Wednesday, May 23, 2012

REV UP WEDNESDAY - A weekly booster shot for inspiration... CATCHING UP WITH ELYSA HENDRICKS


Hello world!

My guest today is a veteran author who's both traditionally published and self-published - the wonderful Elysa Hendricks. Elysa is a gal with a sense of humor and a bit of irreverence. I vote that she has one of the best attitudes ever! She's been through her share of rejections but she's the type of person who prefers to focus on the positives in life. Why, her powder room is the ultimate proof of this!!! SEE PICTURE BELOW. I guarantee belly laughs, and the irresistible urge to pull your hats off to this lady. 

Here's her story...


How long have you been writing?

A long, long, long time, since before I knew how to make letters on paper I was telling stories to my stuffed animals and pets. I created complicated scenarios and worlds. Then in high school I took a creative writing class and started putting things down on paper. I still have a few of those stories and I've used elements from them in some of my current books. In college I took some journalism classes, but quickly decided that type of writing wasn't for me. I prefer fiction.  I didn't consider writing a book until I was in my mid-somethings.

When did you decide that you wanted to write for a living (that "aha" moment)?

I don't know that I decided I wanted to write for a living. I don't know too many authors that actually make their "living" by writing. But once I started writing down the stories that kept popping into my head I knew I'd never stop.

What did your family say when you told them you wanted to be a writer?

My husband has always been supportive. For the first few years when I was learning the craft of writing, attending workshops, classes and conventions and leaving him home with the kids - a lot, he might have gotten a little cranky. But when I sold my first book he couldn't have been prouder. My mom is my biggest fan and even my dad has read one of my books.

What is your preferred genre both for reading and writing?

I'll read just about anything: classic literature, westerns, mystery, thrillers, horror, science fiction, fantasy. Of course romance is my favorite, but picking a sub-genre of romance is harder. If I had to pick just one I'd go with science fiction. I love reading about people in different worlds and times.

Did you start by writing full time or did you have a day job?

I didn't start writing until I was in those mid-somethings I mentioned. At that time I was a stay-at-home mom, so other than a few part time jobs I took to help make ends meet and motherhood I didn't have a full time day job. 

Did you take any writing courses or did you just sit and write a book?

First I just sat down and wrote a book. That first book took me three months to write and I made every mistake a newbie author can make. Then I joined Romance Writers of America, a critique group and started taking writing classes and workshops and spent the next three years learning how to write. Though I love the characters and story in my first book it will never be published. It sits under my bed guarded by killer dust bunnies.

Did/do you have a crit group or mentor to guide you?

I was part of an awesome critique group for over ten years. Sadly, that group has scattered, but the members are still some of my closest friends. I never had an official mentor, but I was fortunate enough to have some kickass teachers and role models. Cathy Linz, Lindsey Longford, Susan Elizabeth Phillips are a few of the authors I met early on in my writing career. Their comments and suggestions were invaluable.

Do you use a/several pseudonym(s) and if so, why did you choose to have one/them?

I decided early on to use my own name for all my writing. Didn't want to get confused about who I was. If I was starting out today I might do things differently. Back in the dark ages, before the Internet and all the social media sites, I wasn't worried about people knowing who I was.

How long did it take you to make your first sale? What was your first thought when you did?

It took me about nine years to sell my first book, which was actually the third book I wrote. Like I said book number one has been pulled from consideration. I sold a western historical romance to Hard Shell Word Factory as an ebook. At that time ebooks were practically new, so I didn't get too excited over the sale. I've just recently received my rights back for this title and will be re-releasing it as an ebook with a new title.

How many drafts did you write of your first novel before you felt you got it right? What about now - do you still write several drafts of a story?

I don't do actual drafts where I write the whole book then go back and edit and revise. I tend to edit and revise as I write. Each day I write something, a scene or a chapter then the next day before I continue I'll re-read, edit and revise it. When I finally get to the end I send the manuscript out to a couple reader/authors I trust for feedback. I'll do some edits/revisions. Then I put it aside for several weeks or months before I go back over it one last time.

Do you read industry or writing related blogs? If so, can you share some useful links?

I don't read a lot of blogs. There are just not enough hours in the day to read blogs, participate in social media, write and keep up with all the great books out there. Something has to give. So, while there are thousands of wonderful blog sites devoted to the art and craft of writing I'm not a follower.

Did you get an agent first or did you submit directly to publishers?

I submitted and sold my first five books directly. I didn't get an agent until I already had an offer from the publisher of my sixth book. I've since parted company with both that publisher and agent.

Did you ever get rejected? If so, how did you handle it?

Rejection is part of the business of writing. At one point I thought about wallpapering my powder room with rejection letters, but once I became published I decide instead to decorate it with my book covers.

What, in your opinion, do agents/publishers look for in a new author in the current market? Is it all to do with talent or with trends? 

If I knew what agents/publishers were looking for I'd be a millionaire and I wouldn't even have to write any books. I'd just sell that information to other authors. All I know is that agents/publishers want books that will sell to readers. But that's an ever changing market. What's hot today is out tomorrow. Talent is certainly important. A writer needs to write a great book, but even great books with great writing get rejected.

Do you think writers should consider self-publishing?

The book industry is always changing and growing. I don't think print books and big publishers will disappear, but they'll change in ways I can't predict. Since I've just jumped into the self-publishing stream with some backlist titles as well as several newer pieces, I think self-publishing is a viable options for writers. The only difficulty I see is the lack of writing skills of many newer writers. When I first began writing and submitting it's a good thing self-publishing wasn't a viable option. My work back then was rough and raw, nowhere near ready for publication. It took me years to hone the craft of storytelling.

Though I've recently self-published three books, each has been critiqued by other authors and has gone through numerous edits and revisions. They've been considered by editors and agents, but despite being well-written they didn't fit the guidelines and were rejected.

How do you feel about so many bookstores closing across the US?

I feel terrible about the closing of bookstores in the US, but with people turning to online shopping I'm not surprised.

Are your books available in print or in digital format?

All my current books are available in digital formats. My titles with ImaJinn Books are also available in print.

What advice do you think aspiring authors should heed today?

The most important thing is to write and hone your craft. There was a study done about what it takes to become an expert. In it they determined that you need to work at your craft for 10,000 hours before you really know what you're doing. If you spend twenty hours a week writing it'll take you ten years to become an expert writer. Another person said you need to write a million words. All I know is you have to write, write, write then write some more. Oh, and reading doesn't hurt either.

What are you working on now?

Right now I'm working on a contemporary humorous romance about a matchmaking cat. I've also co-authored a humorous women's fiction book that we're shopping around to agents and editors. And in between actual writing I'm re-releasing as ebooks several of my backlist titles.

What is/are your favorite book(s)? Do you read only books from the genre you write in?

I have so many favorite books I couldn't name them all, but top of the list is Kathleen Woodiwiss's The Flame and The Flower. It's the first historical romance I read and what spurred me to attempt to write my own stories.

Do you read when you are plotting or writing a story?

I read all the time though I do try not to read the same genre of story as what I'm working on.

What hero/heroine/character was the most fun or challenging to write for you?

Serilda from my book THE SWORD AND THE PEN has to be both the most fun and the most challenging character I've written. She's the first character that demanded she be written first person. And since she's the hero of the story's fictional character and carries a big sword I didn't have the guts to argue with her.

How do you juggle work, writing, chores and family/personal life? Do you have a secret to time management that you want to share with readers?

Time management? What's that? I keep trying to organize my life, but it doesn't work. I thought when my kids were grown I'd be able to focus more, but I'm finding that the older I get the more scattered I become. I will say that family always comes first with me then writing. Chores are a distant third. Cooking, Cleaning and Ironing are distant cities in China.

Do you have a ritual that you follow when it comes to writing?

No ritual, but I do like to eat SweeTarts when I'm writing.

Where do you see yourself, careerwise, in 5 years time?

I'd love to still be writing and publishing, both traditionally and self-publishing and it would be nice if I was making enough money to live on. For me writing isn't just a career or a job, it's part of who and what I am. Even if I never publish another book, I'll keep writing, I'll keep bringing to life the people who populate my imagination.

What's your website URL?


Are you on Facebook? 


How do you connect with readers?

Readers can reach me on Facebook or through my web site.



About Elysa:

"Elysa Hendricks is 5'6" tall, has curly hair and brown eyes. She's an author, a wife, a mother and a daughter. Everything else is subject to change without notice."

Excerpt from THIS HEART FOR HIRE:

CHAPTER TWO
Christina's eyes widened at the sight of the bulge threatening to escape the gap in the man's trousers. She could almost still feel it pressing against the juncture of her thighs. Her hands trembled in rage.
"How dare you touch me?" She tightened her grip on the gun with one hand and with the other dragged the blanket up in an attempt to cover her torn nightdress.
He shrugged his shoulders. "I apologize for my ungentlemanly behavior."
He didn't sound sorry, he sounded amused.
What should she do now? Shoot him? The thought tempted her, but what about the men downstairs? He'd saved her from them. But for what purpose? Perspiration prickled under her arms.
"You know how to shoot a pistol, Kitten?"
"Be quiet or you'll find out. And stop calling me that ridiculous name. I need to think."
"Anything you say, ma'am."
Nothing in her convent training prepared her for this situation. The only men she remembered dealing with were Father Jose, her brother Christopher, and her stepfather. This man was nothing like them.
In the dimly lit room, she couldn't make out the man's features, but he appeared tall, with broad shoulders and lean hips. He exuded an aura of strength and power. Even Mother Superior would have trouble giving orders to this man.
She gulped and felt her skin grow warm. Bruised and battered, physically and mentally, she longed to curl up under the covers and weep. She couldn't. Christopher was gone, dead, killed by the men below. The sound of a shot had jolted her from sleep just before a man burst into her room.
Alone now, she didn't have time to weep. She needed to be strong.
Struggling to make sense out of the events, her brain refused to function. The terror of the last hour, combined with her travel exhaustion, left her lost and confused.
The floorboards squeaked as the man shifted his weight.
"I said don't move." Her voice shook, along with the gun.
"Yes, ma'am."
Christina focused on him. Unless she took care she would join her brother...or worse.
"If you don't mind, it's a mite chilly." The man gestured toward his shirt lying near the foot of the bed.
Christina stared at his bare chest. Chilly? She felt hot. She nodded curtly.
He bent over and picked up his shirt.
"Back over there and get dressed." She used the heavy gun to motion him toward the room's far corner.
He complied, but the small room still left him too close for her to relax.
Tears started at the back of her eyes. She blinked them away. Christopher was dead and the blame lay with her. He hadn't wanted to stay in this seedy little town, but after two weeks on the trail, she begged for one night in a real bed.
After she overheard their stepfather's plans, she persuaded Christopher to flee the Rocking A ranch, though he argued they should stay and confront the man.
If they had stayed, would Christopher be alive? Or would they both be dead?
Four years younger than Christopher, Christina didn't know her brother well. For the last twelve years Christopher lived in St. Louis with their uncle, while their stepfather left her to be raised in the convent. Though they corresponded, only within the last month were they reunited.
Their childhood affection remained intact, but they were strangers. Still, she would miss him.
The gun barrel tipped downward. Her gaze followed. She swallowed at the sight the gun now targeted on the man. Tightening her grip, she lifted both her eyes and the gun upward.
Dangerous. The word came to mind as Christina watched the man button his trousers and pull on his shirt. He moved with the fluid grace of a big cat.
She remembered the strength his rugged body held and how easily he took control. The memory of his hard muscles holding her helpless against the bed made her shudder. Still, he hadn't hurt her. His grip, while inflexible, wasn't painful. Not like those other men who pawed her with hurtful hands. Yet, if not for the gun she held, how long before he finished what he started?
"May I sit?"
Christina jumped. She did it again, allowed her mind to wander. The man stood in front of her, his chest practically touched the muzzle of the gun. His closeness reignited her fear. Scrambling backward on the bed, she lost her balance and tumbled sideways. The gun slipped from her moist fingers and fell with a clunk to the floor at his feet.
Afraid to raise her eyes, she sprawled helpless across the bed. What would he do now? Rape her? Shoot her? Unsure what rape entailed, she didn't know which fate would be worse.
"I think you dropped this." The man's voice, low and soothing, penetrated her haze. She forced herself to look up at him.
One knee on the bed, he loomed over her, a dark, threatening presence. The gun rested loosely on his open palm.
Her eyes widened in shock. He was giving her the gun! Was it a trick?
"Go ahead. Take it if it makes you feel better." He grinned at her. "If you like I'll even show you how to shoot it." He laid the gun next to her hand and backed away.
Christina looked at the gun then at him. She shook her head. Despite everything she knew she couldn't shoot him, even if she could figure out how. Killing was a mortal sin.
The man ran his hand through his hair and scowled. "Damnation woman, let's get something straight." He leaned toward her, then swore again as she tried to scramble further away. The blanket slid through her fingers and tangled around her hips and legs, ensnaring her.
Before she could free herself and escape, he sat down and wrapped the scratchy blanket around her shoulders.
"Listen to me."
Caught between his hard body and the wall, what choice did she have? She refused to look at him.
"I'm not going to rape, or shoot or otherwise hurt you."
His words, while she assumed were meant to reassure her, sounded harsh and angry.
"I didn't rescue you from those animals downstairs to finish the job myself. I am not going to hurt you." He barked the words at her. "I don't take unwilling women to bed."
He wasn't going to rape or shoot her. Venturing a look at his scowling face, she placed her palm against his chest, where his shirt lay open, to push him away. Warmth from his smooth, surprisingly soft skin seeped into her fingers.  "You took off your clothes." She struggled to keep the quiver of fear out of her voice.
The man shifted on the bed. A hint of red appeared on his cheeks. "Yeah, well, not all of them."
"Only because I stopped you."
"Maybe." He flashed her a boyish grin. "I had to convince Conchita you were my woman, not Rico's." He put a finger beneath her chin and lifted her face to his. "Did I hurt you?" His eyes locked on hers.
"No-o," she stammered.
"Well then, what's the problem?"
"But-but, I..." She looked up at the dark stranger in confusion. No, he hadn't hurt her. Yes, he saved her from the men below. But for what? If he didn't want her body and he didn't mean to kill her, what did he plan on doing with her?
Her eyes widened. Oh no! Had her stepfather sent him to bring her back?
"I'm not going back." She went rigid and spat the words at him.
"Back?"
She curled the hand laying on his chest into a claw and raked it across his skin.
The man jumped. "What the Hell!" He grabbed her wrists as she tried to scramble away.
Though unsure of its meaning, Christina shouted a word Conchita had used. "Let go, Bastardo!"
Christina fought his hold. No match for his strength, she wiggled in impotent fury when he trussed her in the blanket like some Egyptian mummy. "Let me loose! How much is my stepfather paying you? I'll double it."
Ignoring her outburst, the man went over to the window to examine the scratches on his chest. Though superficial, they had to sting. The satisfaction Christina took in the fact caused her convent-reared soul only a moment of guilt. He deserved it. As if he heard her thoughts, he turned around and glared at her. She went still and watched him warily.
"What in the hell am I going to do with you? I've got a job to do, if I haven't already blown it. It won't be long before Rico's men realize what they've let slip through their fingers. I need to get you out of here before they demand I give you back. But how?" Though he spoke out loud, Christina realized he wasn't addressing his comments to her.
He stalked over to the room's one window. "Can't get out this way. Room's a good twenty feet up. No ledges."
Opening the door a crack, he peered out. "No way I can sneak you past them now. But they're drinking heavily. Maybe we'll get lucky later and they'll all pass out. A slim chance, but it looks like our only one." He closed the door and propped a chair under the doorknob. "Won't keep anyone out for long, but the noise will give us a few seconds warning."
He moved back to the bed and lay down, pinning her between his body and the wall. She tried to stay stiff, but his heat and scent wrapped around her.
"Move over," he growled in her ear. "I've been on the trail for the last three days, catching up with Rico. I need some sleep and so do you. Besides, looks like we're stuck here 'til morning."
"What are you doing?"
Squirming to put some space between them she loosened the blanket and managed to shove an elbow in his midsection.
"Oof! Be still or I'll tie you up." He put his arm around her waist.
"Unhand me this instant! Go sleep on the floor."
"Not likely. I'm staying right here so I can keep an eye and a hand on you. But you go on wiggling if it makes you feel better."
Under her breath, she muttered one of the words Conchita had used. Though she knew the word was improper, it accurately reflected her feelings at the moment.
"What was that?"
The man's laughter felt warm against the nape of her neck, stirring the fine hairs. The scent of him, leather and beer, mingled with soap and spice, teased her nose. A shiver, unrelated to fear, went through her.
Within minutes his body relaxed in slumber.
Christina held herself rigid in his embrace. She wouldn't go back. She would never agree to marry her stepfather.
As surely as if he pulled the trigger himself John Anderson killed Christopher. She didn't know how, but she would make him pay for his crimes, past and present.
Exhaustion warred with anger, but her fear faded. Held close against the stranger's hard body, she felt oddly secure. His warmth wrapped around her like a thick blanket making her feel safe and protected rather than threatened. The heat of his large hands splayed across her belly penetrated her thin nightdress. His other hand rested below her heart, his fingers brushing the underside of her breast. She wiggled trying to dislodge his hands. He responded by tightening his hold.
Like a big mountain cat, he would pounce at her first attempt to rise. If her stepfather sent this man after her, she was well and truly caught.

Elysa's latest and upcoming releases:



THE BABY RACE - a small town contemporary romance

            Race Reed doesn’t want a wife, but to save his ranch he needs a baby. To gain custody of her stepsister, Claire Jensen needs a husband, but she wants love. Wants and needs are bound to clash when they run The Baby Race.



COUNTERFEIT LOVE - a small town contemporary romance

            Ten years ago a student's unfounded accusation of sexual misconduct drove Jared Blake out of his hometown, forced him to give up teaching, and destroyed his marriage. Now he's back in town to raise his daughter and return to the classroom. The last thing he expects - or needs - is an attraction to a stunningly pretty student in his algebra class, Maggie McCade.
            To ferret out a computer hacker and further her dream of starting a high tech security firm of her own, twenty-nine-year-old Maggie McCade descends into high school hell by posing as a math-challenged senior. The last thing she expects - or needs - is to fall in love with her teacher.



THIS HEART FOR HIRE - a gritty, western historical romance

A convent reared innocent and a gunslinger with no memory struggle to survive and find love while crossing the dangerous west Texas frontier.



HER WILD TEXAS HEART - a western historical romance

In a lawless west Texas border town, a woman has two choices: death or dishonor. Doctor's apprentice and former Comanche slave, KC O'Connor finds a third--she buries her femininity and longing for love beneath a boyish disguise. But the arrival of an injured greenhorn shatters the shell around her hidden heart.

HER WILD TEXAS HEART BUY LINKS:
http://www.amazon.com/HER-WILD-TEXAS-HEART-ebook/dp/B007464OSM http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/her-wild-texas-heart-elysa-hendricks/1108930838?ean=2940033029228 http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/128511



 

STAR CRASH - a futuristic romance
When Planet of the Apes meets Star Trek what's a girl to do?

STAR CRASH BUY LINK:
http://www.amazon.com/Star-Crash-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B007T2J9T0


***

DARK STAR DAWNING - a sci-fi adventure romance
Coming soon from ImaJinn Books



~ Natalie ~ 
No Rules. No Formulas. Just Love, Mystery... and a world of surprises in between!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

LAZY SUNDAY INTERVIEW with SANDRA BUNINO


I have an awesome, sweet, fun guest today - and she's also really, really pretty! :D. It's erotic romance author, Sandra Bunino! Sandra is one of those people you instantly have to love - she's warm and friendly and really leaves you no choice but to want to hug her and be her lifelong friend. She is just celebrating the release of her latest story, Sara's Smile, and I'm happy to support her any way I can. If you're into hot, sizzling stories of love and lust, please check out this author!

Welcome to my lair, Sandra! It's such a pleasure to have you here with me. Please tell us about you as we share an afternoon cocktail - a cosmo, maybe? - and settle into a nice chat on my snazzy couch up here... 

So, here we go :)



How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing here and there since high school but hadn’t actually finished a WIP until last year.

What is your preferred genre both for reading and writing?

I write contemporary erotic romance but will read just about anything! I’m a firm believer of supporting my fellow authors so I’ve been buying and reading mostly ero rom lately.

Did you start by writing full time or did you have a day job? 

I write in my spare time. I do have a day job that I love in Human Resources. Okay, “love” may be a strong word, *lol* but I do really like my job.

Did you take any writing courses or did you just sit and write a book?

I didn’t take any additional writing courses other than what was offered in college. I did however engage a professional editor to review my first MS before I submitted it for consideration. It was the best thing I did for my writing career. My editor taught me much about the rules of the romance genre.

Did/do you have a crit group or mentor to guide you?

I don’t currently have a crit group but I do have the wonderful support a group of writer friends.

How long did it take you to make your first sale? What was your first thought when you did?

I was lucky to have my first submission accepted very quickly. It’s a great feeling to get that “yes, I will publish your work” letter.

Did you sell the first story or novel you wrote?

My second release, Sara’s Smile, was actually the first story I wrote and finished. I’m happy to see it into publication.
  
How many drafts did you write of your first novel before you felt you got it right? What about now - do you still write several drafts of a story?

Sara’s Smile went through many revisions. The first version did not follow the romance rules and my editor helped me make the appropriate changes. The original draft had a lot going on! We decided to break it into two separate stories. The second, which focuses on the man Sara walked away from, is still untitled. It has a holiday theme so I am looking to release it sometime in November.

Do you read industry or writing related blogs? If so, can you share some useful links?

I recently joined the Romance Writers of America (RWA). I enjoy reading their articles and plan to attend the annual conference. I also get a lot out of blog posts from other authors. Topics such as writing, publishing and marketing interest me.

Did you get an agent first or did you submit directly to publishers?

I’ve never had an agent. I send all of my submissions directly to the publisher.

What, in your opinion, do agents/publishers look for in a new author in the current market? Is it all to do with talent or with trends? 

I think it’s a little of both. Certain sub genres are very hot right now so I can understand publishers wanting to capitalize on what is selling. However, talent and substance is key to a successful book.

What do you think of the changes going on in the book industry (e.g., e-books vs. print books, and big publishers getting involved in digital publishing)? Where do you see the industry going?

I see the industry continuing the move toward electronic media. I’ll admit that I am an iPad addict! My iPad contains my life and I break into a cold sweat if it’s more than ten feet from me. My family is looking into a twelve-step program to break me of the habit. ;-) I do miss bookstores though. There’s nothing like getting lost in one during rainy Sunday afternoons. I think we should all enjoy and patronize our local bookstores while they are still standing.

Do you think writers should consider self-publishing?

There are pros and cons to self-publishing. It’s a very personal decision. I’ve known authors who are very successful at self-publishing and some who aren’t. I’ve considered it and may try it one day because I like the freedom and flexibility of pricing. For now, I’m going to stick with using a publisher.

Are your books available in print or in digital format?

Currently, my books are available in digital format. However, I just received notice that MAROONED IN MIAMI is just days away from being available in print. SARA’S SMILE will follow shortly!

What advice do you think aspiring authors should heed today?

My advice is to wear blinders, put your head down and write! Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. Write what you know and what you’re passionate about. Above all else, enjoy the journey, it’s the best part!

What are you working on now?

I have a few works in progress. The first one is an erotic romance I am writing with a specialty line in mind. The next is a continuation of a BDSM short story that will be published in Evernight Publishing’s KEYBOARDS AND KINK Anthology available on June 8th. I’m also finishing the sweet love story that is a spin off of SARA’S SMILE.

What is/are your favourite book(s)?

I really love Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. I’m on book five now and I plan to pick it back up over the summer.

What hero/heroine/character was the most fun or challenging to write for you?

They are all fun to write! I did have a great time with Jason Royce, the hero from MAROONED IN MIAMI and LUSTED IN LAS VEGAS. He comes off as a tough guy, especially at the beginning of Marooned. As the story unfolds we find that he has a very romantic side to him. We see some very possessive, alpha tendencies in Lusted as Stephanie and Jason’s relationship flourishes which brings out his sexiness even more.

How do you juggle work, writing, chores and family/personal life? Do you have a secret to time management that you want to share with readers?

The juggling act: I haven’t figured that one out yet! Please let me know if someone has, I would love to take lessons. J

What's your website URL?


Are you on Facebook? 


How do you connect with readers?

Email: sbunino (at) gmail (dot) com
Facebook
Twitter: @sandrabunino

Remember, following is sexy!

ABOUT SANDRA:

As a writer of “the sexy”, Sandra Bunino began a love of romance stories while penning a creative writing assignment in high school. The story ended with the heroine receiving a long stem red rose in her locker on Valentine’s Day. Since then, all of her stories feature the hero presenting the heroine with roses. Sandra is constantly searching for different ways to achieve a heart-pumping, stomach-flipping, breath-catching reaction from her readers.

These days, Sandra lives on a wooded mountaintop not far from New York City with her family.
Add some info on latest and upcoming releases (please attach book covers).

NEW AND UPCOMING RELEASES!

Available now:

SARA’S SMILE



As an architect who specializes in restorations, Sara Wiley is a genius at returning neglected structures to their former glory. But when it comes to her own life, she has no idea how to reclaim the ruins, which are all that remain of her first true love.
When the biggest opportunity of her career and a sexy contractor comes her way, she’s thrilled…until she learns that the client is the long-ago boy who captured her heart and continues to invade her dreams. Is it a bittersweet coincidence or might there be a chance, after all, for Sara to revisit the mistakes of her past and build the future she has wanted for so long?

MAROONED IN MIAMI
Undeniable lust and a fierce Miami storm bring sexy strangers together at The Hotel Del Santos for a passion filled night.
Stephanie, still reeling from a failed marriage, needs a break from the past. She decides to take her friends’ advice and finds a perfect stranger for a night of no-strings-attached, smoking hot sex.
Jason, a wealthy Seattle builder has the worst luck with love. Swearing he would never allow another woman to get under his skin, Jason decides a life of casual sex is just fine with him. While watching Stephanie’s sexy stilettos click across the lobby floor he zeros in on his next conquest.
Cut off from the outside world, the lives of these two strangers collide and burn with desire when stranded in the perfect storm. Both are content with the idea of sharing a glorious one-night stand together, that is, until they go their separate ways. 


Coming soon:
LUSTED IN LAS VEGAS (July 2, 2012)
Lusted in Las Vegas picks up where Marooned in Miami left off. Now, Stephanie and Jason’s sexy tryst continues in Sin City! Their chemistry is undeniable and lust is taking a turn toward love when they return to each other’s arms. However, all is not perfect in paradise when Jason’s ex comes to town and wants what she believes is rightfully hers.

THE SATIN ROSE EXPERIENCE (June 8, 2012; contributing story: KEYBOARDS AND KINK Anthology)
The concept is simple: Fulfill your fantasy at The Satin Rose Experience.
Asher Cane, head of Rosebud Resorts exclusive new specialty division, has an opening he needs to fill. Shy, yet curious Mia Lavender is the perfect candidate. Asher uses his Twitter alias to breakdown Mia’s fears and convinces her to submit and feed her curiosity for his lifestyle.




~ Natalie ~ 
No Rules. No Formulas. Just Love, Mystery... and a world of surprises in between!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

REV UP WEDNESDAY: A weekly booster shot for inspiration... CATCHING UP WITH EVE PALUDAN


Hello world!

My esteemed guest today is a lovely, lovely lady and an author of substance - EVE PALUDAN. Eve is friendly, warm, and is not afraid to share information. So much so that this has turned out to be one of the best interviews I've ever posted because Eve's answers are so detailed and informative. If you are a writer, you cannot miss reading this... and if you are a reader, you'll get a very clear idea of the quirky life of an author and the desperate decisions we sometimes make to follow our dreams. Perhaps the next time you hold that book or e-reader in your hand, you will wonder, at least a little, what it took for those words, for that story, to make it there. 

Now I'll shut up because Eve has so much to say and it's worth reading, truly! :)

Welcome to my humble home on the web, Eve...



How long have you been writing? 

I've been seriously writing since the late 1980s when I got my first personal computer. I had a series of three nonfiction books published by Prima in the 1990s, The Romance Writer's Pink Pages: The Insider's Guide to Getting a Romance Novel Published. Two of the editions became #1 bestsellers for Writer's Digest Book Club. The series is out of print. I've also worked at a newspaper, in the software industry as a content editor, and at a state university as an editor of scholarly work. 

When did you decide that you wanted to write for a living (that "aha" moment)? 

That aha moment was when I got eyeglasses in first grade. When I got my first pair of blue cat's eye glasses, I fell in love with reading and writing. I wrote my first short story in first grade and the dream of writing fiction for a living was a little seed that was refined over the years to become who I am today.
What did your family say when you told them you wanted to be a writer? 

There were varying degrees of support over the years. Early on, there was polite enthusiasm but not a total understanding of my career vision. Eventually, the enthusiasm for my chosen career waned to a quiet acceptance as the children left the nest to make their own lives and I worked full-time jobs, came home to cook dinner for my husband and clean up the kitchen, then write fiction until the wee hours. I did this for years, existing on 4-6 hours of sleep a night and catching up every once in a while. Sometimes, it was hard to choose whether I would lock myself away in a quiet place to write or spend time with the people I loved. It was quite a balancing act and as the years went on, the fallout was that I unintentionally alienated the people I loved as I persistently chased my dream. I skipped many family vacations or trips over the years because I wanted time to myself to write or was even on a contract deadline. The bottom line is that being a writer steals time from the people you love and if you are serious about being a writer, many times you will have to sacrifice what you want in order to keep your relationships from collapsing. I was married for 24 years before I made the decision to put my career first. I am now single and I work as a freelance editor and novelist. I am still good friends with my ex #2. We talk all the time because we have kids and grandkids together.

What is your preferred genre both for reading and writing? Romance, mystery, paranormal, or a combination of those. 

A combination. I like straight mysteries or mystery and suspense in my romance, for both reading and writing. I like ghost romances, and also angels, vampires and werewolf romances. I also read contemporary Western romances and traditional contemporary romances. It is rare for me to read a historical romance and although I started writing a couple of them, I found that I just don't have the patience for writing historicals and am not willing to invest hundreds of hours of research that each historical novel would require. In my case, writing what I know works best for me.
Did you start by writing full time or did you have a day job? 

I had day jobs, some of them conducive to honing my writing and editing craft, such as working at a newspaper and as an editor at a university. Although there were several years where I worked exclusively as a full-time writer, because of a crushing medical debt in our family, I had to get a day job and stop writing books when I was really at the top of my game, with a fourth book contract in hand from Prima, one that I reluctantly declined to take a job in a call center. It was downhill from that dark place for about 14 years; once the medical debt was paid off, there was a tremendous amount of pressure for me to work in the software industry, which I did. I made good money doing it and learned a lot, but my writing dream suffered. Later, when the national economy took a dive and our software business ultimately did, too, there were times when I had to work at jobs which completely crushed my soul in order to put food on the table and pay rent or a mortgage. I did what I had to do for my family, but I can safely say that my jobs as a motor vehicle agent, telephone operator, payroll clerk, and tech support at a call center for a national shipping company not only delayed my goals and development as a writer, they almost contributed to my demise as one. There comes a point in a writer's life when you decide that you are just going to go for what you want before you lose your passion for it. So I did that, in June 2011. I decided to quit my day job as editor of scholarly work at a state university to write and edit for a living, as a freelancer.


Did you take any writing courses or did you just sit and write a book? 

I took writing and editing courses at Mesa Community College, Arizona State University, University of Arizona, and many other places. I think the workshops at writer's conferences and book festivals are the best education because they are highly focused on narrow topics. I also went to a mini-workshop, The 90-Day Novel, by Alan Watt and bought his book. It was very good.

Did/do you have a crit group or mentor to guide you?

I have, over the years, had wonderful mentors and critique partners when I belonged to Romance Writers of America, most notably, Connie Flynn (writing teacher) and Linda Fensand-Style (aka Linda Style, Harlequin author), who was my critique partner for some years. My current mentors are a trio of bestselling Kindle authors who have mentored me with incredible patience and wisdom. In my head, I call them the Three Wise Men.
Do you use a/several pseudonym(s) and if so, why did you choose to have one/them?

I'll take the Fifth Amendment.

How long did it take you to make your first sale? What was your first thought when you did?

Evan Fogelman, my first agent, sold The Romance Writer's Pink Pages to Prima Publishing in about 30 days. My first thought was, "Yippie! I'm on my way!" That was in the happy golden years of publishing in print and I had a pro in charge of my career. Before the internet, as we know it, even existed, the print book business moved much faster than it does now. I kid you not.

Did you sell the first story or novel you wrote?

Almost. It was a little ahead of its time, in theme, but it got all the way to the editorial board at a big romance publisher. I'm now retooling it into a vampire novel. There was a time period when I sold every single magazine article I ever wrote. A writer's magazine once paid me four figures for a three-part series of articles on self-publishing. It was incredible money for the times and it led to that same company picking up my nonfiction book series for their book club, where it went on to become a #1 bestseller for two years in a row.

How many drafts did you write of your first novel before you felt you got it right? What about now - do you still write several drafts of a story?

My agent had me revise it 11 times. I revise a lot more than that nowadays. I'm kind of a perfectionist. The Man Who Fell from the Sky was three years in the making. I am sure that I have at least 30 versions of it on my hard drive.

Do you read industry or writing-related blogs? If so, can you share some useful links?
Did you get an agent first or did you submit directly to publishers?

I got an agent first. That was back in the 1990s. I also had an agent in 2011 and no sale resulted from the representation. That was then. This is now. Only you can decide what is best for your career in today's market.

If you signed with an agent, how did you go about the process of finding your agent/publisher?

I sent out queries to a two dozen agents and a dozen print publishers, based on the advance amounts as reported by Brenda Hiatt  (http://brendahiatt.com/show-me-the-money/), for whom I have a tremendous amount of respect for even making this information available.


Epublishers list and commentary:
  http://hipiers.com/publishing.html


Did you ever get rejected? If so, how did you handle it?

Sure. In the past, rejection letters were common. Now, I think that publishers and agents rarely even reply if they aren't interested. A few will, but most, you will never ever hear back. I just heard back from the Knight Agency, two years after the initial submission. My query was in their spam box. Oh well! I get disappointed, but I try to learn something from the experience, and move on. I either try again with another agent or publisher, or I try something completely different. If you would have asked me this question a year ago, I am sure that my answer would have been different, but now that the market is more open to indie authors, since January 2012, I have quit sending out my work. As far as I am concerned, in today's market, it just puts one more obstacle in my way to send my work to agents and publishers. Nowadays, I just hire an editor to go through my manuscript and then I publish my work on Kindle when it is ready for readers. I am only publishing in digital format, so far. It's been a rewarding experience and sales are going up. I'm thrilled that I am getting my work out there. If I sound annoyed, it's because the biggest romance publisher in the world wanted an exclusive on my manuscript and had me revise it twice for them and then neither offered a contract nor a rejection. They pretty much held my manuscript hostage for close to three years and refused to get back to my agent with a definitive answer, but kept asking for revisions. After that amount of time, I just got fed up when I heard that it was sent to an outside reader for comments and possible revision requests when I was ready to hear that I had a contract offer. I have an amazing track record in publishing (both books and software) and a story that they loved and invested time into by asking for such picky revisions. I did extreme revisions for that publisher and never even got the courtesy of a reply to my top NY agent. He called them every week so that was not his fault. Due to the nearly three years that the publisher expressed interest in my manuscript (yes, the one you are reviewing), I completely lost faith in the traditional print publishing process. If the biggest romance publisher in the world dropped the ball, what the heck is going on in the industry? Meanwhile, my friends and colleagues were enjoying great success on Amazon Kindle and convinced me to take a leap of faith. I did and it's been great so far, with sales and great reviews of my book and much more success to come!

What, in your opinion, do agents/publishers look for in a new author in the current market? Is it all to do with talent or with trends? 

As you see, I have become fairly cynical about the current commercial publishing market because of the financial collapse of several bookstore chains, the closure of many independent bookstores, and the $29 million in print revenue lost last year by the world's biggest publisher of romance novels. In this economy, it is harder and harder to get a print contract, though digital contracts abound, both for self-publishers and for authors who publish through the many royalty-paying publishers who offer decent contracts. 

What do you think of the changes going on in the book industry (e.g., e-books vs. print books, and big publishers getting involved in digital publishing)? Where do you see the industry going?

More brick-and-mortar bookstores will vanish. More print publishers will fail or they will offer lower advances and cut their midlist authors and/or just not renew their contracts. Lower advances will be offered for print contracts to new authors. In order to offset the enormous losses in the print industry, print publishers will rely on digital sales to keep their companies in the black. I see many authors who have been published by print houses moving to Amazon Kindle and Smashwords.com with their old work, to which they have the reverted rights, as well as their new work that was rejected by their current print publisher. New authors are doing the same thing, skipping the agents and the publishers and taking their work straight to Amazon Kindle and other electronic venues. The business of electronic publishing is flourishing, whether it is royalty-paying publishers, work-for-hire publishers, or self-publishers. It is a far different world than the one when I wrote The Romance Writer's Pink Pages series. People have less disposable income in 2012, and they are more apt to spend it on a digital book than a print book because of the cost, ease of purchase, environmental impact, and convenience of reading devices. 

Do you think writers should consider self-publishing?

I highly recommend digital self-publishing, especially on Amazon Kindle and through Smashwords.com. I do not recommend self-publishing in print -- most people cannot take such a financial risk to manufacture tangible inventory. 

How do you feel about so many bookstores closing across the US? Do you think this trend is similar in other countries?

It's an utter travesty. It is much worse in other countries. Publishing is global, not local. What one country experiences in the publishing business, other countries experience the same issues.

Are your books available in print or in digital format?

Only digital. For now. One mature pine tree supposedly equals 160 500-page books, not to mention the water that grew the tree nor the water used during pulp processing. And I live in a tiny apartment. I don't really have room for boxes of books. Also, something rather dark is going on in the industry. Allegedly, Barnes & Noble was going to ax all CreateSpace titles from their catalog, as CreateSpace is an Amazon company. A bunch of that kind of stuff is going on, in various guises. It is not a good idea for me to start printing books. Long live ebooks!

What advice do you think aspiring authors should heed today?

Don't give your money to a vanity press (also called co-op presses or boutique publishers) where you put up the money to print your books and you don't even own the finished printed books. Don't give money to a literary agent. Hire an editor for proofreading and to catch continuity errors before you even send your work to agents or publishers or before self-publishing.



What are you working on now?

I am currently at work on a sequel to The Man Who Fell from the Sky (Angel Detectives Case #1). It is entitled, TheMan Who Rose from the Sea (Angel Detectives Case #2). I am also writing Ghost Fire, a contracted mystery novella for a popular new series called The Ghost Files, which was created by Scott Nicholson and J.R. Rain. I have an outline for an unnamed sexy vampire trilogy that is set in west Los Angeles. And I am revamping some of my old unpublished work for release on Kindle. That's it for 2012.

What is/are your favorite book(s)? Do you read only books from the genre you write in?

I read all kinds of books. My favorite books are by indie authors on Kindle. Some of them are my editing clients and they are all very important to me. Almost exclusively, I read romance genres and cross genres of romance novels.
Do you read when you are plotting or writing a story?

I read all the time.

What book inspired you to write romance (or whatever genre you write in)?

I write what I love to read. So many books inspire me to write romance. The ones with the happy endings are the ones that keep me reading and writing them.

What hero/heroine/character was the most fun or challenging to write for you?

An angel's character in my latest book, The Man Who Fell from the Sky (Angel Detectives Case #1)

How do you juggle work, writing, chores and family/personal life? Do you have a secret to time management that you want to share with readers?

Because I am single and live in an apartment that is about 14 X 16 feet, I don't have any significant chores. It takes me maybe 10 minutes a day to clean my place. I don't even have to get dressed if I don't want to. I can eat popcorn for dinner or eat a mango over the sink. Most of my family lives in another state so I don't have anyone to take care of but myself and I no longer have to answer to anyone. The number one thing that I did to free up time for writing was to quit my day job. I don't recommend this drastic course of action in any way. I just know what I needed to do for myself. I was dying inside, every day that my writing career slipped further and further from my grasp. At my last day job, all I could think of was how I wanted to be working on my novel instead of editing scholarly work. I even took about 5 weeks of paid vacation off from work to write but it wasn't enough. I wanted it to be forever. Finally, I made the leap and here I am! At that happy place!  I have a modern version of the artist painting in a garret and being ecstatic about it. Okay, so I live near the beach and it isn't a garret but it is small and there is no heat, no parking spot, and no oven. It sort of feels like living in a motel room, but my books keep me company. I also have a best friend who lives close by. Every Monday or Tuesday, we have inspiration day, and we get out and do creative projects together in some fun place.

Do you have a ritual that you follow when it comes to writing?

Shower, dress, eat, sit at computer and write. I go for walks when I remember to get up and do it. I walk to the grocery store for bagels, fruit and vegetables. I hang out on Facebook when I am not writing or taking a walk. That's pretty much the daily routine. 

Where do you see yourself, careerwise, in 5 years time?

I see myself as a successful indie author on Kindle. In 5 years, I may only be editing for one client who has expressed an interest in partnering for some writing projects. Right now, I edit for a lot of novelists to supplement my income from book sales. I love my life now, so much. I am doing everything I can to achieve my goals as an author. I have a lot of creative freedom as a self-published author with a track record in traditional print publishing. I even do ghostwriting. I believe in myself and I have a lot of support from the community of authors who help each other perfect our craft. Every day is an adventure, not just on paper, but in real life. I am loving every moment!

And some info on latest and upcoming releases... 

I am currently at work on a sequel to The Man Who Fell from the Sky (Angel Detectives Case #1). It is entitled, TheMan Who Rose from the Sea (Angel Detectives Case #2). I am also writing Ghost Fire, a contracted mystery novella for a popular new series called The Ghost Files, which was created by Scott Nicholson and J.R. Rain. I have an outline for an unnamed sexy vampire trilogy that is set in west Los Angeles. And I am revamping some of my old unpublished work for release on Kindle. That's it for 2012.

What's your website URL?

Are you on Facebook? 

How do you connect with readers?

Most of my connections are through Facebook and Twitter.

About Eve:

Eve Paludan's first print book in the 1990's, The Romance Writer's Pink Pages: The Insider's Guide to Getting Your Romance Novel Published (Prima), went on to become a popular series. Two of the editions became #1 bestsellers for Writer's Digest Book club. She also has worked as a content editor and as a web designer for software companies; as an editor of scholarly work at a state university; and as a small-town newspaper employee. Previously a long time Arizonan, in June 2011, she moved to the west side of Los Angeles, California. Her move was to escape snow and high altitude, but especially to pursue her writing in a big city with a beach, and a large creative community.

Now a full-time author and editor, she writes novels and publishes them on Kindle. She also edits for other novelists: including bestselling authors H.T. Rain. Her newest book is, THE MAN WHO FELL FROM THE SKY(Angel Detectives Case #1). Her other fiction works include more romances, Taking Back Tara and Letters from David. In addition, she was the editor for Vampires, Zombies and Ghosts, Oh My! (and other Creatures of the Night STORIES) Anthology. It contains 16 stories from 13 authors.

Eve lives in a tiny apartment with four laptaps, books, and a Kindle. Besides books, her passions include: walking at the beach; and in her west LA neighborhood-exploring art museums; learning outdoor photography; and research of the supernatural and the spiritual-including angels, ghosts, and God. If you can't find her on the beach in Santa Monica or Venice, or ghost-hunting in haunted Hollywood, just follow Eve Paludan on Facebook, Twitter and her website.



The Man Who Fell from the Sky, Excerpt:
After everyone else left the Velvet Antlers, Mariah and J.R. cleaned up the kitchen and the table area.
“J.R., I couldn’t have pulled off this fifties-themed party without you.”
“My pleasure. I had so much fun.”
“Me too. I loved seeing the look on Nicole’s face, that tonight was all for her.”
“No, no! Nicole’s not spoiled in the least.”
Mariah shook her finger at him. “Hey, watch it. That’s my niece you’re talking about!”
He chuckled.
“That’s it for tonight. Oh, what a night!” She hit the main light switch. The string of white tube lights were still on behind the bar. Otherwise, the place was dark.
“Hold on. There are still fifteen minutes left of tonight.” He walked to the old Wurlitzer jukebox then turned back to her. “You danced with everyone tonight, except me.”
Mariah put down her coat. “All right. Ya got a quarter?”
“I do. That’ll buy us three songs.” He scrutinized the song titles, his eyebrows furrowed in thought. “Joe said he used to update the records but he hasn’t since the late nineties.”
“My grandparents used to close up the place by dancing a slow dance every night before they went home. Emily and Aaron.”
I remember. “Your grandparents were onto something.”
She walked to the Wurlitzer and looked at the titles, her expression wistful. “Even when they were old, you could still see it in their eyes, how they looked forward to the end of a night, to that last dance.”
J.R. put his arm around her. “What would you like to dance to?”
“You choose. It’s your quarter.” She walked onto the dance floor.
His quarter thunked in and he pressed the letters and numbers of the songs he chose. When the record dropped, he walked toward her and held out his hand. The music of the Platters filled the dimly lit dance floor as the Platters’ “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” surprised her. It was her favorite song of all time.
J.R. held his body apart from hers as they glided over the dance floor, taking up all of the space as if they had always danced together. Cody used to do the same thing.
His eyes searched hers and she sighed and closed her eyes, the velvety caress of his cheek against hers sweeping her away. She let the music carry her closer and felt the heat and strength of his body close to hers as they danced. In the pause between the end of the song and the beginning of the next, Mariah’s eyes met his intently. She was flushed. With a
gentle finger, he brushed her bangs from her eyes. That one finger was electric against her skin and she drew in her breath sharply, her mouth quivering. The Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody” filled the room.
He moved in closer than cheek to cheek. She gave up the pretense of friends dancing together and wrapped her arms around  his neck.
“My grandparents. This was ‘their’ song,” she murmured.
“They apparently knew how to pick ‘em, didn’t they?” he murmured against her hair.
“J.R., how are you picking these songs?” Her voice trembled.
He didn’t reply but twirled her over the dance floor. She felt emotion welling up, feelings she’d locked away for months. But she wasn’t feeling them for Cody. She was feeling them for J.R. She was falling in love.
The third record dropped. Elvis’ voice was joined by J.R.’s own sweet tenor in, “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You.”
Tears spring to her eyes as she heard the slight tremor in his voice. Mariah leaned into his chest, feeling the reverberations in her breasts as he sang to her.
“J.R., this is going too fast for me.”
“I’ll dance slower.”
“That’s not what I mean and you know it.”




~ Natalie ~ 
No Rules. No Formulas. Just Love, Mystery... and a world of surprises in between!