Friday, March 27, 2020

Interview with Author Minette Lauren

As soon as Minette was old enough to write, she composed a play in one act called The Love of Seth and Beth, inspired by the movie, Gone With the Wind. Undeterred by the play's questionable success, Minette has been in love with writing ever since. Growing up in a small town outside of New Orleans, Louisiana, fueled a lot of Minette's creative endeavors. She travels often and takes advantage of any place with a view that inspires her to write. Minette now resides in Texas, where she loves to write outdoors by her pool, with her five furry writing muses. Besides her menagerie of tail-wagging pooches, Minette also has a loving husband, three turtles, and four parrots to keep her company. Together, they make all of her dreams come true.  

Question: What is the title and genre of your novel?  Why did you select them?

Answer: My Hot in Magnolia Series, Cupcakes and Kisses, Five-Alarm Kisses, and Double Trouble Kisses, are all romantic comedies (rom-coms). Cupcakes is about forty-year-old, Melvina Banks, a talented baker who runs her father’s diner. She is known around Magnolia for her delicious cupcakes and other baked treats. Melvina has given up on men but she dreams of having her very own bakery. While pursuing her dream, she attracts two very hot, eligible bachelors. All of a sudden, she has some big decisions to make!

Question:   What inspired this novel? How did it come about?

Answer: I was at an RWA convention with a lot of other wonderfully inspiring writers. As I was blow-drying my hair at the hotel, I tweaked my back and I thought of a funny scene to write. That scene grew into a series based in Magnolia, TX.

Question:  Could you tell us a little bit about the heroine and/or hero of your novel?

Answer:  In Five-Alarm Kisses, book 2 in the Hot in Magnolia Series, Nina Salas is a feisty, Texan with Latin American heritage. She’s just lost everything she owns in a fire and has moved to Magnolia to pick up the pieces. There, she runs into a handsome fireman, Raphe Nash, who she deems off limits. Devilishly handsome and Captain of the local firehouse, Raphe is a risk to Nina’s fragile heart. Raphe is also running away. A firefighter based in Houston, Raphe almost lost his life in a five-alarm fire. He recently moved to Magnolia to be closer to his family and try to get back on track. Nina completely upends his life.

Question:   Can you tell us about some of your other published novels or work?

Answer:  I also write women’s fiction. Race for the Sun, the first novel in my Soul Watcher Series, won a national reader’s choice award. The second book in the series is complete and ready for release, but my marketing gal is trying to convince me to pitch it to an agent as a separate YA series because the main characters are teenage sisters. She’s excited about the coming of age content and its cinematic potential.

Question:   What are you working on now?

Answer:  I always have something to write about, but I’m not allowing myself to start another book until I complete a few life tasks, like settling my mother’s estate. I recently lost my mom and family always comes first. When I’m ready to start writing again, I’m sure I’ll be torn between which series to continue. All my characters call out to me, especially late at night when I should be sleeping. The break from writing seems odd since I’ve been writing non-stop for the past year, but it also gives me some time to take a breath and plan out what’s next. Five-Alarm Kisses was written in fifty-one days and Double Trouble Kisses was written in fifty-four days. I like to plan the time to write when I know I won’t be interrupted. Losing our home in Hurricane Harvey derailed Cupcakes and Kisses for a year. The book was almost forgotten. Since then, I try to hold myself accountable for all the pages that I commit to when I begin a new book.

Question:   What made you start writing?

Answer: I’ve always created scenarios in my head. I started seriously in my early twenties but gave it up at the first rejection. I started again in my thirties, and then quit before finally tucking in and really giving it a try in my early forties. That’s when I finally started listening to my writing muse. I admit the publishing world can be daunting at times. I sometimes wonder why I keep at this, but the truth is, I can’t stop writing. It’s in my blood.

Question:   What advice would you offer to those who are currently writing novels?

Answer: Never let a rejection letter define you as a writer. Opinions vary and you may get a better response from someone else. Listen to your critics. You can learn a lot from what people don’t like, but don’t let it crush your spirit. Write for yourself, ignore what’s selling. The story should be inside you, bursting its way onto the page. Hold yourself accountable for what goals you set down. If you promise to write one-hundred words a day, do it!

Question:  Where and when will readers be able to obtain your novel?

Answer: Since I said good-bye to my publisher last July, I have taken back all the rights to my books. Everything is finding its way back to print, but this time only on Amazon. I am a part of Kindle Unlimited, so readers who belong to KDP can read my books for free. My eBooks are only $2.99, and they are also available in print on Amazon. The audible books for my Hot in Magnolia Series are being recorded right now and should be available by April/May.

Questions or comments for Minette are most welcome!

Friday, March 13, 2020

Luck in Literature

Today, Friday the 13th, is considered an unlucky day. The Ides of March, the 15th and 16th of this month, traditionally bode ill luck as well. For instance, in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, the emperor is warned to “Beware the Ides of March” by the Soothsayer. Julius, not being a superstitious sort of fellow and believing in his personal immortality, sneers, ignores the warning, and refers to the Soothsayer as “a dreamer.” Not Caesar’s wisest decision.

 It will soon be St. Patrick’s Day which supposedly brings good luck and fortune. Luck is a reoccurring theme in Irish literature. People do at times have lucky things happen to them and at other times suffer misfortunes like ill health, accidents or assaults. However, authors prefer to believe that for the most part we make our own luck.

According to Napoleon: “Luck occurs when preparation meets opportunity.” I apply that statement to authors. We get lucky with our work when we’ve done adequate preparation—that is being well-read, writing, rewriting, and editing until we’ve created something of value and quality. If we’re too lazy or too full of ourselves to make this kind of effort and commitment then alas we’ll never “get lucky.”

Luck is a common theme in literature. For example, Thomas Hardy created characters that were unlucky like Tess or Jude. Yet it could be argued that their bad luck came as a direct result of fatal flaws in their own characters. This is where Greek tragedy derives from. Things don’t just happen. There is a cause and effect relationship. The Victorian writers used coincidence commonly in their plot lines, something modern writers try to avoid.

I write about and admire main characters with positive values who make their own good luck and overcome obstacles through personal effort, not bemoaning their fate or bad luck. To quote Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar again, as Cassius observes: “Our fate, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves.”

In tribute to Irish literature which as observed often deals with themes related to luck, I want to mention a few of the outstanding Irish writers I’ve appreciated over the years.

As an undergraduate English major, I read and enjoyed John Millington Synge’s The  Playboy of the Western World. Synge celebrated the lyrical speech of the Irish in a boisterous play.

In graduate school, I took a semester seminar on the works of William Butler Yeats, a great Irish poet. I learned a great deal about Irish mythology from his work.

George Bernard Shaw was also of Irish origins and a great playwright, another favorite of mine. His plays still hold up because of thought-provoking themes and clever dialogue.

I’ve read James Joyce’s stories and novels but most appreciated his earlier work. I thought Portrait of the Artist was brilliant as was Dubliners, his short story collection. His style was original and unique.

Satirist Jonathan Swift is often thought of as a children’s writer, but this is, of course, completely false.
Notable Works: Gulliver’s Travels, Tale of a Tub, A Modest Proposal, A Journal to Stella, Drapier’s Letters, An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity, Verses on the Death of Dr. Swift.
Oscar Wilde was a talented Irish writer and playwright. Sentenced to two years in prison for gross indecency (homosexuality), he eventually lost his creative spark. Notable Works: The Picture of Dorian Grey, The Importance of Being Earnest (play), Poems, The Happy Prince and Other Tales (children’s book), A Woman of No Importance (play).
Abraham Stoker (Bram Stoker) gave us Dracula (enough said!) Lawrence Sterne, Oliver Goldsmith, C.S. Lewis all had Irish origins as well, although they left Ireland for England. The list of outstanding Irish men and women who have provided great literature is very long and therefore beyond the scope of this mere blog.
My mystery novel, DEATH PROMISE, is set in Las Vegas, and surprise, luck does play a part in it.

Do you believe in luck? Do you have any favorite Irish authors? Your thoughts and comments welcome!