Author Interview: Lauren Blakely
I’m delighted to welcome my good friend, Lauren Blakely, to the blog today! Lauren is one of my everyday writer pals. We’re always chatting about something via email as we work on our books. Her books include Big Rock, the Sinful Nights Series, the Seductive Nights Series and the upcoming MISTER O, which I can’t WAIT to read! Maybe if we’re really lucky today, Lauren will even tell us what the O in MISTER O stands for… 🙂 Lauren, I’d love to hear about how you got started in the romance writing business and more about Mr. O. We got a tease of that story in Big Rock, so tell me more!
Lauren: O stands for oranges, of course. Oh wait, I meant origami. Nope, nope. That’s not it either, but it’s close, so close, yes, that’s it, right there. The big O!
Anyway, I started in romance writing because a dirty mind is a terrible thing to waste. That, and my YA books were going absolutely nowhere. I’d written five young adult novels for traditional publishers and though they were (mostly) well-received critically, they weren’t selling. At the same time that my last YA novel submitted to NY houses was rejected, I also lost a big client on the journalism side (that had been my pay-the-bills job). Those were signs that it was finally time to roll the dice on self-pubbing. I dusted off an old chick lit manuscript (and yup, that old chick lit manuscript had been passed on by NY too), revamped the vast majority of it to make it sexier and more romantic, learned to format, and published my first romance novel myself—CAUGHT UP IN US. I told myself that if it sold more than 10,000 copies I’d self-publish another book. It did (many times that over time), so I kept going, and I’m so glad all those NY houses either 1. rejected me, 2. couldn’t sell my books and 3. didn’t want me anymore, because I love writing romance novels and I love the indie publishing world!
As for MISTER O, he’s Nick Hammer and he’s the captain of orgasms, he’s the superhero of pleasure, he’s a good deed doer of the multi-orgasmic variety. He’s a wildly successful TV show creator/producer who’s good with the ladies, and especially good at giving them toe-curling, sheet-grabbing Os. By the bushel. Nick first appeared in BIG ROCK as Spencer’s buddy, and as we learn from chapter one of MISTER O, he has it bad for his best friend’s sister. When Harper comes to him and asks for lessons in how to win a man, Nick figures it’s a perfect chance to get her out of his system since he knows he can never have her….but she’s oh so tempting to him!
Marie: I’m literally DROOLING to read Mister O. You’ve got my email, right? Hint, hint… What good is having author friends if you can’t beg them for an early read of their sure-to-be-awesome new book?!? LOL—all kidding (I’m not kidding) aside, I loved the hint of Nick that we got in BIG ROCK, and I can’t wait to read his book. And P.S. people, if you haven’t read BIG ROCK, get on that! It’s an awesome, funny, touching book—one that has you laughing and smiling as you read. I love that kind of book, and you write them so well, Lauren. When can we expect to see MISTER O on sale? And as you well know, I agree that a dirty mind is indeed a terrible thing to waste! 😉
I loved hearing your story of how you got into self-publishing romance (how have I not heard that before?!) and how rejection was your friend. It was for me too! Every romance publisher in the business rejected Maid for Love, for which I now say THANK GOD every day! In addition to writing great books, you’re also a marketing whiz kid. What are some of the things that authors can do to find readers in the very competitive digital marketplace?
Lauren: I’m so glad you loved the peek of Nick that you saw in BIG ROCK! And you bet I’ll be sending you Nick as soon as he’s ready! I’ll also let you in on a little secret—that scene of Nick & Harper in Central Park was pivotal for Nick. The lightbulb went on for him in a big way that day and he’s had it bad for Harper, his best friend’s sister, ever since. And, as an aside, it’s entirely possible I might have been looking at A LOT of photos of Chris Evans’ arms while writing MISTER O because Nick’s arms pretty much look exactly like Captain America’s. Just wanted to warn you, OK? Nick has amazing arms. So there you go—I’ll leave you with that image! And MISTER O releases May 4—it’s on preorder everywhere but Amazon, and will be on Kindle preorder a few days before release.
As for new authors finding readers, that’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? It is absolutely a challenge for a new writer to stand out, but yet it happens every day. Jana Aston is a great example—her debut novel Wrong was a big hit with bloggers, had a fantastic cover, and great word of mouth, in addition to being a funny, sexy book! It hit all the right notes at the right time, and I also think Jana did a great job making sure the right bloggers got early copies. Alex Lucian also made a mark with Tempting—a hot cover, a knockout blurb, and getting arcs out. Is there a common thread? Write a great book, give it a great cover, pen a fantastic blurb, and don’t be afraid to seek out early reviews!
Oh, and Marie, I thought you might enjoy a sneak peek of MISTER O for your blog 🙂
“Is that why you have a tiger on your chest? For Hobbes?”
I cock my head to the side in curiosity. “How did you know about the tiger?”
“I might have noticed it,” she says, with a cute little shrug of her shoulder. She grabs her phone, clicks open her gallery, and scrolls through some photos. She holds up the screen and shows me one from the summer in Central Park. I remember her snapping pics of me that day when we pranked her brother.
“I zoomed in on it that night,” she says, then stops, shakes her head, and tries to laugh it off. “That sounds really pervy doesn’t it?”
I’m so damn tempted to say, you don’t know what pervy is ’til you hear about the things you do in my shower. You have no idea how flexible you are some nights. You have no clue how dirty you get in my head when you bend over the edge of my bed, and beckon me to your perfect naked body.
Still, I can’t resist the volley. “It only sounds pervy in the best possible way.”
Marie: Okay that little tease has left me drooling for more of Mr. O, but I shall be patient and wait until it hits my email box. And then, all bets are off! (Having super cool author friends has its advantages!) Thank you for sharing your thoughts about marketing, which nearly got lost in the glow of that pervy little excerpt. 🙂 You make some great points about how to be discovered in this crazy marketplace. After Mr. O, what’s next for you?
Lauren: Wait. Pervy excerpts are more entertaining than marketing nuggets of wisdom? Excellent…we’re doing something right then! After Mister O, I’m releasing The Sapphire Affair and The Sapphire Heist in July and August, with Montlake as the publisher. (Yes, that means those two titles will only be available on Amazon, but readers can get the Kindle app on just about any device to read the books!). The Sapphire Affair and The Sapphire Heist form a sexy contemporary romance duet about enemies-turned-lovers who have to work together to find millions in stolen jewels. It’s set in the Cayman Islands, and I hope readers feel like they’ve been whisked away on a sexy tropical adventure! After that, I’ll release WELL HUNG in the fall, and the hero in that is Mister O’s twin brother. Yes, you heard that right. Twins. Because…twins are sexy 🙂
Marie: OMG, well hung AND a twin? I can’t take it! Suffice to say we’ll be waiting for all your great books! What do you do for fun when you’re not working? (Wait, did someone say NOT working?)
Lauren: What is this not working thing of which you speak? *scratches head* *tries to understand foreign concept* When I’m not working, I love to watch comedies and romantic comedies, and my husband and I TRY to find new TV shows to watch—like Silicon Valley and Veep and a lot of Netflix shows, like Sirens and Scrotal Recall (worst name, fun show!). I enjoy playing Scrabble with my daughter and taking my kids out to dinner. And, of course…my dogs! I have three dogs, and they’re my little (one is big) happiness makers, and I love just hanging with them. In fact, I usually take a 10-minute cat nap every afternoon with my two little Chihuahuas curled up with me on the couch. That’s fun for not working!
And thank you! I’m thrilled you’re excited for Nick and his twin brother!
Marie: Napping is my favorite non-work activity. I can so relate to the afternoon cat nap! This has been great fun! Thanks for coming by to tell us about your books! I’m counting the days until Mr. O, and I’m sure my readers will be, too, after reading about him. And readers, if you haven’t yet read Big Rock, get out there and grab it now so you’ll be ready when Mr. O hits in May!
Lauren: Thanks for having me on your blog! I promise Mister O will be on his way to you soon. And I know I’m not alone when I say I can’t wait for Ellie and Jasper in Ravenous. That sneak peek of them at the end of Rapturous has me totally wanting their story. Can you give me a little teaser of what to expect from them?
Marie: Stalking my in-box for Mr. O! And I’m thrilled you’re looking forward to Jasper and Ellie’s story in Ravenous. I’ve been thinking a lot about them as they are UP NEXT! Hollywood Royalty Meets British Aristocracy. How’s that for a little teaser? I can’t wait to write their story and to find out what her brother Flynn has to say about his sister taking up with one of his Dom friends! It’s going to be FUN!
Speaking of fun, this has been amazing! Thanks for coming by to chat with us about your awesome books, Lauren. I can’t get enough of them! I’m off to check my email just in case Mr. O has dropped in to keep me company! Don’t keep me waiting too long!
Find out more about Lauren Blakely’s books at http://laurenblakely.com.