Hello, loves! Suze here. I’ve got an extra yummy treat for you–no, no more cookies like last week! But something just as good, and not at all fattening. The fabulous Ana E Ross is with us today, and I can’t wait to introduce you if you’re not familiar with her work. The second book in her Billionaire Brides of Granite Falls series, THE MOGUL’S RELUCTANT BRIDE, just released and it is selling like crazy. I’ve read book 1 (THE DOCTOR’S SECRET BRIDE), and I’ve got THE MOGUL queued up on my Nook to read over the upcoming long weekend.
Tell us a little about yourself.
Well, I was born and raised on the Caribbean island of Nevis—which also happens to be the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton. I come from a large family of ten boys and two girls, so you can just imagine how crowded and loud it was on a daily basis. Anyway, an aunt—with whom I lived for some time started me reading at a very early age—3 years to be exact—and I used reading as a way of escape from my rowdy brothers. I grew up on Nancy Drew, the Bobbsey Twins, Hans Christian Andersen, and many of the other children’s story authors. When I was a teenager, I fell in love with romances.
More recently: After teaching English Literature and Writing for several years, I quit teaching in January to write full-time. I felt as if it was something I needed to do. I cashed in my retirement and that’s what I’ve been living off of for the past few months. I had to take a chance on me. If it turns out that writing is not as financially rewarding as I hope, I’ll return to the classroom. Time will tell. But at least when I lie on my deathbed, I will be able to say that I took a chance on me, followed my dream, and die without regrets.
What was the first romance novel you ever read?
Wow, I wish my memory extended that far back, but unfortunately it doesn’t. However, the first romances I read were Regencies and Mills & Boons, Harlequins, Silhouettes, and a vast number of historicals.
Did you sneak it out of your mother’s underwear drawer, like I did (SHANNA, by Kathleen Woodiwiss, for me)?
This question made me chuckle, because I know my mother never read a romance in her entire life. My parents were very religious and the only material they read were the Holy Bible and Christian related material. Actually, I had to hide my romances from my mother; my aunt didn’t care though, which was a blessing since I spent a lot of time at her house.
I started writing in high school—short stories mostly, and then I transitioned into poems—many of them obviously on the theme of love. I didn’t start writing romances until about twenty years ago. I’d just finished a romance and didn’t like the ending and thought I could write a story with a much happier ending. And thus my writing career began with The Doctor’s Secret Bride. The title has been changed several times over the years, but the premise of the story is the same.
Your newest release, THE MOGUL’S RELUCTANT BRIDE, is selling like hotcakes and has gone as high as number 245 on the Kindle paid list and is holding at number 1 on several sublists. As of today, it’s at number 341, and the first book in the series, THE DOCTOR’S SECRET BRIDE, is at number 924. Other than the fact that these are beautifully written, wonderfully hot reads, why do you think they are so popular?
I would like to think that those two titles are doing well because of the high level of sensuality and hot sex. Seriously though, probably because of the themes of the stories—forgiveness, redemption, closure, healing, and definitely the strong bond of love and passion between the main characters. Also, I love to torture my heroes, put them through the ringer—make them earn the heroines’ love. The fact that they have to fight hard for their HEA make them more appealing it seems. Readers have commented that they like the roller-coaster rides and that they feel the myriad of emotions the characters go through. They laugh, cry, scream, and cheer along with them. So strong emotions must play an integral part in the success of the series.
How many books do you have planned for the Billionaire Brides of Granite Falls series?
There are four books in the series. But since many readers have enquired about a story featuring Robert and Yasmine—Michelle’s brother and her best friend—I’m thinking of writing a spinoff of The Doctor’s Secret Bride where Robert goes off to investigate their father’s story.
Do you keep a series bible to keep the characters and the details straight?
Oh, yes, I definitely have to do that, especially since the characters make appearances in each other’s stories. Granite Falls is a small town and they are bound to run into each other. Also because of the bond of brotherhood between the heroes, I have to keep their physical and emotional characteristics straight.
What form is that in? (electronic, 3-ring notebook, index card box?)
I keep electronic bibles with timelines, first meetings, birthdays, marriages, dates of conception, births, etc. The four books take place over a four-year period, so I have to pay attention to the details, or my readers will call me out on inconsistencies. I also created a map—both electronically and poster-size—of the town of Granite Falls with specific landmarks, streets, etc., and since the heroes are billionaires, I make plans of their homes as well. I keep the poster-size plans and maps on the wall over my desk and I consult them while writing. They keep me focused and help me to bring my characters to life. I can really see them interacting with each other.
What type of marketing and publicity have you done/are you doing for your books?
Other than enrolling Book One into Amazon’s Select program, I didn’t do any marketing or publicity when it was first released. I was just blessed I guess, and I didn’t worry about it so much since I had a full-time job. However because I had a lot to lose with Book Two, (my retirement was running out), I had to get a marketing plan in place. I advertised on numerous promotion sites, some free, some paid. In addition, I re-enrolled Book One into Amazon’s Select program and used my free days before, during, and after the release day of Book Two. During 3 free days, I had 27k downloads of Book One, and it’s still selling well. The freebies definitely helped with the blowout sale of Book Two. I hope that most of the 27K downloads for the first book will generate into sales for the second. Again, only time will tell.
Why did you decide to indie publish?
After umpteen years of trying to sell these two titles the traditional way with the big six—well big five now, I finally decided that enough was enough. I had to make my own dream come true. I was inspired by Ruthie Cordello’s success as an indie publisher. Ruth and I met in 2010 at another romance author’s summer garden party and we were in the same boat with trying to sell to Harlequin. She went indie the next year and made the NY Times Bestseller List in months. We wrote similar books, so I thought I’d try my own hand at indie publishing, as well. I’m so happy for all those wonderful rejections from New York.
I hire out the cover design, editing, and formatting portions. But I just enlisted the help of my twenty-three-year-old daughter who just graduated from college and moved back home to help with finding free promotion sites and handling my newsletters. She did a great newsletter to announce the launch of Book Two, so we entered a kind of quid pro quo—as long as she continues to help, I make her car payments until she finds a job.
How long does it take you to finish a book?
It depends. I’ve written a book in three months, but I think if I want a book to be great, I need about five to six months to fully develop the characters and strong emotions that a lot of readers say they love in my stories.
Do you reward yourself when you type “The End” or put a book up for sale? Yes. I take myself, and my daughter out to a nice dinner. I do indulge with a nice bottle of wine and some chocolate, too.
What are you working on now? When can we expect it?
I’m working on The Playboy’s Fugitive Bride – Book Three in the series. I hope to have it on the selves in September 2013.
What’s your junk food of choice?
I love strawberry cheesecake and buffalo chicken wings.
No pets at the moment. I used to have a cat, but she died of old age a few years ago. I plan to get another in the future. I love cats and watch “The Big Cat Dairies” over and over again. Actually, Massimo, the hero in Book Three owns a big cat named Jabari.
You can connect with Ana here:
Here’s Ana’s Amazon page where you can buy her books: http://www.amazon.com/Ana-E-Ross/e/B006UNSSD2/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1369273073&sr=1-2-ent
Who’s got questions for Ana? She’s giving away copies of her book to 3 randomly chosen commenters, so don’t be shy!