Q&A with Cassandra Carr

Thanks for being here today, Cassandra. Would you please share a short bio about yourself?

Cassandra Carr lives in Western New York with her husband, Inspiration, and her daughter, Too Cute for Words. When not writing she enjoys watching hockey and hanging out on Twitter. Her debut novel, Talk to Me, was released by Loose Id on March 22, 2011.


Q  Do you consider yourself a shy and/or introverted person?
A I'm an odd mix of outgoing and shy, but there are certainly times when I feel very shy and introverted. In fact, I will admit to not going somewhere because I was feeling shy and didn't want to put myself out there to try to get to know people.

Q In what ways has being shy or introverted hindered your writing career?
A The biggest thing it did was make me hesitate to join my local RWA chapter. And that's too bad because those ladies are some of the most supportive writers and nicest people I've ever met!

Q In what ways has being shy or introverted helped your writing career?
A I can happily hole up in my house for days and write. ;-)

Q What’s the hardest part of this business for you?
A I think never knowing if you're going to sell the next book. I've sold Talk to Me, but will a publisher buy my new book? Should I keep writing so I have more than one thing available to submit? Just the whole "not knowing" thing bugs me.

Q Tell me about a time that you had to step outside your comfort zone either in your writing career or in your personal life?
A Oh gosh, there have been so many times! One specific instance I can recall was when I was pitching to editors and agents for the first time at a conference. I was pitching my very first, and I had so much riding on these pitches from an emotional standpoint. The first time you pitch, if ANYONE expresses ANY interest in your book you latch onto it like a barnacle to a ship. Luckily I can say that those feelings go away, at least somewhat, the more pitching you do.

Q What’s one tip you could share with shy and introverted people that’s helped you?
A Sometimes for your own good you have to simply force yourself to go places and talk to people. Writers are more interesting when they have a wider worldview, I think.

Q Where can my readers find you on the web?
A For more information about me, check out my website, "like" my Facebook fan page or follow me on Twitter.

Thanks, Cassandra, for a great interview.
Congrats on the new release!


Please welcome author and 2008 Golden Rose winner Kelly Fitzpatrick to the blog. Her book LILY IN WONDERLAND is available now with Ellora's Cave.

I am not one of those people who knew from an early age they wanted to be a writer. One day a story lodged itself in my head and would not get out. To force the story out of my brain, I wrote it down. Funny thing happened. Another story popped in. And another. Sound familiar? You too?

Writing has taken me so far outside my comfort zone. In the pursuit of publication I have opened myself up to rejection, disappointment and heartbreak. Sound familiar? You too? I’ve also experienced so much joy, pride and cultivated many friendships with people I’ve never met in person. When people ask me what I’d be if I weren’t a writer, I reply, “I’d be a standup comic” if only my debilitating fear of public speaking didn’t stop me.

I sometimes joke that I would make a deal with the devil to get my hands on a fabulous book deal. Maybe that’s a joke. Maybe it’s not. But there are some things I’m not sure I could do. Being a shy writer, I’m not sure how I would handle a book signing. So far my books have been e-books, which leaves me pretty much off the hook as far as book signings. I was asked recently to be on a panel of e-book authors at the library. I weighed my fear of public speaking with the potential rewards of the function and declined. Maybe I talked myself out of it. Maybe I was underwhelmed with the amount of press the event would get. Maybe I didn’t think e-reader owners hung out at the library. Maybe I was simply terrified.

I’m lucky enough to belong to a group of talented ladies, The Ruby Slippered Sisterhood, which gives me a showcase for my writing and a forum for my blogging. We’re a merry band of writers who were finalists in the 2009 Golden Heart® contest. Many of them are achieving great success, giving radio and television interviews, doing book signings and conducting workshops. Can I just say—way outside my comfort zone? I lurk trembling in the shadows just hearing about their achievements.

What am I comfortable with? Pretty much anything online. Blogging, Facebook and Twitter, and even these medias did not come easily to me. I fought them nearly until the release day for Lily In Wonderland. Being a private person (who writes under her real name), I keep my profile information very private, not divulging my relationship status or exact location.

My comfort zone is writing. My goal is to create a community of readers who enjoy what I write. My promotion comfort zone is widening as my career grows. Perhaps someday I will be able to tremble before a small group of people and speak a few shaky words.

What are you afraid of? Spiders? Snakes? Clowns?

From Ellora's Cave - LILY IN WONDERLAND--Bad girls need love too!
2008 Golden Rose winner/Romantic Suspense
Out now from Ellora's Cave - Holiday Hostage
Nothing says happy holiday like a good old fashioned kidnapping

LIVING A DUAL LIFE--Written by the author known as Ann Charles

Please welcome author Ann Charles to the blog. Ann's debut novel, Nearly Departed in Deadwood (winner of the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense) recently released.

Here's Ann: I’m living a dual life. No, I’m not a secret agent, nor am I married to two different men (that would require extraordinary paranormal-like powers to pull off). I’m an author with a pseudonym, and thanks to this “other me,” I can stand in front of one hundred people and talk about building a platform, planning a career, or writing books with only initial minor jitters that quickly pass.

“Ann Charles” was born about eight years ago, but it wasn’t until closer to four years ago that I started to go by that name in public. It was at that time that I realized I was going to have to start being a public persona, and I didn’t think I could pull it off under my real name and normal self. What I initially believed would feel weird, quickly became freeing. As Ann Charles, I can say and do things I wasn’t always comfortable saying and doing under my real name. I’m not talking about breaking into the Smithsonian and stealing priceless historical documents, just simple things like teaching workshops, approaching complete strangers and asking them if they would be willing to write an article for 1st Turning Point, or asking someone point-blank to read my book and tell me what they think.

In my workshops, I am often asked questions regarding having a pseudonym. Most of the time, the questions center around what names I think they should choose, and if I think certain names will work well with the genres in which they write. Many of the questions come from writers who have been at this game for two years or less. They are excited about having their names on their book covers. I don’t blame them, I was excited, too. Still am. But not many of these authors consider the power of pseudonyms—how they can be used as cloaking devices to hide insecurities, fears, doubts; how much strength they can give authors standing in front of audiences, reading to groups of fans at book signings, or asking conference coordinators to consider taking a chance on them as guest speakers.

Most of us authors are loner sorts of folks who are the most comfortable living in our fiction worlds with our characters. I’m no exception. I’d take hanging out in my version of Deadwood over selling my products any day, but hiding in my stories won’t make me any money or build any name recognition. I have to go forth and speak, share, entertain, and act like the out-going author that readers want to me to be, smiling until I give my final bow each night and the lights go dim. The real me groans and shudders over the whole idea of this, but “Ann” loves the bright lights. She feeds off making people happy enough to smile back. She takes joy in verbally conversing with authors and fans alike. She is the fun-looking, grinning cowgirl in my author pictures. Me? I’m the one who is most comfortable at home in my jammies with no makeup on, drinking wine straight from the bottle, eating M&Ms like they are oxygen supplements, and mingling with the fictional characters.

Together, Ann and I can build an empire.

No, I’m not crazy. Okay, maybe there’s a bit of a multiple personality disorder going on with me (same as most authors). As I said, I have a dual personality. If you’re shy and dread the public life that authors are now being pushed to lead, you should give this duality a try. You might find that you can leap tall buildings in a single bound, just like Ann Charles can.

About Ann: Ann Charles writes mysteries full of mayhem, humor, and a splash of romance. Ann has a B.A. in English with an emphasis on creative writing from the University of Washington. A winner of the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense, she has been a member of Sisters in Crime and Romance Writers of America for many moons. Ann has written several contemporary novels and series, and she is currently toiling away on her next book.

To learn more about Ann:
Website: www.anncharles.com
Email: ann@anncharles.com

Q&A with Avril Ashton

Thanks for being here today, Avril. Would you please share a short bio about yourself?

A Caribbean transplant, Avril now lives in Brooklyn, N.Y with a Spousal Equivalent of almost eight years. Together they raise a 6 y/o daughter who loves reading and school (wonder how long that will last). Avril’s earliest memories of reading revolve around discussing plot points of The Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys with an equally book-minded mother.

Always in love with the written word, Avril finally decided to do the writing in August of ’09 and never looked back. Spicy love scenes, delicious heroes, and wicked women burn up the pages of Avril’s stories, but there’ll always be a happy ending—Avril remains a believer of love in all its forms.

Q Do you consider yourself a shy and/or introverted person?
A No.

So, as a more outgoing person, what's the easiest part of this business for you?
A  LOL. Writing. Everything else as far as marketing myself is so hard and time consuming. I don’t know how some people do it so well.

Tell me about a time that you had to step outside your comfort zone either in your writing career or in your personal life?
A  Not sure if I’ve had to because I’m pretty open and I like to go with the flow. The comfort zone thing comes in when I have to promo myself. I haven’t quite got that one down to a science yet, so there are still times when I wish all I had to do was write the damn book.

What’s one tip you could share with shy and introverted people that’s helped you?
A  One day/step at a time. Don’t force yourself into anything you’re not comfortable with.

Where can my readers find you on the web?
A  Visit: www.avrilashton.weebly.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/#!AvrilAsh

Thanks for being here today, Avril!

Q&A with Jennifer Jakes

Thanks for being here today, Jennifer. Would you please share a short bio about yourself?

After trying several careers—everything from a beautician to a dump truck driver—Jennifer finally returned to her first love, writing. Married to her very own hero, she lives on fifteen acres along with two beautiful daughters, two elderly horses, two spoiled cats and two hyper dogs. During the summer she does Civil War re-enacting and has found it a great research tool, not to mention she has continued appreciation for her microwave and hot water heater.

Jennifer was a 2010 Golden Heart finalist and grand prize winner of the Gateway to the Best Contest in 2009. Her first book, Rafe's Redemption, is available now.

Q Do you consider yourself a shy and/or introverted person?

A Oh, good grief, no. I can talk to anyone. But I used to be shy, so hopefully I have some useful information for your readers.

Q Tell me about a time that you had to step outside your comfort zone either in your writing career or in your personal life?

A The very first time I went to a writer's group. I hadn't even started telling people I was writing, so taking my work to be read in front of others was nerve shattering. Now the rest of the story is PROOF you can rise above shyness and embarrassment. I write erotic romance. The new group I went to ended up being mostly Inspirational writers. No, they didn't bill themselves as Inspy. Yes, I read my scenes aloud. No, they didn't have much appreciation for my genre. (Are you feeling my humiliation yet?) But I lived through it. I even got the best ever critique partner out of the deal. (She wasn't one of the Inspy writers.) And though I wanted to die once I found out what was being said about me, I didn't. So be brave! Chances are you'll get something great out of the experience:)

Q What’s one tip you could share with shy and introverted people that’s helped you?

A Start slowly. Say you're at a conference - make yourself talk to one person you don't know. Pick someone who looks friendly. It can be a short conversation. But make yourself do it. Then practice - one person at a time. And once that doesn't feel like a big deal, try introducing yourself to a couple of people or a small group. Eventually, it doesn't seem so scary and you will build confidence. Heck, before you know it you'll be giving speeches at conferences!

Q Where can my readers find you on the web?

A http://www.jenniferjakes.com/ on FaceBook as Jennifer Jakes and on Twitter as @erotichistory. You can buy Jennifer's new book, Rafe's Redemption, here.

Thanks, Jennifer, for your great answers!

Q&A with Lucy Felthouse

Q Thanks for being here today, Lucy. Would you please share a short bio about yourself?

A Lucy is a graduate of the University of Derby, where she studied Creative Writing. During her first year, she was dared to write an erotic story - so she did. It went down a storm and she's never looked back. Lucy has had stories published by Cleis Press, Ravenous Romance and Xcite Books. She is also the editor of Uniform Behaviour - Steamy Stories About Men and Women in Uniform.

Q What’s the hardest part of this business for you?

A Ignoring distractions. It’s so easy to sit down and write, but so difficult to stop yourself playing around on the Internet, staring out of the window...

Q Tell me about a time that you had to step outside your comfort zone either in your writing career or in your personal life?

A I do force myself to step out of my comfort zone every so often. One example is where I made myself have a go at a short story call, even though I wasn’t familiar with the subject matter. Luckily for me, the experiment paid off and the story was contracted! Another example is an upcoming reading I’m doing. I don’t have a problem going out and meeting people, but reading erotica to a room full of people will no doubt have me quaking in my boots!

Q What’s one tip you could share with shy and introverted people that’s helped you?

A Whatever the thing is that you’re afraid of – give it a go anyway. You’re always much more critical of yourself than others are of you. So if you think you’re doing something wrong, it’s highly likely that nobody else has even noticed! Just keep going, even if you slip up, people will applaud you for trying.

Q Where can my readers find you on the web?

A My website is http://lucyfelthouse.co.uk/.

Thanks so much for a great interview, Lucy! (And by the way...LOVE that cover!)

Q&A with Emma Lai

Please help me welcome multi-published romance author Emma Lai to the blog.

Q Would you please share a short bio about yourself?

A Thank you for hosting, Rebecca! I like a challenge. When I worked in corporate America, I first worked at an oil services company as a computer engineer. (Not a lot of women in the field at the time.) Then, I moved into managing software and IT project management. (Imagine being the focus of attention in large meetings.) I also worked as an analyst at a boarding school for high school and junior college students. (I had to deal with parents, students and other employees on a daily basis.)

Why was all this a challenge? Believe it, or not, I’m introverted.

Nowadays I stay home with my one year old son and write. It’s a rare day when I crave social interaction. I’m happy to limit my interaction with my family and one friend who lives on the next street over.

Q In what ways has being shy or introverted hindered your writing career?

A The biggest way in which being introverted hindered my writing career has to do with promotion. When I signed my first story, I was reluctant to approach other writers and ask for promo spots. However, a handful of really helpful, and far more extroverted, writers offered to do interviews for me and introduced me to other writers.

Q In what ways has being shy or introverted helped your writing career?

A Since I’m not a social butterfly, I don’t need to spend time with others. So, I can delve into a story and spend hours in it without guilt and without feeling as if I missed something by not being with others.

Another way it’s helped is by encouraging my imagination. One of my coping mechanisms for dealing with large groups of people is to first imagine how the scenario will play out. I picture the event the way I want it to happen. I also picture worst-case scenarios and envision how I will deal with them. Then I review it all in my head one last time.

I do have to add that like people in real life, my characters sometimes do completely off-the-wall things. In those cases, I just go with the flow and don’t try and mold the event into something it’s not. Less stress that way.

Both my first release, His Ship, Her Fantasy, and my latest release, Twice is Not Enough, were largely influenced by my introversion.

In His Ship, Her Fantasy, Ellie is the sole female engineer on a spaceship. Needless to say, my own personal experiences greatly shaped the story and her character. Ellie is isolated from the rest of the crew because of her gender, the shift she works and her introverted nature.

Click here to purchase from The Wild Rose Pres.

In Twice is Not Enough, Lady Minerva Peters witnesses another couple’s tryst because her natural reticence prevents her from announcing her presence until too late. She also has a nasty habit of putting other’s needs in front of hers, I think in part, because she’s hesitant to speak up and let others know what she wants.

Click here to purchase from The Wild Rose Press.

Q Where can my readers find you on the web?

A Website: http://www.emmalaiwrites.com

Blogs: http://emmalaiwrites.blogspot.com and http://emmalaivisitsthespicierside.blogspot.com

Twitter: @EmmaLaiWrites

Facebook: EmmaLaiWrites

Thanks again for hosting me, Rebecca! I’ll be giving away a copy of one of my stories to someone who leaves a comment on the blog.