Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tuesdays Tidbits with Kari: Featuring Author/Publicist Theresa Meyers

Please help me welcome the multi-talented author / publicist Theresa Meyers!

Kari: You have an impressive background, having worked as a journalist, a publicist, and a novelist. And now your are part of Blue Moon Communications: a public relations firm focused on promoting fiction authors. http://www.bluemooncommunications.com Can you tell us more about that?

Theresa: Well, I tried hard for a very long time to keep my fiction writing and my professional job in public relations separate. I went to school for mass communications and then worked for corporations and in the largest public relations agency in Arizona before striking out on my own and opening Blue Moon Communications in 2001. The fusion of my background in public relations and my knowledge as a writer came about because of my dear friend Cherry Adair, who asked for some help promoting her book Hide and Seek. After that I gave up trying to separate the two. I started finding ways were I could make what I already knew about consumer product promotions and getting national media coverage blend with what I knew about the publishing industry in a way I hadn't seen other publicists try. Up until now we've had a fairly full roster with little room for new clients, but we've just brought on a new Account Executive, Dorina Dizon Potz, in May, so we're able to expand again.

Kari: 2 of your clients were chosen for the Kelly Ripa Book Club on LIVE! with Regis and Kelly. Can you tell us more about that?

Theresa: The pursuit of getting chosen for Kelly's Book Club initially started with my client Carly Phillips. Carly is a huge Kelly Ripa fan and has been following her on the soaps for years. When Oprah halted her book club for a few years, all the daytime television shows came up with their own book clubs. Carly was watching the day Kelly joked on air that if she had a book club, she'd like it to be trashy fun beach books. Carly called me up and asked if we could send in her book The Bachelor. I started by contacting the producers at the show, and after several months of back and forth found out precisely who was going to be producing the segment, how they wanted materials sent and what they were looking for. I ended up sending a basket of lip-shaped cookies that mimicked the cover of Carly's book, each with a phrase about a character written on them along with an autographed copy of the book directly to Kelly Ripa.

With Vicky Lewis Thompson I was working with the same producer, so I knew Vicky's book would fall into line with what they were looking for. This time I sent a half tropical floral, half bath goodies basket with a copy of the book to Kelly welcoming her back to the show after her maternity leave. Both times, we'd done the homework and made the contacts with the media to know what they wanted and how they wanted it, and we were lucky enough to get both clients we sent in chosen as two out of the total seven books that were picked for the club before they ended it. Kelly's schedule just became too full with her other projects to continue reading through all the materials being sent in, so they tabled the club segment. At this time there are no plans for it to return. Getting a client onto national television is a rush all on it's own, but it takes a lot of work and research in the background to make those shining moments happen.

Kari: You've been published in dozens of magazines and newspapers, and now books. You've finaled in the American Title II contest. And you write in several genres: scottish historicals, paranormals, contemporary romance and even middle grade. How do you juggle it all and which is your favorite genre to write in?

Theresa: I always knew I wanted to write. For the longest time the fiction was just for me. I didn't believe I could make a living selling it, so I wrote instead as a journalist for newspapers and national magazines, eventually going into public relations full-time (which requires a lot of writing!). Once I finished a few books, I entered my second historical into the American Title II contest and became one of eleven people in the nation to go through the elimination process in the American Idol of books. While I didn't win, I was thrilled that my fellow Greater Seattle RWA member Gerri Russell did. That book, The Spellbound Bride, is now out with Diversion Books.

As for how I juggle it all, well, that's still a mystery to me at times! The best way I can explain it is that a lot of writers work a day job and still write their books. Blue Moon Communications is my day job. On my lunch hour, evenings and weekends I write my books. Some of my friends laugh that it's because I'm a gemini (the twins), which means if I'm not multi-tasking, I'm sleeping. I'm usually working on more than one book at a time (either writing, plotting, character development, research, editing or promotion and marketing). I use different sound tracks and different scented candles to help me switch between books easily.

Paranormal books tend to be my favorite to write only because they allow me the latitude to do some things that lay outside the normal lines we draw for ourselves and our characters. Stepping into the unknown cuts across multiple genres. I mean how cool is it to be able to have characters that can phase through walls or materialize objects at will? I'm especially excited about the new Steampunk world I'm working in for the trilogy I'm writing for Kensington that will be out starting in Nov. 2011 and the Harlequin Nocturne vampire books I have coming out in March and June 2011 that will expand on the world I've already created in my Nocturne Bites, Salvation of the Damned and The Vampire's Mistress.

Kari: Can you tell us about your latest new release?

Theresa: My latest releases include The Vampire's Mistress (4-10), a Harlequin Nocturne Bite which is set in Sicily and includes a chase scene through the famous Capuchin Catacombs beneath the city of Palermo and The Spellbound Bride (5-10) from Diversion Books, a Scottish historical set during the North Berwick witch trial in the period right before King James takes the throne of England after Elizabeth I. Both stories involved research but in very different ways. I love learning new things so, for me, research is one of the benefits of writing.

Kari: Your Italian American heritage originates in Sicily. By the way my agent is Italian also and she too has blond hair and blue eyes :-) I've always wanted to go to Italy. What are some fabulous tidbits you can give us about Italy?

Theresa: Ancient history and culture are alive and well in Italy. It's utterly fascinating for someone from a country with a history less than three-hundred years old to be walking around in a villa where people lounged by the sea over 2,000 years ago nibbling on figs or bread drenched in rich olive oil and rosemary. The feeling in the air itself is just different. There's a richness to it, a sense that it isn't about what you create or what your job is today, but what you leave behind for eons to come in your legacy, art and family that matters. Oh, and food and love. Romance writers are very popular and well-thought of in a country dedicated to amore.

My favorite places to visit in Palermo with my cousins were the Dumo (cathedral) the Ducal Palace and the Capuchin Catacombs beneath the city. All of them were so different and yet the blend between east and west (Norman and Moor) is in evidence everywhere you look. My other favorite location was Tourmina, a Roman city perched atop the cliffs overlooking the azure water. The Roman open-air auditorium was being set up for a musical concert the day I went so it's still in use today!

The funniest thing that happened is when we were approaching a six-way intersection in Palermo. Some of the streets are so ancient that you can barely drive down them without folding in your car's mirrors. There was a traffic jam in the intersection and the cars were just inches from each other's bumpers in all directions. From behind us came the sound of emergency sirens. I knew there was no way that vehicle was going to make it through the traffic snarl. Boy, was I wrong. The ambulance just curb-jumped onto the sidewalk and drove while people on the sideway stepped aside. I'd never seen anything like it, but it worked. Italy is a lot like that. It's different, but it works.

Kari: Reading about you on your website had me grinning a lot. You sound like a hoot. I too love adventure. I see you scuba dive, ride horses, and your four-wheel ATV with the hot pink flames on the seat and big red lips on the fender sounds awesome. Do you ever incorporate any of your adventurous hobbies into your books? What's on the horizon for you?

Theresa: I really enjoy just experiencing new things whether it's traveling to a new place, trying a new food or meeting new people. It's all fodder for my imagination (which is probably more adventuresome than I really am in real life). Some of my hobbies might seem adventuresome, but some are rather tame, like sewing, gardening and enjoying tea with my friends. Riding the Oregon sand dunes on the ATVs with my family is one of our annual trips that's a lot of fun. Scuba diving was something I got into because my husband had been a certified diver for several years before I met him and he wanted to go for our honeymoon and I loved it. I haven't yet had a reason to incorporate scuba diving into my stories (for the historicals, it's too early and for the paranormals my vampires don't need to breathe!) but perhaps I might find a way to make it part of the Steampunks. You can never tell!

As far as what's coming up in the future, that's uncertain too. I'd love to go visit my family in Italy again soon, but I'd also like to see Australia, perhaps go to Japan with my husband or go to Scotland. As far as trying new things. I tried and failed miserably at snowboarding this last winter. One thing I know I'll never try is skydiving because I'm afraid of heights! For now I'm on a tight writing schedule, which will cut down on the amount of travel I get to do. I do know that I'll be attending the Steamcon II conference in Nov. in Seattle. I've already been sewing on my steampunk costumes.

Thanks so much for being here, Theresa!

Thanks for inviting me over to your blog today, Kari! It's been fun.

Theresa Meyers
www.bluemooncommunications.com (phone 360-895-0879)

Look for Salvation of the Damned, http://bit.ly/salOfDmn ***A Vampire's Mistress, http://bit.ly/AVampireMiss *** The Spellbound Bride, http://amzn.to/SpellBride

Find me on Twitter www.twitter.com/Theresa_Meyers


Kari Lee Townsend said...

Thanks again for being with us Theresa! What great answers you gave to my questions. Can't wait to hear what everyone else asks and what you have to say. So ask away, people, don't be shy :-)

Terri said...

At Hudson Valley RWA, we love Carly (and knew her when)! We love the Kelly Ripa/chocolate chip cookie story!
I think we used to have the Kelly story up on our web site, but it seems to have been replaced by a tamer Q&A.
Great interview Kari and Theresa. Fascinating stuff.

Caridad Pineiro said...

Thanks for the great interview! It's interesting to hear about how other authors multi-task between writing and day jobs.

Carly Phillips said...

Nothing's duplicated that rush since! LOL. Good to see you here! :)

Carly Phillips said...

I actually still have the story up here:
You can copy and paste:


Mary Martinez said...

Kari and Theresa, thanks for the great interview. Theresa, thanks for joining us on the M&M's

I feel like such a whiner about how busy I am and never have time to write. And writing is my day job. And then I read this, wow! That's all I can say.

Thanks Carly for the blog link I'm off to read that now.

Lindsay said...

Love the story about the ambulance jumping the sidewalk. Now I know where Hollywood got the idea for cars chasing down sideways-from you.
Even as a devout Scorpio I find multi-tasking easy. Since I don't have a day job, work second shift, that's when I write.
And Mary, stop w(h)ining and have a glass.

Mary Martinez said...

Believe it or not my Thursday rant is going to be about w(h)ining. LOL.

Carly if you're still around, I love the Cinderella story. Congratulations on all the success.

Theresa, I have a question for you. And I'm sorry if it was already asked and I missed it. When do you suggest an author contact a publicist? And if they haven't sold yet, is the cost worth it? Anyway what is your advice?

Cassy Pickard said...

Terri: I was tired and panting for air by the time I finished reading your posting. How do you possibly keep all those balls in the air at the same time? I thought my life was busy, but you have me 'way beat. Thanks for joining us on M&M.

Liz Lipperman said...

Theresa, wow! I will never complain about not having enough time again. I loved all the stories. I was giggling when I read about the cookies. I have an unpubbed manuscript about sperm. I can imagine the cookies you'd send!!!!

Thanks for joining us at M & M.

Great interview, Kari.

Cassy Pickard said...

Terri: I loved your description about the ambulance. My husband and I often tell of how a two lane road in Italy turns into a three lane one and someone decides to scoot through the middle. I can't tell you how many times I have caught my breath and then just thought, "okay, that's that." Again, having you here is great. Thanks for joining us.

Theresa Meyers said...

Cassy, Liz and Kari,

Thanks for the warm welcome to M&M. I really enjoyed the interview.

For Mary: I usually tell authors the time to start hunting for a publicist is when you are finding you are spending more than 30-50% of your productive writing time doing promotion and marketing. You can't pay someone else to write your book, but you can find other people to do the promotion and marketing for you!

If you haven't sold yet, now is the time to start thinking about how you want to be perceived in the market and start working on your author branding. Get a website started. Consider giving workshops on topic in which you are an expert (day jobs are always of interest to writers!) Start meeting with booksellers and librarians and creating the network (via Facebook or blogs, or your own newsletter) so when you do sell, you'll have a whole group of people standing in line wanting to cheer you on (and hopefully buy your book!)

I give a variety of how-to classes online during the year on everything from Author Branding to How to write Killer Backcover Copy, if you'd like to be notified when classes are coming up, just let me know via Facebook, Twitter or email and I'll put you on the class list.

Mary Martinez said...

Theresa, thanks for the information. I do have a site, twitter and Facebook. Not to mention on several Yahoo groups.

I'll have to check out some of your online workshops.

ScrltLtr@aol.com said...

Now that I think about it, I probably read it at your site.

-- Terri (not Theresa!)

Debbie Kaufman said...

Hi Theresa:
I too am tired just reading about your life, LOL! Very impressive homework for the book club.