Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Author interview with Laurie Sorensen

A warm welcome to American author, Laurie Sorensen who writes historical romance. Her road to publication was a rocky one, but her persistence and determination have paid off. Laurie, please tell us how you sold your first book, and if you had any rejections before getting that exciting call?

I spent 5 years writing, polishing and editing my first book, Ravenwood: Night’s Salvation. I had no intention initially to seek out publication. I let friends and family read the book, and every one of them told me that I should go for publication. So I submitted my book to a whopping 329 agents who worked with Historical Romance. I hadn’t a clue what I was doing, and that sending it to so many agents was basically a set up for disappointment.

I got my very first envelope in the mail from one of the agents and I was so nervous I refused to open it. It sat on my kitchen table for almost a week until my husband came home for the weekend, and found it. He asked why I hadn’t opened it. I told him that I was afraid of what it would say. So he opened it. I will never forget what it said if I live to be 100 years old, I will always remember the heart wrenching words the man had to say to me. He told me that I had wasted his time and my own time in sending such c*** to his office. He told me that I shouldn’t quit my day job because writing was not my forte. I was so devastated by his words that I gathered all my notes, floppy discs and files and threw them away. I wanted no more of this hurt in my heart. Later that day, several of my writer friends, some published, some not, convinced me to retrieve the materials I had thrown away so I could put them away for a few weeks and try again. All in all, I got 179 rejections within a years time. None of them as harsh or mean as the first. Many of them actually gave me advice to improve.

My husband suggested that I didn’t need an agent, and to try to submit to publishers outright, so I did. I queried 13 publishers. I was offered two contracts from two different publishers. One was for an E-book and the other for Print. I wanted so much to see my name in print, so I turned down the e-book contract and signed the print book contract with Light Sword Publishing which later turned their name into LSP Digital instead. I now had a print book and was very excited about it. But the sales of it were mediocre at best. The publisher did nothing in way of advertising or promoting their books, it was left up to the authors to do that. I was new to the fray, and unsure about anything dealing with promotion, and consequently sales on my book were minimal. I tried, but I just didn’t have the flair it required, nor the computer knowledge to do promotion effectively. Once my contract was up, LSP Digital didn’t renew, and I hadn’t thought they would. I was left with a few copies of my book and a head full of stories in the series I no longer had a publisher for.

A good friend and fellow author suggested that I submit the story to a publisher she was with, using her name as a reference. So I did. They accepted the book, but I had to agree to change the cover, and re-edit the work. I spent the next few years struggling with re-editing and my non-author life intruding upon my editing time. But once it was done, I had a book that was so very different, a new cover, new scenes and scenes taken out to make a much tighter story that is a better story to read. The new publisher, Sapphire Blue Publishing, put out Ravenwood: Night’s Salvation with a beautiful cover in an E-book version, and soon there will also be a paperback version people will be able to buy. I have since written another book through Sapphire Blue Publishing, a Novella in an Anthology called “Ladies of the Jolly Roger.” My story is the first one in the book with the title “The Pirate Princess.”

Do you have to juggle writing with the day job? What is your work schedule?

I am not sure you can call it a day job, I sell Tupperware, and most of the parties I do are during the evening. My writing schedule is haphazard most of the time. I try to write when my husband isn’t home, (he drives truck all week) and when my children are at school. That leaves me with writing from the time I get up until my daughter walks in from school. I also take my son to college three times a week and spend the four hours waiting for him at the nearest McDonalds using their free WiFi to research things for my writing. When I’m not running around doing errands and when no one else is home demanding my time, I use every bit of the extra me time, writing.

To plot or not to plot? Are you a planner or do you just dive in?

I have tried to plot my stories, but my characters usually have other ideas and things never go like I plan them. I tried once to use an outline, it didn’t work. I have been known to write chapters out of sequence, and then put them together to make them work.

Which authors have most influenced your work? And which do you choose to read for pleasure?

I have written to Catherine Coulter most of my romance reading life. She has been the one author that has influenced me in my writing. I have given her a copy of each version of my first book, and she will get a copy of each book I put out. She is the world’s most wonderful romance writer, I adore her historicals and I love the FBI books as well. I have had the pleasure of meeting her in person, and she was everything I had expected and more. When it comes to reading for pleasure, when I have the time to do so, I read Catherine Coulter, Nora Roberts and Diana Gabaldon, each in their own right a tremendous talent and each so very different from the other.

How do you develop your characters? In historicals, how do you keep them in period yet sympathetic to readers?

My characters come from dreams I have had, or from people I have seen or spoken too. I write historical romance, therefore some of the characters in my books are based on actual people in history, although, when it is an actual person in history, their part in my story is minimal. In the case of my novella, The Princess Pirate, Princess Alvilda was real, however, her story had very little real accounts of her life, which gave me license to pretty much make it what I wanted to make it. With historicals, it is difficult to make a hero sympathetic to readers, mainly because the way things were done in history is so very different than what it done in today’s society. An example would be the fact that today’s women are independent, whereas the women in our history were simply viewed as property to be bartered for in marriage. I do my best to make all of my characters likeable, even my villains start out that way, at least for the most part.

How do you relax? What interests do you have other than writing?

Relax, what on earth does that word mean? I think I don’t know how to do it until my body tells me I have had enough, and it forces me to take stock of myself, and slow down. Being the wife of a truck driver, and the mother to 5 children keeps my life moving. I like doing things with my family, and for my family. In my spare time (what little I have of it) I make and decorate cakes, a read and I love watching a few good shows on TV.

What advice would you give a new writer?

The advice I would give to someone else who wants to write would be this. If you have to write because without it you can’t breathe, then do it. Don’t let anyone stop you, don’t let anyone tell you that you aren’t worth their time. Write from the heart, write what you want to write, not what is most popular. There is an audience for every book, you just have to find yours. Most of all, don’t take the horrible things an agent tells you as gospel. Let it be like water off a ducks back, read it, file it, if it’s useable, use it, if not, throw it out.

Do you enjoy writing sequels or series? If so, what is the special appeal for you?

Ravenwood: Night’s Salvation is a book one of a series of what will be five books. I’m not sure at this point if I like to write them or not, I am working on book 2 in the series now. I only brought this out as a series because each of the minor characters in the book seemed to scream out for a story of their own. The stories come to me easily for the series so we shall see if this will be the only series I write or if I will begin another. I can tell you that I like the idea of someone reading my book and then asking me something like “Hey, does Storm get her own story?” It makes me smile as I answer them with “But of course she does.”

Do you enjoy research, and how do you set about it?

I love doing research, and I have been known to be waiting on my librarian to open the library and then get annoyed that I have stayed all day long and they need to close when I am not yet done doing my research. I have used the internet for some research, but I certainly love the feel of old books on my fingers while I browse through all the pages of countless books.

Tell us about your latest book, and how you got the idea for it.

My latest book is the novella inside the anthology “Ladies of the Jolly Roger – Buccaneer Women – “ The story's title is The Princess Pirate, and it follows the adventures and misadventures of Princess Alvilda as she escapes the chains of marriage and becomes the captain of a Pirate ship. She plunders the waters of the Danish seas, trying to deal a crippling blow to the Prince that would have been her husband. Only to get caught by the very same Prince she had escaped before. She is given an option and well, I won’t tell you how it ends…lol. The book is coming out soon, and indeed should be out by the time this interview hits the RNA Blog. You will be able to find it on my publisher’s website, http://www.sapphirebluepublishing.com/.

Can you tell us something of your work in progress?

My current work in progress is Ravenwood: Storm’s Destiny, book 2 of the Ravenwood series. Storm is the sister of the hero Night Ravenwood, from book 1. Her destiny is to help young women who have been attacked by someone, while her loving husband hunts the criminal down. Book 2 will be a stand-alone book as the first one was, however, like the first one, it introduces the character who will have book 3 in the series.

Thank you for talking to us, Laurie. Your determination to succeed is an inspiration. We wish you good luck with The Princess Pirate.

To find out more about Laurie and her work visit her website at http://www.lauriesorensen.com/

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