Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Guest Blog with author Lila Munro

What They Don’t Tell You

I cyber met Carla out of chance a few months back when I was peddling my first baby, The Executive Officer’s Wife, out for reviews. I think I may have startled her with my realmantica style. I sort of march to the beat of my own drummer and she accepted that I do. She seemed very pleased with my work and was honest enough to point out the areas I needed to work on, which pleased me very much. You can’t improve your craft if you don’t know what needs improvement. When my second novel released, Bound By Trust, she was one of the first people on my list to send it to. Not only did she agree to review Bound for me, she invited me over for an interview. I quite enjoy being here in her RomFan world and was more than excited when she invited me to guest blog for her today in conjunction with announcing the release of my third novel, A Slower Lower Love. I eagerly accepted and asked her if she had anything in mind that she’d like me to talk about and she suggested something in the way of advice for newbies about writing and/or publishing.

New writers are always looking for advice, anywhere and from whomever they can get it. And I think part of the reason that seems to be the case is because of what they don’t tell you. Who are they and what don’t they tell you? Well, they are other people in the writing industry, and what includes the fact that the marketing portion takes up more time than writing and is quite frustrating if you don’t know what to do. I still consider myself a novice at it, and believe me it will take you down if you let it.

It all seems so easy at first. You finish and polish a new manuscript, you submit it to a press or several presses, you wait, and almost as if by magic a contract offer appears in your email one day. Delusions of grandeur fill your imagination and you see your name in lights. But, wait a minute. How exactly how do you get from a contract offer to seeing your name in lights? Marketing. I for one, as well as countless others, have learned the tools of marketing the hard way, by trial and error. Maybe I was looking in all the wrong places at first, but it seemed to me that information was scarce. It was almost like when someone knew a trick to making things easier they patented it as their own and kept it in a vault. Some of the questions I had were, how do I go about getting a review, how do I get a guest spot on someone’s blog, and where can I post my work for little money or no money and get the most attention. Now granted there are endless resources out there for each of these things, so many in fact, they may seem daunting, but the how’s of it all were the problem. Not to mention, some of the websites out there host some heavy hitters and the thought of being in the same arena seemed almost sacrilege to me as I was a nobody.

Let me tell you a secret. You are not a nobody—you are a somebody. Don’t be afraid of getting out there and don’t be afraid to mingle with the heavy hitters. Someday you’ll be a heavy hitter, too and when you are I hope you pass on your knowledge to the next generation of newbies. Like I said before, I’m still a novice and the business is still very new to me, but I’ve decided that for the next year I am dedicating part of my blog space weekly to revealing little secrets I’ve found along the way. They’ll include resources I’ve found, websites I find useful, reviewers that are amiable, how to write a review inquiry letter that will get attention, and how to find a home for your work that you can live with and work with in a nurturing relationship. I don’t want anyone else to go through marketing hell alone if I can help it. It can be a wonderful experience if you have the right tools and sharing tools is one way I can help. Stumbling around blindly trying to figure it all out alone can be quite painful, and at this point I would like to say thanks to Carla and others like her. I stumbled across her and I couldn’t be more grateful. It was by finding her and others like her that I was able to overcome the stress of it all and move forward instead of quitting.

So, just how does one go from bobbing like a cork on the literary sea, to gliding smoothly into port? The first bit of advice I would have to give is don’t be afraid to ask questions. In my opinion the only stupid question is the one unasked. Take notes of the questions you have so you don’t forget them when the time comes to ask. And who do you ask? Anyone that will listen. Ask your publisher, you have a working relationship and deserve answers. Don’t be daunted because they are the publisher and you the newbie writer. Everyone started at the bottom and the only way to know is to ask. Their success is pending on your success and a good publisher will be happy you’re marketing and asking questions. Ask other writers. Networking is one of the best ways to glean information. If you see one of your writer friends has a guest post up somewhere, it’s okay to ask them who they contacted and how they went about getting the spot. No one has the corner market on guest spots and once you become acquainted with a few folks around the e-book circuit you’ll find that they are more than willing to host you. Lastly, ask the source directly. If you find a website or blog you find you’d like to participate in, ask. Find the contact link and zip the owner an email. The worst thing that can happen is they say no, and frankly I think you’ll find that rarely happens. This is definitely not the business to be in if you’re shy. It takes a bold personality to get out there on a soap box and shout, “Hey you, e-book world, here I am, pay attention!”

Once you start establishing contacts and making e-friends with other writers and bloggers, take notes and stay organized. I have a notebook filled with contacts, their web addresses, email addresses, and I also have a column where I mark down what type of experience I had. I use that to determine whether I want to go back there in the future or try something new. Before I got my notebook system going my desk looked like someone had whacked a post-it piñata over my head—do not use that system, for your own sanity buy the notebook. And don’t be stingy with your information. I find if I pass on a useful tidbit to someone, most of the time they’ll pass on a useful tidbit back. Networking to market—learn it, use it.

I guess I must have learned and used it pretty well. A Slower Lower Love is published courtesy of Rebel Ink Press. After talking about my marketing methods with them, I’m now their part time PR assistant. It had been my experience that many small publishers typically lack the resources needed to provide much help in the way of marketing to their authors. That coupled with the fact that most small presses are run by regular people that have regular daytime jobs to deal with leaves them little room to do the ground work needed to successfully mass market their writers. Rebel Ink shares my philosophy in that the writers’ success marks the publisher’s success, and that success depends on getting that writers name out there. While we don’t do everything for the writer, we do (depending on the length of the work) send out for reviews, send out a press release, post the work in several different arenas to include Manic Readers, offer group ad opportunities through a coop founded by a few prominent websites, and we give them a list of marketing tools and resources and how to get started using them. I’ve never seen anything like it in small publishing and am proud to be a part of it.

As I mentioned, I will be dedicating a portion of my blog this year to marketing and resource finds and advice. If you’d like to follow me and see what I come up with please earmark me at http://www.lilamunro.weebly.com/. I’ve also started hosting guests this year, don’t be shy, email me and ask for a spot. I’d be happy to have you: lilasromance@gmail.com. Also, if you’d like more information on Rebel Ink Press please visit them at http://www.rebelinkpress.com/.  Now I’d like to share with you a little bit about my new work that hit e-shelves today, A Slower Lower Love.

When running isn’t the answer,

Cait O’Kelley loved Bryce Delaney with all her heart. But loving him scared the hell out of her. She didn’t want to settle for being married to a cop and having his children. She wanted more. Unfortunately, more came with a price. After leaving her small home town for more glamorous life and working her way up the corporate ladder, a whirlwind affair with the boss’s son tears her world apart. On the brink of losing everything she’s worked for, she had to make a decision.

and going back seems impossible,

After eight years of living without her, Bryce finds himself tasked with the job of watching over Cait during her week long stay at her parent’s beach house in Bethany. She’s come there to sort her life out and while she’s contemplating her future, they discover the fireworks are still there. But can they ever go back to where they once were? As his secrets begin to surface, he sees only one way to save her. He disappears without a trace leaving Cait behind to pick up the pieces and deal with a whole host of new problems. One of which she can’t explain away or hide.

can you find middle ground?

With Bryce out of the picture, his brother, Kurt, finds what he’s wanted a lifetime handed to him on a silver platter. After watching Cait and Bryce toy with each other for fifteen years, he steps up to the plate. He’s always wanted her and now is his chance. But is he strong enough to ground Cait and keep her from making yet another mistake? Which brother will win her heart and show her that a slower lower love is enough?

Here’s a sneak peek of A Slower Lower Love:

“You know, you’re beginning to burn.” Bryce looked at the half-moons of her firm ass peeking out from beneath her coral bikini bottom. “If you don’t put some sunscreen on soon, you may not be able to sit down for the rest of the week.”

“Why do you care if I can sit or not?” she retorted.

“Suit yourself. I see the big city life hasn’t broken down your will to do what you think is right, whether it is or not.”

Same old Bryce. Only one way, his.

Same old Cait. Stubborn as ever.

Although Bryce could see that her attitude hadn’t wavered, physically, Cait had evolved into someone even more attractive than he remembered. She wasn’t a gangly, boney girl anymore. Where angles used to meet and jut out, soft, feminine curves had sprouted. And damned if they weren’t in places where a man needed something to hang on to. Places he'd like to hang on. Maybe agreeing to their mothers’ plan wasn’t such a good idea after all. If Bryce were smart, he'd go next door, repack, get in his car, and drive away before Cait took off dragging half his heart through the gravel behind her again. But, he’d promised their mothers he would stay next door and do what he could to help her get through this latest roadblock in her life. They weren’t asking much were they? Especially since Cait still held him in her palm. Too bad she could close her hand and squeeze him to a pulp again at any minute.

They’d been an item once, dating off and on for three years before Bryce graduated from Seaford High School, and for two more years steadily after that. He was almost finished with college by the time she'd been out of school for a year and was still trying to figure out what she wanted to do with her life. Bryce had assumed after he graduated and got a decent job with one of the local police forces they would marry, settle down, and have a few kids. They were good together, at least in his assessment.

In between the summer and fall session of his senior year, they'd stayed at this same house for a week together talking about their future, which in his mind, meant making plans. Bryce planned on asking her to marry him the last day they'd spend here. The day he woke up and found her and her suitcase missing.

By the time Cait finally called everyone to let them know where she was, it was too late to stop her. She’d also informed him not to follow her and that if he did, she would disappear again and not call the next time. After repeated attempts to contact her without response or reply, he’d given up hoping that someday she would come to her senses and return. He tried to move on. He’d had a few flings over the years, but none of them satisfied him the way his relationship with Cait had. Tired of trying, Bryce eventually gave up. He just couldn’t commit to anyone else.

He tried to get her attention again. “Mom tells me you’re in between jobs.”

She let out an exasperated groan. “Bryce, why are you here?”

“I think you know the answer to that question.”

“No, I mean why are you really here? You’re a grown man.” One that could make me do things I haven’t thought about in a long time. “You could have easily told them both to beat the bushes. Why are you really here?”

“They both told me you’re going through a rough time. I thought maybe you could use a friend.”

“We haven’t been friends or anything else in a long time, Bryce. And how is it that after what I did you would want to help me anyway?”

The elephant in the room.

“Cait, I forgave you for that a long time ago. In fact, I should be the one to ask you to forgive me for not understanding you and for needing more than you could give,” he finally answered.

“There’s nothing to forgive. It had nothing to do with you or what you expected. I’d have ended up hurting you anyway at some point. And for the life of me I can't understand how you could have forgiven me when I wasn’t even sorry.” Liar. It had everything to do with him and his expectations.

“Are you sorry now?” he finally asked as she lay there quietly. “I still think you should put something on your back.” He didn’t push the issue that she’d introduced to begin with. “I wouldn’t be off to a good start at being the friend I think you need if I didn’t insist.”

“Well, if you aren’t going to let it go, fine.”

She rose up on her upper arms squeezing her breasts together and thrusting them nearly out of their thin coral confinement, producing cleavage that he couldn’t help but stare at. The rest of him noticed as well. Luckily he had on board shorts. If he were naked the beach patrol could have come by and hoisted a rip tide warning flag up him and swimmers as far as Fenwick could have seen it. For God's sake, Bryce didn’t know if he could make it seven days pretending that being friends was enough for him when his feral instincts sensed the presence of his life mate the minute Cait stepped foot on his turf.

She dug around in her beach bag and retrieved a tube of sunscreen and handed it to him. “Here, since it’s your idea, you put it on.”

“SPF 8? Like that’ll do you a bit of good.”

“Are you going to argue about it or put it on?” she snapped. “Quite personally, I don’t give a whit one way or the other.”

He shook his head, squirted the creamy, coconut lotion in his palm, and rubbed his hands together. She wasn’t going to make any of this easy at all. Apparently she still insisted on making everything much harder than it had to be. He wondered how she managed to build a clientele that way. He figured businesses wanted quick solutions to their problems, not a list of talking points outlining why everything was a bad idea.

Bryce heard Cait’s breath catch the minute his hands touched her back. He was pretty sure it wasn’t because the temperature of the lotion was several degrees lower than the temperature of her flesh. Could her body have recognized his familiar hands right away and responded? He noticed a tiny spot on her throat flutter as her pulse quickened. He smiled at the knowledge that after so long he still had this effect on her. But, they were two different people now. Was going back even possible?

Careful not to let proof of his arousal brush up against her leg, Bryce continued to smear the lotion. He didn’t want to piss her off and send her running again. If she even suspected he still had feelings for her other than the friendly sort, his plans for the week would be a complete wash. And he most definitely didn’t want that. He didn’t wish to experience round two of her taking off never to be seen or heard from again for another eight years. At that rate, they would both grow too old and gray to enjoy each other before he could convince her they were right for one another.

“Why do you have to be so stubborn?” He gave her shoulders a good work over as she clearly held a lot of tension there from whatever was going. His mom, Anne, and her mom, Margaret, had been sketchy about the details, but from the feel of the tension lodged between her shoulders, whatever it was weighed on her heavily.

“Why do you have to make me so hot?” she murmured. Did I say that out loud?

“What did you say?” He’d heard her perfectly clear but played it off. It was good to know he wasn’t the only one that felt the electricity that still popped between them.

Oh God, I did say it out loud. She cleared her throat loudly. “I wanted to know how hot it’s supposed to get today. I’m already rather warm.”

“I’m not sure.” He was sure about one thing, however. The heat between them easily surpassed whatever the forecast held. “But, I have a feeling it could get a lot hotter before the week is over.”

Cait rolled over abruptly, knocked Bryce back onto his own towel, and stood all in one fluid motion. “I think I hear Bella, I have to go.”

“Who’s Bella?” he shouted behind her.

“My baby,” she tossed over her shoulder as she ran up the steps to her parent’s house.

Baby? If Cait had a child, that was a part of her problem that Margaret and his mother failed to mention. When Bryce decided he was back in control of his emotions, he took a quick swim before bracing himself to go offer her help if she needed it. But still, they could have warned him. Not that he minded kids. In fact, he wanted a bunch of them, when the time came, with the right woman. He just liked to know ahead of time what he was getting himself into.

You can purchase A Slower Lower Love at http://www.allromanceebooks.com/, http://www.amazon.com/, and http://www.coffeetimeromance.com/. Thanks so much, Carla for hosting me today. I had a great time sharing and hope we can do it again sometime.

-Lila Munro


  1. Thanks so much for stopping by to chat today, Lila. It's great to have you.


  2. I enjoyed the post.
    A Slower Lower Love sounds great!

  3. I usually run screaming from Contemporary, but I took a chance with Lila's books and I'm glad I did. She does an excellent job weaving real-world issues into her characters, which makes you relate to them easier than you normally would with other books. Bound by Trust was actually my favorite of hers. Estella, I don't think you'll be disappointed by any of Lila's books.