Welcome to Dames of Dialogue, Lee-Ann. Let’s start off with the most basic question: Tell us about your latest book.
Well, I have two out (or close to) at this time. One is the third in my children’s picturebook series entitled Queen Emily’s Enchanted Kingdom. This is a moral series written with my eight-year-old daughter. She also draws some of the illustrations for the series as well.
The latest in this series is entitled Dreamland. Emily goes to sleep and awakens as Queen Emily the ruler of the Enchanted Kingdom. Only this time, she awakens inside her own dream and takes a trip on the enchanted carpet through her chosen dream door. There, Queen Emily and her trusty sidekick, Miss Bun-Bun, are taken straight to the Queen Mother at the Pink Castle. This dream is Queen Emily’s favorite because she gets to play and have fun with her mother all day long.
My other book due out soon is called Love Under Fire. It is the second in my military/romance series. Deployment to Iraq was both a dream and a nightmare for Corporal Erika Sigurdson of the US Army Intel division. Proving herself to her 1SG was no small feat. Neither was keeping the foolish boys, who thought they were man enough, at bay. Her tough girl image aside, she was about to discover that appearances are not always what they seem, especially her own. When the warrior unleashes from within, the mind and soul see with more clarity. Sometimes, those you push away are the ones you need the most.
I really love that you’re sharing part of your literary journey with your 8-year-old daughter. Can you share a little bit about what you’re working on now or what’s coming next?
Currently, I am working on the first book in my new young adult series. Sibling rivalry is nothing new. This series showcases the more emotional side of a nine-year-old girl who has to endure the daily antics of her younger brother.
You’re very prolific. What is a typical writing day like for you?
My writing time occurs in the evening once the kids are in bed. My day usually consists of marketing my work and returning emails, various events at my children’s school, looking through student assignments and getting the errands done and house cleaned before I pick up the kids from school. There really isn’t time to concentrate on uninterrupted writing during the day, which is why I choose to write at night.
Been there, done that! When you’re writing, who’s in control, you or the characters?
I have no control. I am told what to write and how to write it. Most times, when I look back over a manuscript I’ve written months earlier, I don’t even remember writing half of it. The characters possess my mind and fingers. I guess they don’t think I can do a good enough job telling their tales.
That happens to me. Sometimes long after the writing is done, I’ll read a passage I’ve written and think, did I write that? What do you consider the single most satisfying aspect of being a writer?
There is no single aspect, there are several. I enjoy leaving for work and arriving at “my office” ten seconds later with my door closed and cup of coffee in hand. I love the feeling of getting so lost in my work that I never look at the clock and wonder “how much longer before I get to go home?” I greatly appreciate the chance to be a full-time mom and be able to take part in all the school activities with my kids. Writing is challenging and involves a lot of marketing to make any amount of money, but when I pair this against the ability to be there for my kids while doing what I love. . .well, I’m more than satisfied.
I quite agree. Mark Twain said, “Southerners speak music…” Do you have a favorite southern saying you can share with our readers?
I truly adore the way Southerners speak. The lilts and staccatos evoke a sing-song effect and I find myself almost humming along. Being Canadian, I have no accent. Oddly enough, I find almost everyone else outside of Canada does. I would have to say that my all-time favourite Southern saying has to be “Ya’ll come back now. Ya hear?” This is such a versatile statement. I say it quite often with varying degrees of accents. It also applies to my work. If you like one of my books, well. . ., “Ya’ll come back now. Ya hear?”
Being a Southerner, I truly love this accent but detest watching a movie or TV show where the accent is mangled and not done well. How many hours a day do you write, where, any specific circumstances help or hurt your process?
How many hours depends on what time my children let me get to the keyboard to write at night. When my head hits the keyboard, I know my time is up. Not getting interrupted helps. The needy nosing of my Brittany Spaniel pup, doesn’t.
What are your thoughts on the standard writing advice, “write what you know”?
Well, I think this statement is a bit restricting. I’ve never been one to be told what I can or cannot do. While it is true (and easier) that it’s best to write from personal experience, I find that the imagination is limitless if you just give it a chance to open up. Many books would never have been written if the authors simply stuck to what they knew. You may need to do a little research on your topic, but if you write what moves you and let your characters lead, there is no limit to your writing power.
Good answer. 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.
I am a writer of fiction. Romance, military suspense, erotica, paranormal (coming soon), young adult and children’s picture books are all genres I attach to my name. Like I said, I don’t like to limit myself. To quote my favourite movie, “No one puts Baby in a corner.” (Dirty Dancing, 1987)
Love the movie and saying. Beside “writer,” what else are you; what is your “day job”?
I am a wife and mother of two kids ages 5 and 8. Owner of a Brittany Spaniel (those of you who are familiar with this breed know they aren’t just pretty lap dogs who like to sit around and snuggle all day) who needs a lot of exercise. I tutor writing students for my “day job.” I am also on the PAC at my kids’ school where I do various weekly fundraising jobs such as Popcorn Wednesdays and Hot Lunch. The days can be very blurry at times, but I love what I do and wouldn’t change it.
You sound busy! What is your VERB? (This is a big poster at a local mall)? If you had to choose ONE verb that describes you and you behavior or attitude, what would it be?
A very good description, I think. Where do you get your ideas?
For the picturebooks and YA fiction, it’s my daughter. For all the rest, the ideas simply appear and will me to write. I have no control and never know when the knowledge of my next story will strike. I like it that way. It’s all very spontaneous and exciting.
Thanks very much for joining us today, Lee-Ann. I really enjoyed it. Below are links for more information about Lee-Ann and her works.
Gypsy Shadow Publishing: www.gypsyshadow.com/Lee-AnnGraffVinson.html
Great Minds Think Aloud Publishing: http://www.gmtapublishing.com/lee-ann-graff-vinson.html
Thank you so much for having me on Dames of Dialogue. I have enjoyed sharing a bit about myself with your readers.