Thursday, February 20, 2014

Interview with Katheryn Lane

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?
I’ve recently published my first cowboy romance (most of my other books have been sheikh romances), called The Texas Cowboy. Here’s what it’s about:

Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the problems.

When Vicky flies into Texas, she immediately falls for the charms of local cowboy, Jack Cassidy. However, her wealthy Dallas cousin, Laura, has other ideas and will do everything she can to steer Vicky away from Jack and into the arms of a rich oilman.

Jack is resigned to living the life of a lonely cowboy whose only female company is his horses—that is, until he meets Vicky. However, Vicky isn’t the only person with a claim on his heart. Jack wasn’t always alone and his ex is about to make a dramatic comeback.

Every cowboy has a past and this cowboy’s past is about to destroy his future.

I originally wrote it as a stand-alone novel, with Jack and Vicky finally together at the end, having overcome the many obstacles and difficulties that stood in their way. However, their marriage is only implied and since the book was published, several readers have started to ask about their wedding and if Vicky’s cousin, Laura, will take over their wedding plans. Therefore, I’m now thinking of writing a sequel to The Texas Cowboy. I’m still trying to work out the details, but Laura will probably try to turn their wedding into a huge Dallas social event and Jack’s wild ex, Cassie, will definitely make a dramatic appearance. At the moment the book has the provisional title of The Texas Bride.

If you used a graphic designer/publisher’s designer, how involved were you during the creative process for your cover?
When I published my first book, The Royal Sheikh, I tried to design my own cover and it was a disaster! After getting very frustrated with Photoshop, I decided to focus on writing and hire a professional to do the designing. The cover for The Texas Cowboy, as well as the covers for several of my sheikh romances, were created by Jane Dixon Smith at J. D. Smith Designs, who does a fantastic job! For each book I sent her a rough description of the type of images I would like her to use and then she drafted a series of possible covers. They always look so good that I ask readers and other authors for their opinions. This is really helpful as they often point things I haven’t even noticed. For example, the cover I almost chose for A Bride For The Sheikh showed a bride reclining. However, one reader who has worked as a wedding consultant, told me that you never, ever photograph a bride laying down (who knew!) and advised me against using it, so I went back to Jane who worked on a alterative design. After a few alterations, we settled on the final image, which I love!

The cover for The Texas Cowboy was also difficult because it was my first cowboy novel, so Jane worked on quite a few possible covers, and I asked other people for lots of advice and suggestions. All of Jane’s designs looked great, but I chose the final cover because I think it shows not just a sexy cowboy, but it also hints at the fact that this cowboy has a troubled past.    

Do you belong to a critique group? Have they helped improve your writing?
I do and I find their help invaluable. As well as asking people for help about my book covers, I also have a group of beta readers who read my books before I publish them and offer suggestions. Generally, my beta readers are romance lovers who are prepared to tell me the truth: the good, the bad and the ugly! For my latest book, The Texas Cowboy, I was lucky enough to have some beta readers who are romance lovers and also know about Texas, including two people who live, or have lived, on a ranch. They were able to give me some really helpful tips about cowboys and ranches.

What is your writing process? Do you listen to music or do you like silence?
The key thing for me is to have several hours at a stretch in which I’m free to write because it takes me a while to get into the flow of a story. Therefore, I find it very hard to write during the week when work and family commitments mean I don’t have that kind of free time. However, I’m a high school teacher which means I get long holidays, so a lot of my work is done during the breaks. Then, when I’m back at school, I mainly focus on promoting. Although it’s usually inevitable, I don’t like being disturbed while I’m working, but apart from that I can work with a variety of background noise, such as the TV or radio. If I can, I like to listen to music while I work as it helps me get into the mood. While I was writing The Texas Cowboy, I listened to a lot of country music. I’m a big fan of country music, especially Willie Nelson, Toby Keith, Alan Jackson and Tim McGraw, and listening to their songs helped me to imagine I was in Dallas, Texas…

Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
Before I start a book, I draft an outline of the plot. However, once I begin writing, the characters can sometimes take over. For example, while I’m writing a scene, I might realize that a character would never do what I had originally planned, so I let them do something else which is more in keeping with their personality. For example, at one point in The Texas Cowboy, Jack is really upset. In the original plot he was meant to go out to the stables on his ranch and spend some time with his favorite horse, but once I started writing the scene, I realized that he was too angry to do that; what he really wanted to do was have a drink. Therefore, instead of going to the stables, he searches around in his kitchen and finds an old bottle of whiskey, an action which he regrets in the morning. Sometimes my characters take over, but not always to their benefit!

However, the basic outline of the plot remains the same, especially the end; the hero and heroine have to have their happily-ever-after ending. I couldn’t finish a romance with the hero and heroine apart. 

Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
I think it’s vital to hire a professional editor. No mater how good you and your friends are at proof reading, it’s very hard to spot all the errors in a piece of writing as you tend to read what you expect to read. Therefore, I always hire a professional as errors in a book, even minor ones, can really spoil an enjoyable reading experience. Even though it’s expensive, I think it’s an essential cost. (However, I’m not able to have my interviews professionally edited, so if they are any mistakes in this, please forgive me!)      

What have you’ve learned during your self-publishing journey?
The main thing I’ve learnt is that writing a book is only a very small part of the process. As well as cover design and editing, there’s also a huge amount of marketing involved and I think that’s true for both traditionally published and self-published authors.  As most of my marketing is done online, I’ve had to learn quite a lot of IT. Although I didn’t master Photoshop, I’ve learnt basic html and how to use a range of social networking sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and Pinterest. It’s been a steep learning curve, but it’s also been a lot of fun and I’ve met some amazing people along the way.

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
Most of my books are available from Smashwords as well as most online retailers such as Barnes and Noble, Nook, Apple etc. However, my last two books, A Bride For The Sheikh and The Texas Cowboy are currently only available on Amazon. However, this does mean that readers who are members of Amazon Prime can borrow these two books for free! 

What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
Work hard (and it can be very hard work!), stay positive, keep writing and most of all have fun! The world of publishing is changing very fast at the moment and huge opportunities are opening up to writers that just weren’t available in past. Find these opportunities and make the most of them! Last of all, don’t do it for the money. If you want to get rich, you’d probably be better off putting all your energy into becoming a banker.  

What’s next for you?
At the moment I’m thinking through and outlining The Texas Bride, a sequel to The Texas Cowboy, but I also have heaps of stories in my head, as well as several unfinished books on my computer, so it’s possible that one of those ideas will take over. I might start work on another sheikh romance and I’m also interested in working on a Regency romance. Whatever 2014 brings, I’ll be chatting about it on the following sites:

Thank you very much Debra for hosting me on your great site! I’ve really enjoyed doing this interview.

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