Thursday, September 27, 2012

Author Interview-Sotia Lazu

I have a treat today! Author Sotia Lazu stopped by the blog to chat about her super sexy vampire series, the challenges of writing a sequel and the (audio) books on her shelf.

Hi. Thanks for stopping by. Tell us a little bit about Cherry Stem. Where did the idea come from?
Hi. Thanks for having me.

Cherry Stem is the first in a series of three books. The heroine is a vampire who tries to do the best she can with the--immortal--hand dealt to her. Along the way, she meets a dreamy guy; finds answers to questions she didn't know she had, that in turn give birth to more questions; deals with an illegally sexy ex and a not-so-friendly vampire council; and finds herself in the middle of potentially lethal messes.

As for the idea, well, the first couple of lines of the story had been swimming in my head for quite a while, but all I knew was that they'd fit a vampire book. I didn't know what that book would be about, so I started working on what I didn't want it to have. I didn't want a brooding vampire, hating what they'd become. I didn't want a schmoopy romance. I didn't want a heroin who was kick-ass just for the sake of it, to the point of being annoying, but I didn't want a damsel in distress either. Then one day Cherry was born. She had baggage; she didn't like having been turned but was handling it, taking each day as it came; she didn't want emotional attachments but wasn't afraid to deal with her emotions or express her sexuality--she was the woman I wanted to write about. So I did. 
You know I loved it and I can’t wait to read the sequel. How’s it coming along? Is the process any different now that you’ve published the first one? And, most importantly, will we get more Constantine?
You don't know how happy it makes me that you liked the book. The sequel is coming along more slowly than the original did. I have a complete outline and am seven chapters into it, but I keep second-guessing myself. I don't want to let anyone down, I want the characters to be consistent and true to themselves, and I definitely want more free time than I actually have. We will be getting more Constantine, though, so I hope it's worth the wait.

Funny thing about Constantine is that he was never meant to be one of the main characters. I initially had him in mind as the hot yet manipulating and sneaky ex-boyfriend who would be completely out of the picture by the middle of the book, but by the end of his first scene he'd won me over. I may sound a little deranged saying that for a character I created, but that's what happened. The more fleshed out he got, the more I liked him.
Cherry is kind of a wild child. What qualities do you think she has that still allow readers to relate to her?
Cherry is still very human, despite being immortal. She acts from the heart and tries to protect those she cares about. She may not have the strictest moral code, but she adheres to it even when it'd be easier for her to say "Screw it" and go with the flow. She has her body image issues, her men issues--and resulting trust issues--her family issues, but doesn't let any of that dictate who she is or can be. I don't know to what degree readers relate to her but I know I wouldn't mind being more like her or having her as a friend.

Do you have any other projects you’re ready to talk about?

I am actually reworking something I wrote a few years ago. The working title is Office Magic, and it's a paranormal romance. There's a girl, a boy, an e-book that can only be accessible from a specific PC, alter egos, secret feelings, and of course magic. I'll be self-publishing that one once I'm done with the rewrite.

What are you reading lately? Are there any series or authors you’ll drop everything for?
Life's busy with a hubby, a baby, and two dogs all demanding my attention, so there's no time for me to read read. I listen to audio books instead, usually while doing chores or cooking--I'm an amazing cook; just thought I should mention that. I'm currently listening to the second book of the Death's Daughter series by Amber Benson. I'm enjoying it so far, but would drop it for the next of the Harry Dresden books or anything by Richelle Mead. I also adore Megan Hart's writing, but not all of her books come out in audio book format.
Tell us about your favorite:

My very favorite food is lachanodolmades: a mixture of minced meat, rice, and herbs, wrapped in cabbage leaves, cooked, and covered with bechamele cream. I also love Chinese and Mexican cuisine, but there are times when anything fattening and unhealthy, with lots of mayo, will do.

I'm generally easy with movies. The past few years, that life became real, I turned toward rom-coms, liking the secape from everyday life they offer. I do on occasion watch other types of films, though, and one that's really stayed with me is "Interstate 60". Watch it if you haven't already; it's brilliant. Seemingly light, but makes you think.

Vacation Spot:
Eh, since I have the sea and sun most of the year here, I'll say London. I've spent the best vacations of my life there.

Get to know Sotia better at her blog or on Goodreads.

Cherry Stem by Sotia Lazu

Turned at the cusp of a promising career in the adult movie industry, vampire Cherry Stem is currently unemployed but uses the squint, her compelling vampire gaze, on men for her meals and pocket change. With the rent deadline approaching, settling for pocket change isn’t an option. She sets her sights on tall, dark, and handsome Alex Marsden, who takes her home for a night of blistering passion. She doesn't tell him who she is.

Cherry isn’t the only one keeping secrets. Alex is the police detective investigating the disappearance of young women from the local clubs. Like most detectives, Alex has a good memory for faces and Cherry looks familiar. When he finds out she’s a vampire, he goes digging and discovers she's an up-and-coming model who went missing six years before.

When Cherry met Alex, she expected him to be nothing more than another “girl meets boy, girl feeds from boy, girl erases boy’s memories” hook-up. But once missing young women, the vampire council, and her irresistible ex are thrown into the mix, she realizes nothing is as simple or random as she thought it was, and Alex is either the biggest gift or the biggest mistake of her un-life.

You can purchase Cherry Stem at Loose Id. Or on Amazon.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The little monsters.

Like any self-respecting romance writer, I have a small collection of furry friends. Mine are all of the feline variety. Want to meet them?

First came Bella. Wasn't she an adorable little thing? She, her litter-mates and their mommy were found in an abandoned apartment. Luckily, the lady who found them had a friend willing to take in the whole crew and find them good homes.

But kittens really should come in twos. We couldn't leave our new little darling home alone all day, could we? She'd be lonely.

She needed a sister. Enter Bonita. We got her from a rescue group. She was only a couple weeks older than Bella, but she took on a mommy role right away. Which was good, since our Bella is not a big fan of grooming. They hit it off right away and have been inseparable ever since.

While our girls loved each other, they were not very fond of OTHER CATS.

So, we weren't looking for another. Then Misha showed up at our door.

Seriously, he just appeared at our back door. I thought he was a stray at first, but when I walked to the door, he didn't run away. In fact, he leaned closer and tried to sniff my hand through the glass. So I poured him a bowl of food and went out to say hi. He was very hungry and very friendly. It was clear that he was pet cat. So I started checking lost cat ads and such. No luck. When he came back the next day, I opened the back door and he ran right in. I quickly stuck him in the bathroom and dug out the cat carrier. My hubby and I took him to our vet and had him checked for a micro-chip. Again, no luck. Our vet suggested that we check to see if someone was keeping him as an indoor/outdoor pet. So we tried taping a note to a collar and, once again, put him outside. He just kept coming back. He would scratch on the glass and meow to come in. It was getting cold out there! So, we collected him and brought him back to the vet.
We still had no intention of keeping him. Our girls had made it clear that they did not approve of the stranger in the bathroom. But he was a mess: fleas, missing fur, bite marks. We knew he needed to get cleaned up in order to find a good home. So the vet ran the scary tests. She was worried that all those bite marks might mean he had FHIV or Feline Lukemia. But he was good. Except, of course, for the fleas and the possible ringworm. Yuck.
Missing fur can mean ringworm, a fungal infection that is crazy contagious. Most shelters won't even try to save kitties with ringworm, so it was us or...yeah, we had to help.
Ringworm treatment? Ah yes, that's a Sulfer-lime bath every few days for weeks. It reeks. It also involves holding a cat under water. Misha was a trooper.

The medicine made his fur yellow and very stinky. Also, it had to air dry and we had to make sure he didn't lick it.
It was miserable for all of us, but he continued to be the sweetest cat I've ever seen.
In an effort to prevent getting ringworm, when I visited him in the quarantine room I wore a Snuggie and gardening gloves. He would purr and purr. And I fell in love. I tried to resist. Honest. He is just a snuggle bug.

So he finally got a clean bill of health from the vet and we decided to try introducing him to the girls. By this time, I had an offer from my hubby's Dad and Stepmom; they would take him if we couldn't keep him. Of course we wanted to keep him, but knowing he had home if we couldn't was wonderful.:)

I won't sugar coat it. It's been iffy. There were days our house felt like a war zone. Bonita is still clearly plotting his death. He has no more love for her. But at about eight months out, we're dealing. And, every once in a while, we see something truly wonderful.

That's Bella and Misha snuggling in a kitty bed. :) Victory!

Has anyone else tried to introduce an adult can into their home? For us it was crazy, but worth it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

To Read or Not to Read.

This is my pile of books to be read. I know, it is an embarrassment of riches. Some of these are books I've been waiting months to get my hands on. So why am I writing about the books instead of snuggled up in bed with one right now? Because I'm in writing mode. When I'm in writing mode, I live with my character's voices in my head. Essentially, I live in a world that I'm making. When I read, I'm transported to the world someone else created. Sometimes, I find coming back hard. (As I write this, I'm imagining a sort of portal between worlds--there are inherent risks to travel!) Seriously though, days I settle down with a book are rarely days I make any progress on my own stories. So, I ask my fellow writers--how about you? Does reading ever interfere with your writing? Do you have any tricks for overcoming this challenge?

Monday, September 17, 2012

My writing notebook.

I've been visiting  my beloved hometown in Connecticut for the past few days. Having fun news to share made what would already have been an awesome visit with friends and family extra awesome. Bonus: I got to hear lots of hilarious anecdotes about dating in 2012 and they gave me an idea for a fun new short story. I have to work out a lot of details now, but I have the eight hour ride home to do just that. Trusty moleskin notebook to the rescue! Looks like this story will get an outline, not my norm but what I revert to when I have an idea and can't spend the day on my laptop.

Friday, September 14, 2012


So, do you remember how four days ago I posted that I was utterly unpublished and would try to wait another year before getting bitter. No, you don't. Four days ago, this blog had no readers. None.;)

The wildest thing happened. Two days after I posted that-I got the call! Actually, the call was an email. Who knew the call was an email?

My romantic novella, The Best Man, has found a home with Entranced Publishing! They're new. They have a bunch of great books lined up to start coming out next spring and I'm beyond excited to join their house.

Check out their website:
Check out their Facebook:
Check out their Twitter: @EntrancedPub

I've already been welcomed by some of the other authors and the owner, Ashley Christman is the one who offered me the contract and they've all been really nice. I feel like I was just accepted into the sweetest, coolest club ever. (Can you tell I haven't started editing yet?)

You know what I get to do? I get to fill out a form that describes my dream book cover for The Best Man. Seriously. How cool is that?

Right now I feel like:

love story.

My husband read the last post. He wants me to clarify that the dating of lots of guys part of my life is long over. (My mother wants to add that it wasn't that many guys ;))

The hubby and I just celebrated our fifth anniversary two weeks ago. (We have a super geeky tradition for celebrating our anniversary that I'll tell you about another time.) He is wonderful and charming and he can hand draw a remarkably accurate map of The United States of America including state borders and stars for the capital cities in about two minutes. Yup, it's like a superpower. Also, he believes in me.

We met in high school. He was in the grade ahead of mine, but I remember knowing who he was. The day we met,  he was sitting in the library reading a Star Trek novel. A Next Generation Star Trek novel to be precise. I walked up to him, and without any introduction at all, announced that "Captain Kirk was cooler than Captain Picard". While he gaped at me in bewilderment, I further stated "he could beat up Picard and steal his woman."I'm fairly certain that my future hubby disagreed with that statement or at least with the underlying assumption that brute strength and success with women were the standards with which to judge starship captains. But faced with the peculiarity of a ballsy teenage girl who clearly watched Star Trek, he basically just stared. I grinned triumphantly and walked away.

We were friends for a year before I found out that he was funny.

It was probably another couple of months before I realized that underneath the too short jeans and the world's worst glasses was cute guy.

It was still another nine years before we decided to try dating each other. It took one kiss. One kiss and he went from being my friend to the love of my life.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A writer.

I think it's time for me to finish introducing myself. It'll probably take a few posts.

I'm a writer. I only discovered that myself a few years ago. There were signs, of course, I've always been a voracious reader and I'm certain my friends will tell you that I relish telling stories a little more than is generally considered healthy. But honest now, who doesn't love that moment when the person you're talking to gets all wide-eyed and exclaims "No, way" and then you get to nod wisely? But I suppose the biggest sign was my interest in EVERYTHING ELSE. In college I changed majors half a dozen times before earning a self-designed B.A. in Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. After graduation, I worked in the campus library and waited tables at a little Italian place while I debated between law school and a graduate degree in public policy. Instead, I took a job teaching outdoor ed. Did you know that slugs have the ability to paralyze their prey? It's gross, but if you touch the tip of your tongue to a slug, your tongue will go numb for several minutes. Anyway, that led me back to school for a Masters in Education. So I spent a year teaching fifth grade and a couple years teaching preschool. This is getting boring, isn't it? The point is, I've studied lots of  things, dated lots of guys and had lots of seemingly random jobs and suddenly it's all validated by my being...a writer. See? It wasn't me being wishy-washy. It was research. Lots and lots of research.

Monday, September 10, 2012


I'm utterly unpublished right now. As I've only just begun to actually submit my work to publishers that is only a little sad. Give me a year. A year from now I will either be a published author or I will owe you a very bitter rant.
In the meantime, I'm preparing. Writers need an online presence. Even unpublished newbies are asked to list their website or blog in their query letters. And writers who do get published are instantly meant to have a site full of content to entertain their new fans. So, future readers, this is for you. This will be the spot to read about how characters and plot-lines came about and to read about my writing process. (I'll share that as soon as I settle on just one.) It will also be the spot to find my recommendations about other books and to find out what I'm watching on television. (Hint: If Jane Espenson is involved, I'm watching it.) I'll probably round things out with the occasional recipe or super cute photo of my cats.

Today I'm going to give you a song.

Distance Christina Perri with Jason Mraz

Call Me Ana.

Call me Ana. The temptation to follow that line with a cute little winky emoticon is strong, but I shall resist. I'll be straight with you; it's not exactly my real name. For boring and entirely common reasons, I have followed the footsteps of many writers and chosen a pen name.

There is something particularly surreal about choosing a name for yourself. It's almost like taking on a second identity, a chance to become someone new. In my everyday life I live with an exceptionally common name. Growing up, I bemoaned my mother's lack of originality and coveted the more glamorous names of some of my classmates. Jasmine, Genevieve, Sabrina: those were the names to have. Those names evoked a mysterious and undeniably feminine air. I have, since my schoolgirl days, kept a short list of names that have all the most desirable qualities as possibilities for my possible future daughters. Knowing all this, it probably seems odd that given the rare chance to name myself I chose Ana. At least I went with an atypical spelling. ;)