It’s the first day of the big, annual Romance Writers of America conference in San Diego, and we’re in the mood to celebrate. If you’re going to be there, say hello to our agents, Laurie and Tricia. Maybe even pitch them your work. But if you can’t make it out, we have a little something special for you.

Announcing CARDS NEVER LIE, the steamy new contemporary romance by Heather Hiestand!

EbookCover_Heather_Hiestand_2

LIFE ASSESSMENT
Seattleite Melanie Vanderpool needs to change her conservative ways and find a new wild life. So why does a fortune teller have to give her such bad news about her soul mate? The good news—passion is in her future. The bad news—her dream lover is going to be forceful and perverse. Hmmm…what can a girl do but jet off to Las Vegas and start hunting for her man?

CAREER ASSESSMENT
Melanie is going to lose her job if she doesn’t come up with some hot new products for her massage oil company. Can attending an adult movie convention give her some ideas? For sure, rubbing up against sex toy company CEO Rob Black is giving her some seriously amorous thoughts. But it will be hard to focus amid the spies, handcuffs and mayhem.

Folks, this one is riveting–and HOT.

We’re launching it today with an introductory sale. For a limited time, pick it up for only $1.99.

And, as you may have heard, all of our Hot Fuse romance titles are 50% off this month at the Smashwords store. That means, if you buy CARDS NEVER LIE from Smashwords, you’ll pay only 99¢. But only this month, and only at Smashwords.

Heather Hiestand, if you don’t already know, has written numerous romances in several different sub-genres. to give you an idea, her new releases for 2016 will total seven books and one boxed set over two pen names. We sat down with Heather over a cup of coffee and the Internet to talk a bit about what it takes to be a successful romance author these days.

What is your writing process like?

I have a school-aged child, so in the summers, I set my alarm for a time theoretically before he wakes up (he’s a night owl) and try to get in at least a thousand words before I get him up. During the school year I have about twenty-five hours a week with a quiet house and I can write up to three thousand words a day. I preplot my novels which takes about a week, write a synopsis, and then do a complete first draft start to finish before I start revisions and share with critiquers. My novellas can be more free form, though not always.

What was the inspiration for the story? You don’t have to answer if it’s something that’s better left in Vegas.

Back in my single days I used to go to Las Vegas on occasion, for bachelorette parties, work conferences, and the like, so the setting was true to my visits. I also used to study herbalism and aromatherapy, and that leads into my heroine’s job. Ah, the carefree days of fifteen years ago! There was also a phase of time where the media was kind of whitewashing the porn industry, when rock stars were dating porn stars, that kind of thing, and I took my more happy-go-lucky approach from that era.

You also write erotic romance under the name Anh Leod. In your experience, what are some of the perks and difficulties of maintaining two pen names and two separate lines of work?

Back when I started writing erotic romance in 2007, we were encouraged to have different names for vanilla and erotic romance. The genre lines have blurred dramatically since then and I doubt I would make the same decisions in 2016. The reality is, it costs time and money to have different identities and you appear to have fewer releases when you are breaking them between names. That isn’t always good in today’s market, especially if you aren’t writing extremely different books, like children’s and erotica. I’ve been paying attention to publishing for twenty-one years now, and times have changed.

Name something in the romance genre as a whole that really has you excited.

I’ve had an outstanding amount of fun with Kindle Worlds, which started out as a fan fiction environment on Amazon and now has turned into an author cross-promotion platform. It has none of the negative drama I experienced when doing multi-author continuities in the past, yet helps with worldbuilding and promotion. My first Kindle Worlds story was last week’s A TREASURE IN LAGUNA in the Laguna Beach Kindle World.

Conversely, what would you really like to see in romance that just hasn’t happened (yet)?

Discoverability lingers as an enormous problem. How do you get readers to your books? It continues to be harder. Even traffic to my website is dramatically down from a few years ago. I’d also like to see historical romance come more fully back to life. I heart historical romance so completely, and it breaks my heart to have it be such a tough sell.

Do you have any tips for aspiring authors who want to break into romance?

Make sure your books are ready by receiving feedback from others. Pay attention to feedback that is repeated by multiple people. That is your signpost to what needs to be worked on. We all get a bad reputation when books are released too soon. I’d recommend at least ten sets of eyes on a first book. Try contests, writers groups, writers associations, friends, and family. Wherever you can get an opinion.

As one who has written numerous romance novels, how important is community to the genre?

There are always moments when knowing other writers is valuable. Emotional support is one, because non-writers just don’t get it. Networking is very helpful to get advice steering through the murky waters of bottom feeders trying to make money from vulnerable newbies and veterans alike. There are great websites about predators, but I recommend developing a set of friends, both locally and online. Some of your best and worst opportunities in this field will come from those you know. Also, critique partners and beta readers are invaluable, and you’ll probably find most of them in fellow writers.

One part of community in this field is simply doing your reading. Understand your subgenre and your fellow authors by reading widely and deeply. This is as much your education as any writing class. I reviewed for years.

What’s next for you?

I’ve been very focused on historical romance for a few years now, but I’ve restarted my contemporary romance career just this month, first with A TREASURE IN LAGUNA and then with two more novella releases later in 2016. This is also my first toe dip into indie publishing since 2014 as I’ve been focused on work with my publisher for some time. I have my new historical series starting up with IF I HAD YOU on September 27th from Kensington as well. I plan to have a new Victorian historical romance out at the tail end of the year. It’s going to be a busy second half of 2016!

 

Thanks, Heather! And nice of her to point that out. In the back of CARDS NEVER LIE, there’s a special excerpt of IF I HAD YOU, so you can try that one out before you buy it. And if you like it, the link to pre-order is right there in the ebook.

Pick up CARDS NEVER LIE now on Amazon for $1.99 or on Smashwords for 99¢.