Before we start, Loretta’s offering to one of the commenters a free copy of one of her books. Bear in mind Out of the Ashes is book 2 in the series so unless you’ve read the first book in the series, The Rising, you may want to choose another book. All Loretta requires is that the winner send her their email address and choice of Kindle or Nook. All are in ebook format.
Welcome to Dames of Dialogue, Loretta. Tell us about your latest book, Out of the Ashes.
Out of the Ashes, written under the pen name L Reveaux, is book two in the Phoenix series. The Phoenix series are all written under L Reveaux. When writing under my pen name, books may have strong language and/or sexual scenes.
Book one was The Rising. The series takes you inside New Orleans, in a hidden courtyard in the French Quarter, where Rick witnesses The Lady Ryze doing what she does best…seduction…drawing the one she’s chosen ever closer. But, seduction is only the beginning, and Rick quickly discovers a destiny that rivals any physical desire.
What a hook. I want to order the books now! Can you share a little bit about what you’re working on now or what’s coming next?
At the moment, I’m working on Firebird, third book in the Phoenix series. It will release in the spring of 2013. After that, I’ll continue with another work in progress, The Image, which has a slight link to my short story, “The Pan Man” (book trailer: Pan Man. I mention the gypsy Larue in “The Pan Man”, with a notation at the end of the book that Larue will appear again as a strong secondary character in The Image.
You’re such a prolific writer. What is a typical writing day like for you?
I wish I could say I’m highly structured, but that doesn’t apply to me. I’ve found I work better if I select whichever portion of the day seems to catch me “in the flow” and write during that time. Some days it’s in the morning, especially if I’m home alone. Other days, it’s the afternoon. You can find me perched most anywhere when I write. I may drift to the swing on the deck, sit at my desk, or even curl up in bed with mood lights on and jazz playing in the background. I almost always have jazz playing. It seems to catch the essence of my writing, which is mainly set in the south, and often in Louisiana.
I always link jazz to New Orleans and like you do not adhere to any set writing regimen. When you’re writing, who’s in control, you or the characters?
My characters are always in control. I’ve given up trying to dictate to them. In Firebird, I have two male characters that have chosen to drive the scenes in a different direction. So, if the reader winds up finding both men intriguing in their own way, imagine how I feel. Nobody asked me. J All my character’s have big ass attitude. I ass-sume I can say that on here, right?)
Oh, I like characters with a big-ass attitude. Who are your favorite authors, the ones you read when you should be doing something else? Why do they appeal to you?
I’ve always read Anne Rice, Dean Koontz and Stephen King. This seems to disconcert some people; after all, they’re horror. I also read Lee Child, James Patterson, John Grisham, Sandra Brown, and Stephenie Meyer. There are others, but the list would be endless.
These authors appeal to me because of the thrill, or even the horror. I love thrillers, anything that leads you down a path that you aren’t sure you’ll return from. That’s why my books are thrillers. I doubt I could write without some big twist and eeriness in the plot. All, so far, have romance in them, but they are definitely thrill-ridden romances.
My favorite writers list is very similar to yours, especially with regards to Koontz, King, Rice and Child. They’re all very good at characterization. Promotion is a big—and usually the most hated—part of being a writer. Can you share a little bit about how you promote?
The only promotion I halfway enjoy is Facebook. I like it because of the interaction with the people on my page. I try not to saturate them with promotion on there, but to talk with them, let them see portions of who I am, and what I like. Every so often I will promote on my page. I also have an author page, but as some may have noticed, the rules have changed on Facebook, so promoting is limited on the author page unless paid for.
I also tweet. Not daily, but I do try to keep a presence on Twitter. I’m also on Goodreads, but I haven’t developed it as much as I should. The other thing I do is belong to several writing groups with loops. I’m visible on the loops and promote there also. The blogging I do so far is as a visitor. I haven’t opened a blog yet, for several reasons. I may in the future, but my style will be different if I make that choice.
I really like that we can now promote on the internet. So convenient and very appealing to an introvert like me. How long have you been writing?
It feels like forever. (Another wide smile here or maybe it’s a grimace—). Actually, I began in earnest about eight years ago. I completed my first novel while I was living in Australia. It hasn’t published yet, because it is my love. I need to give a little more undivided attention to my love. Hopefully I’ll be doing that within the next year. I have a couple of publishers interested, but we writers know that’s just the beginning. Snagging the right publisher is a bit more than interest. It’s convincing. (I’m definitely grimacing this time and doing a high-five with all the writers out there).
Good luck with that. My first is still sitting in the closet. I think about taking it out and reworking it but can’t seem to find the time. Who or what has been the biggest influence in your writing career and why?
I guess mainly, all the authors I love to read. After that, I would say it’s critique partners who not only critique my work, but sincerely seem drawn to it. One in particular was in Australia. She seemed fascinated with the novel I was crafting. When I wander around in the depths of “why did I think I could do this?” I remember her. She drove to my house as I was packing to return to the U.S. and told me to fight for it, because she thought I wrote better than she did, and she was published. I hold to that. And on my rough days, I try and believe with everything in me.
Now that’s a supportive reader and the type of person we all achieve to reach. What do you consider the single most satisfying aspect of being a writer?
If I had to pick a single thing, it would be when the work publishes. I think it’s several things, though. When you type The End, whether it’s figurative or for real, you’re so darn glad to be finished you want to call everyone you know and say “I’m THROUGH”. But, when it publishes, that’s a rush, and then, if you garner some great reviews plus it sells well, that’s hard to beat also.
Oh, I agree, especially with regard to receiving great reviews. It’s then that I feel I’ve reached someone and accomplished what I set out to do. Tell us a little bit about where you live.
I live in the south. Can’t y’all tell? (I’ve held my usual verbiage to a modicum so maybe you didn’t see it sashay past yet). I’m in Houston, Texas. But my heart…and I’m sure some part of my soul is in Louisiana. When I’m there, my Muse is in full stride, running a little in front of me, turning and motioning me to hurry. He has a lot to say when I’m in Louisiana. And yes, he’s male. Very male. He’s the one who’d love it if I’d go for broke in the sensuous scenes. So far, I stare him down and say, “I can’t do ALL of that…but I can DO this.” I’m holding my own so far. But y’all know how men are. (Wide eyes here, accompanied by a smidgeon of a smirk…I can’t REALLY smirk. If I do, The Muse won’t speak to me for days. Seriously).
Oh, that’s funny. I love it that you have a male muse. Mark Twain said, “Southerners speak music…” Do you have a favorite southern saying you can share with our readers?
I think I’ll sashay around with this a little, share a few things you may not have heard as often. Some of these phrases come from the book “The Grits (Girls Raised in the South) Guide to Life”. And, yes m’am, I have a copy. Right where I can reach it at all times!
From the Grits guide, first and foremost:
If the sweet lilt of a soft Southern Accent isn’t music to the ears, we just don’t know what is. Music isn’t just in our blood; it’s in our words as well.
If you can’t say Darlin’ like you meant it, sugah, just don’t say anything at all. (I’m a big darlin’ and sugah gal, so this one rolls freely throughout my speech)
I’m busy as a one-armed paper hanger. (Darn busy)
Well, shut my mouth! (Well, I declare!)
Well, I declare! (I never would have thought it!)
Kiss my grits! (Kiss my unmentionables!)
Slow as molasses in January (Slow as tar in December)
Whistlin’ Dixie (Like throwin’ salt over your shoulder) I’m always whistlin’ Dixie btw.
And finally, I’m fixin’ to (I’m going to)
And although this wasn’t asked, I thought I’d post my opening line for “The Midnight Dance”, my unpublished novel. It violates some of the popular rules, but then again, I witnessed James Scott Bell saying he’d changed his mind about moody, storm scenes. So off we go, to the 1800s in Louisiana, on a sultry, southern night, to listen to the cadence of southern words. (And, it is copyrighted, y’all…just sayin’…as sweetly as possible).
A deep bass-throated rumble rolled across the Cajun sky, as heat-lightning spread its white-hot fingers through heavy clouds.
There now. Try that on in a southern accent and you get the gist of things.
Laughing here. When Cyndi (Caitlyn Hunter) and I wrote Whistling Woman, we used Southern sayings as chapter titles and it was fun researching those. One of my favorites (we didn’t use this one) is I’m as fine as a frog hair split three ways. Who were your favorite authors as a child? Have they influenced your writing career in any way?
I read Walter Farley, Jack London and then drifted to Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney. You can see my love of intrigue developing as I grew. My love of animals also remains. I am bringing flocks of birds into Firebird, and giving them their own voice. We have a murder of crows, a parliament of owls and an exaltation of doves.
Oh, I loved Holt’s gothics and Whitney introduced me to sensual love in a novel. Looking forward to what you do with that flock of birds! Where do you find inspiration for your writing?
Everywhere. I may go days with nothing striking me, and then be inundated with ideas if a setting, phrase, or person catches my eye.
I do the same. What are major themes or motifs in your work? Do your readers ever surprise you by seeing something else in your stories than you think you wrote?
All my works deal with the paranormal to some extent. Dark Pleasures is my closest to a straight romantic thriller, but when I extend it, psychic connections will come forward. The Pan Man is a YA with paranormal overtones surrounding the romance. The Rising, Out of the Ashes and Firebird are all paranormal thrillers. Some of my themes deal with redemption, as in, The Midnight Dance (unpublished). The non-existence of reality as we know it, with a tip of the hat to Einstein, in The Image (releasing in 2013). And the Phoenix series listed above, which is based on the continuance of existence.
All sound intriguing. If you could talk for thirty minutes with any author (or person), living or dead, who would it be?
THAT is a difficult choice for me. There are too people who have walked this earth and have left profound footprints. So, I’ll keep it to the author field. I’d love to talk with Mark Twain. (I doubt either of us could keep it to thirty minutes though, we’re both talkers, so we’d probably have to “git a room”). For the author’s who are living, either Anne Rice or Stephen King.
What is your strongest and/or your weakest area in the creative process?
Strongest…I seldom get writer’s block. Weakest…making myself sit down and do it.
Oh, how I wish I could get rid of writer’s block. How many hours a day do you write, where, any specific circumstances help or hurt your process?
At this point, I don’t write every single day. I tend to go by deadlines. I set a time frame to have the first draft finished and then go with the flow, with my eye ever fixed on the target date.
I can’t have a lot of racket around. I love music, and can be in a place with people flowing past me, but not interrupting me. An outdoor café works well. Other than that, finding a spot in my house (I have many views so that helps) then curling up with the piece and letting it flow.
I find I work best when I’m faced with a deadline. I’m too much of a procrastinator. What are your thoughts on the standard writing advice, “write what you know”?
Well, of course, you have to know what you’re writing about. I’d say write what you love, and what you don’t know about it, do the research. I tend to write romantic, paranormal thrillers, because I like the genre, and over the years, I’ve gathered a lot of information about the paranormal. And, I also like animals, so I’m bringing them in to Firebird. I also have a dog in Dark Pleasures. We’ll see how the readers like it. They like Dean Koontz so hopefully they’ll like what I’ve chosen to do also.
I write fiction, and as I mentioned earlier, it’s usually paranormal thrillers with some romance.
In each of my books but one I’ve always featured a dog. And Dean Koontz is such a great writer and dog lover. I’m a volunteer with a local Weimaraner rescue group and he always donates signed copies of his books to our fund raisers. How do you classify yourself as a writer? Fiction or non-fiction? Specific genre such as mystery, short story, paranormal or more general such as women’s fiction, Appalachian, etc. -Beside “writer,” what else are you; what is your “day job”?
I’m a writer. This is the first time in a long time that I haven’t had an official “day job”.
I envy you that. What is your VERB? (This is a big poster at a local mall)? If you had to choose ONE verb that describes you and your behavior or attitude, what would it be?
Ha! Sugah, I’m having to think, because I’m such a blend. I phoned a friend, told her to give me one word. She said, vivacious. And then she said, no wait, southernbelle. I know, that’s actually two words and a noun. I give up. Y’all decide.
Both definitely describe you. I’d also add funny and warm. Describe your writing process once you sit down to write—or the preliminaries.Where do you get your ideas?
I start with the idea of the scene I’m on, and then the characters always take over. Once I begin, I can’t write fast enough to suit them.
Any family influences? Memoirs in the making?
No family influences yet. But, there are some things twirling in my head. Once I finish this agenda, which is rather lengthy, I might consider something. I have a cousin who owns a well-known restaurant in Houston, and she wants me to collaborate with a family cook-book/memoir. It might work. We have an outrageously funny family member who has passed, that was very flamboyant. Maybe, if I could turn her loose in the memoirs it would spice up the plot, not to mention the food! Oh, darn, now I’ll go sideways with THAT plot in my head for a couple of hours.
LOL. Were books an important part of your household when you were growing up?
Yes, books were all over my room. I was an avid reader and adored winter when I could curl up on the sofa or bed and read on a Saturday. If I had nothing to read at breakfast, I would read the cereal box. I wonder what a psychiatrist would say about that?
Me, too. My best friend and I used to hang out in her bedroom all weekend reading Victoria Holt. Any teachers who influenced you…encouraged you or discouraged?
In school, I mainly took art, and yes all encouraged me. But, one English teacher read something I wrote and took me aside, telling me I needed to develop the talent. As you can see, I didn’t follow that advice until many years later.
I think a lot of writers begin later in life. I know I did. Did the classics have any effect on you in your formative years? (Shakespeare? Alice in Wonderland? Gulliver’s Travels?)
I enjoyed Greek Mythology, Mark Twain, Hawthorne and Poe. I liked the grandeur of Greek Mythology, the way Mark Twain could take everyday life and turn it into an adventure, and the eeriness of Poe.
Have you bought an e-reader? What is your overall impression of electronic publishing?
When e-pubbing first made the scene, I said, “You can either wax your board and catch the wave, or you can drown…because this thing isn’t just another wave, this thing is a tsunami.” (You can quote me on that)J
I bought a Color Nook first, (The Kindle later) because it offered color and had back lighting. I hate working out techie things, so I left it near the bed for a few days. One night I was in bed, in my pajamas, and decided I really wanted the latest release of one of my favorite authors. Not wanting to wait until the next day, I figured out how to “shop” the Nook store. I was amazed at the vibrancy of the book covers, and delighted that I was shopping at B&N in my pajamas. I love shopping and reading, so the two passions met in bed that night, and I’ve never looked back. As a writer, of course, I’d like to see certain books of mine in a print version, and will possibly submit to a couple of publishers with that in mind. But, I have been very happy with being able to get my work out there (after decent editing) and having the thrill of designing my own covers. My husband is my cover man and he does a fabulous job. So, I’m lucky.
As for my opinion on indie-pubbing, I think it’s great. I also think having a publisher is great. Whatever works for you as an author is what you should do. I’m still addressing both fields.
Yes, I’ve gone both ways and there are pros and cons with each. And I really think ebooks are the future. This from someone who once swore she would never own an ebook reader. Now I don’t know what I’d do without mine. How do your characters “come” to you? Are they based loosely or closely on people you know?
I seldom use people I know. Once in a great while I may use an attribute, but I try never to reflect a real person in my life. My characters just “are”. They come forward, I see and hear them clearly, and we’re off and running.
I’ve only used a person I knew – she was a real evil person and it was kind of cathartic seeing her get her dues in a book. Are you in a critique group? If so, how does it work and specifically how do the members help your writing?
I was fortunate when I began writing to join a very powerful critique group while I was in Australia. One person in the group was an editor, another was highly placed in the Australian RWA and published, and the others were well versed in writing.
Since being in the U.S., I’ve been fortunate to have very strong critique partners. All have either published, or have taken enough writing and editing courses to fill a book themselves. They know what they’re doing. The critique group I’m with at the moment meets twice a month with each of us bringing approximately 10 pages printed out for each member to take home and critique. We all acknowledge some of the changes we suggest may not ring true with the author. Unless the author is violating a writing rule “set in stone” we concede the author makes the last decision.
Any good suggestions for overcoming writer’s block?
I really don’t get writer’s block. I get life block. Things, usually big things, get in the way. But, I try to keep to the timeline I set for myself and navigate around the “things”.
Any books on writing you have found most helpful? Or classes you’ve taken?
Stephen King’s On Writing. The latest writing books and lecture by James Scott Bell. If you get a chance to hear this guy, GO. He has a unique style of presenting that keeps the malaise you get, when sitting in lectures, from taking over. He spoke at our Lonestar conference this year. It’s one of the best little conferences in TexasJ Y’all consider coming next year. We’ve rounded up Donald Maas for 2013.
King’s book has become a staple, I think, in the writing industry. Never head of Bell. I’ll check him out.
Thanks for having me here on the Dames, Christy. You know I always love coming and visiting with y’all… it’s just like pulling up a chair on the verandah and sipping on some iced (pronounced ahced) tea on a sultry summer day.J
Fer sure. Thanks for joining us today, Loretta. For more information about Loretta and her books:
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