Monday, June 29, 2015

Loud Lady of the Month :: Interview with Shannon Bradford, Erotic Romance Writer

1. Please start by telling us a little bit about yourself, your blog and your businesses!

My name is Shannon, I’m an Ohio girl who’s been living abroad for the past couple years throughout various countries in South America. I work for a non-profit by day, and blog/write furiously in the night hours. I blog for the fun of it at The Astromaid Chronicles, and the business side of my writing is found under my pen name, where I write all things romance!

2. Can you tell us what your favorite things are about your part of the world, and what we can expect if we visit you someday?

I’ll have to cheat and give two answers for this. I was living in Peru most recently for just about a year, and half of that time was spent in the Sacred Valley. It was one of the most magical and captivating places I’ve seen in the whole world, a true high-altitude heaven with landscapes so intensely gorgeous that looking at them felt surreal.

Visiting any part of Peru is magical, but in the Sacred Valley you can expect lots of Incan ruins, alpaca burgers (a nice, lean meat!), and lots of beautifully-colored CORN. I left Peru in May, though, and my current location is Ohio (where I’ll be for a bit longer!). So if you come visit me here, you can expect plenty of Midwest frivolity, and maybe even a Booze Cruise to Kelley’s Island. And, you know, we can go check out the garden I dug at my dad’s house.

3. As a sexy romance writer, do you have any tips for bloggers? What are your fave writing tools and tricks?

Sometimes I think that blogging for genre fiction and blogging for the non-fiction world are two separate beasts. In the romance world, the main feature is the final product: the novel. The blog is a critical tool to connect with established readers in terms of updates and general goings-on, but it’s also a way to find new readers via content. In the regular blogging world, the blog is your only content—or perhaps it’s the main draw in addition to informational eBooks that might be available on the side. So the function of the blog differs a bit between the two worlds.

Though the audience differs and some of the rules change, they’re not actually all that different. At the end of the day, the only “trick”, which is less of a trick and more of just an organic approach, is to connect with your readers. I try to do this via my novels and then via my romance blog, the same way I try to do this on my for-fun blog. If nobody’s emotionally engaging on some level, there is no interest and there are no readers. It’s as simple as that. Write content that comes from your heart—whether it be novels or blog posts—and the rest will take care of itself. It’s intuitive, but easy to overlook or even forget. For me, it’s a work in progress.

4. What are your other hobbies and passions outside of blogging?

Besides blogging and writing my face off, I also practice Ashtanga yoga anywhere from 3 to 5 times per week. I love to garden, and my partner and I love red wine, so we try to go to tastings or host fun dinners for old and new friends. And, of course, traveling! I’ve been to 25 countries, and my To-Travel list just seems to get longer and longer. I’d like to visit the American West sometime soon…and plan a winter trip to Switzerland…and also go back to India for 3 months or more…ahh, I want to do all the trips!

5. What are your future plans in business and in life?

As for my blogging and writing, I’d like to see those areas continue to grow…all the way to best-seller status! When I receive my first unsolicited piece of fan mail on a book I’ve written, I’ll be able to die happy. Outside of the writing arena, I have a lot of ideas circulating, but most lack financial investment. My partner and I want to open a hostel in Central America within the next couple years, and I’d like to purchase some property in my hometown to then develop into a vacation rental. We also throw around some pretty grand business ideas…like starting a vineyard in Argentina. Who knows what we’ll get into?

6. What's your favorite thing about the internet world? What's your biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge with being an author (particularly romance) is the amount of saturation in the market. I feel this in the blogging world to some extent, but it’s nothing compared to trying to launch a brand new author platform in an arena that is literally inundated with authors of all stripes trying to be heard. It makes starting out a real challenge—it’s not uncommon for first-time authors to get discouraged and abandon their craft. Social media tends to get bombarded with people hawking books relentlessly; mostly free or rock-bottom prices in an effort to attract attention, which is a difficult task in the crowded sea of genre romance. When I first started publishing romance novels, it was a big turn-off. It just seemed like a lot of people screaming at the top of their lungs to be heard, without realizing the entire audience was deaf.

Despite this, what I love about the internet is that it’s still possible to find your tribe. I remember using the internet back in the day when I could go into whatever chatroom on AOL and find a new best friend in the course of the evening. I would never go into a chat room these days, but finding your people is still possible, and that’s something I really cherish. I fucking love the internet, I’m not gonna lie. It’s a double-edged sword though, at times.

7. What's your personal philosophy or belief system?

Great question! I’ll have to answer this more in depth when we finally meet, over a glass of red wine…but in summation, I think that it’s up to us to make what we want out of life. Our attitudes, thoughts, and energy form a startling amount of our reality. We can truly achieve what we want, but this requires a brutal (yet compassionate) honesty with ourselves about what we’re willing to do in order to achieve these things. Priorities help shape your life, and whatever they are, it’s okay—there’s no rigid “right way” to do this existence thing. We’re not victims of our lives, but rather the creators. We are all so powerful!

8. What do you love most about being part of the Loud Ladies community?

All the other inspiring women! I love the wide variety of blogs and businesses that each lady brings to the table. It’s a constant inspiration, and a much-needed frequent reminder that I can take my own plans higher and higher. Plus, I have a network and support system—quite a talented group of ladies, I must say!

9. What's the most important lesson you've ever learned in life?

This goes hand in hand with #7. “Change your thoughts, change your life.” When these words found me—when I was really able to get the meaning of them—my life changed immediately.

10. What song do we all need to listen to... right now!?

“Gracias a la vida” by Mercedes Sosa. This is a chillingly beautiful song, where the singer talks about all the things she’s thankful for in life—from her eyeballs all the way down to her feet. If you don’t speak Spanish, look up the translation after you’ve listened to it. Daily gratitude is a must—sometimes I’ll start my day with this song!

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