Welcome back to Inside The Authors Studio. Today I’m talking to another writer and sharing our conversation with you! To find out who I’ve interviewed so far and what this series is all about, check out the original post by clicking here.
Hello and welcome back to Inside The Authors Studio. Today I’m sitting down with another great writer to give you all a look at her life and how she approaches the craft. I’m excited to introduce you to Ella Jade.
Ella was raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After she graduated from high school she attended Temple University. There she studied and eventually earned her degree. Today she holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism.
Since becoming an author Ella has gotten the opportunity to travel around the country and meet her readers in person. In the past few years alone she has done reader events in Savannah, Georgia; Wilmington, North Carolina; and Charlotte, North Carolina. She has also done book signings in Pitman, New Jersey; King of Prussia, Pennsylvania; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She has even been invited to a few book club meetings to speak as the guest author.
In my conversation with Ella, we discuss her early inspirations for writing and how her work has developed since. We talk about her quest to tell the very best story that she can and how she has struggled along the way with that goal. We even get a glimpse at some of her published work. I hope you enjoy my conversation with Ella Jade. Let’s get into it!
Jamie: Hi Ella. Thanks so much for coming on my blog today. I’m so happy to have you here. To kick things off, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Ella: I’m thrilled to be here! Thanks for having me. I appreciate the opportunity.
I’m a full-time contemporary romance author. I currently have twenty-four books available and several more scheduled to release in 2017. I’m known for creating sexy, domineering men and the strong women who know how to challenge them.
I live in New Jersey with my husband, two teenage boys and a spunky Chihuahua named Roxie. When I’m not busy chasing after my kids I can be found curled up with a good book.
Before you discovered the world of eBooks and self-publishing, how did you get started with writing? Was it a part of your childhood?
I’ve always been a writer. The stories, plots and dialogue have played out in my head for as long as I can remember. The need to create the characters who constantly “spoke” to me became a normal way of life.
How did you view books and writing when you were growing up?
Growing up I loved to read Stephen King, Nora Roberts and the classics. If it had an intriguing plot I would read it. Writing was a big part of who I was. I would fill notebooks and journals with short stories, ideas and snippets of plots. I never intended to do anything with them. It was a creative outlet for me.
What is the first thing you remember writing? How did that experience make you feel?
I really can’t pinpoint the first thing I wrote. I’ve been doing it for so long. I do remember when I was fourteen I wrote my first love story. I was a freshman in high school and I would write (long hand) a few chapters at a time. My friends would fight over who was taking the “book” home with them over the weekend. That original book is in a box in my attic and has been for years, but I can remember the story vividly.
You’re a very creative individual. You say it yourself on your website that you used to play out imaginary plots and dialogue in your head, but you never knew what to do with them until you discovered the eBook industry. What do you think you would be doing with all that creative energy now if you hadn’t started writing books? Have you ever considered letting it lead you down other avenues?
I’d probably still be filling those notebooks with my ideas and plots. I have years worth of stories written that I haven’t had time to go back and revise since I’ve become a published author. I can’t imagine my life without telling a story. The only difference between today and six years ago was I wasn’t published.
You have a husband and two boys. How has having a family affected your writing in terms of both content and process? Do you approach a story differently now? Do you find yourself drawn to certain themes that you weren’t concerned with before you had children?
My family keeps me very busy. My husband travels a great deal for work so my boys get most of my attention. Now that they’re getting older I find that I have a little (very little) more time to spend creating my books. I try to do the bulk of my writing when they are in school. But that time is also split between editing, answering reader emails and messages and promoting my current books.
I don’t think being a mom has drawn me to any particular themes. Occasionally I’ll write children into my book if the story guides me in that direction. I do enjoy writing about brothers and the bonds they have. Sometimes that comes from watching the relationship develop between my own boys.
Talk to me about romance writing. How did you get started writing romance? What does the genre mean to you? How do you understand it in your own mind?
Writing romance is an escape for me. Billionaires, CEO’s, the hunky baseball player, the arrogant lawyer are all characters I’ve enjoyed creating through the years. Real life can be difficult and crazy sometimes so I use my writing to indulge in fantasy. All of my characters get the happily ever after that we’re all seeking on some level. When a reader contacts me and tells me they’ve gotten lost in my words for a few hours and it helped them escape reality then I know I’ve done my job.
Having the characters connect on not just a physical level but an emotional one is very important to me. I write about every day life. The struggles we find ourselves in, but I add that layer of fantasy that draws the reader in and makes them smile when they realize just how much the characters love one another and would do whatever it takes to be together.
How do you approach a new project? When you sit down to write, do you start with anything in particular? Are you guided forward primarily by deadlines or creativity? Or is it a combination of both?
Creativity comes first for me. If a story isn’t working I’ll know pretty early on. I let the characters guide me. It’s their story. I’m just here to tell it. I can often start a novel with a few sentences of dialogue and work around that. A few times I’ve written the ending of a book first and had to work backward from there. I don’t write from a specific format. I let the story take me where it needs to go.
What do you get out of writing romance novels?
It’s been a lifelong love for me. I started out reading them at an early age. As a teenager I was hooked on soap operas. The more angst the better. Give me a good cliffhanger and I’m in. All of those experiences carried over as an author. Creating a well-rounded couple who have flaws but learn to love one another despite them is the ultimate satisfaction for me.
What do you believe audiences gain by reading romance novels in general?
As I said earlier, it’s an escape from reality. We have jobs and kids and responsibilities. For a few hours you can get lost in a fantasy world. Many readers find much joy in romance novels myself included.
What do you hope readers will gain by reading your books specifically?
I just want to tell the best story I can. If through the course of reading any of my novels you scream, get mad at me, hate my hero, cry, laugh, sigh then I did something right. I want readers to connect with my characters and invest in them the way I do.
Why did you decide to use a pen name when publishing your work? Where did the name Ella Jade come from? What do you think the effect is on readers? Do you think you will use your pen name forever, or have you considered eventually reverting to your given name?
I have a really difficult last name. No one would ever be able to find it in a Google search 😉 I like the privacy of a pen name. I love being accessible to my readers and connecting with them on social media, but my family deserves their privacy. I’m the author not them so using a pen name keeps me anonymous when I need to be.
If I decide to write more mainstream or when my kids are older maybe I would consider using my name, but at this point I’ve built a following as Ella so it just makes sense to keep using that. I don’t think it matters to the readers what name is on the cover as long as it’s me who is doing the writing.
As far as publishing goes, you’ve had a varied experience. You’ve released eBooks with Beachwalk Press and Barnes & Noble, you’ve self-published many of your novels which you sell digitally through Amazon, and you’ve even brought out some physical print copies of your books. In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of each avenue? Do you prefer one to the others? If you had your druthers, how would you like to see your work released in the future?
I started out as an eBook author. That’s how I got my break. If not for the eReader I’m not sure I’d be as successful as I am today. Big publishers won’t always take a chance on an unknown so when I saw the call to submit my manuscript to an on-line publisher I jumped at the opportunity.
Some of my books are in print and some readers prefer to read that way. It’s always a thrill to hold a physical book in your hands especially when it is your own. But honestly either way is fine for me.
The majority of my books are published through Beachwalk Press. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been with them for five years. Any book that releases with them can be found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or any outlet you get your digital books from. Several are available in paperback. I’ve also self-published a few books. I’m appreciative to have had that experience and I’ll continue to do that when the situation calls for it, but if I’m being totally honest, I prefer going through my publisher. I like having the guidance and backing. Most indie authors don’t agree these days and prefer to self-publish. That’s the way the book industry is moving and I think that’s great too. The more options we have to get our words out to the readers the better.
As a self-published author, you almost have to become a jack of all trades in order to make it in the literary world. Talk to me about the role you play after the storytelling is done, in editing, promoting, and marketing your material. How have you approached this behind the scenes work? How has it affected your success? How has it shaped you as a writer?
For me self-publishing is much harder than going through my publisher. Once the book is written I’m responsible for hiring an editor, proofreader, formatter and cover artist. There are many upfront costs that go along with getting that book into the hands of the reader if you’re doing it correctly. I’m neurotic and everything has to be right. I stress from the time the book goes up for pre-order to well after release day.
Whether you go with a publisher or not the promotion of the book is ultimately on the author. You have to find ways to get your name out there. Thousands of books are released each month. Advertising is key. The process doesn’t end when the author types ‘the end’. That’s just the beginning. I think that’s where a lot of authors fail. I’ve seen several really good writers disappear from the community because their books weren’t selling.
Self-publishing and publishing with a small press have given me a greater appreciation for the industry and helped me understand that writing is a business. Anyone can be a writer, but not everyone will be successful. It takes years of determination. But I’m finding all those hours I put into this are worth it.
There seems to be a stigma around eBooks and self-publishing in general which claims the work being put out through these methods is not “good” or even “worth reading.” What would you say (what have you said) in response to this?
I’d have to disagree with that. Are there some bad books out there? Absolutely. As I said in the answer to the previous question, if an author isn’t taking the necessary steps to ensure the best product the readers will know.
The landscape of publishing is changing. I’ve seen that dramatically in the last five years. When I started out everyone had a publisher and small presses were booming. That’s no longer the case thanks to self-publishing. Authors (even a few big names) are leaving their publishers and doing it on their own. The larger companies are feeling the success of independent authors. Most of the well-known publishers have imprint divisions. The majority of readers one-click on release day and start reading in seconds. It’s not just self-published authors who are releasing in eBook format.
Like I said, the more options we have to get our words out to the reader the better for everyone. If you want to be a writer just tell the story and the rest will fall into place.
Talk to me about your book covers. As a romance writer, are you forced to rely on some variation of the stereotypical image: an attractive couple in some state of undress? How do you feel your covers represent the messages within your stories? Do you create your cover images yourself? If so, what about this aesthetic appeals to you as an author? If you don’t have a hand in your cover design, what would you like to see on your covers? Any general themes or aesthetic schemas?
I wouldn’t say that I’m forced to use “some variation of a stereotypical image” but considering I write steamy romances those images seem to work best for my books. I’m very active in choosing the images that will go on my covers. I’m fortunate enough to have a publisher who will allow me such creative control. I’m even given the option of using objects instead of people, but I prefer the people. I think those who read my genre expect to see a sexy couple on the cover. It’s part of the escape I spoke about. Being able to visualize the characters with the help of the image plays a big part for the romance reader. My books (as with most romance novels) are so much more than an attractive couple, but we are selling a fantasy. Appealing covers are just one aspect of the process.
Have you ever written anything outside the romance genre? Do you have any plans to publish in any other genres in the future?
I’ve dabbled in paranormal, sensual romances. I have two titles (Find Me and Always You) that are very different from my usual books. While they are still romances they explore time travel and psychic abilities. I’d like to write more of these types of books in the future. One day I might even have the time. 😉
What has been your biggest struggle as a writer so far?
Finding the time to write all of the stories inside my head. I’ve been very blessed with the ideas but with that comes the struggle of getting all the stories written.
What advice do you have for writers facing something similar?
I don’t know if this is something similar, but I would say to a new writer, don’t give up. You’re going to face rejection and maybe a lot of it. Keep writing.
Would you like to give us any background or context on the piece you brought to share today?
The Weekend Proposition is a favorite among readers. It has 60 fantastic reviews on Amazon. Spencer and Coda are one of my dearest couples that I have written. Here’s the blurb…
One weekend—no strings, no expectations, and no commitments. On Sunday afternoon it all ends, or does it?
No-nonsense businessman Spencer Cannon has a dilemma. He’s headed to Connecticut for the weekend to attend his cousin’s elaborate wedding. His whole family will be there in addition to his obsessed ex-girlfriend Ava. According to Spencer’s brother, Ava has been telling her friends she’s planning a magical reunion with her favorite ex-boyfriend. Spencer’s not in the mood to deal with her, but he can’t miss the wedding. He needs a plan.
Struggling Brooklyn waitress and aspiring graphic designer Dakota Vercelli has fallen on hard times. College debts, pending eviction, and her sick mother are taking a toll on her. A chance encounter with Mr. Cannon, CEO of Cannon and Carrington Advertising, leads to a proposition that may be just the thing to solve both of their problems. Spencer’s offer—spend four days with him during the wedding festivities and keep his ex off his trail. In return, he’ll compensate her generously for her time. He needs a weekend girlfriend, and Dakota needs the cash.
It was just supposed to be a business deal, but after sharing a room, kissing under the stars, and attending a wedding, their attraction is undeniable. Will the illusion end when the weekend is over or is the proposition just the beginning?
Here is an excerpt from Ella’s work:
“I have a proposition for you,” Spencer said.
“A proposition?” What could he possibly have to offer her?
“I have to attend my cousin’s wedding this weekend. Actually, I have to leave tomorrow afternoon. I don’t want to go alone for reasons I don’t wish to discuss right now. I need someone to accompany me. I’m offering that to you.”
“And you think I’m ‘to the point’?” Coda shrugged.
He smiled but didn’t say anything. She couldn’t stand the silence. She wanted to figure out his game. There had to be some sort of catch.
“You want me to go to a wedding with you?”
“It’s in Connecticut. I would require your services until Sunday afternoon. All of your expenses would be paid, including a wardrobe which would be yours to keep after the weekend.”
“You need a date?”
“I would need you to appear as my girlfriend.”
“Is this a joke?” she asked.
“I wouldn’t joke about something like this. I’ve thought the entire thing through.”
“A man who looks like you should have no problem finding a real girlfriend to buy clothes for and flaunt in front of his family.” She thought for a moment. “Unless there’s something wrong with you.”
“There’s nothing wrong with me.” He raised his voice a bit. “I had planned on attending alone but circumstances have changed. I’m in a bind and from what I gather, you are too.”
Her instincts screamed to run in the opposite direction. She’d never been the type to fall for a scam. “I’m not interested in—”
“I’ll pay you two hundred and fifty thousand dollars for your time.”
“What?” Apparently a side of crazy came with those good looks.
“One hundred and twenty-five thousand today, if you agree.” He pulled out a check from the inside pocket of the jacket he had draped on the back of the chair. He slipped the mint green paper across the table. “You’ll get the rest on Sunday afternoon.”
“That’s fifty grand a day.” She studied the check. It would take her years to make that kind of money working these shit-end jobs.
“I’m aware.” He nodded as if the money meant nothing. “I’m asking for your time, a commodity I believe should be well compensated.”
Too good to be true.
“Do you make it a habit of paying women to be your girlfriend?”
“Pretend girlfriend,” he reminded her. “You would be the first.”
“Does it matter?”
“What exactly do you expect me to do for that money?”
“I told you.” He narrowed his eyes. “I need a date for a long weekend. Everyone needs to think we’re a couple.”
“You’re willing to pay me to go away with you for four days. I’m supposed to take your word we’re going to a wedding in Connecticut? How do I know you won’t kidnap me and want to do all sorts of kinky stuff to me? You could be some sex-obsessed lunatic.”
“Yeah, you know, like bondage and blindfolds.”
“Do you like that sort of thing?” He tried to conceal his smirk.
–The Weekend Proposition, Copyright © 2013, Ella Jade
Why did you write this piece? What does it mean to you today?
It was something I’d wanted to write for a long time. I loved the idea. When I came up with her character I knew a man like Spencer would be perfect for her. It’s a few years old but readers are still finding it. It’s just a fun, carefree love story. I even wrote a sequel featuring Spencer’s brother Tyler called The Weekend Surprise.
What would you like to leave my readers with today before you go?
Thanks for taking the time to read my interview. I love connecting with readers so feel free to friend me on FB or follow me on twitter. Happy Reading!
I’d like to thank Ella for having this conversation with me here today and for sharing some of her work with all of us. If you’re interested in hearing more from Ella, make sure you check out her links below.
Where you can find Ella:
Website – http://authorellajade.com/
Readers’ Group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/166504183500570/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/ellajade1
Newsletter – http://eepurl.com/bfdKR5
If you’d like to check out my last interview, click here to meet Dan Alatorre. Until next time!