Marie Lavender – Insights from Experience.
Welcome Marie and thanks very much for joining us on atime2write.
Q. You have over 19 books to your name, which is fantastic. When did you first publish your work? Was it self or traditionally published?
It was actually self-published at first. I published my first book in 2010. It was a literary fiction/poetry anthology titled Express Café and Other Ramblings. I went on to publish two subsequent literary fiction/poetry anthologies, all of which will be revised and re-released as Miss Lavender’s Anthology of Ramblings. So, look for that as a future release.
Q. So some of your work is traditionally published – how did you manage to get picked up by a publisher or agent?
Though I tried self-publishing, I held onto one manuscript for dear life, reserving it for traditional publishing. In 2011, I began submitting the manuscript to literary agents and publishers. In August of 2012, I received the call from Solstice Publishing that they wanted to publish Upon Your Return. I’ve been with them ever since.
That is great and a really clever strategy.
Q. With your self-publishing – what made you decide to put your work out there, into the real world?
I wanted to take a chance on publishing. I wanted the world to see my work, I guess. I saw the self-publishing crazy take off and after some research on different presses to use, I took the chance on Lulu and went from there. I stayed with that company, publishing 16 books under different pen names (including Erica Sutherhome and Kathryn Layne) before a traditional publisher found me.
Q. Do you use a professional editor? Why?
Yes, my publisher hires professional editors, but well before they see anything, I hire an editor/proofreader to look at my work. I also use beta readers and critique partners. I use a trusted circle of people. We often can’t see the mistakes in our own work because we’re too close to the manuscript. We fall in the love with our characters; we coddle our stories, in a sense, afraid to mar anything inside of them. It’s necessary to take a long step back before tackling the editing on your own. Though other people will see it, it’s still necessary to do as much editing as you can on your own before releasing it for others to look at. Would you want someone to see tons of typos in each paragraph? Probably not. There will always be things you missed, but at least you can let it into the ether, knowing you did everything you could to perfect your own work. Once you receive feedback from that trusted circle, then the real work begins – adjusting things, correcting grammar issues, evaluating your story in a way you hadn’t before. It’s tough, but necessary if you want to provide readers with the best quality work you can offer.
Thanks Marie, a lesson I learnt the hard way but couldn’t agree more.
Q. You have won an award and have come close with quite a few others, tell us about the awards.
I won blog awards for two blogs after being dedicated to each of them for just over a year. It is humbling when someone nominates you for something like that. In November of 2013, I entered my book, Upon Your Return, for the Ephraim Prize for the MARSocial’s Author of the Year Competition. I was a finalist and runner-up for that competition. That was incredibly exciting to be a part of because it was really the first of its kind, with contestant’s excerpts being shared billions of times on Twitter alone.
On August 2nd of 2014, I found out that I was nominated for the BTS Red Carpet Book Awards. Three of my books, my two historical romances, Upon Your Return and Upon Your Honor, as well as my romantic fantasy, Magick & Moonlight, qualified me. And then in April of 2015, I found out that I won honorable mention for it. Because of that, I was also invited to be a part of an upcoming anthology with the winners. The book will be released in October, and you’ll be able to read a new contemporary romance story of mine, which is titled “Second Chance Heart”. So, it’s all very exciting! As for the poetry competition I won recently, I was a member of PnP Authors and I submitted my poem just for fun really. I never imagined I’d be selected as the winner or be featured on the first page of the anthology. It’s strange when all of these things have happened, I guess, and I didn’t actively pursue them.
I entered a lot of writing contests in the past. I haven’t done any too recently, though. I haven’t had much free time, and the entrance fees make me a bit wary. It still boggles my mind why you would pay a fee to try to win a book award when your work should stand on its own. The same goes for reviews. Why would I bribe someone with tons of money to write a book review? I’d rather provide a free book in exchange for a reviewer’s honest feedback, and let the cards fall where they may. Most of the contests I have won I sort of stumbled into, or was simply notified that someone nominated me.
Q. You have a phenomenal number of followers on Twitter, how do you think you have accomplished this?
Patience, lots of patience and hard work. It takes time to build a following on Twitter. I learned how to use it from observation, but also by reading a lot of articles about Twitter. Some you have to take with a grain of salt. Never purchase followers; that is tacky, very dishonest. Sometimes, with a lot of things in life, you just have to put your best effort forward and simply try, no matter how long it takes. My most effective tactic has probably been following people back. If someone follows me on Twitter, I always try to follow them back within a few days. I always thank people when they mention me or retweet my posts. I do a lot of promotion for my blogs. I hope that’s interesting enough for my followers. I also go through my feeds and retweet tweets from other people. It’s a nice thing to do. I also comment on something if I have something to say. All of this does take some effort, but I try to carve a little time each day out of my schedule for Twitter.
Great tips Marie. Twitter is still a little bit of a mystery to me.
Q. You host a number of blogs, how do you find the time? Do you have a day job or is writing it?
I do have a day job, of course. I work as an appointment setter for an entertainment company. But, somehow I manage to carve some time out to keep my blogs going, and still work on my writing when I can.
That is amazing, and I thought I was busy.
Q. Tell us about your latest work.
My latest release is Second Nature, a paranormal romance/urban fantasy, which came out in December. It’s a story about a woman who sort of stumbles into the world of vampires after she gets taken captive by a strange man.
I also have a new book, which came out on July 20th, 2015. It is a children’s fantasy, and book two of the Magick Series. The title is A Little Magick.
Q. Is this book self or traditionally published?
A Little Magick is self-published, but book one, Magick & Moonlight, was actually released through Solstice Shadows Publishing in March of 2014. Second Nature was also traditionally published.
Q. What gave you the idea to write A Little Magick?
A Little Magick was a complete surprise. I didn’t even plan to have a sequel to Magick & Moonlight. One day, the main character, Rosanna, started bothering me. She needed her story to be told. I started with the first scene and didn’t stop until the book was done. A couple of months later, her adult story, Magick Sunrise, came to me. That is in the works now.
Funny how characters develop a mind of their own!
Q. Had you written books for children before Magick & Moonlight?
Technically, no. I have written prologues using a child’s point-of-view, but I have never maintained it in a story for longer than that. It was refreshing, and tons of fun to write from little Rosie’s perspective.
Q. How do you cross genres so easily?
It’s hard to say. I guess it just happens. My story ideas are all over the place, sometimes invoking elements of mystery, paranormal, time travel, fantasy and history. But, I can’t seem to stay away from romance usually, unless the story requires it. Heck, I even have an idea for a dystopian, sort of zombie story. It’s weird, but I just let the muse take over.
Q. What is your ideal writing environment?
A fairly quiet room, a comfortable chair or sofa, a journal and a gel pen. I can also write outside if there aren’t too many distractions.
Old school, pen and all; love it.
Q. You write romance, poetry and now children’s books. What made you select these genres?
I love romance. I always have, so in the past, I tended to fall back on that quite often. The great thing about the genre is that there are so many sub-genres now: romantic suspense, time travel romance, historical romance, paranormal romance, sci-fi romance, and the list just keeps going. It is liberating to know I don’t have to reign myself in when the muse hits. I write poetry for fun, sometimes romantic poetry, sometimes poems with darker, thought-provoking themes. I’m not sure if I’ll write another children’s book, but I won’t limit myself either. I’ve just learned to keep myself open to whatever happens. I can’t predict where the stories take me.
Q. Do you have any sage words for first time authors?
Persistence, patience and perseverance. Be persistent in your dreams. The only one who suffers from you giving up in your writing goals is you. Only you will regret not moving forward because the world doesn’t know your work yet. Remember, this is what you want, and you have to keep moving. You have to push forward and do the work necessary to accomplish it. Be patient too. Yes, there will be many hurdles to jump. Every writer has to take this long, crazy journey, and sometimes it is so difficult you’ll want to let it go. But, if you want it, if writing is the one thing that you see yourself doing for the rest of your life and it makes you happy, then why not try? Despite the odds, keep at it. Forget the naysayers and go for it. Try new things. Step out of your comfort zone. Learn everything you can to make your work the best quality you can offer to the world. Never, never give up, and you’ll thank yourself that you stuck it out.
That is really solid advice Marie. Thanks for taking the time to speak with us. I can’t wait to see your new book. Best of luck.
Happy to visit, Fiona! Thank you so much for having me! 🙂
Always a pleasure.
A Little More about Marie: Author Bio
Bestselling author of UPON YOUR RETURN and 20 other books. Poetry winner of the 2015 PnPAuthors Contest. Honorable Mention in the 2014 BTS Red Carpet Book Awards. Finalist and Runner-up in the 2014 MARSocial’s Author of the Year Competition. Honorable mention in the January 2014 Reader’s Choice Award. Liebster Blogger Award for 2013 and 2014. Top 50 Authors on AuthorsDB.com. Winner of the Great One Liners Contest on the Directory of Published Authors.
Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She has been writing for over twenty years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands. Since 2010, Marie has published twenty-one books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, fantasy, mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry. Her current series are The Heiresses in Love Series, The Magick Series and The Blood at First Sight Series. Feel free to visit her website at http://marielavender.com/ for further information about her books and her life. Marie is also on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.
A list of her books and pen names are as follows:
Marie Lavender: Upon Your Return; Magick & Moonlight; Upon Your Honor; Second Nature; “Lovers Like Us” (from the book anthology, Poets & Writers in Action); A Little Magick
Erica Sutherhome: Hard to Get; Memories; A Hint of Scandal; Without You; Strange Heat; Terror in the Night; Haunted; Pursuit; Perfect Game; A Touch of Dawn; Ransom; Leather and Lace
Kathryn Layne: A Misplaced Life
Heather Crouse: Express Café and Other Ramblings; Ramblings, Musings and Other Things; Soulful Ramblings and Other Worldly Things
Universal Amazon link: http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00YJSGE40
Little Rosie goes to stay with her uncle. There she meets some new friends…and some enemies. She doesn’t know that her emotions will trigger something unusual. So far from home, suddenly Rosie has become a full witch like her mother. For a time, it is great fun to use her powers the way she wants, but can Rosie figure out how to use these newfound powers for good or will she be lost to the dark side forever?
Excerpt from A Little Magick
She glanced between the adults and thought there was something she was missing. She didn’t know why they all had to be so puzzling.
“Rosie, aren’t you going to say goodbye to your mother?”
Startled, she looked back at them. “You’re leaving now?”
Mama nodded. “Let’s go to your room for a few minutes.” She took Rosie’s hand and led her back up the stairs. They went inside and both sat on the bed when her mother pushed the luggage to one side.
“I’m really going to miss you, baby. I’ll call to check on you, and know that you can call me anytime, okay?”
She nodded and closed her eyes when her mother swept her into a tight hug. Her Mama smelled as she always did, like flowers and something more, something mysterious. She thought it might have to do with her mother’s magick. Her mother had once told her that it was spelled differently than people thought. Magic was pulling a rabbit out of a hat, but ‘magick’ was so much more.
Her mother pulled away with tears shimmering in her dark chocolate brown eyes. “My little Rosie,” she whispered. She cleared her throat. “I won’t be far, baby. If you need me at all, I will come to you. Please don’t worry. Everything will go fine. Your uncle will take care of you.”
Mama kissed her cheek, and then gestured to the suitcases on the bed. “You’d better unpack your things.”
“I will. I promise. Bye, Mama.”
“Goodbye. I will see you as soon as I can.” Her mother hugged her again, then left the room. Rosie heard voices somewhere in the house and she imagined Mama was giving Uncle Adam instructions.
She sighed, unable to make herself start unpacking. She was just tired from the drive to Seattle. She moved her suitcases to the floor, and then stretched out on the bed. It was soft and warm, which pleased her. There was a nice smell in the room, and it reminded her of oranges. With another sigh, she closed her eyes and let the world fall away.