There are times when you meet people that you simply enjoy having a conversation with. Lauren Klever is one of those people for me. I’ve enjoyed following her online and learning about her books, and so it is a real joy to chat with her today.
Grab yourself a cup of hot chocolate and a few of those cookies you just finished baking (and if you didn’t, go borrow some of your neighbor’s cookies), sit back, and enjoy the funny and talented…Lauren Klever.
D.C.: Hi, Lauren. Welcome and thanks for taking the time to chat with me here. Truly a privilege!
First of all, give me some juicy details… What is your favorite place to eat? Why?
Lauren: Well, that’s not easily answered. I LOVE food. I could easily say something nice about many Portland area restaurants that have either an incredible dish or a wonderful atmosphere. I will throw you a small bone… the best burger around here, in my humble opinion, is 5 Guys – Burgers and Fries. I get a cheeseburger in a lettuce wrap. I save the carbs for the fries – YUM!
D.C.: Haha! That’s awesome. Good diet tip, too. Ok, now that we have gossip material out of the way, tell us a bit more about you. Who are you really, and what have you done with the real Lauren Klever?
Lauren: Ok, I give… I stashed her under a rock. She wasn’t much fun anyway. How about this? When I’m not writing, I’m a pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade substitute teacher. My favorite grades are anything above first! If not that, then I’m doing administrative work for a small company where they think I’m their computer guru which if you know me – should cause a huge belly laugh! I am more techy than my seventy-plus year old boss, but guru… not even a little bit. I am also mom to two, step-mom to four, step-grandma to one and a lover of black labs (we have two). We also have two cats but we don’t have much to do with each other. I do miss my little black cat who used to help me write – now HE, had a personality.
D.C.: Wow, family must keep you busy, busy. Now, your book Visions: The Secret Watchers, Book One has garnered some really great reviews and pretty rabid fans. Tell us about the series so far and what we might expect from Book 2 that (hopefully) is due out soon.
Lauren: Book 2 will be out soon. You can almost… hold your breath. How does February grab you? Book 3 is going through final edits for an early summer release and books 4 and 5 are in my computer, on paper and in my head. The series begins with our protagonist in eighth grade, wishing his life away. One day he stumbles across a watch that unlocks a gift he never realized he had. Suddenly people are trying to kill him and he can see darkly evil things that have or will happen. In books 1 and 2 he is mastering his new abilities and evading the darkness that relentlessly pursues him. Readers get to watch Owen grow as he moves through high school and becomes a force to be reckoned with. Right now my fan base is mostly local. They have been pretty excited about my tale because they recognize the places my characters visit.
D.C.: That’s cool. I love visiting places I find in books or movies. What a treat! One thing I noticed is that you have found some really good traction in reaching out to fans. I mean, at one point recently, if I’m not mistaken, you were celebrating some 400,000 visits to your website. I want to ask a couple of questions about this. One for readers, and one for writers…
For the readers: What does this mean to you and how has it influenced your writing? I notice you openly celebrate your fans, and I think that is so very cool. What has their response been back to you? (Ok, that’s two questions).
Lauren: Seriously, I have to say… what an honor! If I could hug all my fans I would. I feel truly blessed! Each stage of this project has brought its own joys. I feel excitement every time something new happens and I hope I never lose that. My family, friends and fans have been very supportive and I truly appreciate every beta-reader (early reader), tweet, favorite, like, comment and review. These folks have gifted me with their time, so you bet I tell them over and over again how wonderful they are! People who feel appreciated come back for more. I feel that people have been incredibly gracious. I’ve had students and adults shyly ask me to sign a book or even run up and hug me at the grocery store. I am touched each and every time by their positive energy and passion for this project. They make me want to keep writing! Now if I could get each of those 400,000 plus to buy a book – that would be something!
D.C.: Yeah, that would be nice. Now, for our writer friends: How? How have you done it and what advice do you have for authors looking to find and connect with a wider base of fans?
Lauren: I have written several blogs about this because I find it fascinating and in the beginning I knew nothing. I have many little bits of advice to share and I have shamelessly pirated every one of them and twisted them to meet my needs. I have chosen to be on Social Media every single day. I try really hard to answer all my fans within 48 hours. I also work hard to educate myself. I follow several folks who are social media experts and I watch my Twitter and Facebook feeds for tips, tricks and ideas several times a week.
I believe that you widen your fan base by reaching out. Talk to people and make them feel invited. Post great content so that folks want to follow you and add pictures when it’s appropriate because they are a big draw. Weekends and evenings are a good time to post content because that’s when many people have time to check their email, and social media of choice.
D.C.: Along the same lines, what advice do you have for writers about the writing process and their development?
Lauren: I think this is different for everyone. I am only an expert on me. As a kid I always hated writing at school. Then one day I was introduced to a free write. Suddenly I found that if I could write what I wanted to it was actually fun. Now I love to write. I use it as an escape. I also believe that part of what builds a good writer is being an avid reader, so never stop reading.
D.C.: I say that so often to people. Do yourself and your fans a favor, everyone – keep reading! On your website, you share a lot of tools and advice along the way. What are the top 3 tools you would recommend every writer takes a peek at right now?
Lauren: Do you have a website? Are you on Twitter? AND are you on Facebook? Get friendly with social media and your fans. Be yourself or make someone up, but be friendly and courteous. Humor is good too but I believe that the key is to be warm, friendly and welcoming. If you are, then people want to be around you. Be positive; not only does negativity suck but people don’t want to hear it. (That’s what the news is for.)
D.C.: Good advice. What is the most frustrating thing you have had to deal with as a writer?
Lauren: Lack of time! Some days I get cranky because I just don’t have time to write. During those times I remind myself that people, especially family, have to come first. If people don’t come first, then who are we writing for? We would have no audience.
Lauren: Really? You’re going to make me pick? Wow… How about my top 10? The day my first beta reader shared with me how much they loved my book, the day I finished each book, the day I finished editing each book, my first book signing, my first sales report from BookBaby, the first fan that called me because they didn’t think it was their kind of book and they loved it anyway, and the day I was offered my first contact.
D.C.: Count ‘em people. Lauren has plenty to be excited about! Any movies this month that you really, really want to see?
Lauren: I’m looking forward to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. I missed the latest Bourne (Bourne Legacy) in theaters but it comes out on Blu-ray this week! Jack Reacher and Life of Pi also look interesting. Skyfall was amazing, but then, as you can probably tell, I’m a huge action adventure junkie. I am also looking forward to 2013 and Star Trek into the Darkness, Ironman 3, and of course Catching Fire.
D.C.: I’ve seen the first two and Skyfall. Great, great, and great! 2013 does hold some big ones too. What’s on your reading list right now and is there an author or a book that has influenced or inspired you above all in your life?
Lauren: Top 10?
1. Charlie Sullivan and the Monster Hunters by D.C. and Michael McGannon because it sounds great and you’re a funny guy! *wink*
2. City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments, #3) by Cassandra Clare (I’m currently reading City of Bones)
3. The rest of the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz (I’m on #5 Scorpia)
4. Anything by Rick Riordan. I love his Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and he is one of my influences for great young adult heroes.
5. The Harry Potter series. I have read it about four times but I keep going back. J.K. Rowling’s series was another big influence.
6. Cleo Coyle’s A Brew to a Kill (Coffeehouse Mystery, #11)
7. Janet Evanovich’s Notorious Nineteen (Yep, I’ve read them all.)
8. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
9. Insurgent (Divergent #2) by Veronica Roth
10. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
D.C.: You made me blush! We’re on the top of your list. Aw, shucks! Seriously though, thank you. I’m a fan of Lauren Klever, that’s for sure. Visions went on my TBR list as soon as I met you, and I look forward to hearing and reading much more from you. If you had a parting thought for us, readers and/or writers, what would it be? Open mic for Lauren Klever, ladies and gentlemen!
Lauren: Go about your life as if you have nothing to lose. Share what you are passionate about and don’t take your critics too seriously. Any advice you get, take a few days to just let it sit. The good bits will float to the top and then you can throw out the rest. There is always some truth in what people share, just don’t let negative opinions overly influence you or bring you down. It takes tremendous courage to write a book and share it with the world (never forget that!) It also takes courage to promote and blog about your books. If a writer’s life is what you want, then go for it because if you do what you love, then you’ll love what you do! I believe in you!