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Ruby Tuesday – Heather McCollum!

Hi, everyone! I got the pleasure this month of interview Heather McCollum for our Ruby Tuesday feature! I’ve known Heather for a while, of course (since we both became Rubies in 2009 ), so I’m excited to highlight her and her latest book, THE HIGHLAND OUTLAW! Take it away, Heather . . .

I am Heather McCollum, writer of 16th and 17th brawny Highlander romance full of adventure and intrigue, sprinkled with humor, history, and spice. THE HIGHLAND OUTLAW is my 21st book, and it released on October 21st! I love coincidences!

I am also a mom of three kids (ages 12, 18, 20), dog-mom of one rescued golden retriever, sugar-glider-mom of two marsupials, guinea-pig mom of a geriatric cavy, and wife to one 6 foot 4 inch Highlander. When I’m not trying to help my kids navigate the world, trying to bake things from The Great British Baking Show, or writing, I’m usually educating women on ovarian cancer (I’m an eight-year survivor). I love dragonflies, crisp fall weather, chai lattes, and warm blankets fresh from the dryer.

I love all those things, too! Well, not the chai lattes. But yes to everything else! Tell us about your book, Heather.

THE HIGHLAND OUTLAW: Book Four of the Campbells series is set in 17th century Scotland. The books in the series can be read as standalone adventures, but I recommend reading them in order for secondary character introduction.

THE HIGHLAND OUTLAW is about an exiled Highland chief, a feisty lass, and a very important baby, which they need to keep alive.

Oooohhhh….Exiled highland chief—yes, please. Feisty lass? Of course! Lol. And an important baby? I want to know more! But first, when we originally talked about this interview, you told me that THE HIGHLAD OUTLAW is the last book in your Campbell series, correct? Do you find wrapping up a series to be more difficult or easier than writing the first three? Or is there any difference?

Definitely harder, because I want to make sure I wrap up any threads from previous books in the series. I must also give readers a sense that all the characters throughout the four books, including the other heroes and heroines, are set up to live their own happily-ever-afters. To do this, I end up mentioning characters who may not necessarily be in that last book. There is a fine balance between giving readers who have read the other books in the series that satisfaction and confusing readers who haven’t read the earlier books with unknown characters.

That totally make sense. As a reader first, I’d totally want ALL of that. (Of course, I’d likely have read the first three books and would be salivating for catching up with everyone!) But also as a reader, I’d be wondering if this was it or if I could possibly get the chance to find out more. Do you get that from readers very often? Do you find that they like/want spin-off series, and are you considering doing any for this one?

I love spin-off series myself as a reader because it gives me a glimpse into the continuing lives of characters who I have already grown to love. So I try to find possible bridges and connections in my own writing for future series.

My next series, THE SONS OF SINCLAIR, is a prequel spin off of THE HIGHLAND OUTLAW (The Cambells series). Shaw Sinclair, the hero in my latest book, is the descendent of the might Sinclairs of Girnigoe Castle in the northern-most point of Scotland. In my latest book, the Sinclairs are exiled and trying to win back their castle and territory. My next series takes place over a century earlier when the Sinclairs were the most powerful clan in the Highlands. Although this next series won’t give glimpses of characters in THE HIGHLAND OUTLAW since they aren’t born yet, it gives the history that explains some of the details and character motivations within THE HIGHLAND OUTLAW.

That sounds really interesting. I’ll bet you’re excited to write that series, too. (I would be!) What about marketing those two series together when the time comes? Any helpful hints for doing that?

Marketing series that are tied together requires some thought. For those readers who have followed your books, a new series that has some tie to the last one, will make them snap up the new series when it comes out. However, if you only promote the new series as a spin off, new-to-you readers will hesitate on picking spin off up if they think they must read the first series before starting the new one. This is where separate mailing list audiences can come in handy. By tagging some readers on your mailing list as long-time followers of your work, you can send a newsletter to them advertising the new series as a spin off. Then promote your new series to the general world without a link. Perhaps mention the link in interviews but be careful about putting the link forefront in ads or new readers may skip over it.

That’s brilliant, Heather. I’m really just getting into working with my newsletter in fine detail like that, and that’s not something I’ve thought about at all. Thank you so much for the info! And now, I have one last question. How do you make sure your readers are dying to read about the other characters coming up in the next series? What types of things do you do to set that up?

At the end of THE HIGHLAND OUTLAW, I write about the history of the Sinclair clan and their amazing castle. I make sure to mention the next series coming up and how it is linked to the previous series. I will also mention it whenever I talk about this last Campbells book. Basically, I will advertise the link to those readers interested in The Campbells series, but not necessarily to those readers who might pick up my first SONS OF SINCLAIR book as their introduction to my writing. It really boils down to learning about your audiences. One type of promotion doesn’t fit every situation. A spin-off series is wonderful for loyal readers but can be a turn-off for new readers. Finding the balance is essential to using the series spin-off to your advantage.

So many things in life are about balance, right? lol. But I totally get it! And also, I think the way you set up the details about the prequel series is fantastic. I’m sure those loyal readers will snap up that series. Thank you so much for talking series with us today, Heather. I’ve written my fair share, but I’ve yet to link anything together like what you’re doing. I think that’s very smart!

So, fabulous Ruby Readers . . . what else do you want to know about writing series? Or maybe about tying two series together? We’re here today to chat about just that, so please, bring us your questions and hopefully we’ll all learn together!

Find Heather here:

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Shaw Sinclair, chief of the outcast clan of Sinclairs of Caithness in northern Scotland, has made a deal with the devil. Despite his strength and lethal skills, he needs help — specifically from a woman — to accomplish his mission to bring a bairn to safety to the coast. When he meets the brave and beautiful Alana Campbell at a Samhain Festival, he decides she’s the one.

Alana Campbell is ready to show the world she’s just as skillful with a sgian dubh as any man. Attracting the attention of the brawny chief who coerces her to join him on his journey to the coast of Scotland gives her that very opportunity. Sparks flash between them as they’re forced to act as husband and wife to accomplish the deadly mission. However, when secrets threaten to tear them apart, they have to decide if their differences outweigh the reality of their feelings…

Buy it here!

 

 

9 responses to “Ruby Tuesday – Heather McCollum!”

  1. Lydia Stevens says:

    That sounds like such a fun book! Nice interview!

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  2. Jennifer Bray-Weber says:

    Great interviews, ladies! I envy you, Heather, and your newsletter savvy. One day, I’ll need to implement your strategy.

    The Highland Outlaw sounds like a fun romp! I’ll be adding it to my TBR pile for sure!

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    • Thank you, Jenn!
      Well… I wouldn’t say I’m newsletter savvy, but I’m starting to play with the tag system for audiences. By nature, I have a real hard time selling myself. So newsletters are an area I’m trying to improve : )

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  3. Great interview! I love your covers and this story sounds like it was fun to write and will be to read. CONGRATS!

    Like Jenn, I wish I had your promo savvy. I love catching your Thursday Tea time.

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    • Thanks Autumn!
      Unfortunately I’ve decided to stop doing my weekly tea times. The ROI was pretty low. So I will be moving to once a month tea parties (I hope). Because I love “getting fancy” every once in awhile : )

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  4. Liz Talley says:

    Awesome interview! I really love historical Scottish romance and it’s been so long since I’ve read it. Been caught up reading contemporary stuff for so long. Now I’m itching to read some.

    So, Heather, which one would you suggest a new reader start with (even though I read some of your early stuff)?

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    • Heather McCollum says:

      Awww, thanks Liz! The Highland Isles series is so fun. It starts with The Beast of Aros Castle and deals with hidden identity where the heroine and her best friend switch places and trick a Highland chief.

      But my latest series is The Campbell series, which starts with The Scottish Rogue. It has two sisters going into Scotland to start a school for women. They quickly find out that the women need to learn self defense and employ the Highland chief (from whom they stole his castle with royal backing) to teach it.

      Both are so much fun and a bit spicy

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  5. Loved the interview and your Highlanders. Didn’t realize this made 21 books, Heather. Big congrats!

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