Thursday, February 19, 2015

Interview with Marisa Dillon, LADY OF THE GARTER

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?
My debut novel, The Lady of the Garter, is set in the late 1400s. The heroine, Lady Elena, is a strong, independent woman determined to achieve two goals: win the heart of Sir James, a knight in the Order of the Garter, and to attain knighthood herself. The story grows as Elena disguises herself as a boy, becomes James’ squire and follows him into battle. But Elena’s determination and strength are tested as she confronts obstacles put in place by her nemesis, the evil Sir Nicholas. The twists and turns lead the reader on a romantic, high-spirited adventure that follows one woman’s pursuit of honor and true love. And yes, it’s the first book in a series.

How long before you got your offer of representation/your first contract? Was it for your first novel?
I had a successful author as a mentor and she told me most writers don’t get their first novels published. So I put my first manuscript away in a drawer and started a second one. But when I decided to go to my first Romance Writer’s National Conference in July of 2013, that second manuscript wasn’t finished yet. Instead of sitting on the sidelines, missing agency and publishing pitch opportunities, I pulled that first story out of the drawer, dusted if off, pitched and sold it. A lucky home run on my first time at bat.

What factors influenced your decision to go with a particular agent or publisher?
I had a chance to meet the publisher at the national conference. That doesn’t happen very often. When you are at a conference, it’s a bit like the wild, wild, west. There are coordinated pitches, and protocol, but there are unconventional opportunities too, like elevator pitches. I was invited to pitch my story at the hotel bar. And yes, I was sober, but had a strong drink after. The publisher loved the pitch and asked for the full manuscript. I received a contract just a week later from Soul Mate Publishing.
If you used a graphic designer/publisher’s designer, how involved were you during the creative process for your cover?
Each author fills out a very detailed form that they submit to the art department at Soul Mate, including what they don’t want on the cover. My publisher has a very talented group of artists working for them, but my editor wanted to introduce a new artist to the publisher and my book’s cover became the pitch. Because of that, I was able to pick the model, background, font and colors. It was an amazing experience. 

Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
I’m a total panster, which is the opposite of how I manage the rest of my life. Outside of writing, I’m a total planning geek, with Outlook, Excel spreadsheets, and ‘to-do’ lists ruling my world. I suppose my muse refuses to be corralled.

Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
Yes, and I recommend doing so to any aspiring author seriously considering publication, particularly if they aren’t a part of a critique group. There are many affordable services available and when it’s your writing, you are bound to miss some things, plus it gives you an objective critique. You know your mother will love whatever you write, but that won’t help you sell a manuscript.

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
Not yet. My publisher has an exclusive deal with Amazon for a number of months after the release. Because of that Amazon, does a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to promoting the book through its channels. Here’s the buy link:

What kinds of marketing [twitter, Facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
I’m a marketing and social media consultant for the television industry. Not only do I love marketing, I’m fortunate enough to receive extensive training in the subject and have some the most talented people around me. I focus primarily on Facebook and Twitter, but I’ve also produced a video book trailer and of course, I blog. Also, to save time and maximize my efforts, I’ve tied some of my social together. For example, when I tweet, that message is posted on my author Facebook page and my Amazon author central page allowing those tweets to be seen in both the US and the UK.

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
Absolutely. My job in the television industry is almost 24/7 and requires me to work sometimes 60+ hours a week. When you want to be published, you have to make the time— lunch hours, weekends, late nights, multi-tasking. I’d like to do this full time. Now, I just need to sell a lot of books. Ha! 

What’s next for you?
I’m working on the second in the Garter series that will include a Highlander spin, as well as a standalone story set in Georgian times about a belly dancer. No release dates available yet, but I hope to back to visit here again when they are available. 

AUTHOR Bio and Links:
With a degree in journalism, Marisa has spent many years writing for the television industry. As an award-winning producer/director/marketer, she has worked on commercial production, show creation, product branding and social media.

Marisa’s passion for writing began when her first-grade teacher read her poem aloud and posted it on the classroom wall. She soon followed up by writing plays for her neighborhood friends and hosting the productions in her garage.

Marisa has always enjoyed reading romance novels and now realizes a dream come true, writing romantic adventures. She lives in Kettering, Ohio, with her first love and knight in shining armor, James.

Here’s how to follow me until then:

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