Today I have the honor of having multi-published, award winning author Lena Austin with me. Help me in welcoming her to XtraOrdinary Romance...welcome, Lena!
At what age did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I never did want to be a writer, oddly enough. After much nagging on the part of friends and family, I fell into this and learned to like it.
What has been your biggest influence on becoming a writer?
Nagging family and friends who insisted I become a professional liar. (grin)
How did you feel when you got your first publishing contract?
Terrified. “What? The publisher accepted? They weren’t supposed to accept!! I sent the submission in just to prove the nags wrong and get them to shut up. Now what do I do? What do you mean, edits? Umm…what’s this thing called passive voice and why do I have to get rid of it?”
How many novellas/novels have you published to date? When did you have your first sale?
My first sale was in 2004, and I’ve published over thirty titles since then. I lost track of how many about a year ago. Some are now out of date and hidden in a file out of sight.
Tell me about your latest release. Please include if it is part of a series or a standalone book.
At the time of this writing, I have three upcoming releases I can definitely say are done, in the can, and ready.
The first is for the Ashes Anthology benefitting the Save the Quiet Kitty Fund charity at Changeling Press, called “Fallen Angel.” If I’m not mistaken, that will come out in November 2009. Exotic dancer Angie has a secret that could ruin her whole family, but a fanatic with a gun will force Angie to run to a mysterious biker named Tree, but Tree isn’t everything he seems, either.
Then in December 2009, I’ll release Holiday Howlz: Haulin’ Hawg. When I finished Dawgtown: Bad Dawg this past summer, my readers told me they wanted the guys to say those three important words and commit. Well, it’s taken six months, but Loren is on his way back to Barkus, KS and BD’s arms. When he gets there for Christmas, silent BD has a way of showing Loren how much he cares that involves a custom Harley and some bungee cords.
Finally, coming in January 2010, I’m happy to announce the release of something new: an erotic paranormal mystery. I’ve wanted to write these characters for years, and finally the harpy sleuth Madge Majesty and her telekinetic ex-thief chauffeur Hayden will be available to the public in a special full-length novel from Changeling Press called: Majesty Mysteries: Silver Spider. Can you figure out who killed the Duke of Aberystwyth before Madge does?
What was your inspiration for this book?
As with so many of my books, the Majesty Mysteries came out of my reading other stories or watching a movie and getting my own ideas. Madge and Hayden first came from another sleuth pairing that just didn’t work for me. I kept waiting for the romance that never happened, and I longed for paranormal elements to appear. Finally, I jotted down notes of my own until I had a whole plot.
How do you categorize yourself: pantser or plotter?
I’m a plotter. I’m an anal-retentive plotter. I’m one of those scary people who have character sheets, maps on the wall, and whole ring binders devoted to the research and plot long before I put fingers to keyboard.
How do you handle the editing/revision process?
What’s to handle? You do it. If necessary, you read over what the editor said and walk away until you get your emotions under control. Then you put fingers to keyboard and do as you’re told. I rarely argue, and when I do, I’d better be able to back up my reasoning with ironclad proof of why I am bucking in the traces.
You’re received some fantastic reviews...how do you feel about them and why?
All reviews are important, and I love every word, even the critical ones. Why? Because they’re both vital information on how the readers feel, and –even more important—promotional materials. I have always tried to thank the reviewers for their time and trouble, ESPECIALLY if they hated it.
Did anything odd happen while you were researching this story?
I involved my whole family, accidentally. I rented a few highly recommended mystery DVDs so I could learn what was cliché, and what was considered an essential element. I thought the DH at minimum would snort and leave. Instead, he sat down with me and picked apart the movies like a real aficionado, and confided they were his guilty secret. He loves mysteries! OMG!
Did you do anything special after that first sale?
I bought a special pair of euro-wire earrings with CZ “diamonds” in them. They were all I could afford, but I love them for their symbolism even now. I still wear them almost every day.
What is your typical writing routine? Do you count words, pages or time?
I try to write in the mornings before the rest of the world is awake. Doesn’t always happen. In fact, it rarely happens that way, but I try. I count words, but I have what’s known as a “Power Hour.” I shut myself in my bedroom on the non-internet computer and promise myself I won’t come out for one hour. It works. With no internet to distract me, I get a lot done! Typically, about 1K per weekday.
Share a little bit of the ‘real’ you with our readers. What do you do besides writing? Any hobbies? Dark secrets?
No one ever believes me, but I’m a big crafter. I love to play in Sculpey, sew, quilt, paint faux stained glass, punch needle embroidery, and many other crafts. I’m even a member of the Friendship Quilter’s Guild here locally.
Who is your biggest fan?
The longest running fan is Terrie Wagner. She’s been a fan-friend since the early ‘90’s. She can and has pounded me into the dirt like a tent peg when I made a serious content error, then turned around and praised me for something else!
Did someone every give you a great piece of advice along the way? What was it?
Another author told me, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” Period, end of statement. What she meant was, if you don’t have the courage to ask for what you need or want, you’ll never get any of it. She was right. I’ve plucked up the courage to make requests. Sometimes they were granted. Sometimes they weren’t, or an alternate was proposed. The results were almost always that I ended up in a better position than if I’d kept my mouth shut. So, I ask.
Do comments or letters you receive from fans and other writers influence you in any way?
Oh Hell yes! Without the fans’ comments, how would I know what they want? One reader even suggested the idea behind Wild Thing.
How long does it take you to complete a project?
That depends on the project. Some take as little as three days. Some take three months. The longest I ever took was six months, and that was before I was published. I’ve worked on the self-discipline a little since then.
How do you recharge once a project is complete?
Quilting and crafting. I’m a member of a quilter’s guild, and I’m learning to quilt something beyond the boring patchwork I always believed was all there was to quilting. How wrong I was!
What is the biggest piece of your advice you can give a beginning writer?
Never give up. Finish the darn thing. Sure, those early works may end up in the back of a file drawer covered in dust. The point is to learn. Besides, you never know. It’s like playing the lottery. You can’t win if you don’t pay for the ticket. Finish the book and ask (submit.) You may just get the shock of your life, like I did. LOL!
Do your characters take over the story?
(Groan!!) All the time! I plot, I plan, and then my train of thought takes a dirt road because a character decides to tell me something insanely different that I just have to run with.
Lena Austin is a “fallen” society wench with a checkered past. She has been a licensed minister, hairdresser, and realtor, radio DJ, exotic dancer, telephone service tech, live-steel medievalist swordswoman, BDSM Mistress, and investment property manager. Not necessarily in that order. She never finished that degree in archaeology, but did learn to scuba. After a life like that, writing about it is pretty restful. Of herself, Lena writes, “I’m tall, and I look like an unholy mating between an Amazon and a librarian. Everything else is subject to change on a whim.” She presently has over thirty books written, and has no plans to stop until they pry her cold dead fingers from the keyboard.
Where can readers find out more about you and your work?
The very best place to start is my website: http://www.lenaaustin.com/
I also communicate regularly on my three blogs:
Writing blog: http://depravedduchess.blogspot.com/
Recipe and Pagan blog: http://third-infinity.blogspot.com/
Low Carb Diet blog: http://fatfrogdiary.blogspot.com/
Thanks for taking part in my 2 for Thursday promotion, Lena. It was wonderful to learn all about you and your writing!