I’m very happy to introduce you to, L.A. Sartor, a writing colleague I met through some online courses given by the oh-so-amazing Laurie Schnebly Campbell.
Leslie graciously allowed me to pick her brain on what works for her as a writer.
L.A. Sartor , Bestselling Contemporary Romance Author
Thank you Jacquie for having me as your guest today, it’s an honor.
Do you outline your books or wing it? Describe your process.
I used to write by the seat of my pants, but I’ve found recently that process takes too much time. Yet, I can’t extensively outline either. So I use a new method, a hybrid of the two using Laurie Schnebly Campbell’s two classes; Plot via Motivation and Plot to Finish.
I’m working on the 3rd book of my Christmas Series, Star Light ~ Star Bright and I’m using this new system, so we’ll see how much faster and cleaner my first draft is.
How do you decide on setting?
My Christmas series is easy, Boulder, Colorado in winter. But you ask, so what? And I’d agree, what’s so special about a winter, snowy Christmas. The star on Flagstaff mountain! It’s only lit at holiday time became the central image in book one and carried through. The star is what made this series.
For my Carswell Adventure Series, 1) I didn’t know I was going to write a series, 2) that it was going to be in the Yucatan, or 3) that I was even going to write the screenplay then book until I visited the ruins at Tulum. That mystical ancient place started all the wheels churning.
But for my latest book Viking Gold, the setting only happened after I thought and thought about where I wanted this story to take place. Then DING! I remembered I had mentioned at the end of Stone of Heaven–the first book in the Adventure series, a wreck in Norway. So I thought why not. The wreck is different, but it’s in Norway 🙂
Dare to Believe is set in Hawaii and Colorado. I lived in Hawaii and still live in Colorado, so it seemed perfect. I’m turning that book into a series and gee, I’ll have to go back to do research 🙂
What is your favorite part of writing?
The first bud of the story. The ah-ha, what-if part. Then the research, I love researching things and often my story changes because of something I find.
What is your least favorite part of writing?
The fat dead middle 🙂 I bet you thought I’d say editing. Nope I like revisions and editing after my beta readers and editor send back their comments and notes. But that big expanse of the middle terrifies me. The blush has worn off and now I have to keep on going.
Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of editing. How about you?
I don’t edit the first draft much at all. I want to get the story down because I know my process well enough to know if I don’t have words down I can’t fix ‘em. The second draft is where I dig in and work the story and add more depth. Then it goes to my beta readers and my editor, then back to me for fixes and back to my editor.
Please tell us your experiences with social media. What are your favorite and least favorite parts of it?
Social Media can give anyone nightmares. When I was first on FB I loved it, everyone was seeing everything. Then the folks at Facebook decided to change up everything over and over. I don’t enjoy it as much, but I still use it. I have both a profile and a page. The profile is more active than the page.
Twitter is fun and I have a Virtual Assistant that I rely on to post tweets about my books. I enjoy just random social tweeting. But it all takes time and patience and the memory that this is about being social, not just selling your book.
My advice is to find what works for you. Try them all, then weed the list. I love Pinterest, but I’m barely on it. I forget about putting up my new book cover or whatever. And frankly I don’t get how it helps people find out about you. So if you all know, clue me in down in the comments 🙂
And speaking of Social Media, my links are below. Join me on FB as I have flash sales and giveaways. And join my mailing list, I only do 4-5 newsletters a year, but usually there is a giveaway and other fun stuff.
Blurb or Excerpt from book:
Norway is the land of Vikings and myths, and deep in a fjord, a sunken Nazi plane filled with gold.
Which is exactly the kind of adventure Abby Carswell and Hermann Weiss relish undertaking. Enough so to make them push aside their misgivings over their enigmatic new business partner.
Abby, an adrenaline junkie, barely avoids death’s scythe on every quest she undertakes. Hermann knows he can’t continue to watch the woman he loves put herself deliberately in harm’s way. He wants her to choose the power of their love over her need to beat the odds.
But first they have to survive this hunt for Viking gold which has turned deadly after they discover the treasure has mythic qualities and is coveted for its power. Their quest becomes a battle against an evil whose tentacles may run deeper than this single expedition.
Live The Adventure ~ Love The Romance
L.A. sets the scene for us:
Norway. On Hermann Weiss’s research boat the Brizo.
Death nearly won this round. Abby Carswell’s dive in the dark, treacherous waters of Trondheim fjord moved quickly from exploring the unique and otherworldly red of dead man’s fingers coral to being swept deep into the fjord’s abyss by the tricky currents. Hermann was able to save her because, knowing Abby’s need to test death’s door, he’d been vigilant. But now his frustration over her behavior and his own vulnerability in loving her has passed his limits, as in the scene below.
She was pulling her suitcase from the small closet when she felt a frisson of electricity spark between them. It invariably happened when Hermann was near—corny, but so true.
He closed the door softly.
“I think I should get a room at the hotel,” Abby said, choking back tears as she kept her back to the door. “We can come up with some excuse.”
“I think that’s a mistake.”
Abby whirled from the compact closet. “I thought you’d be happy if I put some distance between us. I don’t understand why you seem—”
“Abigail, we must talk this through, but this isn’t the right moment, as I’m sure you’ll agree. Nor is it fair to burden Tori and Reid with our personal issue, especially since it’s still their honeymoon. I love you, you are part of my heart, but I cannot watch you try, once again, to destroy yourself. At the end of this hunt we talk, and if we can’t find a reason for your behavior—”
“For God’s sake, Hermann, it was an accident. I wasn’t on a suicide mission. My ‘behavior’ as you call it—”
He held up a hand. “I retract that word. Can we behave normally for the time we’re here?”
Abby shot him a questioning look even as her heart constricted to half its size. “Can you?”
“Ja. For the sake of Tori and Reid, I can do this. Then afterward, we talk.”
“I don’t think I want a ticking bomb between us the whole time we’re here.”
“Think back on my words, and you’ll realize it’s only a ticking bomb if you want it to be. I know you’re exhausted. Go to sleep, rest for tomorrow, and I’ll be quiet when I return from the last plotting session with Andrews.”
Hermann proved his words as he brushed her forehead with his lips, then left.
Stripping to the scrap of lace she wore as panties, Abby pulled on a T-shirt of Hermann’s but only felt more miserable as she crawled between the cold sheets, where his clean, slightly woodsy scent surrounded her.
Yanking off the shirt, she threw it against the wall and waited for the relief to come. When it didn’t, she got up and folded the shirt neatly on the foot of the bed so she could slip it on in case of a boat emergency. With an entirely male crew, leaving the cabin wearing nothing but undies that barely covered anything wasn’t wise.
Abby left the light on over Hermann’s side of the bed. She was exhausted and needed to turn off her brain and her heart. But it just didn’t happen.
Hearing footsteps, she glanced at the clock on the built-in bedside table and saw that an hour had passed, but sleep remained elusive. Closing her eyes, she forced her breathing to be slow and rhythmic.
“Liebchen, you can’t fool me,” Hermann said softly as he closed the door. She heard the zipper of his trousers, the soft movement of the hanger as he put his clothes away, a habit of his, no matter how tired he was. As he climbed into bed, Abby felt the mattress sag and the sheets pull across her as he rolled onto his side, but no breath on her face. He was turned away from her.
Through it all, she kept her eyes closed. It was going to be hell if she didn’t figure out some way to “act normal” for the rest of their sojourn in Norway.
Or, as Hermann said, figure out why she seemed to flirt with death—the same reason that caused her inability to speak those two important words, I do.
Thank you for joining me today, Leslie, and sharing a bit about your process with us. How about you> any tips you’d like to share?