It’s lovely to see you here, Kemberlee. First a little about the brand new novel, Shape of My Heart, and you can read about the other two novels after the interview.
Shape of My HeartIrish Pride Series, book 3
Gráinne has moved back to Dublin to get her life straightened out. She dreams of college and a better life. She’s working for her brother, Kieran, in his newly reopened pub, The Blues Tavern, but the money isn’t enough to support herself and pay tuition. Moonlighting at The Klub! as an exotic dancer seems to be her answer to fast money.
John ‘JD’ Desmond is a detective working undercover in the Blues Tavern. The Klub!, owned by Jimmy Malloy, is being used as a drug front, headed by the notorious Taylor Wade. JD had intended to get Gráinne to snitch for him, but when he falls in love with her, things get complicated.
When Gráinne witnesses Jimmy’s murder, she and JD are forced to go on the run until Wade can be apprehended. Wade lives up to his nickname, The Hunter, and JD and Gráinne quickly find themselves at the end of a gun and running for their lives.
Sounds great! Thanks for answering the following questions, Kemberlee.
I don’t really know. It’s one of those things that just happens. I was an early reader, so I’m sure that had something to do with it. I used to borrow picture books from the library and write my own stories based on the images. I wrote my first short story when I was about 9. When I was around 15, I started writing a story about a school girl looking for love. Of course, she was my age and looked and acted nothing like me :) By the time I was 23, I’d finished by first complete novel, as of yet unpublished due to the embarrassingly horrid writing! Around the time I was 16-17, I heard the song Paperback Writer by the Beatles. I’d heard it loads of times before, but suddenly it woke me up and I said, “I’m going to be published one day.”
How much does living in Ireland affect your writing and stories – if it does?
Living in Ireland is great for research. They say ‘write what you know’ so I just go outside. When I lived back home in Northern California, my first books were historicals set around my home area. Now that I’m living in Ireland, my stories tend to be set here. The other thing that’s changed is that, up to now, I’ve only published contemporary tales.
Do you write only romance? Are you planning to write in any other genre?
This is sort of a carry-over from above. I love the romance genre and tend to write romance. I’ve started some crossover stories though. My current WIP is a time travel, a first for me. Also, under a pen name, I’m writing erotic romance. Okay, technically still in the romance genre. I guess I’m hooked! I’d love to write crime or a detective story, but, you know, the last time I tried writing outside my normal box, the characters fell in love!
You’re obviously a real romantic!
What is the most difficult part about starting a new book?
Finding the time to actually write. These days with our new company, finding time to write has been challenging. Doesn’t mean the ideas aren’t still floating around in my head, or that I haven’t written pages of outline for that magic time when I can actually write. They are, and I do. Fortunately, as the company grows, we’re able to bring in more help which, in theory, is meant to free up some 'me time'.
Do you have a favourite writing place?
It really doesn’t matter where I write. Once I get going, I go inside myself. My only requirement is that it be quiet. No dogs throwing toys at me, no phones ringing, no music on in the background. Just quiet time so I can concentrate. When I was younger, I enjoyed having background noise, but not these days. Ask me about my favorite research places next time :)
Oh, sounds intriguing!
How do you promote your books and does it work?
Promotion is tricky. There’s no single thing that’s guaranteed to attract readers into buying books. I do the usual things, like blogging, interviews, getting reviews, etc. But times are quickly changing, so I have to change with them. The new ‘big thing’ is coming from listing services which send members free daily newsletters with recommendations. The author/publisher pays for those listings. This is a new avenue for me, so I’m giving it a try. I’ve seen many well known authors’ books on these lists, so why not mine too?
The most important thing is word of mouth. It only takes a small handful of readers who love your work to tell all their friends about it. I think what works consistently, is just being consistent with promotions, and I try not getting discouraged when the returns are low.
I know the feeling!
Do you find time for hobbies?
9-11pm. Nightly. I usually work 9am to 9pm - 9pm is rubbish telly and knitting time for me. Sometimes also referred to as rubbish knitting and telly time. Lol
I love watching TV at night too, but I don't knit!
What are your current writing plans?
I need to find that illusive 'me time', as I have several stories percolating in my head. It’s one thing to have voices in your head. I’m just afraid one day they’re going to come out and it won’t be to go down on paper! I have that time travel WIP to finish, and I’m behind on a couple erotic romances that are long overdue. And, of course, there’s that drawer full of old manuscripts I could pull out and work on. One day.
What made you go into the publishing business and does it curtail your own writing?
We’d thought a few times of getting involved in the publishing business. I’ve worked in various aspects of the book business for more than 20 years, and the hubs has a great mind for figures and technical things. We had an opportunity to buy a small press about 15 years ago when the partnership was breaking up, but ended up not, as one of the partners thought she could keep things alive. Sadly, that didn’t happen.
A couple years ago, I got the rights back to some previously published work and thought to self-publish them. They were only short stories, but would have been a good experiment. We already had the company set up for when I was writing travel articles, so I used it to publish my own stuff. Funnily enough, I got a couple submissions without advertising. The hubs and I talked about it and decided to try another experiment. So we invited a handful of authors I knew to submit something. The rest, as they say, is history. We’ve just entered into our third year doing business and it’s going great.
To answer your second question, YES. I tend to work twelve hour days, mostly six days a week. Seven days if there’s something extra going on. Working those kinds of hours makes it very hard to write my own stuff. After being at the computer all day, the last thing I want is to sit here in the evening. Sometimes, I just can’t get my fingers to click one more key. Oddly though, knitting doesn’t seem to be a challenge! I do schedule time off during the year—the holidays and the midseason break—but my brain has other ideas. As soon as it’s ‘down pencils’ in the office, my brain shuts off and doesn’t let me write. Much. I may have to go back to the old pencil and paper, and relearn the art of handwriting!
Tirgearr is a great publishing company and very friendly towards writers!
Any tips for new writers?
Oh, yes, and this is very important. Soapbox time for me J
You must treat writing like a business if you want to publish.
If you’re a hobby writer, write for yourself and be happy that’s what you’re doing. If you write to publish, then you must—must— treat it like a business. Your book is your product. If you don’t promote it regularly and consistently, it’s going to sit on the shelf collecting dust. And that can be one of the most discouraging things for any writer.
Consider this—you spend months, maybe years, planning to open a shop. You find a great location, fill the space with incredible merchandise, design a wonderful shop exterior, then place some ads. Opening day comes and you’re so excited. Loads of people come in, but no one is buying.
Do you close the shop?
Of course not. You stay open, because this was your dream. Even though no one buys anything the first few days, or weeks, you need to keep promoting. Maybe that next ad campaign will be ‘the one’ that brings in the buying public. Or maybe you get just one customer who comes in and buys something, then goes home and tell some of their friends, “Have you seen the new shop in the town? You must go in. They have that thing you were looking for . . .” or whatever the reason. Those people come in, buy something, and they go home and tell more of their friends. Eventually, the shop will be full of people. And it happens because you don’t give up, but also because you consistently promote.
Most writers I know hate talking about themselves. They prefer to bury themselves in their writing and let someone else handle promotions. That’s fine, but hire a professional if you can’t or won’t do it yourself. If you can’t afford it, then learn the art of self-promotion, and discover the outgoing side of yourself.
Having a business is very hard work. It’s not for the faint of heart. And you must realize, if you treat publishing like any business, the first three to five years are the make-or-break years. To make it takes hard work. Like working twelve to fifteen hour days, six and seven days a week.
And remember, only one in a million writers will be the next JK Rowling or the next EL James. For the rest of us, we must promote and market. Even when it means spending money. However one promotes, it must be consistent. If one thing doesn’t work, try something else. Just don’t give up.
Nothing good worth having is appreciated when it’s given to us. We appreciate it more when we work hard to obtain it.
Thanks so much, Romy for having me on your blog today.
Thank you, Kemberlee, for such great advice!
Kemberlee’s other two books in the Irish Pride series have been reissued with these lovely new covers.Rhythm of My Heart
Irish Pride Series, book 1
Artist Representative, Eilis Kennedy, gave up a singing career so that other women could have a fair chance at having their music heard. Having suffered rejection from callous men in the industry, she thought she would get away from ‘casting couch’ mentality. But when she finds herself in the office of Fergus Manley, all bets are off. Disgusted by his continual come-ons and lewd invitations, Eilis is looking for ‘the one’ who will take her career to the next level, getting out from under Fergus’s controlling thumb.
Aspiring blues guitarist, Kieran Vaughan, is looking for his big break. But after suffering near bankruptcy at the hands of an unscrupulous business partner, Kieran is left picking up the pieces. He’s unsure if the debts will ever be paid or if he’ll ever have a chance to do something with his music. At his wit’s end, he’s about ready to throw in the towel and find a full-time job with real hours.
When Eilis discovers Kieran playing in a seedy pub in Dublin’s Northside, she knows he’s the one rare talent she’s been searching for. With her know-how and his talent, Eilis will finally get everything she’s been waiting for. Neither of them count on the powerful attraction from first meeting. Eilis is so rocked by Keiran’s forthright words that it sends her running. Kieran risks being arrested as he chases Eilis across Ireland.
Seeing what’s happening between Eilis and Kieran, anger wells inside Fergus and he steps up his pursuit of Eilis. Refusing to let Kieran get in his way, Fergus vows to add Eilis’s notch to his bedpost, whatever it takes.
Will Kieran be able to protect her?
Rhythm of my Heart is available in all e-formats including Amazon kindle from Tirgearr Publishing
Irish Pride Series, book 2
Mick and Kate thought they were falling in love. Kate hadn't been just the girl next door. She'd been Mick's life, and he hers. When an unforeseen force draws them apart they're left with wounds that refuse to heal. Now, ten years on, Mick's father's will should have been straightforward, except his addendum was like ice water in Mick's face.
It's essential that Mick and Kate work together to save his family's farm. Mick doesn't count on his new manager being accused of murder, and Kate doesn't expect a dangerously seductive woman from Dublin to claim Mick is the father of her child.
Kate thought she was falling in love with Mick all over again; however this newest revelation is too much for her. She is determined to finally say goodbye to her childhood sweetheart forever, but Mick has other plans for Kate's future. And none of them involve goodbye.
A Piece of my Heart is available in print and all e-formats including Amazon kindle from Tirgearr Publishing
The great news is that all three e-books are on a special offer of only 99c/£0.77 each in April!
Kemberlee Shortland is a native Northern Californian who was raised in a community known as Steinbeck Country, home to author John Steinbeck, as well as Jack London, Robert Louis Stevenson, and others. With so much literary influence around her, it's not hard to see why Kemberlee fell in love with the printed word.
It was in 1997 while employed by Clint Eastwood that Kemberlee couldn't pass up the opportunity to spend six months in Ireland. While in Ireland, she met a man who eventually became her husband.
Living in Ireland has allowed Kemberlee to study the country's torrid past and unique culture first hand, and has even picked up a cúpla focal . . . a few Irish words.
In recent years, Kemberlee had published several short stories and novels, including the popular Irish Pride Series.
Kemberlee's current work in progress is a time travel romance called The Diary.