Books -- reading and writing.
Home, cooking, the weather.
And whatever connections I can make between these chapters of my life.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Welcome, Michelle Lane!

A few years ago, at the encouragement of my New Jersey critique group member Lee Hilton, I signed up for a Media Bistro workshop taught by editor Joy Peskin. Meeting Joy and hearing what she advised each of us was the most terrific way to spend a Saturday in the city.

But I also connected with Michelle Lane that day. We've stayed in touch with the occasional How's the writing going? email, and today I get to learn all about her latest publishing venture and introduce you to her just-published debut Young Adult novel, LILI.

Isn't that one gorgeous cover? Wow!
Now, let's chat with Michelle.

Authors love to talk about our book babies, but can you describe your book in one sentence?

Lili is a memoir for girls who struggle to embrace their own flaws and personal gifts, to overcome the bullies and gossips, and to bloom into independent, creative and self-confident young women.
More simply put, Lili is a book that shares just how beautiful it can be to believe in yourself.

Can you tell us a little about your journey to publication?

I've always wanted to be a writer, ever since my 8th grade English teacher made me write a short story and submit it to a mystery magazine. Even though I received my first rejection letter at 13, I was hooked. From that point on, I dedicated every spare minute to learning as much as I could about my craft. Over the next 20 years as a freelance writer, I published two cookbooks, several non-fiction books on lifestyle and design, wrote countless articles for regional magazines, created corporate brochures and advertisements - basically anything with words. 

To develop my fiction voice, I began writing tender, traditional love stories with a strong family component. A few years ago, I wrote a middle grade novel based on an idea I developed with my son, Nicholas. In writing for tweens and teens, I discovered my true passion.

For my readers who might not know about the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest, tell us about it and why you decided to enter LILI in the competition.

The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest is held annually. The Young Adult category was limited to 5000 entries. The entry was a pitch and a 5000 word excerpt. The prize was a Penguin publishing contract. They establish multiple milestone announcement dates. I made the first cut to 1000 authors, then the second cut to 250 authors. I did not make the cut to 50 authors. So, I choose to think I was #51 rather than #250!
I decided to enter my excerpt "The Price" (now re-titled Lili) into the international competition for several reasons. With bullying stories making the news every day, and with online scandal on the rise, I knew the time was right for a redeeming story about how it is possible to smartly put an end to such practices. Young readers needed Lili's story.

How did you get the idea for your debut novel, LILI? Was any of it based on you or your family or friends?

What a great question, Augusta! I often wondered what life would be like for the child of "beautiful people" who was not as beautiful or talented as her parents. What would happen to her confidence and self-esteem in the face of such physical success? And what would happen if life gave her more challenges than she thought she could handle?

Lili, like all of my characters, is a work of fiction, but she is also every bit as real as dozens of girls you may know. When I was growing up, I was a lot like Lili. I got my "curves" very early, and boys noticed. My situation wasn't easy, and kids could make assumptions and be really cruel. When I wrote this novel I drew on those emotions but put them into today's context of social media and viral stories and their enduring consequences.

Friendship, too, plays such a vital role in growing up. My best friend, Suzanne, stood by me through bad and good, tears and laughter.  The friendship we shared inspired me to create a similar unbreakable bond for Sophie and Lili.

What's next in Michelle Lane's future? More YA? 

Now that Lili has been released in e-book platforms and in print-on-demand, I'm concentrating on wrapping up Andie and Mitch, my October book release. Andie and Mitch is the story of a couple of really good kids whose lives have them stuck in a rut of responsibility. A tragedy throws them together and tests their strength at every turn. But when the final straw breaks and they can't take it anymore, a bit of soul-searching rebellion is in store for the pair. They ditch their cozy Maryland digs for the bright lights and night life of New York City, and all havoc breaks loose.

So many of my writer friends have a special place to write. Mine's the local library!
Do you have a favorite spot?

Each story calls for a different setting. For Lili, my favorite place was a tiny pub in England near where I lived in Wokingham. I finished Lili in a small room with a wood-burning fireplace and a sweet lady who brought me fresh pots of tea with biscuits and jam. Here at home in Georgia, I write at my desk in my office, surrounded by my books and my three shih tzus and a treetop view of baby squirrels chasing each other from limb to limb.
When I'm out and about, I never leave home without blank index cards for jotting down characterization notes or details that might make a scene truly memorable.

Music or not? If you write to music, what inspired LILI?

For my book trailer, The Shadowboxers' "Find it Again" set just the right tone.

And we get a first look at Michelle's brand new book trailer!

 MICHELLE: I write to a backdrop of television sound, and it makes no difference what's playing -- the white noise of TV helps keep me focused.

Now that does surprise me! I'm afraid I'd get hooked on some trashy show and completely lose my train of thought!
Tell us a little about your interesting new website.

MICHELLE: is a great site for anyone who believes in creativity and wants to get inspired. A few times a week, I post "creativity sparks" -- prompts to inspire a new story, painting, culinary creation, or expressionistic piece. I also conduct interviews with famous authors and celebrities, offer plenty of writing advice, and share great stories of teens who make a difference in our world.

Thank you so much for sharing your story.

Check out Michelle's website and her book here:

Lili on Amazon  

1 comment:

Barbara O'Connor said...

Great interview! Lovely trailer.