Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?
Fighting to Forgive is the second book in the Fighting Series. It covers middleweight, jiu-jitsu black belt fighter Blake “The Snake” Daniels. His character is introduced in book one as Jonah “The Assassin” Slade’s best friend. He’s a foul-mouthed bad boy who comes across as one dimensional, but once the reader gets inside his head they’ll find he’s more complex and more intense than they could’ve imagined.
Blake has secrets, demons from his past that he covers with a cocky smile and a dirty joke. Layla is the same. She wears fake confidence like a uniform hoping no one will see her for who she really is.
Through a series of events, they’re forced to acknowledge that everything they’ve avoided in each other is exactly what they need most in order to bury the past and move on.
Have you ever had a minor character evolve into a major one? Did that change the direction of the novel at all?
The closest I’ve come to this problem is with Blake’s character in Flight. I’ve said before that I believe everyone has an “Inner Blake”. It’s that personality trait that surfaces after a few too many shots of tequila. The voice in your head that tells you dancing on the table is a good idea. It’s that part of you that giggles when someone unknowingly says something inappropriate, or the part of you that responds to things like “Wow, that’s really big!” with a “That’s what she said.”
I’m pretty sure that my inner Blake was responsible for his near takeover. Blake’s personality came so easily and he just flew off the pages. It’s debatable whether or not he ended up stealing Jonah’s thunder a bit. I had to hold him back and even cut a few parts from Fighting for Flight because I thought he would overshadow our hero. Luckily it wasn’t hard to muzzle him because I knew at that point that his book had to be next. He was itching to have his story told. Once I started his book I just let him go and gave him his own pages to play on.
Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
No. I knew from day one that I wanted to be an Indie author. I’d been reading romance for years and had enjoyed the freedom that the self-published authors had. Their stories were raw, emotional, and some even controversial. I welcomed the idea of having complete control over my writing as well as my career. From conception to distribution, I wanted my hands in every aspect.
I’m not against traditional publishing, and if the opportunity arose I’d be interested in giving it a shot for the experience, but I’ve always been a writer for readers. Thank goodness with the direction that publishing is taking, there’s no need for the middleman any more. Writers can take their stories and drop them directly into the reader’s hands. I love being a part of that.
If you used a graphic designer/publisher’s designer, how involved were you during the creative process for your cover?
As a self-published author I have complete control over every aspect of my cover design. I worked on both covers with my amazing graphic designer Amanda Simpson at Pixel Mischief. She asked me how I envisioned the cover, and then took my ideas and expanded on them. The cover for Fighting for Flight happened almost instantaneously, but Fighting to Forgive’s cover was much harder. I had the perfect picture, but the model was covered in tattoos. Amanda had to take off every single tattoo because Blake doesn’t have all that ink. Once we got the picture where we wanted it, we worked hard on how to tie the picture into the space. After going through many different ideas, I finally came up with the door. It’s a significant as well as symbolic part of the story and once I saw it all together on the cover I knew. I broke out in goose bumps at the emotion in conveyed. That was it.
What is your writing process? Do you listen to music or do you like silence?
You can tell from my books that I’m very influenced by music. There isn’t one genre of music that I wouldn’t listen to. So yes, I listen to music a lot when I write. There are times when I prefer silence, like if I’m working on a particularly difficult scene, I don’t want the added distraction.
Besides getting comfortable and settling in somewhere cozy with my laptop, I have no writing process other than to put myself with that particular character and let my fingers record what I see happening in my head.
Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
I’ve never outlined. Well, that’s not true. I did try it for the book I’m working on now and it was a complete waste of time. My characters have so much to say, I just let them take me on the journey. It’s like watching a movie in my head. They tell me where they’re at and who’s there, I place the scene in my head and then push play.
What have you’ve learned during your self-publishing journey?
Wow, how much time do you have? I walked into self-publishing like a blind puppy, stumbling around and hoping for the best. Everything I’ve learned was due to plain ole trial and error. I think the most valuable thing I’ve learned is the importance of surrounding myself with good, honest people. I have a group of critique partners, other writers who I run my chapters by as well as brainstorm with, and vent to. They’re the ones who’ll pull me aside and say, “Hey, you can do better than this. Rewrite it.” I don’t know what I’d do without them.
There’s also a fabulous writer by the name of Elizabeth Reyes who is an absolute Saint. She’s a successful self-published author who’s been in the business and has always been great about allowing me to ask her the stupidest questions.
Another thing I’ve learned is that the Indie community is like a subculture all its own. Blogs, readers, other authors, it’s important to submerge yourself in that world and keep your finger on the pulse of the ever changing dynamics. Stay on top of the trends, be involved in the hot topics, make your mark.
Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
Absolutely! I want so badly to throw myself into Rex’s book, but I’m holding off a little because I want to give him 100% of my attention and right now I can’t do that. There’s no better feeling in the world than getting lost in a good book, and writing them is no different. When I plunge myself into the fictional world of UFL fighters and all the drama that comes a long with them, I can’t stand to be interrupted. That’s why I usually write after my kids go to bed or when they’re at school. I love getting lost in the story completely and leaving my ‘to do’ list behind. That said, I have started Rex’s book and at chapter two things are already super intense, so I’ll back off until I can jump back in and give him my full attention.
What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
Yes, surround yourself with good people. Not yes people, but honest people. Never ever read your bad reviews. Never. Don’t even touch them. You’ll think by reading them that you may learn something that could help you improve. You’re wrong. It’ll do nothing but jack with your writing mojo and make you question everything. And finally, reading is just as important as writing. It’s easy to stop reading books when you write. Don’t let that happen. Find time to get a book in. You’re writing, as well as your mood, will be better for it.
What’s next for you?
I’m going to continue writing. I have so many story ideas and characters swirling in my head, my fingers can’t work fast enough to get it all out. Next up in the Fighting Series is Rex. His story is going to challenge every aspect of my writing. The subject matter is darker than I’m used to. Rex is a songwriter so I’ve been forced to write lyrics, which is new to me too. And the fMC in this book is a 180-degree flip from the heroines of the first two books. I’m excited to see how it all plays out, but nervous as hell that I won’t be able to pull it off.
After Rex’s book I’ll give the readers what they’ve been begging for, Eve will finally get her HEA. Next in the series will be Braeden, Blake’s brother. His book will be fun to write because he’s so much like Blake and I look forward to getting those boys together for our entertainment. I have a book planned for Killian and Elle who the readers will get to know better in Fighting to Forgive. The evil Camille will get a book at some point, redeeming her bad girl image. Then there’s Mason, Caleb, and possibly Talon. There’s also a few other story ideas that aren’t MMA related that I’d like to explore.
Thank you for having me!
by JB SalsburyWhat do you do when everything you avoid, turns out to be exactly what you need? Easy and predictable, just the way he likes it, Blake Daniels flies through life the way he burns through women: on his terms, no regrets. With his fighting career in full swing, he's on the threshold of title contention. But when his training is compromised by injury, the stakes grow impossibly higher. The rage that fuels his punches also chips away at his focus, and he risks losing everything he cares about. He won’t let that happen. Not again. Layla’s through with men. After a marriage that never should’ve happened, she hopes to reclaim the pieces of the woman she lost years ago. Emotional abuse has left her insecure and terrified. A master at faking what she’s not feeling, she masks her self-doubt in false confidence. She’ll never let another man hurt her. Not again. Chased by shadows of the past, Blake and Layla know what they don’t want, but their hearts have a different plan. As a web of lies and betrayal threatens to destroy them, they’re forced to make a choice. Is love enough to heal even the deepest wounds?
For more information on the series or just to say hello, visit JB on her Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads.
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