For months, Desperately Ever After’s Amazon page has included a link to pretty pink and white book by Zanna Mackenzie, called If You Only Knew. Apparently, Zanna and I shared similar readers. When I finally moseyed over to her website in April, however, it became instantly clear that we shared a lot more than that! A freelance writer and editor, a dog lover, a gardener … she even understood my “eh” feeling about shopping! All that stood between us was the way we spelled “color/colour.” Oh, and an ocean.
Needless to say, I’m thrilled to welcome Zanna here today to talk about her writing career and her latest release. After the interview, answer her question for a chance to win an e-copy of her other novel, How Do You Spell Love?
In just a few years, you’ve published three contemporary romance novels, a novella, and two short stories—in addition to working as a freelance writer/editor and taking care of three dogs! How do you find the time?
I’m not sure! The day starts off with walking the dogs (we have 4 now, the latest edition Cassie – pictured below – is just over a year old now) with my husband, then we start work. He’s self-employed too so we have some degree of flexibility with regards to how we schedule the work aspect of our days. First priority once I’m seated at the computer with a cup of tea is the day job – I’m a freelance writer, editor and proof reader for a chamber of commerce. After that it’s on to the book promotion, blog and social media jobs for the day. I hope to try to fit in some writing but don’t always manage it depending on all the other jobs on my list for each day. In the spring, summer and autumn evenings we still have daylight to walk the dogs again and maybe catch up with some gardening. Each day is pretty busy but I love my work so consider myself to be very lucky!
I’ve always been intrigued by the concept in books and films of the first love coming back and complicating life all over again! This happens to Faith in If You Only Knew – she risks getting involved with new-in-town Zane who has taken over the extreme sports centre in the village. Faith is nervous about relationships anyway thanks to having her heart broken, add to this the fact Zane is strangely reluctant to talk about his past and naturally she’s a little unsure if she’s doing the right thing by getting involved or not. Zane and Faith are both just getting to know each other when Zane’s business partner Matt arrives from Austria and complicates everything. Matt just happens to be Faith’s first love.
What do think people will love most about this book? What do you love about it?
A lot of people who have reviewed the book on Amazon have commented on how likeable the main characters Faith and Zane are and how ‘real’ the relationships in the book seem. They have also commented on how much they hated Matt at the start of the book but, as his story unfolded and his own secrets were revealed, they completely changed their minds about him and were even rooting for him to have a ‘happy every after’ ending! I love that people who have read the book became so engrossed in the characters and their various stories, secrets, strengths and weakness.
What do I love about the book myself? Probably the character of Zane. I confess I developed something of a crush on him when I was writing the book (you can see how I pictured him over on the If You Only Knew board on Pinterest). I have a bit of a weakness for strong, outdoorsy guys who have a vulnerable side.
In the spirit of Desperately Ever After, I must ask: If you had to choose, which fairy tale character (doesn’t have to be a princess and doesn’t have to be Disney), would you be and why?
I loved the first series of the American TV programme Once Upon A Time in which all the well-known fairy tale characters had a bit of a modern makeover. The modern day Snow White was a demure school teacher whilst her ‘new’ fairy tale version was a feisty warrior with strong morals, fighting to help save people – I’d quite like the chance to be that version of ‘Snow’. It would be an amazing experience and I wouldn’t mind being rescued by her ‘Prince Charming’ either, especially as he was played by the actor Josh Dallas who looked great leaping on and off horseback in leathers and wielding a sword to help her fight the bad guys!
Spreading the word is one of the most daunting aspects of publishing with a smaller press. How do you get your titles out there?
With great difficulty to be honest! I’m still learning all about book promotion and trying to get to grips with the marketing side of things. There are so many great books out there it’s a very real challenge to try to get your own books visible to potential readers. I’m not at all comfortable with the promotional side of things as I’m quite a shy person so I feel awkward trying to do the promo stuff!
A writer’s life is certainly not an easy one—from rejections to dwindling sales, to tough reviews, and so on. How did you get through the bad days?
I can be prone to getting into a bit of negative spiral with this side of things and it can be a bit of a constant battle to stay positive when you get bad reviews, low sales and rejections. I knew I didn’t want to give in to the negativity and I love writing so I had to find a way to try to transform bad vibes to good ones and I found it in the form of CBT. CBT stands for cognitive behaviour therapy and it teaches you lots of techniques you can use to try to keep yourself in a balanced and positive state of mind. When you hit a downward spiral you take ten minutes or so to sit down and write your feelings in a notebook and then review them whilst asking yourself if these thoughts are a) realistic b) truthful and c) helpful. Quite often our minds go into negative spins and start coming up with all sorts of skewed thoughts and it’s useful to just review these thoughts in this way and realise thinking in a negative way is never helpful and quite often the thoughts aren’t even realistic or truthful either.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received that you can share with aspiring writers?
This is probably three pieces of advice all rolled into one but I’d say it’s – Believe in yourself, write what you enjoy reading yourself and DO NOT GIVE UP!!!!
What can fans expect from you next?
I have two full length romantic mystery novels which are at editing stage at the moment and I’m just finishing writing what I’m hoping will be the first in a series of humorous romantic mystery novellas – fingers crossed some of these will get published!
In addition to checking her website, zannamackenzie.blogspot.co.uk, be sure to keep up with Zanna on Twitter (@ZannaMacKenzie), Facebook, and Goodreads. Her books are available at both Amazon.com (US) and Amazon.co.uk (UK).
To win an e-copy of How Do You Spell Love?, Zanna’s novel about two women searching for romance, simply leave your answer to this question: What, for you, makes a character in a book you’re reading particularly memorable? The giveaway will remain open until 11:59 p.m. (PST) Tuesday, June 24, at which point TWO winners will be chosen.
Best of luck to you all!
What’s a blog tour without a price drop? For the month of June, in conjunction with my Fiction Addiction blog tour, the e-book of Desperately Ever After has been marked down to just $2.99. It is also available in print. Centered around a group of friends who just happen to live in castles … it’s Desperate Housewives meets the Brothers Grimm … ideal for Once Upon a Time withdrawal … and perfect for your beach bag!
Next Wednesday, June 25, author Suzy Turner will stop by to talk about her genre-straddling writing career (YA and adult, chick lit and paranormal), share some tips about self-publishing, and give away a copy of her book.
Don’t miss it 😉
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