Monday, March 22, 2010

Spotlight Author with New York Times Best Selling Author, Cheryl Holt

Wow, I can hardly believe that we are a quarter of the way into 2010. Sort of crazy to think about isn't it? Three months have passed since I started my blog. Even harder to believe, is the fact that I have been biting my nails with excitement for almost three months, waiting to share my latest interview with all of my friends. I would like to welcome and introduce, New York Times Bestselling Author, Cheryl Holt.

If you like a spicy read then Cheryl's your girl. She is a master at weaving a tale that will scoop you up and make you lose track of time. She is renowned for her great characters, her pithy dialogue, drama, emotion, and sexual tension. Her stories are so captivating and laced with steamy love scenes, one read friends, and I guarantee you will be hooked!

So with that all said, let's get started!

Cheryl, tell us about your up coming release PROMISE OF PLEASURE.

My new book is the first book in my "Spinster's Cure" trilogy. I've never written an actual trilogy before-all of my previous novels have been single titles-so this is a new venture for me. I'm excited to hear what my fans think of it.

The linking character for the three books is a shady peddler and charlatan named Philippe Dubois. He sells love potions, and he claims he has a potion that will "cure" spinsters so that they marry. He insists that if a woman drinks his Spinster's Cure while staring at the man she hopes to wed, she will be married to him within a month.

The potion is a fake, but for some reason his potions work anyway. In three of the novels, the heroines are all lonely women who, for various reasons, haven't been able to marry. They yearn to wed and have a home of their own. Dubois coerces them into buying the potion, and they drink it, but of course, they wind up staring at the hero instead of the man they'd hoped to wed. And then the fun begins!

The first novel, PROMISE OF PLEASURE, is actually my version of Cinderella. The heroine is a sweet, kind woman who lives with her wicked stepmother and two wicked stepsisters. The hero is visiting their hoe in order to pursue an engagement to one of the wicked stepsisters. So after the heroine drinks the Spinster's Cure potion, the hero is inexplicably drawn to her. An illicet affair begins that is fraught with drama and danger for the heroine.

This book sizzles with all of my best writing devices!

I can hardly wait!!! When can we expect to see PROMISE OF PLEASURE hit the shelves?

The three books are coming from Berkley Books. Here is a list of the titles and release dates.

DREAMS OF DESIRE-- January, 2011

You can bet I will be scouting them out as soon as their release dates hit!!!

I read somewhere that when you began writing romance you were a lawyer. How did you find the time to work such a demanding job and write, which is equally demanding?

I am an attorney, and I guess once you're an attorney, you're "always" an attorney; you never stop being one. But when I started writing novels, I was no longer practicing law. I was actually a stay-at-home mom, with two babies at home. I needed to replace the income I'd given up by staying home with my children, so I started writing books.

Many female novelists begin writing books when they're home with their young children, so I was simply starting out in the same fashion as many successful novelists. And publishers find many of their new novelists from professional woman who have left the workforce to stay at home with their kids.

I've seen your book trailers and loved them. Do you feel that using book trailers to advertise helps boost your sales?

I first started using book trailers in 2006 for my book, TOO WICKED TO WED. I met a vendor t a conference who was the first person to get the idea of making book trailers, and I was mesmerized by the idea-and by the visual possibilities that it opened up for book.

The woman is Sheila English, and her company s Circle of Seven Productions. Although many companies have followed her lead and started making book videos, Sheila's company is the top company in this growing business. They have produced a video for me for each book released since, TOO WICKED TO WED, and each one has been great.

I think they are a fabulous marketing tool. Although it's a well-kept secret, writers don't make very much money. But we are under enormous pressure to advertise, which is very expensive. But with books, it's generally accepted that advertising doesn't help very much. A book's popularity spreads through word of mouth-from one person recommending it o the next. So it's always a dicey proposition to advertise and it's difficult to decide where to spend the money.

With the advent of the web and sites like You Tube, I get enormous distribution and exposure from a book video. For the initial set up price, it can be sent to hundreds of venues where people can view it, so I get a lot of "bang" for my buck.

In my first video TOO WICKED, Sheila distributed the video out on the web and I had a 12% jump in my opening week sales. It's impossible to track whether the video was the reason, but I've always believed that it was-or that it helped significantly.

How long was your road to publication?

My "road" to publishing was actually not that long. I was continually writing for about four years before I sold my first novel. The first one I sold, THE WAY OD THE HEART, was the seventh completed manuscript that I had finished.

This is actually not very long in the scheme of learning to write a novel. It's generally assumed that "anyone" can write a book, and many many people try it. But a novel is a highly complex, difficult art form, and it takes many years to figure out how to do it and do it well. (And to do it over and over again.) Most people never figure it out or they give it up. I've always felt lucky that I was able to sell after only four years.

What is one peice of advice you would give aspiring authors?

Actually, I have "two" pieces of advice:

You learn to write by practicing, which means you need to write everyday, all the time, constantly. It is the same exact process as playing the piano. "Art" starts in your head, then comes out your fingertips onto a keyboard.

Yet if you were a pianist, it would never occur to you that you could audition for the LA Symphony unless you'd practiced for 20 years or so. The cognitive process for playing the piano and for writing a book is exactly the same, but for some reason, people think they can write a book without practicing.

The fact is that it simply takes years to learn how to write a novel. So you have to be dedicated and persistent. You need to write and write and write. That's how you figure it out.

Also, you need to read constantly. You should always have a book in your hand. As you're first starting out as a writer, you should pick a genre you want to write in-whether it's romance, or sci fi, or whatever-and you start writing and writing and writing manuscripts in that genre so you can start to figure it out.

At the same time, you should read every book that comes out in that genre. You should also read every bestseller; and you should read every book that gets a starred review from the trade magazine Publisher's Weekly. You should read everything you can.

I don't know why it works, but if you don't read all the time, you will never write very well.

You should know the names of all the writers in your genre, who publishes them, and who the big editors are in that genre. This is the most competitive endeavor you will ever undertake, and the people who succeed at it "make" it happen.

Learn to write, know the market, learn the "language" of publishing, be ready to jump in in a competitive way.

Wow! What wonderful advice! Thank you for that Cheryl. Now can you tell me what is the hardest thing for you about being a writer?

You don't make very much money at it. Especially at the beginning. Although people never believe this when I tell them, I was paid $2,000. for my first book, and $7,500 for my tenth book. It just takes a long, long time to make any income worth mentioning, and most writers never get to that point.

People jump into it, hoping to earn a second income, or to make a ton of money so that they can quit their "real" job, but that rarely happens. It's just like acting, where a few people like Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks, make millions, but everybody else is working weekends and scrambling for bit parts.

You can't count on earning a living from it, and even when you begin to make money, you never know when a check will arrive, or how much it will be. It's daunting and frustrating and nothing like what a person expects when they go into publishing and hope to succeed at it.

What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?

I work at home, at the computer in my bedroom. I live a very isolated life, where I work 60-70 hours per week; I work alone, and I rarely interact with grown-ups! I write my manuscripts, then send them off to New York, where people I've never met turn them into books. They're sold around the world. Then a year or so later, I receive emails from readers around the globe-Pakistan, South Africa, Italy, Poland, Japan, Singapore, Australia-and it's amazing to me that I can touch so many lives in a positive way. I'm grateful that I've had such the chance to interact with the world's population.

That sounds amazing. Where does your inspiration come from?

I have been writing novels for 15 years now. So it's not a matter of "inspiration." I constantly get little germs of ideas. It will be just a one or two sentence idea, such as "a woman's brother gambles away the family estate, and when he has nothing left to wager, he bets her chastity. And loses!" (This is the premise of the book I mention earlier, TOO WICKED TO WED.)

I keep a running list of those tiny ideas-there are dozens and dozens of ideas on the list-and then, when it's time to write a new novel, I get out the list and start going through it. I have to decide if I can take a small idea and turn it into a 400 page manuscript. I really struggle: Can I add enough subsidiary characters to this idea? Can I add sufficient plot twists and turns? Can I make a villain wicked enough? Can I make the hero heroic enough?

Some ideas work and some don't.

Do you plot your books or do you let the ideas take you on an adventure until the end?

I am definite plotter. By the time I actually sit down to write a novel, I have it completely mapped out. I know what will happen to each and every character, what will happen in each chapter and each scene, what will happen with each storyline, and I even have much of the dialogue actually rattling around in my head.

I don't know why a writer would write a novel in any other fashion. Novels are not "random" events. There are specific plot devices, character interactions, and pacing structures that need to happen at certain points in the book. When I hear that a writer's characters "took off" in a new direction all on heir own, or that the storyline "had a mind of its own", it tells me that the writer is very new, inexperienced, and hasn't done the sort of detailed prep wok that will keep the novel on track to the end.

Pick one of YOUR characters that is your favorite, which one will it be and why?

My favorite character is also my fans' favorite character: John Clayton, Viscount Wakfield, from my 2003 novel, COMPLETE ABANDON. This is my fans' most beloved novel, and it's because John embodied all the heroic traits that female readers crave.

If you're a reader and haven't read it yet, I highly encourage you to give it a try. You'll devour every page! If you are a writer, I encourage you read it so that you can see how to write a yummy, seductive, heroic character. He's the best hero I ever drafted, and I am renowned for writing some of the best hero's in women's fiction.

Thank you Cheryl for this interview. You can find Cheryl's books on the shelf at any of the larger bookstore chains, such as Barnes & Noble or Borders. Or through any of the on-line booksellers such as Amozon. All of her books are in print and still available. Or yoou can check her out at her website

Now for a little fun...

Vampire or Wolf-


Love letters or Roses-


Night Owl or Early Bird-

Night Owl

Milk Chocolate or Dark Chocolate-

Milk Chocolate

Cowboy or Businessman-


Thank you all for spending time at Micole Writes Romance with Cheryl and I. I hope if you are not already a fan of hers you will run to the bookstore and pick up one of her books! You will not be disappointed!!!


Micole Black


Tracy Stewart said...

Promise of Pleasure sounds intriguing. I like the idea of the love potion making its way to several different women. It's different...which is GOOD. I'll be on the look out.

Great interview Cheryl and Micole! :o)

Micole Black said...

Hi Tracy. So glad that you could make it by. I can't wait for the Promise of Pleasure release either!!!



Sarah Simas said...

HI Cheryl and Micole,

Awesome interview! I really enjoyed reading your post, Cheryl. The advice you gave for aspiring authors totally hit home for me. :)

Best wishes for a stunning 2010!

Thanks, Micole, for asking the questions all novices want to know!((hugs!))

June Rodriguez said...

Hi ladies,

Thanks Micole for asking Cheryl to stop by and share her wise words with us. I really like your running list idea. I will use it to organize all the homeless ideas I have. Your info on pay per book was an eye opener but not a deal breaker. Looking forward to reading your latest.

Micole Black said...

June & Sarah, thank you both for stopping by my blog. Cheryl has supplied us with a wealth of information.

Hugs to both of you.


Donna O'Brien said...

Great interview Micole. As a Holt fun, it was great to learn a little more about the author. As a writer, it was so helpful to hear some of her tips! Thank you both!

Keep up the great work!


P.S. Micole, great blog on the meeting Saturday. Too true, emotion must be there or its just words.

Micole Black said...

Thank you Donna. Glad you enjoyed it!