Thursday, 17 April 2014

Author Spotlight: Kemberlee Shortland

I’m delighted to give a very warm welcome to romantic novelist Kemberlee Shortland who is visiting from beautiful Ireland, although she is originally a native of California. As well as being a writer herself, Kemberlee is the force behind independent company Tirgearr Publishing and it is a great pleasure to work with her and her staff. Today, however, Kemberlee is visiting in her persona of novelist with three great books set in Ireland in her Irish Pride series.

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 Heart
Irish 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.
Shape of My Heart is available in all e-formats including Amazon kindle from Tirgearr Publishing

Sounds great! Thanks for answering the following questions, Kemberlee.
Tell us a little about how you became a writer.

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my age and looked and acted nothing like me :) By the time I was 23, I’d finished by first complete novel, as of yet unpublished due to the embarrassingly horrid writing!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.”
Great inspiration!

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

A Piece of My Heart
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.
You can connect with Kemberlee on her Website; Facebook; Twitter; Tirgearr Publishing


Kemberlee said...

Thank you for hosting me today, Rosemary. I'm happy to be here visiting with you and your readers. I'm around all day if anyone has any questions.

Please leave your email address on your comment. I just might have a book to give away to a random lucky winner! ;-)

Joan Fleming said...

A really valuable interview, Kem and Rosemary, not least because the information comes from a writer/publisher. With experience of both, Kem, you're an ideal person to pass on your views to any writer hoping to be successful. All best wishes to you and Tirgearr Publishing!

myraduffy said...

Another fascinating interview, Rosemary. It's so good to learn about how other writers work.-

cathy mansell said...

This is one of the best interviews I've read from Kemberlee. Good questions Rosemary and Interesting and informative replies from Kem.

I've read the first two books in the Irish Pride series and looking forward to reading Shape of my Heart.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

I'm delighted to host you, Kemberlee. Thanks for sharing so much.

Thanks for that kind comment, Joan!

Thank you, Myra - I find other writers very interesting!

Hi Cathy - many thanks for your lovely comment. I'm looking forward to Shape of My Heart too!

David O'Brien said...

Great info for everyone. Hand writing stuff is a great way to get the brain to work even with distractions, I find.

Jennifer Young said...

Kem, that was fascinating. I, too, have the problem of characters who keep falling in love when I don't intend them to. (Why do they keep doing that?)

Kemberlee said...

Thanks, everyone, for stopping by. It's just a bit of waffle, but I like waffles.

About those consistent promotions, one of the places I'm experimenting with is eBook Soda. They operate just like BookBub, where readers sign up for the newsletter, and tell the service what kinds of books they want to see deals on. When they sign up, they're given a list of genres they chose from, and it's from those genres that reader's email of recommendations will feature.

For authors buying spots on these sites, we list the book info and buy links, but they're also encouraged to discount the book to attract readers. They won't feature books at normal retail.

The major difference between eBook Soda and BookBub, is that BookBub fees are astronomically high. $400+ for contemporary romance listings, or $200+ for romantic suspense. $200 is cheaper, but wow! We're talking about a one-off feature in the newsletter. That's. It.

eBook Soda is a relatively new service, so at the moment, they're only charging $5. Yep, just five smackers!

I firmly believe that readers are finding their books on these services more now than ever before, so it's worth investing some money to get our work seen by readers. The average for most listings is around $50. I can't dispute that BookBub has one of the largest audiences, but $400 is a *lot* of dosh. Since they're not the only game in town, I'm testing out a few avenues.

If you sign up at eBook Soda -- -- and tag contemporary romance and romantic suspense, you'll see my ads through may. I've got three days to feature each book in the Irish Pride series. And you can bet I'll be watching sales figures.

Kemberlee said...

Jennifer, I feel your pain! ;-) It's those voices in our heads, I think. *We* have a story we want to tell, but when we flesh out our characters, they take on lives of their own and change everything around.

Rhythm of My Heart started out as an erotica. Straight forward erotica. Then Keiran and Eilis's stories came out more and there were sparks that had nothing to do with s-e-x. OK, so I'll write and erotic romance. But as the story developed, and the couple had trouble getting together, it was tough to insert sex into a scene when the couple weren't even on stage together!

So, that's how that story came to be. Then the series took on a life of its own.

I do write erotica/erotic romance, but under a pen name. But, as above, I haven't had much time for it lately. I've got them outlined, and have book two started. Just need the time to dig into them. Once I do that 'going inside myself' thing when writing, it can be hours before I come out. Usually totally bewildered ;-)

Anonymous said...

Nice to get to know you, Kemberlee. Your novels sound a gripping read! Thanks also for your comment about EBook Soda. I hadn't heard of them before, but will definitely have a look into them. Your comments about treating writing like a business were just what I needed at the moment. And I'm with you on the knitting and rubbish television! :)

Anonymous said...

Great interview, Kem. Love reading about you.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Helena - many thanks for your kind comment. It's what I needed too!

Thanks for dropping by, Charlene!

Kemberlee said...

Hi Helena, Thanks for visiting.

Really, writing is a business. Most of us want to make a living off our writing, and the only way to do that is to treat it like a business and promote it like a business. This is our lifelong dream, for most of us, and we need to do what needs doing in order for it to be successful. It's all in the mindset.

It's kind of like creating a character. For the time you're in that story, you *are* that character. To sell the book, you need to adopt another character . . . that of saleperson. Sure, it might not be how you normally are, perhaps shy and reserved, but you have to bring out your inner salesperson.

Look at it this way. Readers love engaging with their favorite authors. If they come to you, they enjoy your work. Don't hide from them. Have a chat. Chances are good, you'll make a new friend and maybe some new fans via that new contact. Win-win :-)

Kemberlee said...

Nice to see you, Char! Thanks for visiting.

Paula Martin said...

Great interview, Rosemary and Kem - and you're so right about the promotion of your work. It really is a case of try everything, and hope that something works!

Kemberlee said...

Thanks for stopping in, Paula. Yes, try everything. There's no one magic answer for everyone.

It just twists my brain inside out when someone is a debut author, puts their first book out, and it shoots right into the stratosphere. I have a friend who's first book did that. Short novella, paranormal romance. She's not really advertising it either. 5 months under 6K rankings at Amazon. If she lived closer, I'd throttle her ;-) (she's one of my besties so she's forgiven. I just don't get it)

Wendy's Writing said...

Thank you much for this post, Kemberlee and for hosting, Rosemary. Some very wise words that I will try to remember - especially about writing being viewed as a business (I let too many things get in the way).

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks, Paula - it's a necessary evil, isn't it!

Thanks for commenting, Wendy - I'm still trying to get that business hat on!

Kemberlee said...

Thank you, everyone, for visiting with me yesterday. I really enjoyed it.

I'm going off now to draw a random name from the comments and will contact one of you shortly. :-)

Joanna said...

Thank you, Rosemary and Kemberlee. I loved reading this entertaining and informative interview. There's some fantastic advice here. I really like the idea of treating it like a business. It makes a lot of good sense.

Thank you and Happy Easter to you both xxx

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks for commenting, Joanna - happy Easter to you too!

joanne fox said...

Fantastic interview. I admire your work ethic, Kemberlee, and you are quite right about taking a business like approach. Very inspiring, thanks. x

Frances Evesham said...

Thanks for some terrific information just when I need it. It's very generous to share so much of your hard-earned wisdom!
I bet both your businesses, writing and publishing, will keep going from strength to strength.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Many thanks for commenting, Joanne!

Thanks for leaving a lovely comment, Frances!

Kemberlee said...

Thank you, everyone, for your additional comments. I've been sick the last couple days and haven't been online much, but wanted to stop in and say thank you for continuing to comment. I'm glad that something I've said has resonated with you.

I did chose a winner after the Friday -- Helena Fairfax. I'm sending her prize today now that I'm back online more. Congratulations, Helena!

Thank you, Rosemary, for hosting me. This was the funnest visit I've had in a long while :-)

Please keep the comments coming, and if you have any questions, I'm still getting notifications of more posts.

Happy Easter!