Friday, October 2, 2009

First Sale Friday: Brenna Lyons

So Harmless Smut is starting its fall kick-off (officially) with Brenna Lyons. Brenna is a multi-published author as well as a Loose Id colleague. Please join me in welcoming her!

Harmless Smut: First of all, thank you for visiting, Harmless Smut! Tell us a little about yourself.

Brenna Lyons: Thanks for having me. About me? I’m what some people call a prolific writer. I write in 20 series worlds and am currently working with 5 publishers. I have 80 works in progress, at the moment, and I work on up to 6 or so at a time. I write in everything from spec fic romance, erotic romance, and dark romance to historical, poetry, and even YA under another pen name. Oh...pen name? Brenna Lyons.

HS: WOW!!! That's awesome. I need some of what you got. How long have you been writing?

BL: Writing in general? All of my life. Well...that I can prove, since I was about six or seven years old, which would be about 34 years. I still have a poem I wrote when I was seven, but my godmother assured me that I was making up fiction stories earlier than that.

HS: Sounds like you've always known what you wanted to do. What attracted you to your genre?

BL: Having a very bad (read as neglectful and abusive) childhood? It’s as good enough a reason for escapism fiction as anything I’ve ever heard. Somewhere in the undiscovered realms, there was a world where people had the ability to fight back against great wrongs, win or lose in the end. Dying for a cause was better than dying senselessly or in misery, a day at a time, and winning was certainly better than losing.

HS: I hear you. I needed an escape as a child as well. How many manuscripts had you completed before you sold?

BL: About four, and I sold the first two I finished at the same time. Ironically enough, that publisher had such a long work-up to release, that the first of those books released after another publisher had released six more of my books.

HS: That's amazing! Tell us about the day (the minute, the second) you got ‘The Call’ (or The Email). What was your initial reaction?

BL: It was an e-mail, for me, and I would have to say it was stunned disbelief. You see, those same two books had been through more than 80 rejections from agents...and one near miss with one. We got all the way to the full, before she decided she wasn’t taking on anything new, because of a family emergency of some sort. The two books sold to the first indie publisher I approached with them. It went from seemingly impossible to seemingly effortless overnight.

HS: That is a great story. You just never know whose taste you appeal to! What did you do to celebrate afterward?

BL: Took my family out to dinner. The big celebrations typically came on release days or royalty days.

HS: I am looking forward to my first official paycheck! Anyone whom you wanted to rub your news in his/her nose?

BL: With that first book? Not so much. The first few books were catharsis, more or less, and the “bad guys” I would have liked (on some level) to snub with my success were the same ones I was keeping away from me with a pen name. When you attempt to get a restraining order on someone, you really DON’T want to rub news in their noses. You sort of hope they never find you again.

The only time I really wanted to rub someone’s nose in a book was when my first poetry book finaled for an EPPIE. I had two poetry teachers (University of Pittsburgh and Carlow College) who said no one would ever want to read my poetry, because it was archaic. Snort. Like no one reads Donne and Shakespeare today?

HS: Shows what they knew! So, tell us about your current (or upcoming) release. When can we get our greedy hands on them?

BL: That’s a difficult question to answer, since I tend to average between one and two releases per month. My September releases should have been (if all went on schedule) NEVERMORE from Phaze, WRITTEN IN THE STARS (Star Mages series) from Mundania, and the print releases of RENEGADE’S RUN (Renegades series) and UNDEAD UNDERWAY (Undead In Blue series) from Under The Moon. My November releases will be VERIEL’S TALES II: LOSING REGANA (Night Warriors series) from Phaze and the print release of MAX SEC (Renegades series) from UTM. My December release will be ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU from LooseId. Then two releases in January (both from Phaze), one in February (from Logical-Lust), March (Phaze), and May (Phaze)... Who knows what I’ll add in the coming months?

HS: GOOD LORD!! You rock! Where can we buy your books?

BL: Well, you’ve seen all of my current publisher names: Logical-Lust, LooseId, Mundania, Phaze, and Under The Moon. If you like to shop at online superstores, you can find my e-books at Amazon, Fictionwise, AllRomanceeBook, OmniLit, eReader, Sony, B&N, Mobi, well as other sites. You can find my print books at Amazon, B&N, Books-a-Million, and comic/gaming stores. You’ll notice that sites vary greatly in how many books of mine they have. The only ways to see them all are at my web site and the individual publisher sites.

HS: We are on our way! What are you working on now?

BL: Several things. Among them: MATING SEASON (the second Xxan book for LooseId), HUNTER’S MOON (the next Night Warriors book for Phaze), PLAYING WITH FIRE (the second Grellan War book for UTM) and the first two Angel-Wing books.

HS: I can't wait! What advice do you have for ‘Soon To Be Published’ writers (as I like to call them)?

BL: How about my top 7?

HS: Go for it!

BL: 1. Don’t obsess over the perfect opening line, perfect hook, perfect market, genre distinctions... While you’re worrying about all of that, you could be halfway done writing the book. Write it first, then craft those things or fit the book to a market. There’s never only one right market for a work anyway.

2. Don’t worry about minute edits while you’re writing the book. You can edit poorly-written work. You can’t edit a blank page. Get the butt in the chair and WRITE it. Then edit it.

3. Don’t try to copy anyone else’s writing process. The words come for you how they come for you: longhand or in the computer, quiet room, white noise, music, noise and insanity...even the number of words per day that is comfortable for you. Trying to copy someone else’s process will only drive you crazy and adversely affect your output.

4. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try new things. WANTING to be a pantser doesn’t mean you’ll be good at it. You may need more framework to your process. So try. If it works, keep it. If it doesn’t, don’t.

5. This is a career. Learn what the terms mean. Learn what’s ‘standard.’ Learn to read guidelines and how to change from standard to what the individual editors and agents want. Learn what the terms mean and how to apply them.

6. Writing the book is only the first step...and it’s one of the easier ones for the writer to accomplish. You have to learn to edit, to submit, to market, about contracts, about royalties... You don’t just write a book, submit it, and wait for the money to roll in.

7. What’s the most important subject to take in school, if you plan on being a writer? ALL of them. Whatever you learn in English (grammar, preferred spellings, etc.) will change with each new edition of Chicago Manual of Style or Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary or whatever resources a publisher uses, which is why there is never a real ‘standard’ across all publishers. You have to be able to do math to check your royalty reports. You have to know science to get it right in the books... In fact, the more knowledge you have, the richer your books will be. That applies to both book knowledge and practical experience.

HS: That is awesome advice for everyone. I am still learning CMOS. Now, tell us one thing about yourself that no one knows.

BL: How about something only my family knows? My next younger sister (I’m the oldest of eight, ranging from a year younger to twenty-two years younger, counting the full, half, and stepsiblings) has the same first and middle name I do. She’s a stepsibling, obviously.

HS: That's crazy! I would hate that. I hate that I even have to share my birthday on those days it falls on Father's Day. Don't even get me started on the group parties I had with my stepbrothers. Now something fun. Boxers or Briefs on your man?

BL: Uh...boxer briefs...or free-balling. I hate tightey whiteys...or even most briefs with color, and I completely dislike boxers.

HS: I couldn't agree more! What about facial hair? Yes or no? What about chest hair? No hair on any part of the body?

BL: Just to prove I always break the rules, if I can? I dislike beards that are more than a soft pelt of light hair; moustaches are fine, as long as they aren’t out of control. I am not crazy about a lot of chest hair or any body hair, really. I don’t like completely bald men, either. There’s a middle ground there somewhere. In fact, I LOVE long hair on a man.

HS: That is where we have to disagree. I'm not a fan of the long hair on the man. Thank you so much, Brenna for visiting Harmless Smut. If you, blog readers, are interested in learning more about Brenna, you can visit her website or her blog.


Helen Hardt said...

Brenna, great to meet you! That's some of the best advice for writers I've read. I'm amazed at how prolific you are -- what's your secret?


Viola Estrella said...

Great interview, Monica and Brenna!

Brenna, wonderful advice!!