Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Author Spotlight - Helen Lacey

I love promoting debut authors here on the Minxes blog, because they are the proof that it can be done and that new authors get bought all the time (and of course because we all want to be them!).

It's not what we usually do here on the Author Spotlights, but I'm taking this opportunity to do a massive shout out to Olivia Miles, who has just sold her first book to Harlequin Special Edition. Congratulations, Olivia!

Now let's hand over to today's Spotlighted author, another Special Edition debut author - Helen Lacey, talking to us about her book Made for Marriage.

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What is your writing process?
I write most days. I start early, around 6.30 in the morning, once my husband leaves for work and the dogs and horses are fed I usually check emails then open up my work in progress and get started. I’ll usually re-read the last few pages, or check any notes I wrote the day before. I try to write a thousand words a day – sometimes I get more which is a bonus. I’m a panster, so I don’t have detailed outlines, and I trust my characters to take me where they need to go.

Everyone who writes knows it's not easy - what methods do you use to keep at it on days when it would be so much easier to go shoe shopping?
I just keep reminding myself how lucky I am to be a full time writer. If I’m stuck or my motivation is a zero, sometimes I’ll go for a walk, read a book or even watch a movie. I believe that the only thing we can truly control in life is how we respond to things – so I don’t get hung up on what’s not working, and try to think about what is. Doing something creative, that’s not writing, can relieve the pressure we sometimes put on ourselves to get it perfect every time. And if I’m having a blah day, I might go and sit in the paddock with my horses and watch them graze – I find that relaxing and de-stressing. The key is finding what does it for you. In saying that, there are times when I’m on edit or revisions deadline and I simply have to push past the resistance to work and make myself do it.

Keeping fit: Do you have an exercise regime to counterbalance all those hours sitting at a computer?
I leave my computer at three o’clock every afternoon and head outside. With eight horses, three dogs, three birds and a house cow named Ginger, I have enough to keep me busy for a couple of hours. I spend afternoon feeding, riding or grooming. Then there’s troughs to clean out, rugs to mend, feed shed to sweep (At some point I try to get a little of my own housekeeping in too).

Do you believe in writer's block?
I believe it’s hard to stay focussed 100% of the time. Life intrudes; daily stresses can interfere with the process. The thing I try to remember is that we all feel these pressures at some point. I recently had a plot problem with my current book and couldn’t figure how to get past it – so I called a writer friend and we sat in my office for five hours and just pulled my plot apart. For me, ‘writers block’ is usually because something in the story isn’t working. If that’s the case I’ll talk it out with my agent or critique partners – it always helps.

Have you ever used an incident from real life in a book? If so, did it get you into trouble?
I do use places and people I know, but not obviously. The setting for Made For Marriage is a little town at the southern most point of the Great Barrier Reef – a town with an uncanny resemblance to the one where I live. I haven’t got into trouble yet .

In what way is being a published writer different to how you thought it would be?
Readers! I love hearing from readers. And of course it’s a wonderful feeling to experience the realisation of a dream. I was submitting for over twenty years before Harlequin bought my first book, so I feel very grateful to be in this position.

Promotion is no longer a dirty word. In what ways do you strive to reach more readers?
This blog tour, which has been great. I have a website, Facebook, Twitter – these are all ways to reach people. Creativity aside, this is a business and like any business, promotion, be that self-promotion or publisher promotion, is an important part of that.

What is your top promo tip for other authors?
Do what you’re comfortable with. There’s little point in forcing yourself to blog or tweet and make book trailers or post interviews on uTube, especially in the beginning. Take baby steps if your natural style is a more conservative one. If you love the lime-light, go for it – as long as it doesn’t intrude on the writing.

What did you learn while writing this book?
To write what I know. To trust my instincts. To make the most of opportunities.

What was the most fun part of writing this book?
Being able to write about what I love – horses. My heroine is a horse riding instructor and I loved being able to include some of my own horses in the story.

And just for fun: what would your hero’s honeymoon destination of choice be?


Equestrian Callie Jones was used to difficult parents at her riding school. But Noah Preston took the cake.
How dare he question her teaching abilities, after his headstrong daughter paid no heed to rules—her teacher's or her father's?

Single dad Noah was ready to apologize for overreacting. But he wasn't sorry for the way the stunning American riding instructor made him feel. And he soon learned that there was more to Callie than her smarts, sass and fire: a shattered heart that threatened to splinter even further. Could he make her see that he—and his family—were for keeps?

Thanks for having me here today. To celebrate the release of Made For Marriage, I’m giving away a copy to one commenter. And as part of my blog tour, I have a grand prize of a $50.00 Amazon voucher, and for those who like a little bling, a fabulous silver Pandora Bracelet.

For the full itinerary of Helen's Celebration tour check out Helen Lacey- Author Page.
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Made For Marriage is available in book stores, through the eHarlequin website, Amazon, Amazon UK and the Book Depository.

You can find out more about Helen on her blog, on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.


Maria said...

Helen you must have a lot of unpublished work if you were submitting for sn many years. Any plans for publishing them?

Helen Lacey said...

Hi Maria - one day hopefully I'll be able to pull all my old ms's from the archives and give them a new lease on life. They are all targeted towards Harlequin, so with a lot of editing and polishing I may be able to submit some to me editor.
Thanks for stopping by today.

Olivia Miles said...

Thank you so much for the congratulations:-) I love the Minxes:-) And congratulations to Helen Lacey, of course, whose own journey toward publication was such an inspiration. Congrats, Helen!!

Maya Blake said...

Congrats on your debut, Helen and congrats to you too, Olivia!

Helen, I know it's probably hard work but I so envy you owning horses!! Thanks so much for being a Minx for a day and may your writing journey flourish :)

Helen Lacey said...

Hi Olivia - thanks for stopping by. Congrat's again and welcome to Special Edition.

Helen Lacey said...

Hi Maya - thank you for the good wishes. And yes, owning horses is a load of hard work, but great fun too. Thankyou for dropping in today.

Susan Saxx said...

Your story is so inspiring, Helen! I'm thrilled for you! ;)

I also appreciated reading about your daily routine, and especially your 3 p.m. routine. =) It sounds wonderful - taking care of your horses and enjoying them.

I'm wondering - what do you love most about this story? And did you approach its writing in any different way to your previous books?

Again - congratulations on your debut!!

Helen Lacey said...

Hi Susan - I like your question. I did actually approach this story differently. I'd been submitting for so long with stories I felt were right for the line I was targeting, then one morning I actually jumped out of bed at 2am and thought - write what I know. I'd heard this before, but never really written that way. I knew horses and single dad's - and that's how Made For Marriage came about. I trusted my instincts for the first time since that very first submission to Mills and Boon in 1987. The best advice I can give anyone, is trust in your own voice, it's what makes us all unique.
Thanks for stopping by today.

Lacey Devlin said...

A cow named Ginger! I just love that. You really do have your own menagerie. What sort of birds and dogs do you have?

Animal lover alert!

Helen Lacey said...

Hi Lacey! I have eight horses, varying breeds. In dogs, a Terrier, a Staffordshire X and Dogue De Bordeaux. And three small parrots, one who talks. Plus Ginger the house cow. Yes, a menagerie - my husband said no to a goat unfortunately.
Thanks for dropping in.

Teresa Ashby said...

Congratulations, Helen, the book sounds like a great read. And your life sounds idyllic with all those lovely animals around you - and a house cow, how wonderful is that! I would love to have a goat too x

Helen Lacey said...

Hi Theresa - thanks so much for dropping by.

Sally Clements said...

Love your cover, Helen - thanks so much for going minxy for the day, and congratulations on your debut!
And to you too, Olivia - great to see gals getting the call!

Shannon said...

Congratulations! I hope you do consider revisiting the archived manuscripts if this book is as good as it sounds!

Kai said...

Congrats, Helen on your first published book. It's so neat that you could write w/o planning the story ahead of time.

Helen Lacey said...

Hi Sally - thanks for stopping by. Yes, I felt very lucky with that cover, they are exactly as I imagined in that scene.

Helen Lacey said...

HiShannon - I'd love to bring out some of the old stories. Maybe one day :) Thanks for dropping in with a comment.

Helen Lacey said...

Hi Kai - yes, I'm very much a panster, and just let the characters tell my stories. It usually means more editing, but it works for me. Not that I don't envy the plotters who know what's going to happen. Thanks for dropping by today.

Desere said...

Congrats on the release the book sounds scruptious !

Helen Lacey said...

Hi there Desere - thanks so much for stopping by the Minxes today :)