Monday, August 13, 2012

Interview with Regina Duke


Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book?
Calin’s Cowboy, is a sweet romance and a cozy mystery.

Calin Holliday’s life is finally almost normal. Memories of the high school accident and family tragedy that turned her world upside down have been conveniently hidden away in her subconscious. But when her beloved Chinese crested hits the wrong key on the computer, she is forced to face the past whether she likes it or not. And thanks to her Facebook blooper, she needs a cowboy fiance for the weekend!

Derek Longley grew up on a ranch, but yearned for the Hollywood life. Too bad he got more than he bargained for. As a result of a decision made in crisis mode, he is forced to work for a shady investigator on a special assignment. His future and his reputation are on the line, but he couldn’t leave that poor injured dog on the side of the road. He steps into Dr. Kay’s Veterinary Hospital to save the dog’s life and ends up using his acting skills to play Calin’s fake cowboy for her class reunion. Little does he know that fate has some surprises in store for both of them. And so does Cupid.

Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
Oh, yes. I’ve been writing since my teen years, but the first four novels were beginner efforts. I began submitting with novel number five and submitted for over 20 years, collecting some lovely rejection slips along the way. When the opportunity to publish ebooks came along, I decided it was now or never. I would fulfill my dreams, or at least know that I made every effort possible to do so.

How are your story ideas born?
There are so many sources of inspiration! Stories unfold in my mind all the time. They even pop out when I’m having a “normal” conversation. So pinpointing inspiration is difficult. However, when I need to sharpen a hook, I spend two or three days asking myself questions. Why would she do that? What allows him to know this? Who are the background characters? Where do they live? Who were their parents? Their siblings? By answering those questions (and more), the story idea grows and matures until I am ready to write.

Do you belong to a critique group? Have they helped improve your writing?
My “critique group” is spread all over the country. They help me spot plot holes, which I am famous for digging. And they bring me up short when I get lazy with a scene or when my character motivation sounds all wrong to them.

What’s your favorite part of the writing process?
Getting into the flow of the story. There comes a moment when the characters talk to me! They make some decisions on their own. That’s when I know I have living, breathing people on my hands.

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish to Amazon?
A big factor was retirement. I realized that if I was old enough to retire, I didn’t have the time to wait for New York anymore! I wanted to know whether my books would be appreciated by readers. I wanted to reach my readers, build an audience. Amazon gave me a chance to do that.

Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
I have an editor who works on all my books, and I have readers as well who offer their advice. I use 98 per cent of all the input I receive in order to improve my final product.

What have you learned during your self-publishing journey?
I have learned that people really love to read my stories, and that has helped my self-confidence no end! I cannot wait to add to my list of titles with strong, enjoyable characters and great stories. I believe in happy endings, whether I’m writing romance or mysteries. And my dog books also focus on the positive.

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
I am beginning to list titles at Barnes & Noble as well. Calin’s Cowboy is also available there.

What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
I disagree with those who say that beginners should wait until they have three or four books ready to go before publishing. In my experience, the learning curve is so great with regard to marketing, finding editors, and experimenting with sales techniques that I feel the sooner you get your feet wet, the better. I learned so much by preparing and publishing my first title North Rim Delight! It helped me tremendously with all my other books. So I advise newbies to jump in.

What’s next for you?
I am preparing another cozy mystery and a new romance for publication. Fingers crossed! At least one of them will go live in August. I will keep writing and I work hard to make every new book better than the last.

You can check out my website here: http://www.reginaduke.com