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Monday, June 6, 2011

Welcome Author Joyce Lamb

Hi, You Gotta Read Reviews readers! I'm so psyched to be here today to talk about my latest releases, two e-books that were previously in print but never before in digital form: CAUGHT IN THE ACT and FOUND WANTING. I hope you'll get a chance to check them out -- and maybe let me know what you think, too. I hope, too, you'll leave a comment today! One lucky commenter will win the first two books in my True trilogy from Berkley: TRUE VISION and TRUE COLORS.  
Now, on with the questions:
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? How has that childhood dream affected your current career? Originally, I wanted to be a teacher of some kind. I started with wanting to be a third-grade teacher, probably because my third-grade teacher was awesome and actually got me started writing for fun when she hooked me up with a pen pal. Then I wanted to be an English teacher, probably because one of my high school English teachers introduced me to Stephen King. Not the man, of course, but his books. She’d probably get fired for doing such a thing today! But she knew I loved good books, and we all know what a great writer Mr. King is (though, if I ever get to meet him, I’d like to talk about the ookiness that was the book IT). Shortly after that, I decided being a Spanish teacher would be cool – no reason for that other than I had a pretty dang cool Spanish teacher. Once I got out of high school, I decided what I really wanted to do was be a novelist. I suppose the common thread, starting with the desire to be an English teacher, is that everything I wanted to do started with words. In addition to being a novelist, I’m also a copy editor at a newspaper. More words!   
What do you do for fun? I write for fun! There are times when writing isn’t all that fun, of course. Like when a scene is giving me fits or my characters have decided to veer right when I’ve made it perfectly clear that they are to go left. But most of the time, I love every second of it. It’s the best escape ever: I get to play in a world where I make the rules and everyone behaves, for the most part, the way I’ve decided they should behave, and the bad guy always gets what he deserves. Oh, and the girl gets the guy, who OF COURSE is the BEST lover EVER. Who could ask for more and get it?
How has your environment/ upbringing colored your writing? My dad was a journalist and one of the best writers I’ve known. He and my mom always encouraged creativity and “be yourself-ness” at home. When I announced to them that I was going to be a novelist (at the tender age of 17!), they just nodded and smiled and said, “OK.” Neither ever said, “What are you going to do to pay the bills?” That would have been raining on my parade, and I was young enough still that they knew I’d figure that out eventually. The important thing for them, at that moment, was to be supportive of whatever I wanted to do. Good thing I didn’t have aspirations for a stripper pole, huh? I’m sure they would have objected to that ... well, pretty sure.   
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 releases are e-books of my romantic suspense novels CAUGHT IN THE ACT and FOUND WANTING ($1.99 each for Kindle at Amazon, Nook at BN.com and Smashwords for other e-readers). These two books are from my pre-Berkley Sensation days and have never been available in a mass-market way. CAUGHT IN THE ACT was a finalist in the Ritas (the romance writers’ version of the Oscars) in 2004. The other authors in the romantic suspense category were Nora Roberts, Maggie Shayne, Stephanie Bond, Suzanne Forster and Carla Neggars – all best sellers and very tough competition. Nora Roberts won. It was a pleasure just to be nominated. Really! It was awesome company to be in. CAUGHT IN THE ACT is about a newspaper editor who gets burned by a story that’s a hoax (long before that was happening for real). I drew from my newspaper experience for that one. And it was fun getting heroine Jessie and hero Clay into bed … I mean, getting them together. I sure wish there were reporters like Clay Christopher running around the newsroom now. Without their shirts. Oh, wait, that’d border on sexual harassment. But it IS my story, so I’ve decided it’s totally cool. And necessary. FOUND WANTING followed CAUGHT IN THE ACT. It’s my favorite among my books so far (though my upcoming Berkley release in December, TRUE SHOT, might displace it). The hero and heroine in FOUND WANTING made me ache every time I worked on their story. The hero, Mitch Kane (named after Hurricane Mitch at the time), is the stand-up-est guy. He’d go to the wall for anyone he thinks is getting a raw deal. And the heroine, Alaina, definitely gets a raw deal. Even when Mitch has been led to believe she’s a worthless human being, he’s still the first one to race to her defense. Sigh. FOUND WANTING also came from a very emotional place for me. When I wrote it, my brother and his wife had just had their first baby. I felt an incredibly fierce desire to protect that kid, so intense that I could see how a mother could go to extreme lengths to protect her child. Alaina does just that. When the going gets rough -- and, boy, does it – she comes out swinging, all to protect her son. She’s like the Energizer Bunny of romance heroines: She takes a licking and keeps on ticking. Wait, that would be the Timex of romance heroines. At any rate, she gets knocked down and gets back up again … and again and again. (Hey, aren’t those the words to a song from the ’90s?)
As for what I'm working on now: TRUE SHOT, the third in my True trilogy with Berkley, comes out on Dec. 6. I'm soooooo excited about that book. It's my favorite of the Trues, and throws together a female psychic spy and a somewhat nerdy (but hot!) newspaper editor. She's the serious and tough one, and he's the wise-cracking brainiac who discovers his inner hero at all the right moments. You can read an excerpt at my Web site, JoyceWrites.com.  
How did you come up with the title for your book(s)? CAUGHT IN THE ACT was a tough one. So tough, in fact, that a friend thought of it for me. The title is supposed to be ironic, because the people who are “caught in the act” in the book aren’t really “caught” doing anything. I went through a couple of title ideas with that one. The only one I can remember, though, was PAST TENSE, cuz the heroine has a past that’s tense and “past tense” is a grammar thing. Yeah, I kinda gave it way too much thought. As for FOUND WANTING: I felt like a genius when that one hit me. Cuz, see, the heroine was “found” by the hero, and she was “wanting” some good loving (aren’t we all?). And, her life until he found her wasn’t so great, so it was found wanting. More too much thought, but there you go. It's always disappointed me that the title of my romantic suspense COLD MIDNIGHT got changed from BREAK POINT. The plot revolves around a tennis player, Kylie, who's constantly fighting for her emotional balance, and she approaches that fight like it's a game of tennis. When the hero, Chase, gets in her face about it (cuz he knows she needs to stop being so controlled), he's trying to get her to "break point" -- the point in tennis where your opponent is about to beat you when you're serving. But, alas, the title was changed.        
Have you ever used contemporary events or stories “ripped from the headlines” in your work? Speaking of COLD MIDNIGHT: It was sort of inspired by the Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan incident about a million years ago. I had all kinds of ideas about how and why someone would try to take away a professional athlete’s ability to compete. The story built from there, including an alpha hero who trumps all alpha heroes. In my humble opinion.
I’ve also drawn on my own experience as a journalist. In TRUE VISION, the first book in the True trilogy, heroine Charlie is a reporter for a small community newspaper. She’s hampered in doing her job by the newspaper’s need for ad revenue. Naturally, she’s stumbled on a story about the paper’s biggest advertiser being up to no good, but the higher-ups want the story buried so they don't lose much-needed revenue. Charlie takes matters into her own hands, and the story snowballs from there. It’s more of a subplot, though, cuz the main plot is about her developing an intense psychic power that gets her into all kinds of trouble. That, I didn’t rip from the headlines or draw on my own experience for. I wouldn’t mind having hero Noah to watch my back, though! Now, THAT guy is HOT.     
What advice would you give to writers just starting out? The best thing you can do is read a lot, and not just in the genre you want to write in. I get some of my most inspiring ... inspiration from reading in other genres. I love sci-fi, for instance, but I don't imagine I'll ever write it cuz I'm just not that tech-oriented.
I would also highly recommend going to writers conferences and/or retreats. The first one is pretty intimidating, but once you meet other writers and start making writer friends, you'll see how much it pays off. Knowing other people who know exactly the frustration you're dealing with makes it much easier to cope with the industry's frustrations. Plus, writers are FUN to hang out with! Once you have some writer friends, consider forming a critique group with four or five of them. Maybe lay some ground rules for the critiquing, though. Stuff like: "It's OK to offer constructive criticism, but don't be mean." And: "Agree to disagree." And: "There must always be snacks (preferably something chocolate), cuz who can think without sugar?" I have the BEST critique group. We got together as virtual strangers, and we're now the best of friends. It's so gratifying. And my books are WAY better because of them.
Who is your favorite author and why? What books have most influenced your life? I have a ton of favorite authors. At the moment, I'm hooked on Lisa Gardner. I love how her books and characters are so rich and layered. Sometimes I get impatient when reading a mystery, but Lisa's stories are so well written and so incredibly paced that I'm content to sit back and just enjoy the ride.
There are three books in particular that have most influenced my writing life. First would be RAGE OF ANGELS by Sidney Sheldon. I knew the moment I finished reading it that I wanted to be a novelist. I was 17 at the time, and went immediately from closing that book to dragging out my dad's electric typewriter and getting to work. The next two aren't in any particular order, cuz I think they came out pretty close together so I don't know which I read first: LIGHTNING by Dean Koontz blew me away. It kept me guessing all the way through, and the relationships just made me ache. LIGHTNING inspired a particularly wrenching scene in FOUND WANTING where the heroine discovers her benefactress has been murdered because of her. That still gets my heart going! The other book is HOT ICE by Nora Roberts. When I picked that book up and started reading, I finally realized I was writing "romantic suspense." I'd never read anything like it, yet I'd been writing similar stories for four years by then (not good ones, mind you -- I was still just a young'un!). That was probably my biggest "aha" moment as a writer, one that would have come much sooner had I had the Internet to help me figure it out.
How did you deal with rejection letters? Wish I could say I ripped them up in front of a baby who laughed hysterically the whole time. (If you haven't seen that video, you might want to check it out on YouTube. Search for "Baby Laughing Hysterically at Ripping Paper (Original)".  It's a major warm fuzzy.) But, no, I have all my rejections stuffed in a folder in my filing cabinet. Whenever I got a rejection, I'd pretty much shrug and set it aside and try not to think about it. I'm pretty big on denial. They always hurt, and always seemed like another chip chiseled out of the dream. And you know what? Even when you get a book contract, the rejection doesn't stop. When the book comes out, it gets reviews, which aren't always good, or fair. Readers say all kinds of nasty things online, and it's tough for writers NOT to Google themselves to find out what's out there. Also, your editor might not like your next book proposal. And if you're not an instant best seller these days, your publisher can drop you at any moment. So even authors who've had several books published still face rejection. At a writers conference last summer, Nora Roberts herself, author of at least 200 novels and beloved by millions, talked of her insecurities about what readers say and write about her books. That fear of rejection never goes away, no matter how successful you are. So, if you're a writer, it's a good idea to keep some chocolate on hand, so you're prepared for the next rejection.
What's the weirdest thing you've ever done in the name of research? I once asked a friend to handcuff me so I could experience how it felt and figure out in what ways I would have to maneuver myself in order to be mobile. You might be thinking, "Wait. Handcuffs? You have handcuffs?" Yes, I do, and they're not the pink and fuzzy kind. Perhaps unfortunately. Seriously, I bought them on the Internet (where else?) to be used in the photo on the cover of FOUND WANTING. The hero and heroine are handcuffed together, but their pinkies are very sweetly linked. I love that picture! And I swear on a stack of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups that that's all I've ever done with those handcuffs.
Where can we find you on the net? My Web site is JoyceWrites.com. You can follow me on Twitter at Twitter.com/joycelamb. My blog is joycelamb.blogspot.com. And you can "like" me (please do!) on Facebook by doing a search for "author joyce lamb."
Where can we find out more about your books? I keep my Web site, JoyceWrites.com, current, so that's the best place. I have excerpts there for all of my books, including the new e-books of CAUGHT IN THE ACT and FOUND WANTING.
Thank you SO MUCH for having me! I enjoyed the questions and love getting a chance to hang out at such a great blog! (Remember to leave a comment -- along with e-mail address -- for a chance to win TRUE VISION and TRUE COLORS!) Is that too many exclamation points? I'm feeling it's too many, but hey, what can I say? I'm excited.


Joan said...

What a fun interview! I'm a writer, too, and I know what you mean about critique groups making your work much better. We tease each other mercilessly, of course (one of my critique partners recently said I wrote like a skank -- can you believe that?) but we're all incredibly supportive of one another. By the way, Joyce, I've read all your books and they just keep getting better! I can't wait to read True Shot!

Joyce Lamb said...

Hi, Joan!
Thanks for stopping by. :) I can't believe your writer friend said you write like a skank! Except, that sounds like good writing, to me. I mean, it must be some sexy stuff. So you go, girl! :)
Good luck on winning my True books -- they're pretty skanky themselves.

Mary G said...

Hi Joyce
Awesome interview. I'm so glad that your earlier books will be available to everyone now. Every one of them was terrific. I still owe you an email. I just got back from Lori Foster's event so don't enter me. If one more book crosses this threshhold my guys will go on strike LOL.

Erin Quinn said...

Hi Joyce, just wanted to stop by and say hi! Great interview. Don't enter me in your contest--already ordering on Kindle. :)

Take care!


Joyce Lamb said...

Hi, Mary!
I heard you met a friend of mine at the Lori Foster event: Virna De Paul. She rocks! Her newest, Chosen By Blood, was released in May. It's awesome! (There I go with the exclamation points again. Somebody stop me.)
Take care!

Joyce Lamb said...

Hi, Erin!
Thanks for stopping in! And congrats on all those award finals, you! I saw those coming a hundred miles away (I have a bionic eye).
Take care!

Mary G said...

Hi Joyce
It is a small world isn't it? She was in front of me in a line and I don't even remember how your name came up. I gave her a hug to give to you next time you see each other. She is a lovely talented lady but I told her I was a wimp about vamps. I'm looking forward to her rom. susp. Sending you virtual ((hugs)).

Joyce Lamb said...

Can't wait to collect my Mary hug! I'll see Virna in NYC at the end of the month. We'll toast to you when we have drinks. Maybe several times! (Hiccup)

DI said...

Thats my Netter....she's the best! I love reading your interviews...you and I really never get a chance to "talk" so I feel I get to know more about you ...lol silly I know. You've only been my sissy-in-law for 14 yrs....sheeeze!

Joyce Lamb said...

Hi, Di!
Fourteen years? Wow, we're way older than I thought. :)
Thanks for stopping in to say hi!
Love ya!
Joyce, aka Netter

Jolene and Family said...

Hi Joyce

I was first introduced to you when I picked up Cold Midnight off the shelves. I read a lot of paranormal, but I also enjoy romantic suspense and after I picked up reading again after a 7 year break, yours was actually one of the first romantic suspens I picked up. It wa so much fun to get thrown back into that world and It amazed me to see how much I missed something I didn't even realize I missed. I read a lot of Dean Koontz and stephen King in highschool, but after graduation I settled down, got married and had kids. Down the road, I felt I was misssing pieces of myself and didn't know who I was outside mom and honey. Finding my way back to the book isle was huge. It's thanks to books like yours that has given me back my sanity :) It's awesome that your parents are so supportive, they sound amazing.