Today, international bestselling eBook and trade paperback author Destiny Blaine joins us to answer my seven author spotlight questions.
Destiny began her career as a ghostwriter and freelance writer. Often sizzling to scorching hot, her novels and novellas have various degrees of heat. She enjoys mixing things up and writes paranormal, sports romances, BDSM, contemporary romantic thrillers, and westerns. Destiny and her husband live in East Tennessee with their four pampered dogs. They’re the proud parents of two grown children, with an emphasis on grown, and are enjoying new adventures in life which include the freedom to travel to romance conventions and music festivals around the US.
#1: Why do you write?
Writing is my full-time career so I write for a lot of reasons. Writing is also my passion, but with every passion worth having, one occasionally finds a love/hate relationship, too. At the moment, I’m editing, and it’s hard to enjoy the job when one edit leads to another. Tomorrow, I’ll create a new world, jump into naming characters and cities, and I’ll be the luckiest woman in the world because it’s such a sensational opportunity to tap into a world no one has visited yet. Then, when everything is in place, I can invite others to visit it, too. How neat is that?
#2: What was your earliest writing experience:
I wrote a couple of short stories while I was in elementary school. The first story went to Crown Publishing. It was about dogs and horses. I won’t even begin to try and tell you what I “think” the plot was about. Anyway, it was a very short manuscript, as you can probably imagine. Someday, I hope to find those early short stories and rejection letters and post them on my website.
#3: Describe a day in your writing life:
It varies from day to day. If I’m on a writing sprint, I’ll generally wake up around six or seven. After the coffee is made, I’ll start answering emails, working on blog posts, etc. and start writing right away. Sometimes I’ll write until seven or eight o’clock at night, sometimes much later. If I’m into a storyline, particularly if I’m working on a romantic thriller, I’ll keep writing until the ideas stop churning.
#4: What authors influenced you and how?
A few of my earliest influences were Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, and William O’Steele. My influences have changed over the course of my career. Norman Mailer and Truman Capote have been great influences. Both men have a writing style I love and appreciate. John Grisham and James Patterson have remained my all-time favorite authors. In recent months, I really enjoy reading Maya Banks and Lorelei James.
#5: What are some things you learned to help with your success?
*Yanks out the handkerchief and starts dabbing the forehead in preparation for the forthcoming sermon*
First and foremost, treat your career like a business and stop wasting valuable time. I always tell my children, if you make a mistake and learn from it, then the error wasn’t a mistake. It was a valuable lesson. Those valuable lessons are costly at times, but always worth every dime. My biggest career errors were typically attributed to poor time management.
The only way to succeed in this business is to take control of your career. Upon reading this, if you’re writing full-time and you aren’t making over forty thousand dollars a year, you are not in control of your career. You have a hobby. Throw stones if you want to but it takes more than forty thousand dollars a year to live above the poverty level in this day and age, even more if you want to live well. If you’re a full-time writer and you write erotic romance and you aren’t making over eighty thousand dollars a year right now in this market, you aren’t using your strengths to capitalize on your talent.
I talk to writers all the time and they’ll say, “How did you make it in this business?” Well, for me, there’s only one answer: Sacrifice. Having said that, it was also learning to manage my time and believe me it’s not always easy. I’ll shake off one time-waster and here comes another. I’ve been called every name in the book because my career comes first and I don’t care who knows it. I don’t owe anyone anything, least of all explanations. Writers, for whatever reason, often apologize too much. They apologize for working. *Shakes head* Why is that?
Because writers are self-employed, others often view us as people with great flexibility. They’ll ask us to do things that consumes a lot of time. They’ll destroy initiative and ignore the fact that we need to work because we have deadlines. Be able to say no and mean it. Don’t be afraid to say, “I have deadlines,” and stick to them. We used to have a lot of extra kids who stayed here. I shudder to think of what they cost me in terms of writing time and career goals so now, no one stands in my way. I write six or seven days a week and still pay the price for those old time-gobbling obstacles. People are just inconsiderate of writers because we work from home.
I would be at a very different place in my career right now if I hadn’t paused for time-wasting antics. Great lessons were learned from those experiences and now I won’t make time for nonsense. As a writer, stay focused. You wouldn’t walk into someone’s nine to five job and ask them for favors during their office hours so don’t allow others to interrupt your time at the office.
Writers are often those go-to moms because we’re self-employed. We’re the go-to family member because we’re available. Writers, if you’re starting out, make sure others know from the beginning: You are not available. When you’re in front of your computer, you’re at work. Turn off your phone. Don’t look at your email. Don’t care what comes in while you’re writing. Keep writing. I’m a writer and if I don’t write, my bills don’t get paid. It’s as simple as that.
And one final note on help with success: Ignore the damn emails altogether 99% of the time. Other writers can gobble up your time, too, when they don’t have deadlines. When you see a bunch of emails coming in from your peers, hold off on opening up the first one. When you have time, rip into it, give them what they need and then just keep writing. Answering emails do not pay your bills. Yes, answering reader emails pays your bills but those emails are always, always a priority. Peer emails, unfortunately, must be filed on down the line. I’ve started telling my writer friends to keep in touch through Facebook because that’s our “social networking” opportunity. Because of the number of pen names I have, I receive over 500 emails a day now. Fact is, if I’m going to socialize, I’d rather do it face-to-face or on Facebook, which really is a great tool for keeping in touch with other writers.
#6: Describe your writing method:
There isn’t a method to my madness anymore. Thank God.
#7: Tips for aspiring writers:
Most of what I’d offer is stuff I’ve said over and over again, but in recent years, I’ve started to live by one primary “rule” that I used to tell my children and it’s this: Never blame your failures on those who don’t deserve it and never credit your successes to those who haven’t earned it.
I’ve seen this happen more times than I could count. New authors jump in and start crediting this publisher or that one for their successes. I made that crucial error early in my career, but not anymore because when I sit down and write for 17 hours, it’s all me. Nobody gets to own that. No one else wants my mistakes and failures, so they can’t take my successes.
Writers should embrace their successes. When they sit down at the computer, what happens there is between them and their computer. The product of their effort is a success or a failure because of what they created by using their imagination. New writers, don’t let anyone take that away from you. If you succeed, it was because YOU succeeded and your readers loved YOUR work. If you fail, so what. You failed. Don’t blame that failure on the wrong publisher, the wrong editor, the wrong cover artist, blah, blah, blah. Just own it and go on. Write something else. Keep digging. You’ll get there, but don’t dwell on the past, good or bad, because at the end of the day, writers are only as good as their last work. If the last one was a flop, you’d better get busy and start writing.
Be very careful about loyalty to the wrong publishers. You should ONLY have loyalty to those who are paying you on time, every time. And when you have two or three publishers rolling out your income, you have to (really, please listen here because I can save you a lot of grief), you absolutely MUST stay with those publishers. Cut your losses with those who are paying you peanuts and don’t apologize for it. Just say, “It’s too bad we weren’t making money together,” then wish them well and go on your merry way. Some of the best writers out there will tell you, “I make money with these publishers and these over here don’t pay me enough to pay the water bill,” and yet they stay with them. Why is that exactly? They aren’t doing their publishers any favors. They certainly aren’t moving forward in their careers. Friendships do not pay your bills. If you want friends, go play bridge or poker or take a bus tour. Writing is your business.
Since we’re on the topic of money, I’ll tell you my opinion there, too. Trust me, it won’t be a very popular one but we’re giving tips for writers so here goes: If you’re a producer, ask for an advance and don’t sign without one. With one and only one exception, I won’t submit my work to any publisher at all without an advance in 2014. By then I’ll be all caught up on proposed works and I’ll have plenty of time to do other things. Publishers will certainly have that right to tell me “no” and that’s fine if they do. Here’s why advances need to be offered to producing authors: They need to have incentives to write for small press. The higher the advance, the more incentive they have to start churning out manuscripts. In this day and age, authors can self-publish without an advance. If small press publishers want to keep their producing authors at home, they need to come off the money for those who are earning the majority of their income. I know for a fact I’ve been one publisher’s bread and butter because I watch the numbers on every third party retail site out there. Think I’d work for them without an advance when I can self-publish and be on the shelves in two weeks? Not a chance. Not in this market.
Authors need to be compensated for their hard work and loyalty and as bad as it sounds, that loyalty can be bought because producing authors work harder for the publishers paying advances. The higher the advance, the harder they work. With the aforementioned, it’s important to note, I’m not an advocate for self-publishing. I’m an advocate for income-producing avenues for full-time authors. Publishers need to be more aggressive if they want to keep their authors at home. They need to recruit by sending their offers and standing by them.
Authors, learn to recognize where you’re valued and appreciated as an author. Know where you can be shown appreciation in the form of a steady income. Finally, don’t follow someone else’s course in life for your books. Follow your own course. Chart your own path. When you work for yourself and own that right, you’ll succeed and that’s when you’ll truly enjoy what you do.
Destiny’s latest release:
First and Ten: Let the Games Begin, is a BDSM sports romance novella published by Carnal Passions on September 3, 2013. It is the start to a new series, A Swinging Gate Sports Romance, placing our heroine in an interesting love triangle, or two!
Football superstar Kemper Kapertone is caught in a compromising position. Thrust into a media frenzy, Kemper flies across the country hoping to save a relationship now shattered beyond repair. Tired of waiting on the sidelines, Kara Ball decides the role of jilted lover doesn’t work for her. Kara springs into action and pursues her sexy neighbor, an irresistible Dom who is twenty-seven years her senior and the object of her most recent fantasies.
Zak Stone stops by Kara’s condominium to drop off a parcel, but after the sexy seductress learns of her boyfriend’s engagement, plans change. Soon, Kara opens up a package filled with illicit toys and the naughty ideas start churning.
While Kemper races against time to set things right, Kara invites Zak to stay overnight, hoping an evening of passion will keep him coming back for more. Fortunately for Kara, Zak is only interested in playing for keeps.
Where you can find Destiny online:
Fan email address: firstname.lastname@example.org