Monday, April 25, 2011

Check it Out: LJ Deleon

Hi everyone! I'm going to be posting the winners of the contest soon, so check back in a little bit to see if you won!

For my final interview I have LJ Deleon, author of Warrior's Rise & Dragon's Child. She's one of the authors who generously donated an ebook for the contest, so one lucky person is going to get their choice of one of her books! (Click on the image below to go to her website!)

What made you decide to write? Did you always know that you wanted to be an author or was there an “aha!” moment in your life where you suddenly knew that this was what you wanted to do?

LJ: It was an aha moment, but not one you would expect. In retrospect, I have always been a storyteller. When a book or film or TV show didn’t end the way I wanted it to, I rewrote it. On the long drives I made between Fort Huachuca, Arizona and anywhere, I made up stories to amaze myself, such as the flicker of light was a UFO and the aliens have a secret base in the Cochise Mountains.
Then in 1990, I read a book that was a real wall-banger—the type where a book lover like me who doesn’t break the bindings would rip it to shreds—and I decided I can do better than that! A year later, I had a completed manuscript that lined the litter box. Six manuscripts later, I finally had a book I was willing to show someone.

How do you come up with the titles for your books? These can often be amongst the hardest things for authors to settle on, so how & when in the process do you start coming up with titles?

LJ: Warrior’s Rise went through three, or was it four, different titles before I settled on it. I had the title of the series, Warriors For Light, but Deva Morgan’s book gave me fits. I finally stopped torturing myself and looked at my story. Deva starts as a barkeep, by the end of the first scene she’s been told she is the future leader of an army to save Earth and Otherworld from the Dark Lord and his demons. Over the course of the book, she grows/rises into a warrior.

Whereas, I had the title for Dragon Child, the second book in the series, before I wrote the first line. I mean, truly, what else can you name a book when the heroine, Moira O’Neal, is a Saraph, a fire-breathing dragon shifter, who was exchanged at birth with the newborn Fae princess. The third book, Absolution, will be released in May. Again, this title came first. The hero, Lucan “Luc” Woods, is in search of forgiveness, why and how he achieves it is the crux of the story.

In my other series, The Turner Chronicles, it wasn’t the title, The Ultimate Game, that proved the problem but the series name. This series is a futuristic romance/cyberpunk. In 1875, a cave-in traps Max Turner and two woman in a mine filled with a strange gas. In 2484, he awakens in a cryo chamber. Max, a conman and professional gambler, plays The Ultimate Game, to keep the heroine and himself alive, uncyber-chipped, and to take down the ruling family that wants him dead.

Are any of the experiences in the books based on someone you know, or events in your own life? Obviously the more fantastical aspects come from your imagination, but have you ever drawn on anything that you’ve seen or done (or anyone you’ve known) in real life & used it in part of your story?

LJ: I joke about being an Army brat and a former CIA intelligence analyst set the stage for my writing fantasy romance, urban fantasy romance, and cyberpunk romance. But in a way, it’s true. Aside from being surround by testosterone most of my life, I lived in Japan as a kid. I’ve never forgotten their stories, myths, and festivals. I love mythology. Warriors For Light was born out of this. I combined Greek, Roman, Norse, and Celtic myths, threw in some of the Bible, and turned it all upside down.

For The Turner Chronicles, I wondered what the world would be like if globalization were taken to the extreme. What if these mega corporations were run by “families” who controlled physical territories and the lives of those who lived under their thumbs? What if someone from a time when absolute freedom was valued dropped into that world? Would he survive, and if so, how and what impact would he have?

Do you have any latest news I can dish for you?

LJ: The third book in the Warriors For Light series, Absolution, will be released in May and the fourth and fifth books Sophie’s Challenge and Kate’s Army will be out in late November or early December. Also, Warrior’s Rise got a terrific review from Bitten by Paranormal Romance. I’m hopeful it will be the first of many and that the reviews for Dragon Child and The Ultimate Game follow in the same vein.

Who are some of your favorite authors? Have they helped inspire your writing by reaffirming your decision to write or by indirectly giving you ideas for various stories?

LJ: My favorite authors, hmm. Let’s see, I love Nalini Singh, JR Ward, and Ilona Andrews. I’ve also discovered a new author and am nuts about her. KH LeMoyne. Like me, she writes out of the box, has subplots that run through the book and it seems through the series, and is an indie author.

Do you have any advice for new writers?

LJ: Write, take workshops on writing, get a critique partner but don’t let them change your voice, and write. Make sure you know grammar and punctuation. If don’t, learn it. Make sure you have the mechanics of writing down then set a schedule or quota for each day and write. If you write just one page a day, you will have a book at the end of the year. Also, don’t be afraid of failure or rejection. If you don’t follow your dream, you have already failed and rejected yourself.

What is the hardest thing about writing for you? Everyone’s got that one part of writing that seems to stick with them.

LJ: For me, it’s finding that first sentence of the scene. I know it sounds silly, but without that first sentence, I can find myself floundering. I usually call or email my critique partners and beg for a sentence. For some reason, just hearing it shoves my mind into gear and I’m off.

In the light of recent infamous responses to negative reviews, how would you recommend responding to negative reviewers?

LJ: Suck it up, be a professional. Yes, it’s your baby and its birth rivaled, maybe even was worse than childbirth labor, but not everyone will like it, any more than everyone likes you. It could be something as simple as the character’s name, over which you the author have no control. Or something you have complete control over, spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

I’m an indie author. To ensure my books don’t disappoint because of things under my control, I have an outsider editor I use and a fantastic graphic artist to create my covers.

If a reviewer attacks me as a person, then shame on them. If they complain about the plot, characters, or the mechanics, shame on me. In both cases, I wouldn’t respond. But if it were the second, I would take a hard look at the review and learn from it. Reviewers aren’t a writer’s enemy. They’re usually book lovers who want to be swept away by the story, and when it doesn’t happen because of spelling, grammar, punctuation, or story, they have every right to complain. When disappointed it isn’t the cost of a book people object to. It’s the time they spent reading it.

So, to all those new authors, I say again, be a professional and suck it up. If you don’t say anything and are lucky, you may have a number of good reviews that bury that negative one.

What do you like on your pizza? (Not book related but everyone’s got a favorite topping!)

LJ: While I love UNO’s pizza where it has olive oil on the crust, sliced tomatoes with spinach, broccoli, and cheese piled high on it, ice cream is my downfall. My favorite food is ice cream—rich, fatty, ice cream. I mean really, if you’re going to blow the diet, do it in style with something that has a ton of calories. (Me: Oh my gosh, that sounds AMAZING. I know what I'm getting next time I go to UNO's.)


If you're curious about LJ's books, you can purchase her books via Amazon, Smashwords, & other fine retailers!

For Fae-human half-breed Deva Morgan, life as she knows it changes on her thirtieth birthday. One moment she’s a barkeep, the next she is a warrior fated to save Earth from the Dark Lord and his demon hoard. Shunned by both her races, she faces a danger-filled quest with few allies. Too bad her powers haven’t fully emerged or stabilized.

For Deva it is life or death, on-the-job training with her companion, Padraig O’Neal, a Fae warrior with a shadowed past. Can he quiet the storm raging inside her, help her harness the growing power within her, and provide a barrier between Deva and a fatal outcome? Will their love be enough to save Deva and stop the Dark Lord’s demons from entering Earth?

A fire-breathing dragon, Moira O'Neal, was exchanged at birth for a Fae princess. Discovering the truth, she escapes the cage of the royal court and joins forces with the sexiest wereleopard on Earthworld. She fights the urge to mate and the trap that comes with it as they race against time to find the missing princess and a master of the black arts who covets her power.

Major Steve Taylor, a wereleopard in the Army For Light, partners with the impetuous Moira in the middle a dangerous mission where failure means all their deaths. Worse, his leopard decides Moira is his mate, leaving the man at war with his cat.

Bio: LJ DeLeon is an Army brat and a world-traveled former CIA Intelligence Analyst who has seen enough of this world to appreciate other worlds. Working for the CIA was great training for writing fantasy, paranormal, and futuristic romance—and understanding the warrior mentality. Amazing how real life and fiction overlap.

Visit LJ at her website and blog!

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