Monday, July 12, 2010

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of sophisticated, evocative romantic suspense Brenda Novak pays a visit to our blog. Her latest title White Heat will be out July 27th and she’s throwing a cyber party to celebrate its release. Details are on her website.

Ms. Novak will also be the keynote speaker for the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Conference Sep 10th – 12th at the Renaissance Hotel I-70 and Quebec in Denver.

I picked up a copy of Dead Giveaway, one of her publications from 2007, and finished it in one sitting. The book was as hot and sweaty as the Mississippi air in which the story took place. The synopsis grabbed me when it mentioned that a reverend had been missing for 19 years. Disappearances are always spooky. Then the blurb goes on to explain that the people of Stillwater Mississippi believe that the reverend’s step-son Clay Montgomery murdered him. Enter the protagonist Allie McCormick local detective who discovers that behind the preacher's pious demeanor lurked the heart of a monster. With so much sordid scandal, how could one NOT read the first page? I learned that Brenda Novak delivers and expect that White Heat will payoff as well.

Some other tidbits about Ms. Novak. For 6 years she has hosted an online auction to raise funding for diabetes research. This last go-around, her efforts along with the help of her friends broke over a million dollars.

Clearly, Ms. Novak is sharp with promotion as well. Three Custom Color has created a shade of lip gloss called WHITE HEAT in celebration of her latest suspense. The gloss is a sheer and delicious hot pink with a silverfish shimmer. It can be worn alone or on top of your favorite lipstick to add some sparkle. White Heat comes in a swing out lip gloss pot and can be applied with a finger tip or lip brush. The gloss retails for $22, but you can WIN one along with a tote and an autographed copy of the book by leaving a comment about this article on the RMFW Facebook wall. We will enter your name in a drawing and announce the winner July 17th. She will also be giving some away at the Gold Conference.

As always, we like to seek mentorship from accomplished writers. I asked Ms. Novak some questions that I hope will help the aspiring author stay on the track to publication.

CIR: What was a memorable setback or bump in the road to your writing career?

BN: My biggest setback came a year after I'd sold my first book to HarperCollins. It was a historical romance titled OF NOBLE BIRTH. Just before the book was supposed to come out, Harper acquired Avon and fired their own romance editors. This came as a big surprise. Just prior to going on vacation, my editor had told me that we'd go to contract on my next two books as soon as she returned. Instead of getting a contract, I received notice that she'd been terminated, which left me adrift (I no longer had an advocate at that house). I could easily have been a one-book wonder, but I was fortunate enough to have sold a contemporary story to Paula Eyklehof at Harlequin for the Superromance line (the longest, most mainstream of the series lines) just a few months before this happened. My plan was to write for both houses. Losing Harper as my publisher enabled me to focus on the contemporary side and grow my career from there, but I've never sold another historical, so that was definitely a setback, and it came when I was REALLY, REALLY green.

CIR: With your first book contract, Of Noble Birth, did you query Harper Collins via their general submissions address?

BN: I didn't query them. My agent handled it. I queried agents during the year prior to this sale and was fortunate enough to sign with Pamela Ahearn. She did a great job getting the book sold (and I was lucky in that it finaled in the Golden Heart just as they were taking a look).

CIR: You write a lot of trilogies. Is this a good practice for making the readers come back for more?

BN: Definitely! It's not always easy to sink into a book, or there would be a lot more readers out there. It takes a bit of faith in the writer, some time and effort. With a series, this "hurdle" is much easier to clear because the reader is already familiar with the setting, some of the characters, etc. A series also enables those who loved the first book to return to those favorite characters and visit with them again.

CIR: You have a 3D trailer on your website for White Heat. It looks like you're one of the first authors to do this. Do you embrace innovative/creative ideas for marketing?

BN: I love marketing. It's very creative in itself. And I love to embrace new ideas. In order to view the 3D trailer, I'm giving away a pair of Brenda Novak glasses (which double as a bookmark) to anyone who sends in an SASE. Another way to get a pair is to register for my Twitter party on Wednesday, August 4th, 8 - 10 p.m. (you can do this at Everyone who registers gets a snail mail packet that contains their raffle tickets for the three iPads I'll be giving away (along with other goodies), the 3D glasses, a $1 off coupon for WHITE HEAT and an autographed bookplate so they can make their book an autographed copy.

CIR: In your biography, you mention that math and science were your best subjects and you chose business as a college major before starting a family. You also dabbled in real estate. Do you think your business background has helped you to develop your audience?

BN: I think my business background has been a huge boon. Being a published author is essentially running a business, especially in this day and age when the author is responsible for so much more than ever before. We have a web site to maintain, social media work, promotional events, blogs, etc. It's all about marketing and getting your book into the hands of those who will love it.

CIR: One oddball question. Have you ever had a flat on these 20 mile bike rides that you knock out every day?

BN: Yes-I've actually had a few. Hiking for any distance in the kind of biking shoes that clip into bike pedals isn't any fun. I typically try and carry a spare. Oftentimes I bike on the tandem with my hubby, and then I even have someone to change it for me. ;-)


Anne Randolph said...

Brenda, you are a genius. I had a great time in May constantly checking on bid at the auction. What a great way to learn about editors and agents. Fun gift baskets, I bought jewelry, Creativity Coaching and an agent review.

I lead on-line Write Hot!: Write At Home workshops and would be delighted to contribute a series and a chapter review at next year's auction. Thanks for making giving to a good cause so much fun. AnneRandolph

Patricia Stoltey said...

Nice interview, Cynthia. I'm very much looking forward to Colorado Gold and Brenda's keynote speech.

Shannon said...

Great interview. It makes me want to download some Novak on my Kindle and get ready for the Colorado Gold in September. Can't wait! And now over to FB to comment.

N. R. Williams said...

Enjoyed reading this interview. So much to learn in the promotion business.