Monday, September 16, 2013

Author profile - AnnaLisa Grant -- and a giveaway too!

Join me as author AnnaLisa Grant takes the time to answer my author profile questions.  And be sure and check out the great giveaway at the end, part of the Indie-Credible book tour.

1 - When did you first start writing?

I intermittently kept a journal for years, and even though none of them ever got filled, I suppose I can look back and see writing as my calling. Officially I sat down to write The Lake on November 3rd, 2010 after weeks of this poor girl’s story rolling around in my head. I honestly just wanted it out so I could go about my day. Layla Weston had other plans!

2 - Do you read much?  If yes, have you always loved reading? 

I read as often as I can, but that gets harder when I’m in the middle of writing. I haven’t always enjoyed reading. In fact, as a kid, I really didn’t like it at all. I didn’t become an avid reader until about four years ago. I was a year out of grad school when I picked up The Time Traveler’s Wife. I had just spent four years reading 10,000 pages a semester and wasn’t interested in laying my eyes to the written word ever again. But, something in me was drawn to the concept of this book and I just couldn’t put it down. So began my life as a reader!

3 -  Who’s your favorite author?  What’s your favorite book? 

Wow. That’s really hard to answer.  I’m a huge fan of Colleen Hoover, Jamie McGuire, and Suzanne Collins. Of those authors, the Slammed series by Colleen Hoover is my favorite right now. But, the author who really got me reading was Ted Dekker. His spiritual and suspenseful writing just draws me in. Of his books, House is my favorite. It’s about a group of people who enter this mysterious house and discover that the house reveals who they really are at the heart. It’s a scary concept. I don’t think anyone wants the depths of their soul reveals to anyone.

4 - What writers have influenced you the most? 

I’m definitely influenced by Colleen Hoover and Suzanne Collins the most right now. Both of them have written hugely popular books/series that have captured their readers’ attention without feeling like they had to write super sexy stories that drop the F-bomb in every other paragraph. Their character development is enough to make people want to turn the page. It’s been noted that Katniss endured everything she did and doesn’t curse once in the entire series.

5 - Do you have a favorite fictional character?  

Either from a book or movie or a tv show? Another tough one! Well, I love so many characters, and it’d be too narcissistic to say my favorite is the main character from my Lake Trilogy! But since there are so many, I tell you about one of my favorites: Jack Shepherd from LOST.  He is so layered and complicated. Throughout the series we saw him step up as a leader, feel like a failure, deal with his daddy issues, and ultimately sacrifice himself for the greater good. It’s quite a character arc, and I hope to one day write one as beautifully written as his.

5 - What are you working on right now?  

Can you tell us something about it? Yes! I’m working on a New Adult, stand-alone book called Next To Me. It’s about a girl who starts a new life with a new identity after her father is killed. Just when she thinks that she’s in the clear to stop looking over her shoulder and really start living, the rug gets pulled out from under her. She’ll find love, push love away, and pick a few locks along the way.

6 - Is there anything in particular that you do to get in the mood to write, or to get in the ‘zone’?  Any particular pre-writing routines?  

Honestly, stepping away from writing helps me clear my head and sort out the details much better than sitting at the computer and staring at it, willing the plot to thicken. Music is a huge inspiration. Great songwriters are really story-tellers, so I pay close attention to lyrics, finding the story in the song and picturing it playing out. When I get back to the computer, I usually have instrumental music playing. I like to think of it as my own soundtrack to the story of how I work through writing my books.

7 - Where do you do your writing? 

I have a loft space in my home that I consider my writing cave. Sometimes I like to go to Panera or my favorite wine market/bar and write. There is great people-watching at both places!

8 - How do you approach your writing?  i.e. - Do you do outlines?  Character bios?  Etc.? 

You know, I’m really not that organized. I have an idea and then I sort of bang it out in my head. I talk to myself a lot, seeing how it sounds as a pitch, and then I just start writing. I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl, I suppose. I like the free-form that is for me. I’d feel to confined to outlines and character bios if I wrote those out.

9 - Do you have any advice for other writers? 

Yes. WRITE! Just write. I have people ask me about the process of publishing when they haven’t written a single word. Don’t worry about the publishing part until you have something to publish. Once you’ve finished writing…walk away. Leave it alone. Come back to it after at least a week or so and read it. Do you like it? What needs tweaking? Once you’ve done that, have your most brutally honest friend read it…and then brace yourself. You won’t know if you have anything worth publishing until you’ve gotten the most honest feedback possible. And just know that your first draft will NOT be good enough. Hemingway said, “The first draft of anything is shit.” He was right. So be patient and create the work that you’re proud to put your name on.

10 - Are you a morning person or evening person?  Day or night? 

I’m really a night owl. I’d be more of a night owl if I didn’t have to get up so darn early to get my kids off to school! But I do my best writing during the day in the quiet of the house.

11 - Do you have any pets? 

Yes! We have a kitten named Jengo. My son named him after Jengo Fett from Star Wars.

12 - What’s your favorite ‘I need a break from writing’ activity? 

That’s usually food, and usually because I’ve been in the writing zone and have forgotten to eat!

13 - How do you approach writing sex scenes?  They can range from mild to wild.  Where are you on the mild to wild meter? 

That’s a great question. My first series, The Lake Trilogy, is definitely YA and doesn’t contain any sex scenes at all. The main characters make out, but it’s totally PG. In the new NA book I’m writing I really had to think about that. I’m really have more of a “fade to black” approach to writing sex scenes. Some people really enjoy writing sex scenes and are very good at it. I suppose I feel like everyone knows how sex works. I don’t need to spell it out to them. And my stories don’t revolve around the character’s sexual relationship, so I don’t really feel that it’s that necessary to write something steamy just for the sake of writing something steamy.

14 - Do you write in one genre?  Or more than one? 

My first series is YA and I’m currently working on an NA book. However, I have a sci-fi story rolling around in my head that will most likely take a year to flush out. I don’t really see myself as a one-genre writer, and I like that!

15 - Are you self-published or with a publishing house? 

I’m self-published.

16 - What are your thoughts on getting a literary agent? 

That’s a bit of a double-edged sword, isn’t it? On the one hand I think as writers we would feel super validated if an agent read our work and felt strongly enough about it that they wanted to represent us. It would mean having the big money and marketing behind it, too. On the other hand, you lose so much control over your work. If the publisher wants more sex, your contract says you do what they say so you add it, whether you want to or not. They’re going to have control over the cover as well. So, I suppose you just have to decide how much control you want.

17 - What about marketing?  How do you approach that area? 

I have no shame. Honestly. I will tell anyone and everyone about my books. I believe they’re fantastic, and everyone who loves to read YA and NA should read them! And I’m not afraid to ask coffee shops, wine bars, or book clubs if I can set up and sign books. The worst thing they’re going to do is say no. I started to build my presence as a writer on Facebook before my first book was released. I created the hype and got people excited. I also offered my first book for free for three days before my second book came out. That yielded over 8,000 downloads so I’ve been able to see the residual effects of that with the second and third books in the series.

18 - What about beta readers?  Do you use them?  How many do you have?  Where do you find them? 

I have my “Fab Four.” These are my four trusted beta readers who have been with me from the beginning. One of them in particular is my best beta reader. She challenges me to be a better writer. They’re all friends who I trust completely.

19 - What’s your favorite food? 

Is Nutella considered an actual food?
--jd-- Definitely yes, same as peanut butter.  Both are an essential food for some.

20 - What’s your favorite color? 

Pink. I know it’s a girly cop-out, but it’s true.

21 - Is there a particular website or facebook page or blog that you, as a writer, find very helpful? 

Writerly always has great tips and ideas. Huffington Post has some great articles, too. The most helpful site that gave me the courage to self-publish was Jamie McGuire’s. She took the time to outline exactly HOW to self-publish. She recommends sites, gives technical writing tips, and gives some sound advice on being patient. Stalking her totally paid off!

22 - What’s your favorite time of the year? 

I love fall when the colors are so vibrant! (Although, the use of pumpkin in EVERYTHING is a bit of overkill.)

23 - What’s your most recent book about?  And where can people buy it? 

My most recently published book is Safe Harbor and it is the third and final book in The Lake Trilogy. It concludes Layla Weston’s journey after beginning a new life with her estranged uncle and aunt. She’s been through a lot, but I think readers of the series have been happy with the culmination of her story. The Lake Trilogy is available on Amazon, Nook, iTunes, Smashwords, and Kobo.

24 - As a writer, what do you feel is your strongest gift or talent or skill that you have, that helps you the most as a writer? 

I got a great piece of advice from a wonderful author friend, Erin Healy. She spent years as an acquiring agent before writing and worked with me on my first chapter before I published. She told me to look at each chapter as a scene in a movie. This has been the most helpful thing for me and I’ve become committed to working each chapter out as if it was a scene in a movie and I was the director. Because of this commitment, I’ve received reviews and feedback from readers who have said my book read like a movie. That’s always a huge compliment to me because I want my readers to be able to envision the scene unfolding as they read.

25 - Please share some of your links with us - facebook author page, website, where people can find your books -- 



** And now here's the giveaway, courtesy of the Indie-Credible book tour!
Check out their whole tour schedule here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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