Thursday, May 15, 2014

Teresa Burrell - An Author Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Teresa Burrell. She is an author, lawyer and Child Abuse advocate who writes the The Advocate Series.

Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Thriller, Suspense

Website: Teresa Burrell
Author's Blog: Teresa Burrell
Twitter: @teresaburrell
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Google+: Check Out Google+
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Pinterest: Check Out Pinterest

Author Description:

Teresa Burrell has dedicated her life to helping children and their families in both the courtroom and the classroom.

As an attorney in San Diego, Burrell maintained a private law practice for twelve years, which specialized in domestic, criminal, and civil cases. Her work in juvenile court focused on representing abused minors and juvenile delinquents. Burrell has received several awards and special recognition from the San Diego Volunteer Lawyers for her countless hours of pro bono work with children and their families.

Burrell has also enjoyed a satisfying career as a teacher. She has taught children of all ages with diverse backgrounds and special needs. After creating an after-school program that kept kids off the street, she received a community service award.

Now in semi-retirement in California, Burrell continues to educate groups about social issues impacting children and write novels, many of which are inspired by actual legal cases. She is the author of The Advocate Series which now contains five novels: The Advocate, The Advocate's Betrayal, The Advocate's Conviction, The Advocate's Dilemma, and the Advocate's Ex Parte. She is currently working on number six in the series.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

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

Book #6 in the series is in the editing process right now. The title is still undetermined. My books are in alphabetical order: The Advocate, The Advocate’s Betrayal, The Advocate’s Conviction, The Advocate’s Dilemma, The Advocate’s Ex Parte. So that means I’m working on the “F” word.

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?

My social media relationships have been a real fun experience for me, especially Facebook. I have reconnected with so many old friends and family and many of them have become fans. The thing is that it was never my intention to turn them into fans. I just enjoyed reconnecting with them and making new friends. The rest just happened. And I’ve made so many new friends.

Twitter has been good too, but I haven’t spent as much time there as I should. I’m getting better at it.

Do you do any 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?

I used to spend every weekend at Meet and Greets in Barnes and Noble around the country, mostly Northern and Southern California, Nevada, and Arizona. But I did venture out into other states as well. I no longer do that because it took up too much of my writing time.

I’ve done a lot of speaking events at CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) trainings from Idaho to Florida and parts in between.

I speak on a lot of panels at Mystery Writer’s Conferences.

But my favorite place to speak is at in-home book clubs. Everyone is always so excited to see the author and they’ve all read the book, or books, by the time I come to speak. They ask such great questions, and many of them have wonderful food.

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 have a fantastic book designer, Karen Phillips. She really set the tone for the brand. She usually comes up with an idea and then she sends it to me. We go back and forth until we reach the final product. The last book, The Advocate’s Ex Parte, was presented to my readers. We had the basic theme so it came down primarily to which color to use for the background. I couldn’t decide, so Karen sent me the cover in four different colors and I let my readers vote. I had around 1000 votes come in and the color that won beat out the runner-up by only 6 votes. The one I was leaning toward came in 4th place, so what do I know? I love the one my readers picked.

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

I have never used a writer support group. I know writers who just love their groups, but I’m really a “write alone” kind of gal.

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?

I have never used a writer support group. I know writers who just love their groups, but I’m really a “write alone” kind of gal.

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?

I love giving readers free books. I give away digital books and I give away paperbacks. Now I’m doing it with audios. I primarily give the first or second book away because I want readers to try it. More often or not I gain a new fan and they buy the rest. It’s a very effective marketing strategy.

I showcase my books at 6 to 8 Home Shows every year where I give away about 50 to 100 free paperback books each show. I have gained a lot of followers and made a lot of friends at those shows.

I usually give paperback books to all the volunteers at CASA trainings just to say “thank you” for what they are doing for our abused children. I don’t expect anything in return from those.

I give books to libraries and I send books overseas to our troops and I’ve placed a lot of books in “street libraries” for those who can’t afford to buy.

No obstacles and it feels good to give a little back.

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?

Oh boy. That’s quite a process. I start working on my launch when I start writing my book. I start by posting on my social media sites about my progress on my book. I try to involve my fans on cover and title. At my launch my readers submit title names for the next book. That’s always an interesting experience.

I send out newsletters for each step along the way, title, cover, release date, etc. I do some paid promotions that have been quite effective.

I usually do a big giveaway of the first book to attract new readers to the series just prior to my launch.

I post on a lot of “free” sites. I blog about it. I have a whole notebook of things that I have learned to do.

The first four books I did a paperback launch, at bookstores, or something similar. On book four and five, The Advocate’s Dilemma and The Advocate’s Ex Parte, I also did a launch on Facebook. Those were a lot of fun. The launch lasted all day and I got the opportunity to interact with many readers I had never had the chance to before. I gave away prizes all day long. I gave away free books, earrings (of my book), a Jerry Garcia tie (my main character wears those when she goes to court), and lots of other things. I was exhausted by the end. I plan to do that again with the next book. It was just too much fun to pass up.

You have a great blog. You do a great job keeping readers informed, marketing your books and providing useful information to help in the fight against Child Abuse. What is your primary goal? And where in the world do you find the time to create great novels, take care of the social media and maintain your blog?

My primary goal with my blog is to build awareness about child abuse. I think my books do that to--without being graphic. I figure if I can entertain people with a mystery and build awareness to a series social problem, I’ve given a little extra. I’ve worked with children most of my life and I’m appalled at what so many of these children have to endure. So, if I can help in even a small way, I’m thrilled.

You asked how I get it all done—I get up early and go to bed late.

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?

To me, the most valuable reviews are those that come from the readers, so I rely on them. I realize not everyone is going to like my books and I get a few 1-star reviews, but I’m okay with that, especially if they actually give some constructive criticism. I try to learn from the bad reviews and I’m motivated by the good ones.

Authors are nothing without readers!

Author's Book List
The Advocate's Ex Parte - The Advocate Series
Attorney Sabre Brown is summoned into Judge Lawrence Mitchell chambers for an ex parte hearing. When the judge attempts to discuss one of her cases, she refuses to listen without proper counsel present.

Later that evening, Judge Mitchell is murdered.

Sabre’s shock at his death is only surpassed by an attempt on the life of Dr. Carolina Heller, a psychologist she employs on a regular basis. Sabre now fears for her own life.

Sabre enlists her private eye JP, and they begin to comb and scrutinize her cases, searching for connections between the two crimes. But Sabre’s life is in danger from someone much closer to her.

Sabre and JP’s roads diverge. While JP infiltrates a twisted world of greed and corruption, Sabre is caught up in a domestic crisis fueled by obsession. As each is forced to fight their own battles, the question soon becomes, can they find a way to save one another?

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
The Advocate's Dilemma - The Advocate Series
Attorney Sabre Brown’s day is going well until she walks into her office and finds a dead man sprawled across her desk. When, Bob, her best friend and colleague is suspected of the murder, and Sabre’s minor client has information that might clear him, Sabre has a dilemma. How does she help her best friend without betraying the confidence of the child she is sworn to protect?

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
The Advocate's Conviction - The Advocate Series
Sabre Orin Brown's clients keep disappearing. With seemingly no connection between the cases, Sabre enlists the help of her southern PI friend, JP, and her best friend, Bob, to find each of them--before it's too late. In her race against the clock, Sabre must determine whether contemporary horrors are being buried in the shadow of dark traditions--or if it's something else at work. A conspiracy years in the making, secrets hidden for decades, and the twisted work of a mysterious society have all come together in the ultimate test of the strength of Sabre's conviction.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
The Advocate's Betrayal - The Advocate Series
The Killer left nothing behind but a rosary, a kitchen knife, and a dead man. but the dead man is a friend of Sabre Orin Brown. When his unsuspecting wife is accused of the murder, Sabre will stop at nothing to uncover the truth, even if it means unearthing chilling secrets.

From a San Diego jail to the shady Chicago nightlife, Sabre's search for the true killer forces her to face the question: What do you do when the ones you trust the most are the ones with the most to hide?

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
The Advocate - The Advocate Series
The Advocate, a legal suspense murder mystery, is the first book in The Advocate Series. Three characters continue throughout the series, Sabre Orin Brown, defense attorney, her investigator, JP Torn, and her colleague, Bob Clark.

The Advocate is followed by The Advocate's Betrayal, The Advocate's Conviction, The Advocate's Dilemma, and The Advocate's Ex Parte.

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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