Author Interviews, Blog, Sweet Romance Blog

Author Interview: Sheila Roberts, Romance/ Women’s Fiction/ Devotionals/ Non-fiction

Hi! I’m Sheila Roberts, and I write women’s fiction. My most recent publication, The Road to Christmas, is out right now.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:     

I have been writing since I was a child. Hard to answer the why. I jus felt the urge. I love telling stories, and to be able to do that for a living is a blessing.

How long did it take you to finish your first book?

Author:     

You know, it was so long ago, I can’t remember. But I do remember writing it all in long hand and then typing it on my little electric typewriter. A typewriter! That should give you a clue how long ago it was that I wrote my first published book.

Has your publishing timeframe improved at all since your first publication?

Author:     

These days I am expected to deliver two books a year to my publisher, so I don’t have the luxury of unlimited time.

Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?

Author:     

I’m traditionally published. Back when I started that was the only option I knew about.

How did you determine your target audience?

Author:     

I didn’t begin looking for a target audience. I started writing Regency Romances – something I enjoyed reading. I think that’s key. Write the type of book you love to read and you will find your audience.

How do you get critiques, betas, feedback, and edits?

Author:     

I was in a critique group for years – all published authors – and the input I got from my fellow authors was invaluable. We eventually all got too busy to meet on a regular basis and now just meet occasionally to visit and brainstorm book ideas, so my main input comes from my editor. I do have a good friend who loves to read my messes in progress and serves as a beta reader sometimes, and it’s always good to get that extra input.

Marketing

What is your launch plan for your works?

Author:     

I always have a virtual book birthday party on my Facebook like page. Then there are blog tours where I get to meet bloggers and readers, and Instagram, which I really like. Then of course there are email and eblasts. In addition to that I do both virtual and in person events. I am a people person and I love to party, so getting out and talking about a new book is always fun.

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author:     

This is handled by my publisher and my publicist. I have been around a loooong time and have built up a great network of reviewers over the years. Building a readership, getting your name out there takes time and persistence.

How do you promote your content?

Author:     

Social media is the key these days.

What do you think is the most critical marketing component or tactic for becoming successful?

Author:     

I honestly think there comes a time in a writer’s life when she has to consider hiring help. A publicist is one of the best investments you can make.

How do you define success as an author?

Author:     

Seeing my books available in a variety of outlets, and, of course, making best-seller lists. And making a good living, of course. But, having said that, what warms my heart most is when I hear from a reader how much she enjoyed my book. Sometimes a reader will even find a particular story encouraging. Knowing you’ve touched someone’s heart is priceless.

About Your Work

What type of content do you write and why? Fiction Novels? Poems? Songs? Screenplays? Short Stories? Epic?

Author:     

I love fiction, love taking a character or cast of characters and spinning out a life for them, taking them from challenging times that build their character and make them strong all the way to that well-deserved happy ending.

What is your author brand (genre, mood, image, theme, message, etc)? How did you decide on it?

Author:     

I would say upbeat – a few tears, a good dose of humor and a happy ending. Life’s hard enough and I don’t want to add to anyone’s misery by writing a depressing tale. I don’t know if this type of thing is a conscious decision. Sometimes the stories we write end up reflecting our own life philosophy. The things we believe are important can’t help but creep into our work. In most of my stories you will find women working together to build a better life.

How many works have you published?

Author:     

I’ve written over fifty books – everything from non-fiction and devotionals to romance.

Can you tell us a bit about your most recent publication?

Author:     

And in my new release, The Road to Christmas, I like to think I’ve given readers a fun holiday romance … as well as inspiration to let go of those negative feelings that can hold us back. The story follows three different journeys as various members of a family all make their way to their holiday gathering. Lots of mishaps and misadventures, some tears and, most important, love and new beginnings.

Name some common elements in your writing: villains, magic, red-herring twists, the unfortunate ensign, mysterious phenomena, asyndeton, sentence fragments etc.

Author:     

Humor, inspiration, problems to overcome… and food. There’s always mention of food, and there are often recipes.

What was your first goal when you started your journey to becoming an author? Has that changed?

Author:     

When I first started I just wanted to find an agent and get a book published. But, as with any career, there are always new goals, new career mountains to climb, like making best seller lists. Sometimes it’s easy to get greedy and want more and more success. I temper that by reminding myself how lucky I am to be able to earn a living doing something I love. I get to sit around and make up stuff – what a great career!

Do you have other supporting services like a podcast, blog, webinars, courses, video channel?

Author:     

Just my website: http://www.sheilasplace.com

What do you want your readers to get out of your works?

Author:     

Inspiration and happiness.

Do you recommend any programs, courses, or websites?

Author:     

Your local library! Most libraries have shelves of books on writing. Check out everyone and read it. That is a course anyone can afford.

Which authors write similar books to yours? How did you find them?

Author:     

Debbie Macomber, Susan Wiggs, Nancy Naigle, RaeAnn Thayne, Marie Boswick. These women are wonderful writers and friends.

Have you always read in the genre you wanted to write in? Do you think that’s made it easier or harder to create new stories?

Author:     

I have read in my genre and I’ve also read outside of it. I think it’s important to read a variety of books by a variety of writers. It helps you expand as a writer.

What is your writing process, from idea to polished work?Pantster? Plotter? How long does that typically take you?

Author:     

I am big on planning out where my story is going to go. That’s not to say I won’t make changes along the way, but it does give me a base to build on, a skeleton, so to speak, on which I can flesh out my characters’ journeys.

Do you sprint-write like a starving cheetah, or are you a totally chill turtle writer? Somewhere in between?

Author:     

Somewhere in between, I supposed. I’m a pretty fast writer, but I think more important than the pace you write at is the consistency with which you write. It’s an art and a craft, but it’s also a job, and you have to show up regularly for work.

Struggles

Do you have any tips or recommendations for those who want to go the final step and become authors?

Author:     

Keep writing, keep learning. The ones who “don’t make it” are the ones who give up.

If you could do it all over again, what would you change?

Author:     

Not a thing!

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Author:     

Deadlines are a powerful motivator. I have to turn in a book by a certain time. I can’t afford to be a diva. For someone starting out and struggling with motivation, try imposing some deadlines on yourself – with a fine if you don’t make that deadline and a reward if you do. It might help.

How did your family and friends react to your writing? Was it what you expected from them?

Author:     

Happily for me, my family has been very supportive – my husband especially!

What assumptions about writers and authors do you think are myths?

Author:     

That we lead glamorous lives.

Fun Stuff

Where do you write your stories? A tiny office? A loft? The kitchen table? In the bushes while you secretly people-watch like a total creeper? Or awarm café with mocha in hand and feet up on an ottoman?

Author:     

Sitting in my living room, working on my laptop. I have a beautiful water view from there.

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author:     

I am reading Mornings on Horseback, by David McCullough, which is a biography of Teddy Roosevelt. If you want to get inspired, read the biography of a successful person.

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

Author:     

Chocolate! It’s vitamin C for a writer’s brain. J

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Author:    

It came from my mother. If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all. Her other favorite adage was: Pretty is as pretty does. My mother was a very smart woman.

Author Interviews, Blog

Author Interview: Jeanette Baker, Women’s Fiction

HI, I’m Jeanette Baker, author of the women’s fiction book Birthright.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:      I started writing in 1990. I went to my 20th class reunion and connected with a friend of mine. She had published 9 books. No one I’d ever known personally was a writer. I thought about writing a novel and decided to do it. What did I have to lose?

How long did it take you to finish your first book?

Author:      6 months

If you’ve published, how long did your first book take?

Author:      My first published book took exactly one year.   

Has your publishing timeframe improved at all since your first publication?

Author:      No. The exact opposite happened. My timeframe now takes longer.

Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?

Author:      I have published by multiple methods: traditional, indie, hybrid. Times change.

How did you determine your target audience?

Author:      I wrote the kind of books that I liked to read. I assumed people who read that genre of book would enjoy reading mine.     

What is your publishing process?

Author:      For Birthright, I worked with Teri Rider of Top Reads Publishing, a hybrid publisher. She basically took care of all the publishing aspects of the book.

What platforms do you use to publish your works?

Author:      Since Top Reads has traditional distribution, my book is available in print and ebook on all the major retailer sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, etc.

How do you get critiques, betas, feedback, and edits?

Author:      I’m fortunate to have a publisher who knows how to do everything. 

Marketing  

What is your launch plan for your works?

Author:      My publisher ran several promotions for my backlist leading up to the launch of Birthright so there was already some interest in the book. And we are currently running a virtual book tour which lets even more people know about the new release.

What do you think is the most critical marketing component or tactic for becoming successful?

Author:      Keep writing what interests you and what you know.  

How do you define success as an author?

Author:      In the beginning, it’s the reviews, then the numbers, then, for me, it’s those wonderful fans who read everything I write.    

About Your Work

What type of content do you write and why? Fiction Novels? Poems? Songs? Screenplays? Short Stories? Epic? 

Author:      Always fiction, contemporary, historical and paranormal. The possibilities are endless.      

What is your author brand (genre, mood, image, theme, message, etc)? How did you decide on it?

Author:      I’ve moved around. Originally, it was Scottish historical fiction, then Irish and Scottish paranormal, then Irish and Scottish contemporary, then American historical and contemporary. 

How many works have you published? 

Author:      To date I have published 20 books.

Can you tell us a bit about your most recent publication?

Author:      Birthright is the story of two women continents apart, one who is desperate to know the other and the other just as desperate to never be found out. My website, Jeanettebaker.com has quite a bit more detail. I encourage you to visit.

What was your first goal when you started your journey to becoming an author? Has that changed?

Author:      I had only one goal, to be published.  

What do you want your readers to get out of your works? 

Author:      An appreciation of another land, another life, a world different than the one they have. 

Do you recommend any programs, courses, or websites?

Author:      I always recommend classes, going to author events and conferences and frequent reading.

Which authors write similar books to yours? How did you find them?

Author:      Kristin Hannah, Barbara Erskine, Diana Gabaldon, Louise Penny.

Have you always read in the genre you wanted to write in? Do you think that’s made it easier or harder to create new stories?

Author:      Yes, definitely easier.    

Where do you network most with other writers, authors, and creative types? LinkedIn? Wattpad? Twitter? Facebook? Somewhere else?

Author:     I started with a critique group, two talented ladies who were published. We stayed together for 20 years. 

Do you sprint-write like a starving cheetah, or are you a totally chill turtle writer? Somewhere in between?

Author:      I would say in the middle. I’m a fairly consistent writer and complete a certain amount of pages every day with some exceptions. I don’t have all-nighters and I tend to review what I’ve written the day before to be sure I got it right. This technique has been a life-saver.

Struggles  

How has the writing and querying or publishing process affected you emotionally? Do you have any tips for budding writers?

Author:      I don’t know if tips play out in my answer but I will say that writing is much more relaxing if you aren’t the parent of small children, or children who need help with homework or if you have a day job or have a husband who isn’t completely on board with your disappearing into the office daily. It can be done, but it’s not easy.   

If you could do it all over again, what would you change?

Author:      I would keep a single brand until I was a New York Times, best-selling author.

Are you a driven & self-advocating author, a gun-shy promoter, or a total marketing procrastinator?

Author:      A gun-shy promoter    

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Author:      I absolutely love the written word, particularly the English written word. I love reading authors who do it well.

How do you combat writer’s block?

Author:      Before I am done for the night, I jot down the idea, the conversation or event that will happen next. The following day, I reread what I wrote and get back to work.

What literary/writer-based term did you not know when you started that has become important and relevant to you?

Author:      Returns and Advances

How did your family and friends react to your writing? Was it what you expected from them?

Author:      They didn’t react to my writing but they certainly reacted when I was published for the first time. Yes, It was exactly as expected.    

What assumptions about writers and authors do you think are myths?

Author:      They shop at the grocery store. They take their children on playdates at the park, they attend back-to-school night and meet at local coffee shops. They hope for summer and fewer snow days. Usually, they are not rich or famous and life does not always go their way. 

Fun Stuff 

Where do you write your stories? A tiny office? A loft? The kitchen table? In the bushes while you secretly people-watch like a total creeper? Or a warm café with mocha in hand and feet up on an ottoman?

Author:      A small, open office   

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author:      “The Sunshine When She’s Gone.”

What is your favorite literary trope?

Author:      A Diamond of the First Water  

What have you learned about yourself from the writing and/or authorship process?

Author:      Sometimes, I can do it well, other times, not as well.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Author:      Wait and listen before speaking.