Posted by Suzanne Ferrell Jan 24 2013, 12:51 am in Contemporary romances, Liliana Hart, Romantic suspense, Self-publishing, Shadows and Silk, Suzanne Ferrell, The MacKenzies
Suz: Banditas and Bandit Buddies, I’m thrilled to bring one of my good friends and a dynamic force in the new independent publishing world to the Lair, Sexy Romantic Suspense author, Liliana Hart. Liliana’s books mix hot, hot sex with the world of Romantic Suspense. And since popping up on the independent publishing world, she’s taken it by storm.
Welcome, Liliana. Pull up a chair at the bar and Sven will be happy to make you your favorite drink.
Liliana: Thank you, Sven and Suz. Make it something tropical. I’m tired of winter and need the sun, surf and sand. And maybe a well-muscled beach bum or two;-)
Suz: So, Liliana, we love “call” stories in the Lair, but you sort of gave yourself the “call” when you decided to go the self-publishing route. What made you take what I like to phrase as the-big-step-of-faith-over-the-deep-dark-chasm into the indie world?
Liliana: Ha! Boy was it ever an act-of-faith-close-your-eyes-and-jump-off-the-cliff kind of moment. My agent at the time had several authors who were having success with self-publishing, and she brought it up to me. I’d been lucky enough (though I thought I was unlucky at the time) to have four different books make it past acquiring editors at different publishing houses. The problem was with marketing. My books were too cross-genre and they had no idea where to shelve them. The books I’m talking about are WHISKEY REBELLION, DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS, KILL SHOT, and BREATH OF FIRE. (The last two aren’t out yet).
I knew they were good stories that would find an audience if given the chance, but it didn’t look like that was going to happen the traditional way. You always hear people have the most trouble finding an agent, but that wasn’t the case for me. I’ve had three who all were enthusiastic for my work. I just couldn’t seem to get my foot in the door past that.
So my former agent suggested I give self-publishing a try, and of course, I said, “No way.” J I didn’t want to be self-published. Self-publishing was the kiss of death to a career in writing, right? It meant you’d given up and you were selling out. No one who wanted to be respected in this profession went that route, and even the mention of the words brought scorn and loathing from your peers. So I said no. I don’t want to be that person.
But the seed had been planted, and I started to watch what was happening with the industry. I started reading articles and watching the trends. And a month after the seed had been planted, I decided to take the plunge. I’m so grateful I never sold those booksJ I’ve sold more than half-a-million ebooks all over the world, and I’ve never looked back. It’s been a thrill
Suz: Which book was the first for you?
Liliana: I started with a few different titles that I put up all at the same time. I really believe having so many titles available is what gave me that initial visibility to readers. WHISKEY REBELLION, DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS, CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, PARADISE DISGUISED, and ALL ABOUT EVE made their debut in June of 2011.
Suz: What challenges did you have first starting out? How have they changed?
Liliana: Ooh, that’s a tough one. Everything about self-publishing is trial and error. There are so many variables, and you have to constantly change your game plan and discard things that aren’t working, and then tweak the things that do work to make them relevant as time passes. It’s hard work. I work all the time. I mean, ALL THE TIME. But I love it, so it’s not really work, right?
When I first started out, covers were a big challenge for me. I did my own because I was trying to save money. I cringe at the thought of those first covers. Eventually, Photoshop and I became friends and the covers got better and better. I didn’t really have many other challenges when first starting out because I didn’t really have expectations at that point.
Self-publishing was really an experiment. I started with absolutely zero fan base. I picked a pseudonym and put my books up. I didn’t tell friends, and I didn’t tell family (except for my husband). I wanted to see where my books stood on their own without those initial “pity buys.” You all know what I’m talking aboutJ And really, I guess you could say that was one of my initial challenges—keeping what I was doing a secret because I was afraid of what people thought of me. I worried constantly of that, and it took a while before I could really feel like I was “credible.”
My challenges now are vastly different. My life is good, I’m more than happy to admit that. But there’s an amazing pressure now that wasn’t there when I first started publishing. I had no expectations, remember? And my readers didn’t have expectations either. But now every time I sit down at my keyboard, I have that frisson of fear go through my head that I might be disappointing my readers. But that’s also part of what’s so great about self-publishing. I get to write for my readers, not whatever New York happens to be buying at the time.
I’m not at all saying that traditional publishing is bad or that you shouldn’t do it. You should do whatever’s best for your career and your bottom line. Period. I haven’t sworn off traditional publishing, but I no longer look for it either. If someone came along with a deal that made good business sense on my part, then I’d definitely consider it. But gone are the days where I’d take any deal just to say I was traditionally published.
Suz: I just finished reading SHADOWS AND SILK and really loved it. It’s part of the ongoing MacKenzies series, right? I’m not a person who absolutely has to start a book series with book one. If I glom onto a book in the middle of the series, I’ll go back and buy all the earlier books. (It’s all about the author’s voice and story telling for me.) So which book is the first in this series and what’s the series’ titles in order? (I need to get them all now!)
Liliana: LOL! Thank you. I’m really glad you enjoyed it. I’m a little in love with the MacKenzies myselfJ The series is kind of broken up into two parts. The first four books in the series are actually novellas. It goes in the order of DANE, THOMAS, RILEY and then COOPER. They’re all brothers. A MACKENZIE CHRISTMAS comes next in the order, and it introduces the other side of the family. Cade MacKenzie is introduced in these earlier books, so readers already know him a little when they get to CADE, which is the next in the series. Then comes SHADOWS AND SILK, which just came out a few weeks ago. SECRETS AND SATIN comes out in February, and then SINS AND SCARLET LACE comes out in April. If you don’t care for novellas, then the place to start is with CADE. There are several more MacKenzie novels in the works. We’re even going to get to meet the original MacKenzies of Montana in a trilogy of sexy cowboy suspense novels set in the 1800s. But ssh…I haven’t announced that yet. (Suz: oooooooo you know how I love sexy western historicals!)
Suz: Let’s share a little bit about SHADOWS AND SILK with our readers. The hero and heroine, Brant Scott and Darcy MacKenzie already have a history at the beginning of the book, right?
Liliana:Yes. You get to meet Darcy MacKenzie and Brant Scott in CADE. Brant is sent to protect Darcy and they have one hot night together before he sneaks from her bed in the middle of the night without a goodbye. As you can imagine, Darcy is a little…angry. That’s where SHADOWS AND SILK starts. Brant works for Homeland Security and Darcy is an expert on the Maya, and it just so happens that fate steps in and shoves them together for a mission where they’re forced to play the part of husband and wife undercover. We’ll just say it’s a learning ex
perience for both of them. Darcy has four older brothers, so she knows how to give as good as she gets. I love the sparks between these two.
EXCERPT OF SHADOWS AND SILK:
“Brant, you’re overreacting,” Darcy hissed. “You don’t really want to marry me, so what the hell is all of this about? I told you, I’m happy to scratch your itch. You’ll be doing me a favor by scratching mine right back. You’re acting like a spoiled child who isn’t getting his way.”
Brant lifted her over a fallen palm tree, and he slowed his pace when a pink stucco building came into view. He pushed her towards one of the two wooden doors, not caring which one they entered.
“Are you insane,” she said, her voice strangled. “This is the ladies room. Someone will come in.”
He looked around the small space and grunted, satisfied that the room was empty. He was losing his mind. There was no other explanation. Of course, he’d lost it four years ago when he’d been buried deep inside the spitfire beside him.
“No they won’t,” he said, locking the door behind them. “This is a lot nicer than the men’s room. No wonder it always takes women so long.”
The floor was square adobe tiles and the countertop was a quartz granite that picked up the colors in the floor and walls. A small wicker loveseat and two chairs sat against the opposite wall, and lotions and tanning oils were lined across the counter. It was clean and smelled of lemons, and best of all, it was private.
“I think you’re insane,” she said. “I don’t understand this at all.”
“Men tend to lose their minds when women are involved. Now answer my question. Do you need to hear the words before you’ll marry me?”
Her eyes narrowed and her hands fisted at her waist. “Of course I need to hear them, you dumbass. But what you don’t understand is that I need you to mean them. That’s why I won’t marry you. Now let me the hell out of this bathroom so I can go enjoy my goddamned honeymoon.”
He caught her as she tried to walk past him and lifted her against him, dodging the knee she tried to jab between his legs and the elbow that glanced off his jaw. He hoisted her up on the counter and pushed her legs apart. The kiss he gave her was rough, a kind of conquering, and his teeth nipped at her bottom lip once before his tongue slipped inside and devoured. His hand fisted in the back of her hair and he yanked so her mouth was tilted higher, and he felt triumph as she moaned into his mouth.
Suz: Who do you see as being the next story in this series?
Liliana: SECRETS AND SATIN is the next book in the series, and it features Max Devlin and Jade Jax, who you first met in SHADOWS AND SILK. This was an extremely emotional book to write. Jade is a widow who very much loved her first husband, but she learns that love can happen twice. It’s a good thing Max is a little arrogant and a lot determined.
Suz: Who are your favorite authors? How have they influenced your writing?
Liliana: Ooh, I love this question. I’m a big reader, so I have a lot of influences. Every time I pick up a book it’s like taking a class on writing. I always learn something new. Jenny Crusie is a master at dialogue. I love all of her books. Julie Garwood, Julia Quinn, and Linda Howard are great at characters and their development and making that connection with the reader. Laurell K. Hamilton writes amazing fight scenes. Diana Gabaldon just tells a great story, where every sentence comes to life on the page. Judith McNaught is fantastic at writing that “gasp” moment where you’re not sure if the book will truly end right. These are probably my favorites, but the more your read, the more you learn.
Suz: Any other news for our readers?
Liliana: Hmm…I’ve got a busy year ahead of me. The last time I counted, though math has never been my strong suit, I have eight releases out this year. Yes, eight. But it’s going to be a really exciting year. The first book in my paranormal series is coming out in June with Samhain Publishing, and then I’m kicking off a brand new romantic thriller series this summer as well. You can check out new releases as well as all the different places I’ll be over at my website www.lilianahart.com.
Oh, oh!….also, for those of you who are fans of the MacKenzies, make sure you check out the new MacKenzie Family website. It has character profiles, a family tree and all kinds of fun stuff that will be updated frequently so you can get your MacKenzie kick. www.mackenzieseries.com
Thanks so much for having me to the Bandit Lair! I had a blast. I’m going to give away a free download of either CADE or SHADOWS AND SILK to two winners for answering the question in the comments section below. Who’s your favorite hero and heroine of all time? (They don’t have to come from the same book.)