June 28, 2012

Interview: Jane Wenham-Jones

Jane, welcome to Romance Lives Forever. Tell us about your latest book, including its genre. Does it cross over to other genres? If so, what are they?
Prime Time is billed as a romantic comedy but it does have its dark corners. It is the story of Laura who has shocking PMT and is - ill-advisedly as it turns out - encouraged to go onto a daytime tv programme to talk about it. What happens next will change her life…
How do you come up with ideas?
I pretty much write down everything that ever happens to me...
What is the single most important part of writing for you?
That wonderful moment when you can type "the end".
What is the most important thing you do for your career?
I'll give anything a try. I've been on radio and TV, worked as a presenter and interviewer, written short stories and articles, features and columns, fiction and non-fiction. I could probably do with being a bit more focussed on just the one or two areas instead of trying to do it all, but it's been a lot of fun.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
Being able to "have my say" I suppose.
What do you enjoy most about life?
Variety. I am not one of these writers who can be pinned to the computer for a 16 hour stretch. I like to go out and do lots of different things. But I always consider that to be part of the process. If you never leave your study how you have anything to say?
Where do you start when writing? Research, plotting, outline, or...?
A basic idea. My first novel was: the buy-to-let market, my second, infidelity, my third - running a wine bar… and so on.
What did you learn from writing your first book? 
That it's not as easy as it looks...
How many hours a day to you spend writing?
On theory 6 hours a day. In practice? Sometimes I don't write at all - too busy fiddling with emails and tidying the kitchen. But when deadlines loom I've been known to write all night. I finished wannabe a writer in a 36 hours stint with no sleep at all.
If you could give the younger version of yourself advice what would it be?
Get on with it!
What are some jobs you've done that would end up in a book?
I've been a barmaid, bought and sold property, worked as a secretary and a copywriter - all these have come in useful in books various.
If I was a first time reader of your books, which one would you recommend I start with and why?
When I am reading a new author I like to start with their first one. Mine  was  - Raising the Roof. But I've developed a lot since then. So I would say now - read the blurbs and see which one appeals to you most and I'll just hope you like it SO much you can't wait to read the others :-)
What do you hope readers take with them after reading your work?
A smile and a dollop of empathy
List two authors we would find you reading when taking a break from your own writing.
Joanna Trollope and Fay Weldon
What's your next writing ambition?
I want to be an agony aunt on a national newspaper - editors please note! :-)
A biography has been written about you. What do you think the title would be in six words or less?
Jacqueline of all trades.
If money were not an object, where would you most like to live?
By the sea plus a flat in London
If you were a tool, what would people use you to do?
Open wine bottles.
As a child, what was your favorite thing about school?
Reading my way through maths
If you came with a warning label, what would it say?
Take in small doses
Please Fill in the Blanks
I love pizza with fresh basil.
I'm always ready for a glass of champagne.
When I'm alone, I relish it.
You'd never be able to tell, but I was once a model.
If I had a halo it would be constantly falling off.
If I could play the guitar, speak fluent French, sing like an angel, and only weighed seven stone, I'd consider it a good result.
I can never get to the end of my to-do list because I keep adding to it.
My Booklist
Raising the Roof
Wannabe a Writer
Wannabe a Writer We've Heard Of
Perfect Alibis
One Glass is Never Enough
Prime Time
Find Me Here

June 27, 2012

Why I Created Marketing for Romance Writers


Picture yourself cruising the net looking for a good spot to promote your new book when you happen upon a great review site. You decide to request they read it. First question: Title of book -- hah! Piece of cake. Publisher: Duh! This is easy too. ISBN: Hmmm. You tap your fingers on the keyboard. Didn't I see that in an email? So you open a new window and start rummaging through all the stuff in your inbox. It has 475 messages in it so it takes awhile. You notice an email from a fellow author and read it, respond, then decide to see what's in that cool looking newsletter that just came. About an hour later you close the email window and there in the background is that review site -- still waiting for the ISBN that you never found. Sound familiar?

I thought so. I've done things like this, and so have many others. In 2006, I created Marketing for Romance Writers so I could get some writing done but still help about a dozen friends with questions like "How do I get my book reviewed?" "I'm drowning in email. How do I create folders?" "What's the #1 thing I should do to market my book?" I figured if I helped them, they'd help me when I had a question too. Guess what? It worked. We all helped each other.

I answered their questions with articles on how to create a review request form, how to determine what kinds of folders you need, and ideas on how to find out who was talking about you online. These were things I was learning myself, and I enjoyed sharing. Since that time, those twelve people have morphed into over twelve hundred, and I am not the only person answering questions. Our group is a self-help group that relies on crowd sourced answers. Everybody shares info and news. We started calling the group MFRW because we talked about it so much and the title was too long to write out. We invited guest speakers to come help us learn, and we shared with author groups and our publishers. We gave free workshops. I decided at the beginning that we would not charge for lessons because everyone needed a chance to learn and not everyone could afford it.

We began a professional newsletter, gave seminars, workshops, and had Q&A sessions. We started two blogs and a Facebook group. We created a few excerpt books to give away. This month, we added a website, and in July, we're sponsoring a free, two-day Marketing Summer Camp with over a dozen guest speakers, panels, and a large number of giveaways and handouts.

Things have changed. Yet the more they change -- the more they stay the same. A recent discussion on the Yahoo group asked "When does marketing become spam?" Last count, there were over fifty responses in two separate topics relating to that subject. We also took on the task of liking each other's Amazon author pages, and on Facebook, we regularly like and tag each other's books as a way to help with sales.
Our Author Blog Banner

Yes, we've come a long way. We started out with a Yahoo group and a dozen friends, and we've become a crowd with multiple aspects of social media. We have a newsletter editor, two proofers, a blog director, five group liaisons, a promotions director, and me. Eleven people to look after the goings on around a group that started with only a dozen members. Yes, things have changed, but they are still focused on the same five things as they were in the beginning. Our motto is still "seek, teach, share, learn, succeed."

Our Volunteer Staff

Kayelle Allen Founder 
Newsletter Editor: Rochelle Weber
Proofers: Cat Gardiene, JJ Keller
Blog Director: Lynn Crain
Promotions Director: Karen Cote'
Group Liaisons: Jeanne Barrack, Jean Drew, Dawne Prochilo, Heaven O'Shey, RJ Garside

Join Us!

We still help one another and look for ways to advance our careers by working together. It's been a little less than six years since we started on this journey. I can't wait to see where the next six takes us. Won't you join us?

Where to find Marketing for Romance Writers online:

Our Marketing Blog Banner

Sign up for Summer Camp by joining the Yahoo Group.

All members are enrolled. To take part, read your messages. That's all there is to it!
img credit: "You have a new book" rgbstock.com

June 25, 2012

New Media for Authors: Cherif Fortin, Lynn Sanders


Angelique, a new medium for authors.
Welcome back, Cherif Fortin and Lynn Sanders.  I'm excited to feature the new ebook/app you've illustrated, Angelique. I think this represents a true turning point for authors and multimedia.
- - -
"Are you back, Angelique?” He waits in his library, alone, drawing back curtains on memories of love so many years lost. Reports of dead men, bloodless, all eerily similar, tell Vincent the tale. Stalking in shadows, she seeks him. Will she have him still?
Told first in Helen A Rosburg’s poem “Angelique,” the story of Angelique and Vincent’s undying love now comes to resplendent life in this novelette illustrated by Cherif Fortin and Lynn Sanders and offered in animated-book format. With its beautiful prose and breathtaking images, this instant classic vampire story will haunt and delight readers for eternity.
 - - -
Cherif Fortin is a freelance photographer, illustrator, and writer living in Chicago, Illinois. At one time he has worked as a professional stuntman, as a full-time firefighter, and as one of the country’s leading romance cover models. Cherif’s artwork has been featured on the covers of hundreds of books in dozens of countries, and on calendars and collectibles. He runs the successful Fortin & Sanders Studio along with partner, Lynn Sanders, producing commercial art and photography for leading clients internationally. He lives with his wife, Dawn, and their three children: Kira, Kai, and Lara.
Lynn Sanders is an artist, photographer, and writer of romance fiction and children’s books. She is co-owner of Fortin & Sanders Studio, which produces cover art for some of the top publishers in the world. Her paintings have been exhibited at Epcot Center and are owned by private collectors such as Hugh Hefner and Fabio. She has three adult children, three grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. She lives in northern Illinois with Ce Ce, her faithful Cirneco dell Etna.
 
Welcome to Romance Lives Forever! Your artwork has been an inspiration to us at RLF for a long time, and we're thrilled to have you here. Let's get started on a few questions about you as individuals, then as partners, and spend the rest of the time talking about Angelique.

Questions For Lynn

You pioneered a technique using oil-glazing and photography to create rich new images. How did you adapt this technique to digital media?
I’ve been working in the image business since the 60’s. In the early 90’s I never thought I would be so tied to this thing called a computer. I guess I was drug kicking and screaming to the digital illustrating process. We still hand glaze a lot for our portrait work but for illustrations we can simulate the look in the computer so much faster. When we want to do display pieces we do a lot more hand work on the image. It gives a nice texture to the piece.
What are the drawbacks of working with a partner who is not located near you? How hard is it to collaborate long distance?
 We travel back and forth quite a bit but the computer and the telephone make looking and discussing projects very easy. When I was younger I wouldn’t think twice in jumping into a car and going to the Chicago studio. Cherif would come out three to four days a week to the Rockford studio.
We hear that a certain Cirneco dell Etna is part of your life. Will you tell us more about this special relationship?
She was my dear little rescue dog Che Che. She just passed recently. I had her for 11 years. She was around 4 when I got her from Helen Rosburg who had originally rescued her. Che Che was a one woman dog from the beginning. She could run like a deer and practically would turn herself inside out with glee when I came home from a trip. Bless her little heart, like all of us she got old and was having seizures and the vet said we had to put her to sleep. I now have two hungry, ornery cats named Boo and Dusty.
Do you think keeping secrets is good or bad?
I try to keep my wild, crazy sex life a secret. Seriously, I always found anytime you think you can keep a secret, invariably it gets out.
What song would best describe your life?
 If I Can Dream. Elvis Presley and My Way.
If you were a tool, what would people use you to do?
I would be an artist brush. People would use me to paint the world happy, caring and romantic.
If you could give the younger version of yourself advice what would it be?
Be true to yourself. Take some chances and create something beautiful.
What is the most important thing you do for your career?
I work at it almost every day. I take images and play with them. I try to keep my radar up for new avenues of exposure, i.e. blogs!
How are the children’s books coming, Lynn?
Well, thank you for asking. They are ready for a publisher to give them a home. I have 9 of them. Che Che modeled in one along with Cherif’s son Kai. There’s another featuring a dragon with Cherif and his daughter Kira. Little Lara, Cherif’s youngest daughter, is my model for one called Pickles and Peas. I just love them.

Questions For Cherif

Is it true that at one time, you were a fireman, a stuntman, and worked in a medieval-based theme park?
Yes. Currently I enjoy two careers: I am a full-time firefighter for a busy suburban department near Chicago and also a freelance illustrator/photographer. I've been a fireman for 9 years and an artist since, well, forever. Prior to working as a firefighter, I worked as a stunt performer for a medieval-themed dinner show company called Medieval Times. This lasted 12 years and my duties included sword fighting, horseback riding, and training of both horses and stuntmen. In 1993, Lynn Sanders and I started a commercial art and photography studio which has been in business ever since. We're known as Fortin and Sanders and we provide a variety of services including book cover illustration, design, high end portraiture and event photography.
In what way did these jobs prepare you for creating artwork using photography and illustrations?
Passion's Blood
I think having a variety of experiences broadens your horizons, which is always helpful. I've met many talented professionals across various fields, and I always try to learn something from them. A big part of being a freelance artist is developing your entrepreneurial skills and small business acumen. I meet people all the time that might be doing something totally different from me but in a way that makes me think, "hey, this could really help me be better". I try to emulate those people. Working at Medieval Times certainly helped refine my eye for medieval subjects, period costumes, horses, etc.
What do you enjoy most about life?
Spending time with my friends and family. I am lucky to have very kind, loving and interesting people in my life.
How do you balance life with deadlines and work?
One thing that is increasingly difficult as I add commitments to my life is finding time. I have two full-time careers, three growing kids, a wife, a book in the works, several artistic projects, friends, hobbies and a new Doberman puppy to manage. It can get pretty crazy and sometimes overwhelming. My touchstone is making time with my family on a daily basis. Regardless of what's going on with work, having fun with the wife and kids is my antidote for stress.
What is the craziest thing you did as a kid?
This one time, at band camp... ;)
How do you respond to negative people?
I try not to! Negativity attracts negativity, so I just steer clear.
If you could give the younger version of yourself advice what would it be?
There is no point in wasting time worrying. What will be, will be. The key to life is not in finding happiness, but making it.
What is the most important thing you do for your career?
You know, I'm still trying to figure that out! If I had to pick one single thing, I would have to say networking. Meeting others and interacting with them has opened many unexpected doors for me and led me in directions I couldn't have come up with on my own.
What is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything?
The answer is 42, of course (for the Douglas Adams fans out there).

The Public Can Find Cherif Here

Questions For Lynn and Cherif Together

What new project are you working on now?
Lynn: We are always working on stories and illustrations. We also do fine art portraiture for private clients, painting everything from pets, to children, brides and corporate execs. We are still illustrating book covers for a variety of clients and we hope to keep doing that for many more years to come.
On a personal level, I just finished a series of paintings for a group of silk-flyer acrobats. I'm also working on illustrating some kids books which I'd like to see published one day, and I'm doing a lot of portraits of Elvis, which I sometimes put up for sale on eBay.
Cherif: We're spending a lot of time promoting Passion's Blood and Angelique these days, doing signings and appearances. We're also finishing production on some artwork for the Gordie Brown Live! Show at the Golden Nugget Casino, which you can see on 8 billboards throughout Las Vegas.
My personal projects lately include doing family portraits as well as some paintings exploring fantastic and mythological themes. I'm putting the finishing touches on a new book which features art techniques for professional photographers; I'm hoping to have that ready by the end of the year.
How do you come up with ideas?
Cherif: Ideas have never been a problem, it's the execution that can be tricky! For me, ideas come from everywhere: literature, art, movies, comics, video games, magazines, conversations with friends, etc. I try to stay inspired by keeping in touch with other artists online, visiting art blogs and forums, and I keep an "inspiration" folder on my pc in which I put works that for one reason or another catch my eye. It's at well over 2 gigs in size currently, and I add to it nearly every day. If I find I'm blocked for new ideas I just rummage through that folder a little and in no time my juices start flowing.
Cherif Fortin in Passion's Blood
Where do you see your partnership going in the next ten years?
Cherif: I'm really excited by the interactive apps we've been working on for the iPad available through iTunes. I hope we can grow in this area and do projects that take advantage of technology in cool new ways. I'd also like to take on a role mentoring other photographers and artists, perhaps through seminars or tours.
What advice do you have for cover models today?
Don't go into book cover modeling expecting it to be your main thing: it's a niche opportunity at best. Diversify your portfolio and work where you can get it.
What advice do you have for photographers in the book cover industry?
Same as above.

Questions about Angelique

Angelique is "at the intersection of movies and traditional printed books" (Cherif to Kathleen Pickering at Romantic Times Convention). It's an eBook as well as an interactive app for iPad. It's also a form of multimedia which can be used as an audio book read by the author, and allows the reader to interact with the illustrations. The information we've seen at RLF shows us that readers can touch areas of the illustrations to bring them to life.
Please tell us more about this amazing product.
It's an illustrated book for the new century! The story is a gothic horror-romance set in turn of the century Paris. I dont want to reveal too much about it to readers, other than to say I am very proud of the work authors Helen Rosburg and Ali DeGray did: it's at turns touching and horrifying, inspiring and chilling, and the end is truly bittersweet and memorable. We couldnt have asked for a better story to illustrate. The app takes advantage of today's technology by augmenting the reading experience with multimedia: sound, movement, etc. All the illustrations are animated to bring the scenes to life, and there's (optional) voiceover narration by the author, for those who want the audio book experience. We think it is at the ground floor of what books will become in the digital age.
What gave you the idea for creating Angelique?
Helen Rosburg wrote Angelique. We were inspired by her words and she asked us to illustrate it.
How hard was it to find someone who could make your ideas a reality?
We were lucky to be working with Medallion Press on this project. We have a long history of working with them, doing cover art and other illustrated books, and we know the people there and have developed great relationships. They are pioneering a lot of digital publishing strategies and are fully behind the idea of interactive books. There's really no one better we could be partnering with for a project like this.
Scene from Angelique
In what way is this a step forward from your previous, similar app, Passion's Blood?
Every time you do a new project you refine your old techniques and discover new ones. Passion's Blood was sort of a proof-of-concept project, to see if the idea of an interactive book was even possible for us. Angelique was an opportunity to refine our work, and we really got into painting specifically for multimedia, sometimes doing multiple versions of each illustration to make the animations come together.
Do you plan additional apps of this type? Will there be a sequel to either of the current books?
We have beautiful images for a sequel to Passion’s Blood. Patrick Lambke (“The Black Knight" from a recent Nat Geo documentary series) and Cherif will model for the main characters again. The female lead is modeled by Stacy Walker. We're waiting to see how all this comes together.
The illustrations were all done digitally. How different was that from using photography as your medium?
We used photography mainly as reference in Angelique, to help us keep the likenesses consistent and make sure our figures and lighting were correct. The approach is different, but we can work effectively using either digital or traditional techniques.
What do unique products like Angelique and Passion's Blood cost?
There's a great special going on right now. You can download the apps from iTunes for only 99 cents.
Where can readers pick up copies of these apps?
Both are available through the iPad or on iTunes.

June 20, 2012

Angelique Interview: Cherif Fortin, Lynn Sanders

Angelique.
Welcome to Romance Lives Forever! Your artwork has been an inspiration to us at RLF for a long time, and we're thrilled to have you here. Let's get started on a few questions about you as individuals, then as partners, and spend the rest of the time talking about Angelique.

Questions For Lynn

You pioneered a technique using oil-glazing and photography to create rich new images. How did you adapt this technique to digital media?
I’ve been working in the image business since the 60’s. In the early 90’s I never thought I would be so tied to this thing called a computer. I guess I was dragged kicking and screaming to the digital illustrating process. We still hand glaze a lot for our portrait work but for illustrations we can simulate the look in the computer so much faster. When we want to do display pieces we do a lot more hand work on the image. It gives a nice texture to the piece.
What are the drawbacks of working with a partner who is not located near you? How hard is it to collaborate long distance?
We travel back and forth quite a bit but the computer and the telephone make looking and discussing projects very easy. When I was younger I wouldn’t think twice in jumping into a car and going to the Chicago studio. Cherif would come out three to four days a week to the Rockford studio.
We hear that a certain Cirneco dell Etna is part of your life. Will you tell us more about this special relationship?
She was my dear little rescue dog Che Che. She just passed recently. I had her for 11 years. She was around 4 when I got her from Helen Rosburg who had originally rescued her. Che Che was a one woman dog from the beginning. She could run like a deer and practically would turn herself inside out with glee when I came home from a trip. Bless her little heart, like all of us she got old and was having seizures and the vet said we had to put her to sleep. I now have two hungry, ornery cats named Boo and Dusty.
Do you think keeping secrets is good or bad?
I try to keep my wild, crazy sex life a secret. Seriously, I always found anytime you think you can keep a secret, invariably it gets out.
What song would best describe your life?
 If I Can Dream. Elvis Presley and My Way.
If you were a tool, what would people use you to do?
I would be an artist brush. People would use me to paint the world happy, caring and romantic.
If you could give the younger version of yourself advice what would it be?
Be true to yourself. Take some chances and create something beautiful.
What is the most important thing you do for your career?
I work at it almost every day. I take images and play with them. I try to keep my radar up for new avenues of exposure, i.e. blogs!
How are the children’s books coming, Lynn?
Well, thank you for asking. They are ready for a publisher to give them a home. I have 9 of them. Che Che modeled in one along with Cherif’s son Kai. There’s another featuring a dragon with Cherif and his daughter Kira. Little Lara, Cherif’s youngest daughter, is my model for one called Pickles and Peas. I just love them.

Questions For Cherif

Is it true that at one time, you were a fireman, a stuntman, and worked in a medieval-based theme park?
Yes. Currently I enjoy two careers: I am a full-time firefighter for a busy suburban department near Chicago and also a freelance illustrator/photographer. I've been a fireman for 9 years and an artist since, well, forever. Prior to working as a firefighter, I worked as a stunt performer for a medieval-themed dinner show company called Medieval Times. This lasted 12 years and my duties included sword fighting, horseback riding, and training of both horses and stuntmen. In 1993, Lynn Sanders and I started a commercial art and photography studio which has been in business ever since. We're known as Fortin and Sanders and we provide a variety of services including book cover illustration, design, high end portraiture and event photography.
In what way did these jobs prepare you for creating artwork using photography and illustrations?
I think having a variety of experiences broadens your horizons, which is always helpful. I've met many talented professionals across various fields, and I always try to learn something from them. A big part of being a freelance artist is developing your entrepreneurial skills and small business acumen. I meet people all the time that might be doing something totally different from me but in a way that makes me think, "hey, this could really help me be better". I try to emulate those people. Working at Medieval Times certainly helped refine my eye for medieval subjects, period costumes, horses, etc.
Illustrator Tour via Innovative Online Book Tours
What do you enjoy most about life?
Spending time with my friends and family. I am lucky to have very kind, loving and interesting people in my life.
How do you balance life with deadlines and work?
One thing that is increasingly difficult as I add commitments to my life is finding time. I have two full-time careers, three growing kids, a wife, a book in the works, several artistic projects, friends, hobbies and a new Doberman puppy to manage. It can get pretty crazy and sometimes overwhelming. My touchstone is making time with my family on a daily basis. Regardless of what's going on with work, having fun with the wife and kids is my antidote for stress.
What is the craziest thing you did as a kid?
This one time, at band camp... ;)
How do you respond to negative people?
I try not to! Negativity attracts negativity, so I just steer clear.
If you could give the younger version of yourself advice what would it be?
There is no point in wasting time worrying. What will be, will be. The key to life is not in finding happiness, but making it.
What is the most important thing you do for your career?
You know, I'm still trying to figure that out! If I had to pick one single thing, I would have to say networking. Meeting others and interacting with them has opened many unexpected doors for me and led me in directions I couldn't have come up with on my own.
What is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything?
The answer is 42, of course (for the Douglas Adams fans out there).

The Public Can Find Cherif Here

Questions For Lynn and Cherif Together

What new project are you working on now?
Lynn: We are always working on stories and illustrations. We also do fine art portraiture for private clients, painting everything from pets, to children, brides and corporate execs. We are still illustrating book covers for a variety of clients and we hope to keep doing that for many more years to come.
On a personal level, I just finished a series of paintings for a group of silk-flyer acrobats. I'm also working on illustrating some kids books which I'd like to see published one day, and I'm doing a lot of portraits of Elvis, which I sometimes put up for sale on eBay.
Cherif: We're spending a lot of time promoting Passion's Blood and Angelique these days, doing signings and appearances. We're also finishing production on some artwork for the Gordie Brown Live! Show at the Golden Nugget Casino, which you can see on 8 billboards throughout Las Vegas.
My personal projects lately include doing family portraits as well as some paintings exploring fantastic and mythological themes. I'm putting the finishing touches on a new book which features art techniques for professional photographers; I'm hoping to have that ready by the end of the year.
How do you come up with ideas?
Cherif: Ideas have never been a problem, it's the execution that can be tricky! For me, ideas come from everywhere: literature, art, movies, comics, video games, magazines, conversations with friends, etc. I try to stay inspired by keeping in touch with other artists online, visiting art blogs and forums, and I keep an "inspiration" folder on my pc in which I put works that for one reason or another catch my eye. It's at well over 2 gigs in size currently, and I add to it nearly every day. If I find I'm blocked for new ideas I just rummage through that folder a little and in no time my juices start flowing.
Where do you see your partnership going in the next ten years?
Cherif: I'm really excited by the interactive apps we've been working on for the iPad available through iTunes. I hope we can grow in this area and do projects that take advantage of technology in cool new ways. I'd also like to take on a role mentoring other photographers and artists, perhaps through seminars or tours.
What advice do you have for cover models today?
Don't go into book cover modeling expecting it to be your main thing: it's a niche opportunity at best. Diversify your portfolio and work where you can get it.
What advice do you have for photographers in the book cover industry?
Same as above.

Questions about Angelique

Angelique is "at the intersection of movies and traditional printed books" (Cherif to Kathleen Pickering at Romantic Times Convention). It's an eBook as well as an interactive app for iPad. It's also a form of multimedia which can be used as an audio book read by the author, and allows the reader to interact with the illustrations. The information we've seen at RLF shows us that readers can touch areas of the illustrations to bring them to life.
Please tell us more about this amazing product.
It's an illustrated book for the new century! The story is a gothic horror-romance set in turn of the century Paris. I dont want to reveal too much about it to readers, other than to say I am very proud of the work authors Helen Rosburg and Ali DeGray did: it's at turns touching and horrifying, inspiring and chilling, and the end is truly bittersweet and memorable. We couldnt have asked for a better story to illustrate. The app takes advantage of today's technology by augmenting the reading experience with multimedia: sound, movement, etc. All the illustrations are animated to bring the scenes to life, and there's (optional) voiceover narration by the author, for those who want the audio book experience. We think it is at the ground floor of what books will become in the digital age.
What gave you the idea for creating Angelique?
Helen Rosburg wrote Angelique. We were inspired by her words and she asked us to illustrate it.
How hard was it to find someone who could make your ideas a reality?
We were lucky to be working with Medallion Press on this project. We have a long history of working with them, doing cover art and other illustrated books, and we know the people there and have developed great relationships. They are pioneering a lot of digital publishing strategies and are fully behind the idea of interactive books. There's really no one better we could be partnering with for a project like this.
In what way is this a step forward from your previous, similar app, Passion's Blood?
Every time you do a new project you refine your old techniques and discover new ones. Passion's Blood was sort of a proof-of-concept project, to see if the idea of an interactive book was even possible for us. Angelique was an opportunity to refine our work, and we really got into painting specifically for multimedia, sometimes doing multiple versions of each illustration to make the animations come together.
Do you plan additional apps of this type? Will there be a sequel to either of the current books?
We have beautiful images for a sequel to Passion’s Blood. Patrick Lambke (“The Black Knight" from a recent Nat Geo documentary series) and Cherif will model for the main characters again. The female lead is modeled by Stacy Walker. We're waiting to see how all this comes together.
Cherif Fortin, Lynn Sanders
The illustrations were all done digitally. How different was that from using photography as your medium?
We used photography mainly as reference in Angelique, to help us keep the likenesses consistent and make sure our figures and lighting were correct. The approach is different, but we can work effectively using either digital or traditional techniques.
What do unique products like Angelique and Passion's Blood cost?
There's a great special going on right now. You can download the apps from iTunes for only 99 cents.
Where can readers pick up copies of these apps?
Both are available through the iPad or on iTunes.

June 19, 2012

Interview with Lynn Cahoon


Bull Rider's Brother.
Welcome to Romance Lives Forever. Tell us about your latest book, including its genre. Does it cross over to other genres? If so, what are they?
The Bull Rider's Brother is a series contemporary romance. It's been called a modern western – but I think of it as a book about home.
Shawnee, Idaho is known for two things. Amazing salmon fishing and the first local rodeo of the summer. For four friends, growing up in Shawnee, meant one thing, making plans to get out. Five years later, that wish has been granted for all but one. What happens when they all get together again changes five lives.
When James Sullivan visits his hometown's rodeo weekend and learns that his high school sweetheart had his child - six years ago - Lizzie's world is thrown into turmoil. In The Bull Rider's Brother, James struggles with family and Lizzie questions the risk of love.
What is the most important thing you do for your career?
Do things outside of writing. I just went to Cincinnati with my husband for a baseball weekend. We laughed, talked, and he listened while I plotted through the new book in my minimalist way. And when I left, I knew what the story was about. Finally.
But I have to say being part of a writing community is important as well. People to cheer you, critique your work, and pass on opportunities are vital. I love my RWA chapter, MORWA. I think being part of your community marks you as a professional.
If you could give the younger version of yourself advice what would it be?
How long do we have? Okay, I won't talk about the running screaming from the first husband, or taking the plunge to do something crazy rather than always taking the safe road.
Or maybe that's the answer. I'd tell my teenage self to pack up your car the minute you graduate and head to California to live with your big sister until you get a job or get into college. Then, get your advance degree first, before having a child or getting married.
So in other words, put yourself first for once, especially when it matters.
Is your muse demanding?
My muse isn't demanding, she lets me get away with murder most of the time. I can push off writing without repercussion. The problem occurs when the story's not working. I got about 10,000 words into my most recent WIP and knew it wasn't right. Something was missing. Since I'm not a plotter, I had to go back and figure out what in the goals and motivations was hanging me up.
Once I found it, I rewrote most of that story in my head before I went to sleep that night. The next day, I was at the computer bright and early and pounded out the words.
Are your stories driven by plot or character?
How do you balance a life outside of writing with deadlines and writing muses?
I'm a true believer in goal setting, time management, and baby steps. When you look at the enormity of writing a book, the number of words and scenes, it can over whelm even the most confident author. So I set daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals. I just reviewed 2012 and planned out my intended writing projects for the rest of the year.
What is the craziest thing you did as a kid, and would it ever end up in a book?
What are some jobs you've done that would end up in a book?
The first book I wrote (and finished) was a romance about a training designer. I've worked in training for over ten years with a state agency so the material was easy to access. I knew Melinda and her daily routine. But Melinda got to develop and implement training for a corporate accounting software division. I got to write about welfare rules and regulations.
I'm thinking my stint waiting tables during my divorce for food money may make it into a book or a story.
If money were not an object, where would you most like to live?
I'd love to live in Seattle. A small condo near the center of the city. If I had a yard, the maintenance is part of the rent or condo fees. I like the energy of the city. I used to think NYC – but money would really have to be not an object to live where I want to around 72nd street.
What song would best describe your life?
Rodney Atkins, If you're going through Hell – It's a country song (naturally) and came out just about the time I was doing chemo. I remember crossing the Mississippi river on my way to get a shot to build up my blood count, the song came on, and I just bawled. And then I followed the advice. I didn't look back, I just kept going.
Funny, the big decisions of my life all have a soundtrack. My divorce? Please Remember Me by Tim McGraw.
Picture yourself as a store. Considering your personality and lifestyle, what type of products would be sold there?
I'd be a country craft store. I loved quilts and yarn and projects and antiques. That's me.

Please Fill in the Blanks

I love pizza with everything but olives.
I'm always ready for talking about books.
When I'm alone, I try to get a lot done.
You'd never be able to tell, but I was a flag corp member in high school.
If I had a halo it would be lopsided.
If I could go to school forever, I'd be happy.
I can never run for office because I can't work a crowd like the professionals.

Find Me Here

Shawnee, Idaho is known for two things. Amazing salmon fishing and the first local rodeo of the summer. For four friends, growing up in Shawnee, meant one thing, making plans to get out. Five years later, that wish has been granted for all but one. What happens when they all get together again changes five lives.

When James Sullivan visits his hometown's rodeo weekend and learns that his high school sweetheart had his child - six years ago - Lizzie's world is thrown into turmoil. In The Bull Rider's Brother, James struggles with family and Lizzie questions the risk of love.

June 10, 2012

R L F Blog on Hold -- Illness

Romance Lives Forever will be on hold due to sudden illness of owner Kayelle Allen. She is in the hospital and will hopefully be back by Wed June 13.  If your blog was scheduled, it will  be upon a later date.

June 3, 2012

Brothers in Arms: Character Interviews Kendall McKenna

Brothers in Arms 
Today I have a special treat: two interviews by the heroes of Brothers in Arms by Kendall McKenna. I'm turning the blog over to her. Take it away, Kendall!
- - -

I’ve written a story called Brothers In Arms. It’s not your typical m/m erotic romance, in that it’s pretty heavy on plot, action and mystery. There’s a romance, to be sure. And the times the guys do get together, it’s scorching! The two main characters are Jonah Carver and Kellan Reynolds. Jonah is an active duty Recon Marine. Kellan used to be Jonah’s platoon commander in the beginning of the war in Iraq. They’re a couple of smart, competent bad-asses.
As if serving in combat together wasn’t enough, these two found themselves at the center of an international mystery that they had to resolve, while staying alive, and rekindling their romance. When the bad guys made the mistake of snatching Kellan, you can imagine Jonah’s reaction.
First, I’d like to introduce you to each of the guys in turn, and then let them answer some questions in their own voices. I think you’ll find Kellan a little more forthcoming than Jonah, but that’s just how Jonah is.

Kellan Reynolds: CEO, author, retired Recon Marine Corps Captain.


What is Kellan like?
Kellan is an intellectual man of action. He’s thoughtful and methodical, but when the situation calls for action, he doesn’t hesitate. He’s ambitious, and focused, not afraid to actively pursue what he wants. Kellan belongs in a bygone era. He believes in, and actually lives by, words such as duty, honor, and integrity. Kellan is charismatic, very much a natural leader. He’s got a sense of humor he keeps under wraps, except with those closest to him, namely Jonah.

What would Kellan say is his strongest point?
His intellect. Kellan believes his ability to think through issues is his biggest strength. He’d even go so far as to say he’s able to think his way through the opposing side of an issue.

Does Kellan think he has a weakness?
Yes. He believes his weakness is his tendency to worry about his public image. But, if you catch him in a weak moment, he’ll jokingly tell you that his only weakness is Jonah.

What does Jonah think Kellan’s weakness is?
Jonah thinks Kellan is damn hear perfect. If pressed, he’ll tell you that if Kellan has a weakness, it’s that he’s too careful, that he doesn’t push back as soon as he should, when someone pushes him.

What drives Kellan to do the things he does? What makes him want to be the "good guy?"
The thing to understand about Kellan is that, he is the “good guy”. He truly believes it’s his duty to do the right thing. It would never occur to him to do anything else, or anything less.

What's your main character's favorite guilty pleasure?
Sex with Jonah.

Now, I’d like to ask Kellan some questions, directly. Let’s get his take on a few things.


A biography has been written about you. What do you think the title would be in six words or less?
I’ve already written it. It’s called ‘Brotherhood of Warriors’.

If money were not an object, where would you most like to live?
Wherever Jonah would want to live. I know he likes Southern California for the surfing, but Hawaii is even better for the kinds of outdoor sports he enjoys.

If you were a tool, what would people use you to do?
I’d be a measuring tape. People would use me to ensure everything fits the way it’s supposed to.

As a child, what was your favorite thing about school?
English class. English Lit. English Composition. Anything to do with reading and language.

If you came with a warning label, what would it say?
I don’t need a warning label. I’m pretty user friendly.

I love pizza with everything but anchovies.
I'm always ready for the unexpected.
When I'm alone, I text Jonah.
You'd never be able to tell, but sometimes I miss being a Marine.
If I had a halo it would be stuffed in a drawer under my socks.
If I could fly I'd take Jonah someplace he’s always wanted to go.

Next, I’d like to introduce you to Gunnery Sergeant Jonah Carver: Recon Marine.

What is Jonah like?
Jonah is a prickly son-of-a-bitch. He’s extremely smart and extraordinarily competent. He does not suffer fools gladly. He’s got a biting wit. He’s so good at being a Marine, he inspires awe in many, and intimidates others. And he could give a damn. He’s not overly social, but when engaged, is quite humorous.

What would Jonah say is his strongest point?
Jonah believes his strongest point is that he is the best damn Marine he can possibly be.

Does Jonah think he has a weakness?
Not that he would admit to out loud. If you catch him in a weak moment, he might admit that Kellan is his only weakness.

What does Kellan think Jonah’s weakness is?
His dislike of other people. Kellan sometimes wishes Jonah wouldn’t be quite so stand-offish, and would cut others some slack.

What drives Jonah to do the things he does? What makes him want to be the "good guy?"
Jonah is a Marine. Semper Fidelis. As far as Jonah is concerned, there is no other way for him to be.

What’s your main character’s favorite guilty pleasure?
80’s music. Tech gadgets. Kellan.

Now it’s time to ask Jonah a few questions, and get his unique take on things.

A biography has been written about you. What do you think the title would be in six words or less?
He Hated Incompetent People

If money were not an object, where would you most like to live?
Australia. New Zealand. Hawaii. Anywhere the sun and the surfing is good. Kellan can’t be out of D.C. for very long or he starts to get twitchy, so, I’d probably have to settle for Miami. Just so we could be on the east coast.

If you were a tool, what would people use you to do?
I am not a tool. I am a weapon. The right weapon for the job.

As a child, what was your favorite thing about school?
The first day of summer vacation.

If you came with a warning label, what would it say?
Stupid people will be shot on sight.

Please Fill in the Blanks (as the character)

I love pizza with beer.
I'm always ready for sex.
When I'm alone, I text Kellan.
You'd never be able to tell, but if you can’t tell, why would I tell you? I lose the advantage that way.
If I had a halo it would be something my niece made for me from construction paper and glitter. Doesn’t mean I’d wear it.
If I could fly I'd take Kellan anywhere he wanted to go.

About the Author

Kendall McKenna’s first work of fiction was written at the worldly age of nine, and was a transformative work that expanded on the story told in a popular song of the time. She tried her hand at vampire and cowboy fiction, winning high school poetry and short story contests along the way. It wasn’t until she discovered the world of m/m erotic fiction and found her stride with cops, Marines and muscle cars, that she felt inspired to share her stories with readers who enjoy the same things. Kendall was born and raised in Southern California, where she still lives and works. A non-conventional relationship has kept her happy for the last decade. Her four dogs enjoy it when she writes, as she sits still long enough for them to curl up around her.

Books Coming Soon
Waves Break My Fall

Find Me Here

June 1, 2012

RLF Gems - Blog Stats for May 2012

RLF Gems.
The top bloggers (by page load) for the month of May resulted in a tie for last place in the top five. Knocking the ball clean out of the park with nearly twice as many hits as second place, the top spot this month told us all about sex.

1. Kharisma Rhayne
2. Dawne Prochilo
3. Cecilia Tan
4. Cora Blu
5. Cate Masters
6. Liz Adams

The next level was last month's RLF Gems, and the Random Act of Kindness for Janet Elizabeth Jones that I held to help celebrate the release of the Emotion Thesaurus.

My thanks to everyone who took part this month. Guests this month included (in alpha order by first name) AT Weaver, Cate Masters, Cora Blu, Dawne Prochilo, DN Lyons, DX Luc, Heidi Cullinan, JA Rock, Kharisma Rhayne, Liz Adams, Marie Astor, Pavarti K Tyler, and Rosanna Leo.
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