Friday, July 1, 2011

Kat Duncan, Author - Interview

Today Author and writing teacher, Kat Duncan, has graciously offered her time to answer a few questions about writing and about her e-book, Without a Lord:

Hi Kat thank you for your time today - Can you give us your pitch for Without a Lord?
Sir Roger has it all figured out. His by-the-book plan to coax his uncle into granting him a small manor in Cumbria is due to pay off at Christmastime. It is step one to taking over his aging uncle’s vast land holdings. And then a Christmas surprise ruins all his careful plans. Lady Caille is resigned to following the elderly abbot’s advice to wed an old friend of his as the only way she can claim her inheritance, a small manor in Cumbria.
Without a Lord is the first book in a series. The next book, A Lady of Worth, is due out at the end of July, 2011.
You brought to life the problems women faced when their husbands die, leaving behind property, which they cannot own. Can you tell us a bit about the research you did when writing?
I have always loved history and had loads of fun reading non-fiction books about medieval times. Since I'm of Scottish-Irish descent, I became interested in the area around the shifting Scottish border, wondering what life must have been like for noblewomen who lived in a place where men not only fought over the lands with swords, but by wooing noble heiresses.

You marketed Without a Lord as a self-published e-book. Would you share with us what persuaded you to take that route?
I've had some interest in my historicals from both agents and editors, but not enough for them to offer contracts as yet (I still have agents and editors looking at some of my work). I decided that life was too short and traditional publishing was too slow for me. I was eager to share my version of the medieval historical world with readers. I also saw some colleagues who write historical romance flounder in the print market after publishing fabulous books. After scratching my head over that, I realized print publishing was perhaps not the best avenue to share my work with readers.

What software do you recommend in formatting an e-book?
I have had success using ordinary word processors such as OpenOffice or Microsoft Word. Both Smashwords and Amazon Digital do a good job of converting word processed documents into e-reader formats.

How can writers rise above the “white noise” when marketing e-books?
Marketing has changed dramatically in the last few years. Paid advertising and promoting through blog tours is useful, but the main way to market your e-books is to have a visible presence on the web so that you can "be found". This includes having a website or blog, twitter, Goodreads and Facebook accounts, as well as a presence on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. All of these sites have ways for your book to be found including book search tags, author pages, and other marketing tools. Also, join author groups so that you can have fun promoting one another's books.

Do you have plans for Without a Lord in print?
I've been working with CreateSpace to produce a print version of Without a Lord. The print version formatting is a bit trickier than e-book formatting, so it's taken me a while to get it right. A print version should be available before the end of this year.

What was the hardest scene to write in your book?
Hm...I'd say the hardest scene to write was the one where Caille is alone with John and they are fighting hand-to-hand. She's not a warrior or trained fighter, but she's stubborn and clever and brave. She has tremendous difficulty defending herself. It's a very exciting and action-packed scene.

How did you design your cover art and what was your first reaction when you got a glimpse of your cover art?
My older daughter designed the cover art. She an art genius and she knows that I'm helpless when it comes to this sort of thing. My first reaction when I saw it was "It's perfect!"

Tell us a little about what you are working on.
Right now I'm working on a contemporary romantic suspense set in modern Edinburgh. It involves a hunky con man who tries to wind his way into a big-money scheme and ends up losing his heart to the clever heroine.

I met Kat by taking her class, Make Me Care, through Low Country RWA. What classes do you have coming up and how can my readers take part?
Right now I have a class on Active Voice coming up July 5th with From the Heart Romance Writers, an online chapter of RWA. I've got another class with FTHRW in October on Scenes and Sequels. I'm also doing a number of classes next year for Savvy Authors. Oh, and Savvy Authors is doing a Summer Symposium at the end of August and I'll be there doing a free workshop, giving away books and 3-chapter critiques.
Please give us a blurb and excerpt!

Denied the lands that had been long promised him, Sir Roger vows to take what is rightfully his, the lands of his own lord, and the lord's new lady along with them. Lady Caille is not the type to run from a fight. Faced with an indecent proposal she must choose between love and honor.


                Roger folded Caille's cloak over itself, so nothing could be seen. It bore long tears that made it gape, but nothing was exposed improperly except her breasts, which were now covered by the fold he'd made. Half expecting her protest, he picked her up and began to carry her down the path to where his horse waited.
Blessed relief and inexplicable joy flowed through him at each step he made with her in his arms. He'd rarely felt such a thrill of mastery. She'd said he would be the first to hunt with success. She was right. She was so right for him. What else had she said? The lord shall be first to the feasting wine. Aye, Renouf had been at the wine all night long, furious with himself and consumed with worry over her and vexation at the circumstance. Thomas had been first to enter the house – he was injured and had been carried right to Fellswick while the others formed searching parties. Hugh was to be first to put foot to spur for an errand. Ah, all true except for Hugh. Could she truly forespeak the future?
The wide, green valley spread open before them. Roger stopped, supported her on one knee and rested the other knee on the ground.
"Would you like to see your home?"
Caille had been studying the features of his face, but she turned her head to follow his gaze. She hummed a positive response.
"There. See the dark swath of green on the near side of that hill?"
"Nestled up against the hill, just overlooking the lake is Fellswick Hall."
"'Tis sae bonny!"
"It is so beautiful!"
He bent his head and kissed her and it was no gentle kiss. It was seeking and possessive. Too soon she began resisting him and he placed a gloved hand gently onto the side of her face to maintain the kiss. Her resistance faded instantly and the elation he felt at this admission of surrender from her body eclipsed the warning in his mind that she was forbidden to him. She was as forbidden as the birthright that had long been denied him. It only served to heighten his desire for both. When he relinquished the kiss, her head fell softly sighing to his shoulder, seeking the solace he knew she had thus far not gotten from his lord.
"You should be mine," he whispered into her ear.
"Roger, please…no more. We both know it is wrong."
Now for the fun stuff.  Do you have any guilty pleasures?
I have bucketloads of pleasures, but absolutely zero guilt! :)

Name one thing readers would be surprised to know about you.
I don't watch TV and haven't since 1984.

If you didn’t have to worry about counting calories or fat, what’s the first food you’d reach for?
Bread, warm and fresh from the oven, slathered with butter...yum!

Since you write romance, fess up.  Have you ever read the “Grande Dames” of the genre like Jane Austin, Barbara Cartland, Danielle Steele, Nora Roberts?  What do you really think of their books?
I read Jane Austin when I was about 11 and loved her writing. I had just discovered the fiction section of the library and had to be thrown out every Saturday at closing time. I have not read Barbara Cartland. I've read Danielle Steele and didn't like the slow, slow pace. She gets the emotions right, though. I've read a lot of Nora Roberts and I have mixed reviews. Some of her titles were very good, others seemed too predictable.

If someone hasn't read any of your work, what book would you recommend they start with and why?
Hm...If they like fast-paced suspense with characters they can relate to, I'd recommend they start with Fifty-eight Faces. It's short, intense and has a sweet, romantic ending. If they like more James Bond-ish suspense, then Six Days to Midnight would be perfect. It's longer and takes the reader on a globe-trotting trip hunting for an economic terrorist. If audio books are your style, then check out my free novella, Sunda Cloud. Lastly, if they prefer traditional historicals with historical detail that seeps into your bones and a plot with plenty of action, then they should start with Without a Lord, which is first in a series set in Cumbria in England.
Thanks for spending a bit of time with me and best wishes for your continued success.  Where can readers find you on the Web?
Twitter: @write_about

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