Thursday, September 11, 2008
FEATURED AUTHOR: Shirley Hailstock
Shirley Hailstock began her writing life as a lover of reading. She’d like nothing better than to find a corner in the library and get lost in a book, explore new worlds and visit places she never expected to see. As an author, she can not only visit those places, but she can be the heroine of her own stories.
A past president of Romance Writers of America, Shirley began her writing career on a dare. Taking a year to complete her first manuscript, the writing bug had bit her and she discovered telling stories of love and adventure was what she wanted to spend her life doing.
Last Night's Kiss
Supermodel Rosa Clayton has a glamorous lifestyle. She’s traveled the world, and now she needs a break. So she’s spending the summer in small-town Montana, with its fresh air, incredible sunrises, endless skies—and guaranteed heartbreaker Adam Osborne.
A former television news journalist, Adam has returned to Montana to settle down to a life of quiet simplicity. It’s a plan with little room for a high-maintenance diva like Rosa, and he lets her know it. But Rosa finds his resolve only makes him more irresistible—and mysterious…
What would you like your readers to take away from your book?
My September book is Last Night’s Kiss. It’s the final book in the Clayton Family series. I’d like readers to take away a sense of love and well being. Many of them have been with me since the first Clayton brother’s (James/Digger) story was released. They’ve gotten to know the family, the towns they live, the women they love and in some cases other adopted children. I’d like them to want more books, more stories about this family and others like them.
What did you learn while writing this book?
I learned a lot about modeling. Rosa was a supermodel, her name a household word, but her life was a little empty since she never stayed in one place for very long. The glamour that we see on the outside is far removed from the actual being that really inhabits that body.
What is the hardest part about the writing business?
Writers have so little control over anything other than the words on the page. The hardest thing for me is taking the next step up the ladder. In order to get promotion, placement in stores, ads, the sales force to push your book, the push has to come from your publisher. If they aren’t behind you, there is nothing you can do outside of just having something lucky happen that will catapult you to their attention.
What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?
I wish non-writers understood that writers need them to buy their own books at regular stores. Many of us have to hold a full time job to support ourselves because we don’t make enough from our books to live on. No royalties are paid on used books. After working all day we come home and write at night to provide the books they love.
Our theme this month is Online Marketing. What online marketing have you found that particularly works well for you?
I really haven’t done a lot of online marketing. Because of the answer to the question before this one, I’ve concentrated on getting more stories written instead of using my energy coming up with marketing programs. I have an e-newsletter which I used to announce books. I will usually respond to an online interview, chat, or write an article for an online source. But I have not done trailers, banner ads, or the like. I maintain my own website (which does need overhauling).
What are three things you wish you'd known before you reached where you are now?
1. I wish I’d reached out to the readers more. I believe many of the more successful authors have large fan bases and this helps when they have a new book out. I did some marketing, but it was directed at a different source. I didn’t know how to market this way. I tried, booksignings, postcards, newsletters, and I kept a file of both e-mail and snail mail addresses. When a new book was coming out, I’d send to the list, but I didn’t really see a huge increase in sales.
2. I wish I knew the secret to success. Of course, I don’t because if I did I’d use it. But it is one of the things I wish I’d known before getting to this point.
3. What can you add after number 2? I wish I’d known that control of my career was out of my hands. That the publisher is the one with control. I suppose I did know this, but I wanted to think I could do something to affect the buying habits of consumers. I’ve succeeded in some respects, but to the level that I want.
Was there ever a time in your writing career you thought of quitting?
I think every writer has gone through that (more than once). A fellow author once told me that the difference between being published and not being published is the unpublished person quit. I vowed that would not be me. And twenty-five novels and novellas later we all know I sold.
Do you have any advice for the aspiring writer?
Read, Read, READ. Read everything and analyze it. Why do you like it or don’t like it? Strive to make your book better that the ones you like and definitely better than the ones you hate. Also, start out as you want to go on. Many authors believe it is easier to get published in one area before branching out into another – the one they really want to go in. With the market being both fickle and cyclical, if you write for a market, it will change before you have time to finish the book. And if you do get published in that “easy” area it’s even harder to move because you have a history that will follow you.
Are you part of a writer’s organization and if you are, tell us about the benefits?
I’m active in several writers organizations, most notable is Romance Writers of America. I am a past president of RWA. I’m also active in my local chapter. The benefits is market news, getting information that is not as readily available to people who do not belong. Also, there is the camaraderie and networking. There is always someone who knows what you need to know for your book. They are free with the information and often pass on information from their agents or editors. When something is new, the RWA members know it first.
Five questions about books:
One book you’ve read more than once.
I can’t think of any book I’ve read more than once. There are so many new books that I don’t have time to go back and re-read those I’ve already read, even if I love them. I can always count on the authors to provide me with something new to top what they have done in the past.
One book you couldn’t put down until you finished.
This is an easy question. The book is Hummingbird by LaVryle Spencer. I never read the last page because I didn’t want it to end. I wanted to stay with the characters, have their lives go on and on.
One book that made you laugh.
Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ You Made Me Love You. I’m a writer. I know the set up. I knew the punchline was coming, yet I was rolling on the floor laughing. I recommend it to everyone.
One book that made you cry.
Commitments by Barbara Delinsky. It’s one of her original paperbacks that was written several years ago before she became an NYT Bestselling author. The book involves a mother with a severely retarded child. While I can tell you the story of the hero and heroine from beginning to end after so many years, I remember the love the mother had for her child. When she had to place the child in the care of others, it wrenched my heart and opened the tear ducts.
One book you wish you'd written.
The DaVinci Code and any of the Harry Potter books. I’m no fool, I wanna be rich and famous. But a romance I wish I’d written, there are so many. If I can only choose one, I’d say Emily’s Secret by Jill Jones. It mixes contemporary and historical. It gives an alternate history to a real character. The characters in the book are well drawn and I could not put the book down. I also wish I’d written Hummingbird by LaVryle Spencer or any of her books. I love them all.
How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)
Readers can contact me in several ways. I have an e-newsletter. They can subscribe by sending a blank message to firstname.lastname@example.org. They can send me e-mail as Shirley.Hailstock@comcast.net and of course, they can send snail mail to my address: Shirley Hailstock, P.O. Box 513, Plainsboro, NJ 08536-0513
My web page address is http://www.geocities.com/shailstock
- I believe in promoting authors and their books. Let me introduce you and your books to online readers.
I'm also a happily married mother of three who's trying to break into the Christian writing field. The writing road can be rocky.
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