Interview with Sherry James, Author of the Studs 4 Hire Series (Giveaway)
Welcome back, Sherry. It’s been a while. Why don’t you bring us up to date on what’s been going on since you were here last in 2010.
Thanks for having me again, Cheryl. I can’t believe it’s been that long. Time really does fly. Since then I re-released the first two Studs 4 Hire books, which we’ll talk more about in a minute, released my first Western Historical Romance novella, The Cowboy and the Hellcat, and have multiple manuscripts in the works which I hope to see released sometime this coming next year.
I have two active kids who are very involved in 4-H, and my husband and I are 4-H leaders for our county’s horse club. We all ride and show, plus we put up all of our own hay. Needless to say our summers are pretty busy. But, all of that physical activity and work is great for countering the sedentary time I spend at the computer writing!
I’ve never been able to tell which I like better, your romantic comedy stories or your cowboy ones; though there’s humor in both. Do you do anything differently when you’re writing for one subgenre versus the other?
Hmm. I guess the biggest thing is that for the Studs 4 Hire series I amp up the humor, or at least try to! With my cowboy stories I like to interject a little humor here and there to lighten some moments, to give the reader a reprieve from the tension and a chance to relate to the characters from a relaxed, everyday life perspective.
But the Studs books are romantic comedy so they require humor to be sprinkled in from the first page until the very last. When I plot the Studs books I also purposefully concoct storylines which naturally lend themselves to a lighter, humorous tone. That doesn’t mean the characters' motivations or goals aren’t just as important as in a serious or darker book, they are. They’re just twisted in a fun and quirky way. A few movies I think are great at illustrating this are Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail, and What a Girl Wants. All serious conflicts we can relate to or understand, yet twisted up with humor.
Writing humor is not always easy, though. It’s very subjective. As I’m writing a Studs book I’m constantly pushing myself for a better, funnier way to say or show something. I look at normal everyday things or situations, and try to put a quirky spin on them so people can not only relate, hey, crap happens to us all!, yet, have a good laugh, too.
And humor doesn’t always have to be the knock-your-socks off type; it can be low key, even very subtle. My brother, Rob, is great at low key humor. He’s not the type of guy who walks into the room and is instantly the life of the party by wowing everyone with jokes. He’s shy and sweet, and his wit is so subtle it sometimes just comes out of the blue and hits you when you least expect it.
You decided to re-release and self-publish the first two books in your Studs 4 Hire series. Did you enjoy the experience? Any tips on what to do and what to avoid?
I did enjoy it, although it wasn’t an experience without challenges. But, it was nice to get the control back on the two books. I used an independent publisher and we gave the books another edit, and fresh new covers I’m really excited about. I think these covers showcase the lighter, romantic tone of the books, especially, Woman in Charge. It’s one of my favorite covers. The heroine is really cute, the colors pop, and, of course, there’s Elvis!
As for tips? Wow. How many hours do we have?! ;-)
Let’s just say there is definitely a learning curve to the whole process. I suggest anyone considering independent publishing to educate themselves as much as possible before you indie publish—talk to other writers who have done it, take an online class or two, read the best indie publishing books available, and stay up-to-date with current marketing strategies. The more you know the less you’ll be kicking yourself for wishing you’d done things differently.
I want to reiterate, this is really a learn-as-you-go endeavor, and you need to be prepared for the unexpected. The odds are favorable you’ll encounter a few things you really had no way of anticipating beforehand. Every author’s career is unique and so every author’s results are going to be unique, too. Some authors I know are making bestseller lists and six figure incomes, while others are barely making enough to meet their writing expenses.
For me the whole pricing aspect has been one of the biggest head scratchers.
1. What’s the right price point for the length of my book?
2. What’s the right price point that won’t give my book the stigma it’s of low quality?
3. What’s the right price point that won’t over price the book so readers are reluctant to try an author unknown to them?
4. And finally, what’s the right price point for me to net enough money to pay the expenses of independently publishing the book, plus, hopefully, provide me with at least a part-time income?
Also, there is the challenge of wearing multiple hats. When you indie publish, you have to do it all, from editing, cover art, distribution and promotion. You might hire an editor or a cover artist, but you’re still the one to make the final call and decide if the book is ready for publication.
But don’t let all of that hold you back. Sometimes you just have to jump in and do it. Experience is your best teacher. All that being said, yes, indie publishing has been frustrating at times, but it has also been very rewarding. If there is one thing I’ve learned in the twenty plus years I’ve been writing it’s this—the writing business is a crap shoot. Keep your sense of humor, be patient, and have fun. If you can do that the odds are in your favor you won’t lose your sanity.
You’ve got a new Studs 4 Hire novella coming out next month. What can you tell us about it?
I’d love to! ELF TROUBLE is the first of what I hope to be a number of Holiday Studs 4 Hire “shorts” that will be coming out over the next couple of years. The big books are about the women behind the company, Sydnie, Casey, and Terri, and yes, Terri will get her story soon. I promise. The novellas will bring the guys, okay, the Studs, who work for the company, to center stage.
Here’s a teaser!
Gil Boyd hates Christmas, so when his bosses at Studs 4 Hire assign him to construct a Santa house for a local animal shelter’s annual fundraising event, he’s forced to quiet his inner Grinch and get the job done.
But Gil doesn’t count on quirky shelter volunteer, Holly Everwood, her unwavering holiday spirit, and her zany mutt to tempt his resolve to remain unattached. Can Holly show him the real magic of Christmas does exist if only he’ll open his heart?
Elf Trouble will be available at the various online booksellers starting in November. Watch my web site and Facebook page for an actual release date announcement.
Let’s see . . . where do I start? I have a ton of projects lined upped, the trick is getting them all done. As I mentioned, I have more of the Studs 4 Hire Holiday “shorts” in the works, and Terri’s story, Woman to the Rescue.
The sequel to Cowboy Fling is almost done and I hope to see it released sometime next year. The working title is Cowboy Affair. I hope readers will be excited to see how Paige’s sister, Dorie, fared on her side of the sexual fantasy bet. I know it’s been a long time coming.
I also have another western historical in the works. It’s entitled The Madam of Nickel Creek. I love this story. And Vin and Lilac have been prodding at me for a long time to finish their book. But they have to wait a while longer. I have a bit more work to do on another contemporary western romance I’m getting ready to send to a traditional publishing house.
Whew! That’s a lot on my plate, I know. I’m hoping to have a very productive winter!
In honor of the upcoming release of Elf Trouble, I’m holding a giveaway. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and snail mail address by Nov. 1st . Please put Book Connection Giveaway in the subject line. I will randomly select one winner from all entries to win an autographed copy of Studs 4 Hire Woman on Top, and the cutest little elf who will fly into your mailbox to share with you a great recipe for a delicious Elf Cocktail. Just in time for Holiday entertaining!
Thanks again for having me here, Cheryl. Always a pleasure.