Please enjoy this interview with Bella Andre, New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of the contemporary romance series, The Sullivans. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including special romantic swag baskets for each book, an iPad Mini, Kindle Fire, Nook Color, and Kobo eReader, and Amazon and iTunes gift cards!
Interview with Bella Andre
about her writing habits and success
1. Tell us about writing and publishing your very first novel. What were your expectations when you first waded into the self-publishing pond? Is there anything you would do differently if given another chance?
I honestly had no expectations other than some of my loyal readers would finally get a chance to read my book - and that was enough for me. Meeting so many new readers and fans has been icing on a cake I had no idea was being served.
2. You're an icon in the indie publishing community. Your success is something we all aspire to. What do you believe has been the greatest contributing factor to the success of your novels?
Thank you, that's lovely to hear. I've so enjoyed self-publishing these past couple of years, and I've been lucky to have the most wonderful fans with me every step of the way. There are so many things that go into success, but I think my focus and determination - along with the best readers in the world - have been the biggest factors.
3. What was your reaction when you first found out you broke onto the New York Times and USA Today best-sellers' lists? How did you celebrate?
Actually, it's kind of a funny story. I was on my way to the RWA National conference last summer and was sitting in the airport in Albany, New York when I found out I had three books on the USA Today bestsellers list. I called my husband and we had a mini celebration on the phone. I flew into Atlanta where I was switching planes for Anaheim, and when we landed I turned on my phone and checked my email. An agent (not mine, I was agentless at the time) had emailed me with the title "CONGRATULATIONS, New York Times!" That was when I found out I also had three books on the New York Times bestseller list…and I started crying. On the airplane. With a very conservative woman sitting next to me. She must have thought I was losing it, because she promptly turned her back on me. :) Of course I called my husband and cried happy tears some more. That night when I got into Anaheim, all of my closest writing friends came up to my room and we celebrated. It was AWESOME!
4. You've recently shared some very exciting news—Harlequin MIRA has optioned the print rights for The Sullivans in a record-breaking seven-figure deal. Congratulations! How did this transpire? And how does it affect your writing and publishing plans?
Thank you, I'm beyond thrilled about it and Harlequin have been a dream to work with. They are so incredibly enthusiastic about putting The Sullivans out in paperback in English all over the world, with a simultaneous launch in the US, the UK, Canada and Australia starting this June and going back-to-back each month with the first eight books through April 2014.
My ebook sales numbers for the self-published Sullivan series had been growing bigger and bigger in the year since I'd started publishing the series, and I knew a print-only deal was going to happen soon. When so many Sullivans hit the New York Times and USA Today all at once, that was when the publishers started calling and making offers. I truly feel that Harlequin is the *perfect* publisher for my sexy, emotional contemporary romance Sullivan series.
Because I retained all of my ebook, audiobook, foreign translation and film/TV rights, I am continuing to put out my Sullivans, and other future books, as self-published ebooks and audio books. I have released seven Sullivan ebooks so far and the eighth (ALWAYS ON MY MIND, Lori Sullivan's story) will be out this spring…and I have a great idea for a brand new series that I hope to start writing this year as well. I have licensed the series in Brazil, France and Portugal so far, and the first two books are already big bestsellers in Brazil, which is very exciting.
5. You write fast! Not only do you produce several novels per year, you produce several well written, polished novels per year. What is your writing process like? Do you have any advice for other wordsmiths struggling with productivity?
Thanks for the great compliment. I work so hard on my stories to make sure they're emotional and fun and sexy and that they take my readers out of their lives for a little while. I write every day, everywhere, no matter what. I don't wait for inspiration or a muse to come calling. Fortunately, my favorite thing is writing. In fact, today as I was sniffling over my keyboard during a really emotional scene between my hero and heroine, I was thinking how very happy it made me to be able to write books all day…and to know that I have the best fans in the world waiting to read them!
6. In the early days, what did you do to market your books? Would you recommend these strategies to writers in today's market?
I took a really personal approach. Because I had started digital publishing in response to my readers who had emailed asking me for books, whenever I released a book, I individually emailed each and every single reader to let them know about it. Now, thanks to Facebook and Twitter, I can interact with my readers in other ways that let me spend more time on actually writing, and I recommend doing anything that puts you in touch with your readers.
7. How has making it big changed your approach to writing and marketing your work? Has it changed your approach?
I truly believe that my fans want me to spend more time writing and less time gabbing. :) So I always err on the side of writing…and then once I've met my page count goals for the day, I go onto twitter and Facebook and answer emails.
8. You're connected with a large international fan base. Do readers abroad respond differently to your novels than those in the USA? Which countries in particular have fallen in love with your work?
I'm having a love affair with my Brazilian readers, and I also love love love my Australia/New Zealand, UK and Canadian readers as well! They've so passionate and supportive of The Sullivans - but I've been really fortunate to find readers everywhere have been kind and amazing.
9. You attend a lot of conferences. Recently, you delivered the keynote address at the 2012 Book Expo America. How have conferences contributed to your writing career?
Conferences are an amazing opportunity to stay abreast of what's happening in the business. I get incredible value out of networking in the lounge and hearing what people are up to and what ideas they have. The thing is, I truly love this business and everyone I've met had been wonderful…so it's really not work at all for me. In fact, going to a conference and meeting with people is always such fun.
10. My, you are a busy bee! How do you find balance between writing, publishing, and promoting your books and the rest of your life? Any tips for the rest of us?
Give up sleep and sanity…and have an awesome husband who is happy to take care of absolutely everything non-book-related in your life! :) But seriously - get a good team behind you. I have a team of beta readers, editors, proofers and digital file producers, I work with great bloggers, and I also have the love and support of my family. Everyone thinks "indie publishing" means being independent, but it's not the case at all. While you get to be charge of your own career and your own vision, you also work with tons of great people to put your book out there!
You'll also get introduced to this amazing contemporary romance series via excerpts as well as interviews with and guest posts from New York Times and USA Today best-selling author, Bella Andre. You'll definitely want to learn more about the family that has captured the world's heart.
All the info you need to join the fun and enter to win amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment--easy to enter; easy to win!
To Win the Prizes:
- Purchase any of the Sullivan ebooks by Bella Andre for just $4.99 (optional)
- Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity (go here)
- Visit today’s featured social media event (that's where the HUGE prizes are)
Get the eBooks via Amazon US, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, the iBookStore, or the Kobo Store.
Audiobooks are also available for the first five in the series (with more coming soon). Plus, keep an eye out for paperback editions coming from Harlequin Romance starting Summer 2013.
Her books have been Cosmopolitan Magazine "Red Hot Reads" twice and have been translated into nine languages. Winner of the Award of Excellence, The Washington Post has called her "One of the top digital writers in America" and she has been featured by NPR, USA Today, Forbes, and The Wall Street Journal. She has given the keynote speech at Book Expo America on her self-publishing success and has sold more than one million books.
If not behind her computer, you can find her reading her favorite authors, hiking, swimming or laughing. Married with two children, Bella splits her time between the Northern California wine country and a 100 year old log cabin in the Adirondacks.
- Sign up for Bella's newsletter at www.eepurl.com/eXj22
- Visit Bella's website at www.BellaAndre.com
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Sophie Sullivan, a librarian in San Francisco, was five years old when she fell head over heels in love with Jake McCann. Twenty years later, she’s convinced the notorious bad boy still sees her as the “nice” Sullivan twin. That is, when he bothers to look at her at all. But when they both get caught up in the magic of the first Sullivan wedding, she knows it’s long past time to do whatever it takes to make him see her for who she truly is…the woman who will love him forever.
Jake has always been a magnet for women, especially since his Irish pubs made him extremely wealthy. But the only woman he really wants is the one he can never have. Not only is Sophie his best friend’s off-limits younger sister…he can’t risk letting her get close enough to discover his deeply hidden secret.
Only, when Sophie appears on his doorstep as Jake’s every fantasy come to life—smart, beautiful, and shockingly sexy—he doesn’t have a prayer of taking his eyes, or his hands, off her. And he can’t stop craving more of her sweet smiles and sinful kisses. Because even though Jake knows loving Sophie isn’t the right thing to do…how can he possibly resist?
“I’ve got this,” he told Sammy, one of his best bartenders at the original McCann’s in the city. “You can circulate with the trays.”
Fortunately, the wedding guests were thirsty, clearly needing some vino or hops to wash the taste of the syrupy vows from their tongues. Pouring drinks for strangers was as natural to Jake as breathing, and he immediately got into a rhythm in the middle of the vineyard as the meal was served and people kept a running line behind the bar between courses. He couldn’t remember a time he hadn’t been drying clean glasses, rearranging bottles. As a kid, when his dad had been the one running the taps, Jake had been in the back loading and unloading the dishwasher for a few extra bucks while the cooks at whatever pub they were at slung together plates of fish and chips and colcannon.
When the female guests flirted with him at the bar, he flirted back. So what if none of them were even half as pretty as Sophie? The Sullivans might be pairing up one after the other like they’d been infected by the same virus, but Jake had had his shots.
Love wasn’t going to take him down.
He knew better than to think that love meant a damn thing when the going got rough and it was easier to split. No wife, no kids, plenty of pretty women, but no rings, was what Jake’s future held. He’d play with all the kids the Sullivan clan was bound to pump out, would enjoy being Uncle Jake, but he wouldn’t make the mistake of thinking he’d ever be a good husband or father.
McCanns didn’t come with those genes.
“You haven’t had anything to eat yet.”
The slightly husky female voice reached in and grabbed him a split second before he looked straight into Sophie’s eyes. Her soft sensuality in that pink dress, the sweet smell of her perfume, were a one-two punch straight to a gut that hadn’t yet recovered from watching those tears slip down her cheeks, or the radiant smile that had followed.
Without waiting for an invitation, she put a full plate on the back table for him and moved around the bar to stand next to him. “Scoot over. I’ll help out while you eat.” She bumped her hip into his, his body not giving a damn that she was OFF LIMITS.
How could her brothers have let her out looking like this? What were they thinking? Didn’t they care even a little bit about their sister’s welfare?
While he was standing there losing his mind, Sophie took drink orders and deftly poured glasses of wine and mixed drinks for the wedding guests. She was a librarian, not a bartender. She shouldn’t be so good at serving drinks. And no librarian should ever be this hot, either, Jake thought as he clamped his jaw so tight his temple started throbbing. He’d let her help for five minutes, and then he’d send her back to her table to celebrate with the rest of her family and make sure she stayed there for the rest of the reception.
Even if he had to tie her to her seat.
A beer bottle nearly slipped from his grip as Jake was hit with a crystal-clear vision of Sophie in his bed, begging for him to—
“I hear you’re a librarian. Read any good books lately?”
Jake surfaced from his triple-X daydream just in time to notice a male guest leaning on the bar and looking down the top of Sophie’s dress.
She didn’t seem to notice any of that as she smiled back at the guy. She was too innocent to realize when a guy like this was aiming for one thing, and one thing only.
“Mmm,” she said in that seductive voice, still slightly hoarse from her tears. “I’m always reading great books. What do you like to read?”
The guy shrugged, not seeming to care that there was a huge backup of thirsty people bottlenecking behind him. “I’m a doct—”
“What are you drinking?” Jake broke in.
The guy shot him a look that said, Can’t you see I’m about to score here?
“Corona,” he said to Jake before turning back to Sophie. “As I was saying, I’m a doctor, so I don’t have too much time to read. But when I do, I usually read medical thrillers.”
Jake couldn’t believe it when Sophie leaned over the bar and said, “Oooh, how exciting. Medical thrillers always leave me breathless.”
Didn’t she get that this loser was way beneath her? She should be throwing a drink in his face, not giving him a better view of her body as she leaned down to grab a bottle of beer. Dr. Dickwad looked like he’d hit a home run, was counting the minutes until he could strip that dress from her tanned skin and find out if she tasted as good as she smelled.
Like hell. Jake would kill him first.
Jake snatched the bottle from her hand. “Here’s your beer. Time to let everyone else get a drink.”
He could feel Sophie frowning at him as he pinned the guy with his hardest look. If she couldn’t pick good from bad, he was going to have to save her. Whether she wanted him to or not was irrelevant.
Although the guy flinched at Jake’s silent promise of violence, it didn’t stop him from saying, “Be sure to save a dance for me, gorgeous,” before he walked away.
Jake held on to his control by a very thin thread. Nothing would feel better than to jump over the bar and tackle the guy to teach him what happened when he flirted with the wrong girl. A girl who was too sweet, too pretty, too damn perfect for him to ever even think of touching one hair on her head.
“You’re not dancing with him,” he growled. “Not tonight. Not ever.”
“I’m a big girl, Jake. I’ll dance with whomever I want.”
Serving the customer always took priority. But not this time. “Sammy,” he called out across the reception area, motioning for his employee to take over the bar again. He didn’t wait for Sam to make it to the bar before wrapping his hand around Sophie’s wrist and pulling her out from behind the bar. He didn’t stop walking until they were hidden behind a large storage shed, just on the edge of the reception area.
“You are not getting within a hundred feet of that guy again.”
Anger flared in her eyes. Eyes that had been full of happy tears, full of pure joy, just a short while ago. “You can’t tell me what to do.”
“Like hell I can’t.”
She yanked her arm from his and started to walk away, but he couldn’t let her go. Not when she was bound to do something stupid, like kiss a smarmy doctor. Furious at the picture of anyone else touching Sophie, instead of just grabbing her wrist or her shoulders, this time Jake wrapped his arms all the way around her and pulled her into him. He held her tight, her chest pushing into his forearms, her height matching his so that her hips fit perfectly between his open legs, her soft hips pressing into his groin.
“Let go of me.”
The word was muffled by her hair, so soft, so silky against his chin and lips. And the truth was, he couldn’t have let go of her for the world. Not just because he didn’t want that other guy touching her…but because he’d never wanted to hold anyone more than he did Sophie.
How long had he dreamed of holding her? Too many years to keep count. And yet, he’d never had a clue just how incredibly good she would feel in his arms, her dangerous curves pressed into him, her chest rising and falling against his arms.
“I’m not going to let you go until you promise me you’ll stay away from him.”
Now it was her turn to say, “No.”
He shifted his hand enough to slip a finger beneath her chin and turn her face so that he could look into her eyes. “Promise me, Sophie. It’s for your own good.”
Sophie yanked her face away from his hand, then her whole body, and when she turned to face him head-on, her eyes were flashing. “I can’t believe you just said that! Especially since you of all people have no idea whatsoever what’s good for me.”
His mouth was on hers before he could put the brakes on his desire.
…Excerpt from I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU by Bella Andre ©2012.
The last thing Zach Sullivan wants is to take care of his brother’s new puppy for two weeks. Until he meets the dog trainer, that is. Heather is bright, beautiful, and he can’t stop thinking about her. Unfortunately, she just might be the only woman on earth who wants nothing to do with him.
But as Heather’s determination to push Zach away only fuels his determination to get closer—and the sensual and emotional connection between them grows more and more undeniable—will the biggest Sullivan bad boy of all tempt her into believing in love again?
He couldn’t think of a time he’d ever seen eyes that color, brown with so many flecks of gold that he couldn’t look away. And, Jesus, that mouth of hers, rosy and full, made a man want to do crazy things…like grab the puppy and kiss it all over its drooly, disgusting little face for bringing Heather here today.
He’d been pissed off at Gabe and Summer for dumping the dog on him for two weeks. Now he realized he should thank them, instead.
Unlike most women, however, he could tell Heather wanted nothing to do with him. Fortunately, her dog didn’t seem to have any of the same qualms, especially when he sniffed the glazed sugar on Zach’s fingers from the donut he’d been eating for breakfast.
“Hey, mutt,” Zach said, thinking fast, “I left the rest of my donut on the counter inside. You want it?”
The huge dog’s ears twitched as if he understood, but he didn’t move. Instead, he looked up at Heather for approval.
Clearly, she was gearing up to refuse. But, man, that huge dog could play up the puppy dog eyes when he wanted to. Zach was impressed. He’d have to remember how to do that in the future.
Her dog let out a low whine and Heather finally sighed and said, “Okay, fine. Go.” As she let go of his leash and the enormous dog loped off toward the garage, she followed him, still carrying Cuddles.
“I get that you weren’t prepared for a puppy, but I can’t leave her with you if you’re going to put her in a crate all day. She needs to understand how to stay with you so she doesn’t get hurt by something in the garage. You’re going to need to work on training her to understand your commands. And you’re going to have to do it without yelling at her.” She shot him a hard look. “Ever again.”
He would agree with whatever Heather said just as long as she stayed long enough for him to convince her to give him a chance. He couldn’t remember ever wanting a woman this bad, this fast.
“Hey Chase,” he told his brother, “I’ve got to call off the shoot.”
The models looked at his brother in confusion and Chase told them to take five before saying, “Chloe is going to have the baby any day now, and then I’m out of commission for a while. You sure you want to reschedule?”
Despite her ongoing protests that she was fine, Zach was already kneeling in front of Heather and gently wiping at the open skin on her knee with an antiseptic wipe from a nearby First Aid kit.
“I’ve got to clear my schedule for puppy training.”
“Seriously?” Heather blinked at him like he was driving on three wheels. “That’s why you’re sending everyone home? Isn’t your boss going to be mad?”
“Agnes didn’t mention my last name, did she?”
Her eyes widened with disbelief as she looked from him to the sign on the wall, then back again. “You’re the Sullivan in Sullivan Autos? This is your garage?”
“Don’t worry, I know cars a lot better than I know dogs.”
But he knew women best of all. And, he thought as he slid a Band-Aid strip over her left knee, he couldn’t wait to get his hands on more than Heather’s knees. Because even as he cleaned and bandaged her cuts, her skin was so warm, so soft, so responsive to his touch.
After he slid another Band-Aid strip over her silky smooth skin, he held out his arms. “Now that the shoot’s off, I’m all yours to train.”
Most women would have been pleased by the sensual undertones in his words, or would at least have blushed, but she simply glared at him with icy cool eyes.
Cuddles yawned and curled closer into her chest. What Zach wouldn’t do to be where the puppy was.
She shifted her legs out of his reach. “You can’t cancel your photo shoot. You’ll lose too much money.” She stood up and grabbed her dog’s leash again. “Atlas, it’s time to go.”
Damn it, she was going to leave. Panic gripped him, even though he’d only just met her, even though he could easily find another woman to have sex with. “Heather—”
She frowned as she looked down at where he was still kneeling on the cement floor. “Since you can’t keep Cuddles here while you’re—” She paused to look at the models chain smoking and talking on their cell phones in the parking lot. “—working, I’ll take her to my office. When she wakes up, she can play with Atlas until you get there for our first session.”
She told him the address, then made a clicking sound that had her huge dog following her out of the garage with an adoring look on his furry face.
Zach understood exactly how the dog felt. One sign from her and he’d happily do the same thing.
His brother moved beside him and, together, they watched Heather leave, her long braid swinging behind her, her legs strong and tanned in her shorts.
Zach grinned. “My new dog trainer.”
And, hopefully, a hell of a lot more than that real soon.