Monday, September 21, 2009
Welcome Author/Editor Deborah Smith!
Missy here. I’m so happy to welcome one of my very favorite authors today, New York Times bestseller Deborah Smith. I’ve known Deb through Georgia Romance Writers and BelleBooks for many years. And before I even met her in person, I was crazy for her books. Do you have one of those authors who makes you weep when you finish her book? Well, I do that after I read Deb’s books. I cry and think, “I’ll never write like this.” I’m talking literally, here. Real tears and feeling sorry for myself. :) A Place to Call Home is one of my all-time favorite stories. And I guess The Crossroads Cafe is a close second. So Deb, welcome! Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed.
--First off, could you tell everyone about your most recent release?
My projects lately have bounced off a lot of different walls. Earlier this summer I published part two of my ebook mini-series, SOLOMON’S SEAL, a contemporary romantic fantasy. I’m writing it in 100-page sections. Next year I hope to write parts three and four. It’s only available at Fictionwise.com.
This month I have a story in the new Mossy Creek novel, our seventh in the series, THE CRITTERS OF MOSSY CREEK. I write the part of the sexy Mossy Creek mayor, Ida Walker, who has a blossoming romance with her much-younger police chief, Amos Royden. If you’ve never read a Mossy Creek book just think of Mayberry only a little racier.
In October I’ll publish a very dark, bloody urban fantasy novel, SOUL CATCHER, under a pen name, Leigh Bridger. This is not a book my regular readers may like, thus, the pen name. I had great fun playing on the dark side with this novel, and hope to write a sequel.
--And what do you have in the works right now?
I spend most of my time as an editor and publisher for my small press, with my writing often taking a back seat. But I’m planning a novella for this winter, THE TOMATO MOONS OF MORNING GLORY, which we’ll publish in a duet with Sarah Addison Allen’s Novella, CLEMENTINE. And I hope to publish the first book in a big southern trilogy, KITCHEN CHARMS, next year.
--For our readers who may not be familiar with BelleBooks, could you tell us a brief history of the company?
About ten years ago I started a small publishing company with several of my friends, who are also veteran romance and women’s fiction authors: Sandra Chastain, Debra Dixon, Martha Crockett and Nancy Knight. BelleBooks was, at first, a hobby, but now it’s taken on a life of its own and birthed a new division, Bell Bridge Books, to publish a variety of different genres. We’ve published more than a dozen books this year and will probably publish more than 20 next year.
--I was thrilled to make my very first sale to BelleBooks for Blessings of Mossy Creek! Can you tell us about the newest Mossy Creek and Sweet Tea books?
Book 7, The Critters of Mossy Creek, is, no surprise, about people and their pets. We continue all the main plotlines with romances, births, deaths, weddings, etc. We’re also launching a spin-off mystery series this fall, THE MERRY ABBOT CARRIAGE-DRIVING MYSTERIES, by veteran author Carolyn McSparren. Carolyn owns and trains carriage horses, so she’s using that world as the background for the series, about a horse trainer who solves murders in the carriage-driving world.
We’ve published three collections in the Sweet Tea series, which is a cozy anthology group of Southern short stories. We don’t yet have a fourth book on the schedule, but we may do that next year.
--Could you fill us in on the fairly new Bell Bridge Books?
A quick list: PRIMITIVE, a thriller, by former NBC newsman Mark Nykanen, Ocbober; CART BEFORE THE CORPSE, a Merry Abbot Mystery, Carolyn McSparren, October; THE GREENWOOD LEGACY, a Civil War historical, Jacquelyn Cook, September; THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF OCIEE NASH, Milam McGraw Propst, Children’s Historical Novel, September; DEAD PAN, a Daphne Martin Cake Decorating Mystery, November; A HOME FOR CHRISTMAS, sweet romance, Deborah Grace Staley, November; HUMMINGBIRD RIDGE, mom-lit, Margaret Nava, December; and in winter 2010: THE LITTLE KNOWN, by Pulitizer nominee Janice Daugharty, literary southern fiction.
--For writers considering submitting to you, what type stories are you looking for? Any insider tips for our readers?
We are actively seeking young adult fiction of all kinds and levels, including fantasy; also adult fantasy, mystery, suspense and “Others.” However, we’ve scaled back our search for the more gentle Southern fiction for now. While we aren’t actively seeking inspirational fiction, we don’t exclude it. Simply put, the marketing of inspirational fiction is difficult for publishers who don’t specialize in that type of book.
The biggest things that set an author apart are: a fresh plot, and a strong, compelling voice. Also, in today’s world it’s increasingly important for the author to have some knowledge of online promotions: websites, blogs, social sites like Twitter and Facebook, etc. A small press depends heavily on authors to help build a community of readers; so we give extra Brownie points to a query that includes the author’s marketing plan.
--What are some of the upcoming BelleBooks/Bell Bridge releases you’re most excited about?
PRIMITIVE is a huge book for us. We’ve sent out nearly 200 advance reading copies including to VIPs in the political and media world. Mark Nykanen is a fascinating author whose work for NBC back in the 1980’s produced the very acclaimed documentary exposing child sex rings: THE SILENT SHAME.
We’re also very excited about CART BEFORE THE CORPSE. Initial orders from the booksellers have been strong. And I, of course, as an author, am hoping to get a foothold in the urban fantasy world with SOUL CATCHER.
--Anything else you’d like to tell us?
We have more than 60 excerpts posted on Scribd.com (search Bell Bridge Books) and dozens of book trailers on YouTube (our channel is “BelleBooks and Bell Bridge Books.”)
We’ve learned to make our own book trailers, and we also design all our covers.
Thanks for inviting me!
Deb, thanks so much for joining us! Deb has generously offered to hang around and answer questions as well as give away a dozen books today. I’ll choose winners tomorrow from among those who leave comments WITH THEIR CONTACT INFO.
Please visit Deb and BelleBooks at
Deborah Smith is the New York Times bestselling author of A Place to Call Home, Sweet Hush, The Crossroads Cafe, A Gentle Rain and other acclaimed romantic novels portraying life and love in the modern Appalachian South. A native Georgian, Deborah is a former newspaper editor who turned to novel-writing with great success.
With more than 35 romance, women's fiction and fantasy novels to her credit, Deborah's books have sold over 3 million copies worldwide. Among her honors is a Lifetime Achievement Award from Romantic Times Magazine and a nomination for the prestigious Townsend Literary Award. In 2003 Disney optioned Sweet Hush for film. In 2008 A Gentle Rain was a finalist in Romance Writers of America's RITA awards.
She lives on a secluded dirt road high in the mountains of north Georgia with Hank, her husband of many years, plus a herd of deer, a flock of turkeys, numerous well-fed raccoons, possums and the occasional bear, also eight cats, a dog and more than one-hundred pond-raised goldfish.