Welcome, Fran! It's so nice of you to take time from your busy schedule to drop by today. We want to hear everything!
How long have you been writing and who are your publishers?
Oh dear! That is a loaded question. I have been writing for more years than you have lived. However, I didn't make a concerted effort to get anything published until October 2008 when I submitted a book to Ellora's Cave. It was rejected because it didn't fit their guidelines. I didn't check out the guidelines first...typical Fran Lee. I wrote the editor and asked what I needed to do to fit EC guidelines. I dit it, resubmitted a week later, and about six days later, I got a letter saying they were offering me a contract on it. You could have knocked me on my fanny with a feather!
What led you to writing?
I always loved reading. I always had a wonderful imagination. It was a simple step from reading to writing. At first I wrote short stories (I was too impatient to write longer ones) about eight to twelve pages long. I wrote paranormal stories. I wrote sci-fi. I wrote mystery. Of course, at eight, my knowledge of the things I wrote about was nil, but I had a ball writing it! It wasn't until I was a bit older that the knowledge garnered from all the many hundreds of books I'd read kicked in, and my writing at last made sense.
What do you most enjoy about writing?
I love writing romance of all kinds. I have a contemporary/paranormal titled OUT OF HER DREAMS with Ellora's Cave, as well as a shape shifter romance titled, HALLIE'S CATS The two books and the anthology piece with Resplendence are Contemporary.
And I have a couple of Fantasy romances that, back in 1987 were branded by every publisher I submitted to as "too erotic and hot" to be published. LOL! Today, these two books would be considered mild! I will spsruce them both up soon and submit them, although they are way too long for either of my current publisher's guidelines.
Any writing hurdles that you were surprised by?
Oh yeah! One of the biggest hurdles I had to get over was cutting a 220 page book down to 128! Luckily I am very flexible, thank heavens! I managed it in record time. Longer is not always better in e-publishing,it seems.
What are you reading now?
Well, I have 245 books in my TBR stack. I just finished a novella, SECRETS OF THE JIN-HAKKU by Kate Willoughby and then did a review on it. I am now starting LOVE NOT A THIEF by Cara Hart. I love historical romances. I love to buy older books as well and then pop out a "Better Late than Never" book review on them. I have nearly80 shape shifters in my TBR stack.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Actually I have already had many other professions, and finally got to the one I wanted all along. I have worked as a supervisory cook, as the Director of a government-contracted services agency with seven satellite offices, as a sales clerk, as a waitress, a shoe repair lady, ballroom dance instructor, martial arts instructor, candy sales girl and I spent 31 years working as a service technician for a Federal Government agency. During that period, I spent a lot of time as a Union President. So you see, finally getting to work at something I'd waited to work at all those years is sorta like a treat.
Tell us a bit about your new release.
HALLIE'S CATS is coming out July 31. It's about a woman running from an unhappy past, and having to settle for an equally unhappy present. But the town she chooses to settle in is where fate intends for her to be.
She can't find a place to live that's within her meager means...except a purportedly "haunted" old house at the top of a mostly uninhabited hill at the far edge of town. Not entirely uninhabited, though. A reclusive pair of brothers inhabits the bigger old estate house at the bottom of the hill.
Brothers she has never seen...until their dog escapes their high-walled compund and nearly knocks her flat. The gorgeous brothers, Gar and Call, are the last surviving members of the Seronta Clan of Leopard shifters. The last female member left to join her chosen mate's clan years ago. And the human female might be just what the doctor ordered for the lonely brothers.
Here's the blurb:
Hallie James loves cats – she just never realized she was one, herself. Not until she met delicious leopard shifters Gar and Cal, one sinfully dark, one beautifully golden.
A terrifying meeting with a runaway pit bull lands her on her butt on the sidewalk! But when the dog's owners appear out of nowhere, asking if she's all right, Hallie has the most shocking reaction to their mouthwatering…scent!
Cat pheromones are powerful – and Gar and Cal’s attraction to the human is as instant as hers is to them. Hallie finds herself caught between two cats… hot and hard Gar, and his hot and delicious little brother Cal. When a gal is confronted with such a succulent choice – why not enjoy the fact that cats are not monogamous?
Do any of your characters from previous books appear in your latest?
That answer will have to be no. Actually, none of the books I have written have spin-offs or sequels, although one of my editors has suggested a sequel or spin-off to one she is working on. It’s flattering, but I’ll have to think hard about that.
Do you use more than one element of the paranormal in your works?
Definitely. In Out of Her Dreams, the heroine has for over twelve years accurately seen the man who will eventually find and love her. And he dreams of her as well, but like most men, he only feels his dreams, rather than sees them. In Hallie’s Cats, my shape shifting h/h’s are drawn together and united by fate (and a previously-owned soul.)
I love to toss in paranormal qualities, because I am a firm believer that people never meet by “accident”. The world pulls them together like magnets. We are in a specific place at a specific time and we meet…not merely by chance, to paraphrase a famous Broadway song.
Have you written a series?
Not yet. If my editor has her way, I might. LOL! Actually, it might be fun to do a spin-off on Hallie’s Cats.
Do you have a favorite book or author that has influenced your writing?
Since most of my novels were written years ago, before the current high-profile authors were writing, I would have to say Barbara Cartland and Georgette Heyer! But way before I found them, I found a very ancient, dog-eared paperback book printed in the 40’s that my mom had hidden in her closet, titled “The Sheikh” by E. M. Hull. I was twelve. I thought my mom would kill me when she caught me reading it under my covers with a flashlight. Instead, she just shook her head and said, “Abe Lincoln ruined his eyes doing stuff like that. Just wait until morning, and read it in full daylight.”
If you haven’t guessed yet, I was a precocious, voracious reader and far ahead of my years in reading matter. I loved War and Peace and The Three Musketeers, too. I spent my lunch money on used books at an old bookstore downtown. By thirteen, I had a huge library of wonderful twenty-five-cent antique and vintage books of all sorts! I devoured Son of Tarzan, which actually was a Burroughs’ styled romance of sorts. I loved his descriptions of his characters. He made you see the physical beauty and power of man and woman.
I’d better stop before I end up giving you a dissertation on romance over the ages.
Which book did you spend the most time researching and why?
I actually only researched Hallie’s Cats, because I wanted to find out why sex seemed painful to cats. Of course, I have been advised by my long-suffering editors that it would help if I started researching certain things.
Anything else that you'd like readers to know about you?
Um…I suppose I should admit that the photo I have as my avatar on all my websites is not recent. However, until I find a glam-shot photographer who can make me look that good again (without the 60’s bouffant hair) you will likely never, ever, ever see a recent photo of me. Oops! Did I just give away my true age here? Rats!
More seriously, I do a daily column for Examiner.com, a reader-driven information network that has spread to almost every big city in the USA. On that site, I do interviews with authors, publishers, cover models (yeah…and you really need to look at the hot photos…wow!), editors and even book reviewers! I also do book reviews, some fun blogging, and a couple of times I’ve had guest bloggers there. Check it out:
What was the craziest thing you ever did to promote a book?
I really wanted to get myself a book trailer like all those cool ones you see on YouTube. Being broke ruled out having one professionally done, so I did some research (On creating videos, not on the quarantine laws of Barbados) and found a cool free website that I used to start making my own book trailers. Now, if you’ve seen some of the fabulous book trailers out there, you’ll understand why I think I was crazy to try it.
However, I managed to put together a couple of credible trailers using nothing but the covers of my books and music and text slides. Not exactly fabulous, but surprisingly good-looking (to me, anyway!).
Next, I think I’ll try dancing the Dance of the Seventy-eight veils. I wouldn’t dare try that with only seven veils. Something like that could destroy life as we know it on this planet.
Thanks so much for asking me to visit today! It was loads of fun!
Here is the link to YouTube for the Hallie's Cats video.
Thanks so much for stopping by! We've enjoyed hosting you!