Today’s guest is Lindsay McKenna, author of the romantic suspense novel, Wolf Haven. Lindsay is proud to have served her country in the U.S. Navy as an aerographer’s mate third class—also known as a weather forecaster. She is one of the original founders of the military romance subgenre and loves to combine heart-pounding action with soulful and poignant romance.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?
Thank you! I’m very excited about this latest book of the Wyoming Series. Luckily, all my series books are stand-alone and can be read by themselves. Readers who love the series will see some characters from other books pop up, but the story is always about the hero/heroine.
I started writing at age 13. I didn’t get my foot in the door of publishing until I was 35 years old. I had 22 years worth of trying to write and one thousand reject slips to prove it. But, once I got into publishing, I’ve stayed now, for thirty-three years, 135 books published thus far, 23 million sold and in 22 foreign languages. I have always been an innovator in the romance publishing world.
Can you tell us briefly what your book is about?
WOLF HAVEN embodies the symbology of the story as well as the characters. Wolves, as you know, are a pack. They’re a team animal and one works with the other to accomplish a goal. A haven is a place to feel safe, protected, calm, quiet or relaxed. In the story, the hero, Grayson (Gray) McCoy, is an ex-SEAL. His mother is a world renown wolf expert and wildlife biologist. Gray grew up with wolves and puppies as a child. He knows wolves well. When he leaves the SEALs, he eventually lands a job at Iris Mason’s Elk Horn Ranch near Jackson Hole, Wyoming. She is putting up a one-hundred acre wildlife preserve for the dude ranch visitors who come to the ranch. Plus, she’s pro environmental, loves wolves and wants to help them out.
Gray loves being the boss of the new wildlife center, knows wild animals well because he had eighteen years of learning from his world famous mother. And like the SEALs, who always work as a seamless team, the wolves work in a similar way out in the wild. He has a special connection with them.
The heroine, Sky Pascal, RN, is ex-US Navy. She was in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan with a surgeon flying to an FOB to save a man’s life. She was one of two people who survived it and was captured and tortured by the Taliban. SEALs rescued her nearly two weeks later, but by then, she was badly damaged physically. And she acquired PTSD as a result of her torture. The Navy released her later and she couldn’t hold a job in the States. Finally, she answered the ad for a nurse wanted at the Elk Horn Ranch. And Iris Mason hired her. For Sky, the ranch became her haven.
Sky is fragile, fighting to be ‘normal’ and hold a job. She never expects to run into Gray McCoy, or find another kind of haven in his arms. Gray wasn’t looking to fall in love, either. Each brings something to the other and something deeper and more tender develops between them. The wolf puppies, caring for them, comes naturally to Sky. Just by her presence, she begins to heal Gray’s past heartache. Only, even in a haven, there can be danger. And Sky’s healing could be undone by the acts of one man.
Why did you choose your particular genre?
I served in the US Navy, proud to serve my country. Both sides of my family have along service in the military and it was expected that I would also go in. I was a Petty Officer Aerographer’s Mate Third Class. A fancy name for a weather forecaster. I was in the “air” part of the US Navy and never served aboard ship. The old writing adage, “Write what you know,” applies to me. I was in the military. I’m going to write on military topics and fiction.
I originated and created this sub-genre of the military romance for the romance publishing industry back in 1983, Silhouette Special Edition, CAPTIVE OF FATE. Until that time, there were no stories about military heroes. I went on to also create the 3-book series concept in mid-1990’s via Silhouette, too. And I had to write two series (Kincaid and Travis series) before Silhouette decided to take a chance on the concept. You can go to: http://lindsaymckenna.com/book-series/ to find all my series, including these two pre-series before my publisher decided to take a chance on the concept of tying three books together consecutively with inter-connection between all of them.
And when they did finally take this giant new step in a new direction, the FIRST series (romantic military suspense) came out as Love and Glory. The three books were the story of the Trayhern children: Morgan, Noah and Alyssa Trayhern. They are world famous today. And, I continue to write about the Trayhern family children now. This is the longest, most continuous family saga in the romance industry.
What was your greatest challenge writing this book?
I don’t have any challenges that I know of with Wolf Haven. I’m very lucky that way. But I spent twenty-two years honing my writing skills before I ever got published in the book industry. When you put that much daily work into something that you love, the greatest challenge was getting my foot in the publishing door. Not creating a book!
I don’t write about anything that I don’t love to write about or have a curiosity or fascination with. WOLF HAVEN has wolf puppies as secondary characters that lend a lot of symbolism and warmth to this story about two very brave but wounded people.
I do a lot of background research for any book I write. This one was no different. I went up to Canada, near Toronto in the Ontario province, to view Timber wolves, to watch them and talk to the gentleman who owned them. I did a lot of book reading by wildlife biologists whose whole life is about wolves and understanding them. I don’t see research as a challenge. I see it as an integral and vital part of any book I write. All parts of creating a book is a passion and a joy for me. There’s no blood, angst, sweat or tears when I sit down to tell a story, thank goodness.
Are you published by a traditional house, small press or are you self-published?
I’m traditionally published. It took me twenty-two years of honing my writing skills daily, one thousand reject slips (magazine, book publishers, articles, newspapers) to get good enough to finally be allowed in the ranks of published authors. I paid my dues the old fashion way. I am in hard back, paperback and ebook presently. As well as audio.com books on my Wyoming Series. WOLF HAVEN will be available for audiophiles, besides the other eight books of this particular series.
Was it the right choice for you?
Yes, I do. And here’s why: There was no RWA when I started teaching myself the mechanics of writing. No critique groups. No beta readers. NOTHING. It was me, myself and I. By working twenty-two years at honing my writing skills I got into publishing, I’ve stayed now, for thirty-three years, 135 books published thus far, 23 million sold and in 22 foreign languages. I have always been an innovator in the romance publishing world. By spending that amount of time honing my abilities, my voice, my craft, I arrived in full bloom to the publishing world. And since writing is my passion, I could spend twenty-two years, tell my stories, whether any of them were ever published or not because, at the foundation of my psyche, I love to tell a story.
It has also given me the ability to know my own pacing of how to balance off my writing with my physical needs, for example. I get up every 20 minutes and spend at least 20 minutes OUT of that chair. Medicine has proven that sitting 8 hours a day is terrible for your health. I also know my writing times that are best for me to create: 6am to 11am and my second wind from 8pm to 11pm. And because I had twenty-two years of ‘muscle memory’ built up I have a prodigious discipline that few can match even today. I’ve stayed in the writing arena for thirty-three years now, and I’m not fading away. In fact, I’m stronger and better than ever.
In 2013 I wrote 12 books in 9 months. They literarily were flowing out of me, one after another. Talk about giving multiple births! And those books are now coming out in 2014 and onward. Typically, I write 6-8 books a year. My publisher cannot keep up with my speed of creativity. They can only publish so many of my books a year. Every writer should have this problem. But it is a problem and a dilemma that I must find a suitable business answer for.
How are you promoting your book thus far?
I have a vast social media network. Harlequin also gets behind my work and supports it through their various media outlets. And here’s a list of my personal media outlets. My favorite media device to reach my loyal readers is my quarterly newsletter. In there, I give EXCLUSIVE material only subscribers get. That info is nowhere else on the Internet. It’s free and easy to sign up. Check out the info below:
Book trailer: http://vimeo.com/lindsaymckenna/breakingpoint/
Instagram: www.instagram.com (Lindsay McKenna)
Lindsay McKenna Newsletter: https://www.mynewsletterbuilder.com/tools/subscription?username=lindsay.mckenna
audible.com: The complete Wyoming Series
How is that going for you?
I think it’s going fine. My newsletter is now 2,500 readers strong and growing robustly by the month. Being able to reach out and connect with my readers has always been there since I entered publishing and long before the Internet came into being. I have a personal connection with my readers from around the world and I just love to hear from them.
I’m always fascinated with why someone would pick up a book of mine to read. The reasons are many and invaluable to know about. I’ve learned so much about my readers and made so many friends among them. It’s an ongoing pleasure to meet the reader, hear what is on her or his mind, why they read my books, how the story moves them, how it educates them, or helps them in some way other than just reading for entertainment.
Books give us so much and my stories are multi-layered. If you want to read it for entertainment only, you can. But I’ve found over the years my readers are complex and look for complex, layered stories that give tremendous depth, psychological and emotional expansion on not only the hero/heroine, but secondary characters as well. And that’s exciting because I always tell them that I write like the book I’d like to read. I write first, for myself. And if I’m fortunate enough to have someone who likes my style of writing, my ‘voice,’ then that’s frosting on the novel cake.
Can you tell us one thing you have done that actually resulted in one or more sales?
The quarterly newsletter that I put out (and it’s free) to subscribers, always increases sales of a particular book that is highlighted in that quarter. And, if I write about an UPDDATE on one of my characters (and with 135 books out, there’s lots of readers out there who are dying for an update on their favorite character even if it was written back in 1982!) I also put in two bios on my readers: One from North America and one from around the globe. It’s a lot of fun working with a loyal reader, getting her or his photo and a 100 word bio. This way, my other subscribers can “meet” some of these wonderful people who all have one thing in common: Lindsay McKenna books.
Do you have another job besides writing?
No. I’ve been a full time writer since age 35. Before that, I held down an 8-hour a day, day job just like everyone else. I stopped trying to work a day job with trying to get published at age 30. So for five years, I really worked at refining my craft and preparing (I had hoped) to get something published. My husband had a good job as a civil engineer, so he took over the money lost by me working full time. It meant a lot of sacrificing, but he had faith in me and I had faith in myself. After twenty-two years of being an apprentice writer, I finally broke in. If anyone thinks its easy to become a best selling author, think again. It’s a tough, hard, long slog and is not for the faint-of-heart. You gotta wanna really bad…
If you could give one book promotion tip to new authors, what would that be?
Create a newsletter that comes out quarterly. Give the readers something they want: about your characters, books coming out in that quarter, reader bios. Maybe a short story. One of the smartest things I did was to go to www.freshfiction.com. I bought a Fresh Access Plus Account package for one year. You are allowed to do a contest every month. This particular romance website gets 750,000 hits a month by readers. When I put up a contest for one of my books, I net roughly 300-500 new readers. The readers know when they sign up for this particular contest that the author can utilize their email addresses. When I receive the XL spreadsheet from FF, my IT person goes through it and puts the new contest emails on my newsletter. These folks will receive the next quarterly newsletter. And if they want to unsubscribe, it’s right there in the newsletter and easy to do. I don’t think I’ve lost 20 people in the year since I’ve been doing these contests monthly with FF.
I would also suggest this particular newsletter that is NOT spam: http://www.mynewsletterbuilder.com I use it myself and I am very happy with their professionalism and ease of using their website to build a newsletter. I highly recommend them.
What’s next for you?
Trying to figure out what to do with all the books I’ve written and they are sitting on my shelf, unpublished. Harlequin is doing its best, but they can’t keep up with my output. I’m going to be looking at some possible answers to this dilemma because these are great books sitting on the shelf with no one to read them. Because I’m in a business, I need my books to be moved by my publisher. I have to pay my bills, too, just like anyone else. And if they are sitting unused on my shelf, this is not a good business situation. I do intend to rectify it.
Can you tell us where we can find you on the web?
Wolf Haven is available at Amazon.