WG: Welcome and thanks for stepping into my spotlight this month. To start off, please tell us about yourself.
LW: Thanks for hosting me, Winnie. I’m really excited about “being” here. :) I was born and raised in Oklahoma and I still live here. I lived for about one year in Delaware, but other than that, I’ve been here my whole life. I love the contrast of the wide open plains and the “big city” feel of Oklahoma City. I actually live in a suburb, so I also get the small-town, hometown thing and I hope I bring that to my books. I graduated from a state university with a degree in Accounting of all things. I worked as an auditor before I had kids (now I am blessed to be able to stay at home) and I really enjoyed the job and getting to know lots of different clients and their businesses. Speaking of kids, my hubby and I have three little ones, all under the age of four. Yes, we are a very busy household. We’ve been having a fun summer of swimming, my daughter’s first VBS, and finding about a hundred baby frogs in our backyard (long story!). We also have three dogs, all Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. They are getting into their middle ages now and are pretty much couch potatoes, but the bonus is that they like to snuggle. :) I love reading (when I have time!), and being with my extended family, sometimes playing cards, but often just visiting.
WG: Let's talk about your own personal road to publication:
Is there some individual, group or event that you can point to as the catalyst/impetus that set you on the road to becoming a writer? Explain.
LW: I don’t remember a specific thing that set me on the road. I have always loved reading (since before I can remember) and wanted to be a writer as a child. I have notebooks upon notebooks filled with stories from back then—none publishable!
WG: Tell us about your journey.
LW: My husband and I graduated college in 2006 and I decided that if I wanted to get serious about this writing thing that I’d better do it before we had kids. I joined ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), where I became part of a critique group, took online classes and started learning about the market. ACFW has a prestigious contest for unpublished writers, called the Genesis. I entered three years in a row and on my third year (after I’d learned a ton about writing—imagine that!), I was a finalist and ended up winning my category. My editor (she wasn’t back then) asked to see the full manuscript from that contest and then ended up buying the manuscript. I had several mentors and people that encouraged me from local chapters that also contributed greatly to the growth of my writing journey.
WG: How many books did you complete before you sold your first? Have all/any of them sold since?
LW: I had a lot of manuscripts I didn’t actually finish. I guess it was my way of learning, but I would learn something new and apply it to whatever manuscript I was working on at the time. I always say I probably wrote 300,000 or more words during those four “learning years”, so I do feel like I put in my time at learning the craft of writing, but MARRYING MISS MARSHAL was my first “real” finished manuscript.
WG: Can you tell us something about your experience in getting 'the call'?
LW: I think I am pretty average in how I responded. I was shaking so badly and I’m sure I said “thank you” about a million times. Then after the call was over, I started shrieking and screaming and scared my nine-month-old (then) daughter. She didn’t know what to think about mommy’s excitement.
WG: How has being a published author impacted your life?
LW: People that I know think I am “cool” because I am published. I don’t think they full realize the hours spent in my pajamas in front of the computer—I can be a real homebody sometimes, especially during a deadline crunch! I am just a normal (boring) me, so I get a kick out of it when they react like that.
WG: What aspect of life as a published author surprised you the most - either in a good or bad way?
LW: Booksignings. For my first book I scheduled as many as I could, but it is hard to get noticed in a bookstore. A lot of people avert their eyes like they are afraid you are going to pounce on them from behind that table. I just try to be friendly and have met some great people and new fans at booksignings, but I think they are becoming a thing of the past—lots of people just go to Amazon and look at reviews to find books they will like.
WG: What about your writing process. Do you maintain a set schedule? Is there such a thing as a typical day for you?
LW: Because of my crazy life (see above about the three kids), I write when I can find a spare fifteen minutes. Sometimes on a tight deadline, I will write while they watch cartoons, but most of my writing is done after bedtime or when one of my trusty babysitters (grandmas and aunts) can help me out. Once my husband took a stay-cation to watch the kids and I whipped out 30,000 words (about half the novel) in a week. That was a crazy time—I had no brain power left after I was done!
WG: Do you set writing goals for yourself?
LW: When I am on deadline I try to get 2,000 words a day. Sometimes it will be more if I have a good chunk of time to work (often when I have a babysitter). I try to work ahead of my goals because sometimes there will be a day when the kids are sick or just whiny and I don’t make the full goal.
WG: Do you have a 'mood setter', something (music, ritual, environment, etc) you use to get you going when you sit down to write?
LW: I have a lovely office with a nice big picture window overlooking our front yard, and I never get to use it. Most of my writing is done with the laptop on the couch or kitchen counter. I do use my office to hold a lot of research books though. :) I love listening to music when I write (a lot of soundtracks and instrumental music usually), but that doesn’t always happen when I have to have one ear on the kiddos.
WG: Do you do a lot of up front plotting before you start or do you just dive in?
LW: I am actually a character person, that’s where I do most of my pre-work. I will know the beginning, important plot turning points and the ending of the story, but I spend most of my upfront time learning about the characters and what makes them tick.
WG: Do you normally start with storyline or with character or with some combination of the two?
LW: It depends on the book. Sometimes it is an idea and then I’ll find a character that fits with it perfectly. My recent favorite craft book is HEROES AND HEROINES by Tami Cowden. It gives a nice look at several archetypes and helps me flesh out the characters, and also makes it more fun planning ways the hero and heroine can interact together.
WG: Do you find certain themes or character archetypes making recurring appearances in your stories?
LW: I’m working on a series right now that features a bunch of orphans that were taken in by a man and became a family. Then they grew up and now I have ahold of them. It’s a bunch of boys who were and are pretty clueless about women and that has been really fun to write.
WG: What do you see as your own personal strengths as a writer?
LW: I think it is the emotion that I bring to the stories. I try to write scenes that make me feel something as I’m working on them (sometimes if I am writing a tense scene and have to turn away from the computer, I’ll realize that I’m all tensed up from writing it!). Often, I find myself smiling or with goosebumps when I write the first kiss scene (that one is my favorite to write in each book).
WG: Are there any obstacles/conflicts, specific to your particular lifestyle, that get in the way of your writing? If so, how do you try and overcome them?
LW: I don’t have a lot of time for social networking, which can be a big part of marketing. I just don’t have time for that, writing and being with my kids. And my kids are growing so fast that I’m not willing to give up the time with them. I’ll have time for Facebook (or whatever it will be then!) when they are all in school. At least that’s what I tell myself. Deadlines can be hard sometimes as well, because it seems that invariably the kids get sick a week before I’m supposed to turn my book in—and that makes it really hard to find time to work because they are extra needy. But so far I’ve always gotten it done!
WG: Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about your process?
LW: Nope, you’ve pretty much covered it.
WG: Do you have a favorite sub-genre as a writer? as a reader?
LW: My favorite genre is the crime/noir fiction of the 30s, 40s and 50s. I like that era because the plotting was strong and offensive language or content was absent. There's something about that genre that is extremely moral—it's usually about the consequences of moral compromise and bad choices. It's about the "common man" trying to make it through the sometimes harsh urban jungle and come out whole.
WG: Is there a genre you haven't been published in yet that you'd like to try your hand at someday?
LW: Contemporary romance or maybe YA. I love reading YA.
WG: Do you have any advice to offer writers still striving toward publication?
LW: Find a writers group that is a good fit for you. You will find invaluable help in the form of critique groups, classes, mentors and people who are on the road with you. Be involved.
WG: Is there a specific 'ah-ha' moment you've had as a writer that you would like to share with us?
LW: I was in the middle of really bad writers’ block and my mentor said, “Go back to your characters. You’re probably trying to make them do something (plot-wise) that they wouldn’t do because of who they are (backstory and personality).” She was totally right. Also, when I discovered my genre. I thought I was going to write romantic suspense (I also love reading it), but when I started a historical romance, my voice came out and the words just flew off the page.
WG: Rejections, notes from unhappy readers and less than stellar reviews are all part of this business. What is your own method for dealing with these and moving on?
LW: I usually let myself have 24 hours to dwell on it (whatever it is) and then I make myself move on. I have the kids to focus on and also just moving on to another writing project keeps my mind occupied.
WG: Is there some piece of advice you received or bit of 'conventional wisdom' that you wish you had ignored?
LW: I just wish someone had told me that when I was learning (from a class or craft book, etc.) to WRITE. I tell it to all my writing classes. Yes, learning is important but you will learn so much more by putting words to the page. A lot of writing is just DOING IT, getting the first draft out there so you have something to edit and then (hopefully) sell.
WG: What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about being a writer? What aspect do you struggle with the most?
LW: I love getting emails or letters from readers. That is a great feeling, that someone I don’t know is reading my story and likes it. I struggle with self-doubt every time I write a book. I often think it won’t be good enough for the editor or the end-reader, and wonder if I’m in the right career. I try to psyche myself out every book. Then I’ll go back and read it during edits and be like, “I love this story!” I still haven’t found a way to turn off the self-doubt. I do try to work through it though.
WG: When you're not writing, what do you do for fun or what is your favorite self-indulgence?
LW: I am an ice-cream-aholic. I love going out for the really expensive “build-your-own” ice creams where you can get stuff mixed in. That’s a fun date-night for me. :)
WG: When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
LW: A writer. I also wanted to be a ballerina (didn’t have the talent or intensity to make it in NY), a veterinarian (I get queasy at the sight of too much blood), and a mom. Two out of four isn’t bad, huh?
WG: What would your readers be most surprised to learn about you?
LW: I am a messy person. I have a hard time putting clean clothes away when the laundry is done (mine, not the kids’). The kitchen is always a wreck. Toys everywhere. It doesn’t bother me, but it does my husband, so we try to compromise. He tries not to be so uptight about it, and I try to clean every once in awhile. :)
WG: What are your favorite movies and/or TV shows? Why?
LW: I love the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice with Kiera Knightly. The romantic tension between the two leads is fantastic and the hero is yummy. Castle is my favorite TV show (love a writer as a hero!), the dialogue between Castle and Beckett is awesome and their romantic tension as well. I can’t wait to see what happens in the fall!!!
WG: I love to collect quotes, all kinds of quotes - inspirational, quirky, motivational, profound, etc. Do you have a personal favorite you'd like to share.
LW: I love quotes too, but I can’t think of a favorite. Mark Twain has several fun writer quotes that I like.
LW: I have two books coming out this summer, an ebook novella COURTED BY A COWBOY (free during July!), and then in ebook and mass market in August ROPING THE WRANGLER. This is the start of a new series for me. I like the tag line I made up, “They are more than cowboys… they are brothers by choice, not blood” . Basically, this man (an orphan himself, a very compassionate guy—okay, the hero of my 2012 release THE HOMESTEADER’S SWEETHEART) took in seven boys and a girl because no one else would take the orphans in. He couldn’t turn them away. They all grew up together and formed this huge family bond even though they aren’t related by blood. And the series, called “Wyoming Legacy” is the story of how all the brothers fall in love. It has been fun to bring different brothers into each others’ stories as secondary characters, too.
WG: Please tell us about your current project.
WG: What inspired you to write this particular story?
LW: My editor suggested the idea on a phone call over a year ago and I started imagining the different stories for the brothers and then my brain just took off.
WG: What sort of research, if any, did you have to do? Did you stumble across any unexpected interesting/fun tidbits along the way?
LW: I had already done a lot of research on the time period and location (late 1800s, Wyoming), but I’ve had to do research for the different books. ROPING THE WRANGLER has a heroine who is a schoolteacher, so I had to make sure I got the schoolroom right. The second full book in the series comes out in December and has a hero who is a doctor, so it was fun to research the way they did things differently medically than we do now. It’s very interesting to see how far we have come!
WG: Tell us about your upcoming plans.
LW: I’ll have RETURN OF THE COWBOY DOCTOR out in December 2013. I have proposed more books in the series with my editor but I’m waiting to see what will come about on those.
WG: And before we close, tell us how your readers can get in touch with you.
LW: My website, www.lacywilliams.net or email firstname.lastname@example.org . I love to hear from readers. You can also find me at facebook.com/lacywilliamsbooks or twitter @lacy_williams . As I mentioned, I am way behind on updating the social media sites!
WG: Thanks so much for spending time with me and my readers this month. It was fun 'chatting' with you, as always!
LW: Thanks for hosting me, Winnie. I really appreciate it!