Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Author Interview - Laurie LeClair

Let's welcome this month's author, Laurie LeClair.  She's written the Once Upon A Romance series, a re-imagination of classic fairy tales with a modern twist , as well as the Heart Romance series and The Long Journey Home.

Laurie, thanks for taking some time to answer our questions.  Let's get to it...

1)     What were your favorite books growing up?
My parents signed me up for a monthly book club when I was little. Four brand new books a month! I still remember the day Miss Twiggley’s Tree arrived in the mail.  I’ve loved treehouses ever since.  Homer Price stands out, too. Maybe because it involved doughnuts. I loved all the Little House on the Prairie books.  I would save up my money and when a new Trixie Belden book would come out I would rush to the store and buy it. When I was about ten, my oldest brother dated a girl who loaned me her entire collection of The Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, and The Hardy Boys. I was in book heaven!
2)    Now that you have, let’s say—some life experience, what would you tell your younger self?
I would tell my younger writer self to believe in myself and learn all I could about the craft of writing, ask my now deceased writing mentor more questions (too shy to ask – thought I was bothering her too much), and ask for help when I needed it.  In my personal life, I’d tell my younger self to enjoy every moment of my childhood and enjoy every moment of being with the people I love the most. Time flies. Life is too short.
3)     Describe your typical day.
I have a day job, so those nights are light on writing and focused more on edits and business details. When I’m off, my typical writing day begins around 6 a.m. I like to write first thing in the morning before anything else tries to steal away my attention. On good days, the words come easily and I write 20 or more pages until I’m at a nice stopping point. (I stop at a place where I know what will happen next. The following day I reread a few pages and I can pick up writing where I left off.) I take a break and go back to handle the business side of writing. On the days the words don’t come as easily, I write what I can, maybe 5 pages, edit or revise, and put more time in the business side of writing. I take another break and go back for an hour or two at night before calling it a day. 

4)     Who is your favorite character in your books?
That’s a tough question. I have to say the one who “haunts” me (in a good way) right now is Griffin James from Taming McGruff. I was busy with edits on another book when his name came to me. I wrote it down and put the sticky note aside. I went back to my edits. But Griffin James would not leave me alone. He stayed and lingered until I gave in and wrote his story – in three weeks! He’s a wounded military hero who finds love with a fun-loving heroine and the redemption he desperately needs. The way he transforms from a “McGruff” to a “McHero” still makes me sigh with happiness.
5)    What do you do when writer’s block shows up, settles in, and makes itself comfortable?
Writer’s block. Those are fighting words. I have experienced that dreaded disease. I think, for me, it was a combination of things. I had published, had 2 agents, 4 editors, books sold, lots of books rejected, my line folded, switched from writing historical romance to contemporary romance, and had a book stalled in the industry process for more than a year waiting for a green light to only end up rejected when the editor left and a new one came in. Also, I felt the sweep of changes in the publishing industry weren’t the best for writers at the time. Frustration and doubt hit hard. I had to put everything aside and question if I wanted to write. It took quite a while to make the choice to continue. Once I accepted I was a writer even if I would never publish again, the ideas rushed back. I realized I had to write even if it was just for myself. I haven’t had writer’s block since (knock on wood).
6)     Do you find yourself pulling details from “real life” or does your imagination rule the roost?
I use both real life and my imagination for characters and their stories. As a child I was painfully shy, so I’d sit and watch everyone, absorb what they said, how they moved, why they did or said something, the undercurrents between people, etc. That was the backdrop to my character research, I guess you could say. Also, if I got bored, I’d start to daydream and make up stories to keep myself entertained. Now, a lot of my traveling experiences add to my books. For example, years ago, while on a road trip, my husband and I got lost in Colorado (we are directionally challenged) and stumbled upon a modern day ghost town. Eerie! That town has stayed with me all this time. I just wrote about it in a recent romantic suspense novella, Murphy’s Law, Book 1 in The Bounty Hunter series.
7)    What was the first manuscript you wrote (even if it never saw the light of day)?

I wrote my first manuscript in longhand on spiral bound legal pads! That was my first historical romance. It did get published. I do have 3 more historical romances that are collecting dust and won’t see the light of day.
8)    Have you ever pursued traditional publishing? Or did you go straight for indie publishing?
I did the traditional publishing route. I tried to stay there, but things changed, including me! I’m indie publishing now. In the future, I’ll consider hybrid publishing, if there’s a way it works for me.
9)    What Works In Progress are brewing?  Any target dates for publication?
I’m writing a novella for my romantic comedy series, Once Upon A Romance. That will be out in February.  2014 will be a busy year for me. I have two more in that series slated for the new year,  3 women’s fiction novels, another romantic suspense novella in The Bounty Hunter series, a new 6 book series (the first out in 2014), and a romantic comedy, Wanted: Fairy Godmother out in January.  Plus, I have 14 story ideas swimming around in my head that I haven’t gotten to write yet!

10) How can fans reach you?  A website, blog, and newsletter are in the works! Until then, follow me at https://twitter.com/LeClairbooks  or https://www.facebook.com/laurie.leclair.75

Monday, December 30, 2013

Your Favorite Goofs - Part 2 - Vote Now!

Here's the link to vote for your favorite goofs of the last half of 2013. 

Pared down from sixty-seven contenders, this list of twenty-five represent the "best" of the best.  Voting is open until Jan. 10th.  After that, the top vote-getters will be in contention with the top four from the first half of the year for the Grand Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card or a $25 credit for the winner on their next manuscript.  So be sure to vote and pass the link (https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/FT3XBS9 ) along to your friends!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

My List Overrunneth

So I took a quick look at my Blooper Nominations for the last six months of 2013.  I checked it twice, just like Santa Claus with his Naughty and Nice list.

I currently have sixty-seven (yes, that's 67) nominees so far.  I have another book or two that should get done before the end of the year, so maybe that number will creep up a bit.

So, based on my first survey that had only seventeen to choose from, I feel as if sixty-seven is a lot to go through.  I'm looking for a few people to do some pre-screening, to either pick their top ten or twenty bloopers or at least cut some off the list.  Any takers?  Email me by Jan. 3, 2014 if you are interested in helping out.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

It's That Time Again

We are wrapping up Christmas presents and wrapping up the end of the year.  So that means it's that time again - time to review our past year and think about the next.

I wrote before about goal setting.  I made some simple goals for myself for 2013, and I'm happy to say that I followed through on all of my goals.  I made sure they were simple, even though they might have been things outside of my comfort zone.  I made sure they were measurable, quantifying how many of this and the timing of that.  And they were things I wanted to do for myself, professionally and personally.

Do you set goals for yourself, either for your personal life or your writing life?  Or have you never written down your goals?

Check out these articles on successful goal-setting and see if you are inspired to get going on your 2014 goals.

General Goal Setting Advice:
Really Simple Goal Setting

Beginner's Guide to Goal Setting

An Online App for Goal Setting: Lifetick

Goal Setting for Writers:
Setting Effective Writing Goals

Goal Setting for Writers

No Excuses: 15-Minute Goal Setting for Authors 

Goal Setting for Authors Who Don't Set Goals

Watch this twenty-minute video.  It might be a bit "out there" for someone looking for traditional goal-setting advice, but here's a line they talk about: Match your soul to your goals.   If you are looking for something a bit more spiritual, this might speak to you.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

You Can't Say That

I only have vague memories but I do remember watching some of Nickelodeon's You Can't Say That On Television. Every time someone said, "I don't know," they'd get slimed.

In that spirit, I've decided on next year's contest (check out this year's contest here and here and here).  Certain phrases get repeated - not just in a book, but in book after book after book.  But there's one phrase that is driving me nuts! I've had some weeks where I've seen this mystery phrase in EVERY BOOK I was working on! Different authors, different genres - it doesn't seem to matter.  This phrase keeps popping up.

So, for 2014, I am going to keep track of this mystery phrase.  I'm going to note the author, the title, and how many times it (or a slight variation of it) was used in the manuscript.  I'll post a little Facebook or Twitter update (#MysteryPhraseStrikesAgain, maybe?). By the end of the year, I should have a tally of how many times it was used (or over-used, as the case may be).

I'm not sure how I should judge a "winner," though...should it be Most Uses in One Manuscript?  Most Over-the-top Usage?  Most Uses By One Author Over Several Titles?  And maybe I should invite reader participation - see if anyone can guess what the phrase is, if an author would let me promote their book as qualifying as a contender for the Mystery Phrase.

What do you think?