Thursday, 28 June 2012

Welcome Monterey Press author, Lauren Clark!



Hi Lauren! So nice to meet you - As a Brit living in the UK, I am fascinated with all things Southern and have romantic thoughts of fantastic hospitality and flags flying outside front doors. I have just downloaded a copy of Dancing Naked in Dixie to my Kindle and can't wait to read it! Okay, let's start the interview...

What is your writing routine?  

I write best in the mornings and when I don't have any distractions. I'm a really social person and love to chat ... so I get absolutely zero done at my favorite coffee shop or even on the front porch of my house because there's always someone who stops to say hello and catch up. If I do stay home and in my office, there's the Internet, the doorbell, and my cell phone. I've found that the local university has the best study rooms -- it's really quiet, they allow coffee (with lids), and I don't have the password to get online, so I can't check email or update my website!!

2)    Which author/s inspire you to write?

 I have so many authors that I really look up to and admire. I think that Jodi Picoult writes very well about a number of provocative issues. One of my favorite books is "My Sister's Keeper." It's a novel that made me catch my breath in surprise at the end. On the flip side, Sophie Kinsella is a comedic genius. She really makes me laugh - I adore her heroines and all of their crazy adventures.

3)    Which is your favorite romance subgenre to read? To write? 

    My favorite romance subgenre to read usually contains elements of a thriller. I like the fast-pace, figuring out who's behind the wrong-doing...and why. As far as my own writing, I do love to write Chick Lit, but I've also finished two thriller manuscripts. I'm not certain whether they'll be published ... but I find that the "dark side" is sometimes a needed, satisfying change.

4)    How do you deal with criticism/rejection? 
    
     Back when I began writing, about ten years ago, rejection used to really bother me. When I was looking for an agent for Stay Tuned, I kept all of my rejection letters (and still have them). There were a few agents who took time to scribble out a brief note like "keep writing," or "a good start, but needs work." Those offered some real encouragement and that kindness still means a great deal to me.    As far as constructive criticism, the news industry prepared me pretty well. I was used to people marking up my scripts with a red pen, suggesting edits, and revising my stories. Since then, I've learned so much about the industry and being an author. Criticism and rejection come with the territory. Every single writer deals with it. I'm careful to look very hard at the comment or suggestion, learn what I can from it, and move on to the next page or next project.

5)    What do you expect from an editor? 

      A good editor is an author's most important ally and best friend. For me, I expect that an editor will read my work, think hard about my work, and take the time to evaluate my story for content, theme, characters, setting, pace, dialogue, and all of the other factors which make a novel flow. An editor who tells you that every page of your book is wonderful isn't telling you the truth. It's an editor's job to find the holes, the weaknesses, and inconsistencies. I'm so lucky to have several close friends and colleagues who are excellent editors and Beta readers!!

6)    Tell me about your latest release.

Dancing Naked in Dixie is really a story about a career girl finding happiness, love, and her place in the world where she least expects it.

Here's the summary: Travel writer Julia Sullivan lives life in fast-forward. She jet sets to Europe and the Caribbean with barely a moment to blink or sleep. But too many mishaps and missed deadlines have Julia on the verge of being fired.

With a stern warning, and unemployment looming, she's offered one last chance to rescue her career. Julia embarks on an unlikely journey to the ‘Heart of Dixie’—Eufaula, Alabama—home to magnificent mansions, sweet tea, and the annual Pilgrimage.

Julia arrives, soon charmed by the lovely city and her handsome host, but her stay is marred by a shocking discovery. Can Julia's story save her career, Eufaula, and the annual Pilgrimage?


8)            Tease us with a blurb or short excerpt                         (DNID – EXCERPT)


The Best Butts in Alabama, the huge billboard above my head brags. A robust pink pig, dressed in blue overalls and a cowboy hat, winks down at me. Next to the hog’s turned up nose, royal blue letters read ‘Phil’s Bar-B-Q.’ 
         Phil certainly knows how to make a first impression. As does Mother Nature.
         The sunshine beats down on my shoulder through the window. Is it always this muggy in December? I swipe at my forehead with the back of my hand and do quick surveillance.
         Where is the historic, elegant city I was promised in the letter? There is a normal-looking church across the street, a run-of-the-mill real estate business to my right, and a tiny hole-in-the-wall place called The Donut King, which seems to be doing ten times more business than the Winn-Dixie grocery store I just passed.
So far, all I see of Eufaula, Alabama is more in-your-face commercial than traveler chic. Of course, I’m not in the best frame of mind to become one with my surroundings.
After a lousy Thursday morning of sulking and a rushed packing job, I sent an RSVP with regrets for the fundraiser, gave away my tickets to the Met, left a voice mail for Andrew, and changed my ticket to an earlier departure.
Hours later, after fighting through JFK security, surviving the cramped flight to Atlanta, I spent the night in Buckhead, Georgia, picked up my enormous rented SUV this morning (it was either that or a red minivan), and began driving the three-and-a-half hours to reach my pinhole-on-a-map destination.
All to save my job.

7)    Who is your favorite character in the book?  
      
      I really loved Julia, but I have to say that Roger was a close second. At the beginning of the story, Julia is at a crossroads in her life—a place where the decisions she makes are really important. She really comes into her own, takes responsibility, and becomes an adult during the story. Julia finally realizes that there are consequences to her mistakes and that she is the only person who can change the way her life is headed. It was so fulfilling to watch her grow as the novel progressed.

Roger was such fun because he is Julia’s complete opposite—always perfect and put-together, always ready to say the right thing, do the right thing. He’s a great host and loves coming to the rescue for Julia. And although he appears to be happy, he really has a deep, secret longing to travel to New York, but hasn’t had the confidence to make the trip. Julia’s visit changes that for Roger.

8)    What are you working on right now? 
       
      I am researching for my next novel, The Pie Lab, which is a real restaurant in Greensboro, Alabama. This story will follow a girl who’s gone off to a big city (like Atlanta or New York) and vows NEVER to come home. She’s forced to return to Greensboro, though, when her romantic relationship falls apart. Since she’s burned a lot of bridges, it will be interesting to see how she makes amends.  The Pie Lab, as a business, is a great concept, as it offers on-the-job training and the owners are very active in the community. Added bonus…the pies are delicious! The Pie Lab has been featured in Southern Living and The New York Times.

9)    Your biggest piece of advice to aspiring novelists? 

     Tenacity. There's no substitute for doing the hard work. Being an author means spending hours and hours in a room every day -- for months -- with only you and the computer screen. From experience, it's not likely that anyone's first (or second) manuscript is going to be an overnight bestseller.

Even with a really, really good story, there's so much more that goes into bringing it to readers. If you'd like an agent to represent you, there are query letters to write, agencies to research, and rules about both to follow. If you're lucky enough to find an agent, he or she will then have to locate a publishing house willing to take on an unknown author. Once the publishing is complete, there's the publicity, the reviews, special events, and book signings. And then, there's the next book to immediately begin working on!

It's really a complicated game that involves skill, hard work, luck, and timing. I'm a very positive, optimistic person, and even I find that being an author is a daunting business. You have to love books, love writing even more, and be willing to look for the silver lining in the darkest of clouds. I consider myself so fortunate to have found a supportive group of fellow authors, bloggers, and readers that keep a smile on my face and a put a little magic into every single day.

10) Where can readers find you?







Dancing Naked in Dixie
by Lauren Clark

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
BLURB:

Travel writer Julia Sullivan lives life in fast-forward. She jet sets to Europe and the Caribbean with barely a moment to blink or sleep. But too many mishaps and missed deadlines have Julia on the verge of being fired.

With a stern warning, and unemployment looming, she's offered one last chance to rescue her career. Julia embarks on an unlikely journey to the ‘Heart of Dixie’—Eufaula, Alabama—home to magnificent mansions, sweet tea, and the annual Pilgrimage.

Julia arrives, soon charmed by the lovely city and her handsome host, but her stay is marred by a shocking discovery. Can Julia's story save her career, Eufaula, and the annual Pilgrimage? 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

EXCERPT

I’m a travel writer at Getaways magazine. Paid for the glorious task of gathering up fascinating snippets of culture and piecing them into quirky little stories. Jet-setting to the Riviera, exploring the Great Barrier Reef, basking on Bermuda beaches. It’s as glamorous and exhilarating as I imagined.

Okay, it is a tad lonely, from time to time.

And quite exhausting.

Which is precisely why I have to get organized.

Today.

I sink into my chair and try to concentrate. What to tackle first? Think, think.  

“Julia Sullivan!”
           
Third reminder. Uh-oh.

Marietta rolls her eyes and jerks a thumb toward the inevitable. “Guess you better walk the plank,” she teases. “New guy’s waiting. Haven’t met him yet, but I’ve heard he’s the ‘take no prisoners’ sort. Hope you come back alive.”

I grope for something witty and casual to say, but all of a sudden, my head feels light and hollow.

I’ve been dying to find out about the new editor.

Every last gory detail.

Until now.

“I’m still in another time zone,” I offer up to Marietta with a weak smile. My insides toss from side to side as I slide out of my chair.

Marietta tosses me a wry look. “Nice try. Get going already, sport.”

I tilt my head toward the hallway and pretend to pout. When I look back, Marietta’s already disappeared. Smart girl.

“Fine, fine.” I tug a piece of rebellious auburn hair into place, smooth my wool suit, and begin to march toward the inevitable.

Our new editor.

My neck prickles.

I’m not going to worry. Not much anyway.

My pulse thuds.

Not going to worry about change. Or re-organization. Or pink slips.

Focus, Julia. 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AUTHOR Bio:

Lauren Clark writes contemporary novels set in the Deep South; stories sprinkled with sunshine, suspense, and secrets.

A former TV news anchor, Lauren adores flavored coffee, local book stores, and anywhere she can stick her toes in the sand. Her big loves are her family, paying it forward, and true-blue friends. Check out her website at www.laurenclarkbooks.com.

Lauren will be awarding a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour and to the host with the most comments.

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here:  http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2012/04/virtual-book-tour-dancing-naked-in.html

Comments??


6 comments:

  1. A good editor would be available to a writer. I learned a great deal from he interview thank you.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

    ReplyDelete
  2. I just love reading your responses to the questions. It makes reading the blurb so much more fun. Love this story line and love this town.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for such a great interview. The Pie Lab sounds intriguing. Can't wait for that book to release.
    Dancing Naked In Dixie sounds like a winner.

    e.balinski(at)att(dot)net

    ReplyDelete
  4. The book sounds really fun...it's been an interesting tour!

    vitajex(at)aol(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  5. My hubby's name is Roger so that's an added reason to read Dancing Naked in Dixie.
    catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete