Friday, September 13, 2013

Whacked Out Interview with Mackenzie Crowne, Author of The Billionaire's Con

I'm really happy my writer friend Mackenzie Crowne is willing to be put on the rack. I'll try to take it easy on her. Mac writes romance novels among other things. She's kind enough to be the second in this occasional series of whacked out interviews.

       BA: When I think of romance novels, I think of bare abs and six packs or heaving bosoms, yet I didn’t see any such covers on your web site. Did I miss something?
MC: You didn’t miss a thing. That’s what a lot of people think of when they think of romance novels. When I announced I’d signed a contract for my first book, Gift of the Realm, a fantasy romance set in Ireland, a friend’s daughter proclaimed me the author of “fairy porn”. LOL She was wrong, of course. My books are by no means erotica (bare chests, heaving bosoms and thongs) but they do contain sex. What can I say, I write romance! But the romance genre is broad with many subgenres and heat levels. My covers convey my writing style. Think chic lit with a healthy dose of romance or sweetly sensual with a side of sass.
Sass is good. So is "fairy porn." Not so interested in heaving bosoms, though.

BA:   I love the idea of living on Testosterone Ranch with a husband and two sons. Since ranches need animals, what kind do you have? Did you have a pet when you were growing up near Boston? If so, what kind?
MC: LOL. I’ve always had cats and dogs, but the term, Testosterone Ranch, comes more from my warped sense of humor than an attempt to describe where I live. As the only female at my house in Phoenix, I was on my own. Even the dog and cat were guys. That’s changed now. While Itzy our neurotic Pomeranian is a boy, Zoe the blind cat is my precious girl. As for the ranch, we bought 41 acres in the mountains outside of Tucson a couple years ago. Besides the free range cattle, there are plenty of wild critters like hawks and falcons, deer, bunnies, coyotes, javelina, bear, tarantulas and rattlesnakes.  
Oh, I was wrong. Still, I like my image of you running around raising testosterones in Arizona.

BA:   You call your web site “Mac’s Mad Mania.” My main character Mad Max thanks you for the play on words. Oh, what? That’s not why you named the site? Why this name?
MC: Tell Max I said, you’re welcome. J Actually, the name IS a play on words. My words. I’ve always joked that J. Thaddeus Toad and I have a lot in common. Our manias. I have a short attention span and tend to run from mania to mania - except when it comes to reading and writing romance. Romance is my mad mania!
No matter what she says, Mad Max knows the site was named for her. Not going to change that stubborn woman's mind.

BA:    I just found reviews you’ve written for bodice rippers. Why don’t you write them?
MC: I love a good bodice ripper, but I just can’t seem to go there when I sit down to write. While a healthy blast of lust gets the blood flowing, laughter and those moments that touch the heart are the draw for me. Consequently, my stories all seem to fall in the sweetly sensual and humorous category.
I tried to write one. Once. I laughed so hard I couldn't sit at the laptop.

BA:   So you read reviews, huh? When you find the rare review where the reader really hates your story, what do you do? Swear? Kick dirt? Hire a hit man?
MC: You know, up until this past week (just finished a free kindle download period) I hadn’t really gotten any bad reviews, so I wasn’t sure how I’d react. I assumed I’d do all the above but it turns out, I’m not that thin skinned when it comes to my stories. I write what I like and know not everyone is going to agree with me. Sure, I stuck out my tongue when I read the review saying the reviewer wished she could give me a zero (the cow!) but the review right below hers totally contradicted the very reason she gave for her nasty comments. Ha! So there! Others just made me laugh. Okay, bad reviews sting a bit while good reviews stroke the ego and validate, but ultimately, I think all reviews are good. 
I know a really good hit man if you need one.

 BA:   You quote the saying about wanting to skid broadside at the end of your journey shouting “Wow! What a ride? Tell us three things you’ve done that qualify for that high honor.
MC: Hmmm, three things, huh? Well, first, I never miss the chance to travel, in fact, my friends call me Vacation Mac. I’ve learned life is short, and I don’t want to miss anything by putting it off for later. Since this past June, I’ve visited seven states, several of them twice.

One of those trips was to Colorado. I took my eight year old G’girl on a ziplining adventure in the mountains. I’m still afraid of heights, but after dangling high above the ground all day while zipping along over God’s country, not quite as badly.

Last but not least, I met my BFF in an online black jack room. She lived in CA at the time while I am in Phoenix. After a couple years of virtual friendship, both she and I were invited to attend the 50th birthday celebration of another woman we’d met in that online room. Most people wouldn’t fly to Calgary to meet up with someone they’d never met physically, to drive over the Rockies, in a blizzard, to sing happy birthday to someone else they’d never met physically. My BFF and I both did, and the rest is history…
Nope. Not worth of skidding broadside. No way, no how. Although the thought of a blackjack room offers some really great images for a book...

BA:   On a serious note, I love the title of your non-fiction piece about surviving breast cancer, Where Would You Like Your Nipple? What has been the response from other survivors?
MC: I love the title too and the response has been tremendous, especially from survivors. The title is a direct quote from my plastic surgeon’s assistant and seemed the perfect choice for a lighthearted breast cancer guide. I thought those words were unique to me, but I’ve been surprised at how many survivors have contacted me to say, “I laughed so hard when I saw your book, because I heard that same comment!”
One of my friends had a double. When she was asked the question, she said, "On toast with peanut butter." The surgeon fell off her chair. 

BA:   What are the last three books you read? Why did you choose them?
MC: I’m currently reading Silverhawk by Barbara Bettis, because the excerpt snagged my attention. Before that it was Fender Bender Blues by Niecey Roy. I love romcom. This one fit the bill and I try to support new authors, especially if we share a publisher. Before that was Rain Is A Love Song by Vonnie Davis, because I read everything she writes and wasn’t disappointed with Rain.
I haven't read Barbara Bettis or Niecey Roy, but I will. Love Vonnie Davis's romances. Hot enough to be lots of fun.

BA:    Do you plan to grow up?
MC: Not if I can help it! J

Thanks for joining me, Mac. Find Mac and her books through the links below.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Mars vs. Venus

Last week I attended panel discussion on self-publishing. Five women, five different reasons for going the self-pubbed route. The conversation was informative until one man wanted to know what the ROI was on one author's books.

"How much are you making per book?"

She did some quick calculations. "About $2.50."

He shook his head. Clearly, he knew he'd do a lot better. Another man asked the same question of a different author. Her answer was similar. His disappointment was also.

Each of the women talked about how satisfying it was to see her name in print. On a book that she could hold in her hands. That friends and strangers were reading. None had published with the idea of making a lot of money. Two were happy they'd made back their initial investment.

Women in the audience asked the soft, squishy questions: how long did it take you to finish your book? How much research did you do before you picked your publisher? Would you do it again? How satisfying is it to be a published author?

Men wanted to know metrics: how many books have you sold? Over what period of time? What was your initial investment? What was your net profit/loss? What factors went into your calculations?

I sat back and marveled at the differences between the men and women. The women rated satisfaction as having their books available for readers as the most important reason for writing and publishing their work. The men wanted their books (in one case, his wife's book) to make lots of money. Both sides knew that writers today have to be salesmen/marketeers/publicity gurus, but the men wanted someone else to do most of the heavy lifting.

Several cited "Fifty Shades of Gray" as an example of what could happen. When one of the panelists remarked that this was one of about 500,000+ books self-pubbed in the last few years, her comment was dismissed.

I wonder how many men felt they had the next "Fifty Shades of Gray" in them?