Welcome to Writers' Wednesday! I'm happy to welcome back my first-ever repeat guest, Liana Laverentz, who has so much going on with her writing she just had to share it with us. Enjoy!
Liana, I know you've been busy in the last year. Tell us about your latest writing project or published title.
My next release, a murder mystery romance titled Ashton’s Secret, was also my first published book, only now it’s a lot better and different.
I loved revising Ashton’s Secret. When I first submitted it to The Wild Rose Press, it was rejected, because it was out of date regarding the writing, the relationship dynamics between the hero and heroine (me man, you woman), and a few modern conveniences, like video games and cell phones.
One main difference between the first version and this new, much improved version (I am so excited about this…it was a real eye-opener to see how much I had grown and changed as a writer) is the hero’s occupation, which is another secret in the story and is not revealed to the heroine the end of the book. Astute readers, I am sure, will catch on quickly. His former occupation is now his hobby.
But his new occupation makes much more sense and adds a lot of tension to the story. She knows he has secrets, but he’s not saying, and that makes it hard to establish trust between them, which heightens the conflict. I also changed the ending. Not the happily ever after part, but how they got to it, and this time gave a glimpse of their future through their dialogue.
How do you go about developing your characters?
I start with an external conflict, and try to imagine what kind of person would be involved in that conflict, try to figure out what kind of past or emotional baggage would lead them to be in that situation, and build from there. I am fascinated by why people do what they do, so all my stories deal with issues stemming from my characters’ childhoods, and all my characters are built in layers. They don’t come fully formed, and they continue to surprise me with little details about themselves until I send the manuscript in to production.
What kinds of books do you like to read? Who is your favorite author?
I love to read romantic suspense, or just plain suspense. Some of my favorite authors are Lisa Gardner, Rachel Lee, Erica Spindler, and Eileen Dreyer, who also writes romances as Kathleen Korbel. She has an obvious love for the written word and knows how to use it. When I read her books, it’s like looking forward to checking in with old friends at the end of the day. She makes her characters that real for you. In her book Sinners and Saints, she even made the setting, New Orleans just before a hurricane hits, a character in the book. You can tell she does her research. But she weaves it into the story so skillfully you don’t even realize you’re learning something as you read. And that there’s more going on than just the story, here. It’s a story written on several levels, and you can read it at any level you choose and still be satisfied at the end of the book.
How do you balance writing with the rest of your life?
That’s a tough one. I’m still working on it. I find that when my life is balanced, I don’t get enough writing time in (and I get irritable), and when I am writing, my life veers completely out of balance. Just recently, an agent asked me to send her two proposals for non-fiction books I’m working on, and I dropped everything to start writing the first one. For nine days I did nothing else. Didn’t go anywhere, see anyone, barely went to the store and the house did not get cleaned. Sent the first proposal off and got to work on putting my house and life back in order. Now that that’s done, it’s time to start the second proposal. I want to, but I also know how I am…so I have to make sure the fridge is stocked and bills are paid and the house is reasonably clean before I start.
I do make sure to get to the Y at least five times a week to exercise and do something besides sit at my computer. And I balance that out with yoga, Tai Chi and cardio work. I’ve recently taken up salsa dancing, because it’s an excellent workout and gets more parts of the body moving than just the cross-trainer. Another important thing I started doing was shutting down the computer each evening around 8:00 p.m. to watch a DVD with my son and get my mind on something besides what I’m working on.Watching something on DVD (I don’t watch television—hate commercials) allows me to both relax and think about something else before I go to sleep. We usually watch comedies, so that helps to put laughter in my day.
This has become such an important goal and topic for me that I now host two day long chats called Balance With Liana—one the first Thursday of the month at Long and Short Reviews, and another every Tuesday at The Bookspa, where writers get together to talk about all things related to writing. At The Bookspa, we break it down into Mind, Body, Heart, and Soul, and each week tackle a different area of balance in our lives. I then take the best of what we’ve discussed at The Bookspa and present it at Long and Short Reviews. It’s great fun, and the exchange of ideas seems to help everyone who participates to create a little more balance in their lives. Anyone is welcome to join us at either http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LongAndShortRomanceReviews or http://groups.yahoo.com/group/thebookspa/
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
I don’t suffer from writer’s block. My biggest problem is finding the time to put all the stories I have in my head and heart onto paper. Writers write. It’s what we do. We write because we can’t not write. But every word doesn’t have to be written for publication. So if you find yourself stuck, just start writing, even if it’s stream of consciousness, and it may take a while, but once you get started, you won’t want to stop. Even if the first thing you write has nothing to do with what you’re currently stuck on, just opening yourself up to the flow of creativity in your brain and enjoying the moment will eventually bring you to where you want to be. Something you write will undoubtedly spark an idea that you can tie back in to your WIP.
Either that, or pick up a book in an area that is different from the one you are trying to write. That works a lot, too. It shifts your conscious mind to something else, so that your subconscious can work out the problem. In a sense, you’re getting yourself out of your own way.
Or you can do something mindless, like the dishes, or folding laundry, or even take a walk. Slow down enough for your creativity to catch up to you again.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
My favorite activities are reading, writing, watching movies on DVD, making soup from scratch, martial arts, road trips, and all things spiritual. I’m a huge fan of self-improvement, and am always looking for ways to keep my life balanced between writing, working, and being a Mom.
What is the best and worst advice you have ever received?
Worst advice…that category romance was the only romance worth writing. I was never going to fit into the category romance mold. It was like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, and I lost a lot of years trying to write something I wasn’t suited for.
Best advice…never give up. If you don’t write the books in your heart, no one will. No one will even know they exist except you, and they will die when you do, never having been released into the world. Never having even had a chance.
What would be the best way for readers contact you? Do you have a website? MySpace site? Blog? Message Board? Group?
How can readers find out more about you and your books?
Just stop by my website www.lianalaverentz.com and sign up for my newsletter, or check my blog every now and then. http://lianalaverentz.blogspot.com/
Readers, look for Ashton's Secret releasing June 26th - and another hearty thanks to Liana for being here today!