A former TV news anchor, Lauren adores flavored coffee, local book stores, and anywhere she can stick her toes in the sand. Her big loves are her family, paying it forward, and true-blue friends. Check out her website at www.laurenclarkbooks.com
Why, thank you, Carl! I've received a lot of compliments on the title and I'm so glad people like it! The story follows Julia Sullivan, a "big city" travel writer sent to cover the historic Pilgrimage (tour of homes) in Eufaula, Alabama. No one actually "gets naked" in Dixie (sorry, 50 Shades of Gray people!)...it's actually a phrase that the main character spouts off when she finds out she's getting sent to Eufaula...a small city in Lower Alabama.
My target audience includes anyone who enjoys contemporary fiction, humor, and smart, sassy stories about women finding happiness and their place in the world. No vampires, no werewolves, and no bodice ripping (not yet, anyway...).
#2: What advantages does publishing with an independent publisher like Monterey Press have over going it alone with Amazon's KDP and CreateSpace?
Monterey Press is actually my own imprint! As there still tends to be some negativity about indie publishing, establishing my own company (an LLC) and using hand-picked, professional editors, designers, and formatters for my novels is a way to set my work apart.
#3: Your bio says one of your big loves is paying it forward. Explain what you mean by that.
Paying it forward is a way of living my own life. It means helping others, extending small measures of kindness to strangers, and looking for ways to make someone's day a bit better! I pay it forward not expecting that I get anything in return, but in the hope that a little generosity might get "paid forward" to someone else, and someone else, and so on.
For example, one day I was waiting in a long line at the post office to mail a package. A young man rushed inside, looked at the crowd, and seemed crestfallen. He whispered something (to himself) about needing one stamp. Knowing that I had a few stamps in my purse, I offered one to him. He immediately grinned, took the stamp, and thanked me. I'll never forget what he said: "This is my blessing for the day." It was a simple gesture and didn't cost me a thing. To me, there's no better feeling.
#4: How much does having a publicist help a new author? Describe that relationship briefly if you would.
A good publicist serves many functions, especially for new authors. In my opinion, when you're just starting out, there are a lot of people who will tell you what to do and where to spend your money, but they don't always deliver or have the best intentions.
By hiring a publicist who has experience and a proven track record, a new author can avoid a lot of mistakes, like paying too much for a blog tour or book cover, or on the flip side, not paying enough. A publicist can help with platform-building tasks, like sending out press releases, suggesting new markets for your work, and following up on interview requests. A good publicist should not only teach a writer "how" to run an author business, but "why" certain decisions are good decisions.
My publicist, Laura Pepper Wu, of 30 Day Books, wears a variety of hats: Editor, Advisor, PR Person, Media Contact, and sounding board. I feel very fortunate that we have a very open and fluid relationship. She helps me brainstorm options, target the next steps of my career, focus on which projects to tackle next, and offers tips on industry trends and changes.
Laura's an invaluable resource and friend. Her services are also reasonable and flexible. We schedule 5-20 hours a month, depending on my work load.
#5: You're a former TV news anchor. Did having such a high profile job help you gain a readership when you released your first novel?
Oh, I wish! It's been several years (8) since I worked in the TV industry, so it's not likely that my readership was influenced by my background. However, it may lend some credibility to my writing (being a former journalist) and my experience as a reporter and anchor was invaluable. I love generating story ideas, I'm able to research effectively, write under pressure and on deadline. In addition, I never mind being interviewed on radio, via skype, or over the phone. I've been asked to come to several book clubs and discuss Stay Tuned and Dixie. That's been a blast!!!
#6: Explain the term "Chick Lit" for guys like me who think we know, but might not know, what it means.
Chick Lit, in my opinion, represents a genre of novel that's fast-paced, funny, and contemporary. The main character is usually a smart but flawed woman in some sort of professional or personal crisis, with or without a love interest. The story usually involves learning and growth for the main character.
#7: Step us through your average writing day. How much time do you spend writing? Promoting? Connecting with readers?
When I am plotting and writing, I spend 2-5 hours a day, usually shut up in the local university library. I don't have internet access there, and they allow coffee with a lid. It's quiet, air-conditioned, close to my house. Bliss. Absolute bliss.
I spend wayyyy too much time on Twitter and Facebook, just ask my husband. I don't spend enough on GoodReads and my blog (LOL). Total time per day is at least an hour on all four sites.
I love connecting with readers and have an awesome group of fellow authors that I chat with on a weekly, sometimes daily basis. I do a lot of promotion through book signings, blog tours, skype interviews, guest posts, and the occasional book club appearances. I also like to pay it forward by hosting other authors on my blog every Wednesday. When are you coming on LCB, Carl?
#8: Was there a memorable point in your writing career when you realized you would be successful, or was it a gradual transition?
Wow. Success has different definitions for people. I don't consider myself "successful" yet. Someday, if I'm able to support myself and my family solely through writing, I would consider that a HUGE success. (For my kids, that's a lot of pizza and Legos).
#9: What's next from Lauren Clark?
I am researching for my next novel, The Pie Lab, which is a real restaurant in Greensboro, Alabama. This story will follow a girl who’s gone off to a big city (like Atlanta or New York) and vows NEVER to come home. She’s forced to return to Greensboro, though, when her romantic relationship falls apart. Since she’s burned a lot of bridges, it will be interesting to see how she makes amends. The Pie Lab, as a business, is a great concept, as it offers on-the-job training and the owners are very active in the community. Added bonus…the pies are delicious! The Pie Lab has been featured in Southern Living and The New York Times.
#10: Let's do something different. There has to be a question you were hoping I would or wouldn't ask. Ask yourself that question (please let us see the question), then answer it.
Question: If your friends had to share a less-than-perfect quality about you, what would it be?
I have no sense of direction. None. Just last week, I had to be rescued by the Montgomery County, AL Sheriff's Department because I made a wrong turn driving the four hours home from a book signing in Eufaula, Alabama.
It was getting dark, I was parked by the side of the road, and had my humongous map unfolded over the steering wheel. A very polite and slightly amused sheriff's deputy pulled up beside me and asked if I was lost. Fortunately, he was kind enough to lead me back to the main highway. (My husband jokes that I received a 'police escort,' but I think he would have had to turn on the sirens and flashers for that!!)
Update: My brand-spanking new iPhone arrived in the mail yesterday. Now, to just figure out the map function ...........
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