For many years of my life, I was hailed as “The Queen of Erotic Romance.” I was one of the first authors to jump into erotics just as they were bubbling up as a romance subgenre. I wrote fifteen erotic novels and novellas. At the time, they were considered the cutting edge of the erotic market, but when we see how erotics have evolved over the past decade into full-on erotica, the old books I used to write seem very tame in comparison. They’re still fun to read, but they’re so different from what’s available now.
My erotic novella, SEDUCING THE GROOM, originally appeared in an erotic anthology in 2004. It was priced at an exorbitant $15.00, and the print run was very small, so very few people ever bought it or read it. It’s sort of a “lost” book for me. The rights recently reverted to me from my old publisher, so I’m re-releasing the book so everyone will have a chance to read it. And I hope you will. It’s a great story that’s extremely well written and very fun to read, but when you remember that—just a decade ago—it was the hottest kind of erotic story out on the market, it’s such a surprise! I think you’ll all be fascinated. The world is changing so fast!
“Well, good night then, Lord Banbury.”
Stephen St. John, Viscount Banbury, eventually to be Earl of Stafford if his recalcitrant, impossible father ever dropped dead, glared at the interloper who’d now been his wife for all of ten hours. The silence extended; the farewell grew awkward.
What repartee, precisely, was a man supposed to express at a time such as this? Sleep well? Pleasant dreams? See you in the morning? Or how about more aptly, What was I thinking, marrying a woman I don’t know? Have I gone mad?
Nothing seemed appropriate. Astoundingly, he blushed, his cheeks heating with an embarrassing dose of discomfort.
The wedding guests were gone, the house had been tidied by what was left of his domestic staff, and he’d been about to leave too, when he’d stumbled upon her floating down the stairs. She was scarcely dressed, clad in a diaphanous green negligee and robe that hardly covered anything that ought to be covered. Apparently, as she’d concluded that he was already off to his merrymaking, she’d believed herself to be alone in the massive, drafty domicile. Unable to sleep, she’d descended to fetch a relaxing refreshment.
Her hair was blond, the shade of ripened wheat. It was unbound and hanging down her back to brush her bottom, and he was gravely troubled by the display. She was much too forward and assured, prancing about in her nightwear before an unfamiliar man, yet she didn’t appear perturbed.
Yes, he was her husband, but nevertheless, they were strangers.
Even though he hadn’t meant to, he evaluated her graceful figure. He was only human! He couldn’t be expected to avoid looking at what was flaunted in plain sight.
She was much too shapely, and he squirmed uneasily and inspected the floor, only to be confronted by her feet.
Her toenails were painted red! The splash of bright crimson in the dull salon seemed immoderately sexy, out of place, incongruous and irreconcilable with the individual he pictured her to be.
Ordinarily, he was an urbane, sophisticated fellow, renowned and lauded for his aplomb, his polish and poise and, most particularly, for his way with the ladies. Yet with his new bride, he’d been transformed into a bungling, gauche oaf.
From the moment earlier in the day, when she’d waltzed into the parlor, promptly at eleven, he’d behaved like an ass. Throughout the abbreviated ceremony, then the afternoon of toasting and celebration, and the interminable meal that had wrapped up the festivities, he’d constantly tripped over himself, saying the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing, and generally making a fool of himself.
She likely presumed that she’d wed a moronic buffoon.
He was dawdling in the doorway, acting like a simpleton, powerless to depart, but incapable of maintaining any sort of intelligent conversation.
“Don’t let me keep you,” she obligingly said. Showing him her back, she strolled to the other side of the room, where surprisingly, she helped herself to a stout glass of brandy.
During the excessive, protracted gala, he’d covertly watched her. When his rowdy, wild friends had still been in attendance, she’d had naught to drink. While she’d ceaselessly had a beverage in her hand, he’d never seen her take so much as a sip. So why now?
He was used to consorting with a rather decadent type of lady, so he normally wouldn’t have heeded whether she’d imbibed or not. Usually, he paid no heed to what a female did or didn’t do. But it bothered him to discover that she was so nonplussed by events that she could blithely delight in a nightcap.
“Enjoy your…revelry,” she added. “I’m sure it will be most entertaining.”
From the beginning, he’d recognized that she had a husky, come-hither voice. When she talked, she always sounded as though she were on the verge of mentioning an indecent proposition. Thus, it was difficult to focus on the content of her speech, because the words kept getting lost in the sensual timbre of any utterance.
Narrowing his gaze, he studied her rounded behind, trying to deduce if she was mocking him with her flip adieu. Was she jesting? Was she serious?
She had to be joking. She had to be!
Though she’d readily and freely yielded to his ultimatum that theirs would be a marriage of convenience, how could she blandly acquiesce to his rushing out to cavort with others on their wedding night? Had she no feelings in the matter? Was she genuinely unconcerned about where he went or what he did? What woman—what wife!—could be so tolerant, so unmoved? What kind of person was she?
There was the crux of his problem. He had no idea.
CHERYL HOLT is
a New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon “Top 100” bestselling
author of over thirty-five novels.
She’s also a lawyer and mom, and at age forty, with two babies at home, she started a new career as a commercial fiction writer. She’d hoped
to be a suspense novelist, but couldn’t sell any of her manuscripts, so she
ended up taking a detour into romance where she was stunned to discover that she has a knack for writing some of the world’s greatest love stories.
Her books have been released to wide acclaim, and she has won or been nominated for many national awards. She is considered to be one of
the masters of the romance genre. For many years, she was hailed as “The Queen of Erotic Romance” as well as “The International Queen of Villains.” She isparticularly proud to have been named “Best Storyteller of the Year” by the trade magazine Romantic TimesBOOK Reviews.
She lives and writes in Hollywood, California, and she loves to hear from fans.Visit her website at www.cherylholt.com.
Hooray! I’m so excited to announce my new Reluctant Brides trilogy. I can’t wait for all of you to have a chance to read it. The three novels are coming with back to back releases this summer, May, June, and July of 2014.
Last summer, I released a trilogy back to back—my “Lord Trent” trilogy—and I had an overwhelming response from readers who told me that they loved having the chance to read the second and third installments of the story without having to wait months (or years!) to find out what happened to the other characters. It was such a huge success for me, and fans enjoyed it so much, that I decided to release another trilogy in the same format.
So…I’ve written my Reluctant Brides trilogy, and I’m delighted to report that the three books will come out one after the next. The three heroines are all spinsters who’ve been working at Miss Peabody’s School for Girls. They never had dowries so they never expected to marry, and with their being employed at the girls’ boarding school, they’ve had limited experiences with men. When the school is shut down, and they travel off—to marry husbands they’ve never met!—passions heat and love soars.
I can’t wait until summer, 2014. With my Reluctant Brides trilogy on your summer reading list, it’s going to be sexy and hot and fun!
New York Times bestselling author, CHERYL HOLT, delights readers once again with the first sizzling story in her new “Reluctant Brides” trilogy…
Rose Ralston has spent her life at Miss Peabody’s School for Girls—first as a student, and then as a teacher. But with Miss Peabody’s passing, the school has been closed, the students sent away, and Rose is facing an uncertain future. As Miss Peabody’s will is read, Rose had been told to expect a small bequest, but she’s stunned to discover that her inheritance is a dowry that’s already been paid to an elderly widower. The man is in quick need of an heir, and Rose can agree to wed or she’ll get nothing and will have no money and nowhere to go. She’s never lived on her own, and without family or friends to assist her, she’s out of options. Reluctantly, she agrees to the marriage and heads to the man’s Summerfield estate.
James Talbot grew up at Summerfield. But as an orphan, his position was never exactly clear. The owner, Stanley Oswald, constantly tormented James with the secrets of his parentage. Rumors abound that he’s Stanley’s natural-born son, but the truth has been impossible to unravel. Needing to escape Stanley’s manipulations, James has spent the past decade in the army. But Stanley has lured him home, and he can’t help but be intrigued to learn of Stanley’s pending marriage. He’s eager to engage in a little mischief, and nothing would give him greater pleasure than to ruin the match before it begins.
Rose is fascinated by handsome, virile James, but bound to wed elderly, decrepit Stanley. As Stanley woos her and James interferes, any wild ending seems possible. For Rose—who only ever wanted a home of her own—she just might end up with more than she ever dreamed.
Amelia Hubbard has always lived at Miss Peabody’s School for Girls, first as a student, then as a teacher. She enjoyed her position and the independence it brought. But Miss Peabody has died, the school is closing, and Amelia has no money and nowhere to go. When Fate intervenes and hands her a dowry and a handsome husband already purchased with the money, Amelia is nervous but resigned. She reluctantly agrees to wed a man she’s never met.
Lucas Drake has never been anything but a wastrel and scapegrace. As the second son of an earl, and with an older brother who’s perfect in every way, stellar behavior seems impossible. He’s always been happy to live down to his stern father’s low expectations. But when Amelia arrives and Lucas discovers that his father has engaged him to her, his bachelor tendencies surge to the fore. He’s vehemently certain that no wedding will ever occur.
When Amelia agreed to the match, she never imagined that Lucas might not want to get married. Her prior situation has ended, and without marriage, the future is bleak. What’s a spinster to do?
Wanton seduction seems the only path, but first, she’ll need a few lessons in how to use her feminine wiles. Once she figures out what Lucas really needs, the poor man doesn’t stand a chance.
Evangeline Etherton loved her years as a teacher at Miss Peabody’s School for Girls. But with Miss Peabody’s passing, the school is shut down, and Evangeline is on her way to marry a fiancé she’s never met. She never imagined herself as a bride and is reluctant to abandon the independent life she enjoyed as an unwed female. When she meets her fiancée—a fussy, stern vicar—she’s certain she shouldn’t proceed. They have nothing common and a match between them can only lead to disaster and misery. But as a spinster with no funds or family, she’s out of options.
Aaron Drake has always been perfect. As the eldest son and heir to an earl, he’s never engaged in mischief, taken an awkward step, or headed in the wrong direction. But with his marriage swiftly approaching—to a tedious, unpleasant snob—he’s suddenly desperate to do something reckless and wild before he’s shackled in what he’s sure will be an unappealing and dreary marriage. When he meets pretty, vivacious Evangeline, he can’t help but think she just might be the cure for what ails him.
Seduction seems the only path, but when romance blossoms and passions heat, can love be far behind?
RELUCTANT BRIDES… When love is the key and dowry the bait, who can predict what a woman might do?
I’ve made a name for myself in the publishing industry as a historical romance writer. And many of my books have skated into erotic romance, so I’m acclaimed for writing very fast-paced, very sexy historical novels.
But after the economy crashed in 2008, I lost my spot with the New York publishers. I quit writing for a few years, and when I started in again, the New York publishers had pretty much imploded, and there was no longer a spot for someone like me with any of those companies. So I started self-publishing my own books and releasing them as e-books.
One of the great benefits of self-publishing is that I’m not bound by a publisher’s criteria, choices, or schedule. I can write any type of novel that I want, and I can release it as fast as I can get it finished. I’m not limited to one or two books being released per year, and I can switch genres and try new things without having to get an editor’s permission.
I had a huge success this past summer with the release of my “Lord Trent” trilogy. The three books—LOVE’S PROMISE, LOVE’S PRICE, and LOVE’S PERIL—were released back to back, and I was very exhausted when I finished with the whole thing. I needed to give my romance “juices” a break.
I have always wanted to write some contemporary women’s fiction so that I could appeal to a broader base of readers and take myself outside my usual romance audience. With self-publishing, I finally had the chance to do just that with my new novel, THE WEDDING.
The novel is a very complex art form, and it’s hard to learn how to write a novel and to write it so that it’s interesting and fun to read. It takes years of practice. I’ve been writing novels for about 15 years now—I’ve got thirty-six of them under my belt—and I’m getting really good at it. I can develop extremely intricate plotlines and insert a ton of characters, which is a skill that grows as an author gains more experience.
Last year, I read a novel by Jackie Collins, and she has a very elevated style of writing that I like very much. She uses short scenes, wild plot scenarios, and dozens of characters who all have defined stories that carry the action.
When I finished reading the book, I thought to myself, “I bet I could do that now.” Five years ago, I couldn’t have. Two years ago, I couldn’t have. But now, I’m a better writer than I was back then. I thought I could mimic her thematic style as well as her use of many characters and plotlines. I tried it—and it worked!
THE WEDDING is very different from anything I’ve written before. It’s about an uber-rich California family that hosts a quickie wedding for their daughter at their private resort down on the Baja in Mexico. There isn’t really a hero or heroine, and it isn’t really about the bride and groom. It’s about all the crazy guests who were invited to attend the ceremony.
There are twenty-two characters and twenty-two plot threads that all have to culminate at the end. It’s very intricate style of writing, a very complex and difficult style of writing, and it was fun to try it and to see that I could actually do it.
THE WEDDING is a wild, fast-paced, and fun story full of my usual plot surprises, driven characters, exotic situations, and infuriating villains. The dialogue is snappy and quick, the characters exotic and intriguing, and the plot situations hilarious and shocking and sometimes downright bizarre.
If you’re looking for something different to read, I hope you’ll give it a try. It’s fun, and I don’t think you’ll have ever read anything like it before.
In the meantime, I’m back at work, and just today, I started the first book in my next historical romance trilogy. Romances are my love and my joy, and it’s always so much fun to write them, so I’m glad to get started again.
But I’m glad, too, that I had the chance to write THE WEDDING. Will the bride make it to the altar? I won’t tell. You’ll have to read it to find out!
Linda Bennett has lived a charmed life. With her husband being a rich tycoon, she’s been showered for decades with wealth and privilege. While the bad economy has ruined many of their acquaintances, they’ve been extremely lucky, both in their marriage and their finances. Or so she thinks.
When her daughter decides to marry—too young and too fast for Linda’s liking—Linda’s husband claims he doesn’t want to flaunt the family’s good fortune. He convinces the bride to skip the expensive, ostentatious ceremony and instead host a small, intimate affair at his members-only private club located on the Mexican coast. But from the moment the guests begin to arrive, the entire event seems cursed. Linda’s husband keeps disappearing for hours on end, the groom’s divorced parents are certifiable, and the groomsmen drunken idiots. And when one of the bridesmaids sets her sights on the sexy groom, all bets are off.
Will the bride make it to the altar? New York Times bestselling author CHERYL HOLT—with her fast pacing, dazzling dialogue, fascinating characters, and infuriating villains—will keep readers guessing to the last page.
“This book was brilliant…”
Harlie’s Book Reviews
“…an amazingly fun escapist read.”
CHERYL HOLT is a New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon “Top 100” bestselling author of over thirty novels.
She’s also a lawyer and mom, and at age forty, with two babies at home, she started a new career as a commercial fiction writer. She’d hoped to be a suspense novelist, but couldn’t sell any of her manuscripts, so she ended up taking a detour into romance where she was stunned to discover that she has a knack for writing some of the world’s greatest love stories.
Her books have been released to wide acclaim, and she has won or been nominated for many national awards. She has been hailed as “The Queen of Erotic Romance” as well as “The International Queen of Villains.” She is particularly proud to have been named “Best Storyteller of the Year” by the trade magazine Romantic Times BOOK Reviews.
She lives and writes in Hollywood, California, and she loves to hear from fans. Visit her website. Facebook
The fun and excitement continue this week with the release of LOVE’S PRICE, Book #2 in my Lord Trent trilogy. The novel is a fast-paced, thrilling ride, filled with my usual great characters, intricate plot lines, and infuriating villains. And there’s the added bonus of two brothers falling for twin sisters—a double love story that’s sexy and unforgettable.
The linking premise in the three novels has to do with Charles Sinclair, the Earl of Trent. He is England’s most notorious roué, and over the decades he’s sired many illegitimate children. His oldest bastard son, Phillip, is on a quest to find his lost half-siblings and build a family with them. The books tell the stories of four of Lord Trent’s cast-off children on their rocky road to happily ever after.
The heroes in LOVE’S PRICE are James Harcourt, Earl of Westwood, and his brother, Tristan. They fall in love with twins, Helen and Harriet Sinclair Stewart. The twins are two of Lord Trent’s illegitimate children, and because of their illicit parentage, their lives have been extremely difficult. When they meet James and Tristan, sparks fly and lust blooms—but it takes the two brothers quite awhile to discover that they’re madly in love, too. Harriet is one of my all-time favorite characters out of all the ones I’ve ever created. You won’t believe the jam in which she lands herself.
The three books—LOVE’S PROMISE, LOVE’S PRICE, and LOVE’S PERIL—are being released back to back in May, June, and July 2013. They will all be available as print books and e-books. LOVE’S PROMISE and LOVE’S PRICE are out now, with LOVE’S PERIL coming on July 1st. They’re a great way to lounge at the beach on your summer vacation, and I hope you’ll check them out. Thanks to everyone for your interest in me and my “Lord Trent” trilogy! I’m grateful.
HelenStewartnever understood why—as a tiny girl—she and her twin sister Harriet were sent away to boarding school and never allowed home for holidays. At age sixteen, they were shocked to discover that they are the illegitimate daughters of the notorious rogue,Charles Sinclair. Cast out by their relatives, they moved to London, and Helen has made a life for herself as a lady’s companion. In her line of employment, she must maintain a stellar reputation, but she’s exhausted by the fussy whims of the debutantes she’s forced to chaperone. She’d give anything to change her fate.
JamesHarcourt, Earl of Westwood, is in a bind. After his father died, he learned that his estates were bankrupt. He gambles to replenish his coffers so he’s living a dissolute bachelor’s life. When his female ward arrives unexpectedly for an extended visit, he must protect her from scandal by hiring a lady’s companion. When pretty, alluring Helen interviews for the position, he’s instantly smitten. She possesses the qualifications to fill a much more intimate role.
He shocks her by suggesting she become his mistress, and when his offer is rebuffed, he begins a cunning seduction, aimed at wearing her down. Helen can’t resist the temptation he offers, but she doesn’t have the sophistication to survive in his world. And as James immerses them in a dangerous spiral of pleasure and excitement, he proves that he is determined to have her at any cost…
One lucky commenter is going to get a kindle ebook of both LOVE’S PROMISE and LOVE’S PRICE. Tell me if you prefer your heroes to need a dose of comeuppance and redemption, a squeaky clean good guy, or a fella who falls somewhere in between? Giveaway ends @12 a.m. est 6-16-13 with the winner announced shortly thereafter. Good Luck!
Check out the beautiful cover for my new book, SWEET SURRENDER. This is novel #34 for me, and I’m so delighted to see how gorgeous it looks.
My hero and heroine are Jackson Scott and Grace Bennett, and the story takes place on an estate—Milton Abbey—in rural England in 1814. This is the first historical romance I’ve written in nearly two years, since the release of my fun book,NICHOLAS.
Jackson fled home at age eighteen, and he’s spent the prior decade living in Egypt. But his older brother, the earl of Milton, has died, and Jackson has been named guardian to the man’s young son who is now the earl. So family responsibilities have lured him back, even though he swore he’d never return. He doesn’t want to babysit his nephew or deal with his overbearing mother or scheming sister-in-law. He plans to put the boy in a good boarding school, find some competent accountants to manage the boy’s estates, then return to Egypt as quickly as possible.
But Fate has always thrown wrenches into his best-laid plans.
Shortly after he arrives at Milton Abbey, he’s thrust into the path of Grace Bennett. She comes to the estate with her ward, young Michael Scott. She tells a fantastical tale about Jackson’s deceased brother. She claims the man secretly married Michael’s mother who was a pretty and kind commoner. She claims that he wed and sired Michael—his legitimate and first-born son—in the year before he married his aristocratic bride and sired the boy who everyone has already declared to be earl.
Is she telling the truth? Is she a confidence artist? How can Jackson find out?
If her story is true, it will create an enormous morass that Jackson will have to unravel. He will be enmeshed in his family’s drama and trapped in England forever—all because of Grace Bennett and her wild tale. It doesn’t help matters that she’s very pretty, very sexy, and he’s attracted to her against his will.
This is another of my fun and fast-paced love stories. It’s jam-packed with numerous memorable characters and plenty of plot twists and turns. There’s drama, laughter, big emotion, and—of course—two very wonderful, very heart-wrenching romances that will keep readers turning pages to the very end. So don’t start it at bedtime, thinking you’ll fall asleep after reading a few chapters! After you finish the first page, you’ll stay up all night, racing to the conclusion.
I am publishing this book myself, both as an e-book and a print book. It will not be available in stores, but will be available through Amazon starting in December, 2012.
You can read the first chapter on my web page. Also, I’m giving away ten autographed copies to ten lucky winners. The contest runs until November, 30th, with the drawing on December 1st, 2012, so enter today to win a copy of this fun book!
I’ve now written over thirty novels. Nearly all of them have been historical romances, with one thriller and a few contemporary romances thrown into the mix.
Last year, I started writing and self-publishing e-books. When I wrote for the New York print publishers, I was stuck doing romances. It’s where I made a name for myself and where my publishers wanted me to stay. But once I started publishing my own stories, I could write whatever I wanted.
It’s my first mainstream historical novel, and I got the idea from a bit of family history that always fascinated me.
My great grandmother homesteaded in the Dakotas in 1904. She and her twin sister grew up in a small town in upstate New York. They graduated from high school the year they were sixteen. That summer, they married two neighbor boys who were friends.
The local newspaper had been running an ad, announcing that the federal government had just released some of the last free land that would ever be made available for settlement under the Homestead Act. The ad pictured a plow in the dirt with a crop of dollar bills rolling out of the tilled furrows.
However, there was a reason this was some of the last land made available. The good land was all gone. The offered plots were in an area that was fairly unfit for human habitation. It was very arid, the ground rough and rocky and unsuitable to sustain either crops or cattle. The conditions were harsh, the weather brutal, the isolation extreme.
But the four optimistic teenagers—as with most homesteaders—didn’t know any of that. They were fascinated by the prospects presented in the ad and decided to seek their fortunes out west.
The boys left that summer. They chose plots of land that were side by side, and they built sod houses and prepared for the girls to join them.
The girls traveled by train the following spring. When my great grandmother arrived inSouth Dakota, she was carrying a newborn baby—my grandmother—who was six weeks old.
MUD CREEK is not my great grandmother’s story. But I think of her sometimes, holding that tiny baby and stepping off that train when she was just seventeen. I think of her climbing onto my great grandfather’s buckboard and starting off across that deserted, endless prairie. I think of how young she was, how brave and undaunted.
Then I think of myself, how—just a few short decades later—I’m a lawyer, the mother of a Hollywood film and television actor, and a New York Times bestselling author.
I’ve come a long way in such a short time, and I wonder what she’d think of me.
If you’ve read my books before, you know that I like to create really tough, strong heroines. And the setting of a bleak, barren homestead seemed to present unlimited opportunities for me as an author to write intense drama and conflict.
MUD CREEK is a story that focuses on a woman’s life, on family, duty, and loyalty. A woman has to balance so many competing burdens. How can she ever know if she’s making the right choices?
If you’d like to try MUD CREEK, and you have an e-reader, you can download it immediately. If you don’t have an e-device, I have published print copies of the book. They will not be available in stores, but can be ordered at Amazon.com, and you can receive your copy in two or three days.
I hope you’ll give MUD CREEK a try. It’s a dramatic, suspenseful and heart-wrenching tale, featuring the best heroine I’ve written in years.
At age seventeen, Helen Pendleton considered herself to be a modern woman, eager to embrace the new century. While the normal path for a female in herNew York town was matrimony and children, she shocked her parents by planning to attend college and hoping to eventually become a schoolteacher. So when her neighbor, Albert, surprised her by proposing marriage, she was smugly confident in her decision to decline his offer.
Yet time and adversity changed everything.
Three years later, with her parents deceased, and college a fading memory, she’s in dire straits. Her father’s business is bankrupt, and she’s losing her home. She is desperate, and as she reaches her lowest ebb, she receives a letter from Albert.
After she spurned him, he and his family moved west, pursuing their dream of homesteading in the Dakotas. When he hears of her dilemma, he offers marriage again, tempting her with tales of his prosperous ranch and the fine house he’s built for her out on the prairie.
With Helen out of ideas or options, she accepts his proposal, abandoning her prior certainty that she can be free and independent. But Albert has lied to her about his life on the Great Plains. He has no aptitude for ranching, and his family’s homestead is a bleak, barren place where wind, weather, and isolation guarantee that their survival is always in question.
Helen arrives in the Dakotas, seeking the security Albert has promised. But she is unprepared for the grueling reality that awaits. Trapped in a downward spiral of work and worry, and wed to a man she could never love, she must find the inner strength to endure the hand that fate has dealt her.
Bestselling novelist, Cheryl Holt, paints a world of triumph and tragedy, of joy and sorrow, where people are tested to their limits and the best and worst of humanity is revealed. Mud Creek is a tremendous, accessible, and heartrending book that whirls to a gripping climax, featuring Ms.Holt’s most memorable characters in years.
Cheryl, thank you for taking the time to join Manic Readers. It’s a pleasure to have you visit.
Wow, you have quite a few degrees, music, languages, education and a juris doctorate. I was really surprised. Why did you decide to try and become a writer?
I had two babies back to back, and it was simply too difficult and too expensive for me to go back into the workforce. I was suddenly a stay-at-home mom, and I’d lost my income. I was frantically trying to figure out what I could do from home to earn some money, but I’m not the type of person who could sell cosmetics or soap, so the choices were limited.
I was one of those people who had always wanted to write a book. So I decided to give it a try. I was fairly clueless about how difficult parenting would be, so I thought I’d have lots of “free” time while I was at home with my two babies. I thought to myself, “I’ll just write a book and sell it to New York. How hard could that be?”
What I quickly learned is that it’s pretty darn hard! I took me four years and seven finished manuscripts before I finally got good enough where I sold one to a NY publisher.
You’ve racked up numerous awards and accolades. Is there one that is especially near and dear?
There is a trade magazine called, Romantic Times, that covers the women’s fiction industry. They review all the books and cover the authors who are writing for the women’s market. Over the years, they have honored me with many awards. Once, they picked me as “Best Storyteller of the Year” and another time “Top 25 Erotic Writers of All Time.” But probably my favorite was a double “KISS” award.
The KISS award is given out every month to the author who writes the most macho, yummy hero. In my book, DOUBLE FANTASY, published in ’08, I had twin brothers, so “twin” heroes. I received a double KISS award for the pair. My long-time reviewer at the magazine later told me that, in the magazine’s 25 years of publishing, they had only given out two double KISS awards. One to Linda Lyle Miller and one to me. So I’m particularly proud of that accomplishment.
Can you tell us a bit about your contemporary ebook tirlogy~SEDUCE ME, KISS ME, and LOVE ME? LOVE ME, the third and last released this month.
This series is about the three Merriweather siblings, Lucas, Dustin, and their younger sister, Brittney. Their family is based in Colorado, where in the frontier days, their ancestors were pioneers, prospectors, and ultimately very rich gold miners. They went on to parlay their mining strikes into railroads, real estate, and great accumulated wealth.
The three siblings are rich and entitled and spoiled. They’ve had lives of leisure and pleasure and have always been wealthy enough to do whatever they want. At the same time, they had crazy parents and horrid childhoods, so they have some big personal issues.
I like to write Cinderella stories, where a rich person meets and marries a person who is totally out of their societal structure. When the hero and heroine are so different and come from such diverse backgrounds, it gives me bigger drama and issues to drive the story.
Lucas’s story, SEDUCE ME, is about Faith Benjamin who had been housekeeper to Lucas’s estranged grandfather. When the elderly man died, he left Faith ten million dollars in his will. Lucas is certain that Faith is a gold-digger who took advantage of a dottering old man, and he’s determined to get the money back.
KISS ME is Dustin’s story. The family still owns a small town, high in the Rockies, where his ancestors made their first big gold strike. He and Lucas have decided to sell the town to developers, so they can turn it into an upscale tourist resort. The town’s newspaper gadfly and pest, Amy Dane, thinks it’s a horrid idea, and she’s determined to stop Dustin anyway she can.
Brittney’s story is the final one, LOVE ME. At the beginning of the book, she’s in Denver to plan her wedding to a rich, snobbish New York hedgefund manager who is her social equal in every way. She thinks she’s happy and ready to wed until she meets the man of her dreams, disabled veteran Matt Monroe.
Those sound really good! 🙂
How hard was it to go from print historicals to self pubbed digital contemporaries?
It was very difficult, but mostly because I just didn’t know anything about the e-book market, and I had to learn an entirely new process. It was very exhausting—and daunting!
When I decided to start writing e-books, I was clueless about the process, the readers, the devices, and the market. I didn’t know what would sell and what wouldn’t. I didn’t know how you posted a book on-line. I didn’t know how you found readers.
My career in print publishing had been in writing historical love stories set in the Regency Period in England. But I didn’t know if that type of book would resonate with people who were using e-readers. So I tried several different kinds of books—contemporary, nonfiction, Regency, medieval—and I was surprised to find that this contemporary series sold best of all.
I don’t know why it did. I’ve never done a demographic study on my fan base, but since I began writing e-books, I’ve learned that my fans are typically older and very devoted to print books. They consider e-books almost an abomination. But my younger fans, who are more tech savvy, have IPhones and Kindles, and they perfectly happy to read a book on an e-book device. My younger readers seem to like the contemporary stories more than the historical ones, so that might be why they sold as well as they did, but it’s all a guess and a mystery. It’s always been difficult to figure out why someone likes a book, or why they like one style or time period more than an another.
I’ve found too, though, that with each passing book that I post on-line, I’m selling more and more—even though they’ve all been different. It’s been interesting and frustrating and overwhelming, but I’m still plugging away.
What about your medieval, KNIGHT OF SEDUCTION? How was that different, research wise etc, from your other historicals?
I had never written a medieval before, but the story had been rattling around in my head for years, so I was finally able to write it down. For years now, in the print market, the general opinion of publishers is that the medieval market is dead and that no one reads them, so I could never have sold one to a print publisher. The e-book market gave me the perfect opportunity to write it and see what readers had to say.
The biggest issue for me wasn’t the research. I never do much research for my novels. Although they are set in historical time periods, they are not centered around any specific historical events. I simply need to learn the clothing, carriages, furniture, etc of the year that I’m targeting, and then, I can start writing.
The biggest problem for me in writing the e-book is that lots of our current version of the English language did not start to coalesce until after the Crusades had ended. So lots of words that we use today were not part of the common vernacular. I wanted to give the book a historical flavor, but at the same time, I wanted modern-day readers to be able to enjoy the prose. For example, one of the common clothing items for a man during that time was a sort of knitted wool legging called “hose”. But it’s such a modern word, meaning nylon stockings, that whenever I see it used in a medieval novel, the word always disrupts my attention. It doesn’t seem to belong, and it seems too feminine for the macho knights in the story.
So I had some trouble with getting the word usage just as I wanted it. That was the hardest part. But other than that, the book is very fun.
How did you come to be a part of Rock*It Reads? Personally I think this group is a wonderful idea. 🙂
I was kindly invited to join Rock*It Reads by the other authors who were already members. I was lured in at the best time: after they’d done all the initial work and planning!
When I received their invitation, I jumped at the chance. As I started writing e-books, the great frustration for me has been the number of books that are available at Amazon and other sites. I think there are now 2 million books available for download at Amazon. And much of what’s offered to readers is not very good. The American novel, as it’s developed over the centuries, is a very complex art form, and it takes many years of practice to learn how to put a novel together and how to make it great and fun and exciting.
I’m a great writer, and I can put a great novel together, but I’ve had years and years of experience to learn what I’m doing. And I get better at it with each passing year and each new book that I put together. The e-book market was frustrating for me because I couldn’t see how to make my books stand out from the other 2 million that are sitting there, available for Kindle. With the typical price for a download being 99-cents, my books were just heaped into the pile with everybody else.
I really wrestled with the notion of how I could let readers know that their 99-cents wouldn’t be wasted if they downloaded one of my books.
The Rock*It Read group is composed of NY published authors, many of whom are bestselling writers. We are dedicated to putting out quality stories that equal what we were doing as print authors. We will all be putting the RIR logo on our covers so that readers who are searching on-line for a great e-book to download will know that an RIR book is a good bet.
Are you excited about the infinite possibilities open to you with self pubbing?
I wouldn’t say excited is the word. Just as when I went into print publishing years ago, I’m tentative and wary and keeping my expectations very low. If great things happen with the books, I’ll be happy. But as with every endeavor a person undertakes in her life, there are ups and downs, good days and bad, and I’m entering the market cautiously.
Is there any aspect of it that scares you?
Yes, that I won’t figure out the market in a way that’s financially sustainable to me.
Think you might attempt that romantic suspense book now?
I don’t know if I’ll ever do another suspense novel. Once in my print career, I tried a very creepy, very scary erotic thriller. It was titled SLEEPING WITH THE DEVIL, and released under the pen name, Vanessa Marlow. But my publisher disliked it very much, so it became a very exhausting and unpleasant experience that left me with little energy to try any suspense again. I’m a novelist, so it’s typical that I don’t have a lot of confidence in my work—it’s a common artist’s condition. After the experience with my thriller, I convinced myself that I don’t know “how” to write suspense, which is silly. After the book was released, I received a national award for it from Romantic Times, when it was picked “Best Erotic Fiction of the Year.” But I can’t bring myself to write another one.
What is your favorite part of writing?
It’s not actually the writing. It’s that I’ve been able to work at home and have a home business, all the years while my kids have been growing up. They have always been very active, so I needed to be able to have a flexible schedule. I wrote a lot of my novels while sitting in the car and waiting for soccer practice to end.
It’s extremely labor intensive, especially the editing. I don’t mind writing the rough draft. I can usually crank it out in a month. But the editing kills me. It’s like doing my taxes—it’s that boring and detailed. I can’t do it while I’m tired. I can’t do it when I’m upset or busy or not focused. Readers often imagine that a novelist’s life is very glamorous, but the reality is that I work really hard to get my novels done, and I work all the time.
Is there anything special you need to get those creative juices flowing?
No. Writing is a job for me in the same way that nursing or teaching is a job for somebody else. And I’ve been doing it for 15 years now. I get up in the morning, get my kids off to school, shower, dress, then sit down at my computer and work all day. I always have a schedule of when my latest book has to be done, and I keep to that schedule. There are no creative “juices” involved.
What do you do to relax?
Relax? What is that? I don’t think I know the definition of the word.
What was the last really good book you got lost in?
It was called Sacred Hunger by Barry Unsworth. It’s not a new book; it’s 20 years old. I stumbled on it in the fiction stacks at my local library. It’s a story about a merchant in England in the 1700s who had a ship built so he could go into the slave trade. It details the journey down to Africa and everything that happened afterward once the slaves were aboard. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. It was a grand, disturbing, wonderful novel.
Anything special you’d like us to know?
I was a print published author for many years. But when the economy imploded in 2008, the publishers went into freefall. Many, many writers were dropped by their publishers, and I was one of them. Although I was a “bestselling” author, I never had the kind of big sales that print publishers are looking for now. So I started writing e-books and releasing them myself, which I’ve been doing for the past year.
But I have one last print book coming to bookstores, which is a wonderful and very poignant event for me. It’s titled NICHOLAS. It is one of my great, fun Regency Period historicals. It was released last summer as an e-book, by e-publisher Samhain, so if any readers want to read it right away they can download it immediately.
Pre-order print from Amazon At Samhain, after they release the title as an e-book, they go on and release it a year later as a print book. So NICHOLAS will be available in stores and through Amazon and other on-line retailers. It’s Samhain’s lead title for July, 2012, and it will be available for the 4th of July weekend, so readers can take a print copy with them for their beach holiday.
To celebrate this great and poignant occasion, I am giving away ten autographed copies of the novel in July after the book is released. Readers can enter the contest on the homepage at my web page atwww.cherylholt.com
Thanks so much for visiting with me and Manic Readers, Cheryl. I’ve really enjoyed it!