Thursday, January 20, 2011

"The Kiss of a Stranger" by Sarah M. Eden

 I just read my friend, Sarah M. Eden's kindle edition of "The Kiss of a Stranger".  As you can see from her book trailer above it is  a regency romance and Sarah's books are always so wonderful.  They just carry me away in the story and I love them.  She originally started out by self-publishing.  Her road to publishing with Covenant is interesting and I thought you would all love to hear more about her, so I interviewed her for our blog.  Everyone, meet Sarah!

1.  What started you writing?
Most authors would answer that question with something along the lines of "I have always wanted to be a writer." Guess what? I'm not most writers. Even compared to writers, I'm strange--and that's saying something.

As a child, I never answered the "What do you want to be when you grow up?" question with "An historical romance novelist." In fact--now brace yourself--I didn't even like to read. Yeah. You read that right. I didn't like to read. (But that's a whole blog post in and of itself.)

Fast forward many, many years. I was at my mother's house one day talking about books and I went off on one of my rants about the frustrating lack of good, quality, morally-sound romance novels available. I'm pretty sure I didn't stop for breath for at least 15 minutes. My mom pulled out one of those motherly-nuggets-of-wisdom for which moms are so well known.

"Why don't you try writing your own?" she suggested.

At first the idea seemed ridiculous, but it wouldn't leave my mind. After months and months of reading about writing, fleshing out a plot idea, working on characters, and trying my hand at writing a novel, I presented my mom with a bound copy of my first completed manuscript. I could tell by the shocked look on her face that she hadn't realized I'd taken her off-hand suggestion seriously.

I discovered a few things during that endeavor: 1-I had a lot to learn about writing. 2-I loved writing romance. LOVED it.

I've been hooked ever since.

2.  Do you only write in one genre?
Nope. I have manuscripts in various stages of completion in everything from contemporary romance to chick lit to YA fantasy. Some of these are pretty horrible, some aren't bad. There are even a few that I think have some pretty great potential.

The problem most authors will run into when trying out a new genre is that they forget who they are as an author. Let me explain.

I received a great bit of advice not long ago: "You need to figure out what you most like to read and what you're best at writing. Where those two things come together is where you need to be as an author."

I love romance. It doesn't matter what genre I'm reading, the romance is always what stands out and grabs me. So it makes sense that when I try my hand at something outside of the romance genre that I keep it a romance underneath. If I'm going to write a fantasy, it needs to be a romantic fantasy. If I write a chick lit, it needs to have a strong romantic subplot.  That makes sense, right? I didn't always get that. So many of my forays into other genres fell apart because I overlooked the fact that I needed to be writing something that was a romance at heart.

One of my strengths as an author is humor and quirky characters. If I try to write a manuscript that is 90% drama and conventional characters, chances are it's going to fall flat. That's just not who I am as an author. Once I allow my characters have unique voices and humorous views on life, the writing improves by leaps and bounds.

Would I encourage authors to try different genres? Certainly. But figure out where you fit in that genre. Don't try to be a different author simply because he or she is successful. Be yourself. You might discover that while you enjoy reading a particular genre, you aren't any good at writing it--or maybe you just don't like writing it. Give it a chance, you might learn a lot about yourself.

3.  How many books have you written?
I have 11 historical romances under my belt as well as a whole handful of manuscripts in various stages of completion. I also have a fantastically gripping 6-page book I wrote in Kindergarten that I am pretty sure will someday be a bestseller.

4.  Tell us a little bit about your books.
I write quirky romances set in early 19th-Century England--the time of Jane Austen, Napoleon, Mad King George. I have extensively researched the time period and worked hard to give them the right "feel" without making them too heavily historical for a modern reader to enjoy.

5.  Tell us about your journey to publishing with Covenant.
I began as a self-published author. Sadly, there is not a lot of call for "clean" romance on a national level. So, I opted to self-publish while I searched out a publisher that might be interested.
My novel, "Seeking Persephone" was named a finalist for a 2008 Whitney Award for Best Romance. As a result of that, I met several fantastic people, including Annette Lyon. She took an interest in me and my books and encouraged me to approach Covenant. So I submitted an unpublished manuscript and, as they say, the rest is history.

6.  How is it different from Self-Publishing.
With self-publishing, the author has complete control over everything: content, cover design, packaging, marketing. Sounds great, right? Not always.
    •    A traditional publisher would provide (free of charge): professional content editing, line editing, copy editing, cover design, type setting, advertising, marketing.
    •    A self-published author has to either do all those things themselves or pay for them to be done by a professional. It's tempting to save the money and design your own cover, but it generally looks like a self-published cover. Ditto with not having the books edited--errors will be left in that mark it as a novel that was not very thoroughly edited.
Of course, a self-published author keeps a much higher percentage of profits. Provided a self-published author has the drive, contacts, time, money, etc. to invest in marketing their book and can sell anywhere close to the number of books a traditional publisher can, this can be a benefit. The advent of ebooks increases to some degree the chances of a self-published author selling more books. I am very intrigued to see where this new area of the industry will take books in the future.
For some authors, self-publishing is a good option. For me, it wasn't where I wanted to be as an author. I'm not a marketer. I'm not a business woman. I knew without a doubt I could never get the exposure that a publisher, even a small regional one, could manage. So self-publishing just wasn't a good fit.
(To learn more from Sarah about Self-publishing versus traditional publishing, click here.)

7.  What tips would you give to writers trying to get published?
Study the craft. That's absolutely first. No amount of querying or following market trends will make up for sub-par writing. Read everything you can get your hands on--both fiction in your genre and how-to books on writing. Attend writers conferences--they are invaluable sources of information.
Get a critique group. You need to have other writers who are willing and able to give an honest, accurate and helpful critique of your work. Writers have to have that feedback--it's essential. You also need writers around to buoy you up when you're frustrated and pat you on the back when things are going well.
Get to know others in the industry. Follow the blogs, tweets, etc. of agents, authors, book reviewers. Subscribe to Writers Digest. Network at conferences. This will help you keep your thumb on the pulse of the publishing world as well as pick up valuable insights and tips.
Make sure you're doing it for the right reasons. If you love to write, keep writing. If you're in it for the money, you won't last. This industry is tough, sometimes even brutal. You have to love what you're doing to endure dozens of rejections (because that's what it takes to get an agent, not to mention all the rejections that come afterward from publishers), bad reviews, sour grapes (yes, some authors aren't as nice as they should be), disappointments, etc. Sure, there are some great moments as a writer, but you need to love it, or even those highlights won't be enough.
Wow. That sounded so philosophical.

8.  Do Cheetos really give you super powers?
Absolutely. They also give you orange fingers. Both are fabulous.
I recommend keeping a bag within arms reach at all times.


  1. I read 'Kiss of a Stranger' on Kindle last weekend myself and loved it--I have enjoyed three of Sarah's books now and am hoping she can at least get eBook versions available for sale to those of us dying to read them (i.e., me).

  2. A big thank you to Sarah for answering all those questions! I sure do miss having you at our writer's group. I guess you have been gone over a year now, I should just adjust! LOL!

  3. Just finished Kiss of a Stranger and thoroughly enjoyed it! I need more, Sarah. Chop Chop! :) Great interview!



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