Saturday, August 17, 2013

John A. Heldt - HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author John Heldt. He writes Romance and Historical Fiction novels.

Author Genre: Romance, Historical Fiction

Author's Blog: John A. Heldt
Twitter: @johnheldt
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Author Description:
John A. Heldt is a reference librarian who lives and works in Montana. The former award-winning sportswriter and newspaper editor has loved reading and writing since writing book reports on baseball heroes in grade school. A graduate of both the University of Oregon and University of Iowa, he is an avid fisherman, sports fan, home brewer, and reader of thrillers and historical fiction. Heldt is the author of THE MINE, THE JOURNEY, and THE SHOW, the first three novels of his Northwest Passage time-travel series. He will publish THE FIRE, the fourth book in the series, in September 2013.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

First things first. Let’s start with what’s next. Rumor has it that you have another book on the horizon called The Fire. Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

I plan to release The Fire – Northwest Passage No. 4 – in early September. In this book, Kevin Johnson, 22, goes to Wallace, Idaho, days after his college graduation in Seattle, to help his family prepare his deceased grandfather's house for sale. While there, he stumbles upon his great-great-grandfather's diary and a time portal that takes him back to 1910, the year of Halley's comet and the largest wildfire in U.S. history. When Kevin discovers that the portal is a revolving door – one he can access while his family is away for a weekend – he makes it his gateway to summer fun. But with each trip to 1910, Kevin, a luckless-in-love science major, becomes more invested in two beautiful young women: Sarah, a first-year English teacher, and Sadie, the orphaned daughter of a bankrupt merchant. Within weeks, Kevin's summer adventure becomes a life-changing journey. Though The Fire is largely a stand-alone work, it builds on the story of The Journey and features appearances by the protagonists of The Mine and The Show. Readers will see Joel Smith and Grace Vandenberg Smith as middle-aged parents and get a glimpse of their lives in 2013.

How important have your social media relationships been to your writing success?

They've been critically important. Through social media, I've been able to accomplish two important things. First, I've been able to work closely with fellow authors and editors to improve my craft. Second, I've been able to build an audience for my books. Because of this, I continue to look for new ways to make the most of these important relationships.

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

Right now, all of my promotional activities are online. Readers can keep up with me at:

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

I put off paid advertising for more than a year because I was able to promote my books effectively through blogs and social media. But there comes a point when an author has to do more to maintain visibility. My point came in April. I now advertise about twice a month, with mostly positive results.

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?

The covers are built around stock art I purchase from various sites. As you can see, I favor simple images that evoke basic themes. When I picked the cover for The Show, for example, I wanted to tell readers that this book was about more than a movie theater. It was about an extraordinary time, an elegant era that our grandparents and great-grandparents knew well.

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

I am part of the Awesome Indies Authors group and several discussion groups on Goodreads. I also work with other authors and contributors through Facebook and email.

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 do almost all of my writing late at night, when the house is quiet and my family is asleep. Free time and quiet time are gold and silver to a writer.

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 have given away nearly twenty thousand books over the past eighteen months and have concluded the following: giveaways generate reviews and increase short-term sales but do little to raise visibility over the long term. For that reason, I have turned to advertising to promote my works.

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?

I created the blog a little over a year ago to promote my published works and update readers on the progress of future projects. On occasion I use it to review books and tell people about my other interests.

I noticed that you visit your book locations. I think that is a great way to visualize the scenes. I love old towns. Do you ever include site pictures in your ebooks?

I grew up in the Seattle area and in eastern Oregon, so I didn't have to do more than jog my memory when writing The Mine, The Journey, and The Show. Not so with The Fire. I knew almost nothing about Wallace, Idaho, and felt an obligation to visit the community before writing about it. It's one thing to read about a town. It's another to walk its streets, explore its neighborhoods, step inside its oldest buildings, and mingle with its ghosts. You learn things by visiting people and places firsthand. The Fire will be a much better book because of the two days I spent in northern Idaho in June. But there will be no photos of Wallace or other venues inside the book.

Author's Book List
The Show - Northwest Passage
Seattle, 1941. Grace Vandenberg, 21, is having a bad day. Minutes after Pearl Harbor is attacked, she learns that her boyfriend is a time traveler from 2000 who has abandoned her for a future he insists they cannot share. Determined to save their love, she follows him into the new century. But just when happiness is within her grasp, she accidentally enters a second time portal and exits in 1918. Distraught and heartbroken, Grace starts a new life in the age of Woodrow Wilson, silent movies, and the Spanish flu. She meets her parents as young, single adults and befriends a handsome, wounded Army captain just back from the war. In THE SHOW, the sequel to THE MINE, Grace finds love and friendship in the ashes of tragedy as she endures the trial of her life.

Order the Book From: Amazon
The Journey - Northwest Passage
Seattle, 2010. When her entrepreneur husband dies in an accident, Michelle Preston Richardson, 48, finds herself childless and directionless. She yearns for the simpler days of her youth, before she followed her high school sweetheart down a road that led to limitless riches but little fulfillment, and jumps at a chance to reconnect with her past at a class reunion. But when Michelle returns to Unionville, Oregon, and joins three classmates on a spur-of-the-moment tour of an abandoned mansion, she gets more than she asked for. She enters a mysterious room and is thrown back to 1979. Distraught and destitute, Michelle finds a job as a secretary at Unionville High, where she guides her spirited younger self, Shelly Preston, and childhood friends through their tumultuous senior year. Along the way, she meets widowed teacher Robert Land and finds the love and happiness she had always sought. But that happiness is threatened when history intervenes and Michelle must act quickly to save those she loves from deadly fates. Filled with humor and heartbreak, THE JOURNEY gives new meaning to friendship, courage, and commitment as it follows an unfulfilled soul through her second shot at life.

Order the Book From: Amazon
The Mine - Northwest Passage
In 2000, Joel Smith is a cocky, adventurous young man who sees the world as his playground. But when the college senior, days from graduation, enters an abandoned Montana mine, he discovers the price of reckless curiosity. He emerges in May 1941 with a cell phone he can't use, money he can't spend, and little but his wits to guide his way. Stuck in the age of Whirlaway, swing dancing, and a peacetime draft, Joel begins a new life as the nation drifts toward war. With the help of his 21-year-old trailblazing grandmother and her friends, he finds his place in a world he knew only from movies and books. But when an opportunity comes to return to the present, Joel must decide whether to leave his new love in the past or choose a course that will alter their lives forever. THE MINE follows a humbled man through a critical time in history as he adjusts to new surroundings and wrestles with the knowledge of things to come.

Order the Book From: Amazon
Author Recommended by: Judy Shafer
Judy Shafer is a Book Reviewer and Voracious Reader. She is a must contact for authors seeking honest reviews. Her Five Star Ratings are a badge of honor.

She can be reached on social media on: Facebook and Twitter

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