As some of you know, I sometimes invite other authors. So today, my guest is Caroline Clemmons, author of western romance and adventure set in Texas.
I’m also featuring my cover designer, Kim Killion. Most marketing gurus tell independent authors that the most important element to selling a book is a good cover. If you can’t create one yourself, it’s worth the money to hire someone who can.
Taking that advice to heart, I was lucky enough to stumble across Kim. The day I found her was one of happiest in my independent publishing life. Not only is she a great graphic designer, even though I’m pretty sure she hasn’t had time to read my books, I feel we’re on the same page. To show my appreciation for her and her talent, for the next few weeks, I’ll be featuring some of my author friends who have also had Kim design their covers.
As long as I can remember, I’ve loved the written word. My dad, who had taught me to read, told me a good storyteller could create a story about anything. As examples, he mentioned a grain of sand. Where had it been, how did it get where it is today? Or, he added, a fly on the wall—what has the fly seen and heard? He encouraged me to read and to write.
Those early lessons stuck with me. I loved English classes and then took journalism to express myself. I won awards as editor of our school paper, and those encouraged me to stick with that type writing for many years. I even worked for a small newspaper as a reporter and featured columnist. The urge to create my own stories was relieved by composing long, long, anecdote-filled letters to my family.
What started me writing fiction? Oddly, it was my mother in law. On one trip to visit us, she brought a grocery bag filled with old Harlequin and Silhouette novels. She insisted that if I could write letters like mine, I could write romance novels. Secretly, I’d had an idea in my head for some time, but hadn’t the confidence to write it into novel form. My husband encouraged me and I launched into the story. I had never been to a writers group or taken formal creative writing classes. Do I need to tell you the story was awful? Not the basic idea, which I used later, but the higgledy piggledy execution.
Finally, I heard about and joined Romance Writers of America (RWA). Attending a local chapter, I heard excellent workshops. I learned about point of view, characterization, plotting, and the myriad of other tools for creating a story. What a shock to my muse.
I temporarily put aside my original book. Another contemporary novel idea hit me as my family was driving home from visiting our parents in West Texas. By this time, I’d also taken classes in creative writing. I sold the second novel in 1998. Hooray, I was a published author.
My dad had shared tales of his family coming to Texas from Georgia in 1876 and some of the family adventures in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Probably that’s why I enjoyed history, especially Texas history, so much. My brain finally got the message. Why not write historical novels set in late 1800’s Texas? Historical novels require immense research, of course, but remember I love history. Reading about the Old West was pleasure. I consumed it like chocolate, and I adore chocolate.
One thing I’ve realized, I’ll never run out of ideas. What a relief! In the future, I’ll be writing contemporary, paranormal, and historical novels. And now I’m stepping into audio books, always stretching to keep up with the times. But no matter what authors write, a good cover is one key to success. This is why I’ve switched from my Hero husband and me designing my covers to Kim Killion.
Whether an author is published with a “big six” New York publisher or self published, the author must be active in social media. I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, WattPad, and LinkedIn. I have a website, I blog three times a week, and I’m on three team blogs: Smart Girls Read Romance, Sweethearts of the West, and Cowboy Kisses. Yes, I’m everywhere.
Picture me banging my head against my desk. Yes, that’s how most authors feel about promotion. I genuinely love and am grateful to my readers. Although authors love meeting readers and love them for buying our books, we resent the time social media requires for promoting our work. We just want to write! Who knew we’d need an MBA in marketing to do so?
So now, thanks to getting acquainted with Caroline’s great covers, you’ll recognize her books instantly. And you’ll know the name of the cover artist as well as hers. And that’s a good thing. If you like tales of Texas with a dash of authentic history, you’ll love Caroline’s books.