First, I’d like to say thank you to Cynthia Woolf for letting me be a guest on her blog. For those of you who take the time to comment, I’d like to give away a copy of my full-length historical romance An Improper Situation in digital form to two commenters who’ll be entered in a drawing.
1. Tell us about yourself.
I’m a first-generation American. My parents are both from England and all my family is still there. I’m a reserved person who fills up my cup with alone time, the same way some people need to recharge by being social and out with friends. When I was getting my degrees in history and English literature from The College of William and Mary, in Williamsburg, VA, I went to the career center and took a personality test. Apparently, I am suited to be either a writer or an undertaker. I think I’m on the correct path now. I live in New England with my husband and children. I have a sister and mother on the west coast and all the rest of my very large family are still in the UK. I love cats (currently caring for three) and have recently become a first-time dog owner and now I love dogs, too.
2. How did you get started writing:
I started writing at a young age. For some reason, I filled notebooks with song lyrics, as well as stories. I still find songs to be very inspirational. When I’m driving in the car, a song will come on that sparks some story idea and I can’t wait to get home and start writing. I finished my first novel when I was 17. It was deservedly rejected on my 18th birthday. I tucked it away and went to college, then grad school, and then I started in my career in publishing. I’ve held just about every position on the editorial side of publishing. Finally, last year, I turned my focus back to writing and in October of 2012, I published An Improper Situation, set in the 1880s.
3 Tell us about your current series/WIP.
It’s a three-book series, starting with An Improper Situation, which begins in fictional Spring City, Colorado, then moves to the hero’s hometown of Boston, MA. It features Reed Malloy, a proper Boston lawyer, and Charlotte Sanborn, a self-sufficient, if somewhat repressed, writer. It was so much fun to research. What a great time period the 1880s is! So modern and so many firsts. The sequel, An Irresistible Temptation, features one of Reed’s sister’s Sophie, who is a classical pianist, and her very sexy hero, Riley Dalcourt, part cowboy, part doctor. This story takes my couple to the opposite coast, to rip-roaring San Francisco, another great researching project for me. It should be out within a few weeks. I got sidetracked by life lately, with a trip back to England and cataract surgery, but now the manuscript is nearly ready to go. I’m so pleased with the cover from Dar Albert at Wicked Smart Designs. Here it is, a sneak preview, as well as an excerpt:
“I was about to knock but I heard the most unbelievable music . . . and it was you,” he said, wonder in his voice, his eyes fixed on her as if he hadn’t seen her before.
“Sorry, the door was unlocked.”
Sophie was blushing again for the second time in as many days. What was it with this man?
There was no need to pretend modesty. She was good and she knew it. So all she said was, “Thank you.”
Then what? What did he want? “Can I get you a cup of tea or coffee?”
“I’d rather hear you play some more,” he said, coming closer and taking a seat in the parlor.
Sophie stared at him a moment. She’d played for large audiences when performing at school, but now she found she wanted to play perfectly just for Riley. And that made her nervous.
“All right,” she agreed, sitting back down at the piano and flicking her long, nearly black hair over her shoulders. She closed her eyes a moment and decided what to play. Not her own composition that he’d stumbled upon, but something really spectacular. Of course—Mozart’s Rondo alla Turca.
She started and played for five minutes, then ten, not noticing the passing of time but occasionally looking over at him. He sat with his eyes closed, taking it in. She liked that. It was easier to play without him watching her. When she finished, after the last resonance receded, there was only silence. Then Riley’s chair creaked and he stood up and came over to her.
He took her hand and pulled her to her feet. Then he took her other hand and brought her round to face him. She thought he’d say that she played well. It was, after all, a difficult piece. Yet, as she looked up into his warm brown eyes, she caught her breath at what she saw there. She knew it was coming; she’d seen that look on a man’s face before, and she couldn’t move even if she’d wanted to.
Sure enough, Riley lowered his head and brought his lips down to hers.
Sophie stayed frozen. She should step back and slap him. She should scream at his outrageous behavior. She did neither. Instead, she leaned in to his tender kiss, and as she did so, whatever was happening between them ignited like wildfire.
His mouth slanted across hers and his lips moved against her own, while his hands dropped hers to encircle her waist and pull her closer. Her nostrils were filled with the scent of him, clean vanilla and a hint of leather. Her own hands moved up to rest against his broad chest, and she could feel the staccato of his heartbeat fierce against her sensitive fingers.
When his mouth became more insistent and opened against hers, she felt his teeth tug at her lower lip and her knees went weak.
“Sophie,” he half-whispered, half-groaned against her mouth.
If you’re interested in Sophie’s story, you can go to Goodreads, at http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17349430-an-irresistible-temptation, to read the back cover copy for this as-yet unpublished novel. I just noticed that I already have a five-star rating on the book. It’s from one of my beta readers, not from my mom, I promise.
The third book in the trilogy is not yet titled. It features Charlotte’s brother, Thaddeus, and a surprise heroine who is in the first two books. My idea of Thaddeus, a photo from the internet of a male model, is stuck up next to my computer and he glowers at me daily for not getting immediately to his story. I can’t wait. Besides, I really need to get him out of my head; he’s taking up way too much room.
4. What is your favorite part of writing?
5. What is your least favorite part of writing?
Getting started. I am a procrastinator and I always think it will be more difficult than it is. Even before doing this interview, I managed to make two cups of tea, play ball with the dog, sweep my hearth, and clean the litter box, among other time-frittering tasks. Now that I’m writing it, I am flying along.
6. How much time do you spend promoting your books? What works best for you?
I need help with this. Really. I read about writers who publish their first books and talk about ONLY getting 40 or 50 sales a month and then finally breaking through and getting 200 to 400 a month or whatever. I am nowhere close to those numbers. But at least the manuscripts are no longer languishing in my desk drawer. (Actually, there is a contemporary woman’s novel, set in Newburyport, MA, that is still in my pc somewhere. It’s ready to go, but I don’t have time to shepherd it through the process right now of getting published.) I guess the answer is that I haphazardly play around with promotion on any given day. If I have something to tweet, which is still very new for me, then I do so. I use Hootsuite to manage my Twitter and Facebook accounts. I don’t think those social media accomplish anything for me honestly in terms of promotion. I’m just not adept at them yet.
I also like Goodreads. I had a giveaway for An Improper Situation. Over 400 people entered, but after it was over and I sent off the paperback version to the winner, the other people who entered didn’t run out and buy my book. I would like to advertise on certain ebook sites, but you need a minimum number of reviews and I don’t believe I’ve reached that number yet. I think when the second book is released, then I’ll try some kind of promotional push, such as dropping the price on the first one and . . . well, I’m open to suggestions.
7. How has your experience with self-publishing been?
Love it, love it, love it. I have a micro-manager-type personality, which makes me a good editor. (Of other people’s work, that is. I don’t know an editor who can see his or her own mistakes.) With self-publishing, I can control everything, from length of novel, to release date, to cover art. I have a concept and then my cover designer shows me her manifestation of that, and she has no problem with my tweaking her design and making suggestions. Try doing that with a NY publishing house. There are, of course, downsides. No advance, no one to push you, no editorial help, no marketing assistance. And though I’ve been in publishing for over twenty years now, I’ve learned so much being on the author’s side of the desk. It’s great to be in my mid-forties and learning this new business.
8. What advice do you have for other authors wanting to self-publish?
If you do nothing else, pay for a copy editor and a professional cover. I don’t buy books with covers that look amateurish, and I stop reading a book by page four or five if I see loose, sloppy prose or typos. A writer may have the best story idea in the world, but if he or she hasn’t honed the writing craft or had a professional find the mistakes that every single one of us makes, then that writer is not putting out a professional product.
9. Soapbox topic: Be professional.
This relates to #8. I actually stopped reading two books recently. The first one just didn’t grab me plot wise by page five, so I stopped. Life is too short. The second one needed a good edit and a rewrite. When in the heroine’s point-of-view, the heroine shouldn’t describe her own attributes, such as removing the sunglasses off her “unusually colored green eyes with flecks of gold.” People don’t think of themselves like that. You need another character to bring out the description. Plus, the clichés were coming fast and furious: rippling muscles, lustrous hair, etc. Yikes. It screamed amateur.
Again, thanks to Cynthia Woolf for having me on her blog.
An Improper Situation (five-star average on Amazon) by Sydney Jane Baily:
With her chestnut hair and striking green eyes, Charlotte should be the catch of Spring City, Colorado. But she wears her independence like an impenetrable suit of armor and cloaks her identity behind her famed writing nom de plume of Charles Sanborn. She’s a 24-year-old confirmed spinster who won’t risk heartbreak, until a handsome stranger awakens her yearning both for companionship and for indulgent pleasure.
Boston lawyer Reed Malloy has a solemn mission—to deliver two orphaned children to their Colorado cousin. He’s not prepared for Charlotte being utterly innocent and yet irresistibly beguiling, or for her brewing resentment and flat-out refusal to raise her kin. It will take some firsthand persuasion if he is to complete his legal duty and, perhaps, resolve more tantalizing issues.
When Charlotte forsakes everything familiar—and two thousand miles of America’s heartland no longer separate her from Reed—unforeseen influences conspire to keep them apart. The high society of the Boston Brahmins welcomes her . . . while concealed malice abounds. With the intrusion of sinister forces and scorned women—and with passions ablaze—Reed and Charlotte find themselves in a very Improper Situation.
To purchase An Improper Situation:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Improper-Situation-Sydney-Jane-Baily/dp/0615701191/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1359476000&sr=8-1 (paperback)
http://www.amazon.com/An-Improper-Situation-ebook/dp/B009L8V2AO/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1359476000&sr=8-1 (Kindle version)
B&N Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/an-improper-situation-sydney-jane-baily/1113575542?ean=2940044975880
All Romance Ebooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-animpropersituation-988641-158.html