work for three hours and then go run errands, exercise, walk the dog. Then it’s back to work in the afternoon, until dinner. Then after dinner I’ll do some more work.


AN: I know that you’ve had books published with big publishers in the past, but have now moved to self-publishing. Can you tell us why you chose to go that route?

Ms. Milan: Two big reasons: I make more money this way, and I have much more control. The difference in the digital royalty rate for self published authors is huge–up to four times more than I’d get from a publisher, and eight or nine times more than I was getting from Harlequin at the time.

This adds up. It adds way up.

But I also think I’m making more than I would make with them because I’m doing a better job publishing myself then they did.


AN: What do you like the most about self-publishing? And what do you like the least?

Ms. Milan:  I like everything about self-publishing. Honestly. I wouldn’t be happy only being a writer.


AN: Do you have any words of wisdom or advice for my readers hoping to publish a book? 

Ms. Milan: Learn to be very hard with yourself. If you think you wrote a perfect book, it really just means you lack the skills to see what’s wrong with your writing.


AN: If you could go back and talk to yourself when you were just starting out, before you had any success, what would you say?

Ms. Milan: Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t be the best.


You can find Ms. Milan’s website here.

You can follow her on Twitter here.

You can follow her on Facebook here.


Interview with author N.K. Traver.

I’m pleased to welcome author N.K. Traver to the blog today! Thank you, Ms. Traver for being here with us!


Amy: What is a standard day for you like in terms of writing?

N.K. Traver: I have the immense privilege of pursuing my writing career full-time right now, so an average day starts at 8 AM with a giant cup of coffee, a cat, my couch and my laptop. Morning until noon is reserved for writing – drafting, revising, or outlining – as I’ve found that’s when my brain works best. Afternoons are for networking, blog posts, email, critiques, reading, and any other writerly tasks that aren’t related to my current work in progress. I keep track of my writing progress on an actual paper calendar. I get a cupcake sticker for every 500 words.


Amy: What authors influenced you as a writer?

N.K. Traver: My childhood favorites were R.L. Stine (I think I’ve read EVERY Goosebumps book), K.A. Applegate, and of course, J.K. Rowling. As far as craft and style, I’d say Patrick Ness has been my biggest influence/inspiration. But I also love Laini Taylor’s beautiful imagery and Victoria Schwab’s complex villains.


Amy: How did you sign with your agent? What was it like when you got “the call” from an agent offering representation?

N.K. Traver: I won two online contests in the same month with DUPLICITY’s pitch and opening pages. My entry was posted for agent consideration, and I walked away with eleven requests that seemed too good to be true. It was a drastically different experience than I’d had with my first manuscript, that had flailed and drowned in the query world the year before. I stayed skeptical, until I got an email from one of the agents—a week later—saying she loved it and wanted to chat, and then I busted out some dance moves at the office.

“The call” actually caught me off-guard – I’d had a little back and forth with the agent beforehand, so I thought we were going to talk revisions. When she offered rep, I almost screamed. Somehow I kept my composure and had thankfully just saved my “call” notes to my Gmail account, else I would have been Googling “what to ask an agent who offers rep” in real time. I’ve been walking on air ever since.


Amy: What happened after you got “the second call”, this time from your agent letting you know there was an offer on your book?

N.K. Traver: That second call was so surreal. I’m not even sure what my agent said beyond “We have an offer.” I remember thanking her profusely and trying not to cry in front of my coworkers. My weird little idea was going to be a book. Not even -might- be a book at this point, it was -going- to be. I would be able to hold it in my hands and run my fingers down the pages. I would be able to go to Barnes & Noble and pick it up off the shelf. It still blows my mind.


Amy: Was the publishing process what you expected it to be? How did it differ from what you expected?

N.K. Traver: It wasn’t what I expected, but in the best way possible. I had done a ton of research ahead of time and knew, based on other authors’ experiences, that it could be months before I had an editorial letter or a contract. I had also braced myself to spend months revising. Within a week of announcing my deal, I had editorial notes. Four weeks later, I sent revisions to my editor, who approved them. I got my contract six weeks after that. And while I know this will differ book to book, it’s always nice to see it can work out faster than expected.


Amy: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

N.K. Traver: Join Twitter immediately. Network with other querying writers, follow agents you admire, follow authors you love. Enter contests, lose contests, find critique partners whose work you can’t get enough of. Attend a local writing conference. And no matter what happens, keep going.


Amy: Can you tell us a little bit about your latest/upcoming release?

N.K. Traver: DUPLICITY is a YA cyberthriller pitched as Breaking Bad meets The Matrix for teens. It follows a morally-ambiguous computer hacker, Brandon, who’s sucked into a digital hell and replaced with a preppy Stepford-esque clone. It’s not yet available for preorder, but you can stalk it on Goodreads:


You can find N.K. Traver here:


Interview with author Joya Ryan.

Today, we’re starting a new feature on the blog. Every Friday, we will be chatting with a different author. We’ll get to learn all about their writing lives, what it was like when they got the call, and what advice they have for aspiring authors!

Our first author is Ms. Joya Ryan. Welcome, Joya!

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Amy: What is a standard day for you like in terms of writing?

Joya: A standard writing day for me is typically everything non-standard. I have two boys, so there’s getting them to and from school, chores, errands…it’s never ending. But! I’ve mastered the art of “squat and write.” (It’s a terrible term I know, but bear with me). I realized a long time ago that I have chunks of time during the day where I’m able to write. Some chunks of time are longer than others. When I’m home, I just stop what I’m doing, grab my laptop and sit and write. Sometimes it’s at the kitchen table. Sometimes it’s in the middle of the floor. Or I’m on the couch with a blanket. I just use whatever time I have to hammer out my thoughts before I lose them. So location is a secondary concern. There is however one place I CAN’T write…public.


Amy: What authors have influenced you as a writer?

Joya: I like to read things outside my genre. Marina Adair has been a big influence. She does a great job with small town quirk, humor and setting. She really thrives in areas I struggle with and her books and style have been a great learning tool.


Amy: How did you sign with your agent? What was it like when you got “the call” from an agent offering you representation?

Joya: I signed with my agent, Jill Marsal, two years ago. I was on a trip back home actually and my husband and I were driving through the mountains. It was one-hundred degrees out and she called right when we entered a small town where I got a half a bar of signal. I screamed for my husband to pull over, which he did after the minor heart attack I gave him. I rolled up all the windows (and yes, our AC was busted) so I could hear her better. She said she liked my book and offered me representation. Both my husband and I were sweating like crazy but I wouldn’t let him leave the sauna of a car because I’m all nervous. I started babbling to Jill…like…really badly babbling. I even said, “I’m so sorry, I’m not very articulate…oh shit! That’s probably not something you want to hear from an author, huh?” So in short, I cursed at my agent on accident and admitted I suck with words. And yet, she took me anyway! To this day she is the most incredible person and I’m lucky to call her a friend now as well as my agent.


Amy: What happened after you got “the second call”, this time from your agent letting you know there was an offer on your book?

Joya: I was in so much shock that the details eluded me. I started pacing in my home and for whatever reason, turning on and off the lights. Weird right? But I was just stunned. I remembered asking her to repeat herself because I was worried I had heard her wrong. Finally I ask, “So, Jill…are you saying someone out there wants my book? They want to put it out there for people to actually read it?” She said yes and it was that feeling that did me in. Hope was now on the table and I just stood in shock. If only one person read my book, one stranger spent their time on it…that was the most amazing thought in the world. My entire heart nearly exploded.


Amy: Was the publishing process what you expected it to be? How did it different from what you expected?

Joya: I’ve been through a few various processes. Everyone and every avenue of publishing is different. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect other than, “Be prepared for your book to get ripped apart.” I’ve had LOTS of feedback, criticism and suggestions. And to be honest, all of it has helped me become a better writer. I want my books to be the best they can possibly be. No matter how hard you try, not everyone will like your book. And that’s okay. So long as you feel confident that you worked hard and grow with every round of edits, that’s what I feel is really valuable. I learn something new with each editor and each pass of a book, it’s what makes things exciting and allows for growth.


Amy: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Joya: Support yourself, because at the end of the day, things get difficult. But if you can remember to support yourself and have faith in your ability to keep trying and do your best, everything will be as it should. At the end of the day, you are going to be your toughest critic so remember to ease up on yourself from time to time, hug it out in the mirror, and just keep working hard.


Amy: Can you tell us a little bit about your latest release?

My newest release just came out with Montlake and is Breathe You In. The second book in the series is Only You and due out in August. It’s been super fun writing these books because I got to research everything from politics to shipping moguls and sure…I had to Google “guys with six packs” just to get a visual.  So it was tons of fun writing!


You can find Breathe You In here. And you can pre-order Only You here.


Guest post from romance author Aimee Duffy

Today, we have a guest post from romance author Aimee Duffy! Not only is she a great friend and critique partner, but she’s got a new romance, Isle of Sensuality, that just released a few days ago, too! I’ll post the blurb for her book below her guest post. Enjoy!

It’s cold, it’s snowing and the ground is too slippery to wear pretty shoes. Don’t get me wrong, the winter can be great, but after three months of freezing my butt off, I’m ready for the summer.

About now I begin to daydream about lying on a beach, the sun heating (and hopefully not burning) my skin, a vodka cocktail in one hand and a paperback in the other. In truth, I’d happily live somewhere where the sun always shines and the trees aren’t covered in damp green spounge.

Sadly Scotland never really gets warm, but there are a million places in the world to visit. I’m lucky I have a good imagination since I can’t afford to travel indefinitely, so when I wrote Isle of Sensuality last winter it was another form of escapism for me.

Goodbye cold dark nights, hello warm Brazilian sun. Set on an island off the cost of Rio, Caitlyn & Jake don’t just crank up the heat between the sheets. Through them I was able to explore Rio, picture the white sand and almost feel the warm water as I paddled through. Well, when I was writing the story at least. The second I stepped out my front door I was faced with the harsh reality of sleet, hailstones or icy rain (sometimes all three together!).

I’m definitely ready for the winter to be over. And though I’m not visiting Rio this summer, I am planning on going to Portugal. Not as hot, but way warmer than dreary Scotland. Plus, it’s a pretty country. I’ve been to Albufeira before, but the beach alone is worth revisiting.


What do you have planned for vacation this year?




Who knew being with Mr. Wrong could be so right?

Caitlyn Hart is shooting her first movie, and she doesn’t want to screw it up. Still, she’s on a deadline and when her co-star, Mr. Hot Shot Campbell, holds filming up, he’s immediately on her shit list. But she can’t ignore his charms for long or the overpowering want she feels for him. Even though she knows he’s her Mr. Wrong, she doesn’t mind him being her Mr. Right Now. If only her silly heart would stay immune.

Having been burned once, Jake Campbell doesn’t have the capacity to love, but that doesn’t mean relationships of a purely sexual nature are off limits. After all, a man has needs. His sexy co-star with fire red hair and a passion to match ignites his own desire and he sets out to convince her a fling is the only way to scratch the proverbial itch. Little did he figure that she’d be the one to penetrate the thick scars on his heart and make him feel.

You can find Aimee Duffy on the web here:

And you can find Isle of Sensuality at AmazonBeachwalk Press, and Barnes & Noble.

Interview with Aimee Duffy, author of “The Monster of Fame,” plus a bonus excerpt from her novel!

Today we have with us romance author Aimee Duffy. Her first novel, a fun, sexy romance entitled The Monster of Fame, just released on the 14th of October. Please welcome Aimee Duffy!

Me: What made you realize you wanted to be a writer? And what made you choose the romance genre?

Aimee: I can’t remember when I first had the urge to write. It feels like an itch that’s been there forever. It wasn’t until I was reading Surf, Sea & a Sexy Stranger by Heidi Rice that I thought I want to be able to write something as hot as this. So, I searched Harlequin’s site, had a read over the writer’s guidelines and wrote my first story. It was awful and will never ever see the light of day, but I was bit by the writing bug and I haven’t looked back since.

I’d also like to write YA too, but I have so many characters bouncing around in my head demanding their own HEA the YA stuff has to go on the back burner.

Me: What is your writing schedule like?

Aimee: Hectic, manic, at times non-existent (like this month). Usually I try for at least one thousand words a day, but life doesn’t always make that possible.

Me: How did you come up with the concept of your book?

Aimee: I’m a reality television show fanatic. Last year while watching the XFactor I thought to myself, what if one of the judges were having a relationship with a contestant, then bang, I had my NaNoWriMo project 🙂 I’ve tweaked the show, created new characters and given it a different spin, but the show gave me the idea for The Monster of Fame.

Me: Can you share with us what your road to publication was like?

Aimee: Stressful. I’m not the most patient person in the world, and when I hit send on a submission I usually stalk my inbox for days and days even though I know nothing’s going to be there. Thankfully Beachwalk Press are FAST and it didn’t take me long to decide that’s where I’d fit. I’m glad I found them 🙂

Me: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Aimee: I’d say keep at it, never give up. Find yourself a fabulous CP because they are worth their weight in gold (thank you again Amy!). Join writing communities, take courses, do what you can to make yourself better every day. The only difference between an unpublished author and a published author is that the published author never gave up.

ME: Awww! Thanks for the compliment, Aimee! You’ve made no secret of your shoe addiction! Can you describe your absolute favorite pair that you own? How about the dream pair that you want to own?

Aimee: Yes! I have a pair of thigh high boots I bought from RiverIsland when I was sixteen. I love them far too much to ever wear them (even though they cost a fortune!). They come up just past the knee, with cool chains and spiked studs (I was going through a punk phase!).

There are so many I’d LOVE to own. But if I had to pick, any made by Jimmy Choo would do me 🙂

Thanks for being here, Aimee! And to all my readers, if you love a fun, fast-paced, steamy romance, You should definitely pick up a copy of The Monster of Fame.

You can get a copy of The Monster of Fame from Amazon here.

And you can visit Aimee at her blog here.

And now, a special excerpt from The Monster of Fame by Aimee Duffy!

“I have to say, I agree with Safri,” Sander Chase said, breaking Anna out of her reverie. Still, the sorrow of Miles’s rejection almost swallowed her whole. “You’re through to the next round, Annabelle. Congratulations.”

Again, Anna forced herself to smile even though she felt like crying. This was what she wanted, right? Just the majority vote. It was enough, yet it didn’t feel like enough. She glanced at Miles again who was now pinching the bridge of his nose between a long forefinger and thumb, his eyes shut tight.

What she really wanted was his approval. The other two were talented recording artists, sure. But it was his opinion that mattered most. His company represented every ounce of talent in the UK and he didn’t think she had what it would take to be one of them. Was he right?

“Thank you,” Anna choked past the rising lump in her throat. Tremors continued to rake through her, and she used every ounce of strength she had to hold back the tears burning her eyes. Safri and Sander smiled encouragement, and she turned to leave the room. She felt unsteady on the cheap high heels she’d borrowed from her mum. She draped her arms beside her hips to try and steady herself.

Just as she made the exit and put her hand out to reach for the door a warm set of fingers wrapped around her wrist. Jolts of heat snaked through her arm. The spicy smell of aftershave made her stomach quiver.

Startled, she turned her head, tilting her chin slightly to look into Miles’s eyes. His pupils were fully dilated in the dim light and a tingle of heat skittered down her spine.

“I’m sorry for hurting your feelings,” Miles whispered huskily. The sound made her shiver. “I just don’t think you have what it takes. Wouldn’t it be better to walk away now than have your dreams blown to pieces later?”

The strange shaky feeling blossoming in her stomach froze in its tracks at his words. With her eyes narrowing in anger—both at his assumption and her body’s infuriating reaction—she frowned at him.

“I’ll deal with it if it happens,” Anna ground out through clenched teeth.

He dropped her wrist like her words burned him. After staring her down for a moment, he turned and strode back to the judging table. She pushed the doors wide and kept a death grip on her irritation with Miles, terrified that if she let it go she would burst into tears.

“Well? How’d it go?” Jess asked, jumping up from a seat to greet her.

“I got through.”

“Anna, that’s fab!” Jess threw her arms around Anna, and she felt some of her despair leak out to be replaced with a shred of Jess’s joy.

It was fab. It was exactly what she needed. Why couldn’t she just be happy about it?

Bleedin’ green-eyed know-it-all! Anna would show him she had what it takes…