Meet Debut Author Laura Breck

Laura Breck writes romance with a touch of mystery. Her debut novel, Secret Vegas Lives, released in e-format on October 22nd. She’s sold a second book to Red Rose Publishing, which is due out in April 2010.

Laura and her family live in St. Paul, Minnesota where she works full-time as a financial analyst for a professional sports team. When she’s not crunching numbers at her day job or hanging with her characters, she loves to bike, preferring cycling to any other sport or exercise. She plays backgammon “intensely,” is a programming geek and bakes incessantly, having perfected the art of butter cream frosting. Her favorite foods are green olives and maple syrup, however not mixed together.

Laura is passionate about promotion and teaches a workshop about e-publishing, which includes a section on marketing. She’s a plotter who writes a story from start to finish using a detailed outline. Her stories are set in large U.S. cities, and she enjoys weaving in real businesses and attractions.

Join me as we learn about more about Laura and her journey to publication.

.

.

.

Laura’s Journey Begins

.

•You began writing in the 80s, but life intervened and forced you to set aside your dream for over two decades. How did you deal with your craving to create during that time? Did you capture ideas as they came to you, hoping to return to them later? Or did you do your best to ignore the characters chatting away in your head?

Hi, Keli. Thank you for having me here today!

During the ’90s, I essentially ignored writing, and turned to other creative pursuits. Music, dancing, and furthering my education. When we moved back to Minnesota from Las Vegas in 2001, we bought a condo, so there was no place for my drums, and country line dancing was non-existent. I’d lost interest in finishing my advanced accounting degree, and drifted aimlessly (creatively speaking) until 2006, when the characters started chatting away in my head once again. I bought a laptop computer, started typing, and haven’t stopped since.

.

•Your first two stories were historicals written years ago and set aside. What did you learn through the process of writing them?

When I re-read my historicals, I cringe. Head hopping, shallow point of view, odd verb tenses, and choppy scenes. But the basics are there. A solid plot, developed characters, and snappy dialogue. I still have the returned manuscript, read by an editor who gave me some great advice all those years ago. More conflict, and more tension between the characters. I think those words stuck with me, and helped guide my writing focus. And I learned another very important lesson – finish your novel. It’s exciting to hold a completed manuscript in your hands, and say, “I did it!”

.

•In 2006, you resurrected your longtime dream of being a published author and began writing again. However, you went in an entirely new direction, creating romances with a touch of mystery. What led to this change of genre?

I love reading romances, and I’ll read any genre. I enjoy being swept away by a love story that I know will have a Happy Ever After ending. Back in the ‘80s, I read mostly historical romances, but over the years, I’ve learned to appreciate contemporary, and wanted to try writing that genre. Secret Vegas Lives started out as a romance, then in my first rewrite, I added the blackmail element, and it was suddenly a romance/mystery.

.

.

Laura’s Inspiration

.

•As a writer of romantic mysteries, which sleuths are your favorites? Brooding Holmes? Self-assured Poirot? OCD Monk? Have other mystery authors influenced the way you tell a story?

I read every one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes books when I was younger, and was fascinated by the meticulous process of sorting out a crime. My favorite mystery/suspense authors today are Michael Connelly and Randy Wayne White. While their books do not usually provide that Happy Ever After ending I crave, their male characters are so well written, and their plots so compelling, I run to buy their books when they’re released.

.

•Your first book is set in Las Vegas, and I understand you lived there three years. What is it about that glittering city that appeals to you? How much of the unique ambience and culture did you work into your book?

Las Vegas is an amazing city. Visiting, you see the façade of bright lights and excesses, but living there is a different experience. It’s a cultural melting pot. I worked with people from around the world: Guam, Russia, Hawaii, Mexico. And our neighbors were from Samoa.

It was easy for me to create Antonio’s back-story. He moved to Las Vegas from Italy to write crime novels. Another, but unfortunate, side of Vegas is the crime. I make use of that unpleasant side of the city as Antonio leads his secret night life.

.

.

Laura’s Milestones

.

•In January of this year, you submitted your manuscript to Red Rose Publishing and just one week later received The Email. Please share with us the thrill of opening that life-changing message? Did you squeal, sob or shake your booty in a happy dance?

I’m a happy-dance kind of person. I read the e-mail at work, and immediately called my husband. He wasn’t surprised. He knew it would happen sooner or later. But he asked me out for supper to celebrate!

Attached to the e-mail was my contract, and I printed it out on paper just because I needed to hold it in my hands. It was more real to me then, and couldn’t disappear if I lost the e-mail. So, I carried that around with me and shared it with friends, reveling in hugs and congrats.

.

•Red Rose Publishing purchased another book, the sequel to Secret Vegas Lives. What was your reaction to this news? Did you feel a sense of relief at having landed a second contract, or did you face that “Oh, my gosh! I’ve got to write another book—fast” panic, which some new authors experience?

Very interesting question. I was excited, of course, to contract my second book, but I always have at least two books in the works. I write the first draft of one, then go back and rewrite the last one. It’s my way of seeing the manuscript through new eyes. While I didn’t feel the urgency to write another, I did love the security of having sold two books of a three book series. “Wait! Oh, my gosh! I have to write the third book now, don’t I?!?”

.

.

Laura, the Promotion Pro

.

•As an e-published author, you took seriously the need to engage in self-promotion. You’ve written two blog posts that list many ideas others could use, one with Romancing the Blog and the other at Prairie Chicks Write Romance. Of all the tips you shared, which have worked best for you, and why?

I loved my blog tour. It was a whirlwind 22 guest blogs in 25 days. Yikes! I was notified of my release date a month prior, so I had a lot to do in a short time. Writing each blog took me about three hours, and I spent a lot of time hovering at the blogsite on my post day, and answering comments (which is great fun!)

Another great promotion tool is my newsletter. I have a contest on my website where each month I give away a heart-shaped carabiner and lipstick USB drive. To be entered in every month’s drawing, readers agree to let me send them my monthly newsletter. This month, there are two other contest as well, and because of these, there’s lots of traffic on my website.

.

.

Partners on Laura’s Writing Journey

.

•Many writers, myself included, are grateful to contest judges who have helped them improve their stories as well as learn more about craft. You said, however, that you don’t see much value in the feedback from judges. Why is that?

Gosh, did I say that? My comment was in response to an interviewer asking about the worst writing advice I’d been given, which was someone telling me to use contest entries instead of critique partners to get feedback on my writing.

I think both are excellent sources. I’ve had some great judges who kindly made changes, explained what I could be doing better, and suggested craft books to help me develop my voice. But I’ve also had judges who were terribly rude and brought me to tears. Or they did odd things like highlight all similar words in special colors (my apologies if the coloring-judge is reading this, but I was truly confused.) And for this, I paid good money to enter, print, and mail my pages? Another down side is that by the time I received the contest entries back, it was months later, and I had already rewritten those chapters, so even the best feedback may have been too late.

But contest results can be helpful. My 2007 Golden Heart scores were three 8.9s and two much, much lower scores. But that’s okay. Three people liked my writing – liked it a lot – and I was extremely encouraged!

.

•While I value greatly the feedback I’ve received from contest judges, like you, I believe a critique partner is essential. Please tell us about yours and what makes your relationship work so well.

A great critique partner, or critique group, will be with you through your entire writing career. This person or group learns your style, understands your voice, and gives you timely feedback. You can ask them questions about their edits, and tap into their knowledge base. And they will read your entire manuscript, which is so important. You may submit just the first three chapters to an agent or editor, but they won’t buy your work until they read the entire manuscript. And if you submit to an e-publisher, you send them the whole book right away.

A critique partner is free, with a bonus: you get to read their stories! And you learn to edit, which is an invaluable skill. You share a holistic relationship, and grow together in your talent. I encourage everyone to find their perfect CP match.

My critique partner is a wonderful person, and although we write entirely different genres, we can be totally honest with each other, and will drop what we’re doing to look at a chapter or synopsis or blurb when asked. I appreciate her greatly, and look forward to a long, successful partnership.

.

.

Laura’s Debut Novel

.

•Please tell us about Secret Vegas Lives.

Antonio Daniato is a best-selling novelist, but he hides an addiction to a secret nightlife. But someone knows about it, and is blackmailing him. He sets a trap, and psychologist Valerie Kane falls into his arms. He’s shaken by his feelings for her, and she can’t resist falling for him. Antonio fears Valerie’s reaction to discovering his secret life, but he can’t stop. Valerie risks everything to help him, but he will not confide in her. When she stumbles onto Antonio’s secret, she must choose to let him go, or fight for him against an obsession that may be stronger than their love.

.

.

..

Laura’s Journey Continues

.

•You’ve sold two books to Red Rose Publishing, both romantic mysteries. What are you working on now?

As I mentioned, I’ve always got two books going. I’ve started a romance about a love triangle on Florida’s beautiful Sanibel Island. And I’m working on a rewrite of my romance set in Miami. Bree Prentis inherits a mess – a shadowy Miami business, complete with a charming Cuban business partner, Sixto Doria, but she fears his interest in her is only a distraction to keep her from discovering the truth about their company. It’s a fun story to write, because I’m learning Cubonics – Cuban slang.

.

.

Five Fun Facts About Laura, The Writer

.

~ I write extremely fast. I can write 20,000 words in a weekend.

~ I write in my spare bedroom, which is set up as a Tiki Bar.

~ My husband reads my manuscripts to help me with the male voice.

~ I hope to convince Fabio to come out of retirement and pose for a book cover.

~ I truly care about other writers’ success, and enjoy helping people achieve their goals.

.

.

Five Fun Facts About Laura, the Person

.

~ I have a schoolgirl heart – I get excited when I see Disney princesses.

~ I love to dance, and over the years have converted my husband from an “I’m not going to be the first couple on the dance floor!” to a “Let’s get the dancing started!” kind of guy.

~ I volunteer a great deal. I like to get involved in community projects.

~ I don’t watch television.

~ I donate a portion of the proceeds of each of my books to a charity. Secret Vegas Lives supports a shelter in Las Vegas, Nevada, for women, children, and their pets. For information visit http://TheShadeTree.org.

.

.

Laura’s Question for You

.

•I’ve enjoyed having you as my guest, Laura. Thanks for your great answers to my questions. Now it’s time to see what your guests have to say. What would you like to know?

.

It’s been a pleasure blogging with you today, Keli. You have a beautiful blog, and I’m excited to spend the day chatting with your followers.

Here’s my question: I will read any romance genre, looking for a Happy Ever After ending. What genres do you read, and is it important to you to have a happy ending?

.

.

Learn More About Laura

Visit her Web site ~ http://LauraBreck.com

Visit her group blog ~ http://RosesOfProse.blogspot.com

Friend her on Facebook ~ Laura Breck (Minneapolis/St. Paul)

Follow her on Twitter ~ Laura Breck, Author

.

.

Leave a Comment for Two Chances to Win

To leave a comment, click on “Comments” below the date in the title at the top of the post.

My Regular Drawing

My next drawing will take place December 20th. I’m giving away an elegant metal bookmark from Hallmark.

.

Text reads: Miracles begin within.

.

To enter the drawing, just leave a comment on any blog post by December 20th and enter your email address when prompted. (I don’t share your information or add it to any mailing lists.) On December 21st, I’ll post the winner’s name in the Welcome post at the top of the blog.

.

You could also win a First Sale Scrapbook

If you’d like to have a chance at winning a First Sale Scrapbook created by me, your blog hostess Keli Gwyn, leave a comment on any post between now and December 31st. Be sure to include your name and email address when prompted if you want to be entered in the drawing. (Your information will not be shared.) Click red link above to see samples of covers and pages.

On January 1st, I will choose one person who will receive an 8×8 inch, twenty-page scrapbook in which s/he can document that long-awaited first sale. The pages cover various milestones including The Call, signing the contract, receiving the first advance payment and holding your debut novel in your hands.

(No scrapbooking skills required. You just add your photos and journaling.)

.

Note: Offers void where prohibited.

Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.

Advertisements

About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
This entry was posted in author interview, critique partners, first sale story, promotion, writing, writing contests and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Meet Debut Author Laura Breck

  1. What a great interview. Thank you so much for sharing this. I particularly enjoyed reading about Laura’s inspirations and her ideas on promotion. Thanks again for sharing this post.

  2. Laura Breck says:

    Hi Cassandra, I wrote a bio recently for a workshop I’m leading, and said I enjoy promotion as much as I enjoy writing. I didn’t think I would, but I really do!

  3. Keli Gwyn says:

    Welcome, Laura. It’s great to have you as my guest.

    I’ve been an avid romance reader for over thirty years, and for me a HEA is important. I once read a romance that didn’t end that way, and I felt gypped. Thankfully, there was a sequel in which the heroine got her guy, but I was so disappointed with the ending of the first book that I’ve yet to read the second.

  4. Pamela says:

    What a fabulous interview. You make me happy inside just reading your upbeat words. I like disney and fairy tales and shiny things too.

    There’s a million reasons to love a HEA, but mostly I think it’s so important to write them because there just aren’t enough of them in real life. We need to increase the positive energy, tilt the kharma so to speak, with our writing.

  5. Laura Breck says:

    Pam, thank you for your kind words. Yes, definitely we need to escape to a world that’s happy and relaxing. I spent last evening having a very difficult conversation that left me stressed and anxious, and the first thing I did when I got home was pick up a romance novel. I love to think my writing can be that HEA go-to for people.

    Best wishes!
    Laura

  6. Walt M says:

    Alright, you are a financial analyst to a sports teams. That is the dream of every sports/numbers geek. How did you get that?

  7. Laura Breck says:

    Walt, I just stumbled into it. We moved back from Vegas, I sent my resume to an accounting placement firm, had an interview with two VPs, and was hired. It took about three days.

    One hint if you’re ever looking for a sports/numbers job. When I’m hiring staff, I stay away from people whose cover letters mention anything about being a fan of the sport or of the players. Teams are looking for professionals, not ‘fans.’

    I peeked in at your blog – Go Auburn!

  8. Linda Henderson says:

    I enjoyed your interview very much. I read just about anything, but I do look for that HEA.

  9. Laura Breck says:

    Hi Linda, I definitely need HEA, even in movies. We watched Nights in Rodanthe, and I was grumpy at the end because there was no HEA. I’m getting so picky!

    Take care,
    Laura

  10. Quilt Lady says:

    I read a little of everything myself, although I am not much into the syfy stuff! I do love the HEA thats whay I read romance! Thanks for sharing your journey with us!

  11. Alison says:

    Wow, 20,000 words in a weekend? – I feel ill!

  12. Quilt Lady says:

    I read a little of everything! I go for the happy endings too! Thats why I read romance

  13. Laura Breck says:

    Hi Quilt Lady – thanks for commenting. It’s a great feeling to know that when we pick up a romance novel, we’re assured of a happy ending. I love it!

    Alison – didn’t mean to make you ill (LOL) I’m guessing you’re not a fast writer. One thing about writing fast is that I do have to go back and rewrite and revise, adding all the layers of characterization and plot that I didn’t include the first time around. My critique partner is a slow writer, and she includes every detail she can in the first draft. I think it evens out in the end.

    Have a great day!
    Laura

Comments are closed.