The Minxes are excited to welcome debut Desire author Andrea Laurence to blog with us today. Andrea's given some incredibly inspirational answers that are sure to help everyone :-)
What is your writing process?
My process has evolved over the years out of necessity. I work full-time, so my precious "spare" time goes to writing and occasionally dusting. When I bought my most recent house, I claimed a bedroom as an office, bought a great desk, decorated with inspirational things like pictures of Johnny Depp and salt lamps… and I never sit in there. It's kind of sad, actually. When I sold my first book, I bought a great laptop and now I do all my writing on it. Typically, in the big overstuffed chair and ottoman in my living room. Nights and weekends, that's where you'll find me. I have to make the most of my non-working hours, so I've been known so sit in that chair from Friday afternoon around four until Sunday night at ten. I grab a bag of peanut butter M&Ms and a diet coke and I just crank out the words. I don't even know if that qualifies as a process. Does caffeine, sugar and binge writing constitute a process? It works for me. That's all I know.
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?
As I mentioned, I have to make the most of my writing time and that does a good bit to keep me motivated. I'm also a plotter. That's a dirty word in some circles, but I'll admit it. Knowing where I'm going in a story helps keep me on track. I don't know every little detail, but I know what plot point I'm moving toward. Deadlines help keep me focused. As does getting paid. I'm not too much of an artist to say it. Turn in a book = get a check. It's a beautiful thing. But sometimes, even with all that, a girl just needs a day on the couch watching a marathon of Cupcake Wars or the History Channel. Or online shoe shopping. Breaks are important to the creative process, too.
Keeping fit: Do you have an exercise regime to counterbalance all those hours sitting at a computer?
I wish I could say I get up every morning and jog five miles, plotting bestsellers in my head, but uh… no. Not even close. It's bad, I know. I've toyed with getting one of those treadmill desks, but I'm not the most coordinated of people. What I have been doing is a lot of neck and shoulder stretches and strengthening exercises. Spending almost all of my waking hours at a computer earned me a couple weeks of physical therapy this summer. And I do not want to go back there. As a result, I try to be really conscious of my posture while I write. I also made sure my desk at work was ergonomically correct, and I try to stretch and get up and walk around throughout the day. Balance is something I'm always working on. As is that whole jogging fantasy.
Do you believe in writer's block?
Yes and no. I don't believe in just flat-out writer's block. I think there's always a reason behind it. Pressure, stress, underlying medical conditions… I can imagine if I got a huge book deal, I'd have a lot of pressure to deliver. That could definitely do it. Or going through coping with a death in the family or a painful divorce. That can suck the creativity out of you.
For me, when the words stop flowing, it's usually because I've written myself into a plot corner. Before I sold, I could just stop writing that book and ignore the issue. Now, I have to keep moving forward. It requires a lunch with a writing friend to talk it through, then I back up, fix it, and find I can move forward without a problem.
Have you ever used an incident from real life in a book? If so, did it get you into trouble?
I think some version of reality slips into every story in one way or another. In the book out now, What Lies Beneath, the heroine originally had a different name. I'd named her after a co-worker who just had a perfect romance heroine name. I never anticipated the book to actually sell, so it didn't matter. Until I sold it. Then I realized I should probably change it to avoid any stickiness. Another time there was a heroine who was a lot like me, personality-wise. The editor that rejected it said she was unsympathetic and cold. Ouch.
In what way is being a published writer different to how you thought it would be?
My mentors were always quick to point out that the business side of publication was where the headaches come in. And they were right. Writing a book and trying to sell a book is hard. Painfully so. It took me eight years to do it. But then you have to market your projects — not just to an editor but to your agent, booksellers and readers. You have to understand contracts and what you're signing up for. You start to worry about internet piracy and print runs and bad reviews. The idea of reviews make me nauseated.
And then, there's the realization that someone is actually going to READ your book. Not just you, your critique partner and a disinterested agent or two. I had that moment revising a love scene. The "my grandma is going to read this" moment. But you have to tell yourself that's the whole point of writing a book and let it go.
Promotion is no longer a dirty word. In what ways do you strive to reach more readers?
I'm a social networker. I'm on Twitter (@Andrea_Laurence) and I have a Facebook Fan Page. I'm not that annoying friend that constantly pushes people to buy her book, but I maintain an online presence. I post funny thoughts or stories about my life. I share writing news when I get it, like a new cover. I have also been on a group blog and website for over six years – The Writing Playground. That's a fun place for readers and writers alike to hang out. I think all of that builds a network of people who like you as a person. And then, when you have a book to sell, they're more likely to buy it.
What is your top promo tip for other authors?
I think it varies by the kind of book you write, but the best advice I've received on promotion is to write the best book you can possibly write. Then do it again. And again. That builds readership faster than candy or pens. That said, I did get some nifty romance trading cards done. I'm using them in place of bookmarks and business cards.
What did you learn while writing this book?
I learned that I perform best under pressure. I had been working with my editor for months on another project. I was certain this was the one. Then, in February, I got a rejection and a request to see something else. I wanted that pink "First Sale" ribbon at RWA so badly. I did not want to wait another year to earn it. So I wrote a proposal in a weekend. When my editor liked it, I wrote the rest of the book in three weeks and mailed it back. I'd never written a book that quickly in my life — pretty much a chapter a day for two weeks, then revising. They bought it at the end of May and I got my pink ribbon in New York. Desperation is a powerful motivator.
What was the most fun part of writing this book?
The heroine of the book is a fashion designer. One of my favorite TV shows is Project Runway. It was fun for me to live the designer fantasy through the heroine. I couldn't mend a hole in a sock, much less make a dress, but my heroine could do it! When I went to NYC that summer, I walked around the Garment District and even went to Mood, the fabric store featured in the television show and the book. I got a t-shirt. I like to visit the real places featured in my books when I can so there's a level of authenticity in it. The internet only does so much, but alas, I'm not a millionaire like my heroes, so sometimes, pictures of an Upper East Side penthouse is all I get. :-)
And just for fun: what would your hero’s honeymoon destination of choice be?
This one is in the book, so it's easy — Bali. Two weeks in one of those private thatched huts out over the clear, turquoise water. Perfectly secluded except for an on-call butler to clean and bring food. The ideal way to unplug for a workaholic like Will.
WHAT LIES BENEATH
April 2012, Harlequin Desire #2152
She’s Awake. So Why Can’t She Remember?
They say she’s Cynthia Dempsey, fiancée of media mogul Will Taylor. But try as she might, she can’t recall their high-society life or the man sitting by her hospital bed. Though her body certainly remembers him. Even as she senses the distance between them, the electricity when they touch is undeniable.
Will can hardly believe Cynthia’s transformation. Gone is the ice queen who betrayed him, and in her place is a woman who seems genuine and warm. But can he risk his heart again, not knowing what might happen when her memory returns?
Amazon UK, Amazon US, Harlequin