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Monday, April 25, 2011

Scavenger Hunt with Author L.K. Below

Interview + Contest with L. K. Below

CONTEST: Read on to the bottom of the interview to see how you can win a copy of Cinnamon and Spice along with a goodie basket of cinnamon-scented prizes!

1.      Where do you hail from? What do you love most about your hometown?
I was born in Montreal, but moved to rural Ontario at a young age. Almost all of my schooling and most of my childhood was spent in a small town in Glengarry County. I’m a country girl at heart, and adore the quiet the country brings. It’s quite possibly the reason I turned to writing -- I didn’t have much else to do!
2.      As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? How has that childhood dream affected your current career?
The first thing I remember wanting to be was a ballerina, though I never took any lessons. Around that time I also aspired to be a figure skater, as I often watched that sport with my Oma. While I did eventually take figure skating lessons, and eventually give up dreams of becoming anything that requires an amount of physical coordination and balance, I don’t think it’s helped to shape my career. It was just a dream I had and let go of quickly, and was followed promptly by singer and vet. Neither of which are my calling, either.
When I was young, I never considered it for a career, but writing has always been with me. I love losing myself in a story and creating new worlds. It gave me years of joy and eventually I realized that writing was all I wanted to do with my life.
3.      What do you do for fun?
You mean writing isn’t fun? And what is this thing called free time?
4.      How has your environment/ upbringing colored your writing?
I don’t know. Wish I could give you a better answer, but well… *shrugs*
5.      Tell us about your latest book.  Do you have anything new in the works and can you tell us a bit about it?
My latest release is a short erotic contemporary romance called Cinnamon and Spice. As I’m conducting a contest to win this book (among other things), I’ll tell you more about it at the end of this interview.
I always have something in the works. Too many, in fact. I’ve got a variety of half-finished books, which I always trying to go back to before something new broadsides me. Sometimes, I just need to be smacked in the face and told, “Finish that one! I want to read it!”
Currently, I’m hard at work at another contemporary romance, Beauty in His Bed. This is the second book in the Modern Fairytales series (the first being Never a Princess, Always a Frog out in July). Each of these books is a contemporary story with overtones from a favorite fairytale. I’m gaga over fairy tales and very eager to continue with this series :)
6.      How did you come up with the title for your book(s)?
Titles for me go one of two ways. They either come with the story and fit perfectly. Or they elude me. I try on dozens, badger friends and family for ideas, and just about go nuts before I find a good one.
7.      Have you ever used contemporary events or stories “ripped from the headlines” in your work?
Not yet, though I can’t rule it out. Actually, I’d be more likely to make it a parody of a real event or story. For my contemporaries, I try not to date them too much so they’ll still seem fresh for a couple years or so.
8.      How much of your work is real? How much is fantasy?
All of my work is real to my characters. When writing in a contemporary or historical setting, I do as much research as I can from my desk chair (unfortunately a limited budget means I can’t witness some locations first hand) to make it as realistic as possible. I fill in the gaps with my own imagination. In short, it depends on the story.
9.      Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?
Finishing something. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve got about a bazillion stories going at once, right? I jump back and forth, which alleviates writer’s block, but it also makes for sluggish progress on longer pieces. When I focus single-mindedly on a book, I can get it written pretty quickly, but when I’m writing I’m open to new ideas. Which sadly means that I’m bombarded by new characters and plots that demand to be written.
The other thing I find challenging is editing my own work. If I try to do it, I end up second guessing every second sentence (literally; in a recent work in progress, of 21,000 words, I had over 250 comments where I asked: Does this make sense? Is this the right word? Is this lackluster? Is this cliché? And so on. My critique partner and beta reader told me to shut up LOL). Even then, I feel like I’m missing things, which is why I normally hand it off to my CP and BR the minute it’s finished and let them sort out what needs to be changed.
10.  What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
Don’t give up. Trying to become published can be a tough road to travel. But if it’s what you want to do, try not to be discouraged. With some persistence, it’ll happen.
11.  Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do about it?
Let me start by saying that I write more than erotic romance. I write paranormal, contemporary, historical, fantasy, science fiction, and as of recently, F/F romance. I write fantasy, young adult, and middle grade. I’ve written in first person; in second person; and most commonly in third person. I’ve written in verse, in past and present tense (and I wonder sometimes how one would write in future tense). I write short stories, novellas, and novels. In short, I like variety.
Variety is the very way I avoid writer’s block. I’ve always got another idea waiting to be written. Whenever I’m stuck on something, I move on to one of my multiple stories on hold. I choose something so completely different from what I’m writing (or even better, a style I’ve never written before). I also switch lengths. By doing this, I help to clear the ducts and eventually whatever was barring me from continuing the original piece will have dissolved or I’ll see a way around it.
12.  Who is your favorite author and why? What books have most influenced your life?
Good question. I think every book I’ve read has influenced my life. If I liked it, I drew away techniques I could use in my own books. If I didn’t, it gives me a new resolve to tell a great story or shows me what not to do.
As for my favorite author… well, there’s only one book I would never be parted with. That’s my collection of Lord Byron’s poems. I have more than one volume, but if I’m travelling, the slimmest one always comes with me. I love the cadence and rhythm he puts into all of his poems.
13.  How did you deal with rejection letters?
I sigh, read through the story again, and submit elsewhere. If the read-through shows flaws I hadn’t noticed before, I fix them. Sometimes I might decide to lengthen the story just to revisit the characters and end up changing it into something entirely different from what it was. (The last case was for short stories and novellas).
14.  What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
Imagination. A vocabulary. Truthfully, I don’t think writers need any “tools” in the traditional sense. Every author has their own ritual when it comes to writing. All they need is a sharp mind and a desire to tell a story.
15.  Where do you as an author draw the line on gory descriptions and/or erotic content?
I filter these types of scenes through the eyes of my main characters. If it’s appropriate to them and the story, I add it in. If it’s not, then I don’t. A virgin will think in more flowery, vague terms than an experienced woman. So if my story happens to contain a virgin, chances are that story won’t be as high on the heat scale as a different story of mine.
16.  Do you ever research real events, legends, or myths to get ideas?
Yes. Or rather, that’s backwards. You should be asking: Do you ever get ideas when researching real events, legends, or myths?
I do. A lot. In fact, whenever possible, I try to incorporate bits of real history into my books. Sometimes it’s not always appropriate, but if it is, I love to add it in. I’m a sucker for history and can easily get lost in research.

17.  Which is your favorite of the books you have written?
My favorite is always the book I’ve written most recently. I still resonate from the characters and their emotional journey. In this case, that was an apocalyptic romance I gave Nineteen Eighty-Four (George Orwell) overtones to. Both the characters have a special place in my heart at the moment. But no doubt as soon as I put the finishing words on Beauty in Bed, I’ll like that one the best instead.
18.  What's the weirdest thing you've ever done in the name of research?
Ha, wow. Now that’s an interesting question. I’ve done plenty of things, though I’m not so sure I would consider them weird. I’m not above approaching a stranger to ask to pick their brain or buying an old text just in case I want to do some original research later. Actually, I’m not above spending days researching something just for the sake of learning. Sadly, my boyfriend protests the thought of historically accurate parties :(
19.  Where can we find you on the net?
You can find me at my blog, http://lbelow.blogspot.com, my website, www.lbelow.net, my twitter account, http://twitter.com/LBelowtheauthor, or my Facebook fan page.
20.  Where can we find out more about your books?
I highly recommend my blog, http://lbelow.blogspot.com.  I bring my characters out to play, I tell tales of the inspiration behind my stories and look into the history and research in them, too. Not to mention sneak peeks at works in progress.
If you’re the kind of person who likes everything laid out for you in a linear way, I recommend my website, www.lbelow.net, instead.

Blurb: Jack is smart. Jack is charming. Jack is persistent.

But Melissa is dead certain that he isn't the guy for her. In a moment of weakness caused by his shiver-inducing voice, Melissa finally agrees to one date. She shows up on his doorstep determined to get it over and done with, but Jack has something different planned. With a home-cooked meal, wine, and cinnamon-scented candles, can he break down Melissa's resolve?

Can he steal her heart?

CONTEST ALERT: Do you want to win a goodie basket of cinnamon-scented products along with an e-copy of Cinnamon and Spice? Simple! Just email me at lbelow(at)lbelow(dot)net answering the following question:

What is your favorite flower?

Essay answers aren’t required -- a simple one-word sentence will suffice. Contest closes on May 2nd, 2011 at 11:59PM EST. Open to entrants world-wide, but all entrants must be 18 or older.

Do you want more chances to win? Each scavenger hunt question answered counts for one ballot towards the prize. Check http://lbelow.blogspot.com for the full itinerary. Good luck!


L. K. Below said...

Thanks for hosting me!

marybelle said...

The Daffodil: fresh, bright & colorful.


L. K. Below said...

Thanks for stopping by, Marybelle

C.E. Hart said...

I enjoyed reading the interview and getting to know more about Lyndsay and her books!

My favorite flower is a daisy. Simple and sweet.

L. K. Below said...

Thanks for stopping by to read the interview, CE!

L. K. Below said...

The winner of my CINNAMON AND SPICE Scavenger Hunt is Ronnie Halvorson. Congratulations, Ronnie!

If you didn't win, be sure to check my blog regularly as I often hold contests. http://lbelow.blogspot.com