Welcome to the Dames of Dialogue, Bronwen. Tell us about your latest release, Invitation to Scandal.

Invitation to Scandal

Invitation to Scandal is book two in my four books Invitation to Romance series.  The series is about four friends, two are brothers, twins in fact) who all have to overcome deep wounds.Invitation to Scandal sees Rufus Knight, Viscount Strathmore, trying to clear his late father of treason by capturing the notorious smuggler, Dark Shadow.  A chance encounter with a ravishing beauty trapped by an unstamped brandy barrel makes Rufus think he’s found the perfect lead. Until the lady refuses to give him her name. Now he has two people to track down- a smuggler and a beautiful woman who he’s sure knows the identity of Dark Shadow.

Sounds exciting. Can you tell us about what you’re working on now or what’s coming next?

I’m having a pretty busy year. I work part-time (20 hours a week as Chief Executive Officer of a surgeons association), so I only write part-time. I’m in the middle of self-publishing a Regency trilogy, called Wicked Wagers. Book one and two have been released, To Dare the Duke of Dangerfield, and To Wager the Marquis of Wolverstone. I’m currently writing number three, To Challenge the Earl of Cravenswood for release early August 2012.

Here’s the blurb for To Dare the Duke of Dangerfield.

Let the Wicked Wagers Begin…

Lady Caitlin Southall’s temper has finally got the better of her. She’s challenged Harlow Telford, the Duke of Dangerfield, the most notorious rake in all of England, to a wager. She wants her house back. The one her destitute father lost to Dangerfield in a card game. But if she doesn’t win their bet, she not only loses her home, she loses her dignity and pride and damn it all, maybe her heart… For the handsome Duke has decreed, when he wins, she must spend the night in his bed.

Harlow Telford is amused by his hellion neighbor, Caitlin, or Cate to her friends, who seem to encompass everyone on earth except him. When she bursts into one of his private gatherings, he mistakes her for the entertainment. Her slap across his face sets him straight and raises the absurd desire to seduce the unconventional beauty into his bed. When she issues her daft challenge to win back her father’s pile of rubble, the terms are set.  And he’ll do anything to win—except fall in love…

And then I’m finishing book three in the Invitation to Romance series, Invitation to Passion which is Richard Craven and Madeline Knight’s story- coming out early 2013.

So far, your books are all historical Regency romance. Are you interested in any other genre? Any chance you’ll try it sometime in the future?

Funny you should ask me that. I have a contemporary romance, called The Italian Conte’s Reluctant Bride, being released in September with Entangled Publishing. It’s a new direction and I’m really excited to be starting this journey with Entangled. I think they offer a very good business model for writers. If all goes well I’d like to write more contemporary stories and I also have an idea for a paranormal vampire series that is mulling around in my head. Sooner rather than later I’m going to have to write it or it will drive me nuts!

Congratulations and good luck with The Italian Conte’s Reluctant Bride! What is a typical writing day like for you?

I write full time three days a week Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. The other two days of the working week I’m working at my other job. I usually blog and plot at night and I can have everything loaded for when the USA wakes in the morning, which is when I’m asleep.

I’m a plotter, so once I start writing, my books usually flow in chronological order. Sometimes, if I wake with a specific scene in my head, I’ll write it even if it’s a scene further in the book.

I set myself a weekly target of 7,500 words a week. Often I have to write some of the weekend to ensure I reach my total. I don’t mind doing that. I really love getting my stories down, so that my head is less crowded.

You’re a very disciplined and busy author. Wish I could be more like you! Are the characters in the driver’s seat when you’re writing or do you take control of the wheel and guide them where you want them to go?

(LOL) It’s a little of both. I always think I’m in control, and then they sort of sneak up on me. I build the skeleton of the characters until they begin to form into real people within my head and then they take over. They argue with me, laugh with me, or at me! They also become my best friends and it’s always sad when I finish a book and I have to move on to new friends for my next book. That’s probably why I love writing series. The characters never completely leave until the series is complete.

I love writing series for the same reason…but when I finished with the second book in my Eternal Shadows series, I never wanted to see the main character again. She drove me nuts while I was writing!

Where do you find inspiration for your writing?

Everywhere! I can read a newspaper and think gosh, that would make a great plot. Or watch a TV program or a movie and think I could have written the plot better etc. I make notes wherever I am on my iphone so that I never lose the ideas. I also have a pad and pen next to my bed. Often I’ll wake in the middle of the night with a wonderful story idea or characters in my head. I’m never short of ideas, only the time in which to get the stories written. I’m hoping that next year I’ll be able to write full time and my head will be less crowded.

Promotion is a big part of being a writer and you are currently in the middle of your Invitation to Romance Blog Party. Can you share a little bit about other ways you promote?

Nalini Singh, who is a member of RWNZ, told me to get my book in front of as many readers as possible and if it’s a good book, let word of mouth be the best promotion. I don’t know if readers know that sharing thoughts on books, or writing reviews for authors helps them. I always remember the advice she gave me and I try to do blogs and give away as many copies of my books as possible. [CLUE TWENTY-SIX: RHEDA,]

For example, with my eBooks, if any reader gives me a review on Amazon, B&N or Goodreads, and emails me the link to their review, I give them a FREE copy of another book in the trilogy.

I also put my books out for review on romance review blog sites such as Seductive Musings and The Romance Review etc. Even a bad review can generate interest as readers check the story out. And remember, it is only one person’s opinion. If the review drives readers to check out the book, a well written blurb and sample chapter helps you make a sale.

I also twitter @authorbevans but I find it works better if you tweet for others and build up a nice network of authors who tweet for each other. It’s give and take.

I also love Facebook but I’m not sure I’m using it correctly. I really like Vicky Dreiling’s Facebook etiquette. Vicky seems to know exactly what her readers want – she asks such great questions and the readers really get involved. Watch out Vicky, I shall be taking lessons!

And finally, I also take the odd advert, usually online, or email blast or even an ad in RT Book Review magazine. I’m still working out if these drive sales. I still think writing a damn good book and word of mouth is key.

If you’re self-publishing, working out a strategy to get into the Amazon Best Seller lists in your genre is key to good sales. I know several of my writing friends use a FREE book to drive the sales of their other books with great success. BUT at the end of the day you have to write good stories with wonderful engaging characters.

Very true and thanks for such a well thought out answer to the promotion question. It’s obvious you’re devoted to your books and to seeing them do well. How long have you been writing?

I started learning my craft and playing with writing in 2006. In 2008 I started to final in contests but hadn’t actually finished a book. I went down to part-time work in 2009 to give myself a chance at seriously building a writing career and finished Invitation to Ruin in November of that year. I sold it in January 2010 and haven’t looked back.

Only a couple of months from finishing to a sale—that’s impressive! As both a traditionally published and self-published author, can you tell our readers some of the pros/cons of each method? Do you prefer one over the other?

I feel a bit of a fraud talking about this. I fell into self-publishing. On the advice of my agent, she suggested to self-published novella’s in-between my traditionally published releases to keep my name out there, I wrote three long novella 39,500 words. The self-publishing experience has been most successful and has actually made me keen to keep self-publishing.

I love the control I have over price, cover, blurb and promotion. However, I’m VERY grateful to have the experience of being traditionally published. It’s allowed me to meet other fabulous historical authors and network with them. It has also raised my profile. Invitation to Ruin was nominated for Best First Book in the RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards 2011. These sorts of PR are priceless.

I fully intend to try and keep being traditionally published but I’m also going to keep self-publishing. I love that authors now have options.

Like you, I’m traditionally published and recently self-published for the first time. Through the whole process, I kept finding myself surprised at the amount of work a publisher handles. Self-publishing is hard work and I still haven’t made up my mind which I prefer! Who or what has been the biggest influence in your writing career and why?

When I set my mind to make something happen I usually DO IT! I’m a ‘doing’ person. I started my own internet business in 1999 and listed it on the NZ stock exchange in 2000 and sold it in 2005. When I do something I don’t tend to do it by halves. So when I finally understood that I wanted to write, I set about ‘learning my craft’. In order to do that I searched in NZ and found Romance Writers of New Zealand (RWNZ). I joined in 2006 and went to my first conference. It was eye opening. I met Gracie O’Neil (my critique partner) and she has been my rock. She’s a fabulous writer and person and has taught me so much! Together we formed a writer’s loop (we have about 25 members) and over the last three years we’ve seen most of us become agented and/or published.

I also have to acknowledge www.patriciakay.com Patricia is probably the best romance writing teacher I know. She taught me how to structure a story. I’ve always had plenty of stories in my head, but she showed me how to deliver them in the best way. In addition, www.margielawson.com  taught me how to edit. It’s all very well saying you need to edit a story but what does that mean. Margie helped me with this aspect of writing.

To me, editing is the worst thing about writing and I agree you have to know what you’re doing in order to be effective. What do you consider the single most satisfying aspect of being a writer?

Finishing a book. Finishing a book takes a lot of hard work. To see your story, the one that has consumed you for months, be available for others to read is very rewarding. I love that readers connect with my stories, either positively or negatively. Paula Eykelhoff from Harlequin Mills and Boon told me at my very first RWNZ conference in 2006 that you should aim to have a reader either love or hate your story, because it shows you have engaged their emotions. Obviously I’d prefer that they love the story, but Paula was making the point that a romance writers job is to evoke strong emotions. I try to do that and I sometimes push the boundaries in order to do so.

Yes, you definitely should aim for touching the reader in some way. If they love your book, they’re going to talk about it and if they hate your book, they’re also going to talk about it. Either way, that’s what you want, to get them talking.

The Dames love to travel. Tell us a little bit about where you live.

I live in Wellington, New Zealand. NZ has a population of around $4.5 million people. Wellington is New Zealand’s centre of government and the world’s southernmost capital city. It is also the country’s cultural capital of NZ and the third most populous urban area in New Zealand with a population of around 450,000 people. It’s based around a beautiful harbor and like Chicago; it’s nicknamed the windy city—we constantly have gale force winds ripping through the straight between the two islands (Wellington is situated at the bottom of the North Island).

NZ is made up of two main islands, North Island and the South Island – we are not very imaginative. Two thirds of the population (three million) live in the top third of the North Island where the temperature is milder. It’s winter here now and it’s getting cold. We have hot summers and cold winters, except in the north where it is quite mild. Only the South Island gets snow below alpine levels (usually).

I love living in NZ but Wellington is a little too windy for me. I’m looking at relocating in 2013 to the Hawke’s Bay, a wine growing region up north. I’ve bought a section overlooking the sea, set amongst the vines and I’m building a house. I can’t wait to look at the view and write!

Absolutely gorgeous! Thanks so much for joining us today, Bronwen. Readers, to find out more about Bronwen and her books, visit her website, Bronwen Evans Regency Seductions to find out more about her books and while you’re there, check out her Invitation to Romance Blog Party for a chance to win some great prizes!