USA Today best selling author Dianne Castell writes for Kensington BRAVA. She also writes a monthly editor interview column for Romance Writers Report. Her books have won Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, been on the cover of Romantic Times Magazine and included in Rhapsody Book Club, Doubleday Book Club and have made the Waldenbooks Bestseller list. The second book in her Savannah Sizzles series for the BRAVA line, Hot and Irresistible, hits the shelves Nov‘09. Hot Summer Nights is out May ’10. Dianne lives in Cincinnati with her two cats and will do just about anything to get out of housework. You can visit her website at www.DianeCastell.com or on Facebook by clicking here.
Welcome to The Writer's Life, Dianne. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?
It’s great being here at The Writers’s Life and chatting about books and writing. Thanks for having me.
My first book, Court-Appointed Marriage, was with Harlequin American in 2001. I wrote for eight years before getting published and met the very best people along the way. I’m still best friends with Lori Foster and Rosemary Laurey, LuAnn McLane and Toni Blake, all who I met before any of us were published.
Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?
Hot and Irresistible is my November release and the second book in my Savannah Sizzles series. I wrote this series because I love Savannah and all things Southern…the history, the food, the talk, the long hot nights made for falling in love. I love writing about best friends and I love a bit a mystery and I really love writing sexy alpha heroes.
What kind of research was involved in writing Hot and Irresistible?
To write a book set in Savannah you have to go there and not just once. You need to experience the city in tourist season and when the locals get to reclaim it for their own. Those who live in Savannah love it. They fought long and hard to keep the big mansions, twenty-three squares and unique little shops from the wrecking ball and big box stores. It is the South. It is unique.
I have a bit of voodoo in my books and that too is a special aspect of Savannah. It’s not simply a tourist enticement but a part of the culture, not that all want to admit it but it’s a fact. Savannah is a character in Hot and Irresistible. It couldn’t be set in NY or LA.
Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?
I wrote for eight years before getting published but I’ve had books out continuously since 2001. There are always bumps along the way but the fun and excitement of being a published author has be one heck of a ride. I wouldn’t trade it for the world!
For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?
I had a three book contract so there was a longer time from signing till the release of this second book.
Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?
I think it’s best to have an agent. However it’s harder to get a good agent than get published. And worse than having no agent is having a bad agent. Never sign a contract other than book-to-book. Not a three year contract. If your agent suddenly isn’t in love with your work he/she won’t send it out or promote it and you are stuck for years. This will kill your career.
My agent is Roberta Brown and she is the very best! I cannot say enough good things about Roberta. If you can get her to represent you, you are indeed lucky!
Do you plan subsequent books?
I have a third Savannah book out in May, 2010. Hot Southern Nights.
The hero is a badass. The heroine knows the bad part first-hand because she got him thrown in jail three years ago. She knows the ass part because they did the deed on her twenty-first birthday in the backseat of his ’67 red Mustang convertible.
Can you describe your most favorite place to write?
I always write in my office which I just redid. There’s room for my two cats to sleep next to the computer…just like they are now… and three windows for great light and nice views of the garden.
If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?
Oh that is such an easy question! A publicist! I would kill for a publicist!
It is critical to promote your books but it eats time, time you should be writing.
Websites, Facebook, sending out ARCs, bookmarks, setting up contests, ads in RT, RWR and online sites is essential but keeping up on it all takes a lot of time and effort.
How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?
Self-promo is a must if you don’t have the publicist. I have bookmarks and posters to send to booksellers. I have a webpage of course and do Face Book and blogs and chats. I’m part of the Vamps and Scamps, an online group that hangs out and talks books and everything else. It’s good to keep your name out there even when you don’t have a release.
Also it’s important to give back to the community and help other writers get published. Lori Foster and I put on the Lori Foster/Dianne Castell Reader-Writer Get Together every year where all money we raise from raffle baskets and the bookfair are donated to local charities. This year we donated nearly ten-thousand dollars to One Way Farm, a local shelter for abandoned and abused children. In the past we donated to the YWCA battered women’s shelter and no-kill animal shelter. At the event…next year will be out sixth year…we bring in editors and agents and publishers so writers can pitch their work and find representation and get published. We’ve all had help getting where we are and Lori and I do the event as payback and for just plain fun.
What’s the most common reason you believe new writers give up their dream of becoming published and did you almost give up?
I had so much time invested in writing I couldn’t give up. And I have enough reject letters to paper my office. Not that I did but I could have.
I think many give up because of the rejection factor. It’s not easy to be told over and over that your book “just won’t work for us.” Writing is a really tough business and it is a business, make no mistake on that.
Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?
There are a few things I live by…or try to.
--Never give up!
--Four pages a day!
--Just write it…fix it later
I keep these on a sign over my computer. I’m looking at them now. These three things will get you published. Promise!
Thank you for your interview, Dianne. I wish you much success!
Thanks for having me. This has been great fun. I wish all writers a publisher who appreciates them and all readers an unforgettable book that rocks their world. Hugs, Dianne
If you would like to purchase your copy of Dianne Castell's latest romance novel, Hot and Irresistible, click here!