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Monthly Archives: June 2012

Jane, welcome to Romance Lives Forever. Tell us about your latest book, including its
genre. Does it cross over to other genres? If so, what are they?

Prime Time is billed
as a romantic comedy but it does have its dark corners. It is the story of
Laura who has shocking PMT and is – ill-advisedly as it turns out – encouraged
to go onto a daytime tv programme to talk about it. What happens next will
change her life…
How do you come up with ideas?
I pretty much write
down everything that ever happens to me…
What is the single most important part of writing
for you?
That wonderful moment
when you can type “the end”.
What is the most important thing you do for your
I’ll give anything a
try. I’ve been on radio and TV, worked as a presenter and interviewer, written
short stories and articles, features and columns, fiction and non-fiction. I
could probably do with being a bit more focussed on just the one or two areas
instead of trying to do it all, but it’s been a lot of fun.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
Being able to
“have my say” I suppose.
What do you enjoy most about life?
Variety. I am not one
of these writers who can be pinned to the computer for a 16 hour stretch. I
like to go out and do lots of different things. But I always consider that to
be part of the process. If you never leave your study how you have anything to
Where do you start when writing? Research,
plotting, outline, or…?
A basic idea. My first
novel was: the buy-to-let market, my second, infidelity, my third – running a
wine bar… and so on.
What did you learn from writing your first
That it’s not as easy
as it looks…
How many hours a day to you spend writing?
On theory 6 hours a
day. In practice? Sometimes I don’t write at all – too busy fiddling with
emails and tidying the kitchen. But when deadlines loom I’ve been known to
write all night. I finished wannabe a writer in a 36 hours stint with no sleep
at all.
If you could give the younger version of yourself
advice what would it be?
Get on with it!
What are some jobs you’ve done that would end up
in a book?
I’ve been a barmaid,
bought and sold property, worked as a secretary and a copywriter – all these
have come in useful in books various.
If I was a first time reader of your books, which
one would you recommend I start with and why?
When I am reading a
new author I like to start with their first one. Mine  was  –
Raising the Roof. But I’ve developed a lot since then. So I would say now –
read the blurbs and see which one appeals to you most and I’ll just hope you
like it SO much you can’t wait to read the others :-)
What do you hope readers take with them after
reading your work?
A smile and a dollop
of empathy
List two authors we would find you reading when
taking a break from your own writing.
Joanna Trollope and
Fay Weldon
What’s your next writing ambition?
I want to be an agony
aunt on a national newspaper – editors please note! :-)
A biography has been written about you. What do
you think the title would be in six words or less?
Jacqueline of all
If money were not an object, where would you most
like to live?
By the sea plus a flat
in London
If you were a tool, what would people use you to
Open wine bottles.
As a child, what was your favorite thing about
Reading my way through
If you came with a warning label, what would it
Take in small doses
Fill in the Blanks
I love pizza with fresh
I’m always ready for a
glass of champagne.
When I’m alone, I relish
You’d never be able to
tell, but I was once a model.
If I had a halo it would be constantly falling off.
If I could play the
guitar, speak fluent French, sing like an angel, and only weighed seven stone,

I’d consider it a good result.
I can never get to
the end of my to-do list
because I keep adding to it.
Raising the Roof
Wannabe a Writer
Wannabe a Writer We’ve
Heard Of
Perfect Alibis
One Glass is Never
Prime Time
Me Here

Picture yourself cruising the net looking for a good spot to
promote your new book when you happen upon a great review site. You decide
to request they read it. First question: Title of book — hah! Piece
of cake. Publisher: Duh! This is easy too. ISBN: Hmmm. You tap your fingers on the keyboard. Didn’t I see that in an email? So you open a new window and start
rummaging through all the stuff in your inbox. It has 475 messages in it so it
takes awhile. You notice an email from a fellow author and read it, respond,
then decide to see what’s in that cool looking newsletter that just came. About
an hour later you close the email window and there in the background is that
review site — still waiting for the ISBN that you never found. Sound familiar?
I thought so. I’ve done things like this, and so have many
others. In 2006, I created Marketing for Romance Writers so I could get some
writing done but still help about a dozen friends with questions like “How
do I get my book reviewed?” “I’m drowning in email. How do I create
folders?” “What’s the #1 thing I should do to market my book?” I figured if I helped them, they’d help me when I had a question too. Guess what? It worked. We all helped each other.
I answered their questions with articles on how to create a
review request form, how to determine what kinds of folders you need, and ideas
on how to find out who was talking about you online. These were things I was learning myself, and I enjoyed sharing. Since that time, those
twelve people have morphed into over twelve hundred, and I am not the only person answering questions. Our group is a self-help group that relies on crowd sourced answers. Everybody shares info and news. We started calling the
group MFRW because we talked about it so much and the title was too long to
write out. We invited guest speakers to come help us learn, and we shared with
author groups and our publishers. We gave free workshops. I decided at the beginning that we would not charge for
lessons because everyone needed a chance to learn and not everyone could afford it.
We began a professional newsletter, gave seminars,
workshops, and had Q&A sessions. We started two blogs and a Facebook group. We created a few excerpt books to give away. This month, we added a website, and in July, we’re sponsoring a free, two-day Marketing
Summer Camp with over a dozen guest speakers, panels, and a large number of
giveaways and handouts.
Things have changed. Yet the more they change — the more
they stay the same. A recent discussion on the Yahoo group asked “When
does marketing become spam?” Last count, there were over fifty responses
in two separate topics relating to that subject. We also took on the task of
liking each other’s Amazon author pages, and on Facebook, we regularly like and
tag each other’s books as a way to help with sales.
Our Author Blog Banner
Yes, we’ve come a long way. We started out with a Yahoo
group and a dozen friends, and we’ve become a crowd with multiple aspects of
social media. We have a newsletter editor, two proofers, a blog director, five
group liaisons, a promotions director, and me. Eleven people to look after the
goings on around a group that started with only a dozen members. Yes, things
have changed, but they are still focused on the same five things as they were
in the beginning. Our motto is still “seek, teach, share, learn, succeed.”

Our Volunteer Staff

Kayelle Allen Founder 
Newsletter Editor: Rochelle Weber
Proofers: Cat Gardiene, JJ Keller
Blog Director: Lynn Crain
Promotions Director: Karen Cote’
Group Liaisons: Jeanne Barrack, Jean Drew, Dawne Prochilo, Heaven O’Shey, RJ

Join Us!

We still help one another and look for ways to advance our
careers by working together. It’s been a little less than six years since we
started on this journey. I can’t wait to see where the next six takes us. Won’t
you join us?

Where to find Marketing for Romance Writers online:

Our Marketing Blog Banner

Sign up for Summer Camp by joining the Yahoo Group.

members are enrolled. To take part, read your messages. That’s all there is to
img credit: “You have a new book”

Angelique, a new medium for authors.
Welcome back, Cherif Fortin and Lynn Sanders.  I’m excited to feature the new ebook/app you’ve illustrated, Angelique. I think this represents a true turning point for authors and multimedia.
– – –
“Are you back, Angelique?” He waits in his library,
alone, drawing back curtains on memories of love so many years lost. Reports of
dead men, bloodless, all eerily similar, tell Vincent the tale. Stalking in
shadows, she seeks him. Will she have him still?
Told first in Helen A Rosburg’s poem “Angelique,” the story
of Angelique and Vincent’s undying love now comes to resplendent life in this
novelette illustrated by Cherif Fortin and Lynn Sanders and offered in
animated-book format. With its beautiful prose and breathtaking images, this
instant classic vampire story will haunt and delight readers for eternity.
 – – –
Cherif Fortin is a freelance photographer, illustrator, and
writer living in Chicago, Illinois. At one time he has worked as a professional
stuntman, as a full-time firefighter, and as one of the country’s leading
romance cover models. Cherif’s artwork has been featured on the covers of
hundreds of books in dozens of countries, and on calendars and collectibles. He
runs the successful Fortin & Sanders Studio along with partner, Lynn
Sanders, producing commercial art and photography for leading clients
internationally. He lives with his wife, Dawn, and their three children: Kira,
Kai, and Lara.
Lynn Sanders is an artist, photographer, and writer of
romance fiction and children’s books. She is co-owner of Fortin & Sanders
Studio, which produces cover art for some of the top publishers in the world.
Her paintings have been exhibited at Epcot
Center and are owned by
private collectors such as Hugh Hefner and Fabio. She has three adult children,
three grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. She lives in northern Illinois with Ce Ce, her
faithful Cirneco dell Etna.

Welcome to Romance Lives Forever! Your artwork has been an
inspiration to us at RLF for a long time, and we’re thrilled to have you here.
Let’s get started on a few questions about you as individuals, then as
partners, and spend the rest of the time talking about Angelique.

Questions For Lynn

You pioneered a
technique using oil-glazing and photography to create rich new images. How did
you adapt this technique to digital media?
I’ve been working in the image business since the 60’s. In
the early 90’s I never thought I would be so tied to this thing called a
computer. I guess I was drug kicking and screaming to the digital illustrating
process. We still hand glaze a lot for our portrait work but for illustrations
we can simulate the look in the computer so much faster. When we want to do
display pieces we do a lot more hand work on the image. It gives a nice texture
to the piece.
What are the
drawbacks of working with a partner who is not located near you? How hard is it
to collaborate long distance?
 We travel back and forth quite a bit but the computer
and the telephone make looking and discussing projects very easy. When I was
younger I wouldn’t think twice in jumping into a car and going to the Chicago
studio. Cherif would come out three to four days a week to the Rockford studio.
We hear that a
certain Cirneco dell Etna is part of your life. Will you tell us more about
this special relationship?
She was my dear little rescue dog Che Che. She just passed
recently. I had her for 11 years. She was around 4 when I got her from Helen
Rosburg who had originally rescued her. Che Che was a one woman dog from the
beginning. She could run like a deer and practically would turn herself inside
out with glee when I came home from a trip. Bless her little heart, like all of
us she got old and was having seizures and the vet said we had to put her to
sleep. I now have two hungry, ornery cats named Boo and Dusty.
Do you think keeping
secrets is good or bad?
I try to keep my wild, crazy sex life a secret. Seriously, I
always found anytime you think you can keep a secret, invariably it gets out.
What song would best
describe your life?
 If I Can Dream. Elvis Presley and My Way.
If you were a tool,
what would people use you to do?
I would be an artist brush. People would use me to paint the
world happy, caring and romantic.
If you could give the
younger version of yourself advice what would it be?
Be true to yourself. Take some chances and create something
What is the most
important thing you do for your career?
I work at it almost every day. I take images and play with
them. I try to keep my radar up for new avenues of exposure, i.e. blogs!
How are the
children’s books coming, Lynn?
Well, thank you for asking. They are ready for a publisher
to give them a home. I have 9 of them. Che Che modeled in one along with
Cherif’s son Kai. There’s another featuring a dragon with Cherif and his
daughter Kira. Little Lara, Cherif’s youngest daughter, is my model for one
called Pickles and Peas. I just love them.

Questions For Cherif

Is it true that at
one time, you were a fireman, a stuntman, and worked in a medieval-based theme
Yes. Currently I enjoy two careers: I am a full-time
firefighter for a busy suburban department near Chicago and also a freelance
illustrator/photographer. I’ve been a fireman for 9 years and an artist since,
well, forever. Prior to working as a firefighter, I worked as a stunt performer
for a medieval-themed dinner show company called Medieval Times. This lasted 12
years and my duties included sword fighting, horseback riding, and training of
both horses and stuntmen. In 1993, Lynn Sanders and I started a commercial art
and photography studio which has been in business ever since. We’re known as
Fortin and Sanders and we provide a variety of services including book cover
illustration, design, high end portraiture and event photography.
In what way did these
jobs prepare you for creating artwork using photography and illustrations?
Passion’s Blood
I think having a variety of experiences broadens your
horizons, which is always helpful. I’ve met many talented professionals across
various fields, and I always try to learn something from them. A big part of
being a freelance artist is developing your entrepreneurial skills and small
business acumen. I meet people all the time that might be doing something
totally different from me but in a way that makes me think, “hey, this
could really help me be better”. I try to emulate those people. Working at
Medieval Times certainly helped refine my eye for medieval subjects, period
costumes, horses, etc.
What do you enjoy
most about life?
Spending time with my friends and family. I am lucky to have
very kind, loving and interesting people in my life.
How do you balance
life with deadlines and work?
One thing that is increasingly difficult as I add
commitments to my life is finding time. I have two full-time careers, three
growing kids, a wife, a book in the works, several artistic projects, friends,
hobbies and a new Doberman puppy to manage. It can get pretty crazy and
sometimes overwhelming. My touchstone is making time with my family on a daily
basis. Regardless of what’s going on with work, having fun with the wife and
kids is my antidote for stress.
What is the craziest
thing you did as a kid?
This one time, at band camp… ;)
How do you respond to
negative people?
I try not to! Negativity attracts negativity, so I just
steer clear.
If you could give the
younger version of yourself advice what would it be?
There is no point in wasting time worrying. What will be,
will be. The key to life is not in finding happiness, but making it.
What is the most
important thing you do for your career?
You know, I’m still trying to figure that out! If I had to
pick one single thing, I would have to say networking. Meeting others and
interacting with them has opened many unexpected doors for me and led me in
directions I couldn’t have come up with on my own.
What is the answer to
the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything?
The answer is 42, of course (for the Douglas Adams fans out

The Public Can Find Cherif Here

Questions For Lynn and Cherif Together

What new project are
you working on now?
Lynn: We are
always working on stories and illustrations. We also do fine art portraiture
for private clients, painting everything from pets, to children, brides and
corporate execs. We are still illustrating book covers for a variety of clients
and we hope to keep doing that for many more years to come.
On a personal level, I just finished a series of paintings
for a group of silk-flyer acrobats. I’m also working on illustrating some kids
books which I’d like to see published one day, and I’m doing a lot of portraits
of Elvis, which I sometimes put up for sale on eBay.
Cherif: We’re
spending a lot of time promoting Passion’s Blood and Angelique these days,
doing signings and appearances. We’re also finishing production on some artwork
for the Gordie Brown Live! Show at the Golden Nugget Casino, which you can see
on 8 billboards throughout Las Vegas.
My personal projects lately include doing family portraits
as well as some paintings exploring fantastic and mythological themes. I’m
putting the finishing touches on a new book which features art techniques for professional
photographers; I’m hoping to have that ready by the end of the year.
How do you come up
with ideas?
Cherif: Ideas
have never been a problem, it’s the execution that can be tricky! For me, ideas come from everywhere: literature, art,
movies, comics, video games, magazines, conversations with friends, etc. I try
to stay inspired by keeping in touch with other artists online, visiting art
blogs and forums, and I keep an “inspiration” folder on my pc in
which I put works that for one reason or another catch my eye. It’s at well
over 2 gigs in size currently, and I add to it nearly every day. If I find I’m
blocked for new ideas I just rummage through that folder a little and in no
time my juices start flowing.
Cherif Fortin in Passion’s Blood
Where do you see your
partnership going in the next ten years?
Cherif: I’m
really excited by the interactive apps we’ve been working on for the iPad
available through iTunes. I hope we can grow in this area and do projects that
take advantage of technology in cool new ways. I’d also like to take on a role
mentoring other photographers and artists, perhaps through seminars or tours.
What advice do you
have for cover models today?
Don’t go into book cover modeling expecting it to be your
main thing: it’s a niche opportunity at best. Diversify your portfolio and work
where you can get it.
What advice do you
have for photographers in the book cover industry?
Same as above.

Questions about Angelique

Angelique is “at the intersection of movies and
traditional printed books” (Cherif to Kathleen Pickering at Romantic Times
Convention). It’s an eBook as well as an interactive app for iPad. It’s also a
form of multimedia which can be used as an audio book read by the author, and
allows the reader to interact with the illustrations. The information we’ve seen
at RLF shows us that readers can touch areas of the illustrations to bring them
to life.
Please tell us more
about this amazing product.
It’s an illustrated book for the new century! The story is a
gothic horror-romance set in turn of the century Paris. I dont want to reveal
too much about it to readers, other than to say I am very proud of the work
authors Helen Rosburg and Ali DeGray did: it’s at turns touching and
horrifying, inspiring and chilling, and the end is truly bittersweet and
memorable. We couldnt have asked for a better story to illustrate. The app
takes advantage of today’s technology by augmenting the reading experience with
multimedia: sound, movement, etc. All the illustrations are animated to bring
the scenes to life, and there’s (optional) voiceover narration by the author,
for those who want the audio book experience. We think it is at the ground
floor of what books will become in the digital age.
What gave you the
idea for creating Angelique?
Helen Rosburg wrote Angelique. We were inspired by her words
and she asked us to illustrate it.
How hard was it to
find someone who could make your ideas a reality?
We were lucky to be working with Medallion Press on this
project. We have a long history of working with them, doing cover art and other
illustrated books, and we know the people there and have developed great
relationships. They are pioneering a lot of digital publishing strategies and
are fully behind the idea of interactive books. There’s really no one better we
could be partnering with for a project like this.
Scene from Angelique
In what way is this a
step forward from your previous, similar app, Passion’s Blood?
Every time you do a new project you refine your old
techniques and discover new ones. Passion’s Blood was sort of a proof-of-concept
project, to see if the idea of an interactive book was even possible for us. Angelique
was an opportunity to refine our work, and we really got into painting
specifically for multimedia, sometimes doing multiple versions of each
illustration to make the animations come together.
Do you plan
additional apps of this type? Will there be a sequel to either of the current
We have beautiful images for a sequel to Passion’s Blood. Patrick
Lambke (“The Black Knight” from a recent Nat Geo documentary series) and
Cherif will model for the main characters again. The female lead is modeled by
Stacy Walker. We’re waiting to see how all this comes together.
The illustrations
were all done digitally. How different was that from using photography as your
We used photography mainly as reference in Angelique, to
help us keep the likenesses consistent and make sure our figures and lighting
were correct. The approach is different, but we can work effectively using
either digital or traditional techniques.
What do unique products
like Angelique and Passion’s Blood cost?
There’s a great special going on right now. You can download
the apps from iTunes for only 99 cents.
Where can readers
pick up copies of these apps?
Both are available through the iPad or on iTunes.
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