Monday, March 10, 2014

Norah Wilson - An Author Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on award-winning Author Norah Wilson. She is the writer of romantic suspense and paranormal romance novels. She co-writes the laugh-out-loud Dix Dodd Mystery series with Heather Doherty.

Author Genre: Romance, Mystery & Thrillers, Young Adult

Website: Norah Wilson - Where danger and desire meet…
Author's Blog: Norah Wilson
Twitter: @norah_wilson
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Author Description:
The tenth of eleven children, I had to do something to distinguish myself. That thing turned out to be writing.

One of the coolest things that ever happened to me was finalling in RWA's Golden Heart contest for unpublished romance writers in 2001. I went on to do it again in 2002 and 2003.

Another cool thing: winning the 2003 New Voice in Romance contest sponsored by Dorchester Publishing and Romantic Times Magazine. My contest-winning story went on to be published by Dorchester.

A *super* cool thing: the revolutionizing of reading habits by Kindle and other eReaders. That development allowed me to publish my romantic suspense stories that didn't quite fit for traditional publishers, but which have been very well received by readers. Yay, Amazon!

I live in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, with my husband, two YA kids, a Rotti-Shepherd cross and a tuxedo cat.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

First things first. Let’s start with what’s next. Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

My next solo project is a romantic suspense/mystery called Fatal Hearts, to be published by Montlake Romance. I don’t have a firm release date, but I think it’ll be August or September of 2014. It’s about a guy (a cop) whose identical twin brother dies of sudden cardiac arrest while investigating the identity of their birth parents (they’re adopted and the records have been hopelessly botched or deliberately obliterated). Of course, my hero, who doesn’t believe his brother died of natural causes, comes to town to do his own investigation into the death. And this being a romance, he looks up his brother’s best friend (the heroine), and they join forces to get to the bottom of what happened.

My next joint project will be Forever the Night, the very exciting conclusion to our YA paranormal Casters series. That book has yet to go to edits, so it’s a few months away.

You have a good following on twitter. How important have your social media relationships been? How did you build your following in your niche? Did you use forums, newsletters and methods like that?

I love social media! I’ve been building my Twitter following for a couple of years. It was slow going at first. I used to check out who was following authors who wrote in a similar vein, and I would follow their followers. Some of them would follow back and become engaged. After a while, you sort of reach a tipping point where your followers grow organically without any special effort. I do find that a big percentage of my Twitter followers are other authors or aspiring authors. I’ve found I tend to get more pure reader engagement on Facebook,. Or rather, I used to. With the changes Facebook has implemented, it becomes harder and harder to reach and engage those readers. It’s always a challenge, not just to find the right platform, but to find the time to do it. The busier I get, the harder it is to be as active as I’d like to be.

You do a lot of book signings, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? When and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?

I actually don’t do a lot of book signings, since I’m in a very small city. But when I go to the Romance Writers of America’s national conference, I never miss a chance to participate in the huge author signing they organize. It’s a charitable event to benefit literacy. They’re so much fun! Nothing but romance authors and avid romance readers. I’ve even met some readers and reviewers there after having had a virtual relationship with them for years. Lots of squeeing and hugs when that happens.

Being a bit of an introvert, I don’t tend to do speaking engagements, either, other than talking to kids in schools, which I LOVE doing. When it comes to delivering workshops, I always figure there are folks out there who enjoy the limelight more. And more power to them!

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?

Thank you! Insofar as I have an identifiable brand for any series, I owe it largely to the artists in question. The covers for my adult romances were done by Kim Killion of The Killion Group/Hot Damn Designs. For the Serve and Protect books, I indicated I wanted them to be dark, with urban settings and close-ups on couples. Often those images are supplied by Kim herself from her own custom-shot photo gallery, but sometimes I have to scour the stock sites. I’m more concerned that the couple on the cover capture the emotion of the book than trying to make sure the hair color or degree of curliness/straightness or length, etc., are a perfect match.

For the paranormal romances, we did something similar. I told Kim I’d like the books to have a color wash. She did a fantastic job, I thought, especially on The Merzetti Effect.

Kim also did the cover for Ashlyn’s Radio, a young adult book. For The Summoning, we found an artist on Deviant Art and had him custom paint a cover. That was an early experiment. Trying to depict an actual scene for a book is probably NOT a good idea, as I’ve learned, but we have a sentimental attachment to the cover. For our Casters series of young adult books, we turned to the very talented artist Claudia McKinney of Phat Puppy Art, and picked the images from her gallery. Her work is considerably more expensive than many cover artists, but it’s always exclusive. We’ll never find our covers on someone else’s book.

You have written a Novella called: Needing Nita. Can you tell us if they had an impact on the sales of your novels? Are shorty’s one of your styles of writing or are they created to give readers a sample of your work?

Needing Nita was a bit of an experiment. Actually, it was an experiment twice. I wrote it initially hoping to sell it to Harlequin for their Spice Briefs line, but it was rejected. Experiment 1 = fail.

It languished for a while until it occurred to me that I could put it up for free as a sample of my work, and to try to drive traffic to the Serve and Protect series. I have to say Experiment 2 was a success. By now, I think that little 15K novella has been downloaded over a million times.

While the conversion rate is not high – many people who buy a free novella go on to buy more free novellas, not my full-priced novels – there are always readers who tell me they found my series through the novella. I have now made one of the novels in the series free (Saving Grace), and that has been hugely more effective at inducing readers to read the other books.

I must say, writing short is a unique challenge. People who do it well have my lasting admiration. I can do it, but I prefer the long, slow build of a novel.

I like the idea of Author bundles. You are a part of a novel collection called THE PERFECT TEN Bundle. What was the impact on your other sales? What was the main objective of bundling your works with other romance authors? How did you put something like that together?

I think 2013 was the year of the book bundle, for sure! And I love them too. I think you’re either a bundle person, or you’re not. Some people would rather pay more for single novels than to buy an entire collection of novels for much less and read the ones that appeal. Psychologically, I think they find the bundle daunting. Or maybe they just like to finish single books and cross them off the TBR list!

My involvement with The Perfect Ten has been an unmitigated pleasure. I was acquainted with all of the authors and/or their work before we came together, and some of them I knew very well. But as a result of this very close collaboration, I feel like we all bonded. Promoting the set – and the participant authors’ other work – is truly a joy.

Our primary objective with this bundle was cross-pollination, but we were lucky enough to spend three weeks on the USA Today bestseller list. With those volumes of sales, I have to believe many of those readers discovered (and are still discovering) my work for the first time. The project was steered by Dianna Love, who in my opinion can do anything, but we put our heads together over a promotional plan and every author worked doggedly to get the word out. Ten authors are definitely better than one when it comes to promotion!

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?

Giving full-length novels away for free as a loss leader is my favorite promotion! It’s particularly effective if it’s a part of a series. Right now, I have a number of “permafree” novels – Saving Grace (romantic suspense), The Case of the Flashing Fashion Queen (cozy mystery), and Comes the Night (YA Paranormal). Except for Saving Grace, those are all first books in a series, and have been effective, to one degree or another, at driving sales to the other books. With the Serve and Protect series, the first book, Guarding Suzannah, happened to be in a bundle (In

Harm’s Way, with the awesome MJ Fredrick and Trish Milburn), so I went with the second book instead. That has turned out to be a blessing. When you go free, people who don’t normally read your genre often pick the book up, Then they review it negatively, basically blasting it for epitomizing a genre they don’t like. For some reason, I’ve seen very little of that with Saving Grace. What I do get are a lot of reviews that start with, “I didn’t expect to like this book, but…”

My ranking for that book (4.4 stars) hasn’t seen the usual post-free rating decline, which can be a tradeoff for going free.

How do you start your book launch process for a new book? Give a brief outline of the steps you go through to get your book to market. What methods were the most successful?

That kind of depends on the book, the genre, and the publisher. If it’s a Montlake book, I do promote like crazy, but I know I’ve also got the publisher behind me. If it’s a Young Adult, I might organize a virtual book tour to try to reach that particular audience. For an adult romance or even the cozy mystery, a Facebook party is usually the first tool in my chest. I like to do Goodreads giveaways, too, for all books. Sometimes I’ll organize a special contest.

I don’t really have a checklist; things tend to evolve too fast for that. For example, blog tours used to be very effective, but are perhaps less so now. You always have to be adjusting. Instead of a checklist, I have more of a mental toolkit, and pull out what I think will work.

For instance, with the latest Dix Dodd short (A Moment on the Lips), we actually created a dedicated Dix Dodd website – she has her own social media too! – and are running a reader-solve mystery. The prize is a $100 gift card from Amazon. (If you want to get in on that, visit, read the instalments on the blog, and follow the instructions to email your guess as to “whodunnit” by March 11.) We also had an awesome Facebook party. You just have to tailor the launch to the book.

You write the Dix Dodd Mystery series with Heather Doherty. How do you manage your plots, characters and timelines to keep your stories going? Do you use any software to keep track of your books?

Ah, Dix Dodd. I smile just thinking about those books. Here’s where I confess that my partner Heather Doherty is the driving force behind that series. We do keep track of the canon through a series bible, but don’t use anything fancier than Word. We have literally dozens more ideas for Dix Dodd novels or shorts, and they’re sort of nut-shelled out on a timeline. The trouble is finding the time to write them!

What is your method of getting reviews for your novels? Do you seek professional reviews, use social media or do you rely on your reading audience to supply them?

I used to query tons of reviewers with each new book, but that process takes a lot of time, and my plate is way too full already. I know some self-pubbed authors who are joining cooperatives so they can afford to put a title on NetGalley, to try to get reviews without having to do all that legwork. So far, the results I’ve heard reported haven’t persuaded me to follow suit.

So I tend to rely more on my reading audience to eventually post reviews. That can be a slow process, however. My guess is that perhaps one in several hundred (or even one in a thousand) people who download the book will post a review on Amazon or another site. I do put a call to action at the end of my self-published books, hoping they’ll be motivated to hop on the Internet and do it while they’re still enjoying the post-read glow. :) I also do giveaways on Goodreads and sometimes on Facebook to try to spark a few reviews.

Author's Book List
Death by Cuddle Club - A Dix Dodd Mystery
Vindication is Dix's when her nemesis Detective Richard Head (aka Dickhead) shows up at her door, asking for her help on a delicate matter. Delicate because he can't turn to his own PD without admitting he's a member of a newly opened Cuddle Club. There have been a couple of deaths of Club members, ostensibly of natural causes, but Detective Head wants to take a closer look.

The task for Dix? Infiltrate the Cuddle Club, ferret out the truth, and report back to Dickhead. Simple. Well, except for the fact that Dix is about as cuddly as a porcupine. Good thing for her that her assistant, the handsome, much younger and infinitely more cuddle-friendly Dylan Foreman, is eager to go under the cover with her.

Head was right, all is not as it seems at the club. As Dix has always maintained, cuddling can be dangerous to your health. In fact, it can be downright deadly.

Written with Heather Doherty.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords
Comes the Night - Casters
How far would you go to escape your own personal teenage hell? Would you run away, break away from everything you know—even your own body?

Alex Robbins, Brooke Saunders and Maryanne Hemlock could not be more different, yet they all have something in common—deep and soul-searing pain. They are also all students at Streep Academy, a boarding school just one step away from juvie, where they've come to complete high school. The three have been relegated to Harvell House, the residence reserved for the hardest cases, the so-called Rejects from Reject Row.

In the forbidden attic of the old Victorian house-turned-residence, the girls discover the diary of Connie Harvell, a young woman who was confined and abused there some 50 years ago. In the end, Connie’s attic prison couldn't hold her—not completely. She found a way out. At least a dark part of her did. And after reading her diary, the girls discover they can escape at will too. A terrifying, thrilling flight from their bodies and their troubles.

But God help them, their pain isn't all they leave behind when they join with the night.

And God help anyone who’s wronged them…

Written with Heather Doherty.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Every Breath She Takes
Veterinarian Lauren Townsend has good reason for hiding her psychic ability. Not only did her “freakishness” earn her pariah status in the small town where she grew up, it cost her a fiancĂ© and her faith in love. When Lauren foresees a murder—through the killer’s eyes—she traces the victim to a sprawling ranch, never guessing what waits for her… Cal Taggart’s rugged ranch life doesn’t need any more complications. His stubborn determination cost him his marriage, and now may cost him his livelihood. But then beautiful Lauren enters his corral…with danger close behind. And Cal wants nothing more than to protect her. They can’t deny their intense attraction. Nor do they want to. What begins as a fling with no strings becomes a fight for survival—and for true love.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Nightfall - A Vampire Romance
Aiden Afflack (a vampire) is as charming, sexy and easy-going as he is gorgeous. Unless you happen to be a rogue vampire, in which case he’s apt to be the last thing you see. Sam Shea is a wildly successful nature photographer whose prescient dreams lead her to some of the world’s most turbulent, awe-inspiring weather phenomena.

When their paths cross and Aiden discovers that his proximity to Sam warps her psychic power, causing her to hone in on vampire violence instead of violent weather, he knows he’s found a priceless tool in his fight to rid the world of rogues.

Sam has a deep-rooted aversion to having her powers exploited, but once her eyes have been opened to the lives she can help save, she can’t withhold her cooperation. But she can deny Aiden the other thing he wants from her, which makes her unique among women. And absolutely irresistible to Aiden!

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords - iTunes - KOBO
Family Jewels - A Dix Dodd Mystery
Dix Dodd rides again! This time, to rescue her mother.

A resident of a Florida retirement community, Katt Dodd is a person of interest in not only a rash of jewel thefts, but in the disappearance of her boyfriend, Frankie Morell. Dix, the handsome-as-sin Dylan, and the irrepressible (okay, rude) Mrs. P head to Florida to solve the case of the Family Jewels before Dix's mother gets railroaded.

Of course, hilarious hijinx ensue when Dix goes into the Wildoh Retirement Complex (Motto: We provide the Wild, you supply the Oh!)undercover as Katt's erotica-writing daughter. Multiply the fun when Dylan gets himself hired as the Wildoh's newest employee, a slightly dim-witted security-cum-maintenance man.

Written with Heather Doherty.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords - iTunes
Ashlyn's Radio
Ashlyn Caverhill has left behind her senior year of high school to live with her grandmother, and she's not happy about it. Small-town Maine has nothing on Toronto. But her mother is ill, and there's nowhere else to go. Even though it contains one Caden Williams--the hottest guy she's ever seen--Ashlyn thinks Prescott Junction is the deadest place ever. She may be right. A lot of people seem to die mysteriously down by the long-abandoned train tracks. Her own father died there before she was born. The townspeople whisper about a ghost train that comes for the souls of Prescott Junction's most troubled citizens, but Ashlyn scoffs--until one night she sees the train for herself and its ghoulish conductor nearly coaxes her on board. Ashlyn's fear grows when she finds an old radio that haunts the Caverhill family. They've thrown it out. It comes back. They've buried it. It comes back.

They've sunk it in the lake, and still it comes back. Even though it's never plugged in, the radio broadcasts stories of future events that always come to pass. Imagine Ashlyn's horror when the radio's top story is "Ashlyn Caverhill boards the ghost train." Now, with the help of Caden and her new friend Rachel, Ashlyn must find a way to escape the radio's curse before she's forced to ride the ghost train forever.

Written with Heather Doherty.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
The Merzetti Effect - A Vampire Romance
Delano Bowen has been a medical doctor for a very long time. More than 170 years, in fact. For much of that time, he’s been searching for a way to reverse the curse foisted on him by a vampress who sought to own him. With the emergence of medical technology, he now also aims to develop a vaccine to protect the vulnerable from predation by rogue vampires. After a century of searching, he thinks he's found the key to his vaccine – a surviving descendent of the Merzetti family. The Merzettis were virtually hunted to extinction over the years by rogue vampires who feared the anti-vampirism properties in their blood.

A foundling, nurse Ainsley Crawford has no idea that she carries a genetic gift, and Delano aims to keep it that way. He must keep her close, and ignorant, for he can leave nothing to chance. He manipulates events to ensure her unwitting cooperation. But when Delano's arch enemy Radak Janecek mounts an all-out assault to destroy Delano and the fruits of his research, Delano is forced to draw Ainsley even closer to protect her. Inevitably, the attraction that has sparked between them from the first flares hot and urgent. Ainsley sees no reason why that attraction shouldn't be consummated, but Delano knows succumbing to it is not just ill-advised; it could literally be the death of him.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords - iTunes - KOBO
The Case of the Flashing Fashion Queen - A Dix Dodd Mystery
Tired of getting no respect at the big P.I. firm where she's worked for years, Dix Dodd has hung out her own shingle at the ripe age of 40. There are plenty of cheating husbands to go around, and Dix has a knack for busting them. Problem is, it doesn't always pay so well. Conscious that the guys back at the old firm are laying bets about how soon she'll come crawling back, she figures she's got six months to make a go of it. The going gets even tougher when she hires Dylan Foreman. But when he told her about getting fired from his law firm and disbarred for putting common decency before the firm's interests, she hired him on the spot. In addition to being smart, he's gorgeous enough to remind her she's a woman. And at 28, young enough to make her feel like a total cougar. Things start looking up when Dix gets hired by millionaire businessman Ned Weatherby's wife Jennifer Weatherby, to tail Ned 24/7 for a week, for a cool ten grand. Easy-peasy, right? Wrong! The job lands Dix in the middle of a murder investigation - with her as the prime suspect and her arch-enemy Detective Richard Head (a.k.a., Dickhead, one of the cheating husbands she'd nailed) gunning for her. Dix will need all her ingenuity, as well as the help of Dylan and her oddball cast of supporters to extricate herself from this one.

Written with Heather Doherty.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - iTunes
Protecting Paige - Serve and Protect Series - 3
Single parent Paige Harmer is at her wit's end about her son. Dillon’s a good kid, but he’s fallen in with a bad crowd. She’s determined to enlist the help of her next door neighbor, the extremely handsome and much younger Tommy Godsoe. Tommy is a local cop, and until he got shot recently in a police raid, was a dog handler. His injury is such that he can never go back to field work, and he refuses to be a desk jockey. All he wants is to nurse his wounds in solitude, and he’s done a great job driving his friends and colleagues away. But Paige is an unstoppable force. Before he knows it, he’s drawn into their lives. As it turns out, Paige and Dillon are going to need a cop in their corner. And Tommy needs Paige to drag him out of his self-pity and back to life.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords - iTunes - KOBO
Saving Grace - Serve and Protect Series - 2
After wrecking her car and waking in hospital with amnesia, fledgling reporter Grace Morgan has no idea why she’d been in the process of leaving the husband she loves so dearly. Her husband, Police Detective Ray (Razor) Morgan tells her she was leaving him for another man, but that just can’t be so. Can it? She’s determined to remember, even if it kills her. And it just might. When bullets start to fly, Ray is forced to take the wife he believes faithless on the lam until they can figure out who is trying to kill them.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - iTunes - KOBO
Guarding Suzannah - Serve and Protect Series - 1
Criminal defense attorney Suzannah Phelps is the bane of the Fredericton police department (they call her She-Rex for her habit of shredding cops in the witness box). She is currently being stalked, but is reluctant to report it to the police, whom she half suspects of being the perpetrators. But when Detective John (Quigg) Quigley learns of it, he's determined to protect her, at considerable risk to his career. They've struck sparks off each other in the courtroom, and he's burning to do the same in the bedroom. When the danger escalates, he has the perfect excuse to pose as her boyfriend, but the closer they get, the more the lines between pretense and reality blur.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords - iTunes - KOBO
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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