Wednesday, May 26, 2010

One Question, One Answer with Author Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Lauren Baratz-Logsted has written books for all ages. Her books for children and young adults include the Sisters Eight series, The Education of Bet and Crazy Beautiful. She lives with her family in Danbury, Connecticut. You can learn more about Lauren and her books at her official website.

Earlier this month, Lauren kicked off her One Question, One Answer blog tour to promote TWO releases, Marcia's Madness (May 3rd) and The Education of Bet (July 2010). So, when Lauren asked me to come up with a question for her blog tour, I wanted a question that went beyond the books; I wanted a question that touched on the personal and the writing process.

My question was: How do your roles as woman, wife, mother affect what and how you write?

Lauren's response: Leave it to you to ask me a question I have to think about! Hmm... Let's see... I think being a woman has predisposed me for most of my writing career to write female-centric fiction, but I appear to be branching out. The YA novel Crazy Beautiful is told in first-person, dual-narrator, he-said/-she-said fashion. And I've just delivered an adult novel to my agent that's from the point of view of a man's man - fingers crossed that she likes it and that others do as well! I don't think my writing is affected by being a wife at all except for maybe in two areas: 1) if I write about a wife who decides the only answer to her problems is to murder her husband, I have to expect a few dirty looks at the dinner table; 2) my husband Greg Logsted (website) is one of my collaborators on The Sisters 8 series for young readers, along with our 10-year-old daughter Jackie. Finally, as to the last part of your question, being a mother affects me as a writer in every way. Jackie's proud of what I do for a living now, and I'm grateful for that. I only hope that when she grows up she still feels the same way.

I have been a fan of Lauren's since her debut novel in 2003, The Thin Pink Line; she knows how to develop a strong, realistic character and how to move a reader along a great story with her pacing. You owe it to yourself to pick up her latest projects!

Released May 3rd!

Questions! Questions! Questions! The Sisters Eight have so many questions and so few answers! Luckily, one more month means they’ll get a few answers.

Marcia’s month is about to begin. You remember Marcia, right? The sensible one? The one who would never do anything . . .crazy?

"Part Snickett, part Dahl with a little dash of Gorey, author Lauren Baratz-Logsted along with Greg Logsted and Jackie Logsted have created a series that is perfect for the younger tween set. I have already test-driven the first two titles with my 4th graders, and they are bugging me for more. With 8 sisters, there is a character for every reader. Fun, fun, fun." ~ Stacy Dillon,

Click cover to buy your copy of Marcia's Madness today!

The Education of Bet (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, July 2010) is about a 16-year-old girl in Victorian England who impersonates a boy in order to get a proper education.

"This book left me laughing and rooting for Bet the whole time. Many surprises and wonderfully included twists to capture your interest from page one all the way to the end. Another wonderfully written book by a great author who never ceases to amaze me with her writing skills and easy flowing story. A great historical book for the young adult genre!" ~ My Overstuffed Bookshelf

Click cover to buy your copy of The Education of Bet today!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The "Everything's Great, But..." Woman

We know her.

On the outside, she is a woman that most men want and most women envy.

She's the "everything's great, but..." woman.

You know.

She's beautiful. She has a great job. She has great friends. She has a great family. She has a great home. She has a great car.

Her future is so blindingly bright your retinas can sear just trying to imagine what her future looks like.

And when she smiles that toothpaste-commercial smile, it makes her whole universe that much brighter.

But the smile is fake.

A woman like this can't afford to let everyone know what's really going on in her world.

Because everything's great, but...

...she's not happy.

And she's usually not happy because of some man.

Sometimes, she has everything BUT the man, and she goes home to all her wonderful things and feels empty and lonely.

And sometimes, she has everything AND the man, and when the two are together, people are that much more jealous of her because she appears to have the perfect life.

Yet she goes home to all her wonderful things, including her husband, and feels empty and lonely.


In my debut novel, set to drop next month--Death at the Double Inkwell [Amazon], Jovan Parham Anderson is the "everything's great, but..." woman. She's a bestselling mystery novelist, has a wonderful twin that she writes great novels with--she has loving parents, and everyone in their hometown in Maryland consider Jovan and her twin Cheyenne to be just DARLING. And then there's Cordell, Jovan's husband. She's loved him since college, and he her, but at some point that love began to dismantle and the facade of Jovan's idyllic life begins to crumble.

And before she can even think about the situation clearly, her focus moves at one point away from her husband and to herself.

Is SHE the reason he's being distant? Is SHE not doing something right?

She wonders if her curvy figure is no longer attractive to Cordell--after all, he does call her out a time or two about her weight.

She wonders if she's not doing enough at home--considering she's a successful businesswoman just as Cordell is a successful businessman. Is she not being Suzy Homemaker enough for him?

More WHYs cloud Jovan's thoughts regarding her marriage and herself, especially when an event occurs that rocks the very foundation she's built her entire world on, causing
Jovan to question everything about her life with Cordell.

How can the "everything's great, but..." woman have EVERYTHING great in her life...with no buts?

She has to take control of her life, see the TRUTH of her life, determine what she NEEDS in her life, and act accordingly.

Will Jovan do all of those things?

You'll have to read Death at the Double Inkwell to find out.

It drops next month--but you can by it now at Amazon.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Advocate of the Heroine of Substance (& Size), Author Lynne Murray

The Author

Lynne Murray, author of the romantic comedy, Bride of the Living Dead, has had six mysteries published. Larger Than Death, the first book featuring Josephine Fuller, sleuth of size who doesn't apologize won the Distinguished Achievement Award from NAAFA (the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance). She has written three ebooks of encouragement for writers as well as essays, interviews and reviews on subjects that rouse her passions, many of those can be found under "Rants and Raves" on her web site. Lynne lives in San Francisco and when not writing she enjoys reading, watching DVD film directors' commentaries and spoiling her cats, all of whom are rescued or formerly feral felines.

[book] [blog] [LiveJournal] [Twitter] [Book Tour]

The Book

Indie film critic, Daria MacClellan, wants to marry the man she loves, but she's slipping on rose petals as if they were banana peels on her way to the altar. Big, beautiful and rebellious, Daria, who is most comfortable in a monster movie poster T-shirt and blue jeans, finds that her wedding is hijacked by family drama. How did she sign on for a formal wedding planned by Sky, her perfectionist, anorexic, older sister? Daria adores her fiancé and she loves horror films, but her wedding seems to be spiraling downward in that direction. Will a picture perfect pink wedding turn her into the Bride of the Living Dead?

BRIDE OF THE LIVING DEAD is CLG Certified, receiving a 4 out of 5 latte review, which you can check out on Amazon [click the cover].

Click the cover above to purchase YOUR copy of Bride of the Living Dead today!


Imagine the movie poster for your novel, BRIDE OF THE LIVING DEAD. What's the logline?
Her wedding day or her worst nightmare? Would she turn into the BRIDE OF THE LIVING DEAD?

What was the spark that initiated the idea behind BRIDE OF THE LIVING DEAD?
I love the humor of chick lit books but the shoes scared me! Also the dresses! The deep-seated obsession with wedding planning terrified me most of all. When I tried to imagine what it would be like to live in these books, I'd see someone who twisted her ankles in the high heels, stepped on the hems and ripped the long gowns, and flashed her underwear at the world while she tumbled head over heels into the gutter. I decided to write about a rebellious heroine who is allergic to frills, but who loves her man and her family so much that she reluctantly agrees to let them railroad her into a formal wedding organized by her perfectionist, anorexic, older sister.

Talk to us about the writing process for BRIDE OF THE LIVING DEAD. Was it a fast write? Did you outline first or just sit and crank out the story?
I'm an incorrigible non-outliner who keeps trying to outline. There's something tremendously appealing in the idea that I could write faster and better and control the process by outlining. So I begin each new book by attempting to outline the story. In the middle of that, every single time, I go off the rails and start writing the actual scene I'm outlining. I've come to accept that breaking rules is part of my process. The structure of beginning to outline gives me something to break out of. I'm the same way with paper--I get lined paper and then write through the lines and around the margin.

The first draft process for BRIDE took less than six months. The rewrites have taken a few years. I don't regret that BRIDE was rejected by several big publishers when it was first submitted because I got ideas on how to improve the book. One editor at a major publishing house said they had already filled their yearly quota for books about losing weight before the wedding. Eeeek! If anyone could even imagine that BRIDE OF THE LIVING DEAD was about that, major changes were needed! The title went through changes as well. At one point it was called "A Guide for the Dysfunctional Bride." Like a lot of non-outliners, I enjoy the rewriting process. Finally BRIDE OF THE LIVING DEAD found its form, its title, and a home with Pearlsong Press.

What are you doing to promote BRIDE OF THE LIVING DEAD?
I'm not able to do in-person events at this time, so I'm going mostly virtual, and ever so slightly postal! I'm doing my own blogs and visiting other blogs--ChickLitGurrl is the first! I'll also be emailing and snail-mailing people whom I've got to know over the years who liked my other books. Pearlsong Press has frequent call-in telephone events where anyone who feels like it can call, and chat and I may do other call-in events as well.

I know that you have a mystery series that features Josephine "Jo" Fuller, "a sleuth of size who doesn't apologize." How important is it to you to develop stories that feature large and in charge female characters?
About that "doesn't apologize" part, I had to add that and turn it into a rhyme because I had a librarian take off the "of size" part in their promotional literature for an event. That kind of thing mobilizes my rebellious streak. I figured if it was a rhyme and a joke, they couldn't chop it up. I don't tolerate fat-bashing in what I read. I know that some books are what you might call "size neutral" and content themselves with not insulting large people. That's the author's decision, but I'm not good at keeping my mouth shut when I feel strongly about something. I need books that inspire me and make me feel good as a large woman. I wouldn't mind some positive role models as well. So I write what I want to read. I've gotten many, many emails from women and men who found it helpful and healing to read such stories.

Why do you write?
I've loved stories for as long as I can remember. My parents would read little Golden Books to me, and even before I could read or write, I told them I wanted to write one of those books. So I did! My mother typed it up for me and I illustrated it with a crayon picture of the hero--a duck.

What is the most important component of a story for you--why?
I'm a firm believer in the healing power of escape. I read (and write) to go to another place, to make sense of the world and spend time with characters I like, enjoying their adventures, seeing the good guys win. I love the kind of books where you finish the book and wish you could go right back to that world again.

What are three pieces of advice you would offer writers wanting to get published?
Persist. The late mystery novelist, George C. Chesbro, gave a speech at the 1994 Bouchercon Convention that helped me tremendously. He said that there are no child prodigy novelists. Writing talent is not rare, but beyond talent, a novelist above all needs to be neurotic enough to continue writing in the face of years of rejection, criticism and no rewards whatsoever. That is the only way to learn the craft. When I heard those words, I wanted to raise my hand and yell: "Yes! Keep going in the face of no rewards at all--I can do that! I've done that. I'm doing that right now!"

Use whatever works. Never underestimate the motivating power of revenge. As a writer you have a license to kill, fictionally speaking, and often when you do, it heals your own pain. I had a request from some former co-workers to kill a manager who treated us all badly. I made him my next murder victim (slightly disguised so I wouldn't get sued), and I felt much better. Afterward when the former co-workers had read the book, they thanked me and asked me to kill him again! I didn't really need to, though, because I had written my way out of it and moved on to other victims.

Keep notes. Observe the stories unfolding in life with an eye toward using them or just to exercise your curiosity and you'll never be bored.

Who is one of your favorite writers, and how does he/she inspire you as a writer?
Terry Pratchett is my favorite. He can make me laugh and think about serious things at the same time. His Discworld is as fantastical a setting as you can imagine, yet I feel as if I know the characters and learn from them.

Word Association. What comes to mind when you see the following words:
BRIDE OF THE LIVING DEAD: Finding her inner Bridezilla!
FAMILY: Protect
LOVE: Harmony
FAT: Tasty
WRITING: My passion

What projects are you currently working on?
I'm exploring Urban Paranormal realms now. I'm doing revisions on a vampire novel where some of the vampires shop at the Big and Tall Store and generally look like real people instead of slinky supermodels. When that's done, I'll return to my work-in-progress, a ghost story that has a romance as well as vampires and some other paranormal critters.