Friday, April 22, 2016

Luana Ehrlich - An Author Interview at the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Luana Ehrlich. She is the author of the Titus Ray Thrillers series.

Author Genre: Christian, Fiction, Thriller

Website: Luana Ehrlich
Author's Blog: Luana Ehrlich
Titus Ray Thrillers
Twitter: @luanasbooks
E-Mail: Author@LuanaEhrlich (dot) com
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Google+: Check Out Google+
Facebook: Check Out Facebook
Pinterest: Check Out Pinterest

Amazon Author Profile

Author Description:
Luana Ehrlich is a freelance writer, minister's wife, and former missionary with a passion for spy thrillers and mystery novels. She began her series of Titus Ray novels when her husband retired from the pastorate. Now, she writes from an undisclosed location, trying to avoid the torture of mundane housework, grocery shopping, and golf stories. However, she occasionally comes out of hiding to visit with her two grandsons or to enjoy a Starbucks caramel macchiato. She resides in Norman, Oklahoma.

Luana picked up her first adult spy novel when she was eleven years old. Today, she continues to have a fascination for the thriller/suspense genre of fiction, along with a smattering of interest in historical fiction. In addition to being an avid reader, she is also a news fanatic, following events around the world on a daily basis, particularly the Middle East.

Luana has lived in Norman, Oklahoma for the past two decades. Previously, she resided in several different states in the South and Midwest. Along with her husband, she also served as a missionary in Costa Rica and Venezuela.

Occasionally, she reports on the experiences of newly converted Christians for Baptist Press, a national religious news service. At one time, she wrote a weekly column for The Indiana Baptist entitled, "A Story To Tell," describing the testimonies of ordinary people and telling how they became followers of Christ.

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?

The third book in the Titus Ray Thriller Series is Three Weeks in Washington. It will be released in July 2016, but I’m not sure of the exact date yet. In Book III, Titus is faced with a chemical weapons attack on Washington, D. C. As he races across two continents pursuing the Jihadi terrorists, he encounters an Iranian general obsessed with destroying America and exposes an Iranian deep-cover operative with close ties to America’s leaders.

You have a good following on twitter. How important have your social media relationships been? How did you build your following in your niche? Do you see a carry over to your writing success?

Until I published my first book, the only social media platform I had was a personal account on Facebook. However, the more I read about promotion and advertising, the more I realized social media was an excellent means of getting the word out about the series. I spent several weeks developing my online presence on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google, in addition to my Author pages on Facebook and Amazon. Then, as I began to tweet and post about my book, I gathered followers. I believe these are legitimate means of gaining readers, as long as your response to any contact is a personal one. Several of my readers have written to let me know that’s how they found out about my books.

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’ve been involved in numerous book signings, public appearances, and interviews, and I love doing these, because it gives me a chance to meet my readers. I always post these upcoming appearances on my Facebook page:

You have great covers. 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 the covers professionally designed, and each of the covers uses the same font and style as the first book in the series. I enjoy doing my own mockup design before beginning the process with the designer. Since I have my mind made up beforehand on what I want the cover to look like, I usually don’t seek the advice of others before giving my final okay. I try to follow the pattern of covers used by the thriller/mystery/suspense genre, so I don’t use faces or models on my covers.

You have several great book trailers. (See links below.) They look very professional. Do you know how much impact they have had on your book’s success? Tell us about the process that you used to create your trailers?

I believe it’s difficult to gauge the impact of book trailers, but, since I get the most retweets and clicks when I post them on Twitter and Facebook, I have to believe people enjoy watching them. I did both my book trailers myself using a website called Animoto. It requires a yearly subscription, but it is fairly cheap and the process is very intuitive. After designing them, I post them to my You Tube account. You can view both book trailers here. One Night in Tehran and Two Days in Caracas.

Both of your novels have been converted into audio books. What has been the impact on your regular sales? Has the audio books gained a new audience for you? How was Sound Cloud to work with? Here is the link to chapters of your audio books. Sound Cloud

I used ACX, a division of Amazon, to publish my books in an audio book format on Audible. I made this decision after being asked at book signings if they were available in this format. While ACX makes the process fairly easy to do, it is still a hands-on project because the narrator is chosen by the author through auditions and, when each chapter is completed, the author must give final approval. I’ve been very pleased with the results and I’ve gained many new readers this way. I used the Sound Cloud website to post a sample of one chapter as a teaser on my websites.

I like the idea of Author bundles. You are a part of a novel collection called Killer Reads: A Collection of the Best in Inspirational Suspense. 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 was approached by another author about being part of this box set, featuring other writers in the Christian mystery/suspense category. I was intrigued by this concept, even though I was the only author who had just written two books, because I thought it might be another way of gaining readership for future books in the series. Working with the other four authors on this project—deciding on a name, pricing and blurb—was a lot of fun, and, while the proceeds have to be split five ways, it has garnered enough to pay for advertising my own books.

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 you sort of play it by ear?

It’s a bit tricky managing my schedule, because I have to wear a lot of different hats during the day, but I’m probably no different than most people in the busy world we live in today. The key is being disciplined and having a schedule, but, at the same time, being flexible enough to realize that interruptions are there for a reason. Most mornings, I work at my computer answering email, working on advertising and social media, and then I write in the evenings. Afternoons are for doing errands, spending time with my family and doing housework. I only way I manage all of this is by beginning every morning with a time of prayer and Bible study. That’s always my priority.

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’m enrolled in Amazon’s Select option which means once every three months for a few days I can offer my books at a discount or for free. I’ve often offered my first book for free, but I’ve only offered a discount on my second book by using this option. During those bargain days, I’ve advertised heavily on book sites, and the results have been phenomenal, gaining lots of readers and great reviews. I highly recommend it. The only drawback to using this option is that Amazon doesn’t allow your book to be listed by other publishers. Just recently, I’ve been using the Amazon giveaway option and sponsored giveaways for my first book. I haven’t been able to gauge the success of this type of promotion yet. I’ve also used Goodreads, a book club for readers, and listed my print books for giveaways and gained readers and reviews on this site as well.

You have a great blog. You do a great job keeping readers informed, marketing your books and providing useful information to other writers. 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? Tell us about the quiz feature on your blog called: “What is the most important thing?”

I have a two-fold purpose in writing the Titus Ray Thriller Series. I want readers to be both entertained and encouraged. I want them to be entertained by the fast-paced, action-driven stories of a CIA intelligence officer, and I want them to be encouraged by his efforts to live out his Christian faith under the most difficult circumstances. I included the feature “What is the most important thing?” on my blog because Titus is asked this question by an Iranian in the first book. Shortly afterward, the man was killed, and this question haunts Titus in the weeks that follow. I love helping other writers. If I had more time, I would write books on what I’ve learned as a writer and manage a blog to do the same. Once I finish the fifth book in this series, I plan to look into doing that. I do occasionally send out a newsletter, which you join by signing up here Luana Ehrlich Newsletter.

Author's Book List
Two Days in Caracas - A Titus Ray Thriller
Titus Ray faces a threat he never imagined.

Can he overcome the obstacles and capture Ahmed Al-Amin before it’s too late?

In this pulse-racing Christian thriller, CIA intelligence officer, Titus Ray, travels from Costa Rica to Venezuela in an effort to stop Ahmed Al-Amin, a Hezbollah assassin, from murdering a high-profile government official. Along the way, a family crisis jeopardizes his mission, and an Agency division head threatens to destroy his career. As the danger mounts, he’s forced to partner with an untested operative to complete the mission and bring Ahmed to justice. Will he make it in time?

•Can his newfound faith heal his past wounds?
•Can he build a life with the woman of his dreams?

Book Trailer: Two Days in Caracas

Order the Book From:
Barnes and Noble

One Night in Tehran - A Titus Ray Thriller
In Tehran, while hiding out from the Iranian secret police, CIA officer, Titus Ray, finds shelter with a group of Iranian Christians. Compelled by their unwavering faith, the battle-hardened agent becomes a believer shortly before they smuggle him out of Iran to freedom in Turkey.

Returning to the States, he discovers his Iranian mission failed because of political infighting within the Agency. After delivering a scathing indictment against the Deputy Director of Operations, he’s forced to take a year’s medical leave in Oklahoma.

Before leaving Langley, however, he discovers a Hezbollah hit man has targeted him for assassination. Now, while trying to figure out what it means to be a follower of Christ, he must decide if the Iranian couple he meets in Oklahoma has ties to the man who's trying to kill him, and if Nikki Saxon, a beautiful local detective, can be trusted with his secrets.

•Trained in lies, he learns the truth!
•Will it help him escape his past?
•Can it change his future?

Book Trailer: One Night in Tehran

Order the Book From:
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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