An Interview with Secrets and Charades Heroine Evangeline

secret-charades-front-coverToday, I’ve invited Dr. Evangeline Olson-Marcum to my blog. She is the heroine of my Historical Romance, Secrets and Charades, set in the imaginary town of Charleton Texas circa 1872. I thought an exclusive interview with Evangeline might be fun. I’ve asked her to share back-story and tidbits, not in the novel.

Welcome, Evangeline.

It is my honor. As I told Juliet, family history is important. So, please ask your questions.

Tell us about your parents and siblings?

I was born in New York, one of six children. I was the youngest girl and my baby brother Charley and I were close. My father Hans Olson’s parents came from Norway and my mother Molly O’Malley immigrated here from Ireland with her sister May. Pa owned a small mercantile, and she worked as a maid. It was love at first sight. They left New York when I was a wee thing and homesteaded in Wisconsin. Uncle Carl had offered to bring Pa into his business but he had his heart set on farming.

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How was life after your mother died?

Pa spoiled me. I have my mother’s burgundy hair and green eyes. While my three sisters have Pa’s blond hair and blue-eyed. I spent more time playing with Charley then learning domestic skills. Greta, Heidi, and Katie took turns mothering me. If they joined forces, I hadn’t a prayer. When I was 12 my father died and Ernest, the eldest took over the farm. By then Greta and Heidi were married and Katie engaged.

Are you comfortable telling my readers what happened when you were 13?

Not really. I’ll just say the months I spent in New York with Uncle Carl’s family changed me. I buried the details in a journal and the hurt hidden in my heart.

Why did you become a doctor?

My sister Katie married a doctor. Shamus was a pacifist. When the War between the States broke out, he offered medical aid to both sides of the conflict. She and I became his nurses. We gathered the wounded from the battlefield. Confederate and Union soldiers. Shamus encouraged me to pursue a medical degree. Unlike Katie, I discovered I liked restoring health. By the time, I found a medical school that accepted female students my apprenticeship under Shamus had put me well ahead of the male students. The challenge of staying at the top of the class as a female was exhausting. The professors and male students did their best to discourage me. After completing my degree, I went into practice with Shamus. Even though the community knew me, they did not respect me as a doctor.

1870s womanWhy would a doctor choose to be a mail-order bride?

My niece, Maggie, trapped me into it. And of course, the secrets from my past. God had me right where he wanted me. Your readers will have read my story for themselves.

What would you like readers to learn from your story?

My heart changed when I accepted the lesson Jesus had for me. The past does not dictate my future. The Lord forgives and offers a new beginning. I hope your readers will take courage and embrace their faith with confidence.

Thanks for coming, Evangeline

My Pleasure.

Here is the back-cover copy for Secrets and Charades:

Jake Marcum’s busy ranch leaves him no time for courting, and his wounded heart has no place for love. When battlefield nightmares disturb his peace and his tomboy niece, Juliet, needs taming, somehow a mail-order bride seems like a logical solution.

Dr. Evangeline Olson has no idea her niece is writing to a rancher on her behalf, and she sure isn’t interested in abandoning her medical practice for a stranger. But when an inheritance threatens to reveal a long-buried secret, she travels west to become Jake’s wife.

Jake soon realizes Evangeline is more than he bargained for, especially when her arrival causes a stir in the community. As the two try to find their way in a marriage of convenience, their fragile relationship is further tested by cattle rustling and kidnapping. Can their hearts overcome past hurts to create a real marriage.

If you want to learn more pick up a copy of Secrets and Charades available for pre-order.

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Creating Jake: My inspiration, Readers Imagination

Last week I reposted a blog about my heroine Evangeline in preparation for the release of Secrets and Charades in March 2017. Today I’m reposting Jake’. I’m trying to persuade them to let me do an interview to tell their backstory. So, for now let me share how I created my hero.

JUBILEE WRITER

Sam ElliottSam Elliott is the epitome of the cowboy persona he’s successfully portrayed for decades. He tops John Wayne in my book as best cowboy ever on the silver screen. His smoldering eyes and soft-spoken manner always make the womenfolk swoon. He is the basis for my hero in my novel Secrets and Charades. Although Jake’s hair is black he has the mustache and the persona of Sam.

I didn’t actually paste a picture up of Sam as I wrote. Many novelist have photos of their characters in their workspace. I’ve seen enough of his movies to sense how his cowboy characters would react. However, I’ve tempered that persona a bit because Jake is a man of faith. His faith plays an important role in how he interacts with his world, on the ranch, the cattle drive, in town. Jake is awkward around women while treating them with the utmost…

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Evangeline with the Burgundy Hair : Creating A Heroine

I am reposting a blog I wrote a few years ago. If you’re following my Facebook Author page you see I’ve been posting trivia about my new release Secrets & Charades. The last trivia factoid explained where I got the idea for Evangeline’s hair color. So, I thought I’d repost this blog to introduce her again to my readers. I’m trying to persuade her to let me interview her before the book releases. Next week I’ll repost how I created the hero Jake.

JUBILEE WRITER

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Monday I shared how Jake the hero in my novel, Secrets and Charades came to be. Today I’d like to introduce the heroine by her most startling feature—her hair. How to describe Evangeline’s hair color was a challenge. I could picture it so clearly in my mind’s eye. A girl I went to high school with had the most beautiful red hair, but it wasn’t red like Lucille Ball or Carol Burnett. It was more…more burgundy. Evangeline is the heroine and strong-willed mail order bride to my determined cowboy Jake. She has green eyes but no freckles. Her skin is peaches and crème. You know, porcelain skin with just enough blush on her cheeks to draw attention to her eyes. But she’s tall for a woman in the 1870s and a doctor to boot. A rare combination for the time and not a desirable mate for most men.

Evangeline…

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Marketing Accountability

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Marketing tip # 5 Be accountable

I hate the idea of marketing. I’ve already mention how little I know.  One thing that is keeping me on task is having someone to be accountable to. She checks in with me every week to see how my marketing is going.

She is also doing research, searching for the best marketing options for me.  I don’t have the time or the inclination to figure it all out on my own. Erin is a godsend and I am grateful. She is a writer and aspiring novelist. But your marketing accountability person need not be a writer.

Your spouse, a family member or friend can be that person. It is so easy to let life interrupt your marketing goals. Knowing someone is going to ask about your progress and meet with you to achieve them can be the perfect catalysis.

Don’t settle for just anyone. Avoid the too helpful and bossy. They love to fix things. They’ll take over and make you crazy.

Instead find someone you feel comfortable with. And who understands your project and listens to what your endgame is.

Questions to ask yourself

Do you trust their counsel?

If they see you are going over budget and their suggestion is to trim it. Could you receive that sort of advice from them?

Do they respect what you do?

If your spouse, friend or family member doesn’t think being a writer is a real job why would you ask for their help? Look for people who admire your tenacity for taking on the hard task of writing a book. They will be excited to help you market it.

Are you open to criticism from this individual?

How the two of you relate can make or break your success. Criticism is not the same as counseling. Criticism may not come with an alternative solution.  Can you receive their criticism and evaluate the bones to find the truth behind the sharpness? If not, your stress levels are going to wreak havoc on your decision making.

 Do they keep their commitments?

I’ve known people who say yes to every project. But rarely finish any of them. The committee member who shows up once full of ideas. He never appears again until the celebratory banquet.

 Can they agree to disagree and work with you, anyway?

After carefully considering the counsel or criticism, you still decide to do it your way. will they walk away or stand by you? This is your show, not theirs. Your reputation and success are on the line. Can they stay supportive in the background and let your choice play itself out?

Once you’ve found that person treat them with the same respect and consideration you want for yourself. Together with the aid of your launch team you should create the right amount of buzz to push your sales consistently forward.

 

Do you have a marketing accountability partner?

 

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Learn What You Don’t Know

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Marketing tip #4 Learn Stuff

To quote Leroy Jethro Gibbs (NCIS) when he tells his agents to investigate. “Go! Learn stuff!” They need to do interviews, research facts, and revisit the crime scene and evidence. This same directive applies to marketing. When it comes to marketing “we don’t know what we don’t know.” And for me, there is a gob of stuff I don’t know.

I just spent time building my author page on Amazon. Once you get in there it is a step by step process. Clear instructions and examples helped me put all the components in place. Then I came to the part where I could add my blog address. I know my URL. It’s http//www.jubileewriter.wordpress.com. But the site asked for my RSS. Without it, my blog post would not be part of my author page. What is an RSS and how do I find it? I didn’t have time to email a friend and ask for instructions. As I pondered this, the words of a young member of my critique group came to mind. You can find anything on YouTube. Thank you, Erin. So, I googled “how do I find my blog’s RSS.” Voila! I clicked the first reference. A blog about it with a—wait for it—YouTube link at the bottom to find your RSS for WordPress blogs. The RSS for WordPress blogs is simply—feed. You add a forwardslash and the word feed. Other blog servers have different RSS that must be added after your URL. I didn’t bother to learn those. Sorry! I’m sure there’s a YouTube video for those as well.  So, my URL with RSS looks like this. http//www.jubileewriter.wordpress.com/feed. I learned what I needed to know.

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Learn what you don’t know

Educate yourself about any social media you don’t know. I’ve used Facebook for years. Twitter is fairly new for me. I’ve been reading blog posts about hashtags to figure out how best to mark my posts. Twitter is an awesome place to market because your tweets go out live to every one of your followers and on feeds that match your hashtags i.e. #amwriter. You can retweet the same thing often because unlike Facebook people usually don’t go back once a week to scroll through what they missed.

I accidently got a Pinterest account. How can you accidently sign up for one? I needed a picture for my blog. Signing up gave me access to all those Pinterest pictures from various boards. Now I have Pinterest and their admin constantly emails me boards I might like to pin to my site. I need to learn more about Pinterest and create some boards myself. It is easy to use. My sister loves it. Other authors swear it is an awesome tool.  That brings me to the next point.

Make time to learn stuff early on

The learning curve for new things for some of us is long. I do better if someone talks me through steps while I do them. But I can follow step by step instruction, it just takes me longer. Learning how to create a blog site and figuring out how to reach more people has been a big learning curve for me. Blogging is part of my marketing toolbox. I have been using it for a few years. Years before my novel got a contract. Years before my novel is due to come out. This is key. Don’t wait until your book is out to learn stuff. That is like reading about CPR while your spouse is having a heart attack. Your novel may die before it has a chance to be part of many reader’s libraries.

 

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Be proactive

Ask marketing questions and do what can be done long before your book is published. I couldn’t create an Author page on Amazon or Goodreads before I had an ISBN number for my novel. But I could create a reader page on Goodreads and post lots of book reviews. Goodreads is a great place to engage with other readers. My Facebook friends who are avid readers follow me on Goodreads. Now I’ll build an author page on Goodreads and those same readers may follow me as a writer.

Pay for what you don’t know or don’t want to learn

There are wonderful people out there who can design bookmarks, flyers, and postcards for advertising in no time. Then there is me. I would rather pay for someone to do it for me than do it myself. As I journey through marketing my novel, Secrets and Charades, I will pay for others to do some of the work for me. Research which marketing people are right for you. Ask around for referrals. Learn stuff.

Share what you know

Gibbs always gathered his team for a briefing. Each agent shared what they found out and all the pieces were put together. Share the stuff you learn. Even if it’s little. There is always someone who doesn’t know what you know. Don’t be a negative Nellie. Be sure the things you bring to the cooperative marketing idea table are truly helpful. And if you must warn someone of a bad experience, package it in carefully chosen words. The right attitude may set the stage for you to be offered an opportunity to share stuff in a speaking or teaching venue in the future.

Tell me what you’ve learned about marketing along the way that made a difference for you? What services would you rather pay for? How do you learn stuff? I’m anxious to hear your answers.

 

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Writers Need a Marketing Budget

calculator-1464008_1280Marketing tip #3 Budget

This is not a fun subject to talk about. Have a budget. I am focusing on doing as much free marketing as I can for my new novel.  Free is always good. But to reach more readers, I am going to have to spend money. Gone are the days where the publisher paid for all the marketing. My budget is small so I am going to be very careful where I place those funds. Every publisher has their own list of what that is so I won’t elaborate here.  If you are self-publishing then all the expenses of the book fall on you. A budget is even more crucial for self-pubs to stay on track with what needs to be done.

Free marketing

Facebook, twitter, and other social media are free forms of marketing. Just don’t make every post about your book. There’s an 80-20 rule. 80% of your posts is about other things; your characters, your setting, funny things, memes and photos, other author’s books, promoting other people’s endeavors and 20% talking about your new release and buy my book posts.

Word of mouth is free advertising. Encourage your friends, family and launch team to spread the word.

Costs

Marketing cost may consist of launch party giveaways, both virtual and live parties, bookmarks, postcards, flyers, ads. Other possible investments might be craft fair table fees and book trailers. Video trailers are becoming very popular but may not fit your budget.

Marketing never stops

I will need to continue to market after the initial sales. Funds from a portion of the sales must go toward ongoing marketing budget. Authors are in business. So, I better not use every dime of my royalties for household needs or a vacation.  A percentage must stay in the bank.

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Once that first book is out I will need to continue producing more books because the possibility of that one book becoming a best seller giving me millions of dollars is highly unlikely. So, I’ll need to budget funds for editing and advertising for those upcoming projects as well.

Test the waters

If one form of marketing doesn’t get me the results I desire, I’ll try another. I’ve been advised not to invest more than I am comfortable losing on any new method. Test the waters with the smallest possible investment. If I’m happy with the results I’ll invest more.

If your income exceeds your output, you are a success.

Don’t know what is a reasonable budget? Refer to my marketing tip #3. Ask author’s with good sales figures what they have done.

Final thought

No amount of budgeting will work if your manuscript is not well-written. Always make craft your number one goal. That said. Even a well-written manuscript won’t sell if it is not marketed well. Writing and marketing go hand in hand.

What kind of budget is working for you?

Where are your budgeted marketing dollars being the most effective?

Because I am new at this too I’d appreciate comments from readers about their experience.

 

 

 

 

Are You Participating

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Marketing tip # 2 Participate.

There is a learning curve in marketing. The less you know the longer the curve. Educating yourself before you even have a book to market shortens the curve by miles. The easy way to learn to maneuver the writer’s marketing journey is to participate in others’ journeys.

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Facebook Virtual Launch Parties reach across state lines.

I’ve participated in a few virtual launch parties, and its easier than I would have first thought. Now with Facebook live, it can be even more fun.  Lots of posting, trivia questions, and giveaways.  Even if you don’t win it’s a great time.  I haven’t had a chance to be on someone’s launch team and be part of the behind the scenes crew. But I’ve taken my own advice and asked a lot of questions from those who have.

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Beth Ann  Ziarnik participates in her live Book Launch with wonderful results.

 

 

Participate in live events

I’ve been to book signings and have supported authors when I can. I’ve stopped by author booths and craft shows and learned how effective this sort of event is.

Participate in Conferences

Going to and meeting fellow authors at conferences can help build a plank on your platform. People who provide information and help when you are published. Attend classes. Have lunch with a new friend. Thank speakers and teachers for their time and knowledge. They will remember you and may be more willing to lend a hand in promoting your work.

Cynthia Ruchti  always looks sharp. This is how a successful writer should dress.

I meet one of my favorite authors, Cynthia Ruchti at a conference.

Participate in the world around you

Writers are often solitary individuals. Keeping company with their characters and lots of books. Get out of your writing cave. Find friends who are not writers and do things together. Volunteer at church or organizations so people know who you are. If you are employed be sociable. These people are future book buyers. Friends are more willing to take a chance on your story even if it’s not something they would normally read. Those friendships are golden for free promotion.

How do you participate in preparation for marketing?

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