Sunday, December 20, 2009

Interview with Judy Bagshaw, Author of Romantic Fiction Featuring BBW Heroines

Joins us as we chat with Judy Bagshaw author of Romantic Fiction featuring BBW Heroines. Read on and learn about Judy's literary journey and her determination to bring BBW Heroines to readers.

1. Tell us about yourself? My name is Judy Bagshaw and I write romantic fiction, most of which features full-figured heroines. I was an elementary school teacher for 28 years and retired in 2005 to devote myself to writing full-time. When I’m not writing, I work as an editor for a small independent publisher, read voraciously, spend time with my elderly mother and my brother and his family, cook, read and play piano. I’m an avid television fan, currently hooked on True Blood, Dollhouse, Madmen, and Fringe.

2. How long have you been writing? The simple answer is, all my life. But I really didn’t start writing with the intent to be published one day, until the early 90’s. Over the years I took a variety of writing courses and workshops, honing my craft.

3. What drove you to pick up that pen for the first time? I’m not really sure. Ours was a household of avid readers, so I’m sure that played a big part. I liked nothing better than to discover a great new story. And creative writing was always a favourite subject throughout my school years. I had a vivid imagination as a child, and clearly remember “borrowing” my Mom’s old portable typewriter to pound out stories in my room. I think I attempted my first novel at age 10. If I remember correctly, I got to about chapter four before running out of steam, or getting side-tracked.

4. How long have you been writing books with plus size characters? It has always been important to me to feature realistic looking heroines in my stories. As a reader, it annoyed me that all romance heroines seemed cookie-cutter, and none looked like me at all!

5. Why did you choose to feature plus size heroines in your novels? I am a plus-sized woman, and have been active in NAAFA, an international size-acceptance group for many years. It became a bone of contention with me that large-sized women were not represented in the media as anything other than the villain, the comic side-kick, best friend or the nosy neighbour. Why couldn’t the big girl win the heart of the hero? After all, I knew from experience, that plus-sized women were pursued, wooed, loved and lusted after. Romantic fiction needed to start reflecting that reality. So, I made it my mission at the beginning of my “serious” writing efforts, to create real women in real situations.

6. Your writing career has been filled with ups and downs at least when it comes to actually publishing your books. Tell us a little about your publishing journey. What kept you moving, determined to find a place for you books and stories? I had, for years, wanted to write and publish stories with large sized characters. I took courses and workshops to hone my writing skills and joined a local writer's organization for support and guidance. But when I expressed my desire to write these kinds of stories, I was always told politely that they wouldn't sell. Publisher's wouldn't be interested. There wouldn't be a market. I knew in my heart that there was a market. And even if it was a small one (and I didn't necessarily believe this), I felt strongly there was a need for these kinds of stories to be written.
I was thrilled one day to find reference in a writer's magazine to a small independent publisher specializing in romance stories with large size heroines. And they were accepting manuscripts. Here was my chance. I spent the summer of that year, writing my first romance novel, Teacher's Pet. That fall I was able to send it to the publisher. Months went by and I finally had word back, along with the manuscript with edits to be done and a request to resubmit. I did the work and dutifully sent it off, heart pounding. And then many months went by with no word or reply to emails. I then found out that the publisher had had some problems and things were delayed but it looked like there was still hope. So I clung on. At the end of two years, I gave up on this particular publisher ever following through, and was thankful I'd never signed a contract.

So the manuscript sat gathering dust. I wrote another novel, Love by the Pound, basically to see if I could. And I started a third. And there were several short stories. All have large sized heroines. But I despaired of them ever finding a home. And then I discovered electronic publishers. I saw an industry that was young and full of energy. I saw that many of the publishers were women. I saw an open minded attitude, seeking alternative views and a desire to stretch the boundaries. I saw opportunity.

In 1999, I submitted a couple of short stories to Wordbeams, the publisher I had chosen after doing extensive research, and the first week of August, I signed my first contracts. Shortly after, she also contracted Teacher’s Pet and Love By the Pound. I was on my way! Until… My publisher told her authors that she was closing the company due to major life threatening health problems. As of December 31, 2001, Wordbeams was no more.

I had to begin the job of finding a new publisher for my plus sized stories. I sent out my two novels to a couple of Canadian e-publishers and then submitted and sold three short stories to Real Romances, a Canadian e-publisher who specialized in books that feature 'real sized' heroines. I waited for months to hear from the other publishers and finally decided on a different course. Real Romances agreed to re-publish Teacher's Pet and Love by the Pound. Then lo and behold, a year later, due to staffing changes, they decided to close their romance imprint, and my books were orphaned once more.

I was able to get a contract with a short-lived company for some shorter works, but due to lack of sales, they also closed their doors. Now I was starting to get a complex…like I was some kind of Typhoid Mary of publishing! But I refused to give up.

After considerable research once more, I chose New Age Dimensions. I felt I had come home, loved my publisher and the author family I joined. But based in Florida, it fell victim to one of the major hurricanes and had to close. Again, the search was on.

I have to say, after effectively closing so many companies, I was becoming doubtful I’d never find a stable writing home. But I did, and I’m happy to say, I have at present five very stable and thriving publishers.

The key for me was persistence. I had a vision…a mission of sorts. And I wasn’t going to stop until I had achieved my desired goals. My advice to any author is to persevere.

6. You have a number of books as well as short stories in various anthologies featuring women with curves. Tell us what are the titles of your books and short stories and where can readers purchase copies of your books.

Fictionwise : in ebook formats only
LADY BLUE: novel

Draumr Publishing
LEADING LADIES: anthology (Someday My Prince)
LOVE, AT LARGE: anthology (Work of Art)

The Wild Rose Press
THE ENCHANTED FAERIE: anthology (The Strongest Magic)

Pearlsong Press
AT LONG LAST, LOVE: short story collection
(Pearlsong also has a limited supply of print copies of my back list: Lady Blue, Teacher’s Pet, Love by the Pound

ONE FOOT ON A BANANA PEEL: non-fiction, self help

Mundania Press
THROUGH ALL ETERNITY: paranormal romance, coming November 2009

Awe-Struck Publishing
SECOND CHANCES: JACK AND GILLIAN: contemporary romance, coming April 2010

7. Of all the plus size women you have portrayed in your books and anthologies who is your favorite and Why? Wow. That’s a tough question. I love all my heroines for all sorts of different reasons. But if I had to pick one, I think I’d have to say Sabrina Blue, from Lady Blue. She took control of her life and decided to follow her dreams and become a singer. It was always a secret dream of mine to sing professionally, but I was never brave enough to go for it. So she lived that dream for me, in a fashion.

8. When will your next book be released? Tell us a little about your next book? Will it feature a plus size character? This month (Nov.) will bring the release of my first paranormal romance. Through All Eternity, from Mundania Press. This book is a departure from my usual fare. It has a darker tone, and examines some darker aspects of human nature. But the overall feeling by book’s end is of hope and optimism.

Imagine if it were possible to straddle the veil between this life and the next. And imagine if it were possible that love could survive after death and you could reunite with your soul-mate. That is the central premise of Through All Eternity. Soul-mates reunited, characters finding redemption, families finding each other again.

There are two main women focused on in this book. Hanna, an elderly woman dying of cancer, who has many regrets in life, the central regret being how she treated her family. And Karen, a thirty-something divorcee BBW, who fears she may have cancer. Meeting Hanna in the hospital begins a journey she never could have expected, and neither could Hanna.

9. Tell us a little about Desperate Hearts, your free e-serial? Why did you start it? Why did you decide to create a written soap-opera? I have a close friend who is also an author, and had quite good success with her free serials over a number of years. We had talked about me doing one as well, to bring in readers and promote my published work. But it took a while for just the right idea to hit me. I wanted to do something different from my “paid” writing, and I wanted it to be something I could just have fun with. When I hit on the idea of writing a “soap opera” (a perfect fit, I thought, for a romance writer), Desperate Hearts was born.

The soap opera format leaves it wide open for just about anything to happen in the fictional world I’ve created. And that’s great fun. I could have alien abductions, or swapped babies, or miraculous resurrections if I wanted to. So far, I just have dysfunctional families, deep dark secrets and a possible psychopath on the loose.

10. What are you reading now? What types of books (genres) do you read in general? I just finished a Jackie Collin’s glitzy romance (frivolous fun), and am starting a thriller next. I am an avid reader, and will read just about anything. But my preferred choice is a good thriller: Ludlum, Grisham, Paterson etc. I also seek out romance and mystery featuring plus sized characters. It’s thrilling that so many authors are now embracing the more real –sized hero and heroine. And I enjoy a really good spec fiction book when I can find them.

11. Who are your favorite authors? For thrillers, Robert Ludlum. For mystery, Sue Ann Jaffarian’s Odelia Grey series, and Alexander McCall Smith’s No.1 Ladie’s Detective Agency series (fabulous). For spec fic, Skyla Dawn Cameron, Elaine Corvidae, Louise Cooper, JK Rowling. For romance, Daisy Dexter Dobbs (I love her humour)

12. How can readers get in contact with you? Do you have a website? My web URL is Nice and simple. I love hearing from my readers. You can sign my guestbook on my site, or email me a . I also have a guest forum at

13. What is the one thing you would like all of your readers to know about you? I want my readers to know how very much I appreciate their support, and how excited I still get when I get notes and letters from readers telling me how my stories have impacted their lives. It is this kind of recognition that spurs me to keep on writing, even on those days when I’m ready to throw in the towel.

14. If you could tell one thing to every aspiring writer what would it be? If writing is your dream, then persevere. Let nothing or no one prevent you from pursuing what means so much to you.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Interview with Author and Publisher Rida Allen

Joins us at we chat with author and publisher Rida Allen. Her books showcase women with real curves in real relationships to an audience of real women. Please join us a learn a little more about Rida and her literary journey.

***** Contest Alert*********
Author Sponsored Contest - Leave a comment on Rida Allen's interview and be entered to win a copy of The Player the second in Rida's Bandmates series. Author sponsored contest ends at 11:59PM on Jan 31, 2010. For more info on both The Players and the series read Rida's interview. She discusses the book and the series as a whole. It sounds like a winner to me. Can't wait to read it.
1. Tell us about yourself? I’m in my late thirties, married, and what I would called a retired computer geek. I started my working career in computers while I was still in high school, then continued in that vein all through college and up until I fell ill in 2000. I enjoyed computers a lot, the challenge and puzzle of how things worked intrigued me, and I like helping other people with their computers. I was never formally educated in that industry, but learned everything hands-on…and sometimes “feet to the fire.” But it was a fulfilling career, both intellectually and financially. However, when I burnt out and got sick, I left the computer field and ended up working on my writing again (my college degree is in Writing and Communications, despite working the computer field as both an amateur and a professional). I’ve been with my husband for over seventeen years, though we just celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary. I’m lucky he also has the writing bug, otherwise I think I might have driven him crazy years before now with my odd writing thoughts and the weird hours I work on my books.

2. How long have you been writing? I’ve been writing since I was about eleven, though at the time I started with poetry. I think I probably wrote my first “story” at twelve, but it was short. I spent a lot of years writing short stories, most of which never had endings. Then at some point I actually stopped writing. In 1995, I wrote a book that I felt was my best work ever, submitted it to one publisher, got rejected 18 months later, then put it away in a drawer. In late 2000, I spent about six months revising and rewriting before I sent it out to another publisher, with the result being it got published in 2001.

3. What drove you to pick up that pen for the first time? I had a somewhat lonely childhood, despite being the youngest of four children. I didn’t make friends easily, I was teased often because of my weight, and I was hella shy. I spent a lot of time reading, and I think it developed my imagination. At some point, I guess my imagination spilled over onto paper because I just couldn’t contain it in my head anymore!

4. How long have you been writing books with plus size characters? My first published book was with a plus size heroine. That was the first time I’d written about a heroine who looked like me. Prior to that, I think I spent a lot of time writing about who I thought I wanted to be…thin and popular. It never fit for me, and always felt like a lie.

5. Why did you chose to feature plus size heroines in your novels? I wanted to be able to read about women who were like me, and I couldn’t find that on the market. Since I knew I had a penchant for writing, and enjoyed writing, I decided to try writing about someone who looked like me. I found I was able to draw on a lot of my own experiences to make the heroine realistic, and I knew in doing so I would be able to touch other women like me who enjoyed romance novels. It always makes my day when I hear from readers who identify with my heroines, who tell me that they are so happy to finally see themselves in a romance novel as the heroine who gets her man!

6. You have a number of titles on the market. Can you give us a run down of your work and where readers interested in your and your work can find these titles.
At this time, I have nine books out, with a tenth to be released just after the first of the year. Several of my early books are connected (The Legacy Tree, Truth and Lies, The Fashionable PI, Lost or Found?, Model Mom), and I’ve also started a new series about a rock band, of which The Crooner is the first. Then I have several books that are standalone (Great Love, You Have Been Disconnected, Driving Adam…Crazy!). All my books are available from your regular online sources, and from bookstores (though they may have to be ordered), as well as from their respective publishers. I also sell signed copies of my books through my website, or from my publishing company, Draumr Publishing.

7. When will your next book be released? Tell us a little about your next book? My next book, The Player, will be released just after the first of the year. It is the second in my rock band series (the series title is Bandmates), and is about that guy who never gets close to anyone, and who plays the field no matter the consequences. He’s outgoing, gorgeous, and everyone loves him, but he’s hiding something deep inside. In The Player, he finally meets a woman (fabulously curvy!) who tempts him in ways he never expected, turning his life, and his heart, inside out!

8. And if being a published author is not enough your are also co-owner of Draumr publishing. Tell us a little about Draumr publishing and your work with authors of Curvy Novels seeking a place for their voice to be heard? Draumr Publishing has been in business since 2004. It came about because I was unhappy with the publishers I was dealing with, and annoyed that I couldn’t find more books with curvy heroines. I couldn’t understand why there wasn’t a publisher supporting these books when I knew from my first couple of books—and my immersion into the BBW world—that there were a lot of readers begging for these types of books. With the support of my family, we decided to open Draumr, hoping to offer BBW books a new home. Of course, we knew there were more great books out there than just romance novels, and that not every author would want to write with curvy heroines. So although Draumr does have a BBW line called Dangerous Curves, we also accept other types of fiction. But my heart is really with the Dangerous Curves books, because they are who I am. I will always write books with curvy heroines, and I will always try to support other authors who do the same.

9. How do you manage holding the dual roles of author and publisher? What is a typical day for you like when you with both writing and publishing deadlines to meet? It’s an interesting question, and one I get asked a lot. Fortunately for me, my creative brain seems to wake up later in the day, so I’m able to partition off when I work for Draumr and when I write for myself. However, there is some crossover in that, because when I’m really busy for Draumr, my hours will spill over into the evening. But like many authors, I’ve learned to balance my writing life with my working life…it just so happens that my work life still involves books and publishing. Meanwhile, I enjoy the publishing company so much because even when I’m not knee deep in my own work, I’m living the writing and publishing life with another author. Even when my book isn’t ready for cover art, I get to live the process over and over again with our authors…I get to experience the joy and excitement with them as they see their books coming to life. It’s so much fun. Don’t get me wrong, running and working at a publishing company is work, and it can be difficult, but I do enjoy the challenges involved. Also, the fact that I’m (mostly) my own boss doesn’t suck. And unlike many other publishing companies, we accept and publish very few books a year. So I’m able to give our authors individual attention during every step of the publishing process…and still give myself time to breathe, to write, and to live.

10. What BBW Books will be released in the near future by Draumr Publishing?
My book is due out after the first of the year (The Player), and I know that Misty Simon will also have a book out with us next year in the same series. Misty is participating in the Bandmates series with me, which is an exciting venture for us. Both of us have written BBW series books, but we’ve never shared a series with another author. Should be fun!
Otherwise, we don’t have anything solid on our schedule. We’re always open to submissions for our BBW line, as well as for our regular fiction line. Since we don’t publish a ton of books a year, we don’t schedule our books out too far ahead of time.

11. How can authors interested in submitting their work to Draumr Publishing get more information on the submission process? We have submission guidelines on our website at We also have FAQs for authors on our website, which may answer questions authors have. Authors can also check out my blog, where I offer some tips about submitting, as well as talk about new releases, the publishing process, and my own writing ( If they can’t find their answers in any of those places, they can always email me at

12. What are you reading now? Who are your favorite authors? At the moment, I’m not actually reading anything for pleasure. I’ve taken a short hiatus from reading, simply because I’m not finding things that interest me in the stores. It seems like many of the print romance publishing houses are putting out reissues, which don’t interest me, for obvious reasons. And despite the lure of technology, I do not have an e-reader, and I do not prefer to read ebooks . My reading enjoyment includes the physicality of books, their feel in my hands, their smell, the visual of the words on the pages… This is also the reason why we put all our books out in print as well as in ebook format at Draumr Publishing. For Draumr, if the book is good enough to be accepted, then it’s good enough to be in print. If it isn’t good enough to be in print, we won’t accept it.

13. How can readers get in contact with you? Do you have a website? I have a personal author website at There’s a contact me link there if readers want to email me to tell me how fantastic my books are and how much they love my writing.  I can also be reached via Draumr email at (website is

14. What is the one thing you would like all of your readers to know about you? I write because I love to write. Writing is a part of my heart and a part of my soul. I hope that comes through in my books.

15. If you could tell one thing to every aspiring writer what would it be? Write what you know, and what you love to read. Readers will know if you’re forcing it, and likewise will know when what you write is what you know.

About Rida Allen: Born in suburban Maryland, I have lived here all my life, moving only three times and even then, less than half an hour away each time. Growing up, I was the youngest and only girl in a family of four siblings, suffering mightily and for many long years under the hands of my three older brothers. To escape, I locked myself away in my bedroom with books, books, and more books! I am and have been a voracious reader of romance novels for as long as I can remember…even before I was writing my own stories as a pre-teen. At 11 years old, I started my writing hobby with poetry, then began writing “short” romantic stories at about 12. Although I always wanted to be a writer, I found myself instead working with computers. I was in the computer industry for more years than I want to remember, first as an amateur and then as an expert (of sorts). My husband and I met online (before online dating was even a glimmer in some Internet boomer’s eye), and we knew each other for eight years before we got engaged and married. Even now, after sixteen years together, we are best friends, and he is one of my biggest supporters. We live close to both our families and spend as much time with them as possible. We have spent recent years in our single family home, purchased partially for the large yard that our dog thinks is her own personal park.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Interview with Award Winning Erotica Author Marilyn Lee

Join us as we chat with Marilyn Lee, a award winning author of erotic romances. Her book written for the grown and sexy feature a wide range of heroines including hot and sexy women with curves. Please take a minute and learn more about this phenomenal writer. Feel free to comment let us know how you feel about Marilyn Lee and the interview.

Contest Alert - All those that comment on this or any of our November and December interviews not holding author sponsored contest will be entered into a drawing to receive a free book. Contest ends December 31st. See side panel for more details on all contest running on this blog.

1) Tell us about yourself? I’m a very shy person who wishes I had half the nerve and courage that many of my heroines exhibit in my books. I love to read (I devour mysteries). I’m also addicted to playing independent role playing games. My favorite to date is the Aveyond series. I have a full-time day job. That and playing computer games help keep writing in my spare time interesting and important.

2) How long have you been writing? That’s a difficult question for me to answer. I say that because when I think back to when I was very young, I realized that I was “writing” even before I realized what I was doing or what writing was. At a very young age, I was making stories up in my head. When I learned to write, I started writing love stories in various notebooks. However, I was nineteen when I first sold anything.

3) What drove you to pick up that pen for the first time? I’ve always felt a compulsion to write. It’s a large part of who I am as a person. So I write because I have to. A number of times over the years I’ve “stopped” writing when the rejections poured in as fast as I could submit my manuscript. But I always had to start again because the characters in my head insisted I tell their story.

4) How long have you been writing books with plus size characters? My first book with a plus sized heroine was The Fall of Troy, which was published in 2001.

5) What are the titles of your books featuring plus size characters? Taking Chances II—Nice Girls Do, Trina’s Afternoon Delight, Bloodlust IV—Nocturnal Heat, Playing With Fire, The Fall of Troy, Full Bodied Charmer, Fantasy Knights, Teacher’s Pet, Skin Deep, Summer Storm, Eye of the Beholder, In Blood And Worth Loving and Temple Neal.

6) Are all of these books available in both paperback and E-book form? All of the books are available as e-books. Skin Deep, Summer Storm, Eye of the Beholder, and Full Bodied Charmers are also available as paperbacks.

7) How can readers purchase your books? My Books can be purchase from my various publishers Ellora’s Cave, Changeling Press, Loose-id, Red Rose Publishing, and Liquid Silver Books

8) I noticed that most if not all of your books can be purchased as e-books. Why did you choose to make your books available as e-books? Years ago, when I first decided to try e-books, I intended to keep submitting books to paperback publishers. However, as the audience for e-books has grown, I’m happy to submit exclusively to e-book publishers. I have the freedom to write what I like without worrying about what’s selling. I’ve been able to try many different genres with e-books publishers over the years.

At the time I wrote The Fall of Troy, there were very few books featuring bbw heroines. My publisher wasn’t sure how such a story would be received, but she gave me the go ahead and I’m delighted to say that it was and still is well received with readers.

I was also able to write a romance with a secondary couple featuring a m/m relationship years before such books were so widely accepted and sought.

I think the most appreciated freedom writing for e-book publishers afforded me was the ability to write the interracial romance stories I love to write. Back when I first started writing I/R romances, most paperback publishers ignored the desire for romance books featuring I/R couples.

9) Along with your Curvy Books (our term for books with plus size heroines) you have also written a number of multicultural romances. Why have you chosen to featured plus size women and multicultural relationships in your books? I have a number of friends who were involved in either I/R relationships or marriages. None of them could find romance books which reflected their relationships because nearly everyone was writing about size six heroines (very few of who were black). It was difficult to find books with bbw women and almost impossible to find any that featured both I/r elements and a plus sized heroine.

After discovering that there was a segment of the romance community eager to read both BBW and I/R books, I decided to merge the two.

10) Tell us about your most recent novel? My latest release is actually a re-release. It’s called A Thing Called Love.

Does it feature a plus size heroine? No. However, my last published book with a BBW is In Blood And Worth Loving.

11) Out of all the plus size heroines you have written about who is your favorite and why? I think my favorite would have to be Angie from my first BBW novel, The Fall of Troy. She’s my favorite because she paved the way for me to be able to write more books with plus size heroines. And I admired her willingness to take a chance to find love on a cruise ship.

12) Do you plan to write more books featuring plus size characters? Absolutely.

13) When will your next book be released? My next book will be published by Red Rose Publishing this month. [This interview was conducted in November the book is currently available for purchase]

Tell us a little about your next book?
It’s called One Sweet Night. Here’s the blurb:

After struggling to accept the end of her ten-year marriage, Jule Grey's best friend convinces her to start dating again. Finding the dating prospects for forty-year-old women thin, Jule reluctantly agrees to a blind date. One look at the sexy, delivery boy, Daniel, and she's certain the coming night will be very sweet.

Daniel surprises Jule by his insistence on extending their one-night stand beyond the weekend. Despite their mutual attraction, Jule battles her fear of Daniel's reaction to the secret that ended her marriage. She doesn't know that Daniel is also guarding a secret he's reluctant to share with her.

Will it feature a plus size character? The heroine in One Sweet Night isn’t BBW.

14) What are you reading now? At the moment, I’m expending all my energies writing. So I’m not reading anything at the moment.

15) Who are your favorite authors? M.C. Beaton, Tony Hillerman, Betty Neels, Valerie W. Wesley, Jo Dereske, Eleanor Taylor Bland, D.R. Meredith, Kenneth Robeson are some of my favorites.

16) How can readers get in contact with you?
They can email me at or

17) Do you have a website? Yes. It’s I also have a fan site Official Marilyn Lee Fab Club which sometimes has contests.

21) What is the one thing you would like all of your readers to know about you? That I really appreciate their support and that I love to hear from them.

About Marilyn Lee: Marilyn lives, works, and writes on the East Coast of The US. In additional to thoroughly enjoying writing erotic romances in various genres, she enjoys roller-skating, spending time with her large, extended family, and rooting for all her favorite hometown sports teams. Her other interests include collecting Doc Savage pulp novels from the thirties and forties and collecting Marvel comics from the seventies and eighties (particularly Thor and The Avengers.) Her favorite TV shows are forensic shows, westerns (Gun smoke and Have Gun, Will Travel are particular favorites), and mysteries (Charlie Chan movies in particular). Her all time favorite mystery movie is probably Dead, Again. She’s seen nearly every vampire movie or television show ever made (Forever Knight and Count Yorga, Vampires are favorites. She thoroughly enjoys interacting with readers either through email or via her Yahoo web group.