Welcome to my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, scriptwriters, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with urban romance writer Lashanta Charles. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Lashanta. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Lashanta: Hello, Morgen, so lovely to speak with you. Thank you for the opportunity. Any who, let’s see. Where am I based? Everywhere!! I’m actually in the US Army, so I move around a lot. Right now I’m in Virginia for a few months, but I live in Missouri and will soon move to Texas. My true home is South Carolina, but my hubby is from Louisiana and the food there is so freaking good and I love to eat, so I claim that as well. I began writing when I was about 15 or 16 and I’ve been doing it ever since. You can’t always say what you’re thinking, so writing gives you that free pass to say whatever you want and I take full advantage of that. Writing is one of the best outlets ever. Thankfully I found Tamika and she took that leap of faith on “Lovely Lies.”
Morgen: What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Lashanta: I haven’t really categorized my writing into one specific genre because I unintentionally incorporate little snippets of all genres. To specifically choose a genre, I’d go with (urban) romance. Love stories are awesome, but only if they’re not completely sappy and go into that “so romantic it makes me sick” arena.
Morgen: Are your books available as eBooks? How involved were you in that process? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Lashanta: My book doesn’t release until May 21, but it will be available as an eBook. Delphine Publications releases print as well as eBook. I don’t really have a preference for the type of books I go for, but it also depends on what I’m doing. If I’m out and about, I use my iPad / Kindle. If I’m at work, out on a mission, or can actually just sit and enjoy it, I go for print. Sometimes I browse the libraries and grab books from there as well.
Morgen: Feel free to come back for an author spotlight when your book is available. Did you choose the titles / covers of your books?
Lashanta: I didn’t come up with the cover concept or the title, but I was given the opportunity to say “go or no go.” My publisher was very patient and we sent suggestions back and forth between each other, which was great because I know a lot of publishers don’t or won’t do that. My novel’s original title was “Through It All” and we decided to go with something catchier.
Morgen: I think it’s a great cover, and definitely prefer the final title. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Lashanta: Right now I’m working on the sequel for “Lovely Lies.” It’s so hard to stay focus. I honestly think I’m bipolar or have some sort of attention deficit disorder or something like that because I have so many projects in my head, I can’t just focus on only one. I’m working on my sequel, but I’m also making notes on my third and fourth book.
Morgen: Do you manage to write every day, or ever suffer from writer’s block?
Lashanta: Write every day?!?! That would be completely awesome, but no. I don’t get to write every day. I have the best intentions and say “I’m going to wake up an hour early” or “I’m not turning my television on tonight” and I end up doing the exact opposite. I do make an effort to try and write every day, but I don’t always get to.
Morgen: Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Lashanta: Both. I mainly just picture something in my mind and write until I’m no longer seeing it. I usually go back and make sure it always revolves around a plot though.
Morgen: Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Lashanta: If by method you mean all the names I have on reserve for the kids I will have in the future (or not, two is more than enough), then yes, I have a method. 🙂
Morgen: Do you have to do much research?
Lashanta: Surprisingly, and somewhat upsetting, yes. You would think that fiction wouldn’t require a lot of research, but it actually does because while the story may be based on fiction, it still needs to be believable. I never want to be that author that leaves the reader thinking “there’s no way any of that is possible.”
Morgen: Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Lashanta: Yeah, I’m sure there’s plenty. I’ve been writing for quite a while now and I know that a lot of it is just for me. I also have “novels” that never end; literally go on and on and on with no ending in site.
Morgen: Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Lashanta: Yes! Before signing with Delphine Publications, I queried agents and other publishing companies for roughly 18 months (maybe longer) and they all said no :(. My first rejection left me crying like a baby. I was literally inconsolable. Then after a while I came to expect rejections and realized it was just a part of the process. When I finally got an acceptance letter, I actually received 3 other offers for signing within the same month, so I was pretty excited about that.
Morgen: Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Lashanta: No agent at this time, but I ultimately would like to have one. I don’t think they’re vital to your success, but I think they’re a tremendous help. There are some publishing houses that won’t accept unsolicited queries from authors, they only deal with agents. It’s always a good feeling to have that agent on your team and fighting for you though.
Morgen: Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Lashanta: These are my websites and links where you can find out about me and things I’m involved in:
- www.lashantacharles.com (Personal website)
- www.delphinepublications.com (Publisher’s website)
- www.facebook.com/authorlashanta (Facebook)
- www.twitter.com/twiety01 (Twitter)
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Lashanta: My debut novel, “Lovely Lies” releases on May 21, 2013 and is available for pre-order now on Amazon. Also, you will find me at this year’s Essence Music Festival doing author meet & greets, book signings, etc.
Morgen: How exciting. I hope it all goes well. Thank you for joining me today, Lashanta.
I then invited Lashanta to include a synopsis of her book…
Makynzee has spent all of her life being dependent on people who’ve always disappointed her, especially her abusive mother. Everyone lies to her – her sister, her uncle, even her beloved father. When her mom strips her of her one true love, gymnastics, she’s determined to find and maintain her independence. There’s only one little problem…money. She sets out to find a job as a dancer at a gentleman’s club, but finds Kalil instead. With his looks, money, and charisma any woman would be crazy not to want him and Makynzee’s no different. Falling for him fast, she soon discovers some things just aren’t adding up and Kalil may not be the man she thought he was. He wants to be with her and provide for her, but can he protect her? When a love-struck fan becomes obsessed and begins attacking and stalking Makynzee she finds herself in a struggle to maintain her sanity. She has no idea who her stalker is, where he came from, or why he’s here, but he’s determined to have her even if that means eliminating everyone she knows and loves. By any means necessary, right? She belongs to him and he’s claiming what’s rightfully his. When truths are revealed, they threaten to tear Makynzee’s soul apart and chaos becomes her life. Will she be able to escape this temporary insanity or will she become a permanent victim?
Lashanta Charles was born and raised in the small town of Orangeburg, SC. She has always been an avid reader of all genres, but Urban/ African American Fiction has always been her true love and is what inspired her to pursue a writing career. In high school, she began letting her classmates read the short stories that she would write and based off of their feedback, her passion for writing pushed her to become a published author. Through trial and error, she has developed a unique writing style that she fully embraces. She penned her first official novel, Lovely Lies, in 2013 and is currently working on the sequel.
Currently she lives in Waynesville, MO, with her husband and two children. She is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in English at Drury University and also serving in the US Army. Her hobbies include spending time with family, travelling, eating, and of course, writing. Her motto is “strive to excel, not to equal.”
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