By far, one of the great benefits of attending literary conferences is meeting new people. Whether it’s striking up a conversation with an editor in the hallway, picking an author’s brain at their vending table or having the pleasure of being a guest on a panel with some talented and knowledgeable individuals, conferences are a great place to not only network, but make new friends.
At Imaginarium this year, I had the pleasure of sitting on a couple of panels with a writer who first caught my attention as I sat in the audience of a marketing panel last year. She offered great advice that I continue to draw upon over a year later, advice that I now pass along to anyone with questions on how to market their own writing. Everyone, please welcome NY Times and USA Today bestselling romance author, Jennifer Madden, who publishes under the name J.M. Madden.
I’ve seen your event calendar, Jennifer, so I appreciate you finding the time to talk with me. To start us off, please tell us a little about yourself, your books and what we can expect when we pick one up.
JMM: Lol! Yeah, finding time to do anything is difficult right now. I think I had 13(?) conferences this year. Luckily several of them were around Lexington and central Kentucky, where I live.
I was a deputy sheriff in Muskingum County Ohio for 9 years before hubby moved us to Kentucky for a career shift. He had been driving home on the weekends for a year and a half, so it was time. Unfortunately, my certifications didn’t transfer to the state of Kentucky, so I was left a little out of sorts. I did some part-time work and shift work, but it was hard juggling with a husband that was always traveling, so he told me to stay home with our two kids. It was the best thing we’ve ever done for the family.
I had always written, but never expected to be an actual writer. Again, though, hubby encouraged me and I started attending local RWA (Romance Writers of America) meetings. I submitted a story about a female cop in Kentucky (now that was a reach! Lol!) to a small publishing house and had a contract in hand within three days. It took a huge leap of faith to pursue my writing, but it is the BEST thing I’ve ever done!
I have 22 books out now. I had a Kindle Worlds release last month, Reclaiming the SEAL, with another more contemporary book coming this month. And while I appreciate the start that those small epubs gave me, I am now almost completely Indie. I’ve hit NY Times once and USA Today twice.
When you pick up one of my books you can plan on a hero that’s seen too much and a heroine who wants to love him.
If you would like to try me, I have two free books right now. The Embattled Road and Embattled Hearts are the beginning to my Lost and Found Series. For those of you that AREN’T into romance, try Embattled Road. No romance. Just the guys, how they met after they were injured and how the company started.
JMM: Well, though I haven’t had anyone injured in our family, we had a lot of military. When I read stories about soldiers being cheated on by their wives or being served divorce papers in the hospital while they were recovering from having their legs blown off, quite honestly it pissed me off. The men who fight for our country are heroes. Period. They should be welcomed home no matter what condition they are in and they absolutely need to find love.
I completely agree. I’m a big supporter of our military and feel like we owe them more than we offer. Now, your latest release, Her Secret Wish, is slightly different than what you’ve done in the past. This book introduces your readers to former Marine pilot, Rachel Searles, your first female member of the military. After writing almost twenty books with predominantly male service members, what made you decide now was the time to feature a female in that role?
JMM: Well, I have many female readers that are former military, and they asked for a representative a lot. And as a former cop, I understand the pride that they had in what they did. As much as I applaud the females making it through Ranger school recently, I actually had my female Marine planned before all that happened.
I had a lot of fun writing Rachel and as soon as she’s out of the anthology I plan on extending her story.
You are predominantly a romance writer, but when you sit down to read a book, do you ever read outside your chosen genre? And if so, what other genres interest you?
JMM: Actually, because military has so many set details that authors tend to overlap, I prefer NOT to read in my own genre. Any ideas I come up with are completely my own, then.
I prefer to read (or listen to) paranormal and sci-fi romance. Kevin Hearne is amazing, Marjorie M. Liu, Nalini Singh, JR Ward. Too many to list!
That’s an interesting departure from military romance. Have you ever dabbled in the paranormal or science fiction as a writer? Have you ever written in any genre outside of romance?
JMM: Well, I have an urban fantasy floating around in an anthology somewhere called Urban Moon. And I definitely have plans for new genre books. I have a spinoff from my military series that is definitely going to go in a paranormal/ thriller direction. Think Christine Feehan’s Ghostwalker series. As much as I love my Lost and Found series I do need to diversify. I also have ideas for a fallen angel series and a dragon series. If I ever get time to actually write!!!
You’ve mentioned several authors whose work you enjoy. Give me the name of a book, regardless of genre, that you wish you’d written.
JMM: Hmmm. Dragon’s Dawn by Anne McCaffrey. She gave me my love of paranormal. And Romance, to an extent.
(Her Secret Wish – coming later this month!)
I see that your writing comes in all different sizes. I’m starting to hear rumblings of a debate in the literary world about which is more popular/of interest to readers, short stories and novellas or their big brother, the novel. Which format do you prefer as a writer? Or does the storyline dictate the format? Do you prefer one over the other as a reader?
JMM: I think the story line dictates to a certain extent. I’m working on a book now that tells the story of the main hero in the LNF series, and I KNOW it’s going to be long. Too many little threads I need to tie up. But honestly, my sweet spot is 35,000-40,000 words. I can write to a limit if I need to, but 35k does well for me. And my readers love them! Although, if I’m listening to Hearne or Singh, it’s never long enough!
Now, I have numerous writers in my audience, Jennifer, and if they’re anything like me, they’re probably interested in hearing how other writers operate. So what is your writing routine, and are there certain atmospheres or objects that help bring out your muse? A certain type of music in the background, a special cup or mug in your hand, etc.
JMM: I get my kids up for school early and get them on the bus, or hubby drives them. By 8-8:30 my butt is usually in the chair. I let myself catch up on social media a bit, then I open a document. If I can, I get new words down first, then edit something, but it depends upon how my projects are spaced. The Kindle Worlds book I had to write in 2 weeks because I was trying to hit a launch date, but most of my books take a couple of months to finish. I work on several projects at a time and no, generally it does not confuse me.
Physically, I always have an iced coffee beside me and for some reason I write better with shoes on. I may have sweats or a nightgown on, but my shoes will be on. Lol!
As for music, again I find it depends upon the story. I like to listen to Two Steps From Hell on Milk music. Theatrical stuff from video games, mostly without words, which is perfect!
Finally, someone else who listens to (or has even heard of) Two Steps From Hell. Sounds like we listen to much of the same type of music when we write. And speaking of writing, what’s next for J.M. Madden?
JMM: Years ago I grew up reading Harlequins, the books they sell in Walmart, Target, drug stores. When I started my writing journey I thought I wanted to go traditional, so I wrote a Harlequin. Well, I read an article at some point where the Harlequin editor I wanted to submit to was complaining about all the millionaires and artists crossing her desk and going into the slushpile. Yep, my hero was a millionaire and my heroine a painter. I was discouraged so I shelved the book.
Four years later I found that book on my hard drive. Being an Indie, I know that’s money in the bank, so I’m cleaning it up and releasing it later this month. Only now he’s a billionaire. Inflation, you know?
The funniest part is I’ve had a Harlequin editor ask me to submit something like my Lost and Found series. I’m still thinking about it.
I also have an audio book in the works and another Kindle Worlds story. I always have something new!
Finally, where can we learn more about you and your books?
JMM: You can find me everywhere! And thank you so much for having me here! This was fun!
You can join my newsletter- http://jmmadden.com/newsletter/
Or you can just email me! I’m happy to answer questions! email@example.com