The Dames are pleased to shine the spotlight on multi-genre author Alana Lorens today. Welcome, Alana! Tell us about your latest book.
The first book in the Pittsburgh Lady Lawyer series, romantic suspense novel CONVICTION OF THE HEART, features attorney Suzanne Taylor, who raised her children as a single mother at the same time she built a successful legal practice. She’s managed to keep herself untangled from romance for many years, putting her kids and their financial security first.
But the case of a city councilman’s battered wife brings her complications in the form of police lieutenant Nick Sansone, whose interest in her comes right when she needs a little help from outside sources. The councilman strikes out at Suzanne, Nick, and eventually, anyone he can think of who might make Suzanne back off. Will they be able to stave off the danger long enough for their love to blossom?
See the book trailer for this here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a84IZoH-JKw
The second is SECOND CHANCES. This women’s fiction story begins the day attorney Inessa Regan receives a pink slip after ten years of faithful service. She’s been a mid-level associate her whole career, partners telling her what to do, providing her with an office and everything she needs. Thrown out into the legal world on her own, she doesn’t know how she’ll survive.
Her neighbor brings her first client, Kurt Lowdon, a young Iraq veteran with cancer, who’s looking just to have a will made. Inessa struggles to give Kurt what he needs, and he helps make it easy for her. Once his immediate needs are met, he takes her under his wing and brings her more clients as well as a place to open an office to see them. Things begin to fall together for her, including a very special friendship with Kurt that becomes something more.
But his past military service, and the friends he’s made there, begin to cause problems for them both, as well as issues his drug-addicted sister delivers to his doorstep. He still hasn’t kicked his cancer, either, and Inessa wonders if falling in love with him is a blessing or a curse.
Here’s the book trailer for SECOND CHANCES: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEMtSxd6FQQ&feature=youtu.be
I love that you have YouTube videos for your books. That’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while now but so far, I haven’t got up the nerve to tackle it yet. Can you share a little bit about what you’re working on now or what’s coming next?
I’m very happy to report that I’ve just signed a contract for the third book in the series, entitled VOODOO DREAMS. This story is about a Pittsburgh lawyer wanting to get away from it all after a big trial goes bad, so she grabs a flight to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. Who does she find staying at her bed and breakfast but a lawyer from the firm that beat her? While she wants nothing to do with him, gradually the two of them are drawn into a mystery that takes them through the city cemeteries and even into the Louisiana swamps for a voodoo ritual. Very exciting stuff. J
Oooh, the big easy, voodoo rituals, mysterious cemeteries, and love. Sounds like a winner to me! Promotion is a big—and usually the most hated—part of being a writer. Can you share a little bit about how you promote?
So who wants to hear a constant bombardment of “Buy my book!” No one. Even if you add “please,” it still gets pretty tedious, right? Instead, I have my blogs/websites and partner up with other authors to exchange posts, so that I can be introduced to whole new audiences. I think this way we can begin a two-way conversation, not just a one-way demand.
I also participate in community events, where I can meet local readers. For example, on Valentine’s Day a couple of years ago, one of my favorite shoe stores had a big event, and I joined in with my book about a girl who finds a glass slipper on the sidewalk, THE ELF QUEEN. We had a contest to try on the slipper I had, and whoever fit the shoe was entered in a drawing to win a prize package. It was a lot of fun.
Very original and yes, it sounds like a lot of fun. How long have you been writing?
I wrote my first novel when I was 14, a terrible old Gothic time-travel about a governess and the young lord of the mansion set in England (where I’d never been, of course). Considering it now, it was dreadful. But it was the beginning. Now, some forty years, thirty manuscripts and eighteen book contracts later, I’m able to look at it and laugh.
While I read a lot of gothic romance in my youth, I also read science fiction and fantasy. I think that’s reflected in what I write now, with the women’s fiction/romance under Alana Lorens and the sci-fi/fantasy/supernatural under Lyndi Alexander. The Novelspot site actually did a seven-piece series on my history as a writer that covers all the drama, divorces, writer’s block and children with autism. The BEHIND THE SCENES series begins here with A Dead Rabbit and the Letter. http://novelspot.net/node/5197
Thanks for including the link! Who or what has been the biggest influence in your writing career and why?
I’ve got to say my husband is probably the catalyst that has really made my writing life come together. He’s not a writer, but he’s a reader, a voracious one. We met playing sci-fi role-playing games on the Internet (that’s a whole other story!), and his imagination really helped spark mine back into serious work. He is great to bounce ideas off for workability, and his skill set really compliments mine, so we can figure out how to create almost any scene.
Sounds like a match made in heaven! What do you consider the single most satisfying aspect of being a writer?
Knowing where I am on page one and knowing where I want to be by the last page and then step by step, filling in that gap in a way that’s interesting and well-done.
What are your thoughts on the standard writing advice, “write what you know”?
In this particular series, it’s been pretty valuable! My work as a lawyer certainly informs my storytelling. On the other hand, I also write space opera, though I’ve never been on a spaceship or off the planet. So I think a thorough knowledge of the working human (and often those who are less functional) can benefit an author’s work. After all, world-building can only take you so far—it’s the people who catch reader’s imagination.
I agree, the characters can definitely make or break a book. 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’m really all over the map, but much more genre fiction rather than literary. I have my non-fiction book 101 Little Instructions for Surviving Your Divorce, that came out over a decade ago, but then in 2010, I really concentrated on fiction. The urban fantasy series, The Clan Elves of the Bitterroot, is set in the mountains of Montana. I have romantic suspense with bordellos and Mexican drug lords, contemporary romance with broken hearts and rock stars, a Firefly-like series set in deep space about a rebel space captain thrown out of his universe who must rebuild his crew to survive, and this summer a supernatural mystery with psychic vampires. Instead of trying to squish all my writing into one category, I write the stories and characters and situations that come to me.
I’m a family law attorney, handling divorce, custody, adoption and juvenile dependency matters. It’s a very emotional area, and certainly helps generate a lot of passions that I can transform into writing work.
I’m also mother to several children on the autism spectrum, so with therapies and testing and team meetings and IEPs and all, it feels like a second or third job a lot of the time.
You’re a very busy woman! Are you in a critique group? If so, how does it work and specifically how do the members help your writing?
I have a couple of critique groups through the Pennwriters’ organization, and these people have been really instrumental in helping improve my work. Pennwriters has several groups meeting in the northwestern Pennsylvania area, almost one every day, kind of like Writers’ Anonymous. But this is a great advantage, because each writer can find the group that fits his or her needs. I’ve been a member of one group since about 2005, and the six or eight people have all progressed to a very polished level of work. We bring our eight to ten pages and read aloud, then get back our copies with comments and suggestions. I have recently joined a second group that is a little less polished but has more published romance writers in it, and so I get a better perspective for my romance works. Their process is pretty much the same. Both groups are very positive; while there’s no ban on criticism, it’s understood that we can ask for what we need. I always want people to be tough but true in their commentary—there’s no reason to tear people’s work up just for the sake of doing it.
Any good suggestions for overcoming writer’s block?
I often get blocked in what they call the “sagging middle.” I’ve got the story launched, and I know where the characters are going but it just…can’t…seem…to…get…there. When that happens, I usually start picking scenes from the outline, it doesn’t matter if they’re in order, and writing them, to get momentum up again. After all, no one says you have to write the story from the first to last page, right? Once you get restarted forward, it’s so much easier to fill in the gaps.
I’m well acquainted with the “sagging middle” syndrome—it gets me every time. Any books on writing you have found most helpful? Or classes you’ve taken?
I absolutely devoured SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder, which is actually a screenwriting book, but definitely applies to any kind of fiction as well. You’ve got to make readers connect with your characters in any format, and this book helps show you how.
I’m also a big fan of writing teacher Margie Lawson, from Colorado. I’ve taken several of her online classes and then had the privilege to take one of her intensive master courses at her home in Golden. Her work is amazing, and she really taught me how to open up my character’s emotions in new ways.
Thanks so much for joining us today, Alana. I enjoyed getting to know you through your thoughtful answers!
To learn more about Alana Lorens, Lyndi Alexander, and their books, go to:
http://lyndialexander.wordpress.com –other website/blog
Alana Lorens on Facebook– https://www.facebook.com/AlanaLorens?ref=hl
Conviction of the Heart buylink http://www.amazon.com/Conviction-of-the-Heart-ebook/dp/B0089PTPAO/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1353946105&sr=8-2&keywords=alana+lorens