I’m thrilled to participate in Loralee’s blog tour celebrating the release of All That Matters which was released on September 9th as the launch book for new small press Tell-Tale Publishing and now resides in good company on my IPad Kindle app. As one of Loralee’s critique partners, I had the privilege of watching All That Matters take shape from idea to revisions to wonderful book and I know you’ll enjoy it as much as I did!
Because I still love to toy with my degree in journalism, I’ve interviewed Loralee so you can learn more about her and her delightful projects . . .
NG: About that "second book syndrome"...Share some of the career frustrations you’ve had since your first book Accidental Hero came out with Silhouette Special Edition in 2005.
LL: Not making an immediate second sale was a real eye-opener for me, as well as a huge disappointment. Since Accidental Hero did fairly well in sales for a first book, my high-hopes bubble was deflated big time when a contract for the second submission wasn’t offered. I’d heard about the trials and tribulations of that "sophomore book", but optimistic me thought it wouldn’t apply to my work. Big surprise! So, over the course of the next few years, I kept submitting, taking time out only for some health issues. Still the “no, thanks” followed from my editor. I just wasn’t writing what they were looking for. Revisions, re-submittals, rejections. It was a stressful cycle and I often felt like a hamster on one of those running wheels. Since each submission had to be a full manuscript, it took over a year for each one to come full circle from submission to rejection. That long wait was my biggest frustration.
NG: To what do you attribute that difficulty in getting the second book sold? Market changes? Agent? Timing?
LL: The fact that I acquired an agent didn’t move the submission process along any faster, even with the agent’s efforts. Market changes are always a factor in some way, but I tried to keep up with the latest and still write the story I loved. That probably was one of the reasons I didn’t sell. My voice didn’t quite fit the line I was targeting. Timing on my part was also a problem, since I’m not the fastest writer on the planet. I eventually parted with my agent because I no longer felt marketable. I was admitting defeat, giving up. I could put the blame on everything listed, but to be honest, I was, and still am, my own worst enemy. In order to sell and sell fast, I needed to turn off my internal editor and simply write the story. To this day, I’m still working on getting rid of that bad habit.
NG: How close did you come to just giving up, and what kept you going?
LL: So close I actually stopped writing for a time. I had no agent, no motivation. But I discovered I was miserable, so I tried different genres – single title contemporary romance, mystery, and even a “free-range” writing experiment. My loyal critique group refused to let me get away with walking out. They pushed, pulled, prodded and threatened me with dire results unless I made an effort to write something – anything. I will be forever indebted to them for always being the wind beneath my wings.
NG: Talk about a great rebound! How did it feel to make not one, but Two series sales within weeks of each other?
LL: I’m still in shock, believe me! A contract in April and another in July. Unbelievable! I was already contemplating self-publishing as a last resort, convinced there was no longer a place for me in the publishing world I was trying to re-enter. The fact that I’d submitted one of the rejected romances to another publisher and had it rejected there only because they had no romance line for it at the time, led to that manuscript being recommended to a new publishing company that loved it and offered a contract. All That Matters, one of my Texas Hill Country romances, is a September release from Tell-Tale Publishing Group, and I couldn’t be happier about being part of their launch. Exciting times here in my corner of the world.
NG: Tell us a little about your new projects and how you came up with the ideas.
LL: Small towns are what I know best and I find it easy to write within those city limits. All that Matters is a Cinderella-in-reverse story about Buddy Lee Walker, the hunk on the book cover, (thanks to talented cover artist Pat Lazarus) the hero from the wrong side of town who falls in love with the banker’s daughter. An unlikely friendship that turns into a marriage of convenience and love by accident, All That Matters is an emotion-packed story with believable and a touch of small-town humor. I absolutely fell in love with Buddy Lee before I ever found the right heroine for him. I was fortunate that the editors at Tell-Tale fell in love with him, too, and offered a contract along with glowing words of enthusiasm. I was over-the-moon excited.
Though Bell Bridge Books passed on All That Matters because they didn’t have a line for romance, they did like my writing and my voice. Urged by my extremely pushy writing cohorts, I reluctantly submitted a proposal for my cozy mystery series, Joyful Noise. That project was the result of the “free-range” writing I did with no goal other than having fun inside the mind of a rebellious preacher’s kid all grown up, as she returns to the Southern, ultra-conservative small town to redeem her past and put the shine back on her tarnished halo. Who knew the story would lead to a humorous cozy mystery series that also addresses the bullying issue so prevalent in schools now days? Joyful Noise found its way to Memphis and Debra Dixon and Deb Smith of Bell Bridge Books, who were so enthusiastic about my proposal they offered a two-book contract and enough excitement to spark a party at our RV lake place, where I happened to be when the offer came. I admit to making my own version of joyful noise that Saturday afternoon.
NG: What else is cooking on your creative back burners?
LL: My back burners are full and turned up high. Another submission for Tell-Tale will be ready to send very soon. Her Hill Country Man (working title) is all about choices. The right choice isn’t always the first one we make, but many times it’s the hardest to make. This story is a favorite of mine with a cowboy/cop hero and a heroine, and how their first choices impact their lives in different ways. Another emotional story I hope will make you sigh with satisfaction at the choice they make in the conclusion. A third one is complete and also on a back burner.
The second book in the Joyful Noise series for Bell Bridge is still in the simmer stage, but I promise it will be a fun one, too. More on that as it develops.
NG: How has the market changed since you sold your first book? Any new tricks you’ve had to learn?
LL: Market changes have changed drastically in my opinion. The e-Book revolution has impacted the publishing industry in so many ways. Writers are self-publishing right and left, some making millions, others not so much. There are so many opinions out there on the subject. Big publishing houses are trying to catch the e-Book wave while still hanging on to their traditional publishing. Readers are becoming more and more familiar with myriad ways to read their favorite books now, so many brick-and-mortar stores are closing, to the dismay of everyone. Right now, it’s a wait and see situation for most of us.
New tricks, technology and upgrades, oh my! Can I tell you I’m still reeling from all the social media, Twitter, Facebook and blogs that are now the responsibility of the writer if they want to get the word out about their books? First time around, my efforts at publicity consisted of a website and some book-signings and speaking engagements. This time, I’ve discovered that’s not enough. I’m poorly equipped to enter this highly-social online network and working with two publishers, I truly don’t have enough time. My answer to this dilemma? I hired a virtual assistant. My Girl Friday, a virtual maker of magic, has saved my life on more than one occasion and will continue to do so forever, if I have my way. I would not be able to meet my commitments without her help.
NG: Where can we find out more about you and your books?
LL: My website, www.loraleelillibridge.com and my blog, Across the Back Fence, http://loraleelillibridge.blogspot.com will give you an opportunity to meet me, read an excerpt of All That Matters and watch the video book trailer.
A new website is in the works for Lora Lee’s new venture into the world of cozy mysteries. Watch for it later this year when my double life will officially begin.
Here’s the fun part . . . as a blog tour benefit, Loralee is giving away chances to win free downloads of All That Matters along with a KINDLE! All you have to do is leave a comment (and be patient with the comment section. It can be kind of mule-headed sometimes but try and try again!)
One of the things I like most about a Loralee Lillibridge book is the author’s voice. That Texas twang flavors the dialogue and narrative like a dash of spicy chilies. Every time I see the phrase “I might could,” I can hear Loralee saying it. Take a look at the book trailer for All That Matters and you’ll see what I mean . . .
Author “Voice” is one of my main reasons for returning to an author I’ve read. I love the feel of authenticity when the dialogue rings true and pulls you effortlessly along. When reading All That Matters, I’m there in Texas. I can hear the words coming out of the characters’s mouths and believe I’m listening to them swirling around in their heads, creating such an engaging humor and emotional heart tug that it makes each page feel like a downhome welcome. Well done, LL!
Who are some of your favorite authors that have mastered that use of “Voice” to invite you in to sit a spell in the world they’ve created? Share your comments below and be entered in a chance to read All That Matters on you OWN Kindle!