5-STAR Fantasy / Sci-Fi

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Indie Author Interview: Bethany Michaels

Indie Author Interview with Bethany Michaels - Author of the Contemporary Romance Novel Nashville Crush.

Bethany Michaels is the author of over a dozen steamy contemporary novels and novellas as well as a few Regency-set historicals and light paranormals. The first book in her Nashville country music series, Nashville Heat, was a finalist in RT Magazine's Reviewers' Choice awards for Best Small Press Erotic Romance.

Interview with Bethany Michaels

Author Bethany Michaels
Author Bethany Michaels
Alan Kealey (Indie Author News): What is your (writing) background?
Bethany Michaels: I have a degree in English, but I think writing fiction is more of a learn-as-you go thing. Like a lot of writers, I've always been a big reader and I've always dabbled in writing stories. I got serious about it in 2004, when I had four babies under four years old at home (there's a set of twins in there) and was losing my mind. Writing became "my" time. I'd always really enjoyed romance, so that's naturally what I wanted to write. I first sold to Red Sage Publishing in 2006 and have gone on to sell to many small presses as well as self-publishing my back list and original titles.

Who are your favorite writers, your favorite books, and who or what are your writing influences?
My first romance love was Jude Deveraux and she's still one of my favorites. I love the humor, how real the characters seem and the emotion she's able to deliver in her books. Once I realized those three things are what draw me to Jude's books, I made a conscious effort to focus on doing the same thing in my own books. I always go for the funny and I try my best to create realistic characters who elicit emotion in my readers. I like heat in my romance, too. I started out in erotic romance, but I'd say my books lean more toward hot contemporary now.

When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
I always read a lot and wrote stories. As the oldest of four kids, I often wrote and illustrated little books for my younger brothers. I didn't make the conscious decision to write with the intent to publish until 2004 when I had all those babies at home!

"[...] I usually plot out the first few chapters and start writing!"

Tell us about your writing process. Do you have a writing routine?

I'm pretty linear in my writing and I like to have a plan, though that varies from book to book. When I get the seed of an idea, I start a sort of free-flow document describing the story and characters as they come to me. As I think of more stuff, I add to the file. All of that usually happens while I'm working on something else so that document is sort of an "idea file". Once I'm ready to work on that project, I read through the file and come up with a rough outline and try to fill in the holes a little. Then I usually plot out the first few chapters and start writing! The first scene is always the hardest for me, but once it comes to me, the story starts to flow...usually.
I write the whole story, all the way through and then go back to see where I need to add or cut things to make the story's pace flow and I fill in plot holes. After that, I polish what I have and send it to my editor. I'm an awful proofreader, so I always hire that part out :) Then it's more revising and polishing. Whew!

Please, describe your desk/workplace.
I have a small space in what used to be the living room (the previous owners converted the basement to a huge family room.) There's a fireplace with built-in bookcases one each side of it and a huge floor-to-ceiling window on the other wall that lets in a lot of natural light. I do have a desk, but I rarely write there. I usually grab my laptop and go outside to write--we have two acres with lots of trees--or I write in my comfy chair by the big window.
When the kids were little, I wrote anywhere and everywhere I could. I've written some pretty hot love scenes sitting at the McDonald's Playland!

"[...] the challenge is figuring out how to tell the story."

What do you find easiest about writing? What the hardest?
The stories are always there in my head--I'm never at a loss for something to write. Sometimes the challenge is figuring out how to tell the story. For me, the hardest part is getting going; actually sitting down to write. Once the words start flowing and I'm in the "zone" I get in to the story and lose all track of time.

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Creating a fictional world from my imagination. I'm always in a better mood when I've written. It's kind of a high :)

Bethany, please tell us a little about your Contemporary Romance Novel Nashville Crush.
This is book 4 of my Nashville series, though each book is a stand-alone story. In this one, former country music star, Trent Ryder, is a man who has a lot of demons. His wife and duet partner died in a tour bus crash 10 years earlier and he has kind of withdrawn from the world and from the music he's always loved. He has a lot of survivor guilt and is pretty hard on himself at the beginning. But then his neighbor's niece moves in next door and sort of forces him, kicking and screaming, back into the sunlight. Of course, she's got her own issues--major fear of commitment, and an ex-boyfriend who won't take "no" for an answer, LOL. She's a little flighty, he's a little surly and neither can keep their hands off the other.

Nashville Crush (Bethany Michaels)
Click to Read an Excerpt

What inspired you to write the book?
I've written some confident sexy bad-boy types in the Nashville series, but I wanted to write a hero who was a little more damaged. Once Trent's character started to occupy space in my imagination, the rest of the story sort of built up around him pretty easily. My books always start with a character and figuring out what makes him/her tick.
Moving to Nashville seven years ago from the Midwest, I'm inspired by the city in general. It's a down home Southern city that feels like a small town, but there is a ton of culture and creativity flowing through the center. There are lots and lots of people who give up everything to come here to follow their dreams. There is literally music on every street corner downtown, at all times of the day and night. We even have live bands at grocery store grand openings! That strong creative vibe really moves me.

Who do you see as your target audience and where can we buy the book?
Lovers of country music and contemporary romance may like this one, as well as those who might like a sexier Kristan Higgins. I start with character, like she does, always look for the funny in situations through dialogue and action, yet try to invoke real emotion and poignancy. I do like the heat, though, so sexual tension and sexy love scenes are always part of my books. Readers who like super-sexy stuff might like some of my erotic romances, which are listed on my website.

Nashville Crush is available in eBook at all the usual retailers and print editions will be coming soon to Amazon, B&N, etc.

What makes your book special?
As I mentioned, I'm a little bit in love with my adopted city and in each of the Nashville books I try to bring the city to life for readers. I use a lot of real settings and try to give readers a feel for what it's like to live, work and play here.

How would you describe the success of your book so far?
I've had a lot of positive response so far. This is the fourth book in the series and with each new book, more readers find me!

"[...] you really only learn by doing it."

Can you give some advice for other Authors regarding the writing process?
The thing about writing is that you can read all the craft books you wants, and go to classes and seminars and retreats, but you really only learn by doing it. So just do it! Your first efforts may be crap, but that's the way it is. You just have to keep at it. With each effort, the writing will get better. There is no "wrong" way to write and there is no "right" way. It's only about what works for a particular writer. You will never figure our what your way is unless you dig in and get started.
A lot of writers swear by critique groups, but that just doesn't work for me. You have to do what works for you and watch out for anyone who tells you that you MUST do some such thing in order to be successful...other that put your butt in the chair and get words on the page. You gotta do that :)
For rank newbies (in romance), there are a lot of great contests you can enter through Romance Writers of America chapters. Pick one that offers feedback. Oh, and join RWA. GREAT advice, learning opportunities and community.

Are you working on another book project? Can you tell us a little about it?
Yes! I have several more Nashville books planned for 2014 and 2015. In October I'm going to release a short Halloween story featuring a secondary character from the first book, Nashville Heat (which is currently free, by the way!) Nashville Treat will be free to newsletter subscribers.
Then, in December, I'll have Nashville Noel, a reunited lovers novella set at Christmas time.
My next full-length Nashville book, Nashville Crazy, will be out in December or January. Nashville Crazy will feature a secondary character from Nashville Crush I really liked, handyman Dan.

Where do you see the book market in 5 or 10 years? Will there be only eBooks and will book stores disappear like record stores disappeared?
No, I think we'll always have bookstores. I said several years ago that I thought ebooks would be like the hardback/paperback thing that began years ago: most authors will go into ebook and that only the big sellers will go to print. I see that happening already, as most big publishers push new authors to submit to their electronic-first lines and then they cherry-pick well-performing titles to go into their traditional print programs. I think this will continue to a greater degree. Also, audio is big and getting bigger, and emerging ebook markets like India could have a big impact on the business globally. It's important for authors to protect their audio and foreign rights when negotiating publisher contracts. The ebook revolution has created all sorts of new pitfalls, so authors need to think ahead when negotiating and ask a lot of questions.
Without a doubt, self-publishing is big and will continue to be an outlet for authors to get their work out there (and make a decent living doing it), as well as an avenue for publishers to discover new writers. But I think it's dangerous for authors to rely on only one revenue stream. The market changes too quickly for that.

What is your e-reading device of choice?
I've had a Nook for years, though I recently got a smart phone (behind the times, I know) and I do like reading on that when I'm stuck at the Dr.'s office or whatever. I get a lot of free books from writing conferences and use my library quite a bit, so I read in print, too. Goodwill is a great place to pick up odd little books you never would have thought to seek out.

Do you write full-time or do you have a day job? When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I have a day job--well, a night job really. I work 8 pm to 4 am in logistics for a large grocery chain, then am home during the day (sleeping). I think I'll be able to write full-time within the next year or two, though I could have multiple kids in college at the same time in a few years, so I may need to write faster :)
I have four kids and a husband, so I spend my non-working time with them as much as possible. I'm a Boy Scouts volunteer and I also love to camp, hike, travel and watch movies. Two of the kids are also movie people, and I recently had the great fun of taking them to see Gone with the Wind on the big screen. They had never seen the movie at all, so to watch them see it for the first time in the theater was amazing!

"My newsletter subscribers get special treats each month [...]"

How can readers connect with you?
I'm on Facebook and Twitter (@bmichaelsauthor) and recently started a Pinterest page, though that's still a work-in-progress. My website has all the book information and social media links (www.bethanymichaels.com). Also, I have a reader newsletter. My newsletter subscribers get special treats each month--free books, excerpts, subscriber-only contests and sneak peeks at future books, for example. The sign-up form is on my website and my Facebook page, too.

I am always happy to respond to reader emails at bethany@bethanymichaels.com.

Thank you very much for the Interview, Bethany.

About the Book Nashville Crush

Nashville Crush (Bethany Michaels)
Click to Read an Excerpt
Free spirited Patterson O'Reilly is running from her own special kind of hell--the kind that involves a church full of people and a wedding ring--when she mistakes her new next door neighbor for a Peeping Tom and clobbers him with her sweet tea pitcher. Her accidental victim is reclusive, a little surly and irresistibly sexy with the whole smoldering gaze and body-of-a-god thing going on. Even though the last thing she wanted when she escaped to Nashville was more man problems, she can't help but be drawn in by the sexy walking mystery next door.

She can deal with damaged, but "forever"? Not happening.

Trent Ryder was on the fast track to country music stardom when a tour bus crash ended his career and his marriage. Withdrawing from public life and the music he once loved, Trent is content to live alone behind the walls of his Nashville home until his quirky, impulsive, pin-up-girl-sexy next-door neighbor crashes through all his barriers with steamy glances and curves as hot as Southern summer nights. Trent lost the first woman he ever loved to a tragic accident. He's determined to do whatever it takes to keep the second one forever.

Links to the Book

Link to the eBook Nashville Crush with Excerpt on Amazon

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