Writers Spotlight: RLB Hartmann

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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?

RLBH: Since the economy is hurting everyone, I can’t stock up a table full of books for a book signing.

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 SagaYou can connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Enter to win a copy of Forty Grains of Black Powder everyday between now and Tuesday.

When you tweet and +1 this post, please use the hashtags #WW, #giveaways and #authors.

Thank you for your continued support of the authors of the M3 Coffee Shoppe. You can find out more about all the authors in the Coffee Shoppe.

Red.

(c) Red Dwyer 2012
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42 Comments

  1. I think I might know this person. . .

    I’m currently half-way though reading the Tierra del Oro saga and can say that it’s a very compelling story with characters so real they have lives of their own.
    Binky recently posted..Yoga AgonyMy Profile

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  2. This sounds like a very fascinating series, and a wonderful interview, too. I am always interested in different cultures in a historical context like this. The characters also sound so well-developed and real. Hats off to you, RLB Hartman!
    Gail Thornton recently posted..The Girl in the Iron Lung3My Profile

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  3. Not much written about historical Mexicans, unless they’re the bad guys (gals). Will tweet this for you. Great interview, probing questions. I learned something about this author.

    Reply
  4. Another fascinating interview my great friend, actually I don’t think that I have ever ventured onto R L B Hartmann’s Space before but I certainly shall take a look after reading this posting, to be honest I am still not in favour of Indie writers and self publishing as in my way of thinking it is still of the vanity press era but I can see that the market place is changing all the time now and that some authors are becoming increasingly more recognised through this medium, but as for being truly successful I am still not convinced.

    Don’t get me wrong here though as I am not meaning to be unconstructive or discourteous, but when one has taken time in the writing of a manuscript one must realise that it can be lost in an instance through self publishing, indeed it can crash and burn on its first outing and once it is out there it cannot be used again.

    I know that with traditional publishing it can take many years before being justly accepted, sometimes a writer is never acknowledged and unfortunately this is how it has been for years, but then one thinks that cutting corners and self publishing their own work will perhaps offer an alternative, maybe even reach the right audience and become successful almost straight away, which is a really breathtaking thought but this is not the case for most, not from what I have seen anyway.

    Of course it makes no difference what I think, as the world of publishing is changing all the time and evolution is a wonderful thing, let us hope that Indie writing and self publishing is the way forwards and that success is accessible for all writers, and in truth there is a wealth of talent yet to be realised.

    Good luck with all of your writing R L B Hartmann and thank you for offering such a delightful interview with Red of M3 it has been very interesting…

    Androgoth

    Reply
    • Certainly there is a problem of quality with a lot of what is being self-published and it would be great if there were some way of distinguishing the works that are amateurish from the books that simply didn’t find a traditional publisher. Some people just don’t want to go through that hassle, and now they don’t have to. With a master’s degree in English, and having been an English teacher, RLB’s books are very well written and in my opinion better than a lot of what is commercially published these days.

      Some mainstream published authors have even been moonlighting with POD books these days, and some have had quite a lot of success it seems. Marketing is a major challenge for most authors, and a difficult thing to do successfuly.
      Binky recently posted..Yoga AgonyMy Profile

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      • I agree that there are a high yield of exceptionally written manuscripts in the mix of Indie writers and that marketing is definitely a must when pushing one’s own work, indeed I have no doubts that some writers are of a very high calibre, these are the ones that I feel most sorry for when a sense of failure looms and all other avenues have been exhausted, this is when the option of self publishing is considered, which can be a minefield to say the very least.

        There are a lot of talented writers out there that should have been published via traditional means but a lot of the time it is judged on just an editors preference, often not even the publishing editor will even read the work and yet a book that is excellently portrayed can be deemed unacceptable, which is a ludicrous way of distinguishing the good against the truly horrible.

        Thank you for replying to me on this one Binky and I will be looking at R L B Hartmann’s Space soon my great friend…

        Androgoth

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      • Thanks for the kind words and vote of confidence, Binky!

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    • Androgoth, you raise some valid points, and I appreciate your interest. If you care to pursue some of them, I’d find the exchange welcome. BTW, I’m not a confrontational person, so don’t hesitate.

      Reply
      • My contribution to this interview is a constructive one however while the subject of self publishing arises and success or failure being a legitimate point in reference to all Indie authors I thought that I would mention it, though my intention was not aimed at you personally; indeed I am writing this down as a general observation and nothing more. Whether seen as confrontational or not I would still have written it exactly as is and so I have nothing further to add in respect of this train of thought my friend.

        I mentioned that I would take a look at your Space and I did venture there but I could not find anywhere to comment on your posts, so instead of sending you an e mail I have chosen to call back here to add my thoughts instead, to be truthful I don’t know much about authentic western life apart from what I have seen depicted in films and documentaries but your books do seem to offer a real life glimpse into a fascinating era and I am sure that there are many exciting sequences to be revealed through each series, and of course I certainly wish you very well in the advertising and promotion of your books.

        Have a wonderful rest of evening 🙂

        Androgoth

        Reply
    • There are a vast number of books which slip into obscurity. While many point to marketing as the downfall, in fact it is the connection to the bookstores which is the difference.

      I have recently been reading of those who began in the traditional industry and migrated to self-publishing. All of their complaints have a similar thread…the complete lack of story line control. I find it a very split group. Some stories need the editorial tightening to close gaps. There are others, truly most who have shared their stories, whose stories fell not to editorial improvement but instead to story modification to meet a publishing homogeneity. Which begs the question…

      When was the last time you went into a bookstore and exclaimed, “OMG! The new Harlequin book is out! I absolutely MUST have it!”?

      Food for thought, my friend. 😉

      Reply
      • While I am somewhat of the old school of thinking when regarding book publishing I do not exclude any medium or vehicle in which to promote an authors incredibly hard work in creating a manuscript, and at the present time there is a big shift happening out there and without a doubt I would welcome the opportunity of every author having an equal chance of success regardless of how a book is published.

        With modern technology traditional books are seemingly becoming unpopular in some instances, even here in the United Kingdom libraries are being closed and the younger generation seem to be edging towards mediums such as Kindle, e books and other electronic readers and as these develop further I can see a true opening for self publishing but with such a vast array of books being written for this market it seems to me that a lot of exceptional writers’ books will be lost in the process or simply not generate the true worth of same without the support of a mainstream and long established publishing house.

        This has been a wonderful interface for your reader-base to interconnect but I think that once again I could quite easily spin off on another tangent here, but then again I guess that this type of debate is useful and as we are all adding to the general theme of things then this becomes a valuable interaction.

        Okay I am out of here Red 🙂
        Have a lovely evening and… you know? 😉

        Androgoth xxx

        Reply
        • It does. And this conversation has hastened a post I was going to withhold until after the first year of interviews. I believe all of the M3 Readers have come to a place where they are engaging the debate of self-published versus traditional publishing. With the launch of Redmund, and it unconventional approach to traditional publishing, I believe the time has come.

          Thank you for all your thoughtful input, as it is a rather underrepresented viewpoint. With the predominant populace of the writers haunting M3 being in two entirely different camps (bloggers vs. authors) and the lines being rather distinct between the two, it is refreshing for someone to remind us all of the clear alternative to merely having two views of the subject.

          🙂

          Reply
  5. Interesting. I will check this one out.
    Angela Young recently posted..Loving perfectlyMy Profile

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    • Angela, and others in the thread, be sure to register in Red’s drawing for the free copy of Forty Grains of Black Powder.

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  6. Great interview and it sounds like a compelling series. Thanks for spotlighting good reading, Red.
    Barb recently posted..How to Escape a Jaw FlapperMy Profile

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    • Hi, Barb! I just read your Sept 20 blog post and loved it. Reminded me of meeting someone I hadn’t seen in years in a local grocery store, and how bored my poor husband was, listening to us catch up on our news.

      Reply
      • I think you would really enjoy her Two Pan series. She has a book in the making I am so very jealous she has promised to another publisher 😉 Barb has a great story.

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    • You are welcome, Barb. You and she have a historical penchant in common. I think you would enjoy this series, and I am certain she will love Two Pan. <3 So very good to see you today. xxx

      Reply
  7. Excellent interview as always, Red! I don’t believe I have ever had the pleasure of meeting RLBH before this interview, and will have to take the time to view her space. She likes to paint, so you know I’m interested in that as well.

    Nice to meet you RLBH!

    Have a great day, Red!
    ♥ xxx

    Reply
    • Painting is definitely one of my loves, and I look forward to getting to know you and your work. What medium/a do you use, or prefer? Subjects?

      Reply
    • Deb, I answered my own question by visiting your lovely website, and must say I’m envious of your watercolors! It’s what I aspire to.

      Reply
  8. I am so impressed with this interview, Red! It seems RLB works non-stop as you do!
    RLB– I’m always envious of anyone dedicated enough to do a systematic progression, a trilogy or a longer series of books.
    I agree with Andro– a tough road when the ‘mainstream industry’ at times won’t even bother to read new authors –leaving ebooks, POD, independent small publishing -other innovative approaches like POD. As usual, publicity and promotion are problematic even IF quality is excellent.
    By the way, RLB, you should know that you have been interviewed by the BEST.
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  9. Maggie31056

     /  September 27, 2012

    The books are worth taking the time to read. RLB Hartmann weaves a captivating story with details so wonderfully described that you actually feel as if you are there looking in the window watching events unfold. If you like westerns, this set of books is for you, and if you don’t like westerns, you owe it to yourself to check this series out! A great read from a great author!

    Reply
    • Maggie, thanks so much for your support! I’m thrilled that you like my work. Book 1 is more “western” than most of the saga, though the entire series is filled with brave men, horses both wild and tame, treasure, war, and love. So far my readership (that I know about) is pretty evenly divided between the sexes.

      Reply
  10. Raymond, no doubt about it, this is a major pleasure being interviewed here and meeting some of Red’s devotees.

    Reply

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