Today I have the great pleasure of having Lindsey Loucks over to my virtual kitchen for an interview about the cover reveal for her fantastic book – The Grave Winner. I’ll admit to being very slightly biased, since I did edit The Grave Winner for Crescent Moon Press and I completely fell in love with the book. Ms. Loucks herself is enormously entertaining and a delight to work with. She really worked her tail feathers off to make sure that her book was polished up! Of course, like all of “my” authors, Ms. Loucks is entirely too pretty (why do I get all the pretty people? why can’t I get a homely cuss so I don’t feel quite so dowdy? *sniffle*)…
What a brat – she even has good hair! Sigh. Well, enough of my whining, right? She also happens to have a completely awesome cover for her book, The Grave Winner, which will be coming out on May 15th. I have to say that the artist really captured what I thought the main character would look like – absolutely a fantastic job, no questions!
Fabulous, isn’t it? I love this cover!
Now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for… the interview!
MR: Hi Lindsey! Come on in! It’s finally nice out, but I don’t dare set out lawn chairs, they’d just sink. Mud season in Vermont. It’ll get worse before it gets better, of course. Would you like some tea? Nothing fancy, just Irish Breakfast Tea…. Or… What is this? Peppermint Ginseng? Yerk. Must be Himself’s. Ah. Plain Peppermint too… Coffee? Oh, don’t mind Himself. He wanders through whenever he hears the magic word–‘tea’.
LL: Hi Melissa! I would love some Irish Breakfast Tea. You have a gorgeous kitchen. Hi Himself! *waves*
MR: Okay, your cover reveal for The Grave Winner is today, and I’m pretty excited! I loved editing your book, and can’t wait to get my mitts on the final product. You must be much more excited than I am!
LL: I am excited and more than a little nervous! I’ve started losing sleep about the whole thing. But sleep is silly, anyway.
MR: I understand that you wrote The Grave Winner in 2010 – it’s been a long process. What did the process look like from your end?
LL: Yep, I started writing it in May 2010. I was working on a YA Sci-Fi (which needs a major rewrite) when the title The Grave Winner leaped inside my head. I had no idea why someone would win a grave, so I scratched my head and thought about it for a while. Then Leigh, my main character, started whispering to me and would. Not. Leave. Me. Alone! Surprising, huh?
So, I started writing her story. It took about six months to finish the first draft and then another year of editing before I felt confident enough in the story to test the query waters. Several requests and even more rejections later, I had three offers from small presses. Crescent Moon Press was the obvious choice for me because 1. they publish e-copies and print, 2. they have amazing covers, and 3. they used the most exclamation points in their offering email, which proved they were the most excited about my story. I haven’t regretted my decision to go with CMP at all. Plus, they have awesome editors! *points at me and grins*
MR: *Blushes* Do you have more books in the works? Like a sequel to The Grave Winner? Hint! Hint! Seriously – I can’t wait to see what else you’re doing!
LL: Well, after what Leigh went through, she stopped talking to me for a while. I can’t say I blame her. But there’s much more to tell, and she knows it, so she’s gradually speaking to me again. I’m about a third of the way through the typed version of the sequel, but there’s more of it scattered through my notebooks. I just have to piece it all together, but I wish I had more time to do it!
I’m also about a fourth of the way through a sexy ghost story in space. I love blending different genres!
MR: You have another book coming with another publisher, don’t you?
LL: I do! It’s called Salt in the Cupboard, which will release soon from Entangled Publishing. It’s actually only a novella, and I’m nearly finished with the editing stage.
When Leigh would only give me her middle finger, I saw an open call for romantic horror novellas on Entangled’s website. Since that’s right up my alley, I had to do it! That may be why Leigh started talking to me again. I think she was a little jealous I was talking to other characters!
MR: I have to say I’m really excited to see such a talented author’s work taking off like this, Lindsey. Of course, I’m also wildly jealous, but I’ll keep that mostly to myself! *grin* How long have you been writing, would you say?
LL: Since I was eight? That sounds about right. My parents bought me my very own desk, and I just thought that was the coolest thing ever. Sitting down at it filled me with such excitement! Blank paper and pencils piled on top of it put me in a happiness coma. The desk is long gone but the urge to write isn’t.
MR: I’ve noticed that a lot of “my” authors started writing pretty young. About when did you decide to go from writing for fun and relaxation to working towards writing with getting a book published in mind?
LL: Not until I finished that YA Sci-Fi book that needs a major rewrite. I wrote it the summer before The Grave Winner. I knew very little about writing “rules” and I knew even less about publishing, but I thought that YA book was ready to be published yesterday. Looking back at that story reminds me that it really wasn’t. But it sure did teach me A LOT! One thing that it taught me was that I could do better, and if I did, signing a publishing contract would put me into another happiness coma. I had to try!
MR: Did you get a lot of encouragement and support for your writing from friends and family?
LL: Some of them, yes. Others, no. Some are more supportive now that it’s actually happening. One of my forever best friends gave me the courage to write that YA Sci-Fi book. She even suffered through reading the whole thing! If I didn’t write that book, I wouldn’t be here today. So I owe her a lot. Another of my forever best friends went to the graveyard with me so I could get the setting just right. I love these people.
Another person I know, upon hearing that I wanted to be a published author, said, “Good luck with that.” I’m not even kidding.
My BF couldn’t even get through the Sci-Fi book because the main character annoyed him to no end. He used to always tell me that I should write literary fiction or picture books or funny books or anything other than what I wanted to write. Now he just tells me, “You’re doing so good.”
MR: Oooh, speaking of which, this is my ‘Coming through, I’m a nosy person!’ moment – how did you and your significant other meet? I love these stories *so* much I can’t help asking.
LL: It’s a drama-filled soap opera that fueled the idea for a play I wrote in high school! Okay, this is how it went down. My best friend and I had an epic crush on my BF’s best friend. I put anonymous Valentine’s Day gifts on his front porch to declare my secret love. My friend would slip notes through the slits in his locker. He thought he had some kind of crazy stalkers, and it didn’t take him long to find out who it was. Yay. I was totally embarrassed, of course, but that didn’t stop us to continue tormenting him with the zeal of a Justin Bieber fan girl.
Through some weird turn of events, we were both invited to his birthday party. Smart move on his part. How do you stop stalking behavior? Befriend the stalkers! So my best friend and I were beyond excited, but we had to play it cool.
At the party, I sat next to a guy from out of town who I’d never met before. He was the drummer in my crush’s band, but that was all I knew. As we sat there, he kept showing me pictures of recent concerts he’d gone to and cracking me up with every bizarre thing that fell out of his mouth. He was strange in a just-like-me sort of way, and he had the prettiest green eyes I’d ever seen. And that smile…wow.
A new girl moved to town shortly after the party and stole my crush’s heart. I was super sad and more than a little confused about my feelings for the drummer boy on the couch. I’d just met him, but there was obviously something there. I hung up my stalker gear and decided to pursue that possibility like a mature high school student. We’ve been together for almost two decades. Oh, and I found out that he ate my anonymous Valentine’s Day gift I left for his best friend all those years ago!
MR: I just love the beginnings of a romance! I absolutely love Leigh’s love life in The Grave Winner, by the way. Of course, I love a lot about Leigh. I love her kickass attitude and her fashion sense and her taste in music, too! How much of Leigh’s character reflects your own likes and dislikes?
LL: There’s quite a bit of Leigh in me. We listen to the same music, we both like the gothic/punk look (though Leigh has the courage to take it much further than I do), and we love with all our hearts. The big difference between us is that Leigh says what’s on her mind and she’s not afraid to push people around when they need to be pushed. I don’t like conflict at all and will do most anything to avoid it.
MR: Leigh goes through some seriously creepy adventures. I have a few I’m pleading the fifth on, but do you have any of your own that you’d be willing to share?
LL: Well, take a look at the gorgeous cover. See that spider web? It’s there for a reason. I haaaaaate spiders with a passion, so naturally they had to crawl through this story.
MR: Leigh’s story plays out in a town she not-so-affectionately refers to as Krapper, Kansas. Other than being completely flat, Krapper sounds a good bit like small towns all over the place, including Hardwick, Vermont! How much of your own home town shines through into Leigh’s town?
LL: A great deal of it. The town where I grew up is Krapper, right down to the graveyard down the street from the video store. That store isn’t there anymore, though. Leigh’s house is structured just like the house I grew up in, minus the basement. I needed a traditional town where untraditional people, such as Leigh and her best friend Jo, would feel like outcasts. My home town was perfect for that.
MR: Hey, that’s another thing you share with Leigh – learning to play the electric guitar! Those are mine over on the wall. I’m trying to learn ‘rock’ guitar after teaching myself TAB so I could play Moonlight Sonata and such for Little Man. Yes, yes, I mentioned you. He says ‘hi’ and is trying to cadge a smooch from ‘pretty lady’, so don’t mind him too much. *grin* How far along have you gotten with learning to play the guitar?
LL: I will happily give Little Man a kiss! *smooch* That’s so awesome that you taught yourself TAB! I’m learning to play through a Playstation game called Rocksmith. *hangs head in shame* I haven’t played since last summer, though. Why can’t there be thirty-six hours in a day instead of a measly twenty-four?!
MR: We tend to be a pretty musical bunch around here. When I’m writing it can be pretty noisy in here because my writing playlist tends to be a bit wild – a driving beat keeps me typing fast! What kind of music did you listen to while you were writing The Grave Winner, or do you listen to music while you write?
LL: I envy those who can listen to music while they write since I love music, but I have to have absolute quiet. Even if my cat complains that his belly is empty, it takes me from my train of thought. My cat hasn’t learned that my writing time equals his nap time, not hungry time!
MR: I love the cover, by the way – that’s just like I imagined Leigh! What was your first reaction to the cover of The Grave Winner? Who’s the cover artist?
LL: When I saw the email from Crescent Moon Press with a subject line that said ‘Grave Winner cover art,’ I stopped breathing. What if I hated it? What if I liked it? What if I loved it so much I started crying? I’d been waiting for that moment for a long time, after all. I was at work in the school library at the time, and I quickly glanced around to make sure no one would see me open it in case I did cry. Then I opened the email and gasped. There was Leigh, just like I’d imagined her, sitting on tree roots in a graveyard. It was absolutely perfect. I didn’t cry, probably because I repeated to myself over and over, “Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry.” I replied back in all capital letters how much I loved it.
The cover designer is Liliana Sanches, aka the Princess of Shadows. She’s a genius and a wizard. I sent her a gushing thank you through Facebook when I got home from work that day.
MR: When will The Grave Winner be available and where will we be able to find it online?
LL: Release day is May 15th. It will be available as an ebook and in print from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and probably other places that I don’t know about yet.
MR: Are you planning on paperbacks too? Will you be having book signings? Will there be signed copies available online too?
LL: It will be available in paperback! I’ll probably have book signings at some point. I should probably look into that. There will be signed copies floating around during contests and other fun book release events, like my blog tour which starts May 20th.
MR: How can people keep up with developments?
MR: I’m so glad you took the time to stop by and have a chat with me, Lindsey! Really, I’m delighted to have played even the small part of editing The Grave Winner, and I can’t wait ’till it’s available for sale so I can “keep” Leigh nearby and go back to reading about her adventures when I need a Leigh fix! You did an excellent job of painting her character with words, and it has been a true pleasure to get to know you as well. I have to say that I’ve been delighted to brag to family, friends, colleagues and the unsuspecting blog browsing public that you’re one of “my” authors.
LL: That’s so sweet, Melissa! You played a huge part in making The Grave Winner all shiny and readable. Thank you so much for inviting me to your lovely virtual kitchen!
That was such a fun interview! I really do like doing interviews, so expect more of them folks! *grin* And, for being such good folks and reading this far I’ll even take pity on you all and give you The Grave Winner‘s blurb so you’ll have an idea of what I’m so excited about!
Leigh Baxton is terrified her mom will come back from the dead — just like the prom queen did.
While the town goes beehive over the news, Leigh bikes to the local cemetery and buries some of her mom’s things in her grave to keep her there. When the hot and mysterious caretaker warns her not to give gifts to the dead, Leigh cranks up her punk music and keeps digging.
She should have listened.
Two dead sorceresses evicted the prom queen from her grave to bury someone who offered certain gifts. Bury them alive, that is, then resurrect them to create a trio of undead powerful enough to free the darkest sorceress ever from her prison inside the earth.
With help from the caretaker and the dead prom queen, Leigh must find out what’s so special about the gifts she gave, and why the sorceresses are stalking her and her little sister. If she doesn’t, she’ll either lose another loved one or have to give the ultimate gift to the dead – herself.