The M3 Coffee Shoppe was just opening for the morning, and Claret said there were three horses tied to the crepe myrtles at the sidewalk. Red knew exactly what to grab. She scalded some milk for a dark roast and snagged a tray of mantecadas with mango and star fruit slices. It was time for breakfast with RLB Hartmann. Red was counting saddlebags as she crossed the café floor.
M3: The Wombies and I know a bit about you, so introduce yourself to the M3 Readers.
RLBH: I was once Associate Editor of the online “AB Bookman’s Weekly”, a print magazine about scholarly and out-of-print books. Currently serve as reader and devotee at Wombania. Chief interests besides writing are: my spouse, reading, and painting Mexican scenes. Favorite music includes Ray Lynch, Kitaro, Enya, and meditative New Age.
M3: Claret says Twink only has good things to say about you. Do you have anyone to show gratitude?
RLBH: I have EVERYone to thank. Parents and husband, relatives and friends, kind strangers who still read, and generous photographers and composers who are making it possible to create covers and videos.
M3: We do swim in a rather large talent pool. Where did you start swimming?
RLBH: Where… On the bottom, I suppose, as I knew nothing beyond the fact that, while I must write, I wasn’t going to let my well-meaning parents pay anyone to print copies of neophyte novels to sit crated in our basement.
M3: I believe we should all be telling new authors precisely that not to do. In that same vein, what advice do you have for the newbie author looking to put out the first book?
RLBH: Write from the heart. Rewrite with your head. Grow and learn about life, structure and language usage, and keep notes. Market as though there is no tomorrow.
M3: Excellent mix, RLB. Let’s talk about the Corderos. With your unique setting, did the genre pick you?
RLBH: Elswyth Thane Beebe hooked me with her Williamsburg novels while I was in high school, so when my Corderos became a clan, it was natural to strive for historical accuracy and scope.
M3: Besides its time and place, what makes Tierra del Oro different from the hosts of others on the market?
RLBH: I don’t know of any other 9-book continuing novel featuring middle-class Mexicans, set in Mexico from the Apache wars until General Obregón comes to power in 1920. The Cordero saga follows four generations of a family in peace and war, and was extensively researched though I never let historical details detract from the fictional characters and their stories.
M3: No, you do not because it is easy to feel like I am sitting in front of the cantiñero with a tequila. To put in the work for nine books, this has to be close to your heart.
RLBH: Tierra del Oro began a very long time ago, so I’ve had time to learn not only about the characters and their world, but the culture of a people I’ve come to respect.
M3: Some of your characters are so very endearing. Where do you find time write so prolifically?
RLBH: I found most of the time during a 6-year period when my husband had a “real” job, and I was undistracted from morning till evening. Before and after that, I gave up other pleasures like travel, TV, reading, and painting (not to mention housekeeping) in order to finish what I’d started.
M3: I am pretty certain all authors would give up chores to have a book in print. Do you have a day job which interferes with your writing?
RLBH: I had a day job which had its ups and downs. While there were many rewards (not monetary, unfortunately), I’m extremely happy to have left it behind.
M3: So, has economy changed anything for you?
M3: Let’s talk industry. Any grievance with publishing on the whole?
RLBH: I rejoice that the industry has changed enough to allow me freedom to make the novels more or less the way I want them. I just wish it had happened 10 years ago.
M3: Standing right beside you for that one. Do you think the rein on creative license is the traditional industry differentiating itself from self-published works it sees as inferior?
RLBH: In the recent past, many traditionalists saw self-produced material as inferior because much of it was, and is. But as the quality of such work improves, so will its reputation.
M3: The sales numbers will help that progress along. You have been both routes. Have you scored any triumphs over the traditional industry?
RLBH: Living long enough to forget about going the traditional route.
M3: It really is nice to be your own boss. The distinction puts you alongside a diverse group. How do you feel about your colleagues?
RLBH: I respect my colleagues for their bravery, perseverance, and accomplishments.
M3: Another facet to your business is marketing Tierra del Oro. How important is your personal social media marketing?
RLBH: Marketing my work myself is an integral part of the process, and I enjoy meeting new readers and making my own graphics.
M3: You put a lot of excellent effort into your cover art and trailers. What do you have in the works?
RLBH: I plan to publish a few other books already written but not in the saga.
M3: Diversity. I like it. You are not mentioning a break. No hiatus for you?
RLBH: I’ve steadily written one thing and another for most of my life. When the series ends in December this year, I will refocus my time toward painting.
M3: I can call you a name I am often called: Driven. What is there you like to keep on the sly?
RLBH: How long it took me to get where I am.
M3: Let’s gloss right over that in favor of one of my favorite parts of the interview. Put on your agent sombrero and tell the M3 Readers in 15 words or less why Tierra del Oro is for them.
RLBH: The Corderos face universal conflicts, in a Mexico that today’s readers can never experience firsthand.
M3: Time travel in a way most never consider. Looking forward to seeing you again when #9 hits the stands.
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Dearest M3 Readers,
Take some time to get to know RLB Hartmann by visiting her website and grabbing a copy of the first seven books of the Tierra del Oro series, the Cordero Saga. You can connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Enter to win a copy of Forty Grains of Black Powder everyday between now and Tuesday.
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