The Halo Effect…

The Halo Effect (Mira)I am thrilled to be a participant in today’s Virtual Book Tour for M. J. Rose’s latest book, The Halo Effect. As I mentioned yesterday, this book has been a true page-turner, the kind that you hate to put down because you can’t stand the suspense of what is going to happen next. It is a book that is hard to put in to just one genre: murder, crime drama, erotica, suspense, psychological thriller – all could be used to describe it. No matter what category you try to place it in to, it is simply a fantastic book – I’m looking forward to reading all of her books now! You can read the first chapter of The Halo Effect online.

Please be sure to check out the other sites participating in the Virtual Book Tour to learn more about M. J. Rose and The Halo Effect.

I had the honor of interviewing M.J. about her book, writing, and more. You can interview her too! Leave any questions you might have in the comments or e-mail me (christine AT, and the author of the most interesting question will receive a FREE autographed copy of her new book, The Halo Effect! FREE! Just for asking a question today! (If you prefer to buy your own copy, you can pick it up at Amazon – The Halo Effect.)

Christine: In addition to Halo Effect, you have written several other books. Did you always know you would be a writer?

M.J.: Yes and no. I started off – at six wanting to be a writer – because I was in love with books. But then also feel in love with painting and wanted to be an artist. That passion was the stronger actually and the one that took hold of me.

What I didn’t realize or think about was that at the same time I was always writing.

Meanwhile, I went of to college and studied art and got a BFA and then wound up in advertising. (Painting is not an easy way to pay the rent. Especially in NYC in the 80’s.)

In my early 30’s I started doing ads and TV commercials for a publishing company and after two years of working on that account, sat down to try my own hand at it.

Since then I’ve been obsessed.

Christine: Do you find yourself drawn to the same types of characters when you write? Much like Dr. Snow talks about being drawn to the patients she treats and the “Halo Effect” that you have when you care about someone, do you find yourself feeling the same way about the characters you create?

M.J.: I find myself drawn to characters who overthink their worlds and question everything. And I am fascinated by characters who are obsessed — be it an obsession with a career, a love interest, or a fear.

Christine: Are your books generally series, or not? Do characters and settings appear again in novels, even if they are not part of a series? Is the Halo Effect the beginning of a new series of books? Will it be based on the Butterfield Institute or on Dr. Morgan Snow?

M.J.: Yes, the Halo Effect is the first in a psychological suspense series based on The Butterfield Institute.

And this is the first time I’ve done a series.

Generally my characters and settings do not have a habit of reappearing. Except, in my first novel Lip Service, my main character took a freelance job writing a book with Dr. Sam Butterfield, who had started the Butterfield Institute a sex therapy clinic. The Institute fascinated me and it is now – ten years later – the setting for this new series.

The first three books feature Dr. Morgan Snow. But the plan is that after that I’ll alternate and some of the books will feature other sex therapists who work there as well as doing some on Morgan.

Christine: Your writing is very vivid and realistic in style – do you tend to draw from people that you know in real life when developing traits and story lines?

M.J.: No, hardly ever. Dr. Nina Butterfield, in the Halo Effect is one of the few characters I’ve ever written who is slightly based on someone I know.

Christine: In reading about you on your website, I discovered that you took on the publishing industry when you self-published your first novel, Lip Service, in 1998. What was that like for you?

M.J.: I got an agent right away – as soon as I started looking – in 1994, Loretta Barrett. She was very enthusiastic about my first novel, sent it out and got back 12 enthusiastic rave rejections.

Editors loved the book, but the marketing depts. didn’t know what to do with it. (I tend to cross too many genres when I write.) So Loretta suggested I write a second novel. She was sure she’d sell that one after those raves. But since I write what I write we had the same problem. Rave rejections – editors who wanted to buy the book, marketing depts who didn’t know what to do with it.

At that point I was beyond frustrated. I knew about marketing and adverting. And I was sure these people at these publishing companies were wrong. I’d seen the kind of marketing they thought was marketing. To me the industry had never embraced creative sell. (And for the most part – they still haven’t.)

So as an experiment, the goal of which was to prove a certain kind of marketing would work, I self published Lip Service and went on line to sell it.

I had no idea that I would be a the forefront of electronic publishing, I was just trying to test my own theories about marketing fiction.

But what happened was quite different and certainly a whole lot of fun.

The buzz on the book built due to my exhausting marketing efforts and early in 1999 the Doubleday Book Club and The Literary Guild bought the rights, from me to offer the book as a featured alternate selection in their clubs.

It was two firsts. The first time they’d bought a self published novel. And the first time they’d bought a book that started its life as an electronic book. That made a little bit of news, and after five years, Loretta was able to sell Lip Service to a traditional New York publishing house.

Christine: People often think of the life of an author as being very glamorous. That isn’t the reality though, is it? What does it take between writing, publishing and promoting a book?

M.J.: Ha! Glamorous! Right. Well, it can be if you are a bestseller. I’ve met those authors and some of them do reek of glamour. But my life is mostly sitting infront of my laptop writing. Five hours a day. Six days a week. The other hours get split, in my case with a lot of hours sitting infront of my laptop communicating with readers online, creating grass roots marketing campaigns for my
books, teaching other authors how to do it and reading other people’s books. (Writers who don’t read, don’t get published.)

In between all that I go to the gym, walk the dog, take care of our little house, cook a few meals. I go into New York City, my home town, once a week to take in art galleries or museum exhibitions because they feed my soul, meet with friends and family and occasionally go berserk in the shoe department of
Bergdorf Goodman.

I take a two week vacation every year and go on a half dozen two or three day trips on behalf of the book – to conferences & book festivals. And with some books I do a small book tour.

Christine: You have met many wonderful people through the interviews you have done for your books. Do you have any stories you would like to share?

M.J.: When I look back on the five years of reporting I’ve done I think the overwhelming thing is how wonderful writers are. Of the people I now consider my closest friends, four of them I met because I wrote about them. And I do have a lot of stories but they are all off the record.

Christine: Who are some of your favorite authors?

Possession: A Romance – A.S. Byatt
Damage – Josephine Hart
When Nietzsche Wept – Irvin Yalom
Perfume: The Story of a Muderer – Patrick Susskind
Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
Diana of the Crossways – George Meredith
The Lockwood Concern – John O’Hara
The Art of Fiction – John Gardner
The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand
The Great Gatsby- F. Scott Fitzgerald
Portrait of Jenny – Robert Nathan
Georgia O’Keeffe – Roxana Robinson
The Life of Camille Claudel by Odile Ayral-Clause
The Music Lesson – Katharine Weber
Tulip Fever – Deborah Moggach
The Gravity of Angels – Jane Hirshfield
Selected Poems of Pablo Neruda
The Complete Poems of Cavafy
The Awakening – Kate Chopin
The Eight – Katherine Neville
The Birth of Venus – Sarah Dunant
Confessions of a Shopaholic – Sophie Kinsella

Right now on my TBR list pile is:
Strange but True – John Searles
Queen of the Big TIme – Adriana Trigiani
Killer Smile – Lisa Scottoline

Christine: You offer online classes for writers, Buzz your Book and How to Procrastinate your way into Writing a Novel. From those classes, have you helped to discover any new talents that are making their way in to the publishing world?

M.J.: Yes, and I’m trilled. One of my authors got a three book deal – the first of
which will be published next year. In my marketing class, I’ve helped one author get a movie deal – through a promo that brought a ton of attention to her book.

I teach six sessions a year – the next start in September, so sign up now – they get filled fast.

Christine: I also noted that you have a novel planned that takes place partially in Paris. I just visited Paris myself at the beginning of June. What are some of your favorite places to visit when you are in the city?

M.J.: I love Paris. Every street. Every park. Every museum. Almost every cafe. But here are some favorites that I go back to over and over again:

Walking through the Luxembourg gardens. Having hot chocolate at Angelique’s. Going to see the impressionists at the Musee D’Orsay and the Monets at L’Orangerie. Dinner at Voltaire. People watching from a table outside at Cafe Flores. Going to a concert at ST. Chapelle. Meandering in and out of stores on the Left Bank. Going to Hermes on the Right Bank – even if it is just to look. Drinks at The Ritz. Walking by the river at night and soaking in the lights and the music coming off the tourist boats floating down the river. The Rodin museum. Roast chicken and French fries at Chez Amis Louis. Visiting the flea market on a Sunday morning.

Christine: In the blog world, there are a lot of inspiring writers, ranging from those who just want to share stories of their lives from day-to-day online in their blogs, to those who are working on articles, short stories and novels. Do you have any advice you would like to share with them?

M.J.: Writing is an art and a passion but publishing is a business and one that is broken in quite a few spots. So write for the love of it, but understand that once you decide to go pro, what happens to your work is pretty much out of your control. And if you want to stay in control of it you are going to have to give up a lot of your writing time. Plus there are a lot of books published –
100,000 a year not counting the 75,000 books that are self published every year. (Way up since 1998 when there were only a few hundred or so.) So the competition to get noticed is fierce. Self promotion is important and it has nothing to do with writing. So be aware you might have to get involved in a whole area that you aren’t interested in.

Now it’s YOUR TURN! M. J. Rose will be answering YOUR questions! Feel free to leave an questions you might have in the comments (or e-mail me at christine AT , and as an added perk, she will be giving away a FREE copy of The Halo Effect for the most interesting question! (Questions must be asked today, July 26th, to qualify.)

Thank you again to M. J. Rose for taking the time to answer everyone’s questions, and for participating in the Virtual Book Tour. I am really excited to have discovered such a wonderful author, and I’m looking forward to reading Sheet Music, In Fidelity, Flesh Tones and Lip Service in the near future.

By Christine

Christine is an Avenger of Sexiness. Her Superpower is helping Hot Mamas grow their Confidence by rediscovering their Beauty. She lives in the Heights in Houston, Texas, works as a boudoir photographer, and writes about running a Business of Awesome. In her spare time, she loves to knit, especially when she travels. She & her husband Mike have a food blog at Spoon & Knife.

9 replies on “The Halo Effect…”

I posted this question for MJ in the wrong place, apparently, so I’m moving it here:

You know a lot about the publishing business, so can you tell me who gave us the term “chick-lit”? Do you know what qualifies a book/writer for that classification? Is it sufficient to have a female protagonist and to be a female author to be designated as such? Has anyone referred to your books “chick-lit”, and if so, have you been tempted to punch them out?

That’s a lot of questions, actually.


Jennifer Colt

(I just bought the book, so you can give your copy to someone else!)

I received this question via e-mail, so I am posting it here:

I am a psychotherapist (though not a sex therapist) and I was astonished at Dr. Morgan Snow’s clinical perceptiveness. Have you studied psychotherapy in depth? Do you think that the professions of writing and psychotherapy are similar in some ways?

I have never read the book, thought I think now that I should, but by looking at her list of authors she seems to be influence by very arty influences. So basically I wanted to know if there was a particular piece of art that had affected her writing in any way?

If you were stuck on the proverbial desert island, what is the one book that you would want to take with you?

Also, as a person who rereads books over and over again, which books do you have the compulsion to reread every so often (for me, it’s Stephen King’s It and the Dark Tower series)?

i don’t really have a question but i want the free book! oh yeah – i thought of one. do you think self-publishing is the way to go for new authors, are critics and buyers starting to take self-published books seriously?

I believe Jennifer Colt said to give her copy of your book away, may I have it? I am not sure how I got to this web site but I was looking for a way to order chocolate from Angelique’s and I was wondering what your book and Angelique’s had in common. I know that Proust visited this spot when it had a differnt name. Also, if you ever go in the winter and it is the first of the month, you will wait a long , long, long time and the Mont Blanc’s will all be sold. I found this out several years ago. It seems the first is a free day at the Louvre and everyone, Parisian or tourist is there.

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