Indie Support Sunday: Harlow James
I’ve talked about it before, but I’ll say it again, because bookstagram is truly the most magical and wonderful place to discover great indie authors. Harlow James had only been recommended to me a million times before I picked up My Unexpected Serenity and loved every minute of it. And since then, I’ve been hooked. I might not have read as many of Harlow’s books as a lot of other people, but I’m working my way through them right now and trust me, you want to do that too!
Like most indie authors, Harlow is a bit of a control freak who likes having the freedom with her schedule. After all, she’s only writing part time while she works the rest of the time and runs a household too! With 13 books under her belt, I feel like Harlow’s just getting started and she’s going to rock our worlds when she’s done.
She’s just released book two of her Ladies Who Brunch series, “No One Else” which is available in Kindle Unlimited right now!
What inspired you to write—was it another author or books you read as you grew up?
Writing a book was always a bucket list item of mine. I always enjoyed writing in school, but creative writing was something I wasn’t confident in. When I discovered romance novels in 2018, I read for almost a year before I started getting the itch to create something of my own, and now my writing brings me so much joy, that it keeps me going back for more.
Why did you choose romance as the genre to write in?
I love that with romance you’re guaranteed the HEA. I loved watching rom-coms growing up. I think I’m a hopeless romantic at heart. And I think love is the one emotion that every human being can relate to. Creating a story of two people finding their person brings deep emotional gratification.
Why did you choose to self-publish instead of going the traditional route?
I’m a control freak. LOL Honestly, I didn’t know much about self-publishing until after I wrote my book. I’ve learned a lot along the way, and now I’m glad that I went that route because it does offer me control and freedom.
What’s the best and worst part about being an indie author?
It is SO much work. You ARE in charge of everything and it’s a lot to balance. But for me, this is a hobby, so I don’t depend on my income to pay my bills, which alleviates some of the stress. However, the best part is connecting with my readers and forming relationships with them on an entirely different level. I think that’s something that being an indie author grants me that I love the most.
Do you write full time or is this something you do on the side? And would you want to write full time?
This is definitely a hobby for me. I’ve never had a creative outlet before, so I love that writing has given that to me. I definitely make time to write though, since it does bring me joy. And people ask me all the time if I would want to do this full time and the answer is no. I think it would take the fun out of it for me, and I don’t want to lose that.
Other than writing, what is something you enjoy and are really good at?
I enjoy puzzles, organizing, and reading, of course.
If not romance/subgenres of romance, what genre would you like to write in?
I honestly don’t see myself writing in another genre. I love love.
What are some of your all time favourite books—ones that you recommend to people or can reread multiple times?
What are your top 5 tips or pieces of advice for aspiring authors?
Write. You have to write. Even when it’s hard, even when you think it sucks. You can’t publish something that isn’t written.
Don’t expect overnight success. Enjoy the journey. I’ve learned so much about myself through this, fought insecurities and challenges that have helped shape me as a person. That is the true success in my opinion, not hitting an Amazon top 100.
Don’t try to do it all. Focus on one social media outlet, one release, or one goal at a time. Then slowly expand on things as you find your footing.
Focus on finding YOUR readers. There are people out there meant for your books.
Have fun! Don’t write something you don’t love. Don’t write to please someone else. Do it for you.
Can you briefly tell me about your book(s)?
I have written 17 books, 13 of which are published. I unpublished my first series because I didn’t feel it was my best work. And honestly, I don’t think I will republish them. I just want to keep them for me to remind me of how far I’ve come.
My books are a blend of heartwarming, addictive, and steamy romance. I use humor, relatable flaws, and fast-paced plots to hook readers, and that’s what my readers say they love about my books. I constantly try to challenge myself to improve with each release too, and I strive to put out unique stories that readers are searching for. Individuality is important to me.
Of your books, who is your favourite character?
This is like asking who my favorite child is. I can’t answer this question. LOL
What inspired your published stories? How and when did you come up with these stories and plots?
So many things inspire my books—details from my past, a video I see online, another story I read, a song, or something a friend goes through. Once an idea pops in my head, I let it simmer and then talk it out with a friend. But my best ideas come up in the shower. LOL I don’t know what it is, but that’s where the magic happens.
How much of yourself do you put into these characters?
A LOT. Every character I write has some detail that comes from me. But Olivia from Tangled is the most like me. She’s a math teacher, her grandma was based on my own, and how she thinks was like taking my mind and putting it on the page.
When you write these stories, what are you hoping your readers will feel?
Everything. I want my readers to feel like they can escape while reading my books, because that’s what reading does for me.
What is a story/stories that you really want to tell?
I have an idea for a book that is pretty emotional, but I need to be in the mind frame to write it. When I write emotionally heavy stuff, it affects me too. So, if and when I get around to it or feel up to it, you might get a pretty heavy book from me in the future. But I don’t want to give too much away.
What’s next on the bookshelf for you? Anything you can tell us about a future project?
The next book from me will be the second book in The Ladies Who Brunch series. My goal is to finish this series before the end of the year, and then I have a standalone idea. But other than that, I know my heart and gut will take me where I’m supposed to go creatively.
What are your most and least favourite tropes?
Favorite is enemies to lovers, hands down. Least is bully romance. I’m not a big dark romance reader, so I tend to stay away from that. And I’m not a huge fan of friends to lovers, unless it’s done well.
What are some tropes you want to write in the future?
I honestly don’t know. If an idea pops up, I’ll let it take me there.
What are some topics (sensitive and otherwise) that you think should exist more in romance?
Well, my Ladies Who Brunch series is addressing some of that—female issues like periods, motherhood, etc. I think we should see more billionaire women as well. That is something I am contemplating writing in the future.
What is your favourite thing about the romance genre?
That there are a million different ways to reach a HEA, and the readers are so passionate about it.
THIS OR THAT
Ebooks or audiobooks
Historical romance or romantic suspense
Single or Dual POV (I prefer Dual, but will read single as long as it’s written in first person. I can’t read third person POV.)
Standalones or series (i love a good binge)
Music or silence while writing (depends if I’m trying to block out noise from my family. If music, no words.)
Plotter, pantser or plantser (I’m becoming more of a planster. I have a plan, an idea of how I want things to go, but then sometimes I let the characters take me there.)
Tea and coffee (Coffee in the morning, tea at night.)
Cold or warm weather
Morning person and night owl (Both, depends on the time of year.)
Illustrated cover or photo cover