Monday, July 1, 2013

Kathleen Kirkwood - HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on best-selling Author Kathleen Kirkwood (pseudonym for Anita Gordon). She is award-winning Romance, Historical Fiction, and Paranormal writer.

Author Genre: Romance, Historical Fiction, Paranormal

Website: Kathleen Kirkwood Historicals
Author's Blog: Kathleen Kirkwood
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads

Author Description:
Kathleen Kirkwood is the pseudonym for award-winning, best-selling author Anita Gordon. She is the recipient of the Romance Writers of America's 1989 Golden Heart Award and winner of RWA's Desert Rose Chapter's 2002 Golden Quill Award, among other honors and recognitions. Having an abiding love for history, she enjoys setting her stories in distant times and places long past. They include Anita Gordon Medieval adventures and Kathleen Kirkwood Late Victorian paranormal romances. She lives with her husband in Tucson, where they first met at the University of Arizona.

Currently, she is revising her published novels for re-release in digital and print format. New versions of SHADES OF THE PAST, A SLIP IN TIME and HIS FAIR LADY are already available. THE VALIANT HEART and THE DEFIANT HEART are now available and the third book of the HEART trilogy, THE CAPTIVE HEART, will be available mid-July. These works now appear under the "Kathleen Kirkwood."

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Congrats on The Defiant Heart. Rumor has it that you have two books on the horizon. One called Pirates’ Moon and the other The Gallant Heart. Can you tell us the timeline for their release and give us a little tease about them?

Thanks so much for having me today, James.

It's been a thrill to dust off my Viking Age trilogy and bring it out once more. The Valiant Heart and The Defiant Heart (the brothers' stories) are out and the third book, The Captive Heart, will be released July 15th. It brings back a deliciously wicked character from Defiant who intends to wreak revenge on her old adversary. The heroine (daughter of the previous couple) is mistakenly kidnapped, but thankfully our tall-dark-and-handsome Saxon hero is at hand to foil the creepy n'er-do-wells. It was great fun to write. The book sweeps from Normandy to Anglo-Saxon England and finally to Ireland. My fingers are crossed that I can add a fourth book by late next year. That will be The Gallant Heart and will bring back more characters from the earlier books. It is set in Athelstan's England once more, this time culminating in the famed Battle of Brunanburh when the Saxons and Danes fought for the control England, deciding the matter once and for all.

Pirates' Moon will be tucked in between the other two books and features a haunting time travel - or more precisely, a time "aberration" It has an American setting - the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River. In this story, the hero's ship was under attack by pirates when a violent storm came up and swept them into the Devil's Triangle. That was in the early 1600's. Now, once every quarter of a century, on the night of the Blood Red Moon, the ghostly ship returns to the Chesapeake and the crew takes on flesh and blood from the waning to the waxing of the next full moon.

Since you started before the social media buzz, what impact has social media relationships had on your current success?

LOL, I've had to relearn everything! And that's been quite a climb. I still don't have a FB fan page but do have a webpage and blog and am bumbling my way around Goodreads. Due to cross country moves and family events, I took a short break from writing that turned into eleven years. The Ebook revolution happened during that time so I really am having to learn a lot. I've maintained my networks and memberships in various writing communities so support has always been near, plus my techie husband has been of enormous help to me. Once Pirates' Moon is out - my first truly new book in quite some time - I'd like to attend some social events that bring authors together with fans such as RT's Conference. So much is done from the computer these days, it will be nice to get out and "connect" real time.

Do you do book signings, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? If so, when and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?

Lately, I've kept my speaking engagements fairly local. You can usually find me on a panel at the Tucson Festival of Books on the U of A campus in March. I also enjoy giving presentations at writers' chapters and have had fun being a guest on a local public television program. Check on my website for updates:

Today there is a buzz in the industry about rankings on retailer’s lists because of on-line advertising sites. Have you ever promote your novels with paid advertising? What has been your experience?

I haven't thus far online with the ebooks but am looking into it. Friends have done so with differing success - and of course the landscape keeps shifting beneath our feet in the digital world. I'm thinking of the lovely algorithm issues and how what works one moment won't the next. (Visibility goes poof!)

For Pirates' Moon, I do plan to revisit a past success and place an ad in RT Magazine (formerly Romantic Times). RT is still available in print and has gone digital as well. I've advertised there with significant success - my first book, Valiant, went into three printings and sold over 100,000 copies! I can't say it was entirely due to the full page ad (it was a lead title at Berkley so there was a sales force behind that book), but the ad catapulted my book into the public eye, targeted to Romance readers and giving great visibility. Definitely made a huge difference. Defiant sold very well too, as did the other books.

You have great covers. They carry a theme and your brand with them. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach? Do you get your readers involved in its development?

I'm very fortunate to have a techie-type husband who recently retired, plus the programs and where-with-all to dabble create the covers. My art and art history background are also of help to draw on and I usually have what I want strongly in mind. One of our sons is also a techie-type involved in frontend web design, epublishing and cover creation. He's been a great help to show us some of the ropes, point us to favored royalty-free sites for photos, and to add input and criticism when needed.

My husband and I produced the first two covers: Shades of the Past and A Slip in Time. Pirates' Moon is also ours and features a gorgeous ship painting by George Grie (

For His Fair Lady, I chose a pre-made cover by Delle Jacobs and requested that the couple be swapped out for an image to suggest my heroine so it would better suit my novel. We found a lovely profile of woman - a bride - and Delle Photoshopped out her veil netting and a very modern looking earring. The result is stunning. The knight riding horseback was from her personal photos, taken at Warwick Castle while visiting there.

For the Heart series, I hired cover artist, Erin Dameron-Hill ( to create all four covers so they could be branded with the same "look." I'm really pleased with how they've turned out. I contracted for four custom poses with Jimmy Thomas ( Female models were chosen to suit the heroines in the various stories, colors and wardrobe were worked out, etc. Jimmy modeled for the heroes and became a blond for Norse brothers' stories. For the fourth book, Gallant, and its battle theme, the plan is for Jimmy to don chainmaille. The heroine is a falcon mistress so I'm hoping Erin can work that in to the cover somehow.

What kinds of writer support groups do you belong too? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process?

I'm a member of Romance Writers of America and a couple of their chapters - Saguaro Romance Writers and Washington (D.C.) Romance Writers. Plus, I belong to Novelists, Inc. (NINC) These groups offer great support and advice via their publications, newsletters, online member loops, and conferences/Retreats. NINC also puts out a NINC Blast to announce upcoming releases which is great.

Between your book writing, blogging, marketing, family and all the other things that can get in your way, how do you manage your time? Do you have a set schedule or do your sort of play it by ear?

It's really a struggle, but thankfully my husband has taken over the technical aspects for me, such as formatting and uploading the books when they're ready for release, following and analyzing sales, placing orders, etc. We do have a routine for the start of the day - a walk in the park with the pooches before the sun heats up (we're in triple temps so we try to be done before 6:30 a.m.), then it's breakfast for all before I grab a cup of coffee and settle into my office for the duration until hunger strikes. My energy goes straight downhill, so evenings are mine after dinner. That's a great time to read for pleasure or research if I can keep my eyes open.

Has the advent of ebooks changed anything in your writing, your marketing and the relationship with your readers and fans?

I love the advent of ebooks and the ease with which to publish a book and to connect. Of course, the challenge becomes not letting the computer and the Internet overwhelm your life so you can never get away from it. I'm still working on the marketing angle, currently learning about SEO's and all of that - so totally different than my experience before. Goodreads is a great venue to meet other readers and enthusiasts of interests similar to my own. Haven't really connected with fans there or FB yet - soooo much more to learn!

What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?

Seems this is always a test, seeing what works and what doesn't, and hard to draw conclusions. For the Heart books, I'm taking Goodreads' advice and giving away 10 copies. The goal is to hopefully get reviews that will then garner attention and ultimately lead to visibility and sales.

The other thing that I am doing that seems to be gaining traction and seeing sales is the Sampler Edition I created. Sampler #1 offers a healthy 20% read of three of my books for free (Lady, Time and Shades). It took awhile for Amazon and B&N to price match it to zero but it is now. It has been free all along on my website, Kobo and Goodreads. Once Amazon offered the Sampler for free, downloads took off. The same thing happened with B&N. Now, several weeks later, we are seeing sales that are obviously associated with the Sampler. Sampler #2 will be available in the coming weeks and will include Valiant, Defiant, and Captive. This time we'll use Lulu to get it into B&N for free up front.

You have a great blog with great pictures. What is your primary goal? And where in the world do you find the time to create great novels and maintain your blog?

LOL, that's another struggle and I may have to only do it every other week. We'll see. If I'm going to put time into a blog, I want it to have some "meat" to it and be of interest to the reader as well as myself since it takes me awhile to compose them. There is so many interesting facts and tidbits that come up during the writing of a novel, but that never get into it, I'd like to include them in the blog. It's a sort of a behind-the-scenes look, an "author confidential" if you will (yes, inspired by the Doctor Who Confidentials.) I also love historic recipes and am including foods my characters eat in the pages of the book (and some they don't, but still with an historic connection). I'll be focusing on Viking cooking is several blogs ahead, including Katla's skyr. Meanwhile, next week, I'll dish up some Pönnukökur með þeyttum rjóma, Icelandic Pancakes (think dessert crêpes).

Seeing the snow pictures and knowing your writing about the past, how do you transform your thinking from your desert live to that time and places far away?

LOL, I guess that does seem strange. Once I go through the page, I'm in that world, so it doesn't really matter where I am. OTOH, I'm still fairly new to the desert and have lived most of my life in some very historic places, including the setting of Pirates' Moon. Perhaps drenching oneself in research makes it easier to go through the page, I'm not sure, but I do love the research.

Author's Book List
Available mid-July

A maiden of Normandy, mistakenly abducted . . .
A Saxon lord on a mission for his king . . .
Now only he can save her from family enemies returned from the past . . .
Yet amid the darkest danger, their passions are born . . .

The Defiant Heart - HEART series
A maiden of Ireland enslaved . . . Seized during a brutal attack on her homeland, Ailinn vows to remain forever defiant against her Norse captors, no matter the future that awaits her—or the handsome Dane with snow-bright hair who suddenly appears in her life. A shining warrior of the North . . . When Lyting Atlison encounters the autumn-fire beauty in shackles, he vows to free her. Discovering the fate his kinsmen intend for the maid, he undertakes a private mission in order to join the fleet that will bear her to distant lands. Now as the Norse host sets sail for the lands of the Rus and the glittering courts of Byzantium, untold perils await . . . as does a journey of passion and discovery . . . and a love no chains can bind.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
His Fair Lady
A maiden to be saved . . . During the murderous assault on the village of Vaux, little “Ana” lost all she knew. Suddenly, out of the burning wreckage, a young man appeared and rescued her from the horrors of the night. He proved to be a squire in a company of knights, on their way to join the Crusades. At a neighboring village, he delivered her into the care of a peasant couple who promised to love her. Before departing, he gifted her with something to remember him by . . . the silver cross from around his neck. A wrong to be righted . . . After a decade of fighting in the east, Sir Royce de Warrene returns to England a celebrated knight. But he soon discovers the terrible mistake he made on that long-ago night. The orphan girl was no peasant child, but an heiress of noble blood — Lady Juliana Mandeville — and he deprived her of her birthright. He is charged with a quest — to find her at once and restore her to her grandfather — by order of the king! Love to be fulfilled, fated long ago . . . Now grown to womanhood, the stunningly beautiful and saucy “Ana” refuses to believe the knight when he disrupts her wedding day, intent on taking her from those she loves and to deliver her to strangers at the English court. She grips the silver cross she wears, wishing her gallant squire could rescue her once more. Although she cannot remember his face clearly and never knew his name, she has not forgotten the night he saved her so long ago . . .

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
A Slip In Time
A HIGHLAND CHIEFTAIN Recently freed from captivity in London Tower, Rae Mackinnon returns to the turbulent Highlands and claims his place as laird of Dunraven Castle. As he grapples with clan rivalries and divisiveness within his own family, he is confronted with a startling discovery — a beautiful woman from a distant future, delivered through the portals of Time and into his bed . . . A VICTORIAN LADY Swept up in the summer social rounds, Julia Hargrove accompanies her aunt and cousins on an excursion to Scotland, to an ancient castle which has hosted no visitors for two decades — until now. Rumors abound of unusual occurrences at Dunraven Castle — occurrences that are centered in the bedchamber Julia now occupies, where a rugged Highland warrior materializes from the past . . . DRAWN IRRESISTIBLY THROUGH THE PORTALS OF TIME What mysteries does Dunraven hold? What secret opens the temporal door, allowing Julia and Rae to reach across the centuries to claim a few stolen moments and nurture a blossoming love? But how long can the rules of Time be broken before the door shuts forevermore?

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Shades Of The Past - Lords of Midnight
A Widowed Victorian Lady: Traveling companion to an elderly, aristocratic lady, Vanessa Wynters is drawn to Royal Sherringham upon her employer's death. Little does she expect to remain at the estate beyond the funeral itself, or to find herself caught up in the secrets of the Sherringham’s turbulent past or those of the deceased noblewoman’s dark, brooding nephew - Viscount Adrian Marrable. A Mysterious Viscount: Twice wed and twice widowed, the darkly handsome lord is implicated in both his wives’ tragic and untimely deaths. Adrian is captivated by Vanessa’s golden beauty and willingly fulfills his late aunt’s dying wishes. His generous financial support allows Vanessa to remain at Sherringham and pursue her passion for photography. But her growing attraction to the enigmatic viscount proves as unsettling as the ghostly figure that appears in her photographs. Royal Sherringham: An expansive castle-mansion complex in the English West Midlands, its long history dates back to the times of the druids. What mysteries does Sherringham hold, and why did Adrian’s late aunt flee her beloved home to live in self-imposed exile? Now, as the Marrable family gathers after years apart, Sherringham’s unseen residents stir. What might they reveal if the planes between the spiritual and material dimensions are breached? Will Vanessa find an adversary or an ally in the otherworldly presence that beckons from her photographs as secrets are unearthed, shade by shocking shade? Dare Vanessa embrace her blossoming love for the dark viscount or, like her late employer, flee Sherringham forever?

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
The Valiant Heart - Kathleen Kirkwood HEART series
A beautiful heiress and pawn of the king . . . Dispossessed of her lands by the marauding Norsemen, Brienne Beaumanoir is brought from cloister by royal decree and offered as a bride to her enemy. A golden warrior of the North . . . Sent to escort his father’s promised bride to the Barony of Valsemé, Rurik Atlison finds himself entranced by the dark-haired beauty and his passions set aflame. Love unexpected, bringing peril to all . . . Tormented by their desires, Rurik and Brienne resist giving in to their yearnings and endangering their people. But destiny will not be denied . . . Their love will burn brightly through all the ages to come as Norse and Frank meld into a new people — the Normans.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the following blogs:
eBook Author’s Corner and HBS Mystery Reader’s Circle

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